/ Lightweight exped food for a week

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girlymonkey - on 06 Aug 2013
Ok, looking for ideas please. I'm taking a small group on a week long remote walk in the Rannoch moor area. We will pass Loch Ossian one night, so can get dinner there, but other than that I need to come up with 6 days worth of supper lightweight food for us to carry. Personally, I don't use many calories, my body just doesn't burn them at any sensible rate, so for starters I am pretty rubbish at knowing how much normal people need to eat. Then it's a case of trying to get some variety. I normally take freezer bags with a mix of couscous, cuppa soup and chopped up pepperamis or chorizo through it for dinners. Breakfast is often a pepperami and some porridge (not together!), and some oatcakes for lunch, and maybe a few squares of chocolate for snacking on. So, for a couple of days that is fine, but what else do you take that is superlight and nutritious? It's hard to judge quantities over a week too! Thanks in advance for your ideas.
MG - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
I am pretty rubbish at knowing how much normal people need to eat...

...and maybe a few squares of chocolate for snacking on.

Yes you are!! Try a few *bars* of chocolate for snacking on! Cereal bars etc are probably better though.

Pumpernickel bread doesn't go off or get squashed.
girlymonkey - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to girlymonkey)
> Yes you are!! Try a few *bars* of chocolate for snacking on! Cereal bars etc are probably better though.

not a few bars per day, surely?! That'd weigh a ton!! Yeah, I reckoned some cereal bars might be a good shout, the granola ones are reasonably light for the calorific values.
MG - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]
> not a few bars per day, surely?! That'd weigh a ton!!

I chomped my way through 7 Rocky bars in two days last weekend, if that helps.
martinph78 on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: I reckon about 4000 calories a day is a good basic figure to aim for.

I've never organised food for more than 2, so it'll be interesting to see what other advice you get, but we used boiled sweets, hot chocolate, packet mash flavoured with cuppa-soups, bread and jam (for the first few days) etc to try and hit our 7000 calories a day.
bigdelboy - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
If you are constantly walking / hiking carrying a pack I'd be looking to fuel around 3000 - 4000 calories depending on age/sex etc etc.
Get some freeze dried meals, they are very lightweight and have loads of calories. Some are tasty some not so but after a long day in the hills anything tastes better! Ive used Mountain House ones (they are ok) but prefer the Trek N Eat ones. The deserts are awesome. The only downside is that they are very expensive. ( Around £4 - £5 per meal )
This would be the only way I'd carry enough food for 6 days though.
girlymonkey - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to Martin1978: ooh, I like the packet mash idea. 4000 calories is loads, is that really normal? We are only doing a couple of days of real ascent, the rest of the time we are sticking fairly low level, and walking between 12km to 20km per day, carrying exped packs.
bigdelboy - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
Yeah well for that kind of distance and pack size id use the 4000 as a minimum! The recommended daily allowance for adults is 2000 for a female and 2500 for a male doing nothing special day to day so as soon as you add walking those distances for a good few hours a day and carrying exped packs you'll burn so many more very easily and quickly.
freerangecat - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I like bagels for walking lunches/snacks - more robust than bread, and you can get savoury and sweet ones.
martinph78 on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: Have you thought about food parcels? Post or leave a box of food and fuel mid-way so you only carry 3 days. Fuel is going to be the biggest weight I reckon, for that size group.
Welsh Kate - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
Porridge is good for breakfast, or museli; the latter can be eaten hot or cold. Pre-prepare by decanting the dry stuff into a Pour & Store bag along with the necessary amount of powdered milk, then all you have to do is add hot water.

I usually go for oatcakes / flapjack / pepperami / cheese for lunch, and take trail mix of mixed dried fruit and nuts with me, sometimes add in M&Ms for a chocolatey treat, and I usually have a Snickers or something similar.

Dinner - the couscous one is standard, and Smash is very good too for backpacking, but I generally go for the freeze-dried ones. Yes they are expensive, but they're also a hearty meal and provide nice variation.

