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Eating Well When Camping

Old 10-10-10, 11:52 AM
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Eating Well When Camping

The subject of dining well while camping came up in the noob posting elsewhere in the forum. This is a great subject that deserves its own thread.

It mystifies me why touring people at crazy guy on a bike complain so much about having to eat nothing but PB&J and Ramen noodles. There is no need for that if you are a competent cook at home. All it takes is a proper heat source and some ingenuity.

First of all, resist the temptation to carry too much food unless you have to. Three days at most is plenty in most areas of the world. Second, buy fresh when the opportunity presents itself such as roadside stands, markets, etc. Third, eat the heaviest stuff first (watermelon anyone?). And fourth, think about cooking things that taste good cold to carry on the road: polenta, pita pockets, brownies, etc are a welcome variation from candy, protein bars and beef jerky are all are easy to make in a camp given proper preparation.

My stove of choice is an MSR Whisperlite ( https://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/st...erlite/product ). It is nice and hot, quick, stable and plenty economical on the fuel use. No need for titanium pots. Plain ones are fine - just make them do double duty and try to make them stack one inside the other. Ready made economical sets are available. Check out the camping sites for recommendations. I like REI.com equipment, and campmor.com has good stuff sometimes.

Money wise, I found that freeze dried food is a mixed bag (pun intended). It's kind of pricey for what you get but it can't be beat for convenience or emergency rations. Thermos cooking is another very good choice, especially for breakfast. See https://www.thermoscooking.com/ for some examples.

Many ingredients can be easily found dry. Whole Foods, Harmony Farms, and even Amazon.com has many things that are tasty and weigh little. Watch out for moisture. Zip locks are your friend as is a cheapie vacuum packing machine such as those at foodsaver.com - vacuum packed food also has the advantage of lasting longer and packing smaller and you can pre-pack entire meals ahead of time in one bag. Another source of equipment is https://www.wildernessdining.com/

As for recipes and preparation, carry a small lightweight surface to use as a cutting board and a sharp knife. Leatherman tools actually work pretty well for that and mine has a can opener too. And don't forget a small corkscrew for those special occasions when you have wine. Pushing a cork into the bottle is not cool IMO. By the way, if you want to be frugal with wine, carry a small light weight VacuVin pump- they are very small and work on 1 liter soda pop bottles if you want to transfer the wine to a lighter container. https://www.vacuvin.com/Vacuum_Wine_S...6_270_267.html

Here's the recipe links again:
https://www.wildbackpacker.com/food/r...ipesindex.html
https://www.backpackingchef.com/backpacking-recipes.html

Bon appetit
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Old 10-10-10, 03:35 PM
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my light camping kitchen gear was one bandana or small kitchen towel, swiss army knife and spoon. Last shopping trip before crashing would be for dinner and partial breakfast with water for both. A lemon, bag of pita bread, can of tuna or similar protein, and misc collection of fresh or canned vegetables and fruit. Fresh squeezed lemon juice makes everything taste good. Checkered towel or bandana makes the table.
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Old 10-10-10, 06:54 PM
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I ate well, and often would just eat out of the can, especially beans and ravioli. No mess, just the can and plastic spoon I would eat them with. Then I would muck them in the first trash can I saw in the morning. A simple ziploc bag is where I stored the trash in.

Personally, I was too tired half the time when I stopped to want to bother with a stove or having to clean up the dishes.
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Old 10-10-10, 07:19 PM
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That's half the fun of a tour camp cooking and getting to eat good food.
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Old 10-10-10, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
It mystifies me why touring people at crazy guy on a bike complain so much about having to eat nothing but PB&J and Ramen noodles. There is no need for that if you are a competent cook at home. All it takes is a proper heat source and some ingenuity.
I bolded what I think is the problem for many of the people who complain about camping food...

When I do regular camping, cooking is the most fun part of the trip for me. Just sayin...
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Old 10-11-10, 02:14 AM
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I'm upgrading my current camp kitchen currently. Seems there have been a few good upgrades from the 70's I'm hoping my MSR Whisper is still working as I have had that bugger from the late 70 or early 80's... I'm still trying to find a way to sneak my Camp Dutch Oven into my kit... but my wife keeps catching me...

