Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether?


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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F - M

Locale: norcal
Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/22/2013 22:51:16 MDT Print View

... and just go with dried foods and granola?

it would save on weight, complexity, and chores. I don't particularly LOVE any of the meals I cook.. so I guess I could do with out.

Not having hot chocolate, tea, or hot coconut milk would kind of suck though.

Thoughts?

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/22/2013 22:58:39 MDT Print View

I have on a few trips - I like it if the trip is short. In the summer I usually eat a cold breakfast anyway, and I don't drink coffee, so for me the only difference is dinner. What I like about it is no prep, no cleanup. When you get hungry, you just open the bag, reach in and enjoy. Super simple.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/22/2013 22:58:57 MDT Print View

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/search.html?q=no+cook&x=0&y=0

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
"Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether?" on 04/23/2013 01:03:24 MDT Print View

I don't forgo "cooking" altogether, but I do take a couple of no-cook dinners for those times I'm too tired to fire up the stove (often the first night). Things like hummus and tabouli, easily hydrated with cold water in 1/2 to 3/4 hour, work great.

A number of other dehydrated meals work just fine prepared with cold water if you soak them several hours. Of course this means carrying the extra water the last few hours of the day. You'll obviously want to experiment at home to find out what tastes good when prepared this way and what doesn't. I suspect that a dish depending heavily on melted cheese might not be a good candidate, but, as usual, YMMV.

I'm following Balls' and Sunshine's journal of their CDT hike. They were so excited to start that they forgot to buy fuel when they arrived in New Mexico, so they are using the no-cook method.
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=408052

In any case, my "cooking" consists only of boiling water, pouring it over my home-dehydrated meal in a plastic freezer bag, stirring and letting it sit in a cozy for 15 minutes. No dishes to wash; just lick the spoon. (Sarah of trailcooking.com is my heroine!) I boil a bit more water than I need and brew a cup of herbal tea to drink while my dinner rehydrates. For breakfast, I eat cold cereal with dehydrated or freeze-dried fruit and dried milk (water added, of course). For "lunch"--actually all-day snacking--it's dried fruit, nuts and cereal bars. My real camp cooking is done at home when I prepare a big one-pot dish, freeze a few one-serving containers to zap for later home meals and dehydrate the rest of it for backpacking meals. I'm going to test these dehydrated meals by soaking small portions in cold water to see how many of them are adaptable to the no-cook situation and how long they take to rehydrat. I probably will never go stoveless, but it would mean carrying a lot less fuel!

Mark Russell
(mark996)

Locale: Texas
Re: "Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether?" on 04/23/2013 01:27:52 MDT Print View

Typically I do the same as Mary. Granola, nuts, etc, and some dehydrated meals packed away throughout the day.

Heading up to ERL in May, and plan on taking a few items to be cooked/reheated on the trail but most of our meals will be boiled water, with one night of actual cooking on the trail for dinner and then breakfast as well.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 03:52:11 MDT Print View

> Not having hot chocolate, tea, or hot coconut milk would kind of suck though.

Not having hot coffee would be even worse!

Cheers

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
No on 04/23/2013 05:26:39 MDT Print View

Personally I figure that I can have the option to cook for such a small weight penalty that I an unlikely to forgo cooking altogether. My cooking and eating gear is typically 9 or 10 ounces plus fuel, but it is certainly possible to go lighter.

That said I do not always cook every day. It would certainly be possible to go no cook, it just isn't worth the weight savings to me and I don't mind cooking.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: No on 04/23/2013 06:16:15 MDT Print View

+1 with Pete

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Lartnec Nagihcim
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 06:22:34 MDT Print View

For some some summer overnighters I will, but I will be having a hot breakfast or Lunch before I start and a hot lunch or dinner the next day.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Mostly no on 04/23/2013 06:31:27 MDT Print View

If it's a summer trip with hot days and warm nights, then maybe yes. Other than that, no. Eating a warm meal and sipping on something hot is one of the joys and rewards after a day of hiking.
At home I cook a real meal every night and the time and effort are well worth it; on the trail the bit of time and weight seem worth it as well.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: Midwest
tea mandatory, food optional on 04/23/2013 07:02:09 MDT Print View

I will almost always take a stove for some tea even if I don't bring any food that needs cooking.

