During my journey, I requested suggestions for meal
planning. I got some good suggestions via e-mail which I've decided
to share with you.
For variety in your diet, you might try the packages of Rice-a-Roni or Noodle Roni. These generally weigh about 6 oz each. The Noodle Roni packs particularly well since it's not in a box (envelope). You could augment these with small cans of chunk tuna or chicken (or tofu if that's available where you are). Also, Carnation makes powdered milk in 8-quart boxes. Each "quart" is envelope packaged, so you could stuff them in various locations in your bags as convenient. Check out the spice section of the grocery store. Lawry's and McCormick's have gotten really creative with some of the items they sell. You might find dried vegetables in little jars (intended to add to soup). Sodium level should be considered if that's important to you. (Rice-a-Roni does come in low sodium). [Need sodium when bicycling in hot weather-Ed]. Ramen noodles (that old college staple) is intended for soup, but what I do is cook the noodles, drain them, add the seasoning and then add them to a stir-fry. If you find some veggies at a store you can stir fry them with noodles and chunk chicken or noodles or tofu. This is possibly more work than you want, but could make for more interesting meals. Don't forget instant pudding (with your powdered milk) for dessert!
Happy eating! (remember -- everything tastes better outside anyway!)
For good, light camping food, I pick up packages of Lipton noodles & sauce or rice - their sauce is "just add water", and usually makes a pretty hardy dinner. Buy some vegetables or some jerky to add to it (it'll soften in the boiling water). Anyways, if you stick to non-cream based sauces, water is usually all you'll need. Also, in the health food sections of the grocery store, you can find chilis & such that are like the old "cup-a-soup"s.
I like fig bars but they weigh. I like bananas but they get mushy in a hurry on a bike. Cold beer is good but carrying 10 pounds of ice and a cooler probably won't work well on a bike. I take it that there is not a party store every 15-20 miles - boy we get spoiled on our rides around here. Guess I'm not much help!
Rice-a-Roni makes some products that you just add water to and boil. Some varieties I've seen include red beans & rice, chicken & broccoli. They come in a paper package(bag-like) and don't weigh much at all. You'll find them w/in the pasta section of the market probably not far from your mac-n-cheese. Also, someone makes soup in a bag, all you do is add water and go. Generally, they are a bean or lentil variety. I personally can't stand beans, but the bags are very small and weigh hardly anything. Also, a good source of nutrients. Also, you may want to check the next grocery store you're in for a bulk food section. You can get all kinds of good stuff bulk and most of it is good for you as well. You may even stumble across some powdered milk. Just grap some ziploc bags for it. They always come in handy on bike rides. There is also pancake mix you just add water to and cook them up. Just add a little cinnamon/sugar or dried fruit on top and they're not bad.
On Bike Centennial trips they hand out a pack of Raman ( a prepackaged, dried noodle concoction with a chicken of vegetable flavour sauce). I would suggest that or just get your favorite dried pasta, a package of some sauce (I recommend a white sauce) and a small hunk of spicy sausage (peperoni). You'll find that makes a zesty meal not unlike one of the dishes Tom [at Cyclevents] made on [the Alaska Highway] trip. Dried pasta is light weight, so this is not a big weight issue, but you do need water and a big enough pot to make the pasta.
Failing that you're best bet is some dried soups (the heartier, the better) and some rice to add to the soup which will make it more of a stew. We sometimes have a black bean and rice soup from Uncle Ben that is more of a stew than a soup and real good.
I've done alot of backpacking in my day and never relied on freeze-dried specialty foods. Some things you might look for are Lipton noodle mixes. With mac & cheese you drain the water but the noodle mixes absorb it. They also come in a variety of flavors and taste much better. Add a small can of meat (tuna, ham, chicken, chipped beef, etc.) and it makes a satisfing meal. Look for pepperoni or other highly preserved 'tube' meats than don't need refrigeration. Hambuger and tuna helper also make large satisfing meals and don't waste water. For dessert try either Jello or Royal cheesecake with a small can of fruit of your choice (I like pineapple).
