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Food Choices, Storage, and Preparation

Old 12-02-16, 06:04 PM
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Food Choices, Storage, and Preparation

Of course proper nutrition is important at all times, but no less so when out on tour. For those here who handle all of their own food supplies and cooking while out on tour, and not fast food or other restaurants and such, but only what you set off with and what you can procure along your route; what foods are best, and what methods of safe storage and preparation do you use?

I have a Jetboil kit I plan to use for cooking, at least to begin with.

Last edited by AdvXtrm; 12-03-16 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 12-02-16, 07:00 PM
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I have found one can of baked beans and one can of spaghetti o's to be a good combination I can (pun intended) eat every day. A bag of corn chips makes a nice garnish.
My kitchen consists of a spoon and an opener.

Sadly, that's true.
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Old 12-02-16, 07:05 PM
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Where are you going for your next trip? Much depends upon the days between resupply points, and what can be had at the resupply point. If they are numerous, I tend to eat on the road until dinner then get what I want to take to camp. ICE, I also carry two freeze-dried emergency meals.
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Old 12-02-16, 10:15 PM
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for breakfast : oatmeal (instant or quick, with or without raisins and sweeteners which can be mixed separately + instant coffee (Starbucks VIA is a good substitute for "real" coffee). Powdered milk.
under way : GORP. Ramen soup. Sandwich if possible to purchase under way. Fruits purchased under way. Mostly bananas if possible.
Evening : boiled eggs / canned tuna + some starch (most practical are instant mashed potatoes or couscous). But frankly, if we can find decent eatery, we encourage the hospitality industry

Try to rely on dehydrated food (lighter and more compact) that require as little packaging as possible. You can usually find water along the way to boil/rehydrate your source of proteins. Boiled eggs keep fairly well.
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Old 12-02-16, 11:55 PM
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On my last tour I really debated the whole cook or not cook thing.

Dehydrated foods are lighter but require a stove and fuel (which weigh something) and are usually more expensive to purchase, especially on the road at convenience stores/gas stations. I also measured just how much enjoyment I got from cooking - which when alone is not much. So cheap canned goods suited me for that ride.

I do like cooking but find it is really a social thing; I enjoy making something to be enjoyed together. Alone, especially if riding long hours, I just eat to live as they say.

In the morning I would usually find a Subway along the way and order a foot long veggie sub or egg breakfast sub (I'm vegetarian), eat half and keep the other half for lunch. Don't order mayo if the weather is warm! Enroute I just ate whatever I found along the way and would usually set up camp, eat my beans and lay down to read or blog.

If you are going for a <week trip and use a stove a good trick is to pack instant oatmeal, raisins, brown sugar and whatever else you put in there in a zip lock sandwiche bag. Boil one pot of water, pour some in your instant coffee and some in the baggie, seal it, wait five minutes and you're good to go. Bite a small hole in the bottom of the bag and squirt/suck the oatmeal out. No dishes to wash.

I like Starbucks via coffee too and on the last trip discovered their iced coffee packets. That way I got my caffeine fix without needing boiled water. I just dedicated one water bottle to the purpose. When I have hot coffee I usually use a mix of hot chocolate and instant coffee (Mocha) to avoid bringing sugar and cream products.

I also pack a small jar of peanut butter as a quick high energy food fix. Being a veggie I need to consider protein sources in out of the way spots. Peanut butter does not need refrigeration and is good alone or on crackers, bread or apples.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 12-02-16 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 12-03-16, 12:37 AM
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When we tour, it usually goes something like this ...

Lunchtime -- stop in at grocery store and get lunch (buns, cold cuts, tomato, cheese slices, yogurt, etc) + something for dinner (tin or package of something, raw veggies, whatever) + breakfast for the next morning (pastries or something, maybe granola and powdered milk, etc.) + some granola bars, fruit, and maybe a block of cheese for snacks.

Arrival into Camp -- set up the tent then have coffee with cheese and crackers.

Dinner -- eat whatever we picked up for dinner

Breakfast -- eat whatever we picked up for breakfast

Ride light till lunchtime!

We might also carry a few extra things like a couple packages of noodles, a bit of granola, coffee of course, crackers, granola bars, etc.

