One of my favorite parks about camping and backpacking is the food. There is nothing more satisfying that completing a long hike, setting up camp, and sitting down to a delicious meal with your closest hiking buddies. Not to mention, chances are you are going to have an incredible view while you chow down on your dinner.
Food can be a bit tricky while backpacking, and there is nothing worse than a really gross meal at the end of a long hard day. Trail food does not have to be complicated, and there is no reason you can’t have a delicious meal to reward yourself. I used to think that anything would taste good at the end of a long, difficult hike, but I proved that wrong on a long trek through the West Rim Trail in Zion National park. I made the horrifying mistake of throwing together some couscous, a can of peppered steak stew, and a can of baked beans. It was so terrible we couldn’t hardly choke it down. Worst. Decision. Ever.
Please don’t ever just bring canned food. The weight is ridiculous and the taste should be illegal. Instead, follow this quick guide to create your own meal that won’t disappoint. Another great part about this meal is that it is easily adaptable to accommodate any eating restrictions.
I call this meal a Hobo meal – I don’t know where the name came from, but I’m just going to stick with it. You can assemble it at home in a few easy steps.
All you will need for your hobo meal is:
- A few large pieces of foil
- Protein (meat of choice or beans)
- Starch (potatoes and/or sweet potatoes)
- Cheese (optional)
- Spices/seasoning of choice
- Butter, olive oil, or coconut oil (I recommend using butter, but for those of us who can’t handle dairy, coconut oil is my go-t0 option)
First, start with a large piece of foil, and lay it out on the counter.
Next, you will add your protein. My personal favorite is steak, but you can add any meat, or if you are vegetarian/vegan, you can add beans. If you are adding meat, make sure it is chopped up in small pieces that will cook easily and quickly. In the picture below, I actually just used a whole chicken breast, rubbed in a meat rub. You can cook large pieces of meat like this, or chop it up into smaller pieces for convenience later.
Second, add your veggies. You can add as many or as little as you want. I highly recommend adding potato or sweet potato, as after a long hike you will really be needing extra carbs and calories. I usually have a lot of potatoes, a few sweet potatoes, and then add mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, onions (I highly recommend these, as it really helps add flavor!), garlic, and anything else that sounds good at the time. Feel free to add as many veggies as you want. Just make sure your veggies are cut up in bite size pieces so they will cook quickly.
Sprinkle with cheese (optional, but delicious).
Next, add your spices. Salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes are my go-to spices, but you have a lot of freedom here to add whatever you like. Sometimes I use a steak rub, or a spice mixture. It’s hard to go wrong – you know what you like!
Finally, add a few teaspoons of butter, olive oil, or coconut oil (if you eat dairy, stick to the butter. You’ll thank me later).
Once you have compiled your desired hobo dinner, you will fold the edges of the foil in and wrap everything up tightly. Add a few more layers of foil in order to prevent anything from leaking in your pack.
To cook your hobo meal, just toss it into the coals of your campfire. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes in the coals. Make sure to keep surrounding the foil packet with hot coals to keep constant heat on it.
Pull your hobo meal off the fire. Be careful, as it will obviously be very hot. I have this ridiculous tendency to burn myself every time, because I am overly excited for food, and I’m usually starving. Unwrap the foil, let it sit and cool for a few minutes (the hardest part), and enjoy!
If you are hiking or backpacking in an area that doesn’t allow fires, you can cook it over your camp stove. Simply place the ingredients into your camp pot, cover, and cook. Cook time will vary depending on your camp stove and how large your hobo meal is. Just keep an eye on it, and as soon as the potatoes are soft, your meat should be cooked through.
The foil keeps all of the juices and flavors together, giving you an incredibly juicy and flavorful meal to enjoy.
Would you like more ideas on what to take on your backpacking adventures? Check out these links here to get more meal ideas:
- 31 Backpacking Food Ideas
- Backpacking Food: Meal and Planning Tips from REI
- Simple Lightweight Backpacking Food Ideas
- Best Backpacking Food – Simple and Nutritious
- What’s the Best Backpacking Food by Backpacker Magazine
What will you put in your hobo meal? Share your concoctions to give the rest of us ideas!