The Zillion Dollar Question(s)
Almost everyone who knows I’m hiking the trail has asked me these questions repeatedly. What do you eat to fuel those hiker legs? How do you dehydrate 5-6 months of food for the trail? How are you preparing your food drops? How do you know what to eat?
Em’s Trail Food Shenanigans 101
Let’s start with how I’m preparing for my drops. Shout out to my trail friend who helped me roughly calculate a drop schedule – I’d seriously be so lost without guidance from previous AT hikers. I’m thinking of doing a drop in a town every 110 miles – this would be about 20 total boxes of food drops, and means I’d finish around 5 months. However, I know things happen, so I’m still having my wonderful mother ship the boxes out as I get closer to each town as I’m not sure how fast my hiker legs are going to perform in the beginning. I’ll also probably prepare an extra stash of food in case I need another few drops. This is all I know so far.
As for how I’m dehydrating and planning my drops – I’ll be honest I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m doing. I think that’s what makes this all so fun, and a bit stressful. I’ve morphed what I know about food prep for my meals working at summer camp and working in the hospital with what I don’t know together into a game plan and I’m trying it. If it doesn’t work – I’ll just make adjustments and try again.
I’ve started by making a few extra meals each week to dehydrate. I’ve budgeted some extra money allocated to buying extra veggies and meat for these. I’ve also emptied my cabinets of all non perishable food I haven’t eaten and don’t plan on eating anytime soon and baggied them up for snacks. Anything and everything is good when I’m hiking. I’m always hungry. I’ll eat almost anything within my dietary guidelines.
Each week I make a sheet of paper with what I’m eating for my breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners and label it and the food according to the week (week 1, week 2, and so on) and then store everything in Ziplocs. Eventually I’m going to vacuum seal all the dehydrated meals because I have limited freezer space, but until then my freezer is going to be having quite the party.
What am I Eating Each Week?
I’m still figuring this out, to be honest. But so far, I’ve planned one container of Dr. Axe’s Bone Broth Protein powder each month of the trail. I’m also planning on having two packages of dehydrated coconut milk per month. I plan on using the coconut milk to mix with the bone broth protein, to mix with my morning super power porridge, to make golden milk with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper coconut oil packets for an anti-inflammatory boost, and just to drink on the go. Some weeks I will eat my super power porridge of buckwheat groats, chia seeds and hemp hearts with some coconut milk powder and some weeks I’ll probably just make extra meat/veggie stir fry for breakfast.
I’ve always been a dinner for breakfast eater as grainy and sugary breakfasts foods have always left me feeling hungry immediately after and make me feel sluggish until my next meal. As long as I mix the porridge with some sort of healthy fat it seems to sustain me pretty well since it has a lot of protein. I’m planning on always having peanut butter with me, as it’s pretty essential to my diet already.
I’m planning some weeks I will dehydrate rice and gluten free pasta for dinners (with meat and veggies too) and others I will just stick to veggies and meat as my body hasn’t been tolerating gluten free grains well. I was also gifted six boxes of thai rice noodles expired from work so I’ll be making pad thai for dinners and sifting those out through the weeks so I don’t eat too many grainy meals each week (hurts maa stomach). I also plan on dehydrating veggies and then adding bouillon packet to each and having soup some weeks.
God bless Trader Joe’s boxes of coconut oil packets – this saves me always having to carry a glass jar of coconut oil in my pack. I think they come with 15 packets per box so I will plan to have at least two boxes a month of those to add to my dinner or one of my meals throughout the day. I’ve noticed a little bit of coconut oil makes all my dehydrated meals taste significantly better, so I’ll probably save it for dinners.
I’m thinking of doing snack foods for lunch – nut mixes, pumpkin seeds, scoops of peanut butter with chia and hemp seeds, fruit leathers, or bone broth protein powder, but I’m still kind of figuring it out as I go. I’ll plan on always having thai seasoning, some himalayan salt for electrolytes, nutritional yeast, and possibly all purpose seasoning with me to add to whatever meal. I also have two bulk boxes filled with tea bags here I haven’t used, so I’m planning to pack those in each week for a relaxing beginning or end to my day.
How do I Know What to Eat?
The truth is, I really have no clue. I’m just trying to prepare as wholesome meals as I can and then supplement with the protein powder, jerky, peanut butter, trail mix, fruit leathers, and some food bars. I’m planning on getting fresh fruits and veggies in town to eat along the way, but obviously not in every town. My intuition usually guides my dietary choices now – which makes planning for meals 5 months ahead of time a bit tricky. I won’t starve though, and I can eat according to my own dietary needs by preparing my own drops so I think this is a win – win for me.
Anyone else as clueless as me in preparing and dehydrating food drops? What helped you get a good system going?
Love and snap peas,
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