food efficiency and meal ideas

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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neil d
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food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by neil d » Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:10 pm

Per the thread on the gear forum, I'm working hard to go much lighter this year for backpacking adventures. Looks like sub-15lb base weight has been achieved, so now turning my attention to food. Targeting 1.5 lbs per day for 3 - 5 day trips. Is this a reasonable goal?

Also, does it make sense to work around a daily caloric goal? Just pulling numbers out of the air, 2-3k calories sounds like a good goal. Do other folks think about it this way? I generally have no trouble eating until I'm over 10k feet, then my stomach gets picky.

I also wish to avoid commercial freeze-dried meals as much as possible. Breakfast is pretty well sorted, now I just need to develop snack options that are not all hard cheese and salami, my go-to for many years. Also really struggling with dinner options...I really really like a hot dinner.

Saw some great ideas on another thread, including pre-cooked thick-cut bacon, Fritos/PB/raisins/tortilla (yes please!), and dry hummus mixed with olive oil. Gonna try this stuff!

One dinner idea that sounded pretty good was couscous heated up with dried veggie soup mix and a foil packet of tuna. I could see lots of variations on this theme, so gonna try that as well!








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bobby49
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by bobby49 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:53 pm

See what others say. Shooting for a specific calorie goal is nice, but it may not be essential. I just pack for 1.5 pounds of food per day, and I generally end up eating less than that. It is important to have some food along that is so much your favorite that you can eat it under any conditions (too tired, high altitude, picky appetite, etc.). This doesn't have to be all of your food, but maybe one meal's worth. For me, that is string cheese and Reese's pieces and Gatorade or Cytomax. Poptarts are crappy for food quality, but it's something that many traditional backpackers can tolerate.

I agree that a quick hot breakfast gets my vote, and a hot dinner at the end of the day. I can go a long way on rice and split pea soup mixed together, and it requires only a big splash of hot water. When I'm tired at the end of a day, I can eat anything as long as it is hot and smells good. Pre-cooked bacon still has to be heated or fried. Instead, I carry a small bag of bacon pieces, and I drop some of that into my soup. Foil packets of tuna are OK, but then you have a relatively heavy package to carry out.

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The Other Tom
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by The Other Tom » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:30 pm

bobby49 wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:53 pm
Pre-cooked bacon still has to be heated or fried. Instead, I carry a small bag of bacon pieces, and I drop some of that into my soup.
Try bacon jerky instead !

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longri
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by longri » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:40 pm

neil d wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:10 pm
Just pulling numbers out of the air...

You need to calibrate that with experience or from details about food from a previous trip. Otherwise the numbers are meaningless. Depending on the person, the trip, and the food choices, 1.5lbs could be starvation rations, just the right amount, or way too much.

Even when you know exactly how many calories you ate on a certain trip it doesn't mean that it will be the right amount for a later trip. But it is useful to have some sort metric. Most people just eyeball it. I've done detailed food spreadsheets before. It's useful to see what things weigh. Fats vs carbs & protein, moisture weight (even most dry food has significant moisture), and packaging. Nowadays I just aim for a certain weight. It's still a guessing game.

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bobby49
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by bobby49 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:10 pm

If you are going out for just a few days, then it doesn't matter too much exactly how many calories are in there. But then when you've been on the trail for a week, your appetite changes, and you will get more hunger if you aren't keeping up sufficient calories. It gets worse as the trip gets longer.
You can pack all sorts of food, but if it is not the food that you will eat, then it is all a wasted exercise. You have to have food that you will eat, so it is not a bad idea to test eat the food at home before you ever start. You may discover that you can't stomach peanut butter for seven days in a row.
I focus on packing about 1.5 pounds per day, but that includes packaging and wrappers, so I generally repackage stuff right before I leave home. The more moisture that is in the food, the more likely you will get some spoilage. So, my food is especially dry.

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by bobby49 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:14 pm

Another idea: Organize a short early-season backpacking trip with a few close friends. This could be one or two nights. Divide up the major meals and have each person assigned to bring at least one meal for everybody to consume. You will get more ideas about what is good and what is not, what is easy to prepare, what is too heavy to carry, etc.

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AlmostThere
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:09 pm

Trailcooking.com, a pot, a bowl, a spoon.

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neil d
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by neil d » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:24 pm

Dang, some forum gold right here! Thanks all...totally agree on all or most points.

My first trip this year is only 3 nights in Coast Range, so I'm not that worried about food, just trying to pay attention to weight and optimize as much as I can. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that the ounce-counting routine is somewhat addictive and fun. Truth be told, I'm not yet at a point in my life that 7 day trips are a concern...2-4 nights is the rule, and I'm carrying about 10 lbs of ancillary weight around my midsection, so could probably just live off myself for awhile. Why spend $$ on lightweight gear?!?

Bobby49, i hear you on 'food you want to eat'...at elevation, I've struggled with appetite, but no worries at low elevations, and even all of Deso, my typical playground. Peanut M&Ms for the win! I know my system, and need fat and carbs for the short term.

Right now, I'm thinking a small tortilla with PB, crushed Fritos, and a few spots of dried fruit is a winning lunch, but maybe I'm just hungry...

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by freestone » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:26 pm

I have been using recipes from MrBabelfish5 of late. His YouTube presentation is very informative, easy to follow and includes a complete shopping list of items needed to complete the recipe. I just finished a batch of his Hungarian Goolosh that includes authentic Hungarian paprika. Everything he presents can be done on a home dehydrator or oven.

https://m.youtube.com/user/MrBabelfish5
Fram...

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by bobby49 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:22 pm

neil d wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:24 pm
I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that the ounce-counting routine is somewhat addictive and fun.
When I first started ultralightweight backpacking back in the early 1980s, it took me a couple of years to really figure out how to become a gram-weenie. Mostly we just went "without" some essentials and managed to survive it. Back then, I took no real shelter, no real stove, and only 2.5 pounds of food to last for three days or so in the high country of Yosemite while doing 20-30 miles per day.

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