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  1. #1
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Dehydrated meals on toruing? I'm a lousy cook...

    I'm really a lousy cook and I just don't enjoy it. How are those dehydrated meals that REI sells? I ordered a few to try. I noticed that some people on crazyguyonabike.com used them and liked them. They're light and simple but are they nutritious enough? I'm not picky about tastes, as long as it's not awful I can eat it.

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    They suck... That being said I have used them when Mountaineering. Better than cardboard I suppose. For touring you might consider things like Oatmeal, Mac and Cheese and instant noodles and stuff like that. I just find the taste so much better.

    In the end... try them and see if you like them. I'm also pretty cheap... So the meals you mention don't fit into the cheap department.
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    http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/

    This stuff is nutritious and tastes OK. But you can dehydrate your own vegetables and save a ton of money.

  4. #4
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Those meals from REI are $6-8 each. I pay more for lunch in NYC so that's OK. I'm more concerned with nutritious values and I'll test the taste soon enough

    Adam

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    I picked up a case of them at wholesale cost for a mountaineering trip. They all kind of tasted like different variations of the same mush after a while. It was hard to get enough calories from them, because you only have time to sit down and make at most 2 per person per day. And usually that was enough to fill up your stomach, but then you still need to find another 2000 calories somewhere. That being said, they are very easy. I recommend getting a long spoon if you want to eat out of the bags though. If you want to make them go further, pack a bag of instant rice or cous cous and some margarine to augment these meals with before you add the boiling water.

  6. #6
    Wheezy Rider Connell's Avatar
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    I've tried them on backpacking trips and while their light weight is a plus, I didn't really enjoy them and wouldn't want to rely on them for more than 2 or 3 days at the most. I found I felt fed up (in every sense of the term) long before I was finished the serving and ended up being hungry way too soon after. And, as a practitioner of the 'leave no trace' ethic, I had to carry a bag o' sludge with me until I could next dispose of it, which kind of negated the light weight of the uncooked meal.

    Try a couple at home and see what you think.
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  7. #7
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I'd eat from a mug/cup. One guy said that they taste better if you simmer them for a bit rather than just pour hot water into. I think he also mentioned adding instant rice to them, yeah. I'd probably stop by places to eat, this would be my backup plan if I can't find anything ready to eat. I wouldn't rely on them completely.

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  8. #8
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    If you are looking for instant food, you don't need to get it out of an expensive foil bag. On my recent trip from Portland to Jackson, I used dehydrated refried beans and they were very good. Just add boiling water and let sit for a few minutes. I carried flour tortillas and some cheddar cheese which I cut into the warm beans and at in the tortilla. I wouldn't want to eat it every night, but I did eat it more than one night in a row. They aren't cheap but that may be because I bought them at a health food store.

    I generally eat breakfast at a restaurant. Lunch is usually a sandwich I picked up along the way. Dinner is usually something I cook with broccoli and ramen one of my staples. The refried beans are now part of my dinner rotation, as well.

    As for other ideas, check this previous conversation about foods that require no cooking.

    This is a previous discussion about dehydrated foods.

    Here are some other food related links you might find useful (the two above are included here, as well).

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  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    There are numerous food threads in this forum, but here's my reply to one which might apply to your situation ...

    But as for being cooking-free ... you are talking to the QUEEN of cooking-free!! Nevermind touring, I try to live my entire life as cooking-free as possible!!

    Some ideas ... let's think about the local grocery store ...

    Bakery section .... Mmmmm-mmmmm. Everything in there is cooking-free!! Bread, buns, pastries, donuts, bagals, pita bread, cakes, cookies, pies. I like the cheese bagals - just plain - no toppings, and donuts or pastries for breakfast and snacks. Buns with cold meat, cheese, and tomatoes make a great lunch.

    Fruit and veggie section ... pretty much everything in there is cooking-free too. Apples, bananas, and manderin oranges are some of my favorites, and they travel well. I'll go for kiwis or grapes for some variety. Here in Australia, mangos and lychee are other favourites which can be picked up fairly inexpensively. Tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers go well in sandwiches.

    Dairy products ... there are yogurts and cheeses. Travelling in France, cheese was very inexpensive ... we lived on it! I don't know if a day went by where we didn't have cheese! And among many other kinds of cheeses, I fell in love with Baby Bels. Sadly, they are hard to find, and expensive in Canada and Australia. Hard cheeses travel quite well, things like yogurt you might want to eat fairly quickly.

    Meat ... there are lots of cold meats available in the deli and in the prepackaged cold meat section. These go well in the above mentioned sandwiches.

    Oh, look at that, we just covered the 5 major food groups!

    But as you walk up and down the aisles, you'll find all sorts of other things ...