Caution: this is more than one person can handle: share with a friend. Pudding mixes make more sense for individual helpings (try pistachio). You'll need to get some dried milk. Maybe you can mail what you don't want to carry to your next destination although this is probably more expensive than chucking or giving away what you don't need. If you can find 'Milkman" brand dried milk buy it. It tastes better than Carnation (a touch of cream) but is harder to find. Make a full quart in the evening. It's easier than guessing how to make smaller portions and tastes better in the morning because its had all night to mix. For breakfast the absolute best cold cereal is Familia Swiss Muslix but that is hard to find (and expensive). Alpin would be my second choice but there are many more granolas in the cereal aisle. If you like coffee, the Maxwell House coffee bags are a real treat.
I see where you're looking for touring meal ideas(primarly dinners from what I can tell). I know it can be tough to shop at limited stores, but there are several things I eat for dinner while touring that are not tough to find in stores slightly larger than the convenience store varitey.
- Mac and cheese that comes with a packet of cheese that's pre-made.You'll probably want to split this into two nights' meals, as it comes 14oz. packages.
[all the packages I've found need milk].
- Pasta with a variety of pre-packaged cheese sauces and sauces you can make with just the powder mix and a little margerine or butter(purchasable in single cubes at most stores).
- Pasta with a small jar of red sauce which can stretch for two meals as well. Or eat the rest for breakfast re-heated over your stove.
- An enchilada mix of a small can of refied beans (black bean is great if you can find them), a little cheese, and some chilis and maybe a couple of tortillas tossed in. Can be eaten cold as a great breakfast after having them for dinner.
- Fajitas with refried beans and stir-fried peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.
These are all easy and quick meals to make in less than 1/2 hour when you're tired.
Got one for you: Use Ramen noodles. I have added the following:
- Shrimp or canned Tuna (works best with Shrimp or Oriental flavor noodles)
- Carrots, potatoes, beans (especially if you can get single carrots or potatoes): add to water while it is heating, this allows it to cook enough but still be crunchy when noodles are done
- Can of cooked chicken
I tried most of what was suggested and survived.
I experienced considerable difficulty with hot weather (as high as 116 (f), 45 (c)). I erred by trying to carry cheese (Black Diamond Cheddar & cream cheese). They both melted and separated in the heat. Fresh carrots only lasted 2 days, then turned to slime. Fruit (plums & cherries) "blew up" in the heat. Bananas turned to mush. Chocolate based candy bars, and even granola bars with chocolate or other easily softened ingredients, melted in the heat. Even beef jerky seemed to go bad. Apples did very well. I eat several apples a day year round (preferably Michigan apples).
I've learned to stop at bars and pubs even if I never drink while riding. They're usually air conditioned, often the only "watering hole" around and they have munchies, soft drinks, water and plenty of helpful advice. Initially I was intimidated by my lycra getup, but I've been warmly received at all the bars once it was apparent what I am doing.
Pasta is the ticket, but, with my one cup pan, I was real limited. The directions called for 3 quarts of boiling water, but it isn't necessary. One day I bought ravioli and marinara sauce. I managed to spill quite a bit on the table, but ate it out of the ravioli container and a fresh salad out of a Gatorade container. It was great.
Lunch is tougher than dinner. Bread is always good, but I need more; when riding I eat like a pig. I carried summer sausage one day (but that's all I dared eat it). If I pass a food source, I buy sandwiches or pasta at 10:00 or 11:00 for lunch.
I buy Gatorade often (several times a day if possible--my record is 3 gallons in a day). In remote areas, I buy Gatorade powder and put it in OneZip bags instead of the original cardboard can. Then, every morning, I make up one Gatorade water bottle and 2 regular water bottles. I refill all 3 at least once or twice per day when I have access to water. The Gatorade is usually hot, but hot Gatorade is more palatable than hot water.
I also carry a bag of trail mix, some pecans, a couple of Power Bars, some instant coffee (when carrying a stove), a couple of peanut butter containers (the jam size--taken from restaurants I've eaten at), some jam (also from restaurants--for use with bagels and cream cheese, whenever available), some instant chocolate in individual serving bags and whatever treats I run across at the places I stop.
The good news is, I lose weight when I ride.
© Ed Noonan 1996-1998