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Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag
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Jonathan Marshall
(marshallj9)

Locale: Bay Area
Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag on 01/03/2006 17:22:12 MST Print View

I plan to use a Heineken can-pot for boiling water. Do those of you who've gone this route like to prepare meals in the pot (simple, light), or are there advantages to preparing them in plastic bags? If the latter, do I need a cozy to keep the food hot while it hydrates?

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag on 01/03/2006 19:00:47 MST Print View

Jonathan,
1) You will be carrying meals in plastic bags anyway. Cook-in-bag puts the bags to work.
2) use freezer weight zlocs. The ones without sliders seem to work better and Ziploc now has a double zippered bag for extra security.
3) Why wash, scrub, scrape a pot when you don't have to?
4) Why run the very real risk of gastro-intestinal excitement from a pot that is not thoroughly cleaned?

5) Yes, it is better to use a cozy and a long spoon (for stirring thoroughly). Cozy ideas: duct insulation - looks like aluminum foil over bubble wrap; car windshield sun blockers made with foam and foil. Just tape up an envelope with duck tape. Quak!

6) Look in the 'Food and Hydration" forum for cook-in-bag ideas. There are also websites for recipes.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag on 01/03/2006 20:52:02 MST Print View

I just dont like cleaning, and if you dont rinse your pot well, you can get the runs.

for a long ultralight spoon for eating out of plastic bags, go to dairy queen and order a large ice cream, you get a good treat and a long spoon for only .1oz.

Jonathan Marshall
(marshallj9)

Locale: Bay Area
Thanks on 01/04/2006 13:27:06 MST Print View

Thanks,
J

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag on 01/06/2006 18:56:16 MST Print View

The big advantage of preparing meals in a bag is that you don't have to wash the cookpot. I'd say ninety percent of my trail meals are of the add-boiling-water-stir-sit-eat type. The problem is those other ten percent.

At high altitudes instant foods aren't instant. Cooking times can be easily doubled or tripled. Usually at high altitudes the air temperature can be lower too, and that doesn't help. So the cook in plastic bag approach becomes a lot more problematic in those situations.

Some dishes let you do both. I'll make pesto sauce in a gallon ziploc (you can find reasonable pesto sauce mixes for hiking in any grocery store) and cook the pasta in the pot. I drain the pasta water (sometimes I save it and make soup with it), add the pasta to the gallon ziploc with the pasta sauce, through in parmesan cheese, and feed. Cheap, light, enormous food value. Cleaning the pot in this case rarely involves more than boiling another pot of water for tea after dinner.

For anything that gets thick or greasy as you cook it (most Lipton Instant Dinners) I'd heartily recommend a small nonstick pot.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag on 01/08/2006 13:24:08 MST Print View

David... for making meals in a bag in cold climates, try making a bag cozy out of Reflectix and aluminum tape... as Vick suggested. Add water... zip shut... and wrap it up in the cozy. Works great.

Edited by davidlewis on 01/08/2006 13:27:47 MST.

shannon stoney
(shannonstoney)
lots o' trash on 01/08/2006 14:24:48 MST Print View

One disadvantage of the cook-in-bag method is that it would seem that you would generate more trash to pack out. That is, you could fit a lot of breakfasts of oatmeal in one quart size ziploc bag, dry. I would think at least four servings would fit. But if you cook and eat in the bag each morning, then you need four bags for four breakfasts instead of one. I would think it might get annoying to have to lug out all those dirty bags. Does it?

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: lots o' trash on 01/08/2006 14:30:48 MST Print View

I havent done this, but mabey you could bring, two bags, one with your food in it, and one empty for cooking and eating, just rinse the cooking bag out and re-use it the next day, I dont know if the bags are re-usable, the hot water may make it weaker, has anyone tried this

it may work if you bring an O.P. sak food bag for cooking, and a plastic bag for dry food storage

Edited by ryanf on 01/08/2006 14:33:40 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: lots o' trash on 01/08/2006 16:05:07 MST Print View

Shannon,
Yes, if you carry food in bulk it saves weight and trash to cook in the pot.

On the other hand, I prefer to do all the measuring and meal composition in town at my leisure instead of on the trail when I'm beat to my socks at the end of the day or in a hurry to get going in the morning.

Additionally, a water boiler can be a lot lighter than a legitimate pot, but few super ultralight boilers are easy to clean. I use one boiler that weighs 0.3 oz (1 cup) and a 'luxury' pot that weighs 1.0 on the money and holds 2 cups. About the lightest you can go with a real pot is 3.5, so that is several z-loc bags worth.

On the other hand, if you are on a long trail and have to be adaptable, a real pot and some bulk food has a lot of advantages because of supply issues. (You can't always find bulk food or freezer-weight z-locs.) So on a long trail I'll carry the extra 2.5 or 3.2 ounces. But for trips under about a week, the lighter boilers win out.

Bill McCartney
(Travellight) - F
Re: Re: lots o' trash on 01/13/2006 08:27:43 MST Print View

I agree with everything that has been said before and just have a couple of additional comments that might be helpful.
Storage zip bags work just as well as freezer weight, are half the weight, and are found almost everywhere. I have used zip bag cooking exclusively for at least four years and have never had a problem with one.
For a cozy, you might want to consider a fleece hat. The one I use is 1.3 oz, holds the bag upright and steady. If you want to set your meal down to scratch, it's no problem. The caveat is that it must be a kitchen item ONLY just like any other cozy. It can never be worn unless of course you don't mind furry quadrapeds munching on your head at night.
If you do use a cozie hat, you can also seal your food immediately after adding boiling water(squeeze the air out)and knead the meal to mix. In higher altitudes and colder weather, every degree saved helps. You can also go to a shorter handled spoon that will store in your pot/cook kit easier.

jack flanagan
(jackflanagan) - F
Re: Lots o' trash on 01/13/2006 09:17:24 MST Print View

Shannon, I've avoided cooking in bags for basically that reason. For my trip to the confessional - forgive me, I speak without having ever tried it. So let me pose my "objections" as questions.

