UKC

Supermarket food for backpacking?

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 NathanP 25 Jun 2021

I have a backpacking trip coming up and I'm wondering what food to take for the overnight camps. The specialist dehydrated meals look expensive and unappetising so I was wondering about 'normal' food and wondered if anybody had recommendations from what they had used? I'll have a small gas stove but would obviously want to avoid anything that needs a prolonged cooking time.

 LastBoyScout 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Couscous or noodles - dead easy to cook and widely available in several flavours. Protein a bit trickier as you don't have a fridge, but tuna and corned beef is pretty indestructible if you don't mind the extra weight of the tin. Dried fruit for snacks.

I went on a DofE expedition once, years ago, where the main staple seemed to be pot noodle!

Edit: Should add, salami, chorizo and so on also last pretty well out of the fridge, too.

Post edited at 13:42
 Pedro50 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Idahoan mash with tuna pouch and grated parmesan is my go to.

In reply to NathanP:

Super Noodles (or equivalent) — ~500kCal per pack — and bolster with dried sausage, cheese, etc.

 StuDoig 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

I'd avoid the pre-packed food as well; daftly expensive!  My go to for lighter/longer trips is some kind of flavoured couscous (normally spicy) with diced chorizo.  Put the couscous in a pair of doubled up ziplock bags, add the boiling water and wait 8 or 9 mins.  Simple and minimal boiling involved, no messy pans and any extra water is used for a brew while the couscous cooks.

Can also stuff the couscous in ziplocks inside your jacket for hotwater bottle effect while it "cooks" - where shouldn't be any un-absorbed water after a minute or so to spill.

Lots of variants on the above depending on your taste with dried veg, fish etc you can add for nutrition.  I use the same process for porridge in the morning, usually supplemented with some rowies (nigh on indestructible!).

Cheers,

Stu

 Trangia 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Most pasta is good. Tomato puree, cheese, garlic. Tined fish. Bully beef. hams. Biltong is good and lasts well. Dried veg, particularly peas, mushrooms etc. Pita bread lasts well. Nuts and dried fruit. Flavoured quick cook rice in sachets

 girlymonkey 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

I'm in the couscous camp too, one of the quickest things to cook. Smash also works well.

For protein, I often take salami or babybell, but have also used dried soya mince before. It has no taste but is the lightest thing imaginable and can even be rehydrated with cold water if needed. If you put some curry powder or herbs or something like that in with it then it will taste fine. Cup-a-soups also work well for flavouring any of the above options.

 afx22 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Oat So Simple porridge is good for breakfast.  Quick to cook, cheap, lightweight and just needs water.  You add dried seeds and fruit to it, if you like,

In reply to NathanP:

A couple of packets of batcholors dried pasta with sauce is a light and pretty filling evening meal that just needs to have water added and then simmer for 5 mins.

Quite tasty, costs a couple of quid and is as calorific as 7 quid camp meal. As others have said can add extra meat/fish/spice for protein or added flavour.

In reply to NathanP:

I'm well practised at this due to not wanting my scouts to spend loads of money on food they'll ruin!

'Main courses' - MugShots or couscous. I take these because the packsize is small and they don't need any simmering like Pasta'n'sauce = less fuel needed. You might need to eat two packs if you're a big person burning lots of energy.

Desserts - custard (individual sachets from Birds or Mrs what'sherface) and cake/biscuits

Breakfasts - Readybrek prepared at home (drinking chocolate powder and/or dried milk, sugar / dried fruit added as necessary to enable addition of boiling water only) and double-bagged in freezerbags. Squeeze all the air out the bags so they can't pop in your bag! If you experiment you'll find that you can make some porridges with cold water if you let them soak long enough - "Oats-So-Easy" in South Africa can be done like this in 20 minutes as I discovered when my stove broke on night1 of a proposed 6 day trek! Make it up, take your tent down then eat it.  More fuel saved.

Lunch - sandwiches & crisps for the first day, then Ryvita and peanut butter after. Bread gets squished and/or mouldy/stale. Dried sausage like Peperami. Cheese chunks. Chocolate biscuit or muesli/fruit/breakfast bar for afters

snacks - whatever you fancy. Not chocolate in warm climes.

Drinks - water or powdered sports drinks. I always carry water for first aid washing purposes, but a group could mostly use sports drinks.

Don't use dried food in rigid pots like potnoodle and pot porridges, the lids tend to pop off in your bag causing a horrible mess, and you then have to pack out the empty pot afterwards.