Daniel Fish
(daniel@fishfamilypdx.com)

Locale: PDX
... on 04/23/2013 07:27:58 MDT Print View

...

Edited by daniel@fishfamilypdx.com on 06/09/2013 01:21:23 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether?"-no on 04/23/2013 07:32:25 MDT Print View

I *must* have a cup of something warm as I wake up in tne morn. COFFEE, prefered by a lot.

Foraging along the trail as I go often yields a handfull or two of good stuff. Even if it is just dandelion greens, they are better cooked (boiled) in a soup if they are old, or, fried into some "greens" (olive oil, red pepper, and garlic) for eating with my supper (rice, soup, stew, macaroni, etc...) Eating hot comfortable food at night is one of the pleasures of camping I will not soon give up. Besides, EVERYTHING tasts better outside. Some of that stuff, I have tried at home with so-so results.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Re on 04/23/2013 08:23:48 MDT Print View

"Eating hot comfortable food at night is one of the pleasures of camping I will not soon give up."

+1

And with the availability of so many esbit/alchy and mug setups that weigh under 3 oz, there's no reason you have to.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re on 04/23/2013 08:37:54 MDT Print View

Last few trips I've eaten cheese and pepperoni at evening and it was good, no reason to heat anything up, although I like eating a bean or pea soup.

In the morning, if it's cold, I like eating hot oatmeal and a couple cups of coffee and tea to warm up. If it was warmer weather this wouldn't be so important, maybe find something else with cafeine like chocolate.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 08:40:21 MDT Print View

I don't like hot drinks and don't eat hot breakfasts even at home so the only thing I bring a stove for is dinner. I do like to have a warm meal in the evening, even on hot days but I just stick with boil-in-the-bag style meals whether they're store bough or homemade. My cook kit weighs under 8oz including 2 Esbit cubes so I don't see it as much of a burden on a weekend trip. Getting the Esbit going is a breeze and it gives me a few minutes to sit and relax while the water is heating up. Unless I were on a trip specifically to see how fast or light I could go I always bring the stove. In much the same way I always carry more camera gear than I should. A warm meal and good pictures add to my enjoyment so there has to be a very compelling reason for me to leave them behind.

Adam

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 10:44:52 MDT Print View

when going solo and/or fast I don't cook.
when out with others on a casual trip I cook.

but I don't live to eat when on the trails.
if I want gourmet food I stay home and go to a nice restaurant.

Edited by asandh on 04/23/2013 10:51:45 MDT.

Daniel Fish
(daniel@fishfamilypdx.com)

Locale: PDX
... on 04/23/2013 11:40:52 MDT Print View

...

Edited by daniel@fishfamilypdx.com on 06/09/2013 01:07:08 MDT.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: pack volume in no cook menu on 04/23/2013 15:53:22 MDT Print View

"I think you'll find that granola and other no cook items will take up more room in your pack."

I haven't found that. Granola, hummus, powdered milk, instant mashed potatoes, nuts, etc all have as many calories/gram and calories/cc as the to-be-cooked items I might bring instead. Gotta get the right kind of granola, of course.

If people are thinking there's a set of pack volume issues associated with going cookless, let's break out some calorie density data.

Cheers,

Bill S.

P.S. For me, what Art said. Pretty much stopped cooking when solo.

