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    Wild dining: How to Eat Well in the Outdoors

    7 min read

    By Jonny Hawkins
    More by Jonny

    Crew assembled, route planned, weather looking peachy, now the most important question…what food!?  

    Were you thinking porridge and pasta? Read on to see how you can transform your wild dining into haute cuisine.

    Editor’s note – Wilderness guide and expedition expert, Jonny Hawkins has led trips and adventures in the wilderness worldwide. One constant has been his ambition to eat and drink well, never mind the restrictions imposed by carrying your own food with you. Here he shares some of his favourite recipes, tips and accessories for eating well out in the wilderness. 

    Read on – Ultimate Guide to Wild Camping

    Pack your bag, boat, panier with delights that will make your mates look up from their soggy sandwiches with desire. The following ideas have been collected from 15 years adventuring the globe, compiled here to help make life outside a little more luxurious.

    Breakfast - Start the day with a bang

    If you are camping, rekindle last nights embers to get the fire roaring and the world is your oyster for breaky treats.  Wrap some ham and cheese filled croissants up in tinfoil and warm until the cheese oozes and croissants melt in your mouth.  If you have a frying pan, why not give ‘eggs in a blanket’ a go? Cut the center out of a bread slice, pop it in the frying pan and break an egg into the middle then cook on both sides.  Faff free, super quick and if topped with bacon cooked on a skewer, creates the perfect start to your adventure.

    wild dining

    Frying egg in bread on the beach.

    Coffee lovers

    Nothing beats waking up under canvas, mist rising off the lake and the energising smell of fresh coffee wafting through camp.  I think the AeroPress has totally revolutionised coffee making in the outdoors.  This simple gadget is incredibly quick to use, light to carry and produces damn fine coffee.  It is great for camping and quick to pull out during a day trip to brew the perfect midday pick me up.  We love to fill ours with coffee from the Inverness Coffee Roasting Co. who are based just up the road and produce outstanding coffee in clever bio-packaging.

    Lunchtime - Spruce up your lunch box

    You have walked, paddled or biked all morning and now it’s time to put your feet up and enjoy some well earned tucka.  Using wraps or bagels make squashed sandwiches a dim and distant memory. You can throw anything in them, from peanut butter and jam to smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket.  I love adding humus which offers moisture and also stops the other fillings blowing off down the hill. I carry all my sarnies in an EcoSnackWrap which is a brilliant, reusable, environmentally friendly alternative to cling film or tin foil.  If you are more of a self-assembly eater, oatcakes with chorizo, pate, cheese, chutney, hummus and salad will sort you right out.


    Snacktime - Supercharge your snacks

    I love snacks and I love eating them guilt free on a fun outdoor adventure.  Having been brought up on flapjack, there will always be space in my pack for a good dense slab of it. Homemade is the way to go, with no unnecessary packaging and lots of exciting extras added.  If you prefer a grab and go snack, Snact produce brilliant high energy fruit bars wrapped in handy home-compostable packaging.

    A year working in New Zealand taught me a thing or two about trail mix.  I thought a bag of nuts and raisins was a treat, on no! It seems the skies your limit with trail mix.  Down under, assorted nuts mixed with dried fruits, yogurt coated raisins, jelly babies, m&ms and chocolate drops is standard issue… I’m salivating just at the thought of it!

    For the savory treat lovers, you can’t go wrong with a selection of beef jerky, small bags of olives, dry roast nuts and some home roasted garlic chickpeas.

    wild dining

    Home-roasted garlic chickpeas

    Dinner - Sleep with a full tummy

    After an awesome day out and about, food is the only thing I can think about… oh and maybe beer.  If you have been on the sea with a hook and line, hopefully you have a fish to cook on the fire. Cover it in lemon, garlic and butter then wrap it in tinfoil before resting it on some hot coals to sizzle away.  If I have been high and dry for the day then I love a ‘nachos bucket’. Add layers of tortilla chips, salsa, grated cheese, guacamole and a heated bean or beef chili for the ultimate hunger buster. For the serious wilderness goer why not invest in a dehydrator.  At around £120 this is a hefty investment but if you like a challenge and a light pack this is a great way to turn scrumptious homemade meals into expedition ready comfort food.

    wild dining

    Nachos bucket

    Drinks - To quench the thirst

    You can not beat a bag of wine.  Easy to pack, shrinks in size as you drink, cheaper to package so more money is spent on the wine and once it is drunk makes a great pillow!  For the whiskey lovers amongst us, it is thought that carrying a bottle of single malt in the bow of your sea kayak brings good luck. I met some German paddlers kayaking round Britain that had polished off 4 bottles after one month of their three month trip. Apparently it was medicinal!


    My must have

    I never leave home without my camp mug.  Ideal for tea drinking, collecting stream water, eating any meal from and most importantly holding a large glug of wine to celebrate a brilliant days exploring.

    Hopefully these ideas will inspire you to spice up your outdoor cuisine.  The options are endless and I am a true believer in carrying a little more to enjoy the trip a lot more.  Bon appétit!

    See our canoeing and sea kayaking adventures that include wild camping.

    Canoeing in the North West Highlands

    Watch this short 6 minute film of our canoeing expedition in the North West Highlands.

    Canoeing & Kayaking Holidays

    Meet the Author: Jonny Hawkins

    “Adventure has taken me to every corner of the globe; whitewater kayaking in the Bornean jungle, sea kayaking around Hong Kong and trekking in the Himalayas. However, my circumnavigation of Scotland by sea kayak has a special place in my heart.”

    View profileMore by Jonny

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