To say skiing has a fraught relationship with nutrition is an understatement. K2 Skis even had a classic “Skip Lunch” advertising campaign. It’s easy for dedicated skiers to chase more turns at the expense of everything else, including nutrition. But, taking care of your body, and eating well while skiing can add to the fun, instead of pulling you away from it - no one wants to be hangry out there on the slopes. The key is to make sure you’ve got food you want to eat and make it convenient. But that doesn’t just mean frozen granola bars, we’ll show you.
Eating the expensive food offered by most ski areas gets a bad rap for a good reason. You end up out a lot of money, wasting a lot of ski time waiting in line, and hungry again after a few hours. But, with a little forethought and planning, you can eat like royalty on the hill. So, let’s talk about what it takes to eat well, while you’re skiing.
The biggest thing to remember is that it pays to be proactive. If you just let entropy take its course, you’re going to end up cold, wet, and starving at the end of the day. Instead, you need to bring food, and make solid plans for preparing and eating it. Sure, you can stuff a few granola bars in your pockets and hope for the best, but they won’t be appetizing, and wanting to eat is half the battle when you’re skiing - the cold and all the fun you're having can sap your appetite. That's why if you wait to eat until you’re hungry, it’s too late. Instead, you need to fuel your body throughout the day. The best way to do that is through a combination of snacks and a solid meal. You’ll want to come up with some reliable options for both and rotate through them so that you don’t get too tired of any one combination.
The Best Skiing & Snowboarding Snacks
Snacks seem easy, but the key is to make sure to pack a variety of options that will be appetizing even when you’re cold and stoked on the skiing. It’s a good idea to try to cover all four bases: salty, savory, fruity, and chocolatey. That way you can always find a snack that you’re interested in eating. Salted pretzels are always a good idea, and they stay good in the cold. Plus, you can go chocolate-dipped to cross categories. Similarly, nuts pack a big nutritional punch. Crackers are great, but often end up a mess of crumbs if you leave them in your pocket while skiing. That’s important to remember with any ski food, if it can’t survive a few tumbles into the powder, it’s probably best left for apres.
Jerky is a great savory option. And don’t cheap out with some gas station meat stick. Decent jerky makes all the difference, you want something that will stay tender, even in cold temps. While skiing, having a fruity snack can make a big difference. Something about the combination of cold temps and dehydration makes a lot of people crave something sugary and a little tart. Dried fruit is the obvious choice here, mango, raisins, dried apricots, or pineapple are all great choices.
Finally, something chocolatey. There’s something especially rejuvenating about a bite of something chocolatey when you’re running out of fuel and getting ready to bonk. Most candy bars will freeze solid and become impossible to eat without chipping a tooth. So smaller candy like M&M’s makes a lot of sense. Or, if you want to class things up, truffles are an incredible morale boost while skiing.
Hmm, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, cured meats, and truffles, what’s that reminiscent of? Oh, yeah, that’s right! Charcuterie! No wonder that’s such a popular snack among skiers! All you’re missing is a board to lay it all out on, like maybe, a snowboard, or a ski.
The Best Meals For Your Ski Day
With snacks taken care of, let's tackle the elephant head-on. Growing up there were three types of people: kids whose moms sent them with cup-o-noodles, kids whose moms sent them money for lodge food, and kids who skied through lunch. The cup-o-noodles kids often naturally end up skipping lunch and becoming ski-through-lunch kids, because you can only eat so many of those without getting nauseous at the thought.
Luckily, there are other options, and if you rotate through them, you can keep a varied diet without burning yourself out on any one meal. A great place to start is our Backpacker’s Pantry meals. It turns out the needs of backpackers and skiers are well-aligned. Both are looking for an affordable, easy-to-prepare meal that’s packable and won’t be any worse for the wear if you take a few falls on it. Our freeze-dried meals are ideal for a quick lunch break that doesn’t empty your wallet but does fortify you for the rest of the day on the hill. Most resorts have either a boiling water dispenser or a microwave to heat your own water (don’t heat the pouch directly). And if the resort doesn’t have hot water available, you can even bring a camp stove and prepare a parking lot or patio feast.
Hot food makes a huge difference over a long day on the hill. Sure, you could try to slam a cold sandwich on the lift, or just eat enough trail mix that you don’t fall apart halfway through the day, but hot Pad Thai or Stroganoff doesn’t just fuel the body, it rejuvenates the spirit as well!
Heating up your own backpacking meals makes even more sense if you’ve got kids. Navigating the lines to get lodge food in ski boots is a trying mission for young skiers, not to mention the expense. But, if you pack them Backpacker’s Pantry meals you can save time, and money, while still feeding your kids something hot and nutritious. Whipping out Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken while all the other kids are digging out their smushed PB&J’s is a major win. And if you’ve got picky eaters on your hands it’s easy to mix things up with something fun like breakfast-for-lunch. There’s nothing like a Rocky Mountain Scramble, or loaded Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal to help stoke the embers of excitement.
Rotate through flavors, and if they start to get burnt out, add sides. Fritos scoops are a great compliment to rice or stew-based meals like Backpacker’s Pantry Wild West Chili and Beans. Good bread goes a long way toward making everything better. And if all else fails, bust out your camping grill once or twice a season and up with some hot dogs and s’mores! We love doing this in the spring when we can make it a full-on BBQ.
The Bottom Line
There are two key things to remember while planning your ski nutrition: You need to be motivated to eat before you’re hungry, and variety is the spice of life. Keep those two principles in mind, and use them to plan a regiment of snacks and meals that are as appetizing as it is nutritious. If you can do that, without breaking the bank your stomach and your ski legs will thank you.