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Old 05-21-12, 09:28 AM   #1
alan s 
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What hot meals do you like when camping?

I have a Snow Peak GigaPower stove and small Ti pot for cooking, so nothing fancy. Cooking for one person. Water is plentiful, which means probably dried or dehydrated meals are preferable to keep weight and bulk down.

What are the best hot meals that are simple to prepare, easy to clean up, and primarily use hot water, rather than cooking the food?

Breakfast, instant oatmeal and coffee.

Lunch, not preparing a hot meal.

Dinnner, Mountain House meals and Cup-o-Noodle soup. Pasta and rice dishes?
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Old 05-21-12, 09:38 AM   #2
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This page has 26 links to information about food while bike touring.

Some of them will be of interest to you, though many won't. There are links to recipes, foods that require no cooking, food discussions, and many others.
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Old 05-21-12, 09:50 AM   #3
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You couldn't pay me to eat Mountain House meals on a regular basis. They would be pretty close to my last choice other than possibly for an emergency meal stowed away and I generally don't even use them for that. I think I'd eat PB&J for every meal before I'd resort to them.

Most of the time I keep it pretty simple. A fav of mine is ramen noodles with foil packed tuna and maybe some freeze dried peas thrown in. I add a bag salad and maybe some wine when I feel like something nicer. If near a store before dinner sometimes some bag dinner from the frozen foods section. Dried soups or chili can be pretty good as can the stuff in boxes that just requires heating. Dried rice or pasta dishes can be pretty good. Actual normal cooking once in a while is a nice change too, but I usually don't do it all that often when on tour.
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Old 05-21-12, 10:06 AM   #4
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Omnivore.. I went foraging the shops en-route .. and ate what I found..
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Old 05-21-12, 10:32 AM   #5
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This page has 26 links to information about food while bike touring.

Some of them will be of interest to you, though many won't. There are links to recipes, foods that require no cooking, food discussions, and many others.
Some good links there. Thanks.

To clarify, I'm planning overnights and 3-4 day trips where I won't necessarily have access to stores, so I'm looking for what works best for simple, hot meals for breakfast and dinner. No special dietary constraints.
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Old 05-21-12, 10:41 AM   #6
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KISS, and chug a btl of V-8 daily if on the trail for more than a few days.

A can of bean dip and some diced tomatoes do wonders for the texture and flavor of rice meals. I always have some cayenne pepper to spice things up. When I cook at all.
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Old 05-21-12, 11:33 AM   #7
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Water is plentiful, which means probably dried or dehydrated meals are preferable to keep weight and bulk down.

What are the best hot meals that are simple to prepare, easy to clean up, and primarily use hot water, rather than cooking the food?

Pasta and rice dishes?
Are you going to be spending the night in places that a far away from decent food sources? If so, why carry the stuff in the form of dehydrated meals? Just shop at or near the end of the day?

While you use water to make past and rice, you still need to cook those things.

In any event, I am big pasta eater. I carry two nesting pots when touring solo. The second pot no bulk and little weight, and all cooking utensils, spices, soap, sponge and pak towel fit inside. I make whatever goes with the in the pasta first, leave it in the one pot and boil the pasta in the second pot. I then re-warm the "topping" while draining the pasta then combine thE two.

Unless you are burning your food, causing it to stick to the pot(s), clean up is a breeze. I can wash two pots, a spatual, strainer, cutting board, knife, bowl and eating utensil is under 4 min. tops.

Life is too short to eat boring food, even when cooking on tour:

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Old 05-21-12, 11:55 AM   #8
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The choice of carb is noodle, pasta, rice, potatoes, couscous.
I find that couscous is the most efficient in terms of fuel, water, time. You can get sachets of flavoured couscous.
Pasta needs lots of pan space. Noodles are quick and you can drink the soup.
Rice is OK but harder to get right.
I really enjoy camp cooking but for short tours it isnt worth carrying the whole kitchen ensemble.

You can get sachets of dehydrated rice/pasta meals from any supermarket. They taste better when you are cold and tired.
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Old 05-21-12, 06:20 PM   #9
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"hobo meals!"
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Old 05-21-12, 07:02 PM   #10
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You couldn't pay me to eat Mountain House meals on a regular basis. They would be pretty close to my last choice other than possibly for an emergency meal stowed away and I generally don't even use them for that. I think I'd eat PB&J for every meal before I'd resort to them.

