By Rachel Walker
Beyond the obvious perk (saving money), bringing your own lunch to the ski hill comes with all sorts of benefits, like eating it on the chairlift, if you want, or never standing in a cashier’s line again. You can customize your grub so it’s delicious and fuels your day, and, if you have kids, you can attend to their, ahem, particular tastes (that is—if you’re a parent who caters to picky eaters, of which I am decidedly one…go ahead and judge, but on a ski day, the last thing I want to do is try to reason with my three-year-old to chow down).
The problem with brown bagging it can be the repetition and the necessary advanced planning. One too many frozen PB & Js, and your body may well revolt. Here are a few tips to keep your stomach full, your taste buds satisfied, and your spirits high.
Cook in Bulk
A few years ago, my husband became obsessed with Bregos, a Boulder-based company that makes pocket-sized deliciousness that are somewhere between a sandwich and a panini. He researched a bunch of different bread recipes and filling options, and made many of his own. Then he wrapped them all in tin foil, vacuum sealed them, and stored them in the freezer. On ski days, he’d turn the oven on as soon as we woke up, pop a few in there, and by the time we were loaded into the car—bingo! Breakfast and lunch were hot and ready.
You don’t have to be a baker to do this. Take an hour and make a tortilla-packet’s worth of breakfast burritos. Freeze them, cook them, and wrap the ones you’ll eat later in a neck warmer. Then stick it in your pocket and you’re ready to go.
Health Food Aisle
These days, even the big box stores have organic and natural products on their shelves. Cruise the health food aisle in search of Tasty Bites, savory, ethnic food options that are also hearty and—best of all—are packaged in durable, waterproof packets. Most of these packets just need to be warmed up. Better yet, most of the Colorado “Gems,” which include Arapahoe Basin, Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn, Ski Cooper, Ski Granby Ranch, and Sunlight Mountain Resort have lodges with microwaves available and will either give you a paper bowl or sell it super cheap. Yum.
Think like a European
No, not the stop-for-lunch-and-wine-mid-mountain type of European. Think like a yodeling mountain man high in the Alps with three chunks in his pocket: cheese, sausage, chocolate. This delicious combo (I recommend saving the chocolate for last) is ageless, especially if you splurge on a good Gruyere or Swiss.
One of my good friends hails from Germany, and on one particular ski day he pulled a cooked, cold pork chop from his pocket and devoured it. Sure, Germans love their schwein, but there was more to this than that. His lunch was flavorful and filling, and fueled him significantly better than my repast of sports bars and skittles fueled me. You can do this with any cooked meat: chicken leg, lamb chop, etc.
For those not interested in gnawing on dead animals, consider bringing dehydrated black bean soup, or lentil curry, or any other form of camp food that is guaranteed to taste great when consumed not at home and in the outdoors. These are available online and at any camping or gear shop.
The classic: PB & J
I know I promised this was a guide to avoid this sandwich, but I have to ask: why banish it entirely? Peanut butter and jelly complement each other so well, and when you have one (or three) of these sandwiches occasionally, they very well might transport you back to childhood. It’s only when they become your only go-to that they’re rote.
So there you have it. What are your favorite and unique meals on the slopes? Let us know, and we’ll give it a shot. And one more thing: always (always) bring chocolate. You can’t go wrong there. —Rachel Walker
Rachel Walker is a ski mom of two who lives in Boulder and gets out whenever she can. Follow her on Twitter: @racheljowalker