Editor's note: this article first appeared on Trailtopia's blog. A big thanks to this small backpacking food company for allowing us to share it with you here.
While we are confident our meals are pretty dang spectacular as is, there are some additional items we occasionally carry along! Some change the flavor, some change the texture, and some just help you pack in as many calories, protein, and fat as possible. Have your own favorites? Let us know! Here are 8 of our favorite add-ons!
While a staple of frontcountry cooking, olive oil is a great high-calorie and high-fat addition to pretty much any backcountry meal. Simple to mix in, olive oil adds substance without vastly altering the overall flavor. Have some leftovers that are a little dried out? Squirt in some olive oil to give it new life! Worried about the mess of transportation? Subway has single-serve packets, and you can always repackage it within a little plastic bottle! Vegetarian? Olive oil is your best friend.
In the never-ending quest to consume more calories and give your body more fuel, tortillas are a vital component. Not only do they taste wonderful, but they allow you to turn every meal into a burrito meal. Who doesn’t love wrapping carbs inside more carbs? Plus, there are few things better than using a bit of leftover tortilla to absorb the last remnants of food in your pouch (or bowl)! Pasta burrito? Beef stroganoff burrito? Don't knock it until you try it (preferably after a long and physically grueling day).
Salt & Pepper
The classics! While pepper helps add texture to just about everything, for meals that are tasting a bit blander than preferred, chuck in a bit of salt to help save the day.
Need some truly ultralight flavor? Few things alter the taste of food more than hot sauce. A little bit goes a long way, and a small bottle can last a long trip! Sriracha? Franks? Find one you like, or pick a couple and put them in a handful of different small droppers! Want single serve packets? Stop by your favorite Mexican restaurant on your way out of town.
Nothing makes you feel more human than adding parm to a trail meal. While we aren’t about to make a health food argument for parm's integration into your trail diet, it's delicious, goes with pretty much everything, and a few packets of it can be picked up at nearly any pizzeria. Who needs salt when you've got parmesan?
Great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, chia seeds are packed with fiber, protein, and plenty of good fats! Sprinkle a handful into your dinner, and your future energy levels will thank you! Similar to olive oil, chia seeds punch well above their weight class.
Some people love it, some people hate it. While controversial, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Shake it on top and gobble up.
Trailtopia Meat Side Packs
Want to pack your meals with a little additional meat? Sprinkle one of Trailtopia's side packs into your meal — choose from crumbled beef, diced beef, chicken, sausage and, for the vegetarians out there, hulled hemp seeds! Freeze dried and precooked, they also make a tasty snack!
What trail meal additions do you like to carry?
I’m frequently stunned by how olive oil transforms a bland meal into a winner. While any oil will add fat calories & ‘mouth feel,’ a good-quality olive oil makes a huge difference. I used to exclusively buy Greek olive oil — I figured their economy could use the boost — but last year I started buying olive oil from Seka Hills in California. It’s delicious!
Nice tip about dehydrating sriracha sauce.
If you eat dairy, parmesan cheese is definitely your friend. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures without spoiling. It adds a nice salty touch to everything.
Sriracha dehydrated on parchment paper turns into a leather. Rehydrate with equal amounts leather and water. Keeps for months.