Mountain Snack Hacks

8 cheap tricks to help you save money while fueling up at the resort.


I was at a resort recently, I won’t name names (but it rhymes with “Shmeystone”) and a burger was going to cost me upwards of $18. Being that I try to avoid spending that much when I buy my weekly groceries (just kidding, kind of), I shuttered at the listed price. But I was so hungry and I could tell it was making me cold. I needed calories and preferably something warm. So I went back and forth with myself, “do I buy the burger and then kick myself all day? Or, do I just splurge on the $5 brownie and hope the sugar tides me over?”

Eventually, I split a brownie with my boyfriend, but I felt silly because I’m no rookie. I know the tricks and trades of keeping it cheap on the mountain, I had just come unprepared that one day. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t let a situation like this happen again this season. Sure, there are days you’re willing to splurge on an on-mountain meal, but doing it consistently can really add up. So in an effort to save myself and everyone from spending half their rent on a bowl of chili or slice of pizza, here are some new and old tricks (other than the classic pocket sandwich) to keep noshing on the slopes affordable.

  1. BYOB: Bring your Own Beverage, of any sort. Keep some instant coffee, a couple tea bags or a packet of hot coco in your coat pocket. The same rules apply for packets of oatmeal or Top Ramen. Most lodges will sell cups of hot water for less than a $.25 and nothing will warm you up like a hot drink or broth. If you’re my kind of ski bum, a shooter of fireball mixed with hot water will do wonders to your body temp and overall morale.
  2. All hail the mighty thermos. Homemade or from a can, it takes about five minutes to heat your soup, stew or chili of choice on the stove in the morning before heading out and it can live in your car for the day or a small backpack. If you’re really on top of it, integrate the pocket sandwich for dipping purposes.
  3. Car picnics make for some of the best mid-day ski breaks and après moments. This can look like a bagel and smear waiting for you at the car, or an entire grill setup, complete with a cooler filled with beers and brats. Mix in lawn chairs and some corn hole and you have yourself a good old fashioned tailgate.
  4. Any and all freebies. For the real cheap skates out there, there’s always recipes like hot water, lemon and honey packets or Warren’s old trick of hot water, ketchup and soup crackers. Ask a mountain chef if they have any burnt pizzas or scavenge the ski school table leftovers. Maybe a grom will go tradsies on some snacks?
  5. Pocket charcuterie: salami, cheese, olives and crackers in small bento box. Add a Bota Bag and it's a party.
  6. The ol’ hide and ski move. Pack a backpack with your lunch and stuff it under a tree. Just beware, squirrels and chipmunks have become more savvy over the years.  And don’t forget to come back for it, one storm cycle can cover it up and no one likes a litterbug.
  7. Go the healthy route and prepare "portables". Sugary bars and energy gels are fine once in a while, but they often don't sustain you longterm and they technically aren't "real" food. Recipes like white rice, almund butter and bacon bars that wrap up nicely in tin foil can be found in the Scratch Labs Feed Zone Portables Cookbook. You will be totally surprised with how great these easy-to-make snacks taste (considering the many random combinations of ingredients) and how perfectly they fill you up.
  8. Traditional snack reminder: munchies like jerky, trail mix or granola bars can go a long way. A couple hundred calories on the chairlift can make all the difference on your next few runs. When starting your day, if you see free granola bars at the base, don’t just walk by them, grab a few. You’ll thank yourself later.

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