Food for hot conditions

Hot conditions in Australia can be hot and dry in the southern summer, or hot and wet in the northern wet season. Planning meals and encouraging healthy eating in these conditions can be harder than in cooler weather.

The best foods to take for a hot walk will be those which:

  • do not readily spoil over a two–three day period
  • provide high levels of energy per gram carried
  • can be consumed without cooking
  • provide a reasonably balanced diet.

Practical menu suggestions for hot conditions
The menu suggestions below have been compiled from observing many experienced walkers in hot conditions. However, everyone has individual tastes, and you should experiment and devise menus that you find satisfying.

Breakfast: Most walkers seem to base breakfast around cereals or muesli, containing rolled oats, dried fruit, sesame seeds, linseeds, nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. This can be eaten with water, fruit juice, milk from powdered milk, etc. Oranges, apples and bananas make a good accompaniment, and seem to travel best.

If you are able to cook (that is, it is not a total fire ban) raw eggs travel quite well if carefully packed, and make a tasty addition to breakfast. Hard boiled eggs tend to spoil quite rapidly.

Lunch: Most bread is good for one or two days, and dry biscuits are good thereafter. Cheese, salami, vegemite, peanut butter and jam are common fillings. Natural cheese will keep for at least three days, as will salami. Processed cheese keeps much longer, and the others will keep almost indefinitely. Flat bread tends to go mouldy after two to three days, and although it can usually be eaten without ill effects, it is not very appealing. An orange or other piece of fruit for each lunch is pleasant.

Dinner: Dinners are typically based around pasta, rice, potatoes or bread to provide the carbohydrate backbone of the meal. Potato salad will keep for two–three days if dressed with margarine/olive oil/vinegar but only one–two if dressed with mayonnaise. Pasta and rice can be taken pre-cooked from home, or cooked the day before if the next day looks like being a total fire ban. Pasta salads seem to keep satisfactorily for one - two days, and rice salads two–three days. For pasta, adding raw tomato, capsicum, olives, mushrooms, parsley and parmesan cheese, dressed with olive oil is generally appealing. For rice, fried bacon, corn, sultanas, peas, capsicum or anything else which takes your fancy will provide interest. Brown rice is generally regarded as having more complex carbohydrate and gives more sustained energy release than white, but takes longer to cook.

Nibbles: Nibbles of dried fruit and nuts, supplemented with Smarties, travel well. Foods with chocolate on the outside tend to melt and are unsatisfactory. Fruit bars or leathers are good, as are snakes and other jelly-based sweets.