Your group will eat its way through loads of food, don't go by your body's needs. A nice post-dinner treat is lightweight chocolate - Maltesers or Aero Balls are great
blondel - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

The rule of thumb for backpacking expeditions is approximately 1kg of food per day, which in my early days I thought was far too much surplus weight to carry. My mistake: it's not surplus, it's essential. You'll probably get by on a lot less if it's only 6 days, but it will be very hard work and you'll be crawling by the end of it. Eventually I learnt that there's no point in trying to run on empty all the time, and nowadays I make sure I eat and drink very well when I'm doing lengthy walking tours (I do it a lot, it's my work). Aim for lots of carbohydrates in the morning before you set out, to give you the energy, and plenty of protein in the evening, to repair damaged tissues. Top up with quick-fuel carbs during the day (cereal bars, biscuits, chocolate bars etc) and use your day of lavish eating at Loch Ossian to pig out on loads of fruit and vegetables. The best advice I was ever given (by Antarctic explorer Damo, of this parish) is to take food that you know you will enjoy eating, or you'll be too tired to bother when it comes to it.
alooker - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: breakfast is always a good morale booster I find, so try and get a bit of variety in there too, muesli mixed with milk powder (just add water) works, as does porridge with dried fruit/nuts or some of that muesli sprinkled on top. For snacking i like to have something high in sugar when I've forgotten to eat and inevitably crash (dried fruit, chocolate, jelly babies) and something with more slow release carbohydrates like oat bars or similar. Read the packet though, lots of them contain a lot of sugar and not much else.
alooker - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to alooker: and don't underestimate how much food you need as a group, it'll be more than you expected most likely
SteveoS - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:


At around 3:40. Can get similar ones in holland + barrat. I didn't like the 'mince' one but the flavoured ones like falafel and burgers are very good. Efficient on gas too.
Irk the Purist - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I'm guessing you're a girl. It's my experience that girls always underestimate how much food boys need. You don't say how old the group is but if they're teenagers they will eat more than you can possibly imagine.

I think 6 days is pushing it for carrying only and I think you'll be hungry come the end. I can do 4 days, never done 6. I'd plan a restock on day 3.
blondel - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to blondel:

- oh, and the other really good tip I got (from an Arctic explorer not of this parish) is to eat as much as you can take on board the few days before you set out. Especially important for growing teenagers!
goatee - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: On a recent trip to the Pyrenees I carried food enough for four days at a time. I think that noodles are great. Loads of calories and they weigh very little. A large bowl of noodle soup first thing followed by coffee and a couple of tesco chocolate digestive bars did me for breakfast. Lunch was usually just some more digestive bars and munching on some chocolate or peanuts. Dinner was either more noodle soup with chorizo sliced in or a dried pasta dinner. Don't underestimate how heavy the food will be. Sweetener rather than sugar is lighter as well.
malk - on 06 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: the ainsley harriott range of couscous and cupasoups are going for 50p at morrisons atm. they're quite tasty as well..
jack1992 on 08 Aug 2013 - whois?
In reply to girlymonkey:

"look what we found"

buy in asda or sainsburys


good meals and healthy and cheap
Jim Walton on 09 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: Instant mash pototo is the future. Try to avoid psta or rice as the water has to be kept boiling for longer and thus uses a lot more gas. Onions and peppers last a while and give a good flavour. OXO cubes and or cup-a-soups add the flavour.

Big bag of "Trail Mix" (Dried Fruit, Skittles, peanuts etc). Raw Jelly cubes have a surprisingly high calorie content I think.

And don't forget the Malt Loaf, Breakfast of Champions.
RomTheBear on 09 Aug 2013
On long trips I always take a good supply of macadamia/pecan nuts, as they are the most calories per weight food you can find. Around 720 kcal / 100g !!
Also peanut butter is almost 600 kcal per 100g
Neil Pratt - on 09 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

The most important bit, which I don't think anyone's mentioned yet, is that what you're prepared to subsist on is much less important than what the members of the group will tolerate especially if they're young and/or new to multi-day trekking. People can be pretty picky about what they eat when they're tired and their appetite gets suppressed, so anything that motivates them to put calories in their mouth is going to make your job easier as the week goes on if it avoids having a group who 'bonk' somewhere on Rannoch Moor. I suspect a lot of novices, presented with a freezer bag of reconstituted soup/couscous, would think it looks like puke and opt not to eat it, leaving you with a growing problem as the week progresses.

If you're going past Ossian anyway, can you not organise a resupply at Corrour Halt - all it would take is one person with a decent sized rucksack and a train ticket, and you then have much more wiggle room over what types of food you can use without overburdening people with huge pack weights.

One of the ways our DofE groups get round this is by doing a menu planning session as part of their expedition prep - next to navigation skills, it's probably the area I spend most time on, and a lot of our nav skills practice sessions also involve a bit of 'taste testing' where we cook up something on a gas stove or Trangia and sample it.
I've now got two camping meals that I'm quite happy with,

1. Ramen noodles (super thin ones, loads of calories but pack down tiny) with a couple of sachets of chinese sauces and sachets of Tuna, you need to be prepared to wash the pan but they're a really good mix of protein and carbs - always feel better in the morning after that one than any of the rehydrated packs I've tried.

