Anyone who has been doing hut trips long enough certainly has developed a set of hut trip recipes that they take with them each time. Also, as is the case with food, people are very particular about what constitutes a gourmet meal, especially at the huts. I have run into just about every type of Chef while visiting the huts, ranging from the freeze dried food chefs (just add water!) to the people who seem to bring up an entire fridge worth of food to the huts.
Here are a few things I have learned when planning hut trip food meals: First, my appetite drops when I am at altitude. It takes me a few days to finally get adjusted and have a "large" meal. There seems to be some research indicating that this is natural - a study done suggests that no only do you eat less at high altitude, but you burn more - so, in a way, Hut tripping is a great way to lose some weight! Therefore, the first adjustment I make with hut trip meals is to go with smaller portions, but more meals - meaning lots of yummy high protein snacks! Second, I stay away from foods that can go bad quickly, or have a greater chance of carrying bacteria, so, as much as I like a salad, I usually save these for home and rely on cooked foods. Third, remember that EVERYONE else will over pack food, guaranteed.
For me, I look for the balance of having great tasting hut trip meals, that doesn't take up a ton of space or weight, or require excessive use of the kitchen or the creation of garbage. I have no care to pack down a bunch of food I didn't need, especially cooked food that wasn't eaten. There really is no sacrifice that needs to be made, but, preparing a meal plan for the hut trip begins well in advance of my departure date.
Here is a list of things I don't bring up:
1. Bread squishes and gets wet. Bagels too. (flat breads and tortillas work)
2. Coffee is a major pain to clean, and the grinds are messy too. (Starbucks VIA is awesome)
4. Crackers break.
5. Bananas go bad quick. (Apples and Oranges are great)
1. Granola with Yogurt and Fruit
2. Breakfast Burritos - eggs can get a little messy to clean up, hard to tell portions.
3. Oatmeal - Instant is easy to clean and make, fills the tummy. I love mine with raisins, fruits and some brown sugar!
4. Bacon - mmmmmmmm, bacon!!!
5. Tang - if it's good for the astronauts, it's good for me!
6. Lox/cream cheese - simple, light and great protein.
7. Coffee - I've switched to Starbucks VIA, no more messy grinds, cold and burnt coffee!
8. Pancakes are great - but get the bisquick shake n pours for easy clean up.
9. Chorizo - great multi tasker - good in burritos, on the side, full of flavor.
10. Dehydrated Hash Browns (available at Costco)
Lunch on a hut trip means a few different things: what you need to consume while you are hiking, snacks while you are out touring or skiing, and a formal lunch during a break. For me, I focus on making it small and light, with lots of options for different tasty treats.
Flavored Tuna packets - they come in single serving packets that keep things clean, tasty too!
Crackers - I usually go for an assortment of crackers, and they usually break, but they are good. (and the crumbs are good in the soup).
Smoked Fish - one of my favorite snacks at the huts! full of protein and oils, this isuaually the first thing I go for when I am done with the hike.
Miso Soup Packets -Miso is a great fast way to start getting warm protein into your diet once you make it to the hut. I usually have one after every journey out into the mountains.
Chicken Noodle Soup Packets - same as Miso.
Chocolate - mmmmmmmmmmm, chocolate!
cured meats - salami, prosciutto - I usually for some more rich and spicy meats
cheeses - whatever suites your tastes, but I like rich cheeses full of flavor - especially at the hut.
Fruits: Apples, Oranges
Hard Candy: makes there something to do while climbing up. helps make water
Nuts: cashews, pistachios are great, but don't throw the shells in the fire - you have to carry them down!
For more ideas, check out my post on Hut Trip Lunches
Dinner is something that I've usually had trouble with. I lose my appetite, and after a day of snacking on the yummy foods in the lunch section, I really don't have a strong appetite for dinner until the second or third night on a trip. I solved this problem with one of my favorite ideas: Get take out food from your favorite restaurant and freeze it in a vacuum sealed boil in a bag. I wrote a post and haev a video that shows how to do it here. I have yet to meet someone who didn't drool over my selection of Chicken Masala or General Tso's Chicken. This is quite simply the easiest, cleanest, fastest and best tasting gourmet hut trip food idea you can make while at a hut. Check out my post on how to prepare Gourmet Hut Food
After my mandatory boil in a bag, here are a few other food ideas that we often employ:
Pizza - if you can't finish it, there will be people in the hut who will (check out a recipe here).
Pasta - it's like oatmeal for breafast.
Fajitas - chicken or flank steak
Stir Fry - but why make it when you can order it take out.
Here is another post I wrote on the best food for a hut trip. I'd like to finish by stating after I come up with a set of meals, I ration out what I want, and leave the rest home, and, personally, I err on the side of less. On my first hut trips I simply threw a bunch of food into my bag, and carried a lot of it out. Now, I know pretty much what my diet is like, and I think about how many vegis I need, how I could match things together (Breakfast Burritos, Quesadillas, and pizza share ingredients). I like to get rid of extra garbage while I am at home or at the hotel the night before, and I either vacuum seal my portions to keep them fresh and dry, or put them in a ziplock bag.
Needless to say, great tasting foods should not be one of the luxuries of life that is given up because of a hut trip. Instead, it should be celebrated, not in a gluttonous way, but in a more refined, tasty way. If I made one recommendation, it would be to try the boil in a bag method on either take out food, or your own preparations, you will not be disappointed. Also, learn as you go. I keep a journal and list outwhat worked, and what didn't work, and review it before my next trip, always trying to refine my methods for making a hut trip spectacular.