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Old 06-14-11, 04:06 PM   #1
Newspaperguy
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Packing food

When you need to carry food for several days, what do you take?

Normally, my trips have me passing by a community or at least a food store of some sort at least once a day and often I'll reach a store near the end of the day. For back-country trips or routes that do not have easy access to food, what do you use?

Does anyone use the dehydrated backpacker meals? If so, how do they work out?
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Old 06-14-11, 04:31 PM   #2
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We tried the freeze dried meals and hated them. If I have to carry a couple days of food, things like dried soups or chili, dried boxed rice dishes, dried boxed potato dishes, or ramen noodles. I often add foil packed tuna or salmon and maybe freeze dried peas. For lunches peanut butter and jelly on bagels or tortillas are good. Hard salami or pepperoni, hard cheeses, and things like that are good. Instant oatmeal is an old stand by for breakfast.
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Old 06-14-11, 07:42 PM   #3
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We tried the freeze dried meals and hated them. If I have to carry a couple days of food, things like dried soups or chili, dried boxed rice dishes, dried boxed potato dishes, or ramen noodles. I often add foil packed tuna or salmon and maybe freeze dried peas. For lunches peanut butter and jelly on bagels or tortillas are good. Hard salami or pepperoni, hard cheeses, and things like that are good. Instant oatmeal is an old stand by for breakfast.
^^^ pretty much my experience. I use a cook book called The One Pan Gourmet_ Don Jacobson It has great ideas for packing and combining foods. I also have another book The Well-Fed Backpacker_June Fleming that is full of great ideas and menus.

Quite often I will start with some fresh foods and use them up first, then head into the dried stuff.

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Old 06-14-11, 08:47 PM   #4
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^^^ To each his/her own but I've eaten many freeze dried backback meals (mostly backpacking or kayak trips) and they are fine. Certainly not gourmet but some are pretty darn good especially when your really hungry. There is a huge market out there for backpack type freeze dried meals/food somebody must be eating them.
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Old 06-15-11, 04:13 AM   #5
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Pasta with pouches of salmon, tuna, and chicken for dinner. Peanut butter and bagels for lunch. Granola for breakfast.

Freeze dried meals are rarely available whist touring. Resupply by mail is possible, but hooking up with packages can be a PITA, best left in emergency situations.
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Old 06-15-11, 04:53 AM   #6
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I would add that, in addition to not being very available on the road, freeze dried meal tend to be expensive. We always found them to feed half as many people as the package says which makes them even more expensive.

Their main claim to fame is that they are light weight and keep well. This may be a huge plus on a mountaineering trip or a backpacking trip where resupply is very infrequent, but on a bike tour I suspect that most of us probably never need to carry more than a few days of food at a time.

I have carried them as an "emergency meal" and they served pretty well in that regard, but so would most of the food I usually carry. That said, there is no way I would want to eat a steady diet of them on a long tour. I do like freeze dried veggies and use them when available.

Not really on topic to the original question, but I will mention that it is worth eating well when on tour. It is part of enjoying the tour. I like to eat fresh foods often when I can. Adding a bag salad and a bottle of wine to that makes the meal much more enjoyable.
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Old 06-15-11, 05:03 AM   #7
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^^^ To each his/her own but I've eaten many freeze dried backback meals (mostly backpacking or kayak trips) and they are fine. Certainly not gourmet but some are pretty darn good especially when your really hungry. There is a huge market out there for backpack type freeze dried meals/food somebody must be eating them.
I have mostly only tried the Mountain House ones and found that they ranged from barely acceptable to downright awful. Are there other brands that are better?

Freeze dried veggies are very good though as are dried ones. Harmony House Foods is a good source if you want to bother with mail drops from home rather than buy veggies along the way. Since in many places fresh produce is scarce, I actually would consider mail drops when I will be where I have to get my food in little general stores most of the time.

BTW, Thanks to Cyclesafe for pointing me to Harmony House in a previous post.
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Old 06-15-11, 05:04 AM   #8
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In my experience freeze dried meals are around 3-4 times as expensive as packing my own. Also by packing my own food I can control what goes into them and adjust for personal tastes.

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Old 06-15-11, 10:06 AM   #9
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A breakfast of quick oats and peanut butter is fast and filling. It's easy to carry. Trail mix or granola bars for snacks also pack easily and provide fast nutrition on the road.

