Alternatives to Freeze Dried Meal Packs
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I did a lot of tramping in my youth, short and some very long trips. Coming back into it now kids are at school, I've been surprised how much everyone seems to be relying on Back Country Cuisine packaged meals. I never went that way in the 80's, think we were too poor/stingy. Old habits die hard, I find it hard to shell out for something in a package that costs more than $60 per kilo. We used to be able to buy kilo bags of cheese powder for about the same price as milk powder, also kilo bags of freeze dried mince at what I recall was a reasonable price. In North America we could get big bags of cheap instant refried bean mix that took care of most of the protein needs. Staple meals were therefore pasta and cheese powder with a maggi soup and a few surprise beans, or mince curry plus rice or refried bean mix plus rice. None of this stuff seems available here/any more. BCC dried mince comes in small packets at at least $60 per kilo, parmesan cheese powder is at least the same price per kilo. What are people who aren't going the BCC route taking now days? I'm looking for recipes / ideas that are cheap, don't require huge amounts of time fiddling around with a dehydrator before a trip, but are light and keep indefinitely for a long trip while taking little time/fuel to prepare on the trip.
Some things I've been experimenting with more recently: Dehydrate your own mince: Cook up mince in the wok before the trip. Add a handful of frozen beans and lots of chopped garlic. Cook it as dry as possible without burning it, then leave the wok propped on a couple of rocks on top of the woodburner so that it dehydrates overnight, put it in a ziplock bag, leave it in the freezer till you're ready to go. Have used for 3 - 4 days trips, I assume if it's dry enough it should last for weeks on a trip, though it might be better if rinsed in boiling water to get the fat out before drying if you want it to keep longer. The usual rice or pasta plus soup packets /spices/ powdered parmesan/milkpowder plus olive oil and chopped up salami. Similar to above with those tuna sachets. Another I've been experimenting with is a mix of couscous, quinoa, desiccated coconut, powdered soup, milk powder, lots of spices; cumin, chilli and lime and garam masala etc. Chuck 200g pp in a pot with water, get it boiling, add say 50mm pp olive oil, let it sit for a bit and it's ready. I wanted to try adding powdered red lentils to the mix but couldn't find the blender. It comes out kind of porridgy but good. Nothing that another shake of chilli can't make more interesting.
lentils $5 a kilo, rice. $3 a kilo cooks up to three times the weight of prepared food...
Thought I'd try a BCC and took it along on a recent trip to Cameron Hut. Edible but not enjoyable, despite plenty of stirring and more water than recommended, bits of it had not rehydrated properly. And salty... Phew! Continental/San Remo Pasta Snacks are always worth carrying if you want it all pre-prepared. I add dried veges for a little less stodge and tuna. If starting from scratch... I'm keen on pasta, and have found a couple which cooks pretty quickly. San Remo Vegeroni or Number 16 spirals both cook in 8 minutes. Then you've got San Remo Angel Hair Pasta. Cooks in 2 minutes! I see they do a Angel Hair "Cut Short"... Anyway, to some preheated water I add: 1 serving of pasta, dried onion, dried peas, sundried tomatoes, herbs (basil), black or green olives, bier sticks or chorizo (finely chopped), and tomato paste. Cook till pasta is soft. Add lots of shaved parmesan cheese on top. For the first night's meal you could also carry some pre-chopped mushrooms, capsicum and broccoli. Num num... Vary the pasta type and use tuna instead (but add last just before you serve) - these variations could keep you going a few nights. I often add a bit of Quinoa to the mix as well because it's light and packed with goodness...
you must buy the good rice. How do you flavour it? I would use various curry mixes and vegetables Dehy vegys are still good, easily available and like 2 minute noodles if the first didgit of the year in the use buy date matches they are good to eat. (currently thats a 2)
@Ian_H Could not agree with you more. While I'm guilty of using BCC's in the past decade out of sheer laziness, I never enjoy them the way I used to get real satisfaction from the ones we lashed up ourselves. Good dry bacon is pretty lightweight for what it is, tastes great and lasts at least 10 days. Another old trick is to break eggs into a long tall container and. They last for ages and the yolks rarely break up. Asian spices or sauces like sambal can really liven a meal up. On a long trip I used to aim for a rotation of about 3 or 4 meal types so as not to get sick of them. That's the one thing that can really catch you out, a lack of variation can become strongly unappealing very fast.
@PhilipW, where do you source dry bacon?
A tramping mate from Taiwan introduced me to an interesting substance called fish floss. I suspect I would rather not know how its made but it is made from fish and does have a lot of salt and sugar. Pretty close to the perfect tramping food. think fishy salty candy floss. He imports his own as its not sold in NZ but pork floss is much the same without the fishy taste and available in most asian stores. Asian stores have all sorts of dried meal ideas. Some spicy some not
Heres a 'relatively' light and somewhat 'fresh food' tramping one pot pasta recipe our family has used for years. 1. Take your 2 litre pot, about half fill it with water. 2. Put it onto the stove to heat. 3. Add a few cloves of garlic. 4. Add a few chopped mushrooms, a few chopped green beans, capsicum, zuchini, whatever you have. These all travel reasonably well. 5. Add a 140g leggos tomato paste, and a good sized chunk of butter. 6. By this time it should be about boiling. So go ahead and add about 250g of dried fetucine or similar. 7. Put the lid on, turn stove down and simmer for 10-15min. Stir occasionally, Trangias are great for this, just be extra careful with whisperlites and the like. The aim here is to both cook the contents and absorb 80% of the water. And to correctly estimate the expanded volume of the contents as they swell without overflowing the pot and yet maximise the yeild. This takes a little practice. 8. When pasta done, add a 140g tub of sour cream, about the same volume of coursely chopped cheese, salt and pepper to taste, stir well. The sour cream serves as an emulsifier and the result is a creamy/thick soupy consistency. Serves 3.
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