Sometimes we might mix things up and go out for dinner or pick up something for lunch from a bakery.
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Old 12-03-16, 02:16 AM
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Thanks for all the info. Since I haven't yet been able to go out on any tours yet, but only day rides, I don't have any real touring experience yet, so I'm trying to get a netter understanding of what to expect and how to go about eating and nutrition while on tour. I plan on keeping any fast food and such to a very bare minimum. So I will have to be procuring, storing, and preparing the vast majority of my meals. I won't be staying in any hotels and such either. All self-supported and living from whatever I have backed on my bike, with no money to burn anywhere or on anything. So that means tenting it and camping wherever I can along the way.
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Old 12-03-16, 02:30 AM
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One of the best foods for a self supported cycle tour is couscous. It's light weight, doesn't take much energy to prepare, filling and very nutritious, it really doesn't have a downside.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:05 AM
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Of course it depends on the weather you're traveling. Milk at 50* vs 95* for example. But even at 95* just about anything should last 24 hours before spoiling. Maybe not raw fish, but hamburger, milk, cheese, I would not worry about for a day, maybe 2.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:24 AM
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I would not haul milk at 95 degrees for two days but we all have our tolerances.

Your hamburger brings up a related idea I consider though. It's not just the cooking of food thats the problem but also the clean up.

I live, hike and tour in bear country all the time and have become very anal about food attractants. In a primitive campsite it takes a lot to properly clean a pot that has cooked a sticky greasy meal. And, even if clean, I would never trust it near my tent/gear. So, with that sort of stuff you need to also pack soap, a scrubber and hang your cookset as well as your food. Your hands will probably smell greasy too.. and your pants if you wipe them there etc... Some people don't wear cooking clothes to bed but in reality where do you put them? That starts to become a lot of stuff to hang and putting them outside the tent in a pannier isn't much of a solution. I don't want a grizzly snuffling three feet from my head with only ripstop nylon between us.

I'm probably more cautious than most but I have spent almost my whole life traveling solo in the back country and have come to realize that avoidance is the only true defense against bears. No stinky food or pots for me.

Thats why I like the oatmeal in a bag so much.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 12-03-16 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:51 AM
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Well!! I did say maybe about day 2. But you know what I mean. Summer sausage vs raw meat, eggs, etc.
You are right about bear country, particularly Grizzley vs. Black bears.
And what about those gray bears, the Polar/ Black bear mixes.
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Old 12-03-16, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by AdvXtrm View Post
Of course proper nutrition is important at all times, but no less so when out on tour. For those here who handle all of their own food supplies and cooking while out on tour, and not fast food or other restaurants and such, but only what you set off with and what you can procure along your route; what foods are best, and what methods of safe storage and preparation do you use?

I have a Jetboil kit I plan to use for cooking, at least to begin with.
First, if by "safe storage" you mean cooked foods or raw meats that require refrigeration, there really aren't ways of storing that kind of food on a bicycle. You might be able carry raw meats for a short distance from grocery store to campsite but if you try to carry it all day, you are asking for trouble.

Other kinds of food have other storage issues once they are cook that make them hazardous to your health. Rice, in particular, spoils rapidly if stored at room temperature after cooking.

Let me preface what follows by saying that I don't eat "lunch" while touring. I don't stop at restaurants to eat for a midday meal and I seldom am near restaurants when I camp. I've found through very uncomfortable experience, that the fats typically found in "lunch" meals sits on my stomach and makes for a very uncomfortable ride. I learned this the hard way when I stopped for a couple of slices of pizza in Elk Point, SD on my 2003 tour and was belching pepperoni for the next 3 days. My last 20 miles of the day was 20 miles spent trying not to leave the pizza behind.

Thus I eat snacks...mostly granola bars which I've come to loathe...during the day while I'm riding and then a large meal at the end of the day. For those meals, I pick up one box rice or pasta dishes from a grocery store or from Helmart (). I add foil packaged meats if I can find them. Helmart used to carry foil packed chicken and single serving Spam packets which work well with Zatarain's rice mixtures. Spam works really well with their Red Beans and Rice mix and their Jambalaya mix. The chicken works with a lot more of their rice dishes.

I've also found that Velveeta skillet meals work okay. The Buffalo chicken version is the best of the bunch and, if you can find some hot sauce can be almost good

I've taken it on the chops many times for saying this but I've found through many different tours that finding food on a daily basis can be difficult. I hate shopping at Helmart but often it's the only place for miles around since Helmart's whole business structure is based on chasing everyone else out of business. I find that I usually have to carry about 3 days of food so that I can have an evening meal in camp. That's why I eat these meals out of a box.

In those rare instances where a grocery store is close to my camps...it doesn't happen often...I do have several family recipes that I have in my head that are almost healthy and contain stuff that actually grows in the ground but that is a very rare event.