    Cereal ... I love granola cereals on tours ... the kind with all the fruit and nuts in them. Pour a bit of milk powder and water over top, and you're set.

    Let's not forget about the aisles full of cookies, crackers, granola bars, cereal bars, and other snacks.

    Head into the canned meat section, and you'll find these neat little packages with 'ready-to-eat' tuna and a few crackers all together. I eat those for lunches quite often in my non-touring life because they are so convenient. If you don't want to get the tuna and crackers as a set, you can get several flavors of 'ready-to-eat' tuna or chicken which you can use with buns or crackers of your own choice (or right out of the tin). Oh, and the tins have the quick release tops so you don't need a can opener.

    Hmmm ... what else ... oh, canned fruit and individual servings of puddings. And packages of dried fruit (i.e. raisins and apricots) from the baking section. And nuts ... I love almonds and cashews, but some people also like peanuts. Which brings to mind all sorts of toppings. Some people like peanut butter (not me ... I have a bad reaction to it), but there are also jams, honey, cinnamon spread, nutella, and for the Aussies out there, vegemite <<shudder>>! Although I did have a liverwurst and vegemite sandwich in Australia, and it wasn't too bad. Maybe I just like liverwurst enough to be able to ignore the vegemite.

    And there's canned food in general ... here in Australia I can get canned potato salad which isn't bad. You wouldn't want to carry a lot of it with you but you can pick a can up in a shop and eat it for lunch the next day. I'm not as keen on eating cans of cold veggies, but some people like them. However, if you can cook at all, dumping a can of soup or stew into a pot doesn't take much.

    And thinking of soup brings to mind those oriental noodles (raman?). They are cheap and full of calories. Put them in a mug, pour water over them, and you're done. You can fix them up with the canned chicken mentioned above or other ideas you might have.


    Have I covered it all yet? Just cruise through your local grocery store ... most of what's in there doesn't need to be cooked!!

  10. #10
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Thanks a bunch for the links raybo!

    Yeah I love breads and pastry I could probably live off of those only I cal also eat cereal by itself I just add trail mix to it, no milk. I like bananas too.

    LOL Machka - sounds like me. I can live off of bread, coldcuts and cheese and lots of black tea Yeah, add some tomatoes, peppers, etc. pastry, pudding and nuts for dessert and I'm all set. Maybe that is a good way to go! I was just wondering about getting enough calories while riding. The above can get me through a regular workday though but I probably don't need more than 2500 calories normally. Riding all days is different, don't know how much I'd need, 5000 calories? Besides centuries (bananas, white bread, peanut butter and jelly all day) I've never ridden all days and day after day. Perhaps I shouldn't need to worry about cooking at all. Just have few of those meals as backup. Besides, when it's warm I can usually go by without cooked lunches for days. So thanks for the ideas.

    Oh yeah, the dried oriental noodle soups. I eat those sometimes too.

    Oh yeah, I'm capable enough of heating something up in a pot I just don't like all the cooking preparations, getting the meat and veggies prepared, mixing, adding proper spices, etc.

    Adam
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 01-26-10 at 08:31 PM.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    LOL Machka - sounds like me. I can live off of bread, coldcuts and cheese and lots of black tea Yeah, add some tomatoes, peppers, etc. pastry, pudding and nuts for dessert and I'm all set. Maybe that is a good way to go! I was just wondering about getting enough calories while riding. The above can get me through a regular workday though but I probably don't need more than 2500 calories normally. Riding all days is different, don't know how much I'd need, 5000 calories? Besides centuries (bananas, white bread, peanut butter and jelly all day) I've never ridden all days and day after day. Perhaps I shouldn't need to worry about cooking at all. Just have few of those meals as backup. Besides, when it's warm I can usually go by without cooked lunches for days. So thanks for the ideas.
    There's nothing stopping from having two lunches in a day when you're on tour. You don't have to conform to society's ideas of meals and mealtimes. But don't go too crazy with the calories. Stick with 250-300 calories per hour while riding, and maybe 500 before you set out on the ride and 500-1000 at the end of your ride. If you're still really hungry ... have a donut.

  12. #12
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Good point. I already started doing that. I'd sometimes have two breakfasts and no lunch and I never have diners, sometimes it's just few small snacks throughout the day. No, I'm not obsessed with calories or anything like that, I don't like to approach biking as science, by numbers But I underestimated my needs a couple of times when I started hiking and was miserable towards the end of the day when I run out of food. So I want to get an idea this time. The 250-300 calories per hour sounds good to me.

