If you plan to spend any real time on the trail, you’ll need quick and healthy snacks to keep your body going. You can also burn a serious hole in your wallet purchasing fancy, pre-packaged snack products. Cut your costs significantly by making your own snacks at home, on the cheap. It’s not that difficult and the possibilities are as endless as your creativity and ingenuity!
By “cheap,” I don’t mean “junk food” or brainless empty calories. The recipes/options here use healthy ingredients. We make them ourselves as alternatives to pricey commercial versions.
Hiker Babe’s rule of thumb for trail munchies: Snacks should be high quality, lightweight, easily stored and tasty. They should also be simple. That is, easily eaten while you’re on the go. (Hiker Dude and I rarely come to a “full stop” for lunch.)
Our favorite trail snacks include homemade trail mix, beef jerky, and chewy granola bars. Check out:
TRAIL MIX. Try for a balance of salty, sweet and sour. Some of our favorite ingredients:
- Dried apricots (chopped)
- Banana chips
- Dried pineapple chunks
- Raisins, craisins, and/or dried cherries
- Peanuts and/or almonds
- Mini chocolate chips or M&Ms
- Goldfish cheddar crackers
- Mini pretzel sticks
Put ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Pack into individual Ziploc bags, using about one cup of nuts and pretzels/crackers to about half a cup each of chocolate and fruit. Save even more by purchasing your own dehydrator and dehydrating fruit ingredients yourself.
HIKER DUDE’S BEEF JERKY
1-1/2 pounds thinly sliced round steak
1 bottle honey teriyaki marinade
Slice round steak into strips 3 to 4 inches long and about an inch wide. Put in large Ziploc with half a bottle of marinade. Soak at least overnight. Remove from fridge. Lay steak strips out on paper towels. Pat dry. Transfer to a dehydrator. Let dry for 4 to 6 hours depending on how thick the strips are, or to taste. Vacuum seal. Place in freezer. Remove from freezer and toss into your backpack before heading out on your next hike. We’ve tried several different types and flavors of marinade. Honey teriyaki is our favorite. Note: You’ll need a pocketknife or small scissors to open the vacuum-sealed package. Be sure to pack one.
HIKER BABE’S HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS:
- 2 cups oats
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- Dash of ground cloves
- 2½ cups mix-ins (see below)
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. water
Dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apricots, figs, dates, etc.), sunflower seeds, peanuts or other nuts, wheat germ or flax seed, chocolate chips, etc.
- Line an 8×8 square pan or a 9×13 rectangular dish with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam.
- If desired, process ⅓ cup of the oats in a blender until finely ground.
- Stir dry ingredients together (oats, ground oats, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, fruits/nuts/seeds).
- Whisk wet ingredients together – oil, honey, peanut butter, and water.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients. Spread in pan. Press firmly into the corners and edges.
- Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown and edges are golden brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
- Cut into desire sized bars when cool.
- Wrap each bar separately in plastic wrap. Store in a Ziploc bag or air-tight container.
Tip 1: Microwave honey for about 20 seconds on high so it’s not stiff.
Tip #2: Spray spoon/spatula with Pam or similar product so honey or maple syrup don’t stick to utensil.
Tip 3: This is NOT an exact recipe. Feel free to adjust to taste. You can also adjust moistness. If using old-fashioned oats, for example, you’ll need more moisteners. If you use chips, they melt and hold things together a little better. If you used dried fruits like raisins, you may want to “plump” them first by soaking in boiling water for a few minutes, or they’ll become rock-hard during baking.
OTHER TRAIL SNACK OPTIONS:
- Cheese sticks
- Beef jerky/Slim Jims
- Packaged cheese and crackers and/or packaged peanut butter and jelly crackers
- Oreo, Chocolate Chip, or Nutter Butter cookies (nobody’s perfect)
These options are lightweight, easily stashed in a backpack, and provide your body with both protein and carbs to help you reach that peak, waterfall, or backcountry camp site.
What are your favorite trail snacks?