Whether it’s your Bronze, Silver or Gold expedition, meal planning for your expedition is vital. It’s important to think about what fuel you’re giving your body each day. Planning what food to take for your expedition requires some thought, it must be high in calories, low in weight and still edible after being crammed in a rucksack.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and even more so on your expedition. Breakfast will set you up for a morning of walking until your next pit stop at lunch. Porridge or oats first thing will warm you up and contain slow release energy for the day ahead. Powdered milk is a handy alternative to normal milk – it’s lightweight and won’t go off.
If porridge isn’t your thing, cereal bars, or individually wrapped food such as pain au chocolat are a good alternative. They’re lightweight and contain carbohydrates and sugar for that much-needed energy.
When planning your lunches, the first thing you need to decide on is whether you want hot or cold food as both have pros and cons. Cold lunches can be prepped in advance, meaning when you’re on your walk you can eat straight away when you stop for lunch. Hot lunches warm you up but take more time and mean more washing up on arrival at the campsite. Alternatively, cook your hot lunch in the morning and save in a flask until lunch. Whatever you decide on, your lunch needs to be high in energy to fuel you for the rest of the day.
Fresh fruit is fine for the first day, but it may get bruised or squashed in your bag as your expedition continues, dried fruit is lighter and stay fresh for longer. Nuts and chocolate are also great for added calories, preparing you for an afternoon’s walking.
Cold Lunch Ideas
Pitta bread, flat breads or tortilla wraps are great for lunches as it doesn’t matter if they get squashed, and sometimes come in resealable packets to stay fresh. As for fillings, pre-cooked, pre-packaged cheese or meats that do not need to be refrigerated are a good call, or for an extra sugary treat, try using chocolate spread.
Hot Lunch Ideas
Instant pasta or noodles make great quick lunch ideas. Instant food is quick to cook and relatively light to carry.
Dinner is the time where you can push your culinary boat out, evening meals should be a group activity and you can make it as simple or complex as you like. It’s recommended that your evening meal should make up 50% of your daily calories.
For a really simple meal, you can use pre-cooked food, such as Wayfayrer, they have a great selection of meals to choose from, and can be eaten hot or cold.
Evening meals that are easy to prepare but packed with calories are perfect for DofE. Try a carb-heavy food like pasta or rice and pair it with a sauce and add pre-packed meat for added protein. Pasta or rice is relatively light and will make the main bulk of your meal, and sauce can be bought in sachets with enough for a couple of people – great for cooking in groups!
As an added treat, pack something for dessert. It’ll give you a lift at the end of the day. Or, if you’re after extra warmth, pack sachets of hot chocolate to make with hot water to end the day on.
Snacks are great to give you short energy bursts during the day. Nuts, sweets or cereal bars are ideal to eat without having to stop walking, and they’re handy enough to pop in your pocket for easy access.
Although extremely unlikely, you need to be prepared if there is an emergency when on your expedition. Chocolate bars, cup-a-soup, or other snacks are good rations as they’ll give a good energy boost in unforeseen circumstances. It’s important to note, they should be uneaten at the end of your expedition unless you’ve experienced an emergency.
Food for Thought
Individually Wrapped Food
Individually wrapped food is ideal – it keeps food fresh as you don’t have to open any more than you need. It also allows you to bring food you might not be able to bring otherwise, i.e. cooked meats or cheese.
Keep your food organised by putting each days’ food into individually resealable bags. This makes them easy to find in a packed bag and you can keep track of what you’ve eaten.
As a minimum, it’s recommended that you take at least 2 litres of water on each day of your expedition. If you’re walking in hotter temperatures, taking enough bottles to carry more than this is recommended.
The DofE have a handy meal planner to prepare for your expedition, and ensure you’re consuming enough calories. It’s important not to overlook planning your meals - what seems insignificant now can make a massive difference to how you feel mentally, and physically, after walking miles upon miles.
Check out our other blogs for more tips and info about the DofE here.