Post edited at 14:56
In reply to StuDoig:

>   I use the same process for porridge in the morning, usually supplemented with some rowies (nigh on indestructible!).

What are 'rowies'?

 AukWalk 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Maybe depends a bit on how many nights you're out for and therefore how much the weight matters. For longer trips might be worth splashing out on dehydrated meals so you can have a bit of variety while keeping the pack weight down.

For a few nights I like stuff such as:

Porridge with nuts and dried fruit for breakfast (can put together individual bags of oats and milk powder before leaving to make it super simple to make).

Wraps with cheese / peanut butter / dried meat etc for lunch

Dried soup, Packets of microwave rice, tins of sardines / tuna etc, couscous, noodles, etc for dinner. For the first night I quite like taking a frozen meal / frozen leftovers which should still be chilled when you pitch up in the evening as long as you wrap it up in a jacket in your bag or something so you can get away with something quite indulgent if you want. 

Am sure I could do better with the evening meals though, need to try some of the other suggestions next time I'm out! 

 deepsoup 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Toerag:

> Bread gets squished

Pittas and tortilla wraps tend to keep longer.

Chorizo is my staple protein, and full of flavour. It can be sweated to give fat to fry real veg in (onions and peppers survive reasonably well). Cous cous, noodles (try your local poundshop for five pack specials, or Chinese supermarket - watch out for flames on the packet though; they will be HOT) instant mash.  Nido full fat instant milk powder.

Home-made porridge mix (rolled oats, instant oats, sugar, Nido, nuts, sultanas, cinnamon). just add boiling water and wait a few minutes.

Instant packet soup. Can be used as soup, or added for flavour/thickening to carbs.

 girlymonkey 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Toerag:

> Drinks - water or powdered sports drinks. I always carry water for first aid washing purposes, but a group could mostly use sports drinks.

Interestingly, on the last first aid course I did, the instructor said that anything you could drink could also be used to wash a wound. So juice etc would wash a wound just as well as water! I was a little surprised, but he seemed pretty sure of it! (I only drink water anyway, so it doesn't matter hugely for me, but I guess if I had finished mine and someone had juice or something then I could use that).

Anyway, big tangent! 

 Ian_Cognito 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Toerag:

> Dried sausage like Peperami.

Be careful with some of these - Peperami, in particular, seems to be laced with MSG as a flavour enhancer and that can upset some people (like me) with an intolerance. Not what you want in the middle of a trek!

Also some crisps and other pre-packed things - "check before you pack" is my advice.

 Basemetal 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Toerag:

> >   I use the same process for porridge in the morning, usually supplemented with some rowies (nigh on indestructible!).

> What are 'rowies'?

aka "Butteries"

https://www.johndavidsons.com/the-baker/cakes-puddings/butteries-rowies

Scottish salty flat "croissant" like breakfast/snack food. 

 Harry Jarvis 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Basemetal:

> aka "Butteries"

> Scottish salty flat "croissant" like breakfast/snack food. 

A fine idea, but hard to find, particularly outside Scotland. Having said that, I was very happy when I found my local co-op sold butteries.

 PM 25 Jun 2021
 C Witter 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

In Sainsbos there are these Jamie Oliver things (look up "Jamie Oliver Black Daal") that are really easy to heat up quickly and fairly tasty/nutritous. I usually add a little bit of water and some chilli as I cook. If you have space, adding fresh veg makes it really good.

If you have a sealed plastic lunchbox, you can easily cook cous cous by putting it in there and adding boiling water then sealing it and leaving it for 5 mins.

In reply to girlymonkey:

> Interestingly, on the last first aid course I did, the instructor said that anything you could drink could also be used to wash a wound. So juice etc would wash a wound just as well as water! I was a little surprised, but he seemed pretty sure of it! (I only drink water anyway, so it doesn't matter hugely for me, but I guess if I had finished mine and someone had juice or something then I could use that).

I'm sure he's right - you're just trying to wash out the dirt and bacteria, of which there will be virtually none in your drink. However, it's going to make things sticky and might potentially sting like mad, so not as nice to use as water! Did he mention washing out eyes?

In reply to captain paranoia:

> Pittas and tortilla wraps tend to keep longer.

I guess pancakes are also an option, you can get pre-packed ones in the supermarket these days. I like scotch pancakes and they're easy to carry too.

 NathanP 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Thanks very much for all the suggestions - lots to go at.

 Siward 25 Jun 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

Urine is sterile, is it not?! 

 Pedro50 25 Jun 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

>  Smash also works well.

