Preparing the right kind of food for an overnight or extended walk on the Bibbulmun Track is one of the most important considerations walkers need to make. Food can add considerably to the weight of one's backpack, significantly affecting the level of enjoyment experienced on the walk. The list below is just a guideline for you to get started.
If you wish to increase your recipe repertoire and learn more about appropriate food for bushwalking, then attend one of our fantastic Food In A Fuel Stove courses!
Tips for your food preparation
- As with other gear, weight is very important when considering which food items to pack.
- On a longer hiking trip (say three days or more), aim to pack about 700 grams - 1kg per person per day.
- A balanced hiking diet includes more fat and sugar than a normal diet.
- Buddy-up and share as much as you can - you don't need more than one container of coffee, etc.
- Remove as much packaging as you can – re-pack in snap lock bags, they’re light and reusable. Better still, avoid buying heavily packaged items in the first place. Shop to Leave No Trace!
- Label the snap lock bags (eg Lunch day 1).
- Canned food is too heavy, bottles and glass jars are heavy and may break and you have to carry out the empties.
- Pack breakfast and dinner in one big strong stuff-bag, and lunch and snacks in another of a different colour – it makes it easier to find what you want when you need it.
- Do you really need a bowl? Can you eat from your pot? Do you really need a fork and a spoon?
- Luxuries are fine, but you’ve got to carry them - think before you pack! Some high energy and dehydrated foods, which may seem like luxuries, are actually very sensible on a walk eg sun dried tomatoes, fruit leather, chocolate. Take small quantities of highly flavoured, compact ingredients such as capers, herb and spice sprinkles, sambals and pickles, relishes and garlic, to add interest to the bland staples.
- Things that take a long time to cook or prepare can be a hassle if it’s cold, wet or late.
- Think! How much can you really eat during the time you are out there?
You pack it, you carry it. If you think you might need it, don't take it.
Pack it in, pack it out! (ie if you don't eat it, you must carry it back out.) Please adhere to the Leave No Trace principles for the Bibbulmun Track and do not leave any food out there whatsoever. This includes apple cores, fruit skins, food scraps, buried or otherwise.
Do not assume you will be able to burn rubbish. Many campsites do not have a fire place - they have a year-round fire-ban. Also most sachets these days are foil or plastic lined. These either won't burn or produce carcinogens which you and fellow hikers will then breathe in. Remember most people are out on the Track to get away from pollution. Do not burn plastics or polystyrenes. Please do not try and burn tins. They won't burn. If you bring them in then do the right thing and carry them out.
Our maintenance volunteers really appreciate you helping them reduce the amount of rubbish they have to carry out.
- Cereals: muesli (can be cooked for porridge). Look for a good balance of taste and nutrients. Add powdered milk to cereals and mix with water later. UHT milks are an option but they weight more.
- Porridge: oats, cracked wheat, semolina, polenta plus dried fruit (soak in hot water to create juice).
- Breakfast bars - watch the sugar content.
- Pancakes - these can be a great idea but make sure you have the time to prepare and clean up.
You can make sandwiches for the first day or pack some of the ingredients below and make them in the bush.
- Crackers: Ryvitas, Salada, sesame wheat, Vitta-wheats.
- Bread: sliced and fairly solid eg rye, pita bread, mountain bread.
- Cheese: Dutch edam/gouda keeps well. Regular cheddar cheese keeps well if removed from its plastic wrapper and is wrapped in cloth.
- Salami/biltong/jerky: choose your favourites. They will last longer if kept whole and not pre-cut.
- Sardines/tuna: sachets are now available.
- Toppings: margarine, peanut paste, jam or honey, vegemite or promite, chutney/pickles, hommus, tahini.
- Fresh fruit and/or vegies: generally for shorter trips only. Choose items that are easy to carry, such as capsicum, cucumber, carrots, celery.
There are many prepared packet meals, either rice or noodle based, available at supermarkets. When cooked simply and quickly, they make a filling and mostly tasty dinner. Add to these any extras you like – cheese, salami, tuna, dehydrated (or fresh) vegetables etc. Most people find they can eat a whole “4 serve” packet themselves, after a good day’s walk!
Freeze-dri meals are lightweight, convenient and quick to prepare and tend to have better ingredients that the supermarket variety.
Alternatively dehydrate your own meals or ingredients before you go, prepare meal-sized sachets (snap lock bags) of protein and add-in flavouring ingredients, then simply add noodles, couscous or rice on the walk. Hire a dehydrator from the Foundation.
- Protein: TVP/lentils/nuts/beans/salami/coppa or parma ham/split peas/tuna/dried duck or fish / cheese/biltong/chopped nuts-cashews, pistachios.
- Carbohydrates: rice (jasmine or basmati is good and cooks quicker than brown), pasta or noodles, dried mashed potato/rice noodles/ couscous.
- Add-ins: tomato flakes, dried onions, dried mushrooms, garlic flakes, parsley flakes, dried vegies, herbs and spices (mixed/separate). Remember salt and pepper, curry powder, stock cubes or powder (very good for quick flavour boost), flavouring base - packet sauce/casserole base etc, beef stroganoff/sweet and sour/ etc, grated parmesan cheese (for noodle dishes).
Want more ideas? Enrol in Food In A Fuel Stove.
Dessert and snacks
- Instant pudding (packets or shake and set).
- Dried fruit and custard (try the instant custard sachets).
- Rice pudding, biscuits or chocolate.
- Trail mix: sultanas/raisins/nuts/banana chips/m&m's/smarties, lollies etc.
- Backcountry Cuisine desserts include apple pie, cheesecake and strawberry ice-cream!
Powdered milk, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, malt powder. Think about how much you will need - don’t just take a full container.
Back Country Cuisine is easy to prepare and great tasting because of the features of the Freeze-Dri process. This combines quick-to-hydrate, freeze-dried vegetables and meats with sauce mixes that have been processed to retain their natural flavours. The result is delicious meals that can be prepared in the pack in 10 minutes with the addition of boiling water.
In the freeze drying process, crystals of frozen ice in the food are sublimed (evaporated) to water vapour in a vacuum chamber. The result is a completely dry product that does not shrink during the drying process. When prepared for eating, the water quickly gets into the pores left by the ice crystals to give a juicy, tender food product.
After packing, the food is heat-sealed in foil pouches from which all the air has been removed and replaced with nitrogen gas. This keeps the food safe and flavoursome for at least three years without the need for preservatives.
Back Country Cuisine meals are formulated to meet the high energy needs of outdoor activity. There is a careful balance of carbohydrates and sugars for instant energy, protein to replenish exhausted muscles and oils and fat to provide an energy store (oils and fats are kept within the recommended maximum of 30% of total energy).
Freeze drying retains the natural vitamins in the food because of the low temperatures used in processing. Along with naturally occurring minerals and the addition of salt, the meals provide vitamins and minerals necessary to stay healthy.
Check out the range available at Mountain Designs or visit Back Country Cuisine.
Dehydrating your own food
Many walkers enjoy the benefits of drying their own food. The food lasts longer, is far lighter and is better for you. Almost anything can be dehydrated from broccoli to lamb stew to mangos.
Ezidri Dehydrators have generously supplied the Foundation with two food dehydrators at a reduced cost so that they can be hired out to members. We thank them for their support.
Visit our hire page to hire a dehydrator.
Visit Ezidri Dehydrators.