Edited by sbill9000 on 04/23/2013 18:46:15 MDT.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 16:59:05 MDT Print View

no cook here. I take chocolate covered coffee beans for the caffeine boost. be careful to take them as bed time candy.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 17:17:34 MDT Print View

I have taken to bringing a stove of late to heat water for coffee, but other than that, my food is uncooked, as has long been the case. No muss, no fuss, no bother, no bears. On really hard trips in the past, I would go entirely cold and make do with No Doz in the morning. Don't do that anymore. ;o)

"but I don't live to eat when on the trails.
if I want gourmet food I stay home and go to a nice restaurant."

+100

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/23/2013 17:39:41 MDT Print View

Yup, lately i have been. I just bring things like cashews, brown rice crackers, dates, figs, romano cheese, cashew crunch, etc. However, if it's really cold (for my area), i would bring a stove because a hot meal can go a long way to warming you up.

But, when it comes to diet and food, i'm more spartan and disciplined than most to begin with. I've given up so many favorite foods, well, i might as well be labeled a food monk.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
give a serious try before you decide on 04/24/2013 12:08:47 MDT Print View

On this topic in particular (more than most others) I find that a lot of people will be "certain" that they would never like going cold, without having given it a meaningful try.

If you're at all interested, I suggest that you give it a serious try before forming an opinion. For me, too, the visceral reaction to the idea of going stoveless was along the line of "blech". Then I ended up trying it out anyway for about a thousand miles of hiking and when I finally got my stove mailed to me (as scheduled in advance) I found no sense of relief, really I had mixed feelings about it. It meant more diet variety, somewhat easier resupply at sketchier (leaner) resupply locations, but also more fiddling around to eat, and the need to obtain and track fuel.

My intent for future trips is to go stoveless --- unless hiking with my wife, who just *knows* that eating cold is not for her ... :-)

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/24/2013 17:14:44 MDT Print View

I've done it a bit. Seems easier to pull off at higher altitudes, because of the hunger suppression effect. Which makes me feel like I don't need a big meal for dinner.

Variety is really important to me when trying to go cookless. On one trip I brought a bunch of the same kind of power bars because I got a deal on a big box of them. By day three I got sick of them, and a week later those bars made up most of what I had left to eat.

I think I get too much enjoyment out of cooking, so I'd only really go that way again if trying to cover a lot of miles in a short amount of time. Or if I was guerilla camping.

Edited by Beeen on 04/26/2013 13:11:16 MDT.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/24/2013 20:04:14 MDT Print View

"Variety is really important to me when trying to go cookless. On one trip I brought a bunch of the same kind of power bars because I got a deal on a big box of them. By day three I got sick of them, and a week later those bars made up most of what I had left eat."

Lol. Been there, done that! Different kind of bars (Bear Valley Pemmican) and different reason (to get the permit I wanted, I had to bump up my trip plans and had about 20' to pack everything), but living on bars gets old fast. Real food is much better.

I rely heavily on bars occasionally as the main food source for a hastily prepped weekend trip, but going cookless by no means requires forsaking variety. There's a lot one can do without a stove. Maybe we should have a thread to pull together creative cookless ideas? Or maybe there's already a good website or thread out there already?

CHeers,

Bill S.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/24/2013 21:22:55 MDT Print View

"Not having hot chocolate, tea, or hot coconut milk would kind of suck though."

Yeah, I would die without. I'm a coffee snob. I know a lot of poeplle say that but I roast my own beans and everything. LOL Nevertheless when outdoors I will drink almost any swill as long as it still resembles coffee. I'm sure heroin addicts feel the same way about their drug of choice.

I like Mike Clellands comment somewhere here on BPL, which I remember because it cracked me up so much when I read it. Something like:

"Coffee is not food! While people can survive days without food, when the coffee runs out it is time to call in the helicopters!".

I suppose I could go with cold coffee, but ....

Edited by millonas on 04/24/2013 21:27:34 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Only when I'm hunting on 04/25/2013 01:12:51 MDT Print View

When I must backpack to hunt I do "forego cooking" to keep my smell signature to a minimum and to lessen the chance for making noise.

Plus no cooking means an earlier start in the morning. By the time I've broken camp it's almost time to (legally) hunt.