    Adam

  13. #13
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I have used freeze dried's extensively while backpacking and mountaineering, but hardly ever on bike tours. We carry a couple of freeze dried meals as backups (on tours) for the times when we miss a food stop or get stuck out some place. Simmering them, while it may make them taste better, takes away the one advantage that I like-- not having to clean the pot. The cookset that I use for mountaineering is about 35 years old and it has not had anything (that I can remember) but boiling water in it. Well Ok maybe a little tea or coffee. I do have a small titanium pot that does get some cooking use on bike trips. All freeze dried meals are not the same. Shop around for some of the different brands and try them. Also, a few condiments like pepper flakes, tobasco sauce etc. spice them up a little. While climbing, only one meal a day is freeze dried or needs any cooking. most are non cook items or things like oatmeal or cold cereal w/ powdered milk. That is probably the reson that I think they are tolerable for short periods. I'm doing the "cooking".
    Last edited by Doug64; 01-26-10 at 10:53 PM.

  14. #14
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    We always throw a couple of freeze dried meals in the bottom of a pannier, just in case.

    When I'm out touring or backpacking I don't like to cook anything more than boiling water.

    On our last couple of tours in southwestern Colorado we carried a couple of Mountainhouse freeze-dried meals in case we ended up camping out in the middle of no-where and needed a quick meal. We were hungry enough and they didn't taste too bad. We ate most of our meals at stores or restaurants along the way.

    I did a 5 day backpack trip in Utah a couple of years ago. I only weigh 110 so I really need to keep the pack weight down. I ate Mountainhouse meals each night and they tasted fine.

    For breakfast we heat water for a bit of oatmeal. We found that we really can't eat more than that and get on our bikes. Then we snack along the way the rest of the morning.

    On one tour we had a real breakfast one morning. We split a meal of an omlette and pancakes, etc. It wasn't a hard day riding, but we both felt like we were going to hurl from eating that heavy breakfast. Now we keep it very light!
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  15. #15
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    I've tried a few of the Mountain House dinner and breakfast meals. I think I was surprised that they were actually edible and brain dead simple to prepare. Based on just that, I gave them a thumb up. However, I can see getting pretty sick of them after a few meals, so I'd agree with those who stuff a few in the pannier and then keep a close eye out for restaurants/deli's/fruit stands, etc as my primary source of meals.

  16. #16
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    Mountain House meals are light, simple, and nutritious, but also expensive, nasty tasting, and not readily available on the road. Unless all your tours will be very short they probably don't make sense because it really makes sense to buy food daily. I can see carrying one or two of these meals as emergency food just in case I am stuck without a resupply option.

    Taking much food from home just doesn't make sense to me for a tour of any length. I usually don't start out with more than a couple power bars and buy food on the road the first day and daily from there on unless I am somewhere remote enough to have no resupply point.

    You could arrange for mail drops if you are dead set on using freeze dried meals, but I wouldn't.

    The stuff from the site cyclesafe mentioned looks great, but it isn't the same as the mountain house meals (in a good way and a bad way depending on what you want). That may mean it is more like cooking than you might want. Since getting fresh veggies is often hard in tiny towns, I may have some of their dried veggies mailed to me via general delivery from home on my next tour.

    You don't need to be able to cook to prepare lots of dishes. Using mac and cheese, various noodle and rice boxed dishes from the grocery (supplement with foil packed tuna or salmon or fresh meats). Also as has been mentioned you can do fine without eating anything that requires cooking.

    Also that Mountain House stuff is expensive enough that you could buy sandwiches and stuff from the towns you pass through and live off of PBJs when there are no towns and may still spend less. A fair number of folks I met ate breakfast at a diner and had them make a sandwich for later. Then they usually cooked dinner in camp.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'd say it depends where you tour. Almost everywhere I've gone there has been a store somewhere along the days' route - usually more than one. I try and stock up at the store closest to the end of the day's ride. That way I don't have to carry my food all day.

    I'm type 2 diabetic and have limits on what I can eat. I also need to eat several times a day to keep my blood sugar up (the medicine diabetics take to lower their blood sugar often results in it being too low, which is also a problem.) A good strategy for me is to carry a loaf of bread, a small jar of sugar-free jam, and a small jar of peanut butter. PB&J sandwiches are excellent roadside snacks, and in a pinch I can eat them for dinner and breakfast too. I'm not happy when I have to do so; it is possible to get tired of peanut butter and jelly, even for me - but I'm not hungry either.

    I've given up on dehydrated meals, except for backpacking.

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    They work fine for backpacking where you have to carry a week's supply of food and have no option for resupplying along the way.

    But I don't see the point for typical bike touring. The freeze-dried meals cost as much or more than getting a meal in a diner along the way and don't taste nearly as good. So if you want to avoid cooking, why not just eat at reasonable restaurants that you'll be passing by anyway? Won't cost any more than the backpack meals and you won't have to carry a stove and assorted other cooking paraphernalia. OTOH, if a little cooking is ok then you can get by much cheaper by buying easy to prepare food at local grocery stores shortly before getting to your campsite.

