I can take a lot of things lightly on my hunts, but I’ll be the first to admit that food isn’t one of them. I will not go hungry. Maybe I’m just not tough enough to rely on the hunt alone and I’m quite alright with that. I can slack in terms of hygiene, but I don’t slack on calories. Of course there have to be boundaries for the sake of weight, but numbers don’t lie and neither do my clothes when I’ve returned home and lost too much weight from lack of nutrition. I want to consume an absolute minimum of 2,000 calories/day when I’m on an elk hunt, especially when I’m putting in 5-15 miles/day. Many people pack the dehydrated meals which are great and I’ll eat those all day; however, the snacks in between are what really make the difference. Keep in mind that fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins. Fat is fuel and it is necessary! Keep your tank full and grab a few of my favorites before your next trip:
Oatmeal Packets: I’m not a “carbs-and-sugar as-soon-as-I-wake-up” girl, but they were just easy, and easy is really important on long, physically demanding hunts. Tip: flip the oatmeal packet so that the thicker seam is now the bottom; pour a little boiling water and eat right out of the packet. Also, throw a peanut butter squeeze pack (#7 on this list) in there for some additional calories. No need to dirty a dish for this one!
Ahi Tuna: I’ve tried a LOT of packaged tuna; not enough to call myself a tuna connoisseur but enough to tell you this is worth the money. I took a chance after reading the Amazon reviews. Tuna and coconut oil just didn’t seem to mix in my head, but I’m so glad I tried them anyway. They’re wonderful and very filling with those added fat calories!
Epic Bars: I reached out to my followers in hopes of finding a new protein bar that hit the spot. I’ve tried quite a few out there, most of which have so much extra junk for ingredients and I get tired of the taste after consuming a few of them. The biggest issue has always been sugar. There’s an unbelievable amount of sugar in most bars (and most food these days honestly) that I’ve been unhappy with previous brands. Epic bars were one of the top recommendations, along with RX Bars which I do like but didn’t get around to purchasing before leaving. I still think Epic is more appropriate because I was able to tear them up into pastas or throw them in a tortilla, which I would never do with an RX bar. Best part? They’re based out of Austin, Texas so it feels good to support a fairly local business.
F-Bombs: Woah these are good. The macadamia nut butter has over 200 calories in a single packet! They’re tasty & compact. Each morning I’d stick one in my pocket to warm it up during my climb and by the time I’d reach the top it was ready to eat. Highly recommended!
Babybel Cheese: one of my favorites! I love cheese and the wax casing made them a breeze to have on the trip. We ran out early because we couldn’t resist more than one a day!
Tortillas: Almost anything in a tortilla is gold. Jerky & cheese wraps, tuna wraps, & even just some peanut butter thrown in there. Also, the horses approved.
Justin PB packets: usually just ate these straight for quick calories (much like the f-bombs above). As previously mentioned, I did put some PB in my oatmeal packets and loved it.
Baked apple chips: lightweight & horse approved! We did bring a few actual apples, but due to the weight I would recommend sticking to chips. They’re a nice treat after dinner and/or pick me up on the mountain.
Protein powder: fast snack and often times part of my breakfast. I would mix my protein in my nalgene, while Wayne would put a tiny bit of water in the ziploc bag (we both packaged our single scoop of protein in snack size baggies prior to leaving) then cut a corner & squeeze it out like a paste. I tried that and wasn’t a fan due to the thick texture, but it might work great for someone else!
Dried sausage: ours was homemade with venison and pork fat. They’re a bit heavy for packing in but definitely worth it and they don’t last long! We would put them in tortillas, cut them up into meals, or even just eat a link with our pasta of choice.
Pork rinds: they’re bulky but hardly weigh anything and it’s worth the quick calories. Sometimes we’d eat them by themselves, while other times we’d crumble them up and put them in the quinoa or couscous.
Oil: I don’t care if it’s a mini bottle of olive oil or the avocado oil packets. Pour some IN or ON every meal you can.