Most of the time I keep it pretty simple. A fav of mine is ramen noodles with foil packed tuna and maybe some freeze dried peas thrown in. I add a bag salad and maybe some wine when I feel like something nicer. If near a store before dinner sometimes some bag dinner from the frozen foods section. Dried soups or chili can be pretty good as can the stuff in boxes that just requires heating. Dried rice or pasta dishes can be pretty good. Actual normal cooking once in a while is a nice change too, but I usually don't do it all that often when on tour.
I have to agree on Mountain House. You can do better in almost any situation. Decide what you like for staples and what travels well for the conditions you're riding through: bagels, tortillas, cream cheese, peanut butter, tuna or chicken packets, etc. These work for any meal, any place. Carry some basic spices and olive oil. With those you can saute just about anything lightly to make a tasty warm meal. What you find in stores or roadside stands will offer variety that make your meals enjoyable. Refried beans or chili in cans. Fresh veggies and fruit. Cheese. If you stop for fast food, take a few condiment packs with you. Go hungry every once in a while. It will make the next meal taste better.
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Old 05-21-12, 07:23 PM   #11
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+1 for couscous, add vegetables or virtually anything. I also add couscous to other supermarket dehydrated food packets.
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Old 05-21-12, 07:51 PM   #12
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Penne + Pesto + olive oil ~ Ramen + cheese + potato flakes + bacon bits.
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Old 05-21-12, 08:58 PM   #13
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Omnivore.. I went foraging the shops en-route .. and ate what I found..
Yep.

We don't usually carry more than a day or two of food with us ... especially if the area we're cycling through is at all populated.

Stop for lunch in the middle of the day at a grocery store, buy lunch to eat right then, dinner for later, breakfast for the next morning, and a few snacks for in between ...... and repeat.
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Old 05-22-12, 03:06 AM   #14
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I like camp cooking. I've often said I eat better on tour than at home. It does need stores close to camp, but a little imagination can go a long way. I froze some lamb chops in a camp fridge then wrapped them in four or five pages of newspaper and buried them amid the clothes in a pannier. They were still semi-frozen at the end of a long day's touring.

It really is important to keep up the intake of fresh, nutritious food, in my opinion. It's obvious that the body needs the vitamins and minerals, but also the intestinal system needs fibre to operate efficiently.

One of my staple meals is sort of stew with cubes of meat fried first, then vegetables added along with seasoning of choice -- curry usually. A little bit water, and towards the end of cooking, a little bit of flour to thicken. Like Indyfabz, I also use two pots, and will cook up rice or noodles or pasta to go with the stew.

One suggestion is to use your cooking methods at home first. It's great practice, letting you know how efficiently the stove works, and how much cooking time things need. This applies very much to the "slow cooker" method.
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Old 05-22-12, 08:02 AM   #15
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Yep.

We don't usually carry more than a day or two of food with us ... especially if the area we're cycling through is at all populated.

Stop for lunch in the middle of the day at a grocery store, buy lunch to eat right then, dinner for later, breakfast for the next morning, and a few snacks for in between ...... and repeat.
That was my general method too. Only carry about a day to day and a half of food. Sometimes I'd carry more snack food because it was cheaper in bulk. My snack food generally was peanut M&Ms mixed with pretzels -- carbs, salt, sugar, fat and protein.

Breakfast was usually ramen, granola bars, and instant coffee or hot chocolate. Lunch was not cooked.

Dinner was either eaten out or stuff I bought at lunch or the end of the day. I'd sometimes add vegetables -- ones that keep fairly well: green/red peppers, onion, etc. Boil bags with rice/pasta was somewhat common.
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Old 05-22-12, 08:11 AM   #16
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One thing about eating lunch at the grocery store is that you can eat perishable food then ... that's when I purchase my yogurt, ice cream, individual serving cheesecakes, pears (which don't travel well), cold meat, cheese, and raw veggies for sandwiches, fresh baked goods, etc.

Breakfast might be mainly granola, and dinner might be mainly rice or pasta, but lunch provides an opportunity for a whole variety of food.
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Old 05-22-12, 12:45 PM   #17
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Against your recommendations, for an overnight trip this coming weekend, I picked up a Mountain House beef stroganoff at REI, just to see how truly ghastly it is. It was on sale for around $5, so not too expensive, and the reviews are suprisingly good. I'll bring along a second cooking pot and a pasta/rice dish, tuna and dried veggies to try out, as well. Looks like oatmeal, supplemented with dried fruit and coffee in on the menu for breakfast.
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Old 05-22-12, 03:20 PM   #18
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Against your recommendations, for an overnight trip this coming weekend, I picked up a Mountain House beef stroganoff at REI, just to see how truly ghastly it is. It was on sale for around $5, so not too expensive, and the reviews are suprisingly good. I'll bring along a second cooking pot and a pasta/rice dish, tuna and dried veggies to try out, as well. Looks like oatmeal, supplemented with dried fruit and coffee in on the menu for breakfast.
I've used Mountain House food before, with mixed results. Some are surprisingly tasty, others most definitely not. It can be a dispiriting experience sitting in camp shoveling unappetizing sludge into your mouth because you need the calories after a demanding day on the bike and that's all you have.