Let's face it, "cookless" meals are esentially lunch for every meal. I will say that GOOD fruitcake or oatmeal/rasin cookies make a great breakfast. Comb this thread for more lunch food ideas.


P.S. As Nixon used to say, "Let me say this about that."
At all other times when backpacking I "live to eat" and actually COOK, not just boil water.
I consider lightweight backpacking cooking as an art, sometimes a science and always a joy.

Edited by Danepacker on 04/26/2013 13:18:02 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/25/2013 01:33:53 MDT Print View

I have yet to go completley no-cook, but I have gone with mostly no cook food many times. On my next trip I am going to go all no-cook.

It's not about the weight, I just enjoy cold food. I also like the challenge of finding interesting no-cook foods.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/25/2013 02:14:18 MDT Print View

It would be okay for an overnight, but the coffee thing would rear it's UGLY head. I would be a complete sociopath without my caffeine. It's a bit of the ol' Jekyll and Hyde, Gov'na :)

But that doesn't mean much more than an Esbit wing stove and a mug. So I could have some soup and a sandwich or cheese and crackers for dinner with a little hot cocoa and certainly some instant oatmeal for breakfast. Once you have a little hot water, there are all kinds of light weight possibilities.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/25/2013 10:31:46 MDT Print View

Humm. I really like the comments people made about going stoveless for certain meals. While it seems obvious, I never really thought of it that way for some strange reason. I agree with all the reasons for doing this - saving fuel, saving time, some evenings you just don't want the hassle. I think I will try this out. As long as I have the option to feed the coffee monster when needed, or have a warm meal when I really want it I think this would be a great way to go. I have of course carried no-cook food on occasion for dinners, etc. but I never really planned for them to be a certain percentage before.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/25/2013 11:45:51 MDT Print View

been giving it some more thought, the wording of "no cook - no stove" foods, gives people the imagery of tasteless war survival food.

To be clear, I take cooked food, I cook it at home, and eat it on the trail.

As many stated, flavor variety is important.

Perishable foods are consumed first. Depends on the weather, some refrigerated foods last longer.

Day-1 to day-3 trips:

Day-1 - hard boiled eggs (boiled, peeled, salt & peppered, ziplocked at home)
Day-1 - left-over cheese pepperoni pizza
Day-2 - ground beef, chicken & rice cooked, frozen in vacuumed sealed pouch.
Day-3 - smoked salmon, frozen in vacuumed sealed pouch.
Day-3 - Laughing Cow brand soft cheese, sold at room temperature.
Day-4 - jerky, salami, bread, Nutella, bagels, dried cranberry, spam singles, pretzels etc.

Edited by RogerDodger on 04/25/2013 11:46:34 MDT.

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Re: Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/26/2013 14:31:21 MDT Print View

"Maybe we should have a thread to pull together creative cookless ideas? Or maybe there's already a good website or thread out there already?"

We could all hijack this thread for now...

One cookless item that is a must have for me, is lots of beef jerky. I'm always surprised as a person that rarely eats it normally, how I can easily devour my entire supply in one sitting.

I am a theoretical fan of the tortilla, mainly for its packability in a bear canister. After a few days though, choking down a tortilla can be a challenge for me, and I've since cut down the percentage these make up of my trail diet when going cookless. I'm finding that salted crackers work better for me as a serving platform for most things, instead of trying to do wraps that end up being mostly tortilla.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? on 04/26/2013 16:15:09 MDT Print View

Over the years there has been a TON of recipes/ideas posted in the cooking section for no cook meals :-)

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Do any of you forgo cooking food altogether? Tortilla alternative on 04/26/2013 16:30:22 MDT Print View

Tortillas are great, however can fall apart under abuse.

Other option for travel dry carbs and breads that I like:

* Sara Lee blueberry mini-bagels, I pretend I'm getting fruits that way.

