Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when I’m freezing cold in the morning because I’m living like one of the lost boys in Neverland, I really just want to get up and start moving. The easier my breakfasts are, the better; and the tastier the better, too.
Hands down, my favorite breakfast on the trail is a combination drink of Carnation Breakfast Essentials smoothie and a packet of instant coffee. I like this drink hot and add a tablespoon or two of Nido whole milk, but you don’t have to drink it that way. It’s fast to put together, tastes great, and always gets me going. I try to eat some jerky along with this breakfast drink of champions to add some protein. It’s also good as a mid-day pick-me-up!
Trader Joe’s makes an instant hot cereal that I LOVE! At home, I’ll empty the cereal mix into a freezer grade ziplock bag, add a tablespoon of powdered whole milk and sometimes nuts or seeds, too. I never actually tested this meal before hitting the trail and I was dreading it, as I do most oatmeal type breakfasts. From the moment I took my first bite of this product, I was delighted and hooked!
Cost: $3.79 per box or 48¢ per serving
Protein powders make quick, easy, and nutritious breakfasts or snacks. At home, I portion out the powder and a couple tablespoons of dried whole milk into ziplock baggies. Once on the trail, just add water directly to the baggie or mix it in a cup. (Drinking straight from the baggie saves on clean-up.) Since they don’t offer a lot of carbs, I often pair protein shakes with dried fruit or a cereal bar (guilty pleasure: sometimes I pair it with a Twix bar).
Cost: roughly a $1.69 per serving
TJ’s Whey Protein Powder: $12.99 per canister or 92¢ per serving
TJ’s Hemp Protein Powder: $10.99 per canister or 92¢ per serving
Kashi Go Lean Bars: buying in bulk gave me 92¢ per bar
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars: buying in bulk gave me 62¢ per serving
Clif Kid Organic Z Bars: 69¢ per bar at Trader Joe’s
The best prepackaged, freeze dried breakfast I’ve had on the trail was Mountain House’s Breakfast Skillet. I resisted ever eating meals like this because I didn’t think they were healthy, but when a fellow PCT hiker started swapping half of his breakfast skillet for some of my tortillas, I was hooked! We would mix them with salsa and wrap them in tortillas for a very filling and satisfying meal. Try dehydrating your favorite salsa at home so you can use it on the trail!
Tip: Buy these pre-packed meals in bulk, then proportion them out into quart-sized freezer bags. This saves money and allows you to personalize serving sizes.
Not being a huge fan of oatmeal, it’s a wonder that I’ve just purchased 9 lbs. of it. I’ll be dividing the oatmeal servings up into freezer ziplock bags and adding all sorts of mix-ins to create different flavors:
Sugar & Spices: cinnamon, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, & apple cider drink mix
Nuts & Seeds: almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin, chia, flax & sunflower seeds
Fruit: dried peaches, apples, applesauce, berries, or bananas.
One of my favorite Oatmeal mixes included powdered banana and almonds. I started with home-dehydrated bananas, then powdered them in my food processor. When mixed with oatmeal and almonds, I could sometimes fool myself into thinking I was eating banana-oatmeal pudding!
Fats: adding a tablespoon or more of powdered whole milk makes oatmeal creamier and adds some tasty calories. I’ve also enjoyed the subtle taste of almond and/or flaxseed flour.
While on the John Muir Trail, I discovered adding a bit of peanut butter either in a powdered form or gooey tastes great in oatmeal.
Cost: I purchased my 9 lb. box for $8.99 making each serving only 9¢.
Cold Cereal is really tasty on the trail. My favorites are Honey Nut Cheerios and Grape Nuts with cranberries and slivered almonds. Mix your cereal with powdered whole milk for the best taste. Unfortunately, it tends to be bulky and heavy. I only carry it for trips that are 3-4 days between resupplying.
A bit on the heavier side, but OH, so delicious are the Trader Joe’s Organic Toaster Pastries. I usually have one pastry (because they’re so sweet) and pair it with jerky, trail mix, or protein powder.
Cost: $2.49 per box of 6 pastries or 42¢ per serving.
Also check out my healthy desserts that can double as great breakfasts.