There might not be a concrete plan or date as to when the human beings can finally go to Mars and come back, but its certain that the return journey to the Red Planet is going to take years. And that would obviously require some food along the way. This is something NASA has been pondering over for quite some time, and now it has some menu ideas.

Well according to estimations, a trip to Mars is going to take five years. A person would need about 7,000 pounds of food for the duration.

Not to mention, it does not make sense to pack so much food, all of which will be freeze-dried and in tube form like how it is done for the International Space Station.

What can be done instead, is to grow your own food along the way, using hydroponic greenhouses integrated into your ship, reports

Growing food on earth is sure not a big deal. But when it is about growing food in a closed space like that of a spacecraft, once a seed is planted, every little bit of growth sucks down energy and material. But then, the brighter side of the whole deal is that it sets up what's called a bioregenerative system, where humans feed plants just as plants feed humans, says the report.

Once fertilizers, carbon dioxide and gray water is provided, plants would scrub carbon dioxide, generate oxygen, and purify water.

While thinking of growing plants in space, there are various things to be kept in mind and to be considered. The plants in questions need to be almost entirely edible, grow well with minimal tending, and be small enough to be able to be packed and a bunch of them to be carried on board a spacecraft.

The potential plants that fit the bill include lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, bell peppers, strawberries, fresh herbs, and cabbages. In order to balance the meal, some extra food supplies will also need to be carried, reported

Check out a video below which that NASA produced some years ago. They talk about other options for long-duration spaceflight food items.