Idahoan is a hell of a lot tastier than Smash, maybe you used the word as a generic?

 girlymonkey 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Toerag:

I don't remember if he mentioned eyes 🤷

 girlymonkey 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Pedro50:

I did mean it as generic, but actually usually go for Tesco value instant mash!! Lol. I figure that mash is pretty dull, even when made from real potatoes, so in this case it's just a light, calorific vector for adding flavour to. 

Never heard of Idahoan

 Pedro50 25 Jun 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

> Never heard of Idahoan

Check it out, Tesco stock it in several varieties, the roasted garlic is my favourite.

In reply to Toerag:

Indescribable - you won't know until you have tried them.

 elsewhere 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

As a snack, macadamia nuts have very high calories per gram.

720 kcal per 100g
76g fat per 100g  - I'm not sure how that is physically possible!

 Fiona Reid 25 Jun 2021
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

> A fine idea, but hard to find, particularly outside Scotland. Having said that, I was very happy when I found my local co-op sold butteries.

I've seen them south of the border too. However the website basemetal linked delivers UK wide should anyone be tempted. A French friend was really not impressed with the Scottish croissant 🥐. 

Toasted then basted in butter = unhealthy heaven on a plate. 

In reply to Fiona Reid:

> Toasted then basted in butter = unhealthy heaven on a plate. 

Not deep fried, then...?

 StuDoig 25 Jun 2021
 GerM 25 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

First night meal if you have something resembling a pan rather than a water boiling type stove: a couple of sizzle steaks, dehydrated mash, spring onions.

Beforehand put the steaks double ziplock bagged with some marinade in the freezer. Take out before you leave, thaws during the day, but mostly stays cool, any vinegaryness and chilli in the marinade helps keep/ 'cook' it. Coplue of minutes each side and you have a proper meal.

Only potential drawback is the washing up, but can be mitigated by soaking the pan used for the steak, and using as a gravy/sauce thickened with a sprinkling of the dehydrated mash or just mixed in to the mash instead of straight water.

 Mark Haward 26 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Lots of great ideas mentioned already.

   You could purchase some of the 'boil in the bag' bags. Then make your favourite food at home.Put it in bag and freeze. Take that for your first night. Only need to wash up your spoon. ( I suggest a long spoon).

    The porridge pots mentioned are great. Just put the porridge in individual bags and take one emptied cleaned pot for use so you don't get the burst pot problem raised.

    Consider taking some small sachets of salt / pepper / ketchup etc. if you like them. Remember a rubbish bag...

 Fiona Reid 26 Jun 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Not deep fried, then...?

I dare say it will have been done... But that might be a step too far 😉

 mickyv33 26 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Pasta (Fussili) with cuppa soup thrown in the water for added flavour wih a tin of Mackerel in tomato/spicy sauce thrown on top for protein.

Pretty similiar to other suggestions bu the cuppa soup in the water was a game changer for me.

In reply to NathanP:

Packets of microwaveable of rice and other grains, presumably part cooked, often flavoured...less than 50p for big portion from Lidl and Aldi....they can be boiled with minimum water for 2 or 3 minutes.

Instant custard just requires boiling water, good with dried fruit (which may be left to soak first).

Malt loaf, cheap and still edible after being sat on etc.

 GrahamD 27 Jun 2021
In reply to NathanP:

I always thought instant mash was the best calorific base that didn't use much gas.  Veggie stock cubes make a great flavouring or 'soup.  Hard cheese / salami /tinned mackerel are the luxury high protein add in.  Worth that little extra weight.

 Arbu 18 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Another problem with dehydrated meals is that they're often sold in oversize bags that (a) you have to stick your hand right inside to get the contents out and inevitably get some of the meal on your hand and (b) have to carry out. I suspect the only reason the bags are so large is to help with marketing. So I agree with other posters here - just get some supermarket noodles and add some chorizo and cheese to them. Eat loads of fruit when back in town to make up for the lack of vitamins. Or pick wild berries if in the Arctic. I think the Blå Band range is good though, although still quite expensive.

In reply to NathanP:

Powdered mash potato, sprinkle of dried herbs, bit of pre-grated cheese, chopped in some salami or chorizo, job done. Cooking time is just the time to boil the water, so very good for low gas use. 

 Graeme G 18 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Apologies if already suggested. If only for a couple of nights, I skip the stove and take cold, ready to eat food. The lunchtime pasta dishes etc?

In reply to NathanP:

If you are carrying all your water, tinned or packeted ready meals like chilli are fine.  It is not the tin that is heavy, it is the non dehydrated food.

