Forget the multi-pot cook kits. They are heavy, bulky and unnecessary.
All of your meals should be able to be cooked in one cup with water. ie - heat water and then add noodles, rice, potatoes, etc. 750 ml with a lid and wide base is ideal.
Drink from your collapsible water bladder. Otherwise, you can enjoy a hot drink after you finish eating.
Lay out your meals at home beforehand. Then sort them by weight. Plan to eat the heaviest food first on the trail.
If you bring luxury foods (fresh fruit, meats, etc), its best to get them in your stomach and off your back asap.
Prioritizing what and when you eat can shave pounds off your pack by the end of a trip.
Those brittle crackers will turn to powder after a couple days at the bottom of your pack. Squishy fruit, fluffy bread, soft greens need some extra TLC as well.
Bring a bandana (can double up as a dish rag) and hang your delicate food off the back of your pack.
You want to crush miles and enjoy the scenery in the day... not stop and fiddle with your stove. Keep your day food quick, easy and cook-free.
The time to relax is at the end of the day. This is also when you will really want that hot meal. Sprawl out at camp and cook dinner at your own pace.
Most foods come in layers of packaging. You want to leave as much of this at home for two reasons:
1) Less weight and bulk to carry, but more importantly, 2) you don't have to pack it out.
Throw away the box cases and bags. Consolidate as much food as you can into one bag.
I backpacked for nearly a decade before realizing how helpful these can be.
Particularly important during winter. Your fuel itself flows much slower in cold weather. Not to mention that your stove is already fighting an uphill battle against the colder elements. The combination can drain your fuel while your water slooowly heats up.
A folded piece of aluminum foil will act as a windscreen - effectively blocking the wind and channeling the flame to heat your pot much more efficiently.
When you don't have soap and don't want to wipe that dirty cup out with your one clean rag, use your spork. Some sporks come with a firm straight handle that is perfect for scraping the walls of a cup clean.
By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine to Fast Company. He wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe. Instagram: @chrisrcage.
Affiliate disclosure: We aim to provide honest information to our readers. We do not do sponsored or paid posts. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links. This post may contain affiliate links. This comes at no extra cost to you.
650-calorie fuel. No cooking. No cleaning.