I like trying different camp foods and recipes for camping, I also test them at home before I take them out on the road. Till now I have always backpacked or car camped and I'm excited to start up my bike camping kitchen

Thanks for the link on Thermos Cooking, I'll have to check that out
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Old 10-11-10, 03:02 AM
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Instead of ready made dried foods you can dry pretty much anything yourself in advance. You'll have more say on the quality, source and mixture of ingredients you put in one meal. You can also carry a selection of dried stuff with you (instead of ready mixed meals), and then mix those to taste to make a meal. That adds to variety. Goes well with thermos cooking too.

Most often though, I tour in places where I can count on finding a grocery store at least once a day. I eat fresh food most of the time.

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Old 10-11-10, 03:16 AM
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I have no idea what it is like touring in the US but in Europe there is always plenty of good fresh food available in shops (Germany on Sundays excepted)

I always cook a “proper” meal and carry the tools to do it – not only does it keep me healthy and at a decent weight – I generally have plenty of time at the end of the day to cook and to me its part and parcel of my camping experience. As to carrying too much food – if the choice is being hungry or eating a load of rubbish then it is no choice.

Last edited by psmiffy; 10-11-10 at 03:17 AM. Reason: sense
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Old 10-11-10, 03:40 AM
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Bike camping results in crowded panniers just by carrying tents and air mattresses . Can't imagine stuffing a gallon of milk atop my trunk rack, when Ihop's French toast is right down the street..
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Old 10-11-10, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by psmiffy
I have no idea what it is like touring in the US but in Europe there is always plenty of good fresh food available in shops (Germany on Sundays excepted)

I always cook a “proper” meal and carry the tools to do it – not only does it keep me healthy and at a decent weight – I generally have plenty of time at the end of the day to cook and to me its part and parcel of my camping experience. As to carrying too much food – if the choice is being hungry or eating a load of rubbish then it is no choice.
Agreed. I'll take a pass on the junk food.

I do most of my touring in Iberia, and cooking is an important part of the experience to me. I love preparing fresh food with my Bushbuddy wood-burning stove or cooking over an open fire. There's nothing quite like grilled sardines, paella or migas cooked over a Holm oak fire and washed down with a few swigs of red wine from my bota bag.
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Old 10-11-10, 07:21 AM
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There are some parts of the world where the local food is so good, its a crime not to sample (France, Spain) but on my recent trip up to Scandinavia the high prices and low exchange rate meant cooking the whole way.
I used a Trangia 27 (solo). My usual meal was rice/pasta/couscous with fired onions, peppers, garlic and any veg I could buy in small quantities + some protein, salami, chorizo, smoked mackeral.
My most advanced celebration meal was 3 course steak dinner.
I really enjoyed cooking, sometimes I would use a carefuly honed routine to get something good within 1/2 hr, other times I would experiment.
A flexi cutting board is essential for food preparation esp on rough, muddy ground. I use a dedicated small cooking knife and a small wooden spoon. I carry some herbs, spices, olive oil, pesto.
Its hard buying the smaller quantities for solo touring and most of the time had too much food with me.

I did lose quite a lot of weight and by the end was very hungry and hunting down supermarket hot burgers as daytime snacks. I dont think I had enough fat in my diet to provide the energy I needed.
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Old 10-12-10, 08:21 PM
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my tip for touring food is Lipton/Knorrs flavored rice sides - cost about $1.50, available at almost any walmart or grocery store in the us, several different flavors (my favorite is spanish rice, but they are all pretty tasty), light and small packages, cooks in 10 minutes, add a can of tuna and you've got a solid meal, add some fresh veggies and they are even better, and at the end wipe the pot clean with a slice of bread.
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Old 10-12-10, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by psmiffy
I have no idea what it is like touring in the US but in Europe there is always plenty of good fresh food available in shops (Germany on Sundays excepted)
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The distances involved between pit stops in the US, Canada and Australia or even in Brazil, Argentina and other places can be quite a bit larger than in Europe. Years ago this was a real problem (beef jerky and Vienna sausages were de rigueur back then); these days there are ubiquitous supermarkets with fresh foods, though west of the Mississippi river it can be spotty. That's the core of the original observation - though many opt for a monotonous diet, there's no reason for it anymore.

