I was talking with Teresa “Dicentra” recently about our stocks and stores of trail food ingredients – we often share if one has something the other is out of or can’t get 😀 I realized my “hiker’s pantry” was looking pretty thin these days and needed a shaking down. Having not hiked a lot this winter there wasn’t as much reason to have everything neat and to even have everything I normally have in it! I had orders show up from Harmony House Foods and Frontier Food Co-op this week as well and I figured…why not use those orders as an excuse to get everything in order?
But lets back up a tiny bit and talk about the “Hiker’s Pantry”. What I have is two parts – the dedicated items such as dried vegetables, fruits, seasonings, boxed goodies only for hiking, shelf stable cheese, oil packets — that kind of thing. These I keep in large Rubbermaid bins. Then there is the other part where I use ingredients that I also use at home – pasta, rice, etc. It is often the dedicated items that need the sorting! Easy to run low and not know it.
So right as spring hiking season is getting near, this is the time to go and look at what you have! If you have a well stocked hiker’s pantry you can save money and easily make up meals in minutes!
Shots of the recently redone bins, this one has all our single serving packets (such as oil, cheese, etc) and seasonings. Shelf stable meats and even commercial meals get stashed here. For ease in finding items use snack and sandwich size zip top bags to keep items separate.
Gladware storage containers are excellent for stashing items in. To keep everything fresh use a new freezer bag (either pint or quart size), seal tightly and then put in a container. It also helps prevent items from being crushed – such as with delicate items like freeze dried fruit.
The main bin is where we store our vegetables, fruits, beans and more:
As mentioned above about repacking one can save money and find hard to get items by shopping online – especially if you are willing to buy larger packages:
This was the order I received from Frontier Foods. Many of their products are sold in large 16 ounce Mylar packages. If you hike a lot and like items with nothing fake added, this is the way to go! Butter powder, yogurt powder, natural cheese powders, cheddar cheese sauce mix, even cream of mushroom soup powder! I taped the info label off the package onto the storage container so I don’t forget any instructions. My recent order from Harmony House Foods brought me lots of freeze dried fruit, mushrooms and vegetables. Soon I need to place an order from Minimus for single servings of a number of condiments. I love their lower sodium soy sauce and also organic dressing packets!
Once you have everything your heart desires and you get it all packed up you should also consider anything you have left over from previous times. Sometimes waste does happen. You can forget about an item or you buy or dry too much…or you just didn’t get out as much as you had hoped for. So start the checking – if it is a sealed item check expiration dates. If a dried vegetable or fruit look at it. Is it turning brown, sticking together? Open it up, the smell is very noticeable if it has gotten moisture in it. It will be sour smelling. Don’t be frugal and keep items that have gone off. Toss them and try to do better. Eating it might not hurt you but it won’t taste good! (This is one reason to store items double sealed, especially in humid areas) With single serving packets toss dressing after 6 months, mayo shouldn’t be stored long. Try only to get what you need and use it within a month or two. Most everything else will be good for up to a year. The olive oil packets store well. Toss anything that has oil stains, staining or just doesn’t look right. Packets are cheap so don’t freak if you have to toss 3 ketchup and 1 soy sauce 😉
And when done you know exactly what you have and any items you might need to get. Then you just have to go plan a hike!