If you aren't carrying all your water, then pasta and sauce type meals are good, or Beanfeast (if that still exists) and the likes.

Peperami is good if you want to add meat to anything.

Post edited at 20:46
 bruxist 18 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Same advice as everyone else - couscous and chorizo, mainly - but but I'd also recommend tuna "jacket toppers" pouches. Dirt cheap in places like B&M, flatpacked, light, meant to be put on jacket potatoes as the name suggests but perfect for banging some protein in the pan.

Mind you, I'm planning my next backpacking trip entirely around Vesta Meals so you might want to ignore my advice.

In reply to bruxist:

Vesta curry?  Hope nobody is sharing a tent with you

Must admit I'm entertained how pervasive Jamie Oliver language has got on this thread - "bang some protein in the pan" -  crikey

 peppermill 19 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Lidl do great sachets of rice quinoa lentils precooked and seasoned/flavoured for about 80p, which can be eaten hot or cold. Also I'm a big fan of the Ainsley Harriot sachets in the Jetboil. Usually get at least 2 for a quid and bizarrely taste great. The jamaican rice is my favourite!

Post edited at 07:43
 bruxist 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

Particularly looking forward to the chow mein. I haven't had them since I was a child, so will look forward to each one in the full knowledge that they'll turn out to be a massive disappointment.

I suspect that kind of language is less Oliver and more the tone of UKC generally. Have you read any of the articles about food on the site?

 Sans-Plan 19 Jul 2021
In reply to bruxist:

The protein warriors have always amused me, if you are that bothered about getting protein when on the hills just take a packet of protein powder and make a shake or a have a protein bar after your meal, complex carbs is what you need in your evening meal for the following day on the hill.

 chrisjwoodall 19 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Another vote for Mugshot Pasta, full of flavour and quick to ‘cook’ but you’ll need a few to make a proper meal. 
 

I find breakfast and lunch harder to arrange, but have settled on a mix of home made flapjacks and oatcakes with ready wrapped cheddar or primula. The convenience porridge seems to only come in it’s own pot rather than a sachet which irritates me on many levels, I’m thinking of throwing some oats and powdered milk into a freezer bag next time.

 Babika 19 Jul 2021
In reply to chrisjwoodall:

Can I ask a numpty question?

Lots of people mention double freezer bags; are these OK to pour boiling water straight out of the Jetboil into? 

I've used the expensive dehydrated meals and the pouches seem very tough - you fold the top over and leave for 8 minutes. I can envisage a right old mess in the tent when double freezer bags melt or collapse. Any particular ones best?

Also, I've just bought some Huel Hot and Savoury. You just add boiling water, leave and voila. It's expensive up front but one of the benefits seems to be each scoop is 200 calories with all the vitamins, minerals and protein included. I haven't tried it yet - it might taste like cardboard. 

 peppermill 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Babika:

> Also, I've just bought some Huel Hot and Savoury. You just add boiling water, leave and voila. It's expensive up front but one of the benefits seems to be each scoop is 200 calories with all the vitamins, minerals and protein included. I haven't tried it yet - it might taste like cardboard. 

I've been put off going anywhere near Huel after a really bad obvious joke I made to an old colleague once resulted in somewhat of an overshare on his part. He was just having Huel as meal replacement to try and lose some weight.

Me: "How's the Huel diet going mate, things getting a bit runny yet?"

Colleague: "Yeah (Looks crestfallen and a bit sheepish in between swigs of a Huel shake he's just made). I sharted at the weekend. I was in the park with the family. It ran down my leg into my shoes. My wife was mortified. (continues to swig Huel shake)" 

Cue stunned silence in the staff room.

In reply to Babika:

> Lots of people mention double freezer bags

Pour'n'store bags work well used like that.

In reply to Babika:

>lI've just bought some Huel Hot and Savoury. You just add boiling water, leave and voila.

You can get bulk mass gainer, for body builders. Its a huge hit of protein powder, with fine ground oats for carbs and added multi vits etc. Comes in several flavours and you can mix it using cold water. You can use hot to make a porridge, but some mix better than others.

It's not exciting, but its light and can be used easily on the go or with a meal, instead of a meal etc.

 PaulJepson 19 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

For my 3 meals I would generally have 3 packets of oat so simple sachets in the morning with a cup of tea, wraps with either cheese&crisps, cream cheese & crisps, peanut butter, etc. for lunch, and then a larger meal in the evening (with a bar or two either side of lunch).

You want a few different things to make sure you don't get bored.