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    After eating many various freeze dried meals, I've decided that I can find many food items that only require boiling water at the grocery store. Mac & Cheese, Oatmeal, Pasta, Soups etc. and I tend to carry these items as staples. When I'm on the road I try and find things to enhance these foods like tuna in the mac and cheese for example (it's awesome). And another bonus feature of buying these dry items is that they can be repackaged to lessen the amount of trash from individual packaging. In any case, I prefer to eat this way than expensive dehydrated pre packaged foods and it still tastes good and I don't have to be Emril.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    They suck... That being said I have used them when Mountaineering. Better than cardboard I suppose. For touring you might consider things like Oatmeal, Mac and Cheese and instant noodles and stuff like that. I just find the taste so much better.
    Agree with this completely. I've never found a freeze-dried meal that I thought was decent and for the price that's just not acceptable! A 39-cent package of Ramen noodles and the extra sandwich you bought at lunchtime makes a much better meal than anything rehydrated in a plastic bag, from what I've found. If your lunch stop has hot soup or chilli, pour some into a Nalgene bottle (one that you're not planning to drink from) or Thermos and reheat it for dinner.

  21. #21
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    They work fine for backpacking where you have to carry a week's supply of food and have no option for resupplying along the way.
    Similar here where I've switched more to a style of foraging food from stores and occasional restaurants along the way. This is going to be a personal preference area. However, the big "aha moment" for me was when cycling up the Dempster Highway. Much of this road in Northern Canada is gravel road and the first point to resupply was at km231, the Eagle Plains Motel. It took me three days of cycling to get there, and hence I had a collection of dried meals as well as an abundance of peanut butter/crackers, dried fruit and other snacks.

    Even on that trip, I found that I got by w/o a huge amount of cooking and instead extended snacking along the way. That was also helpful since there were a fair amount of mosquitoes on those "nights" (sun never went below the horizon and I never saw dark).

    So after reflection, I realized if I could do minimal cook on an area as remote as the Dempster Highway, I could probably get by in other areas as well. Since that time, I've ridden some fairly remote areas including a ride across Russia and one lap around outside Australia - without buying special foods (except in few cases, where I'd drop a few surplus MREs in bottom of the pannier for emergency). So if I'm doing touring in more populated areas such as the most all of the lower-48 US States, I can get by with the grocery store foraging approach.

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    Think about calorie dense foods that need little to no cooking and you'll be better off -- cheaper and better tasting. It's a different approach. Peanut butter becomes your ally. Staring at tuna packets, oil or water packed? You already know the answer to that one. One resource you might tap into on the Web is the distance hiker community. "Through hikers" are people who try to do epic trails in a season -- like walking from Mexico to Canada. Most do very simple "boiling water" cooking or no cooking. Most carry food distances between resupply spots. I recall some who practically lived on instant mashed potatoes and liberal doses of olive oil. Not my cup of tea, but neither are those expensive -- bad -- backpacking packaged meals. I find many of them to be so salty as to be nearly inedible.

    Please share with us what you think of the meals once you've tested a couple at home. It's no more work to boil a package or two of Ramen, adding something more substantial than the "flavor" packets that accompany them. Boiling water+pasta+foil packet of chicken+dried pesto mix+olive oil. Pretty good.

  23. #23
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'll definitely post my thoughts on these meals.

    Ada,

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    I have used freeze dried's extensively while backpacking and mountaineering, but hardly ever on bike tours. We carry a couple of freeze dried meals as backups (on tours) for the times when we miss a food stop or get stuck out some place. Simmering them, while it may make them taste better, takes away the one advantage that I like-- not having to clean the pot. The cookset that I use for mountaineering is about 35 years old and it has not had anything (that I can remember) but boiling water in it. Well Ok maybe a little tea or coffee. I do have a small titanium pot that does get some cooking use on bike trips. All freeze dried meals are not the same. Shop around for some of the different brands and try them. Also, a few condiments like pepper flakes, tobasco sauce etc. spice them up a little. While climbing, only one meal a day is freeze dried or needs any cooking. most are non cook items or things like oatmeal or cold cereal w/ powdered milk. That is probably the reson that I think they are tolerable for short periods. I'm doing the "cooking".
    Bolding mine. It has been years, but my memory is huge variation and what one person likes other may not. Personally I'd follow Machka's advice and other ways of eating locally. But depending on the route I might pack some to a lot of freeze dried stuff.

    EDIT: Thinking about it there seem to be only 3 or 4 textures for freeze dried means, that can get old fast, even if one likes the taste.
    Last edited by Keith99; 01-27-10 at 04:13 PM.

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    I am a fan of Instant Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

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