Personally, I don't worry too much about "eating healthy" while on tour. You are using so many more calories on a daily basis then when sedentary, that it hardly matters. I don't worry about salt intake either. I sweat so much while riding that I'm often running a deficit on salt anyway that I have problems with cramping. YMMV.
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Old 12-03-16, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
Of course it depends on the weather you're traveling. Milk at 50* vs 95* for example. But even at 95* just about anything should last 24 hours before spoiling. Maybe not raw fish, but hamburger, milk, cheese, I would not worry about for a day, maybe 2.
Perhaps your tolerance for spoilage is higher than other people's but I doubt that many people would drink milk that has been stored at 95°F for an hour much less 24. It's well on its way to cheese in less than 24 hours at 95°F.

As for hamburger, it's iffy if just thawed from frozen at room temperature for 6 hours. Most people would say its getting gamey if left at room temperature for 24 hours. I doubt you'll find many people who would want to be within 100 yards of it after 48 hours at 90°F.

I would agree that cheese...depending on the kind of cheese, of course...is okay to carry around on a bike. Cheese is basically spoiled milk and it probably can't spoil much more.

Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I would not haul milk at 95 degrees for two days but we all have our tolerances.

Your hamburger brings up a related idea I consider though. It's not just the cooking of food thats the problem but also the clean up.

I live, hike and tour in bear country all the time and have become very anal about food attractants. In a primitive campsite it takes a lot to properly clean a pot that has cooked a sticky greasy meal. And, even if clean, I would never trust it near my tent/gear. So, with that sort of stuff you need to also pack soap, a scrubber and hang your cookset as well as your food. Your hands will probably smell greasy too.. and your pants if you wipe them there etc... Some people don't wear cooking clothes to bed but in reality where do you put them? That starts to become a lot of stuff to hang and putting them outside the tent in a pannier isn't much of a solution. I don't want a grizzly snuffling three feet from my head with only ripstop nylon between us.

I'm probably more cautious than most but I have spent almost my whole life traveling solo in the back country and have come to realize that avoidance is the only true defense against bears. No stinky food or pots for me.

Thats why I like the oatmeal in a bag so much.

You bring up a very valid point...and not just for grizzlies. Bears can smell food at a much lower concentration than we can. Carrying around milk or meats that can easily spoil (and are hard to seal into packages) would just act as an attractant anywhere there are bears. And, considering that the only bear I've ever seen in real life was in New Jersey, I say that just about everywhere is bear country.

And there are other beasties that are attracted to odors as well. I've had dogs empty my panniers, raccoons arguing over my panniers in the middle of the night and crow who robbed me blind.

Frankly, hamburger that has cooked at 90°F for 48 hours isn't hamburger anymore...it's bear bait!
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Old 12-03-16, 10:50 AM
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Troll the internet for DIY backpacking meals, there's ton of info and recipes out there. Those guys have the same issues that we do, big daily calorie needs and their meals must also be light and packable. There's good info available
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Old 12-03-16, 11:19 AM
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One of my favorites is muesli, which I make as I travel from rolled oats, walnuts, and raisins. Just add water, and powdered milk if available. Protein from whole grain and nuts, fat from nuts, quick carbs from grain and raisins, and relatively inexpensive--almost perfect food. I also carry cashews and another bag of raisins for snacks. Tortillas pack well for many days, with cheese or peanut butter if it's hot for more protein and fat. Some fresh fruit and veg or if I'm lucky to hit berry or wild fruit season, I spend some time foraging.
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Old 12-03-16, 12:56 PM
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OK, thanks for all the help everyone. I have a much better idea and focus now. The bear thing is a concern for sure. What do I need to carry, and how do I store the cocking items and food in a safer way?

I will steer away from foods that may spoil quickly, and also foods that are really messy and require more cleanup. Another thing I see, is that the further out into the wilderness you go, of course the more you need to pack in, and the more trash you'll have out to pack out to properly dispose of; so the less trash the better.

Well, since I have very little camping experience, and no touring experience, I'm going to start camping at home, and living out of my pack for a few days at a time until I've got that dialed in, and then I'll set out on short local tours, and then when I have that all down I'll go for longer and longer tours, and perfect my methods as I go; I know there's no teacher like experience. I'm gaining a great foundation here in the meantime, so thanks to everyone for all of your help. I've almost got my bike ready, all of my luggage, and all of my gear now. I'm getting close.

