Cook Like A Pro

BACKPACKER Trail Chef Jennifer Bowen has 20 years of culinary experience, including cooking for trail crews in the high country of Yosemite. Follow her tips for better meals on every trip.
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BACKPACKER Trail Chef Jennifer Bowen has 20 years of culinary experience, including cooking for trail crews in the high country of Yosemite. Follow her tips for better meals on every trip.

1. CREATE A MENU:

Plan each meal and you’re less likely to have way too much (common) or too little (a bummer). Two pounds of food per person per day is a basic rule.

2. FIGHT HANGER.

No one wants to hike with grumps. Carry accessible snacks (jerky, dried fruit, energy bars, nuts) and pack easy appetizers (quesadilla fixings, instant soup).

3. BROKEN STOVE?

Don’t go hungry. Some foods can simply be soaked in cold water for about 30 to 45 minutes. Food items that are dehydrated, freeze-dried, or “instant” will work.

4. LEARN TO USE CHOPSTICKS.

They replace spatulas, strainers, and forks.

5. BRING A FRYING PAN.

Ultralighters will scoff, but a frying pan is worth its weight. Why? Pancakes, omelets, grilled cheese, and PB&J French toast. And for ultralighters who want to go gourmet: Evernew’s Titanium Non-Stick Fry Pan weighs just 4.2 ounces (starting at $55, multiple sizes available; evernewamerica.com).

6. SLICE AND DICE.

Bring a knife that has at least a 4-inch blade, and a roughly 8-by-6-inch cutting board. Flexible plastic cutting boards are lightweight and easy to pack. For short trips, do as much cutting as possible at home.

7. PACK INSTANT POTATOES

Use them to thicken soups and stews and to make creative breakfasts (sub for oatmeal).

8. EASY MIXES = EASY COOKING

In a hurry? Grab dehydrated black beans or something similar, plus gourmet additions such as avocado and lime. It’s both easy and tasty.

9. A GOOD SPICE KIT

The usual, plus extras like garlic powder, cumin, curry, cinnamon, and red chili flakes—can fix everything.