Pasta, rice and dried lentils all cook quickly and are easy to carry, although dried pasta is a bit bulky.

Fruit and vegetables are a little tricky. These foods are not bulletproof and if packed improperly, they will smear themselves all over the panniers, leaving a food smell insects and bears love. I'll look into dried vegetables as an alternative.

Protein is the hardest part. I've been using tins of ham or tuna, which is convenient for camping but also has a bit of a weight penalty. One can of tuna isn't that bad, but the weight becomes noticeable when carrying a few cans. Hard pepperoni and hard cheese could work, at least for a couple of days, but again I don't want to have something that will leave lingering odours and attract the bears.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:04 PM   #10
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Give these dehydrated meals a try http://hawkvittles.com/ . I find them very tasty and extremely easy to prepare.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
We tried the freeze dried meals and hated them. ... things like dried soups or chili, dried boxed rice dishes, dried boxed potato dishes, or ramen noodles ... foil packed tuna or salmon ... For lunches peanut butter and jelly on bagels or tortillas are good. Hard salami or pepperoni, hard cheeses ... Instant oatmeal is an old stand by for breakfast.
All of this, plus: Beef (or other) jerky, nuts, dehydrated fruit and pita bread. Note: The single-serv cups of peanut butter don't hold up well to pannier travel, best to just buy a jar, or locate the almost impossible to find squeeze packs.
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Old 06-15-11, 03:45 PM   #12
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A couple of things I haven't seen mentioned so far. First, tuna and other fish in foil packs. Lighter than cans, easier to open, can be found in most grocery stores. Couscous is a good carb source and much denser than pasta. I just add hot or boiling water and let it soak for about 5 minutes, no real cooking needed.

If you have the "World Market" chain in your area, they carry lots of single serving , shelf stable foods. Some are tastier than others, but there is enough variety to break up the tedium.

Carrying a few seasonings can go a long way towards making food more palatable as well.
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Old 06-15-11, 04:15 PM   #13
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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is freeze dried refried beans. They aren't cheap but I've taken them on every bike tour since I discovered them. I've only found them in a "health" food store in SF.

They rehydrate quickly, taste like the real thing, and are great with avocado and cheese. I often eat them with pita bread, though tortillas would be good too.

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Old 06-15-11, 05:08 PM   #14
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Anything dry and compact is good. Hot cereal, grocery store freeze-dried packaged potato dishes, rice, etc. That new foil-packed tuna is great stuff. Just go down the grocery isle and pick boxes that have mostly dry or freeze-dried contents. Check the calories per serving to make sure you are buying enough. Always have extra gallon and quart ziploc bags in your pannier, loose. Put the food in one of those. Cut the recipe off and leave the box in the grocery store trash. Only problem is that most of those things want milk and maybe flour, so you'll have to have a bag of powdered milk, Milkman packets, or similar, which is a pain because you'll have that extra weight and volume. Sometimes we've just taken some of the staple we needed and thrown the rest away. Hate doing that, but we don't have unlimited room. Weight's not so bad, it's the volume. We carry an REI Flash 18 with us, a very light and simple rucksack. We can put overflow food in there until we eat it, then the sack goes back in the pannier.

If the tour is shortish, you can bring baggies of dry staples from home, like the mentioned freeze-dried beans. You can get tomato powder, too, for making tomato sauce.
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Old 06-15-11, 05:37 PM   #15
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Foil packed Indian foods are great too! Trader Joe's, World Market, some other grocery stores have them.
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Old 06-16-11, 05:01 AM   #16
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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is freeze dried refried beans. They aren't cheap but I've taken them on every bike tour since I discovered them. I've only found them in a "health" food store in SF.

They rehydrate quickly, taste like the real thing, and are great with avocado and cheese. I often eat them with pita bread, though tortillas would be good too.

Ray
They are great, but I have only found them once when on tour. We really enjoyed them. If arranging a mail drop from home I might have to have some sent.

A similarly good item is freeze dried hummus, but also hard to find on tour.
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Old 06-16-11, 05:43 AM   #17
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I've been experimenting with home-dried foods, just fruits and veggies so far. That would basically enable me to make my own complete meals in ziplock bags, seasoned to taste. These are more for kayak touring, when I'm biking I usually pass a grocery store every day.

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