Hiking/Camping with Children in the Pac NW: Food and Hydration

We might be good at the food thing at home, but this is the area we struggle with the most when we’re camping. Don’t get me wrong, we’re always well fed, we just bring too much and wish we could get away from bringing cans of food. I’ll share what we’ve done in the past and what strides we’re making to improve our food situation in the coming years.

We usually have oatmeal for breakfast. Steel cut oats are the best, but instant oatmeal will do just fine and can be helpful for bigger groups. We have a super handy Jetboil that we’ll cook our oatmeal in. And when we’re done, we’ll use it for some tea. (Note: this would be a great time to make some nettle tea) Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all the little luxuries. A cup of tea starts all of my mornings, my mornings outdoors just wouldn’t be the same without it. If you’re a coffee drinker, you can find those little packs of instant coffee at Starbucks I think. I love that our breakfasts are always made without a fire. You wake up in your warm and cozy sleeping bag and know you have to get up and out into the cold. You have to pee and you know it’s going to be a super cold pee and you’re hungry. The last thing I want to have to do is build a fire before I get my breakfast and tea. These are just a few of the reasons I highly recommend having an alternate food heating source.

Bananas, apples and oranges are great fruits to bring since they come with their own protective sleeve, but if you want something more sturdy and compact, dried fruits do a wonderful job. Pineapples and mangoes are my favorite dried fruits, but pick whatever you like best. I know kids usually love apple and banana chips.

One of my favorite things to do for camping trips is make my own trail mix. I’m not a fan of premixed trail mixes so I spend some time in the bulk section of the grocery store getting bags of my favorite things and then toss them in a ziploc bag before I go. If it’s going to be hot on your trip leave out anything that can melt. My favorite mix: macadamia nuts, cashews, pecans, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut, dried mango slices, dried pineapple slices and granola clusters (I just shake the granola and take the large chunks).

We rarely have a designated lunch time since we snack throughout the day. Oftentimes we’ll have a can of green beans or corn and call it good. And for dinner we usually bring a couple cans of chili. But we’re really really trying to get away from bringing cans. It just seems ridiculous to pack those heavy things around for miles. We’re working on a dried soup mix that doesn’t have 18 times the amount of sodium you need in a day – I’ll let you know if we come up with something good there. Cured meats and jerky can pack a punch, but again, I hate the loads of sodium. You can purchase camping meals that come in a bag that are pretty similar to MRE’s. They do the trick, but taste like crap. If you have a little cooler, it can be fun to bring some bacon or hot dogs to cook over the fire. Ramen (and other ramen like meals) are lightweight meals, but again – the sodium. As you can see, we are struggling with the dinner thing. We’re fed, but we’re carrying around cans or are eating sodium rich foods. This is part of the reason we’re working on our foraging skills. It would be so lovely if we were skilled enough to not have to bring much in the way of food, but find it on our journeys.

A small fishing kit is super handy if you’re going to a lake or river. We ate a whole pan full of brook trout one time and it was such a lovely escape from the cans we were used to. Of course you can hunt as well. We’re not hunters so I don’t have a whole lot of advice there.

And for dessert… S’MORES! If you have room in your pack, don’t forget the s’mores. Warm, gooey, messy, yummy fun. You know the deal. Roast ’em and eat ’em or light your marshmallows on fire and play with them like they’re sparklers.

On hydration: We don’t have a steripen yet so we haul water along. It’s the heaviest thing we bring so a quick investment is in order. We almost always go places with ample water supply so it’s pretty silly for us to haul water along with us. But whether you plan on bringing a water purifier or packing your own – take hydration seriously. It will keep you alive.

We’ll be back tomorrow with talk about shelter. Have a good Wednesday!

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2 Comments

Filed under Food, Hiking/Camping with Kids Series, Outdoors

2 responses to “Hiking/Camping with Children in the Pac NW: Food and Hydration

  1. Ann Gibson

    I highly recommend the book _Simple Foods for the Pack_. Real recipes, largely from home-dried and purchased-dried foods. I have the 2nd edition but I see there’s a newer one available now. Haven’t tried it yet with the kids but plan to this summer.

  2. Thanks so much Ann. I will have to check out that book. I hadn’t really thought to look for a book on food for the pack, but it could be quite valuable.