Bushwalking food – the plan

My dad was once horrified to hear me say that the two best things about bushwalking are the food and the company. I think he has a stronger appreciation for the adventurous aspect of it than I do. I do enjoy the scenery and the wildlife and that’s why I go walking in the first place. Nonetheless while I can eat and chat at home, I like to be able to eat and chat while bushwalking too. The food on a bushwalk always tastes extra yummy because you’re seriously hungry. This is a bit of a mixed blessing. Sometimes hunger can give you the ability to eat horrible things that you wouldn’t consider reasonable at home, like cheesesticks, 5 minute macaroni cheese, bizarre combinations of chocolate and salted nuts…

I’m currently planning my longest bushwalk ever and trying to set a menu for three. We’re going to be out for five dinners and we plan to do our cooking in a single billy on a gas burner.


There are lots of things to consider here, most of them relate to the weight of your pack and not to the taste of the food. Ideally I would like to optimise both these parameters. You also have to be able to store the food without refrigeration for the better part of a week. Washing up will be no fun either, since soap is discouraged, I need to be able to most of the cleanup with a scourer.

To minimise weight you want
– to use as little gas as possible, short cooking times are favourable
– to use dried foods where possible, cans are heavy and produce bulky garbage
– have sachets not glass and avoid things that might leak

Now if all these requirements in combination with a desire to eat nice food is starting to sound impossible, let me show you what we had last time.


This risotto was made with rice, basil in a tube, sundried tomatoes, snow peas, pinenuts and cheese. It actually tasted pretty good and was far easier to clean off the billy than the block of Mexican hot chocolate we boiled up for dessert. Now all we need is four more meals of the same calibre and some cheese that will last a week.

To come up with a plan for our meals I went out for lunch with the Gourmet Runner and her sister. Everyone else in our office invited themselves along, even though they won’t be walking with us. They had a good time making suggestions for what they thought we should eat. Some of the suggestions were even useful. The Gourmet Runner and her sister are Chinese-Malaysian-Aussie and had quite a few suggestions for dried foods I wasn’t familiar with. I haven’t seen laksa paste in a sachet before and I didn’t know you could get powdered coconut milk. Both of these are small revelations compared with the novelty of meat floss. This dried minced beef with sugar, salt and chilli surprised me by tasting quite ok. James was once served it on a plane in a sachet labelled “contains shredded beeves”. Obviously if the plural of leaf is leaves, the plural of beef is beeves.


So here is our planned menu. We’re planning to have an indestructible vegetable like snow peas or beans with all of these meals. Hopefully you can’t get scurvy in a week. We also need to decide whether it’s worth taking some oil for frying onions in terms of both ease of washing up and danger of spills.

Italian Rice
rice, sundried tomatoes, tube of basil, pinenuts, cheese

Indian Rice
rice, cinnamon, cloves, almonds, raisins, coconut powder, onion, garlic

Mushroom Pasta
pasta, dried porcini, chilli, salami

rice noodles, sachet laksa paste, coconut powder

Chicken Rice
rice, stock cubes, onion, garlic

Does anyone have any suggestions? Do you know of something light and flavoursome that doesn’t need refrigeration? and what’s your favourite gluten free flat bread?

8 thoughts on “Bushwalking food – the plan

  1. Arwen you’re fantastic! My only memories of bushwalking food involve lots of tinned food (mainly baked beans), heated up and served with eggs *shudder*. I’ve never been since, but this post makes bushwalking a much more pleasant idea lol.

  2. Wow an actual menu while camping! I haven’t been camping since high school – loved it, back then. And back then, our meals were pretty basic open-the-packet-and-add-boiling-water fare.

  3. What a great idea! With this warm weather it would be great to go out and have a bush bash. I need to convince Daz to go camping……maybe sea side.

    Now…for my suggestion. You can get those packets of tuna or salmon (not tinned, they are foil wrapped) at supermarkets now. Mix with some olives and pasta and you have instant seafood pasta.

    Good beef jerky is always good to snack on too. Chilli beef from the local asian grocer is my fav

  4. i love that you’re planning a menu! and hey, i hear you. anytime i go anywhere, there has to be some food to look foward to.

    you have some great ideas here. re: meat, what about lup cheong, the dried chinese sausage that you find in asian groceries? there are also darker versions made with liver. the sausages are quite fatty so you could fry them to render the fat out, then use that to fry onions and mix with spaghetti and rehydrated peas and/or Chinese mushrooms? cous cous is also very easy.

  5. Nice one!

    I hear your dilemna, we’re leaving in about 3 weeks to go to New Zealand to do a heap of tramping over there (one 3 day, one for day and one 7 day trip). I’m trying to get all of our food organised before we go. The good thing is that you can now get both tuna and salmon in foil packets rather than in heavy tins, backcountry kitchen also have 5 servings of freeze dried mince, which is much nicer than it sounds, for $8 from most camping shops.

    I do have one, but haven’t really used it alot, but a dehydrator is supposed to be a godsend for these things, lots of preperation needed though!

    I know where that last picture was taken too! That’s looking at Mount Solitary from Ruined Castle. Great walking all through the Jamieson Valley – i miss it!

  6. Hi Lorraine – I guess if you think with your stomach there’s a food story in most activities 🙂

    Hi Howard – thanks, I’ll have a look at his blog.

    Hi Miss Honey – baked beans and eggs doesn’t sound very good. You’ll have to take charge of the menu next time.

    Hi Y – adding boiling water is easier, but not as much fun to plan and probably more expensive. I’m enjoying the menu planning.

    Hi Maria – I’ll get some of those foil tuna sachets, they’ll be good for lunches as well as dinners. I’ll see if I can get a small vacuum pack of olives too, they’d be nice.

    Hi Helen – I’ll look for dried sausage or maybe salami, good idea.

    Hi Scon – New Zealand, I’m jealous! I haven’t tried a dehydrator myself but my dad was telling me about his friend who dried everything for his trip – even yoghurt!

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