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I secretly ride 12spd
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm always looking for new ideas on meals that are easily packed and taste delicious. Mainly interested in dinners, as breakfast, lunch and snacking can be single items that pack easy. Dinner is the meal I'm usually open to taking up a little more space for.

What's your favorite go-to for a decent dinner on the trail?

My main go-to:
1 box of flavored couscous
2 packets of tuna fish
Small bottle of olive oil

Cook the couscous and mix everything together. I find that it's a nice mix of protein, carbs and fats after a long day of riding. It packs down fairly nice if you throw the couscous box away and carry it with just the inside plastic pouch. You can find tuna that is in small packets now also, as opposed to carrying cans. Couscous is also great because it takes minimal water to cook.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Forgot to add in a hot chocolate packet! Im usually sick to death of water by the time I get to camp, so a cup of hot chocolate always hits the spot after dinner.
 

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I usually bring meals made from the recipes from this site/book. bought a food dehydrator and vacuum sealer a while ago; it's a great combination - make your own meals to your liking.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I usually bring meals made from the recipes from this site/book. bought a food dehydrator and vacuum sealer a while ago; it's a great combination - make your own meals to your liking.

I need to invest in a dehydrator I think.
 

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I don't mind the odd military MRE. Instead of using the provided flameless ration heater you can heat the pouches in boiling water if you have a jetboil or other stove.

Otherwise, you can get a ziplock freezer bag (it HAS to be a freezer bag, to handle the temperature and not melt or get soft) and make up a meal in a bag. Just add boiling water and allow it to stand (wrap it in your sleeping bag or jacket to conserve the heat if you're in the cold). With this idea, your jetboil or other stove/pot never needs to be washed, as it only ever boils water. You can eat dinner straight from the bag and take care of coffee with a travel French press or something.

Instant mashed potato is a great base for any meal in a bag. You can't go wrong with lots and lots of instant mashed potato as a starting point. None of this is health food, it's for recovery and refueling after being active all day and anticipating another demanding day to follow. Lots of carbs for energy, salt for replacing electrolytes, fat for energy and protein for muscle recovery. People lose their mind if they ever get wind of you doing this, but they're often operating mentally as a person who sits at a desk and comes home to sit in front of TV, not someone who's burning 4,000-5,000 calories in a day and trying not to bonk. This is food that needs context.

Ramen Bomb: Instant mashed potato, ramen & Spam. Use actual Spam brand Spam; there is a difference in flavor. Put everything in a bag (don't forget the seasoning mix from the ramen; get spicy stuff from Asian groceries), add boiling water. Wait. Eat.

Chicken Potatoes: Instant mashed potato, dehydrated peas, chicken gravy powder or chicken stock powder, tin or retort pouch of chicken meat. Chicken salad (with corn, onion and mayo or other creamy stuff) can also be used. Keep dry stuff in bag, add boiling water and allow to sit. When rehydrated, stir canned or pouched chicken in.

Camp Fire Tortillas (if you can have a camp fire): Take a foil pouch of sliced onions and peppers with a bit of oil. Folded over and over at the edges so it doesn't leak. Tortillas, and a can of refried beans. You could do meat in a can, but meh, it's better without. Make a fire and allow a bed of hot coals to form. Lay the foil pack on the bed of coals to cook, place a tortilla on top to soften. Open the beans and leave half of the lid attached as a "handle;" place in coals to heat. Make tortillas. Take leftover Taco Bell sauces. Take peanut butter, jam and or honey sachets, "borrowed" from a hotel buffet, and make dessert or breakfast with the remaining tortillas from the pack.
 

