One of the most important things when hunting in the backcountry is what food to bring with you. You need food that will provide enough energy while not being too heavy or expensive. While many hunters go with Mountain House or some other freeze-dried option, some of us don’t have the money to eat those meals every day. There are also more space-efficient meals and options that make it feel like home. Here is a mealplan to cut down on the cost of your elk hunt this September.
Eat a big breakfast: Oatmeal, dates, eggs
Oatmeal is cheap and it contains a ton of energy. Typically I focus on dense foods that have fats and complex carbs. You can mix peanut butter into your oatmeal to add protein and calories. If you have access to eggs from a small farm, or have your own chickens, you can also carry eggs into the backcountry with you that do not need to be refrigerated. As long as the eggs have not been sprayed to be sold in a grocery store the chance of transferring salmonella to the eggs is low and you can have a healthy protein rich breakfast.
Snack: Dates/Cheese/Peanut butter
Dates are cheap. If you don’t like them right away once you aren’t hungry enough yet. Cheese gets better as you leave it out for longer and peanut butter offers a healthy fat and lots of calories. Dates, peanut butter, and cheese go together pretty well for a good snack around 10 am.
Lunch: Whatever you cooked for dinner the night before
If you fill a zip-loc container with food you cooked for dinner the night before you can just eat that for lunch the next day.
Dinner: Brown rice/Sweet potatoes and Wild Game
A bag of brown rice goes a long way if you boil a cup each night. If you carry a sweet potato in with you as well you can mix butter in you will have a pretty healthy high calorie diet. Cheese is another good option that adds calories. But the best way I have found to save on weight is to eat a lot of game near camp. Half of Max and my diet was possum at points in our trapping trips. If you can bring extra arrows and eat rabbits, fish, squirrels or anything you can get your hands on you will lengthen your stay and lighten your load tremendously.
Granola Bars, Dried Apricots, Candy Bars: aka morale boosters
So far you are probably thinking that these meals are pretty bland. Having a granola bar halfway through a ten mile hike or eating a bag of dried apricots after five days after eating dates the first four days can be a real morale booster. Spend a little more on a couple of items and plan on eating them when you think morale will be low. One hunt Max and I hiked through a few miles of tangled, thorny brush to drink out of a stagnant pond, then Max broke out a granola bar he had been saving. I still remember that being the best granola bar of my life.
Let me know if you have any tricks for saving money on food while hunting. Good luck out there.