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Old 12-03-16, 02:02 PM
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Go to youtube and look up bear bagging.
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Old 12-03-16, 03:04 PM
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Also, don't be too crazy about it. Remember it all depends on where you are touring, the services available and where you find enjoyment as far as food goes.

I find a dedicated food only drybag works ok for me to hang food in and I would use a second one for cook stuff if I carried it. They are water proof and the good ones are almost air tight (I use one as an inflatable pillow) so the smell should stay inside. These days bear vaults are trendy but I'm still old school that way I guess.
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Old 12-03-16, 05:28 PM
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We carry rice/pasta and flavour sauce pouches to form the basis of a meal. Along the way, we will buy some veges (courgette, pepper or mushrooms - whatever you fancy) and a small tin of fish (or a salami). Cook the rice/pasta first and leave it in the hot water to finish cooking while you cook the veges and add the sauce and meat. One pot meal.

We alternate this with fast food or cheap restaurant meals.
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Old 12-03-16, 06:37 PM
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Regarding meat ...

We might pick up hamburger or sausages or something if we get to the campground early enough so that we have time to get to a shop.

Otherwise, we used tinned meat. Tinned chicken or tuna. Or sometimes you can get that in foil packages.

And sometimes we'll use other forms of protein ... eggs or cheese or nuts.


Regarding dairy ...

Milk is powdered or long-life, unless we pick up some fresh milk at the campground when we arrive.

Cheese can be carried for a few days.

Eggs can also last a couple days.

And yogurt is a lunch-time or snack food along the route.
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Old 12-04-16, 03:29 PM
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I base a lot of my cooking on recipes from The Well-Fed Backpacker Unless you are in an extremely remote area getting food is not an issue, unless you are a picky eater. I have a couple of buddies that only carry a can opener and a spork...

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Old 12-04-16, 04:13 PM
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I found that cooking while on tour was more trouble than it was worth. I carried my JetBoil on tour this summer for 4 weeks only because I had to. I had a few stretches where I didn't see a single store/town for 2 or 3 days. As soon as I reached Keystone, South Dakota, where the most I'd go without seeing a store/town was a day, I mailed it home. Ditching the 2lbs was quite nice too.

The last thing I wanted to do at night was cook after a long day of riding. In the mornings I just wanted to get on the road.

I lived off of donuts, ice cream, chocolate and Dairy Queen the majority of my trip. But I didn't eat much at all to begin with. Spent less than $500 the 3+ months I was on the road.

If you have time and motivation to cook meals than kudos to you. I wish I was more motivated to do so while on tour.
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Old 12-04-16, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Ty0604 View Post
I found that cooking while on tour was more trouble than it was worth. I carried my JetBoil on tour this summer for 4 weeks only because I had to. I had a few stretches where I didn't see a single store/town for 2 or 3 days. As soon as I reached Keystone, South Dakota, where the most I'd go without seeing a store/town was a day, I mailed it home. Ditching the 2lbs was quite nice too.

The last thing I wanted to do at night was cook after a long day of riding. In the mornings I just wanted to get on the road.

I lived off of donuts, ice cream, chocolate and Dairy Queen the majority of my trip. But I didn't eat much at all to begin with. Spent less than $500 the 3+ months I was on the road.

If you have time and motivation to cook meals than kudos to you. I wish I was more motivated to do so while on tour.
That makes sense for what you were looking for from your tour. For me, I'm also looking for the camping experience itself, so I'll be putting more resources and energy into it than I would otherwise.
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Old 12-05-16, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Otherwise, we used tinned meat. Tinned chicken or tuna. Or sometimes you can get that in foil packages.

Tuna in foil packages is the most useful thing I have learned from this forum regarding meals. I rarely shop at "normal" grocery stores during my everyday life, so foil packed items were simply not on my radar screen until someone mentioned them. They are light and compact, which is nice if you have to tote them long distances. Don't know about where you are, but in the states they are available pre-flavored. During my September tour I made a couple of meals with them. Also made at least one during a tour back in June when one day I had to carry food for dinner the entire distance.


As for perishables, I will not carry raw meat for long distances unless it's cold out. One item I am finding more is packaged chicken sausage that it already cooked. Less concern about spoilage there.


I think this was sweet and sour foil tuna with zucchini, onion, Roma tomatoes and fresh garlic over sautéed in olive oil and served over farfalle. I can whip something like this up in 35 min. or so.
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Old 12-05-16, 10:08 AM
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I believe I call this one: Legumes ala tomatoe saucee



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