Ah, France, Spain and Italy, what food havens! Searching for good bread is a challenge here in NC once one leaves the larger cities...

Camper's Salsa
(picked up a while back from the web somewhere, can't remember where):

4 tablespoons dried tomatoes cut up into pieces, 3 tbsp dry red and green pepper flakes, 2 tbsp dry onion flakes, hot red pepper flakes to taste (1 spoon full is good enough for me), 1 spoon full of dry garlic, a teaspoon of oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne. Put everything in a 1 quart zip loc bag, fill it with cold water, add salt to taste. Wait 1 hour and enjoy. Goes great with avocado and tortillas.

Last edited by safariofthemind; 10-12-10 at 09:21 PM. Reason: added recipe
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Old 10-12-10, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
It mystifies me why touring people at crazy guy on a bike complain so much about having to eat nothing but PB&J and Ramen noodles.
I ate fluffernutters and ramen on my tour. I didnt complain at all. Whenever I wanted I would eat out and I LOVE ramen. There was only once in three months when I didnt feel like eating Ramen, even then I wasnt tired of it, I just felt like eating something else.
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Old 10-14-10, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by DwarvenChef
Thanks for the link on Thermos Cooking, I'll have to check that out
The recipe for steel cut oats is pretty amazing. I like to eat this in the morning, but don't have 35 minutes, so I'm into rolled oats. According to the recipe, you can fill the thermos in the evening and the steel cut oats are hot, ready and waiting in the morning. I have to try this!

My recipe for camping is a mixture of organic instant black bean soup, couscous, salt and curry powder. Put a half cup mixture in a cup or bowl, boil some water on the alcohol stove, stir into the bowl, cover and wait 5 minutes.
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Old 10-14-10, 07:36 PM
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Here's another recipe for a tasty treat that can really fill you up and make you feel good. It's an Italian treat for those once a week rewards to yourself or when you don't mind the weight, like right after a resupply stop.

Skillet Lasagna
https://www.dirtygourmet.com/skillet-lasagna
Yield 4 servings Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 pound mozzarella, sliced
  • 6 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles, or 6 regular noodles, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, about 1 bag or 1 bunch
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound ground beef, browned (optional)

Tools

  • Large Deep Skillet or 2 Quart Pot
  • Can Opener
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Camp Stove
  • Bowl
  • Spoon

Method

  • In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 mins. Set aside.
  • Add the garlic and onions and cook until onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Add the crushed red chili flakes, cook for a few seconds. Add ground beef, if using, and cook for about 5 minutes or until meat is browned. Add crushed tomatoes and set can aside. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour about 2/3 of the sauce back into the can, and leave 1/3 in the bottom of the pan.
  • Start by layering noodles over the sauce and then add ricotta, meat, vegetables, mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used, ending with mozzarella. Top with the Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover and simmer until the lasagna noodles are cooked and the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and let the lasagna cool for a few minutes before serving.
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Old 10-14-10, 10:03 PM
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We like camp cooking and eating so much that we spent 10 years developing recipes using simple, light, available ingredients and wrote a 1 oz. cookbook all about how to do it. Not going to pimp it here, but the process is something to think about. I agree that the interactive purchasing, preparing, and cooking of food is one of the most attractive and interesting aspects of touring. Good nutrition makes the next day a pleasure. It's good to travel light and strong and arrive in camp with energy left over. That's our ideal, anyway. Doesn't always happen, but the times it doesn't are usually worth remembering!

A major difference between backpack cooking and bike touring cooking is that backpack recipes usually start with at home prep, dividing large quantities into small, bagging stuff up, etc. We carry all the food with us. Biking, we want to do as little of that as possible because we want to carry as little with us as possible. So the recipes and the theory behind them changes quite a bit.

Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 10-14-10 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 10-29-10, 09:36 PM
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as a raw vegan just thought id throw some out of the box thinking your way.. I rarely ever cook anymore its difficult to break the habit after years of doing otherwise I also do my best to avoid processed food.

