Meal prep- what's your process? | High Sierra Topix  

Meal prep- what's your process?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
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Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby Npike » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:00 pm

So I have a loaded question that I think is valid for someone relatively new to backpacking. I've read a lot of TR's and seen many videos online that discuss many aspects of backpacking, but one thing that kind of confuses me is eating and preparing meals (sounds crazy, I know). What are your practices & tips? Do you mainly eat dehydrated meals? Straight out of the bag or do you use freezer bags/ cozies? How do you clean your utensils? What cooking setup do you use? I realize food prep should not be a skill that takes long to develop, but the reason I ask is because every time I go out, I feel I take way too much room in my bear canister for the original packaging, make a huge mess and end up being frustrated with my "process". So, what advice can you give a newbie for keeping a clean camp and making dinner time as hassle free as possible? This might (probably is) a dumb question for most, but I thought I'd ask :)



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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby sheperd80 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:50 pm

Youtube has tons of great vids on the subject.

I usually have instant coffee and oatmeal for breakfast with dh fruit, trail mix and bars throughout the day, and sometimes a sit-down lunch. PB&J, salami, pepperoni or tuna in pitas or sandwich-thins. Dinner is usually dehydrated homemade or storebought stuff (mountain house, progesso pasta dishes, knorr pasta sides, etc).

I usually use a jetboil and eat from it or from the packaging if i can, sometimes freezer bag but not a big fan of that. I eat away from camp and wash utensils and pot with a tiny sponge. I bring a large freezer bag for trash and as little food packging as possible.

With these types of meals its easy to keep it all clean. Usually 1 or 2 utensils and 1 or no dishes to wash.

Trail food is pretty personal though, everyone i know does it different.

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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby rlown » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:24 pm

pretty much what sheperd80 said. I do throw in fried fish or poached with spices and the juice of a real orange (not sure why but I like it.) If I feel brave the first night, I will take in something heavier, eg, viewtopic.php?f=26&t=5305&p=32748&hilit=puttanesca+recipe#p32748

I started out with mostly dehydrated, but decided that only bits of the menu should be as such, and do take in some fresh stuff to spice it up (peppers, a head of garlic, lemon slices, and of course the frying pan to cook the fish.
There is some great pasta out there, which is why i do carry pepper, olive oil, and some good pecorino romano. I usually travel with a companion so we can share the weight.

It really depends on if you hike everyday or put in layover days. The layover days allow for fishing and some well prepped meals. Fish in the foil in a campfire can't be beat while you make the side dish, when fires are allowed.
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby Jimr » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:45 pm

my process has change throughout the years, but I rarely ever use original packaging. On an overnighter, maybe, but I rarely do those. I always repackage in appropriate size ziploc baggies. I used to carry an MSR firefly liquid fuel stove, but have recently gone to a pocket rocket knockoff and propane mix. I used to carry a collapsible bucket for washing dishes, but now, I have titanium 850 ml and 1l pots I normally cook in. I also carry a half quart tupperware bowl with screw on lid that I often use to rehydrate meals and eat from. When I'm done, I add my jetboil utensil to the bowl and the balance of the hot water that I didn't use into the tupperware, screw on the lid, shake well and drink the water. Clean dishes and hydration in one shot.

I used to dry all of my own meals. I gave up on freeze dried stuff many years ago. I've gotten lazy these days and just peruse the supermarket for whatever jumps out at me. Lately, I've grown fond of dehydrated black refried beans. I can eat them hot or cold, make burritos, add some rehydrated peas and instant mashed potatoes and eat shepherds pie, etc. All in the tupperware bowl. I don't repackage bars, obviously. They are minimally packaged as is. Rather than stuff gorp in one big bag, I'll stuff a few smaller bags. They seem to help save space that way. It's harder to pack around a large ziploc when a few smaller ziplocs will fill in and around better. Things like purchase dry fruit are always repackaged as well. I bring a sponge/scour pad cut in half for scrubbing frying pan. One of the titanium pots works just fine to hold wash water. I rarely use soaps to wash with. I always bring a bit, but mostly for cleaning my hands. Most of my dinners are merely rehydrate and eat.

What is your normal process? That may help others to give suggestions on a cleaner, easier, more space saving set-up.
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby Npike » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:18 am

You guys are pretty gourmet compared to what I do! My process is about as simple as it gets. Mountain house meals in the bear can along with some protein bars, maybe a candy bar or two and some other items that catch my eye at the grocery store. I just use the original packaging and pack it out in a gallon ziploc. I just heat up water in a 450 ml cup on a pocket rocket. Next time I go out, I'm going to try repackaging the meals in a freezer bad and write the amount of water and heat time on the bag- saw that on a YouTube video (thanks for the suggestion). The freezer bags can withstand boiling water, right? Or maybe I'll look for some Tupperware with the screw on lid- another great suggestion!

One thing I have going for me is that I'm not a picky eater at all, even at higher elevation. I almost always go solo so I keep my trips to 1/2 nights, so that doesn't give me enough time to really get sick of anything that I may have packed. I figure if someday I take on the JMT or some long thru hike, I will need to get more creative with my food prep

Thanks for the replies!
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby sheperd80 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:00 am

Yeah the heavy duty freezer bags do fine with boiling water but obviously theyre hot to handle and dont retain heat well for the rehydration process. Ive used my beanie or fleece as a cozy before which works ok. But some folks make cozies out of Reflectix. If youre gonna do alot of freezer bag cooking thats probably the way to go.

I just find it cumbersome to eat out of a bag like that. A solid pot, or the stiffer bags from Mountain House are better imho. Ive thought about saving a MH bag for eating my homemade meals since its somehwhat insulated and packs easy.

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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:33 am

1. Boil water.
2. Pour.
3. Wait
4. Eat
5. Rinse

Of course, at home, the week before the trip, it's:
1. cook meal
2. dehydrate leftovers
3. get up in the morning and put food in a ziploc

And, since I rehydrate in a silicon cup, at home it's:
1. rinse out all the ziplocs
2. store in drawer til next time
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby Jimr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:42 am

For one or two nights, it doesn't seem worth it to repackage MH meals. For space saving purposes, I guess you could repackage into freezer bags, then fold up one MH package to use as a cozy. Just add water and slip bag into MH package for better heat retention and insulation.
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby Espi » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:45 am

I just flipped over to the freezer bag and cozy out of reflectix.. before this. I would re package all of my mountain house meals in freezer bags. I would pack one of the mountain house bags and re use it to re-hydrate my meals for that trip. During the day its just snacking on whatever seems good at the grocery store.
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby longri » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:50 am

I have two modes. When I'm on a solo trip I eat cold, no stove at all. It's very fast. My typical cold dinner is salami, crackers, bourbon, various snacks and chocolate. When I'm with my wife we have elaborate pre-dinner snacks along with a bit of whisky, then a soup starter, then a main course which sometimes has multiple parts, and finally dessert and tea. Dinner usually goes on for hours.

It's been at least 10 years since I last choked down a MH meal. I used to be able tolerate the stroganoff as long as I drank a lot of water with it.
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby Npike » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:21 pm

Definitely going to look into the reflectix material and make a cozy or just recycle an old MH bag. Thanks for all the tips!

BYW, longri, if you need additional help finishing one of the multi course meals w/whiskey & dessert, hit me up haha! :)
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Re: Meal prep- what's your process?

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:32 pm

Nick,
Take some olive oil, spices, hot sauce, and/or parm cheese along to liven up your freeze dried meals and add calories, it makes them taste much better.
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