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Two I really like and almost always get into the rotation are both from an old Backpacker magazine article -
(edit - I found a link for the Backpacker article: The Menu: Be an Ultralight Gourmet)

Beef Stroganoff
Combine in a quart-size zipperlock:
  • 1 package beef flavored Ramen (including seasoning packet)
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated ground beef (If I don't feel like dehydrating ground beef, I substitute with TVP)
  • 1/4 cup mixed dehydrated veggies
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Individual packet of cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In Camp
Add about 1 1/2 cups boiling water to baggie. Squish it around and let it rest in a cozy for 10 minutes or so, until the ground beef is tender. Stir in cream cheese.

American Chop Suey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1x 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1x 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 pound elbow noodles
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: cubed cheese or parmesan
At Home
Heat oil and gently sauté the onion and pepper until onion is translucent. Add the meat and brown thoroughly, breaking it up as you go with a wooden spoon. Drain off accumulated fat. Add the spices, then tomatoes, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta till al dente and drain. Let the sauce cool, then spread it on the dehydrator trays. (If you don’t have tray liners, cut wax paper to fit the shape of your trays.) Spread the cooled macaroni on separate trays, making sure it doesn’t stick together (rinsing with cool water first helps). Dehydrate both components until they’re brittle (about 6 hours or overnight). When done, combine 1 cup macaroni and 1 cup sauce in a 1-quart zipperlock.
In Camp
Add about 2 cups boiling water to the bag, squish it around and let it rest in a cozy for about 10 minutes, or until everything is tender. Top with cheese.

I generally like to pre-make freezer bag meals on trips less than a week or if I'll be sending myself a bounce box. I like the option to not have to clean a pot if I don't have too...I'm pretty lazy by dinner time. Another thing I like to do is to boil an extra cup of water and sip on a cup of instant soup (miso is usually my go-to) while the freezer bag meal sits for a few.
 

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gimme friction
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Also a big fan of the home dehydrator! Pretty much anything you can make at home can be dried out and brought along the trail. Except chicken, for some reason....it does not reconstitute well. Ground beef is very easy and becomes the basis for many meals. I've made various versions of Longer35's American Chop Suey, but never thought about the stroganoff idea with cream cheese! Definitely gonna try that.
 

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Also a big fan of the home dehydrator! Pretty much anything you can make at home can be dried out and brought along the trail. Except chicken, for some reason....it does not reconstitute well. Ground beef is very easy and becomes the basis for many meals. I've made various versions of Longer35's American Chop Suey, but never thought about the stroganoff idea with cream cheese! Definitely gonna try that.
The hardest part for me was finding the single serving cream cheese packets! I ended up finding that the deli section at my local Target had them for like 25¢ each! It was either that or ordering them online from a place like Travel Size Toiletries | Minimus your Travel Size Products Superstore.
 

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One of my mainstays is dehydrated beans, minute rice, and freeze dried sausage, typically flavored with a packet of taco seasoning. A little of the latter goes a long way.

Made in bulk (think: #10 cans of each ingredient) it's inexpensive and lasts a long time.

I mix it up into a gallon ziploc, then just add hot water at camp.

Bring tortillas or a bag of (crushed -- makes no difference) corn chips to accentuate.
 

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Also a big fan of the home dehydrator! Pretty much anything you can make at home can be dried out and brought along the trail. Except chicken, for some reason....it does not reconstitute well. Ground beef is very easy and becomes the basis for many meals. I've made various versions of Longer35's American Chop Suey, but never thought about the stroganoff idea with cream cheese! Definitely gonna try that.
Chef Glenn has some recommendations on getting good results with dehydrated chicken.

 

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IMG_0834.png

Annie Chun’s noodle bowls. I like the sweet chili and Pad Thai varieties. Macronutrient-dense and only needs warming up with boiling water as the hokien noodles are (perfectly) pre-cooked. Just don’t look at the sodium content. Although, eating two of these in one sitting (that’s 1000 calories btw) never gives me problems like those freeze-dried backpacking food that pretty much kill my tastebuds from all the salt. The plastic bowl that it comes with can be easily compressed after use. I combine 2 packs in one bowl to save space and fill my belly.