Stick to 'one-pot' meals. 

I'd recommend making yourself a 'cosy' for your pot (I did it with reflectix and foil tape). That means most meals you can just boil the required amount of water quickly, chuck your food in the pot, chuck your pot in the cosy, and it'll be ready to eat in 10-15 minutes. 

The tuna in the cat-food esque packets is much nicer to carry than tins. 

Depending on how long you are going for, you might want to make up a bunch of meals in ziplock bags. If you're re-supplying on the road then you'll have to approach differently. 

You won't want to carry more than about 5 days food in one go.

The suggestion of Idahoan smash & tuna sachet is a good one. Quite a stodgy boi though, you wouldn't want to be doing that every day. 

The Batchelors Pasta 'n Sauce type packets you can get in most supermarkets are good. The Batchelors Super Rice are even better. 

When I was thru-hiking I had a pot with about 1ltr capacity and I'd do a Super Rice, a bit of quinoa and a flavoured tuna packet for an evening meal quite regularly. Enough different flavours to mix it up, not super stodgy, and you feel like you're getting back a bit of what you need.

Also, for what it's worth, the dehydrated meals are expensive but probably better tasting than a lot of things mentioned in this thread. 

Post edited at 15:47
 chrisjwoodall 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Babika:

> Lots of people mention double freezer bags; are these OK to pour boiling water straight out of the Jetboil into?

Yeah I don’t think they’d be good enough for cooking, I’d make it in the pot and deal with the washing up. I’ve only ever used the normal Huel but might give that try - haven’t yet taken any deal bags of it with me as I couldn’t be bothered taking a shaker but that could be worth a go and a bit more meal like.

 Jenny C 19 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Trouble I've found with most of the ready made just add water things (like flavoured couscous) is that they are incredibly salty, to the point of being in almost inedible.

Super noodles (bin the flavouring) with a cup a soup is our staple. Add seasoning, chopped meat/cheese etc to taste.

 Babika 19 Jul 2021
In reply to chrisjwoodall:

Hmmm. I thought that might be the case with the double freezer bags mentioned. Trouble is, I don't want to be bothered with washing up or pots when I'm lugging a lot of stuff (tent, bag, mat maybe rope, axes, crampons etc) up a mountain. I just want to pour boiling water on something and get adequate nutrition. 

Unfortunately cooking/mixing in the jetboil container means it gets contaminated for tea so that's a non starter. 

I looked at the pour n store bags. They do look OK but quite expensive and several reviews say they are difficult to pour hot liquid into. Might be a possibility. 

But first I'll try the Huel hot and Savoury and resign myself to an extra 90g for the plastic pot.....

Ps if anyone else wants to try it I think I have a £10 discount link to bring the price down a bit. 

 henwardian 19 Jul 2021
In reply to NathanP:

Get some sauce/flavouring with really strong and nice flavours because there is a good chance the couscous/noodles/pasta/rice you cook will be fairly bland and there's nothing like some great pesto or spices mixture or extra mature cheddar to make your boring meal taste really great.

In reply to Jenny C:

That reminds me (slight thread digression): Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder, the slightly posh looking stuff in the supermarket, is 44.6% salt by weight! I stopped using it once I realised that.

(back on thread) I agree that couscous and noodles, rice noodles included, are easier than pasta. Any jar/bar/lump/bag of intensely flavoured stuff that you like to go with it will be good, whether that be pesto, harissa, rose harissa, parmesan. Creamed coconut might work too.

 wercat 19 Jul 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

Porn Store bags ???

In reply to wercat:

Well, they're intended for things like soup, but...

In reply to afx22:

Oat So Simple porridge is good for breakfast.  Quick to cook, cheap, lightweight and just needs water.  You add dried seeds and fruit to it, if you like,

I get about 1/3 to a 1/2 way through them and then start eating grass or sheep poo in preference! Not sure why I keep trying 

 Doghouse 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Babika:

> Can I ask a numpty question?

> Lots of people mention double freezer bags; are these OK to pour boiling water straight out of the Jetboil into? 

Use roasting bags, generally found in the same aisle as freezer bags.

Used them for boil in the bag meals for years with no issue, in fact if you want a cheap boil in the bag meal, buy the canned version of a meal (fave of mine is beef stew ans Smash), decant it into a roasting bag, "vacuum" seal it by sticking your gob round the bag and sucking all the air out, knot the bag and just throw it in a pan of boiling water at your camp for a few minutes. Use the water to make your smash and a brew.

 Babika 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Doghouse:

Excellent! I'm on it.....


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