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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bobby49
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by bobby49 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:43 pm

I was backpacking through the high country of Yosemite, and I came across the camp of California Conservation Corps. They were constructing a rocky stairway section of trail, so that is moderately hard work. I was amazed at how much those young people were eating. The camp cook was frying up huge amounts of chicken, and it was all getting eaten.








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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by freestone » Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:21 am

A UTube for those who wish to cut their pack weight by reducing food waste. This is from BPL where it got good reviews. A little long but well worth it and you may be surprised on what food you think is light but really isn’t.

https://backpackinglight.com/forums/top ... ood-video/
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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 24, 2021 11:24 am

It seems like you have to be a member to view the video. So comments below are not based on the video. Below is just what I do to minimize food weight. Sorry, it too is a bit wordy.

Repackage: Food in heavy, bulky packaging needs to be put in plastic baggies. However, I have noticed that some of today's packaging is already light and designed for long term storage of food so the food does not pick up off taste from plastic bags. I do take a pin and poke a small hole to let out excess air so it can be squished into the bear can and not explode when taken to high altitude.

Right amount of food: In general, under 1 pound per day and you will starve, more than 2 pounds per day and you are taking the wrong types of food. Be aware that on the first and last day you will not eat 3 meals so those two days can be considered as 1.5 days, not 2. Fats have twice the calories per pound as carbs and protein. I specifically look for the highest calories per pound in my backpack diet, limited only by basic nutritional needs. It does not have to be that complicated. Just figure out your caloric need and protein/fat/carb balance. Then READ LABELS! Over time I get this really tuned- if I bring back food from nearly every trip, then I have taken too much. When I pack the food it ALWAYS looks insufficient - RESIST the urge to throw in more!

Cook only what you will eat, and then eat everything! If you do not feel up to it, just cook half your meal. I NEVER throw out a scrap of food.

Emergency food: I take none on longer trips because until the last day I have food and by the last day I am close enough to the trailhead to survive a few days without food. I will throw in an extra trail bar or so on 2-4 day trips.

Group vs solo: I have found that in groups, if willing to share food near the end of the trip, there is usually excess food. Inevitably someone eats less, has a day or two of low apatite and in the long run there usually is enough for everyone. If it makes you feel like you are a mooch to eat other's food, remember that every ounce you eat the other does not have to carry! You are doing them a favor.

Dry vs Freeze Dry: Fruits and vegetables are heavy; dried offers a good weight reduction with enough flexibility that you can squish it in a bear can, freeze dried even more weight reduction but it is brittle and same bulk as dried but can be ruined if you try to smash it into a bear can. Freeze dried meals are handy but read ingredients, some really lack calories and do not save much weight over their non-freeze dried form.

Cooking and instant vs regular: Cooking requires fuel and a pot which adds weight. However there are trade-offs. Ready-to-eat food often heavier and bulkier. Instant are pre-cooked and then dried so they have more bulk. A lot of new instant forms of grains can be found at Trader Joes (barley, red lentils). I have found that a lot of grains that say "10 minutes" can easily be cooked in 2 minutes boiling then sit in a cozy for 5 minutes.

Fuel efficiency: A cozy, pre-heating cook water with solar heat, and a good wind screen on your stove significantly improve fuel efficiency. A cozy allows you to undercook and then set aside. On a below-freezing morning, water from deep in a lake will actually be warmer than that in your water bottle left outside.

The saying "do not bring anything you do not like" is mostly true, but if you are seriously hungry you will eat almost anything. Be aware also of your digestive issues. I do not eat candy bars- if I take these backpacking I get sick. I do not eat sausage at home, again, if I take it backpacking I get gassy and bloat. I eat lots of nuts at home, and also backpacking. Since I do not regularly eat freeze dried food, I find that one meal or so is about all I can handle while backpacking.

Your food needs change. At altitudes you often have no apatite and digestion slows down. Proteins and fats can make you sick. Soups, tea and instant potatoes seem to work well for me. End of season I need more calories. A truism is that your "mountain apatite" goes in to high-drive after a week or two or continuous backpacking. You need less calories as you age or as your backpack miles and activities become more mellow.

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by freestone » Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:05 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 11:24 am
It seems like you have to be a member to view the video.
Try this...The author suggests planning your menu based on caloric density then apply other tricks like changing packaging etc.



