Food preparation for the Overland Track - Tasmania - Part One

We received an email from Lauren about a common issue for people who are infrequent multiday hikers, what to do about FOOD? We have posted the answer here so others can share our suggestions and post comment with their ideas.

In this first section we cover basic food sourcing, breakfast and snacks.

Question:
Greetings,
Although I have hiked the New Zealand Routeburn track in Jan 2004, it was a while ago and I have forgotten a lot about what food I took! In January a group of us are doing a 6 night, 7 day hike in the Tasmania Overland ( Cradle Mountain ) track.
Any lists or advice you may have regarding food, and even mental / physical preparation would be most appreciated.

Answer:
Food organisation for the Overland Track depends on a few things :
- Are there any "natural" pairings in the group who could cook together e.g. partners, carnivores or vegetarians?
- How long are you in Tasmania before you head off on the hike?
- Do you have access to a food drier?


Background
We generally fly down the day before and get organised so we can be walking by lunchtime the next day. It also gives us a mental space between home and hiking, like starting the holiday early!!


You cannot take fresh fruit and vegetables (and other specific items) into Tasmania, so if you need these items, time must be allocated for a shopping expedition. You MAY be able to get most of your fresh stuff if you arrive in Tassie early enough, and have flexible transport to Cradle Mountain. If you are arriving the same day you are commencing the walk, you need to be very organised.

If there are a few of us we generally organise ourselves into two or three people who will share meals. We find this the best way due to limitations on cooking pot sizes, the time it takes to cook larger portions and it seems to be an efficient use of fuel/burners. It also means on a six night hike you get to carry two meals each.

Packaging and storage

We remove ALL packaging that comes with the food and often combine packaging
We use a LOT of ziplock bags of various sizes
We both use a lightweight plastic tub to store perishables in our packs. The main reason is to stop food being damaged but it is also a convenient way to grab your lunch or morning teas stuff. This would include any fruit or vegetables, dry biscuits (that crumble so easily), coffee and powdered milk, that days soup and the fruit cake.


Below is a picture taken at Pelion Hut, the food tubs we use are pictured on the table. We like them, some of our friends don't

Meals

Breakfast - carry and prepare your own

Sue is a cereal girl and she measures her normal portion of cereal into a bag and has a store of dried fruit like prunes to add each day.

I usually alternate between porridge and cereal. I eat about one and a half of those individual satchels of porridge so I combine them before we go or add some quick cook oats to the packet. I don't really cook the porridge, I just put it in my plate/bowl and pour boiling water over it and cover for a few minutes (stirring occasionally) . This is because in the past when I cooked this stuff, as per the instructions, the high sugar content burnt it solid on the bottom of the pot!!

We usually carry hard boiled eggs so I occasionally have a couple for breakfast.

We always use powdered milk and after determining the amount of made up milk we need for the trip (3 cups of coffee a day, say 1 cup of milk, plus breakfast etc) we then split the powdered milk into 3 or 4 bags. We only use one at a time as it gets sticky and the zip locks stop zipping!

HINT: the trick we find here is to ensure you have measured portions for each day at probably 20% more than we would eat at home. Put them in a pile and count em off, 6 breakfasts, 6 bags.

Snacks

We make our own Scroggin and take between 120 and 150 grams per person, per day. So for six nights we take 7 bags, and plan to use about half a bag on the first and last day. The calculation is simple, but scary, when you see the weight of junk required.

For us it would be 240grams / day * 7 = 1.68kg of scroggin.

We use ingredients that are not necessarily healthy but have a lot of short term energy such as M&M's, jelly beans, liquorice all sorts (cut up), bullets, snakes (cut up), some nuts and dried fruit. As we shop, we just add up the net weight of the packets we buy, until we get to our "target weight". We then take it home, cut up what is required and mix it in a huge bowl and then weigh it out and put it in small ziplock bags. Once the 14 bags are full the rest is eaten on the spot!!

We also take one chocolate or muesli bar per person per day and add a couple for spares. On your trip I would probably take 8 bars.

We usually throw in a fruit cake to eat for morning tea or when we get to the hut. Often it is only a dark fruit ,homebrand one, but sometimes Sue bakes a "real" one which is delicious. We calculate about one and a half slices each per day. Again, cut it in two, taking a piece each, eat one and then start on the other!


Drinks
Coffee is measured out by the spoon full, on a number of cups per day basis and, yes you guessed it, into a ziplock bag! Tea, again, how many cups a day each? Only take that many teabags.

I like "Tang" so take one sachel for each 2 days just for a change from water. Sue likes Gatorade and takes some in a bag This winter we took some hot chocolate as a treat.


In the next post we will cover lunch and dinners......

Related Posts
Drying a Curry for hiking

Spaghetti Bolognaise - easy to dry and rehydrate on the trail
Hiking food - menu for a nine day trip
Vegetarian hiking food ideas

Food preparation for the Overland Track - Lunch and Dinner

3 comments:

WD said...

Great piece, which is relevant no matter where you hike in the world.
Love your name for trail mix/gorp.

Frank and Sue said...

Thanks very much WD, I am pretty sure the name Scroggin is widely used across Australia (and New Zealand). Just had a look on Wikipedia and someone has posted a a definition there that shows the origin of the term S.C.R.O.G.G.I.N . Glad you enjoyed the read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scroggin

Margie said...

Lots of good info here for beginner walkers. Thank you.