I plan on touring SF to LA, instead of eating at restaurants I plan on eating at grocery stores & picking fruits along the way. Ill probably carry 4-5 lbs of fruit with me as well.

lots of performance athletes eat this way especially runners.

heres my breakfast before running a marathon a few weeks ago,




you guys would be surprised how far you can ride after eating 2-4 lbs of fruit & how quick you recover
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Old 10-30-10, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by viros20
as a raw vegan just thought id throw some out of the box thinking your way.. I rarely ever cook anymore its difficult to break the habit after years of doing otherwise I also do my best to avoid processed food.

I plan on touring SF to LA, instead of eating at restaurants I plan on eating at grocery stores & picking fruits along the way. Ill probably carry 4-5 lbs of fruit with me as well.

lots of performance athletes eat this way especially runners.

heres my breakfast before running a marathon a few weeks ago,




you guys would be surprised how far you can ride after eating 2-4 lbs of fruit & how quick you recover

I'm changing my way of eating to more raw too. Lot's of fruit. I had heard of how others rode better eating mostly if not all raw, so I had to find out for myself. During this summer I upped my fruit intake dramatically, and I feel better than ever. I've replaced meals with just fruit. . . .sweet ripe fruit. While I have not toured eating this way as of yet, I would have no problem adopting it for the road.

I can't eat restaurant "fast food" anymore. Don't think for a minute most restaurant that most restaurant fare on the road isn't fast food. High salt, high fat, high sugar. Crap fuel for mind and body.
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Old 10-30-10, 09:07 AM
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A small skillet or personal size wok is a great boon to cooking well while camping out. If you can find a spun steel skillet with a folding handle, you're living large. pancakes for breakfast, stir fry for dinner.
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Old 10-30-10, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Garthr
I've replaced meals with just fruit. . . .sweet ripe fruit. While I have not toured eating this way as of yet, I would have no problem adopting it for the road.
Curious - how do you get enough protein, especially Lysine? Doctors recommend at least .3 grams of protein per pound of body weight, per day, while exercising. Seems hard to get this way.
https://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutri...ds/lysine.html
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Old 10-30-10, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
Curious - how do you get enough protein, especially Lysine? Doctors recommend at least .3 grams of protein per pound of body weight, per day, while exercising. Seems hard to get this way.
https://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutri...ds/lysine.html

This is the most common misconceptions that I had to, and still am overcoming. We've all been fed the stuff like you linked about nutrition and protein. I'm finding it's not true, and yes, it's hard to believe!
Google "protein myth". There's lots of reading.

Our bodies need enzymes. Enzymes produce all amino acids we need . Raw food is full of enzymes.


This video does a better job of explaining the protein myth than I can. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae-dlHOmwk4
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Old 10-31-10, 08:27 AM
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Very interesting Garthr. This paper and its citations seem to support what you are saying. Good to know.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16573356
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Old 11-01-10, 04:10 PM
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Cooking while on short tours is fun, but once you are on a cross country tour, for 3 months or more, I'm sure the rules change, right? How many of you are carrying skillets or personal woks from the east to the west coast, or on a 5000+ mile tour?
Not doubting, but planning a very extensive tour, and wonder what's realistic. Since I consider my bike my RV, I don't want to skrimp, but everyone I know says you start out with X and end up with X-50% within a week.
Thanks.
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Old 11-01-10, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Garthr
Our bodies need enzymes. Enzymes produce all amino acids we need . Raw food is full of enzymes.
I can't contradict Tim and his wonderful body, but a lot of what he's saying doesn't really make sense. 'protein' is exactly the same thing as an enzyme, both of them are just linkages of amino acids.

To a human body they are virtually identical. It comes in, and no matter if it was a plant enzyme or an animal enzyme, it gets broken down in to raw materials? Why? Because while our body does need enzymes, it needs human enzymes, ones that are very different from kale enzymes or beef enzymes.

It's also not really true that it takes energy to break down protein, there is an initial investment of energy, but there is a large payoff as well. Something in the order of 4 calories per gram of protein consumed. That's the same for enzymes, or protein.

Just watch the video again, and whenever he says 'enzyme' substitute 'protein' and see how much sense it makes

TLDR; this needs to be a recipe thread, not a diet thread

Dried black beans make everything taste better. I add them to almost every savoury meal I eat when camping. They elevate macaroni and cheese to a new level; add a bit of hot sauce and it becomes a decent meal.

Last edited by fuzz2050; 11-01-10 at 06:28 PM.
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