First, after a few days, doesn't the weight of moisture accumulating in gunky used bags begin to add up? This may be me rationalizing my distaste for damp trash. The SnowPeak Ti bowl fits the bill for a washable/driable/ reuseble 1.5 ounce pot/bowl.

Second, are odors more of an issue? I've always imagined used bag/bowls to be excellent bear bait.

What I am missing here?

Finally, there is an aesthetic thing. At some point, the quest for shredding the ounce starts to undermines the quest for an aesthetically satisfying experience, which was (my) point of humping the pack in the first place.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Lots o' trash on 01/13/2006 10:06:48 MST Print View

Jack,
If you missed anything (doubtful) it is that most folks accumulate the same amount of trash by cooking in bag as they do anyway with pre-packaged meals.

Since all the z-loc trash goes into z-locs, presumably after being licked clean by famished hikers, there is no more odor or wet waste weight buildup than you would have otherwise.

However, as I mentioned, on long trails flexibility is important, and super ultralight pots do not always fill the bill. And food bought at the crossroads grocery may not work with z-locs. Which themselves may not be available at the crossroads grocery. The story is told of the starving thruhiker who found such a grocery already denuded by previous hikers of all edibles save for a large, ominous-looking rudabaga. He bought it. Can't cook one o'them puppies in a Heineken can. Or can you?

jack flanagan
(jackflanagan) - F
Re: Re: Re: Lots o' trash on 01/13/2006 11:23:47 MST Print View

Crack me up! Wasn't rutabega included in witches' soliquay in MacBeth? "Fillet of a rutabega, In the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog..." and so on

Bill McCartney
(Travellight) - F
Re: Re: Re: Lots o' trash on 01/17/2006 09:37:50 MST Print View

I do end up with some food left in my zip bags which I have to carry out. On a six day resupply schedule it sometimes builds to a pound before I can dump it. However, I have never been bothered by it becoming noticably smelly even in August. Of course, that may be because I have and just don't notice it!

For me, the trade off of having to carry the extra trash weight is well worth it - especially on short trips. I can spend more time doing what I came to do (see what's over the next ridge, lean against a tree and just enjoy being), spend almost no time "in the kitchen," and still eat heavy.

About 52% of backpacking trips are less than 100 miles according to a recent survey I read. For those hikes, resupply probably isn't an issue. On longer trips, instead of trying to shop for food along the way, an option many use is to mail themselves a resupply box. It is almost too easy to just transfer the new prepackaged meals, film, fuel, etc. to your pack, and head for the AYCE buffet!

Civilized life presents enough complications. My mantra on the trail is, "Easy is good."

Edited by Travellight on 01/17/2006 09:40:39 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Lots o' trash on 01/17/2006 10:40:34 MST Print View

>>"Easy is good."

Bill, great mantra. another regular (viz., GR) calls it "simplicity". i've stolen his term also.

for me, ease and simplicity, on most occasions, is worth an extra 1-2lbs of pack wt. it increases a hike's enjoyment/joy-factor. guess i'm gettin' soft in my old age.

Bill McCartney
(Travellight) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lots o' trash on 01/17/2006 10:59:40 MST Print View

I remember many days of carrying a cast iron skillet, in an ill-fitting pack, and squatiing over smokey fires to cook. Instead of soft, I prefer to think of it as hard earned wisdom.

That just reminded me of taking steaks for lunch on one infamous day hike when I was about 13. My best friend, two Beagles and I reached the top of a ridge about noon and decided to eat.

While I was lighting the fire I saw one of the dogs dragging a steak out of my pack. I finally caught her after a fifty yard sprint through the underbrush and reclaimed ownership. I brushed most of the twigs and leaves off, cooked it in my cast iron skillet and devoured every bite of it along with fried potatoes and onions.

Yep, HARD earned wisdom!

Edited by Travellight on 01/17/2006 11:01:21 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lots o' trash on 01/17/2006 11:08:38 MST Print View

Bill, good story. thanks for sharing.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Rudabaga on 01/17/2006 14:51:03 MST Print View

If rudabaga wasn't in the witches' chant, it should have been. Bleeesch!

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Meal preparation: can-pot vs. plastic bag on 01/17/2006 14:55:54 MST Print View

>I plan to use a Heineken can-pot for boiling water. Do those of you who've gone this route like to prepare meals in the pot (simple, light), or are there advantages to preparing them in plastic bags?<

Heineken cans are hard to clean. Remember salmonella? Bags are safe if you don't re-use them.

Yes, a cozy makes a huge difference. A foil/foam (windshield sun screen) or foil/bubble (air duct insullation) cozy weighs about 1 ounce. It is easy to make a simple envelope with a pleated bottom so it sits up. If you are not in bear country, a watch cap will work.

Pierre Dumay
(PEYOfrance) - F
no can, no ziploc, 1/2 Platypus! on 01/27/2006 03:45:12 MST Print View

I boil water in a Heineken can and prepare my noodles in a one liter half cutted Platypus.

It's very confortable and more durable for the same weight than 3 ziplocs.

My Noodles are pre-packed.

Then i use a homemade cutted sunscreen to make my can a insulated can.

The advantages to prepare a meal in bag are you can have a smaller can and win weight.

With that i have a good meal-bowl and a coffee mug for 1.1 oz.

(sorry for my english i'm just a poor french ULB, but it's too cool to talk with you)

Edited by PEYOfrance on 01/27/2006 04:06:29 MST.