You are all ready for that backpacking trip. You plotted out your map. You have your favorite tent picked out. You thought about trekking poles. You have layers of clothes for warmth and comfort. But then it strikes you as you stuff, tie down, cram all your first aid supplies and water filtration systems into your pack:
What am I going to eat?
Backpacking meals are often well thought out and planned down to counting even how many leaves of lettuce you are going to bring. With already hauling your temporary home on your back; some hikers are hesitant to add the weight of a camp stove. There is often a debate on cost versus weight versus ease to which the best backup meals are prepared.
Another very important and impactful aspect to consider is if you are going to be exploring in any notorious wildfire territories such as Southern California or Colorado. Many national forests will instate fire ban that include fire rings and certain types of camp stoves. Gathering wood or other material to burn is always banned.
Can I just have gummy fruit slices and butterscotch candy on my camping trip you ask? Not nutritionally sound you say? I suppose another bit of research is required.

Have you heard of cold-soaking? This method of no heat cooking alternative is a popular method for ultra light hikers who opt out of hot meals. Cold-soaking is where you fully rehydrate dehydrated meals with cold water. Types of food that bode well with cold-soaking include dried, freeze dried, raw and ready-to-eat prepackaged foods. These meals are great to meet your nutritional needs with no need for a propane canister, a burner or pot. All you really need is a source of water, a good filtration system for the water, a sealable container such as a peanut butter jar, ingredients and a hungry hiker ready for supper.

When you are on the trail, plan to start cold-soaking at least a half-hour before you are ready to eat. A good time line is after you take a mid afternoon break to ease your legs. While resting, mix your food, pack it up in that sealable container and pack it back up in your pack. By the time you reach your campsite with those hangry dinner emotions – your meal should be ready to devour.

Here are some favorite stoveless food ideas :
Beans and rice (instant white rice rehydrates better than brown)
Beef jerky
Mashed potatoes
Lentil soup and corn chowder from bulk bins
Peanut butter
Homecooked and dehydrated meals – our favorite
Instant ramen noodles
Tuna in sunflower oil
Dried seaweed
Dehydrated yogurt
Nuts and seeds
Powdered milk
Fruit leather
Dried veggies
Granola bars

As delicious as those babies sound here, not everyone finds cold-soaking as thrilling as I do. On longer backpacking trips a mixture of heated meals and cold-soaking meals is a nice balance for the majority of hikers.. Here are some backpacking recipes my family and I have had on the trail. All of these meals require heat.

Cinnamon Hot Ham and Pineapple Sammies
cinnamon english muffins
deli sliced ham
pineapple rings
slices of cheese
honey mustard
Tear 4 pieces of aluminum foil that are large enough to encircle each sandwich. Place on a flat work surface.
On top of each foil piece, stack a bottom muffin, lather with honey mustard, add ham, a pineapple ring, and a slice of cheese. Place the top muffin on top. Wrap the sandwich completely with foil. To cook, place the sandwiches on a hot stone near the fire, or over hot coals or a grill rack until hot, about 20 minutes depending upon the temperature of your fire. I have even cooked these directly on the burner.

Macadamia Nut and Apricots Cous Cous
1/3 cup whole wheat cous cous
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1-1/2 cups water
Add all ingredients except water to a quart freezer Ziploc bag. Seal bag and store until ready to use.
Bring water to boil. With opened bag resting on a plate or bowl, pour in boiling water. Seal bag and let soak for 9 minutes, turning bag upside down after 3-4 minutes to redistribute & mix ingredients. Open bag and eat directly from bag, if desired. Or, transfer to a bowl or mug for eating.

Instant Butter Noodles and spam
Instant butter noodles
Minced garlic
1-1/2 cups water
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cubes spam and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Mix in garlic to taste.

Whether you try out cold-soaking or decide a hot meal is better for your camping trip, make sure you store food properly and leave no trace principles.

What are you munching on?