If your morning goal is to get moving as efficiently as possible, the most logical breakfast meal is an individually wrapped bar (or several): granola bars, energy bars, protein bars, breakfast bars, etc. They require no prep and can be eaten on-the-go.
The downside? They are not very satisfying, and they probably constitute the bulk of your daytime calories as well, which may lead to culinary boredom.
A hot breakfast is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Try my cheesy potatoes or oatmeal with fixings, for example. I await these meals with more anticipation, but they’re time-consuming and thus inconsistent with ambitious itineraries.
I’ve found a happy-medium option — that is, a great balance of efficiency and palatability — to be cereal with protein powder. In fact, for the last two summers it’s been my breakfast of choice.
This meal can be very simple, with as little as two ingredients:
For cereal, personally I rotate granola and grape nuts. I like the tastes; they are spatially dense; and they pack well. However, most varieties are carb-laden, and you may find a more calorically dense variety at a specialty retailer.
For more variety in your cereal, add crushed walnuts, almond pieces, freeze-dried berries, raisins, Craisins or similar. To keep the portion size in check, subtract an equal amount of cereal. I have served this meal to hundreds of clients, and 4.5-ounce portion is about right for most.
Powdered milk would be the more conventional choice to pair with cereal. And of course you can do that — I recommend Nestle Nido, which is powdered whole milk and thus more calorically dense than powdered skim milk. But I use protein powder because it’s a convenient form of this difficult-to-get-enough-of nutrient. Costco has the best prices on protein powder (if you are prepared to buy 5 pounds of it); at Amazon, Muscle Milk is about $1 more per pound for similar sizes (and you don’t have to leave your house!).
Portion sizes and ratios
If this meal is too much or too little, change the amounts. Personally, I use 1.5 ounces of protein powder and 3.5 ounces of cereal, because I want the extra protein. A backpacker with a smaller appetite may find that a 3/1 ratio better suits them.
Hot or cold?
Almost always I consume this meal cold. However, it can be eaten hot. Some cereals — notably grape nuts — will soften and absorb water when cooked. Some protein powders may congeal when heated, which may be unappetizing to some. I’m less bothered by it, and find that stirring well and using a minimal amount of water helps.
This meal is very simple to prepare, and is the same for soloists and groups. At home, premix the cereal (with optional fixings) and the protein powder (or powdered milk) in a sandwich-sized storage bag. Each bag is one breakfast for one person.
In the field, simply add water and eat. I’m not going to recommend a specific volume of water — presumably, you have a preference for this ratio already.
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