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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:18 pm

Thanks for the public link. I listened to most of the first part. He is talking specifically about thru-hiking, Appalachian Trail mostly- maximum performance for a short period (to me 2-4 days between being in town, IS short), then eating in town. The unbalanced nature of the hiking part is fixed by eating better in town. Good information but very targeted. He does bash the bad trail diet of many thru-hikers who rely on too much candy. Good discussion of how to keep steady energy during the day, sugar energy spikes early, complex carbs kick in and last to 3 hours then fats sustain the rest of the day. Lots of good information even if it is not the kind of backpacking I do. The second part is on backpack food and I will listen to it later-should be interesting.

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:39 am

Part II continued with the minute detail nutrition, but for "recovery". Sorry but I just did not have the patience to continue watching.

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by Harlen » Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:38 pm

limpingcrab writes:
Yup, I don't filter, so it makes it easier to scoop and go. When I cross water I force down a whole liter, which is uncomfortable for a couple minutes, but then I never have to carry any water and some studies have suggested that feast/famine is a more efficient way to hydrate anyway.
Very effective way to reduce pack weight!
Same MO as I, though I rarely drink a full liter per stop.
Re. food, I learned pretty quickly that the supposed need to carry 3-4,000 cal. per day didn't work for me. I just plain have very little appetite while backpacking, and those early years were generally big mileage trips. One's metabolic rate must make a huge difference for people- wildhiker wrote that he needs to eat every couple hours.

My dinners and breakfast have varied very little for 30 years:
B. = 1 small packet of flavored oatmeal, 2-3 squares of choc., or a small Tigermilk bar, coffee, and water.
D. = 1 ramen packet with 1 Knorr's Soup packet, or 2 ramens, hot coco with my whiskey-brandy mix.

Lunches vary a lot- but gen'ly any kind of Jerky, including homemade venison, salmon jerky being the favorite; sometimes salami and sharp cheddar cheese, sometimes bars, plus dried fruit and nuts. Like Daniel, I have recently discovered that I can pack Kettle potato chips- especially on winter trips w/o the bearcan.

I almost never have any food left over, but I take little. Eg., tomorrow I leave early for a 4 days-3 night ski tour in Deso. (Lake Aloha area), and my total food weight is: 4lbs. plus 3 oz. brandy mix. Bearzy's food bag weighs 3 lbs., and he usually gets a lot of my cheese and sausage. He is a voracious in the mountains as I am abstemious, I have to remind myself to eat lunch, and often forget it.

At home I have a good appetite, and on most trips I come back 5 lbs. or more light. Quién sabe?

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:31 am

Harlen, we are just getting old! We think we are doing what we did when 20, but perhaps it is old age faulty memory, and upon further thought, we are not. What I always forget is the significantly lower weight I carry now vs in the 1970's. That plus lower metabolism as we age. Put that together, and even doing the same activity, I need less calories.

Loosing 5 pounds on a 5 day trip is not healthy because you likely loose some muscle mass and since we loose muscle mass simply as we age, I want to keep what little I still have! But then the whisky compensates :D. My goal is to minimize weight swings to about 5-8 pounds from my ideal weight over an entire year- plump up winter, slim down summer. If you ever do get hungry, I am sure Bearzy would share some of his food.

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by Harlen » Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:09 pm

Wandering Daisy writes:
If you ever do get hungry, I am sure Bearzy would share some of his food.
Hah! returned from that short Deso trip late last night, and Bearzy ate nearly all of my cheese, most of the sausage; and even some of the ramen-potato soup mix. Not usually a big beggar, in the mountains he hovers over me like vulture during all meals and food prep. I am usually indifferent, and worry that he is really hungry, so Bearzy makes out like a bandit.
WD, You speak of feeling the need for more food on cold weather trips, I wonder if dogs especially lose calories in the cold. Note that Bearzy has little undercoat.
I wonder if we can extend your "food efficiency and meal ideas" post to our dog mountaineers? [rlown, are you out there?] I assume that your dogs must get saturated by their cold water immersions- what do you feed them on cold trips out? Bearzy's standard is dry food mixed with crumbled mozzarella cheese, and chopped up meat of some kind, mixed in warm, powder-milky water.

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Re: food efficiency and meal ideas

Post by rlown » Mon Mar 01, 2021 2:22 pm

Simba (and Samantha) always got a LOT of extra food beyond the normal kibble in the duck blind. First off, they walk and move around many more miles than we do. Up/back, Up/back, and where I hunt, it is usually 3/4 mile to the blind. My pepperoni sticks and cheez-its always went to them first, partially to keep them quiet but mostly to keep them warm. If the dog is standing in a pond up to their knees for most of the morning because one can't find an island for them, you give them even more. Both hated to wear a neoprene suit.

As WD points out, we do eat less as we age, and we move more slowly. My main cutback on backpacking has been food as I always come back with way to much.

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