A Backpacker Travels on his Stomach
Since my wife gave her blessing, I’ve spent a lot of time trolling the aisles of my grocery store trying to identify foods that readily translate to the trail. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are easy, but dinner options fall short of ideal. While there seem to be carbohydrates in abundance, vegetables and protein are a bit harder to come by or at least in a light weight, easy to cook form. On my shorter trips, I would buy an assortment of one or two serving freeze dried dinners and be done with it. They are light and tasty and easy to prepare. I love being able to cook by simply adding boiling water and waiting for a few minutes. Prepared freeze dried dinners will not be universally available. So I’m faced with the challenge of coming up with a workable alternative to this ideal. This is what I’ve come up with. Since things like instant rice, instant cheese grits and ramen are available almost everywhere, I’m planning to package freeze dried meat and dried vegetables to mix in with these commonly available staples. I frankly can’t figure out why one of the big companies doesn’t sell something like this! I ordered freeze dried meat and dried vegetables in bulk and oxygen absorbers (those little packets you have to fish out of prepared freeze dried dinners) through Amazon. Harmony House Foods is another good source for the vegetables.
I standardize the measurements to keep things simple on the trail. One of my packets and three-quarters of a cup of instant rice requires two cups of boiling water. I add half of a bouillon cube for flavor to the two cups of water. When it starts to boil, I pour in the instant rice and my vegetable/meat mix, stir briefly, remove from heat and let it set for 10 minutes. On my shakedown hike last summer I found that adding a tablespoon of instant potatoes with cheese and bacon coated the rice, thickened everything and gave it a flavorful kick. There are many commonly available items to provide other variations to this basic meal. Pesto, sauce mixes, cheese packets from Mac and cheese… I like this plan because my food drops will only include items not commonly available in grocery stores and since I’m cooking in the pot, there is less packaging to carry out. Unit cost including postage is about $5.
I picked up flat rate boxes at the post office this afternoon. Their medium box easily holds ten of my packaged. I can’t imagine ever starting a leg of my journey with more than this.
It’s starting to get real, folks!
I thought I would update this…I’ve been on the trail about 6 weeks. I’ve learned that my portions are off. I’ve cut the veggie/meat mixes dow no three-quarters of a cup and only use a half cup of instant rice.
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