When you’re on the mountain or trekking the Nordic trails, it’s important to not only pack a warming drink, but also some solid, piping-hot sustenance to get you out as far as you want to go and then back again.

When I was a kid on the slopes in Colorado, my parents and older sister would stash flasks of hot water in the lockers in the morning. When midday arrived, we pulled out packets of Lipton vegetable and chicken noodle soups or grabbed a few cups of ramen from the lodge. It was one of the only times during the year that I got to eat such “junk” food. I can still taste the rich broth and crunch of not-quite-done-yet noodles.

While instant camp food is abundant, it can also be unappetizing, especially when most resorts offer hearty menus to sustain their patrons. But, mountain food can get expensive and you may not have the time for home cooking. Fortunately, there are a lot of healthier, instant-thermos meal options to choose from these days from companies like Simply Organic, Thai Kitchen, McDougall’s, TastyBite, and Annie Chun’s.

My top instant food pick is miso soup. It is nutritious, perfectly appetizing, and often comes in a lightweight, simply-add-water packet. Give it a boost with some white beans or stash a hard-boiled egg in your hot water for a punch of protein at the end of the soup. Second place would probably be Annie Chun’s bowls, but they are a little bulky to cart around.

Oatmeal and other hot cereals are some of my favorite foods ever. One of our treats when we travelled from Texas to Colorado to enjoy the snow was an instant maple oatmeal called Maypo. We couldn’t get it back at home, so we stocked up on our way through Denver. Today, I still enjoy a simple, instant oatmeal, such as Nature’s Path Maple Nut Oatmeal Packets or Modern Oats Apple Cinnamon Ginger Oatmeal Cups.

If you do have some time to spend in the kitchen, you can easily make your own instant meal pouches. Check out the food blog “The Yummy Life” by Monica Matheny, particularly these entries: “8 Instant Dry Soup Mixes” and “6 Instant Meals-on-the-Go.” Just add boiling water and get back out there. //