An easy and very accessible trail meal option are dehydrated packs of beans and rice. You know, the “authentic New Orleans style” ones that are in every grocery store? With enough salt added for a week? Well, many of them are vegan–some even include vegetables–and are an easy dinner option. They can generally be found in any grocery store, even many small markets will have some version. They’re usually cheap and there’s often a store brand that’s even cheaper. A word of warning, many varieties have meat in them, so read those tiny ingredients lists carefully!
This style of cheap, lightweight dehydrated food is very typical of a thru-hike. In some ways, it’s more typical than some of the other foods I’ve recommended, and that’s intentional. During my thru, I didn’t want to rely on food drops too much, or to be carrying tons of extra weight in order to eat vegan. That was a big challenge sometimes, to find that sense of “normalcy” that made a standard thru-hike. But in the end, everyone got sick of their food. There isn’t some magic diet that makes someone enjoy foil packets of tuna for six months, I promise. Eventually, nobody eats the same stuff they ate in the beginning, everyone adapts and looks for something new and interesting within the confines of the grocery store. By realizing this, and seeking out the few vegan options, I was a thru-hiker just like everyone else, but I happened to eat vegan.
The two brands that you’ll find everywhere are Vigo and Zatarain’s. Vigo comes in sealed bags, but only buy the Red Beans & Rice. The Vigo black beans, and the yellow rice, have chicken. Zatarain’s comes in a packet inside a small white and red box. There’s often several flavors and usually no meat in the standard bean and rice mixes. Red beans, black beans, dirty rice.
These mixes are very very salty, but they’re high in protein, are available almost anywhere, and are pretty tasty. I often would include one or two of these each resupply for the later days out of town, so I could eat any heavier meals first.
They do require a longer cook time than many of my other meals. The best way to overcome this with my alcohol stove is to boil and cover, after it sits for 10ish minutes, boil it again, and it should be ready! If you have an insulated pot cozy you may be able to get away with boiling and then letting it sit for 15 minutes.
I usually ate these with a tortilla or two, plus chili powder and sometimes nutritional yeast.