* Small bread buns

* Trader Joe's rosemary cheese bread rolls

* baby pitas from Trader Joes

* pretzels in a no-crush container

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
cookless food possibilities on 04/26/2013 17:59:56 MDT Print View

I don't know that this list will have anything new for most people, but here are some of my staples:

Granola, favorite is Bernice's Bakery (Montana) or homemade imitation of Bernice's, but some more widely available ones are decent, especially if spiked with some extra raisins and nuts. Sometimes granola with Nido, sometimes granola then Nido, but lots of Nido is key to breakfast and snacks (can always add cocoa powder, too). Other high density cereal options include Grape Nuts. For a different type of cereal, less on the crunchy side (though not everyone will necessarily appreciate it cold), some of the instant cereals made for infants are decent, especially with some cinnamon and raisins.

Major calorie source is dried fruit, the more kinds the better, for variety. IMO, must include dates. Same for nuts. I mostly eat almonds and cashews, but pistachios, walnuts and others can seem like a real treat. And same for various kinds of bars. Mostly, I use Bear Valley Pemmican Bars (Carob or Fruit&Nut, skip the Lemon Chalk), but I liked the discontinued Clif Nectar bars enough I'm going to start making some similar bars at home.

Tortillas, as others said. In my experience, it's all about keeping them from drying out completely. For crackers, Stoned Wheat Thins hold up pretty well. I tend to get tired of Triscuits faster, but they're good for a change of pace.

Corn chips, preferably Trader Joe's blue corn, partially crushed so they don't take up so much volume. I could eat these almost every evening on the trail. YMMV. There are all kinds of chips out there - vegetable chips, bean chips, etc, some of which are both nutritious and tasty.

Jerky (various kinds) is good by itself and as a flavoring in other dishes. String cheese keeps well and is usually a staple for me. Other hard cheeses are great, I just tend to go for the tidy convenience of the string cheese. (I'm often in grizzly country and trying to keep smells down.)

Powdered hummus is great with crackers, great nutritionally, and if you get the right brand, tastes darn good (even at home). Olive oil to add is optional. I find it a pain to carry leak-proof on trips with extreme altitude and temperature variation, so often skip it.

Instant mashed potatoes. These rehydrate absolutely fine without cooking, and there are lots of good ways to make them into a tasty dish. My favorite is adding large amounts of grated parmesan/romano, some dried chives, and maybe some jerky pieces, but just plain potatoes mixed up with a little Nido, salt and pepper tastes darn good on the trail. Some people might like instant gravy, fake (or real) bacon bits, etc. If you don't mind all the additives, there are lots of pre-flavored varieties available.

Coconut milk can be added into a number of things. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm going to see if I can make a decent cookless soup out of coconut milk, red curry powder or similar spices, and Packit Gourmet's dried chicken that rehydrates in cool water.

Vegetables are one of the tougher things to do cookless, but veggies dehydrated into chips can be decent. I also like roasted seaweed snacks. When they get crushed into powder, they can always be added to the potatoes.

IIRC, Packit Gourmet has some wrap recipes that are cookless, and I'm sure others out there have a range of other recipe ideas.

Cheers,

Bill S.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: cookless food possibilities on 04/26/2013 18:31:04 MDT Print View

If you want to get creative, there is powdered coconut milk.

http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Cocconut-Powder-Envelope-1-76-Ounce/dp/B001SAQCNA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367022531&sr=8-1&keywords=coconut+milk+powder

coconut milk powder

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Home Made No Cook on 04/26/2013 18:44:16 MDT Print View

Here is a link to some home made recipes for energy bars. I particularly am interested in the Logan Bread. Lasts for a long time and nutrient dense.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=40938&skip_to_post=514012#514012

In addition, another potential I am looking at is pure virgin coconut oil which is a solid at room temperature. A tablespoon is 130 calories and it is composed mostly of the medium chain fatty acids which your body is able to rapidly convert into energy unlike other fats that are long chain and more difficult to convert.