Good winter food is easy to prepare and eat
Your body requires a lot of energy when it is cold, particularly when you are active. Daily calorie intake on a winter trek should be between 3,500–6,000 calories, and can be as high as 8,000 calories in extreme situations. The type of food you should eat depends, of course, on the trek, but the general rule of thumb is that you should eat a variety of energy-rich, long-lasting, compact foods that taste good. The meals should also be easy to prepare and eat. Regular energy bars, to name one example, can turn into stone-hard, inedible clumps in cold temperatures.
You can eat more or less anything you want during a day trip: a packed lunch, sandwiches, freeze-dried meals – whatever you like to eat, quite simply. On longer treks you should think a little more logically. It is probably best not to have to dig out your stove in the middle of the day, but rather have prepared a thermos with warm water that you can use for freeze-dried food. It is also a good idea to have pre-packed bags of nuts, chocolate and dried fruit that you can pull out when you need extra energy.
When trekking cabin-to-cabin, you can buy food and eat at the cabins, but if you are sleeping in a tent, you will need to plan more carefully. You might need to make a weight budget and think about how much food you can bring in your pack. Do not forget to include extra rations - you will need them if you are delayed by storms or for any other reason. This also applies to short day trips!
More fat on longer treks
When you are on longer treks, you need to think about the composition of your food to ensure that your body receives the energy and nutrition it needs. A recommended breakdown when you are active is 60 per cent carbohydrates, 30 per cent fat and 10 per cent protein, but during long stays in cold temperatures you may need to increase the amount of fat and decrease the carbohydrates. One tip is to use a little extra oil in your food, and throw in spices, garlic, nuts and parmesan cheese for added flavour. Peanut butter or nutty spreads like Nutella are excellent sources of energy and are available in small plastic containers in some stores (glass bottles do not belong in the wilderness).
After a long day in extremely cold temperatures, it is very tempting to skip the effort of preparing food and eating it, but you really need all of the energy you can get, so finish the portions exactly as you planned. It is also important not to eat cold food since this can cause both stomach pain and diarrhoea. It also takes a lot of energy to digest cold food, which in a worst-case scenario can lead to a drop in body temperature.
Pack some practical tools
In order to simplify meal preparation, it is a good idea to have a few tools and accessories for your outdoor stove:
• A plate, approx. 15x15 cm, to prevent the stove from sinking down into the snow.
• A knife, 3 dl cup, folding cup and cutlery (none of which should be made from simple plastic that can become brittle and break in the cold).
• A small whisk, if desired.
• Cutting board.
• 1-2 0.7 litre thermoses.
• 1-2 0.5 litre wrapped/insulated water bottles (that can hold boiling water).