Imagine for a moment that you’re out on the trail. It’s mid-afternoon, and you know that if you were at home, you would already be chomping through a hefty serving of mac ‘n cheese for lunch. For now, though, all you have is a limp plastic baggie halfway filled with an underwhelming serving of salty n’ sweet trail mix. As your stomach grumbles, you wonder: have you doomed yourself to days of culinary misery and salted peanuts? Could you have prepared better food for your otherwise-exciting adventure into the outdoors?

Probably. As it turns out, trail cooking isn’t as impossible as it may seem from the outset. Follow these tips to cook simple, delicious, and homemade meals that will wow your backpacking party!

Seek Advice From Other Backpacking Chefs
Believe it or not, you’re not the first person to ever crave a proper meal out on the hiking and backpacking trails. Before you set out into the wilderness to experiment with your trail cooking, take advantage of the outdoors community! By asking around online or at your local outdoors store you’ll be able to track down someone who knows how to whip up great trail food – or at least pick up a few tips on how to make a meal palatable!

More experienced hikers can provide you with tips, tricks, and recipes that will serve you and your companions well.

Create A Plan And A Checklist
Once you’ve picked up a few basic tips and tricks, you can create a plan for your own wilderness cooking experience. Take some time to look at simple recipes and decide on a few you would like to try while out on the trails. Prepare accordingly! Break down the recipe so that you can create a checklist of all of the ingredients, cooking supplies, and equipment you will need to complete your recipes. Make sure to do your due diligence as your team’s chef by checking that none of your backpacking companions are allergic to the food that you plan to cook for them.

Do Some Prep Work
Some of the work for the meals you want to cook while out on the trail can actually be performed before you ever leave home. Sauces and stews are perfect candidates for dehydration because they’ll re-hydrate easily. You can also use vacuum-seal preserve cooked meats and vegetables to add to your trail recipes. One caveat: preparing these foods require specialized – and often expensive – equipment. Unless you plan on camping regularly, dehydrating or vacuum-sealing food may not be worth the investment.

Pack For The Trail
Be practical! You must be able to bring all of your necessary ingredients, supplies, and equipment with you. Try to leave non-essential items at home, and do some research into how to most efficiently pack your backpack. Remember to pack eating supplies as well such as forks, spoons, plates, bowls, and knives; no one wants to eat re-hydrated stew with their hands!