Peparing to Hike on my Stomach


Just as an army marches on its stomach, your hike won’t last very long without sufficient food. And possibly more important than just eating high calorie food is maintaining proper variety. Otherwise, as I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about, you may quickly find your favorite hiking foods unbearable.


My brand new cook gear. All titanium except for my homemade alcohol stove. My titanium cup is not pictured.


When waking up on a cold February morning, it’s hard to beat a warm pot full of peanut butter-brown sugar oatmeal alongside a steaming cup of hot chocolate. But not every morning I’ll feel like waiting for water to boil. On those days, I can always utilize my half frozen water to make a tasty cup of pudding. And when I really need to get a move on, I’ll just munch on a bag of granola while marching down the trail.



I know that it’s a popular opinion to not stop for lunch and to instead fill up on snacks. Now, I like to snack as much as anyone else, but on a long day of walking, I occasionally enjoy taking a break and sitting down for a more substantial meal.

  • Triscuts with summer sausage and cheddar
  • Peanut butter wraps
  • Jerky and cheddar wraps

My first time ever cooking on an alcohol stove and my first cook set up.


Dinner is by far my favorite meal of the day since, after a long day of hiking, I don’t feel guilty about spending a little extra time to cook up something good. Historically, Mac ‘n Tuna has been a go to for me, but I’m working to expand my trail recipe book.

  • Potatos and gravy
  • Cheesy potatoes with bacon bits
  • Stuffing and gravy
  • Rice side based burritos
  • Potato based burritos
  • Salmon alfredo

And of course, just like any other frugal hiker like myself, the bulk of my meals will consist of ramen. Though I know I’ll get sick of it eventually, I’m going to try lasting on ramen as long as I can stand it. To supplement this while keeping my wallet fat, I’m planning on only fixing something more expensive to eat 2-3 times per week.

Cooking ramen in the dark after a long day of hiking.

Priming my stove in the dark to cook up some ramen after a long day of hiking.

Inside my food bag

I repackaged all my food into quart sized Ziploc bags to save weight and reduce trash. These bags are loose in the top of my pack to best utilize my limited space, and I’ll be using my dry sack at night as a  bear bag.

The inevitable explosion that occurs when its supper time and you need the stove from the bottom of your pack.


Cooked items

  • Mac (My Opinion in quality from best to worst: Kraft, Great Value, Clover Hill, Hospitality)
  • Stuffing
  • Potato flakes
  • Gravy mix (When it comes to seasoning, I only trust McCormick or Great Value)
  • Pasta roni (Alfredo flavored)
  • Rice sides (If you’ve never used them, every flavor has more vegetables in them than you’d expect)
  • Oatmeal (Maple Brown sugar and Cinnamon Rasin mix well)
  • Ramen (rotating flavors)


Non cooked items

  • Tortillas (Packs easier and won’t squish like a loaf of bread will)
  • Bagels (Blueberry are the best)
  • Pudding mix (Just add water. I remove the bags from the box, put several flavors in a Ziploc and enjoy not knowing what flavor I’ll pick)
  • Granola/ dry cereal
  • Olive oil



  • Triscuts/ crackers/ wheat thins
  • Swedish fish
  • Cow tails (Where I work, they are only 29¢ each at 110cal/1 ounce package before the employee discount)
  • Potato chips/ pretzels



  • Tuna
  • Salmon (picked up at only $1.15 a pouch)
  • Summer sausage
  • Beef Jerky
  • Turkey Snack Bites (Go great with cheddar in tortillas)
  • Pepperoni
  • Bacon bits (Walmart has bottles of soy imitation bacon bits that go great in potatoes for a fraction of the cost of the real thing)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Peanut butter



Though I drink water almost exclusively in the civilian world, drink mixes are a great way to take in extra calories and vitamins.

  • Gadorade mix
  • Hot chocolate mix
  • Water


Feel free to share your favorite trail foods and recipes in the comments below.

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Comments 4

  • Mark Stanavage : Feb 7th

    A great idea I was given by Smoke-signal in Shenandoah is nutritional yeast. It adds a lot of protein and tastes like cheese. She added it to instant mashed potatoes and it made great cheesy potatoes.

    • Flagstaff : Feb 10th

      That’s a neat idea. Nutritional yeast weighs less and stores better in the heat than blocks of cheese. And who doesn’t like cheesy potatoes? I expect that it would make a really good potato chowder.

  • Camille : Feb 8th

    You know the best thing you can do with Ramen noodles? Get dried tomato powder on Amazon and make spaghetti! I also highly recommend Velveeta cheese packets, which you can find at the Dollar Store and Walmart, powdered whole milk from the Hispanic foods section, and tacos! (taco seasoning + canned chicken (worth the weight) + cheese + tortillas, Fritos on the side!)

    Good luck!

    • Flagstaff : Feb 10th

      It’s amazing how many different meals can be made with ramen, and the seasonings can always be saved and used to liven up other things.

      My father was telling me the other day how one can soak ramen for a couple hours inside our packs while hiking. The ramen becomes a mush that can be shaped into sheets of pasta and used for ravioli. It sounds like a bit of work, but I’ll probably try making ravioli atleast once on the trail. Spaghetti definitely sounds much easier.


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