Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: August 13th, 2020
Guest Post by Melanie Musson
Hunting trips take a lot of planning. You have to apply for tags, scout a location, decide what gun or bow to use, get your optics ready — the list goes on.
Fuel for you is just as important as any other planning you’re doing. You need the right nutrition for whatever kind of hunting you’ll be doing.
My favorite hunt includes long days of spotting and stalking with miles upon miles of hiking and then heading back to a nice warm base (in my case, a camper) at night. If your hunting approach is more stationary, like from a blind or treestand, you won’t need to eat as much. And if your trip includes backcountry camping, your resources will be quite different from mine. Instead, you’ll need to rely on nutrient-dense supplements and snacks.
Just like you can still eat healthy at restaurants by avoiding food that is fried or smothered in unhealthy sauces and toppings, you can plan ahead and eat well while you are enjoying the great outdoors. Even if you plan on eating out once or twice during your trip, planning and making your own food can be the healthiest and most cost-effective option.
There are some universal ways to eat healthily, no matter what kind of hunting you plan to participate in. Whether you’re new to the hunting world or you grew up with it, here are some ideas to get you thinking and adjust for your situation:
Meal plans and grocery lists
It’s a good idea to write down what you plan to eat for every meal of your trip. Make a grocery list so you can purchase anything you don’t have on hand.
After you’ve compiled all your ingredients, you can start prepping your food. It takes some time to get it all done, but it will be so worth it when you come back exhausted from a long day in the field, and your food’s ready and all you have to do is heat it up.
If you’re staying somewhere with a refrigerator, you can prep your meals in the container you’ll reheat it in. If you don’t have a refrigerator, you’ll need to keep your food in a cooler. You’ll want to use reusable containers with lids to keep things compact and avoid spillage.
Remember to pack plates and silverware. Washable or disposable, just make sure you have something to eat on and with. Along those lines, make sure to bring a pot for the stove, a bowl for the microwave, and a pan for the oven. Tongs, spatulas, and wooden spoons come in handy, as well.
We’ve all heard it: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s a fact.
But another fact is that the best hunting is early in the morning. So it’s unlikely you’d want to get up early enough to whip up a healthy, nutrient-packed breakfast and still have time to make it to the happy hunting grounds before dawn.
With a little planning, though, you can have a good breakfast prepared in the same amount of time it takes to pour a bowl of cereal.
Breakfast burritos with sausage, eggs, cheese, and salsa, can be made in advance and warmed in the microwave, oven, or stovetop.
Scrambled egg muffins prepared with spinach, mushroom, and cheese can be made ahead and reheated in a microwave or toaster oven.
Overnight oats made with oatmeal, greek yogurt, and milk are another great way to start off your day. You can add sweet toppings if you’d like such as honey, sugar, berries, bananas or anything else.
Make sure you plan for some protein in your breakfast. This meal will fuel your morning, and you don’t want to peter after an hour because all you ate was a high-carb meal.
There’s one breakfast item you will definitely want to remember, and that’s the coffee. Bring a coffee pot, coffee, and whatever you like to put in it. Also, don’t forget your thermos.
Snacks are the easiest place to go out of control on unhealthy foods. But the fact is that you will only eat what you bring. If you don’t bring a variety pack of chips, you won’t eat them!
Try putting these types of healthy snacks in your pack:
- Hard-boiled eggs in a sandwich bag with salt and pepper
- Dark chocolate
- Dried mangos
- Vegetables like carrot sticks, celery, sugar snap peas
- Cheese sticks
- Cheese and crackers
- Granola bars
- Fruit like clementines, apples, bananas
- Jerky and meat sticks
It’s very important to remember to drink well throughout the day. So bring plenty of water or, if you’ll be hiking most of the day and you don’t want to pack that much water, invest in a filtration system so you can get safe drinking water from almost any water source.
Sandwiches make a good lunch for hunting. They’re easy to prepare and pack. Here are some favorites:
- Turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread are a good whole-grain, protein-packed lunch. Try it with a little raspberry jam which makes it a little like a Monte Cristo.
- Chicken salad sandwiches are easy to prepare. Make the chicken salad ahead of time and then just spread it on the bread in the morning before taking off.
- Lunchmeat and cheese sandwiches are a staple for hunting lunches. I like to add a slice of salami to whatever other meat I use.
Another delicious option is to thinly slice leftover steaks (bonus points if it’s leftover tenderloins from your freshly harvested deer) and the steak in a tortilla wrap with cream cheese, bell pepper, and spinach.
Yogurt and cheese sticks are good foods to supplement your sandwich or wrap.
I recommend pre-making as much of the food as possible because it can be overwhelming to try to bring all the individual ingredients for meals.
When you decide on the main dish to prepare, don’t forget to bring what you need for side dishes. Here are some ideas:
- Salad kits from the grocery store make a great side dish. They contain everything you need to make a good salad. I plan a salad for every dinner.
- Bags of frozen vegetables make easy sides. Just heat them up and add a little butter, salt, and pepper.
- Baked beans are another easy and filling addition to a meal.
As far as main dishes go, there are some that I eat on every hunting trip and others that I rotate in occasionally. Healthy meals can be pretty basic and easy to prepare. Simply think of a meat to grill, a starch (e.g. bread, potato, pasta, grain) to heat up, and a vegetable.
A homemade spaghetti sauce can be reheated on a stovetop and poured over freshly cooked noodles. Chili is another good, hearty hunting dinner. Don’t forget the cornbread and sour cream. If you happen to harvest an animal, the fresh meat can make one of the best meals. Grilled tenderloin with a little salt and pepper is hard to beat. Frozen burger patties are available at most grocery stores, and you can grill those for a quick and easy meal. Don’t forget the ketchup, mustard, and cheese.
Eating healthy on a hunting trip does not have to be overwhelming. You’ll just need to think ahead and prepare and pack what you’ll need. Remember, if you don’t pack it, you won’t have it. That can be good for resisting cravings because if you don’t have unhealthy food, you won’t be able to eat it. But it can be bad for essentials that you’ll wish you would have remembered.
You’ll enjoy your hunting trip more if you feel good, and what you put into your body makes a big difference.
Melanie Musson is a writer for QuickQuote.com. She lives in Montana and looks forward to big game season every fall. Another of her passions is cooking delicious and healthy foods for her friends and family.