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My hiking menu: what I eat along the way

Food on the trail. It’s a topic I frequently get questions about, and understandably so: ‘eating’ is one of the top priorities in my mind while hiking. Because without food, there’s no hiking. Unfortunately, for the hearty epicureans among you, I have to disappoint; luxurious meals with all the trimmings are not feasible, unless you’re willing to carry a tremendous amount of weight. Just think about the moment when you walk home or to your car with a full bag of groceries. Exactly: food is heavy. Within my gear, it’s the heaviest component of the items I carry, so I seize every opportunity to save weight on food. Over the years, I’ve developed a consistent eating ritual, which I’ve followed on my last three trips. Curious? Below, I’m happy to share my menu with you.

A rule of thumb when choosing food for hikes is to get as many calories as possible with as little weight as possible. So, I’ll warn you in advance: my hiking diet is not exactly the healthiest. My reasoning behind this is that I compensate for it with the physical activity during my hikes. These eating habits are therefore not something I follow in my daily life, but I’ve found that I like to indulge myself on the trail, and I do it for my own peace of mind. So, there are healthier options for every meal (which I often find less tasty), so you can certainly consider those.
Okay, now that we’ve discussed this, I can get started. Welcome to Restaurant Del Floros!

1. Breakfast
For my breakfast, I stick to my Belgian eating habits and go for oatmeal. At home, I fill a large plastic ziplock bag with oat flakes and a smaller bag with powdered milk. During the hike, I boil some water in the morning and mix in a few scoops of oat flakes and powdered milk. Ready! To break the monotony of the oatmeal taste (and to ensure that I eat enough in the morning), I alternate some spoonfuls of oatmeal with chocolate. It could be a bar of milk chocolate, or just a few spoonfuls of Nutella straight from the jar. One last tip: dig in, dig in, dig in! The heartier your breakfast in the morning, the smoother the hike will go that day.

For those inclined to skip breakfast, I want to add an extra tip: give breakfast a chance while you’re hiking. Even I used to swear by ‘just a couple of energy bars for breakfast’ during my first hikes, but after one hearty breakfast in the morning, I never looked back. The energy boost you get in return is exactly what you need while hiking, and you will truly feel it. Of course, the choice is yours, but give it a try and see for yourself if it makes a big difference for you.

2. Lunch
For lunch, I prefer to keep it simple and go for whole grain crackers with toppings. Usually, I just opt for chocolate spread (tip: bring a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and fill it with chocolate spread, so you don’t have to carry a glass jar) or a piece of cheese. It may not be a culinary masterpiece, but it does fill the stomach!

3. Dinner
Dinner is undoubtedly the culinary highlight of the day. For dinner, I have a freeze-dried meal, which you can find in outdoor stores. All you have to do is boil water, add it to the pouch, wait a bit, and voilà, you have a complete meal. From spaghetti bolognese to chicken curry, to goulash or a delicious beef stew, the choices are endless. Currently, I swear by the brand RealTurmat, although these meals can sometimes be a bit on the small side. Therefore, pay attention to the number of calories stated on the pouch; this gives an indication of how filling the meal will be! On colder days, I treat myself to a hot chocolate after dinner. For this, I use Hotcemel; a powder that only requires warm water to make hot chocolate. A tip if you opt for this brand: collect the powder from the paper packets and store them together in a plastic bag. This prevents the packets from tearing. I speak from experience :).

4. Snacks
For snacks, I survive on energy bars, more energy bars, and even more energy bars. On average, I devour about four per day. I usually just raid the energy bar aisle in the outdoor store and put together an assortment of as many different flavors as possible. These (relatively healthy) bars I combine with some hikers’ guilty pleasures: Snickers and Twix bars. There’s nothing quite as blissful as a hearty Snickers bar while tackling the final uphill stretch of a tough climb!

If you talk to fellow hikers along the way, you’ll notice that everyone has their own hiking menu and preferences. It may take some time to figure out your ideal hiking menu. Hopefully, mine can provide you with a good starting point and some inspiration here and there. And now, to conclude, let’s all say it together: HALLELUJAH for restaurants you encounter along the way!!!

Big kisses and good luck on the trail

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