Something else to consider, which might sound obvious but...they do require quite a bit of water. If you find yourself in a dry camp, this could be a concern, particularly if you need to hydrate or you're looking forward to coffee in the morning. Just make sure you're carrying enough water before you pass the point where you can't replenish it.

They're certainly light though, and simple enough to make. If you'll be touring somewhere remote, it isn't a bad idea to have 1 or 2 at the bottom of your panniers in case you get stuck, but I wouldn't plan to eat them unless you have to.
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Old 05-22-12, 03:47 PM   #19
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Against your recommendations, for an overnight trip this coming weekend, I picked up a Mountain House beef stroganoff at REI, just to see how truly ghastly it is.
Some people actually like them so it is worth trying them I guess.
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Old 05-22-12, 06:31 PM   #20
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I would add red lentils, quinoa and soba noodles to the tasty and quick preparation list for dinner. Steamed vegetables and some freeze-dried black beans are normally added or a Tasty Bite pouch of Indian curry.
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Old 05-22-12, 09:16 PM   #21
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An idea of my approach to food is summarised near the bottom of my post on my last ride of the Munda Biddi Trail.

My current thinking is:

Breakfast: Porridge, brown sugar, sultanas and almonds + coffee
Lunch: Peanut butter or jam plus Cheese and crackers after a day or two out of town;
Dinner: Pasta or rice or Deb potato or couscous + salami or tuna or salmon + carrot + garlic + dried onions or mushrooms + dried peas/carrots
Drinks/Snacks: Nuts + coffee satchels + tea + hot chocolate + fruit cake + Lindt chocolate.



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Old 05-23-12, 01:34 AM   #22
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Something else to consider, which might sound obvious but...they do require quite a bit of water. If you find yourself in a dry camp, this could be a concern, particularly if you need to hydrate or you're looking forward to coffee in the morning. Just make sure you're carrying enough water before you pass the point where you can't replenish it.
This is an excellent point and applies just as much to rice, noodles, pasta and any other dry food that needs water to reconstitute it while cooking. Even fresh vegetables need a little water, so it's always wise to carry extra water for cooking if that's what you intend to do. Water bladders are a good idea in this situation, and I've used them even in paid campsites to carry water from the stand-tap or ablutions block back to my tent.
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Old 05-23-12, 06:13 AM   #23
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When camping, we usually buy dried pasta or rice dinners and then add canned chicken or tuna for protein. These are simple to make, filling, relatively inexpensive and don't require refrigeration. You remove ingredients from the boxes and repack in plastic ziploc bags to reduce bulk and weight; just make sure you keep the cooking instructions.
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Old 05-23-12, 12:10 PM   #24
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I've had pretty good luck with freeze dried beans rehydrated in hot water, slathered on a tortilla, covered in shelf stable cheese and then melted on a small frying pan. Served with those tiny packets of hot sauce you can get at Taco Bell, it's actually pretty tasty.
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Old 05-23-12, 12:20 PM   #25
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If you are only going to be gone a few days then buying along the way might be for you. If you want to carry some/most/all of your food with you I would suggest DIY.

My experience is more from backpacking but the principle is the same--light, compact, easy to make, minimal ingredients to mix, TASTY. For us, the solution was to make our own "instant meals" in ziplock bags. You can boil a bit of water and pour it right into the plastic bag, wrap it up in something to insulate it while it 'cooks', and eat right out of the bag. Clean up is almost non-existent. If you boil a little more water than you need for cooking you can use the remaining hot water to wash your fork/spoon (and cup if you used one) and you are done.

The storebought freeze dried stuff always seemed lacking on the taste/price ratio. I can take a box of instant rice and mix in various sorts of dried soup powders and/or seasonings and end up with something I much prefer to the ready-made dehydrated stuff. Breakfast is an especially good candidate for this treatment. We buy the Quaker instant oatmeal pouches and then add nuts and/or dehydrated fruit, sweetner (Splenda in our case) and some milk powder. It really livens up a serviceable but otherwise mundane breakfast.

Here is a link to a site that is all about recipes for freezerbag cooking on the trail.
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