Alexander Elfving
Food hacks

Energy efficient food

Sometimes you want to eat fancy food. But sometimes, quite often on a cold winter trip, you just want your food to be packed full of energy.

The easiest way to get plenty of energy on the go is to eat a more fat-based diet. At first you may find it strange to carry a bottle of oil with you on your trip, as it weighs so much. But it's actually the most energy-efficient thing you can bring.

Just eating/drinking oil might be a bit too hardcore. But replacing a certain amount of the calories in the rice or pasta with oil means that your portion of food will provide more energy for the same weight.

If you are going on a 10-day trip, you can therefore also save about 1-2 vital kilos by reducing carbohydrates and increasing the amount of fat in your food.

Butter is great to have on hand. In my more than 10 years as a chef at various mountain stations, I can count the number of times I’ve encountered butter that has gone rancid or gone bad on one hand. Salted butter keeps surprisingly well at room temperature, especially if it is tightly sealed. If you want to take butter on a week-long summer hike, do it! Taste, smell and look at the butter if you are unsure. Trust your senses and you won't go wrong. You can even brown the butter a little to make it even more energy-dense as the last of the water is boiled off in the process.

Nuts, coconut flakes, almonds and seeds are also some of the most energy-rich things we can bring on a trip.

A friend and colleague of mine at STF’s mountain station in Abisko walked for a week in the mountains and ate only different nuts. No cooking at all. He said: “It worked. Would never do it again. But it worked!”

Maybe, just maybe, you don’t need to take the “power” of nuts to such an extreme! Just by topping noodles with cashews or peanuts and the pasta with some pumpkin seeds and walnuts, we have a tastier meal with extra energy. Even more nuts and seeds - even tastier! Another tip is to replace some of the porridge oats with almond flour. It gives you that “oomph” that allows you to laugh it off when the rain whips against your hood.

Cream powder can be hard to find I think but it can make your calorie intake weigh a little lighter in your pack. I also find powdered milk with a little extra butter works well. The same with coconut milk powder.

Egg powder is also a great food for those who are thinking about how to get their calories in on the go, without weighing so much. The packet used for pancakes or omelettes can be just a bag of powder if you want. Quite easy to find a place in the pack for that meal.

Check out Dan Roupe and Jonas Skarstam’s page on the subject:

February 07 2022