For me, the most psychologically challenge of food planning for the long distance hiking is knowing that you will be very limited on fresh vegetables (oh the joys of being a Californian) for significant amount of time. As my JMT acquaintance calls it, “we’re on hamster food”. For many others, however, it’s the mere thought of planning that is the psychological challenge. How are we to know what we will be eating in 15 days, much less the next day? I’ve presented my JMT grocery list, not as the ultimate meal plan, but as an example of items you can take on your own backpacking or long distance adventures.
As a side note, myself and my two JMT partners were vegetarians when we hiked the trail. While I, myself was limited to the possibility of variety obtained through meats, meat-eaters: don’t freak out! At the bottom of the list, I’ve provided suggestions on what you can bring to suit your carnivorous needs.
Though we did our groceries with 3 people in mind, the food list I’ve provided will be for one person (for clarity’s sake).
Prep and plan:
I don’t remember how this came up, but somewhere all the information we read, we decided we had to make sure we had a minimum of calories to consume in a day. In truth, I typically don’t eat a lot once I’m outdoors, and this continued to be true while on the trail—I did not have the appetite or hunger to finish my dinner the first two evenings. I recall trying to count my calorie consumption while on the trail, and noted it was very difficult for me to exceed 2,1o0 calories in a day. Ultimately, my best recommendation is to bring what you like to eat, and don’t forget to include treats for yourself—such as chocolate or Oreos. Long distance hiking is not a time to decide you will go on a diet, or change your diet. Think of this as an opportunity to gorge and not regret it.
For packing, large items were taken out of its original packaging and re-packed. Crispbreads were taken out of their boxes, portioned out, and wrapped in clear wrap. Mini Cheddar Cheese crackers were portioned out, put into small and lightweight ziplock bags. I had one freezer bag/ziplock bag to portion out my lunches. This also helps make deciding what to eat easier and ensures that I don’t overeat in a day—which would cut into another day’s food.
What meals were like:
Breakfast was a simple mix of Breakfast Essentials, oatmeal, and tea/coffee. This eventually evolved into just Breakfast Essentials and an energy bar because we had to be quick in the morning and get over the mountain passes before the smoke from the Kings Canyon fire covered the views (and everything). I can’t to appreciate this method because we don’t end up wasting time in the morning with cooking and cleaning.
Each lunch had a ziplock bag with a mixture of Probar, Justin’s Peanut Butter/Hazelnut/Amond Butter squeeze pack, crackers, fruit snacks or fruit bar, and a Rip van Wafel. Trail mix in between.
Dinner was simple: Mary Jane Organic Meals with Petit Ecolier cookies for dessert. The great thing about Breakfast Essentials is that it can also be made into a hot chocolate as well!
- 1 x Aunt Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks Variety Pack (24-count)
- 2 x Breakfast Essentials (10-pack)
- 1 x Doctor Kracker Organic Crispbreads Variety Pack (3-pack)
- 1 x Justin’s Peanut Butter Squeeze Pack (10-pack)
- 1 x Justin’s Hazelnut Butter (10-pack)
- 1 x Justin’s Almond Butter (10-pack)
- 2 x Kind Bar Variety Pack (12-pack)
- 2 x Probar Meal Bar Variety Pack (12-pack)
- 1 x Rip van Wafels, Dark Chocolate Sea Sale (16 count)
- 1 x Rip van Wafels, Honey and Oats (16 count)
- 3 x Trader Joe’s instant coffee packets with creamer and sugar (10-pack)
- 1 pack Raw Almonds
- 1 pack of Pistachios
- 1 pack of Honey Roasted Peanuts
- 1 pack of Late July Organic Mini Cheddar Cheese Bites
- 1 pack of Late July Organic Mini Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
- 1 pack of Mushroom Risotto
- 2 x Trader Joe’s Organic Instant Oatmeal Packets (12-count)
- 2 x Aunt Annie’s Mac N Cheese
- 1 lbs Instant Pea Soup
- 2 x Le Petit Ecolier
- 6 x Luna Bars
- 12 x Mary Jane Organic Meals
- 6 x onebar Fruit Bars
- 10 bags of tea
As I mentioned earlier, this was purely vegetarian diet we had. For non-vegetarians, other options can be:
- Foil tuna packets
- Jerky meats
- Chicken Ramen (lightweight; the best flavor IMO)
What I wish I brought:
- Hot Apple Cider Packets
- More candy
- Nuu Hydrating Electrolyte Tablets (for flavor and variety’s sake)