Breakfast for dinner- dehydrated scrambled eggs (Mountain House will do) and some kind of dry sausage (I like Cremineli’s wild boar salami or spanish chorizo ) wrapped in a tortilla. Don’t forget to bring little packets of Cholula hot sauce for extra flavor. Some assembly required.

Instant ramen + crackers and canned smoked trout. No explanation needed.


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Chef Glenn has some recommendations on getting good results with dehydrated chicken.

Canned chicken is a great way to go, or pressure cook your own if you have an Instant Pot or other home pressure cooker. The trick to making sure it hydrates well is to dehydrate it less than you think is necessary. I learned this the hard way, and now I 'under-deyhdrate' a wee bit and store the final product in the freezer until I need it. It will keep for many days unrefridgerated and rehydrates much better than the rubbery shredded chicken I used to make. And I don't worry about the fat content either - as long as you use it within a week of taking it out of the freezer, it won't go rancid in my experience.

One of my go-to meals is a half package of chicken-flavoured stuffing with rehydrated chicken and rehydrated cran-raisans.
 

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Another favourite of mine is sheperd's pie. Dehydrate the meat and vegetable mixture at home, and then for supper just rehydrate and add some instant mashed potatoes separately. It's easy and and I could eat this over and over.
 

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Cool post. Curious what y'all bring if you are not carrying a stove?

I'd love some more ideas for lightweight dehydrated meals, but I think I would have to soak them in cold water for a long time to get it edible? Does anything exist that rehydrates with cold water? (excuse my ignorance, this already sounds like a really dumb question)

Usually when I don't bring a stove I bring frozen burritos and let them thaw as I ride. But they are heavy and bulky.
 

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Cold soak is a real thing. It takes a lot longer. Popular with thru-hikers. They throw their couscous or whatever in some water in a repurposed Talenti gelato container or plastic peanut butter container a couple hours before camp, carry it while they finish their day's hiking, and by the time they stop it's soft enough to force down. Never been my style, though. I prefer to enjoy eating my dinner.
 

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I've tried cold soaking. It works ok for some situations and foods, and less so for others. For the AZTR I left the stove at home and brought a jar for cold soaking. It doubled as a bowl, with a convenient lid. I found the cheap ramen packets worked best, and could rehydrate in 20-30mins. Only problem there is those things are not a full meal. I'd often have it as a snack and then keep riding. It was much nicer having it "cold" rather than cooked and hot when it was scorching hot out. The other benefit is pretty much zero prep time. And ramen is cheap and super light. And lots of sodium. I probably used it every other day on that trip.

I tested out cold soaking a few other things before any trips. The knorr pasta packs that are ok when made with hot water turned to a disgusting gooey paste when cold soaked. Ditto for anything else with thicker noodles/pasta like kraft dinner. The only exception being the rice based knorr packs since rice isn't manufactured. But even those took 2-3 hrs to rehydrate enough to be marginally "edible". Not worth it IMO. Instant/minute rice worked better as does couscous. Instant potatoes were ok.

I haven't brought it on any recent trips. Instead, either brought a stove or other food that doesn't require any prep to eat. I still like the stove in colder temps.
 

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Gotcha, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, on fun trips I bring the stove and indulge in hot dinners and morning coffee.

I'm thinking of ideas in the scenario of bikepack racing, where traveling light (no stove) but still finding ways to get as much calories as I can without just eating a bunch of bars for days on end is something I'm trying to figure out.
 

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Even when I bring a stove I'm a freezer bag cooker... so I'll open my freezer bag of pre-prepared grub, maybe toss in a half a foil pack of protein (chicken, tuna, etc.. and when I do that, I generally split the protein hauling duties with whomever I'm with). Pour in the water, and let it 'cook' while I'm hiking. Doesn't take much longer than a soak and it opens up more food choices.

I'd rather carry a supercat and a bottle of alcohol if I'm really weight weenieing it than cold soak, my experience with it was.... well, it was 'ok'.
 
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