Expedition Meals

When on expedition fuel is key. Being well fed can make all of the difference. If you haven’t eaten enough then you will fatigue, your judgement won’t be as sharp, you’ll be hungry….and it just won’t be as fun!

We are lucky that there are now a wide variety of food options for expedition, freeze dried, ration packs, boil in the bag varieties and everything in between. But the type of meals you go for on expedition comes down to a number of factors.

Taste –

Firstly, you have to actually like it! There are some meals that taste great…and some that don’t, so make sure you have tried them during training before heading away on expedition. There is nothing worse than being tired and hungry then cooking up your meal to discover that it tastes terrible and having to force it down just to fuel yourself. So at least take flavours and recipes that you actually like.

Weight –

How much are you prepared to carry? This is a big factor in deciding which food options to choose. Boil in the bag ration packs will provide you decent calories and they’re quick to cook, but they are very heavy. Freeze dried options are a lot lighter and pack down, but many people don’t like the texture. Or you can shake it up a bit and do a bit of both, and of course take some ‘real food’ too to bulk it out.

This of course also depends on the nature of your expedition and how you are ‘travelling.’ If it is a canoe expedition you can get away with a bit more weight as long as it packs down into your boat then the weight is less of a problem. But if it is a bike, hike or run type expedition then it has to be weight that you can actually carry. With this consider your fitness levels, length of journey and how you can pack this all into your kit. 

Calories – 

How much do you need to be eating each day? This depends on how active your expedition is – if you are running for example, rather than canoeing, then your calorie needs will be a lot greater. Also consider how long your trip is, you don’t want to run out of energy because you haven’t calculated enough calories to fuel you all the way to the end. The terrain and weather conditions also need to be considerations as these can drastically increase the amount of calories that you will need. 

Consider your own health and fitness too when calculating calories. Some people need a lot more food than others. It is always best to take a bit too much than not enough, you don’t want to run out of energy and have to call an end to your expedition before the finish line. But also if you don’t fuel yourself well enough then you are more likely to become ill or get injured, so calories are key

It is best to calculate all of this, and test and test again during training. Work this out at home rather than half way through a mountain range or along a secluded section of a river when you haven’t got a shop to pop to for calorie top ups. 

Budget – 

There are some amazing expedition meals out there, but budget is a key factor when making your choices. We all have a rough budget for a trip, and some trips can be eye wateringly expensive at the best of times, let alone if you start adding a five star menu to your budget too, so choose wisely. Remember you can bulk things out with cheaper additions such as noodles, pasta or rice and of course you can add any food that you catch or forage along the way too – just be very sure of your plant ID.

Cooking –

Not many of us want to carry more than we need to. Keep it simple. You don’t want an excess of cooking utensils, so consider how you want to be cooking your meals. And let’s face it, when you are tired and hungry you don’t want to be faffing around, you want something that is warm, filling and quick! This is when ration packs and freeze dried meals come into their own – it’s simple enough to master even when tired. 

Experiment during training. Try all of the options to find what tastes good, what is faff free, what keeps you fuelled and what is in your budget. 

It can be trail and error, but it’s best to get this figured out in training when you can get back to the comfort of your home, and pop to the shops when needed. Also train with the wight that you will be carrying, that way you know how much you will actually be happy to carry and that gives you a chance to reduce kit if needed. 

Don’t let yourself down through lack of training and lack of nutrition.

Train hard, plan properly, fuel well and  enjoy your adventures!

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