Some of us prefer the most basic of trail snacks—a sweet and savory granola bar, a tortilla sticky with honey, a sun-softened chocolate bar. Others kick it up a notch with backcountry banana splits, tie-dye fruit leather, warm berry crisps and savory charcuterie boards (it’s a thing). These expert-level bites are so good, in fact, that it’s a shame to relegate them to the backcountry, especially when simple, often shelf-stable creations can make at-home snacking a whole lot easier.
Luckily, it’s quite easy to recreate these backcountry staples from the comfort of your kitchen, while still preserving the simplicity that makes them a go-to snack. Co-op Journal contributors Megan McDuffie and Michael van Vliet, the duo behind culinary resource Fresh Off the Grid, suggest people get creative with their at-home bites. It’s easy to freshen up, say, trail mix, by adding different spices or switching out the ingredients. In fact, trail mix is one of van Vliet’s favorite snacks, no matter the location.
“It’s something that’s made out of a lot of shelf-stable ingredients you can make into whatever batch size you want, and it’ll stick around for awhile,” van Vliet said.
McDuffie prefers a savory dip, such as hummus, and apple chips, which can be made in a dehydrator or oven on low heat. “You can spend a lot of money at the store buying apple chips, but it’s super easy at home,” she said, extending this sentiment to making your own hummus.
Recreating your backcountry experience doesn’t have to stop at your snack ingredients. Take your cooking outside to enjoy a breath of fresh air while you whip up your food, van Vliet suggests.
“The simple act of bringing yourself to the outdoor space can really change a lot,” he said. “It can change your mood.”
If you’re feeling inspired to make a few of your own bites—whether you need a protein-packed snack to fuel your workday or want to get more creative with what you pack on future hikes—here are a few of our favorite, easy-to-make snacks.
Coffee snobs may snub their noses at this, but we say instant coffee isn’t just for the backcountry. If you’re craving something sweet, try mixing instant coffee with hot chocolate powder. Then close your eyes and envision your favorite backcountry view as you sip.
Ever find yourself raiding the pantry for something sweet, only to return empty handed? We got you. All you need for this dessert is a banana, your favorite crunchy candy and some hazelnut butter. Although this banana split will certainly seem less decadent in your kitchen than it does in the backcountry, it’s a great option for when your sweet tooth is raging more than normal.
If convenience is a key component of good snacking, then this charcuterie board has you covered. Featuring salami, jerky, nuts, olives and Moon cheese or aged gouda (which will keep for longer than other cheeses), this lineup will last awhile on your shelf or in your fridge. Once you have these fixings on hand, you can construct your own charcuterie board any time you want a savory snack that feels a little fancy.
This easy-to-make mix has the taste and texture of a deconstructed granola bar, with tart dried cherries, chunks of chocolate and crunchy, maple-glazed almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds. In creating this recipe, we think van Vliet and McDuffie found the perfect balance of sweet and savory, chewy and crunchy. To personalize it, swap just about any ingredient to add a little variety.
Reminiscent of the tangy fruit chews of your childhood, these are the ultimate flashback snack. Great for the trail and even better when you want to nosh on something while busy at home, tie-dye fruit leathers are simple (and fun) to make. All you need is a dehydrator and some fruit to make a healthier version of your favorite ’90s snack.
Whether enjoying them on the trail or from the comfort of your kitchen, this protein-packed snack can satiate a sweet or savory tooth. Simply mix together a nut butter, honey, oats, seeds and chocolate chips, then roll the mixture into balls and refrigerate. Pro tip: Make extras and freeze them, so you have an easy snack to thaw and munch on later.
This versatile camp snack is an easy one to zhuzh up at home where you have easy access to a cabinet of spices, syrups and other fun fixings. All you really need on hand are popcorn kernels and ghee (which is shelf stable). Then choose your toppings, such as a sprinkle of seasoning, a drizzle of something sweet or some tasty toppings like crumbled bacon or nutritional yeast. Get creative.
When you’re counting ounces in the backcountry, powdered hummus is the way to go. But at home, you can make this creamy dip from a can of chickpeas. Simply add a can of chickpeas and olive oil to a food processor and blend for a dip that can be enjoyed with veggies, pretzels, crackers, veggie chips or warm pita.
Involving little time and even fewer ingredients, this is the lazy-person’s dessert. Prepare the crispy topping by baking a mixture of oats, sugar and flour. Then sprinkle it atop a three-ingredient blueberry filling. Because this recipe calls for dried blueberries and other shelf-stable ingredients, you can store everything you need for this dessert in your pantry. Next time your sweet tooth strikes, you’ll have all you need to satiate it.
Make these tasty bites at the beginning of the week, so they’re ready whenever you need a quick snack. Grab them throughout your workday to enjoy between meals (and meetings) or stash a couple in your daypack for a neighborhood walk or local hike.
Baking your own granola bars is easier on the budget than buying them at the store. Plus, you can customize the bars to whatever you’re craving. Combine brown rice, brown rice syrup, sea salt and your choice of nuts, seeds and other mix-ins (think dried fruit or chocolate chips) for a snack that is uniquely your own.
We’d be remiss not to include this backcountry staple: the s’more. You can take the traditional route and cook the classic graham cracker-marshmallow-milk chocolate creation in your microwave or backyard fire pit. But cooking at home is a great time to get adventurous, if you dare. Consider swapping the milk chocolate for white chocolate, a caramel-filled bar or a peanut butter cup. Instead of a graham cracker, consider choosing a favorite cookie. Or try one of these three gooey alternatives (you won’t be disappointed).