2. Morrisons have started doing sachets of coconut milk, this plus some thai curry paste, and one of those mix packs of lentily/quinoa/pulses/rice stuff is pretty good. I throw in a smoked sausage for a treat if I know I'm going to be doing a lot.

For snacks, I get a block of marzipan, roll it out and throw loads of nuts,seeds,dried fruit, oat, cocoa powder, in fact anything that I have left over along those lines and knead it together, knead it all up and make it into a log. enough calories in that to keep me going for a week or so and its cheap!
Looking back at those two recipes doesn't really put into perspective several years of experimenting with camping food does it? I did like the look what we found stuff too, but there's not a huge amount of food in there.
myserable old git - on 09 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey: If you are anywhere near a Decathlon their freeze dried food is very good, light, cheap and contains lots of carbs and only needs a couple of minutes soaking with hot water in the bag I've just done half of the Cape Wrath trail on two packs of it daily and an energy bar for lunch, plus the odd nuts & choc bars.
Siward on 09 Aug 2013
kestrelspl on 09 Aug 2013
In reply to Siward: I've lived on travellunch meals from cotswolds for breakfast and dinner when walking in the same area for a similar length of time, one of the breakfasts plus a dinner main meal and something for desert. This was supplemented by the usual chocolate, cliff bars etc. during the day.

The advantage of the travellunch meals (along with several but not all of the other dried food brands) is that you just boil the water, pour it into the bag and leave to stand. This means no simmering time required at all reducing fuel usage significantally and allowing you to use a lighter stove even if it's not so good at simmering which helps as with all the food you'll be wanting to cut out as much else as possible; it also means that you don't have to wash the pans up.

On the subject of 6 days food weighing a lot it's important that the rest of the party are aware of this and that you all really try to make sure you only have with you what you absolutely need, if people have never carried it before a ~6kg increase in bag weight will be a shock.

I hope your trip goes well!
valjean - on 10 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

for short trips (3-4 days?) I will just plan the meals and bring the ingredients i need for that

for anything longer than 1 week I stop thinking meals and I start thinking just bulk ingredients

this might be a helpful place to start

if in doubt take less. 1 kilo of food ingredients a day + a spice rack/kit will work out nicely

i've done 14 day trips with no restocking and 22 day trips (with 1 "base camp" restock) doing this approach.

Carolyn - on 10 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

I'd agree that it's important to have stuff that the group will actually eat. I might be tempted to suggest they bring along say a couple of snacks (chocolate bars, etc) each for each day, so at least you're certain that they'll have something they like and will eat.

I suspect you can get away without eating much on a day on the hill with a group is that you're likely working at an effort well within your fitness. Don't forget that the group might well be pushing themselves way beyond what they're used to, which'll not only be a shock, but tend mean they deplete all their muscle glycogen and need lots of carbs to replenish (I now wait to be shot by those with a better knowledge of nutrition!). Plus, many people rarely get to the point of actually feeling truly hungry, so that in itself is a shock.

Couscous is great, pasta might be more acceptable to many. Whilst it does need longer cooking, it doesn't need to actually be on the boil the whole time - so you can bring to the boil, take off heat, leave 10 min, boil again for few min. You can either turn the stove off in the middle, or boil another lot of water for hot drinks (hot chocolate being good for extra calories).

girlymonkey - on 10 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:
Thanks folks, lots of good suggestions here. I did most of my shopping yesterday, and I think I have a decent selection of things. It's adults, so less of an issue with not eating than kids are generally. (Not always, I know!) I have got things like powdered egg for making scrambled eggs for some breakfasts, porridge for others. Will get some wraps as they are easy to carry, and I got squeezy bottle of honey and plastic jar of peanut butter for them. Got loads of cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate etc for snacking on. Cheese and pepperami and oatcakes for lunches. And for dinners I have instant mash and couscous with various cuppa soups (some pretty good flavours in Sainsburys!) to add in with them. I also got freeze dried vegetables and soya mince, which are both amazingly lightweight and easy to cook, so will add those in also with the mix. I might even make up a soya mince curry! We have arranged a care package to be brought in towards the end of the week, so fresh veg and proper food that night!! Puddings I have various cakes and instant custard and a couple of packets of biscuits. We should have enough I reckon, and most of it is very light.
Thanks for all the help!
Neil Pratt - on 10 Aug 2013
In reply to girlymonkey:

If it's any help, there's an article in TGO at the moment about this very subject...


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