Whether you’re in the backcountry or enjoying the resort, it can be difficult to prioritize nutrition and hydration in cold weather. Packing appropriate foods can be tough for snow sports as the cold temperatures can cause food to be difficult and less palatable to eat. However, with a little effort and carrying a backpack, you can maximize nutrition while also saving some cash, since resort food is often nutritionally poor and/or way overpriced. Without proper food/fluid for backcountry can also reduce energy and shorten your day, and if you’re a weekend warrior that can really be a drag.
A safe backcountry skier will carry a backpack with easy access to avalanche safety gear, so packing food should be a no-brainer. However, If you only resort ski, invest in a small (14-16L), snow-sport-specific backpack to carry fluid and food. The access to delicious, inexpensive food outweighs the annoyance of carrying a backpack.
If you’re skinning up or pushing yourself hard at the resort, a heartier, high carb, more calorically dense meal will likely be more satisfying in cold weather than the likes of a loaded kale salad you might pack daily for work. Even with packing more convenience-based foods, it’s possible to still maximize fiber and include some vegetables and fruit while eating foods you crave more in the cold.
The following meal ideas work best with preparing a little extra meat and veggies in the days prior to a ski day to provide leftovers to incorporate into a packed meal. Prepared foods from grocery stores is also a great way to save money if you’re on vacation and staying in a hotel.
Packable Meal Ideas:
- Bagel Sandwich: Higher fiber bagel such as Dave’s Killer Bread with leftover meat/poultry (rotisserie chicken works great), hard boiled eggs, or sliced tempeh, cheese, mayo/hummus/avocado for fat and moisture, loaded with lettuce.
- Waffle Sandwich: Homemade waffle using whole wheat, buckwheat, or teff flour mixed with all-purpose flour for a fiber/micronutrient boost, or use a higher fiber frozen waffle such as kodiak cakes. Jam, mayo, meat/tempeh, cheese, and loaded with lettuce are tasty filling options.
- Mac & Cheese: Insulated thermos filled with high fiber boxed mac & cheese like Banza (they even have a vegan version) mixed with steamed broccoli or other leftover cooked veggies or frozen steamable bags.
- Sticky Rice: Insulated thermos filled with sticky rice, cooked veggies, scrambled egg, and soy sauce.
- Soup: Insulated thermos filled with homemade soup (something hearty like beef and barley or a vegetarian chili).
If using an insulated thermos, pour boiling water in the thermos and allow to sit for 5 minutes or so to “pre-heat”, remove water, then add and seal food. If you want it to be warm, eat within 4 hours after packing since the cold weather will shorten the heat time.
Packable Snack Ideas:
- Clementines or whole orange (citrus is in season Jan/Feb)
- Apple with nut butter
- Nut butter pouches
- Dried fruit such as mangos, prunes, apricots, etc.
- Fruit/veggie pouches such as Noka and Munk Pack
- Homemade smoothies in reusable pouches
- Cheese sticks/slices
- Chocolate covered espresso beans
- Dark chocolate bark
Convenience bars aren’t included because they can harden in the cold, so if you’re going to pack one, keep it in an inside jacket pocket close to your body.
It’s easy to forget about hydration in cold weather, especially on resort days when you aren’t huffing and puffing, skinning up the mountain. It’s likely you aren’t losing as much fluid as a backcountry day, but you’re definitely still sweating! Thirst response is also suppressed in the cold so it’s more difficult to stay hydrated. Staying on top of hydration will likely reduce risk of injury and aid in recovery so you can get after it multiple days in a row.
Tips To Stay Hydrated:
- Snow sport tailored backpacks generally house an insulated zip pocket for a bladder, keeping the tube insulated to prevent freezing. This is the easiest way to stay hydrated since it provides easy access to sip.
- If packing a water bottle, plan specific points during the day to drink. For example, if you’re at a crowded resort, planning to drink while waiting in lift lines can be an option, or when you exit the lift and need to strap back into your board/wait for your buddies to do the same.
- Hot beverages in thermos’ such as coffee, tea, apple cider flavored sports beverage, apple cider, etc can encourage drinking.
- Include fruit, veggies, and/or fruit/veggie puree pouches for a small hydration boost.
- Prioritize hydration on food breaks.
- Prioritize hydration at the end of the day, especially if you are going out again the following day.