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Meals when any fires are forbidden
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david delabaere

Locale: Northern VA
Meals when any fires are forbidden on 08/17/2013 15:01:24 MDT Print View


I'd like some suggestions for meals that do not need boiled water and that can withstand 95+ degree temps over several days.
I'll be backpacking in southern France with two of my cousins who have little experience and where any kind of fires are forbidden, I might also have to pack in a lot of water for some parts.
I'll be able to resupply in some of the small towns and villages as well as some stuff that can be left in the car, but the longest time away will be 2.5 days
I'm hoping for something tasty; a sandwich for the first meal and cereal/protein bars for the next few days is doable for me but not my cousins to which I want to prove that you don't need to rough it in the great outdoors - besides them being french ladies I'd like to show some american "light" cuisine.
I have a dehydrator.

I already got snacks covered (trail mix, dried fruits etc...).
Back in civilisation bread and meat such as sausages are obvious choices for resupply.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Meals when any fires are forbidden on 08/17/2013 15:45:10 MDT Print View

What did you find when you studied Sarah's web site?

I can't spend a minute there without getting an appetite.


david delabaere

Locale: Northern VA
trail cooking site ? on 08/17/2013 16:22:19 MDT Print View

off the top of my head,

tuna in olive oil, with crackers and instant hummus
semolina, taboli,

No cook doesn't exclude the use of hot water.
Lots of vegetarian friendly food.
Some of the recipes using cold water concerning the meat don't mention if they are dehydrated or canned.
I remember reading that wraps with ground beef rehydrated with cold water over several hours worked but I'm not sure.

I'd like to know which meats would rehydrate well enough with cold or warm water (heated from the sun).
I think mayo in a tube should hold up to heat pretty well.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Meals when any fires are forbidden on 08/17/2013 16:39:06 MDT Print View

Packit Gourmet Meals

Virtually any freeze-dried or dehydrated meal will also work with water at less than boiling temperature - just increase the contact time from the stated 8-10 minutes to 2 to 4 hours. Start lunch rehydrating when you stop for your 1st break. Start dinner after your first afternoon break.

I've found it is always wise to carry my own spices, condiments, additives (shallots, parsley etc.) as I rarely find a prepared meal that doesn't require augmentation to my taste. I collect mustard, catsup, relish, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and the like in single-serve packets from various fast food places. Alternatively, you can buy them from

References: - these are fabulous and actually taste great. The MEAL and FUEL bars are the best.

Wandering Bob

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: trail cooking site ? on 08/17/2013 16:39:33 MDT Print View

Look at "real" versus civilian/commercial MREs.

Strip out what you don't want, taking the entré and anything else substantial.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Mountain House "oven" on 08/18/2013 00:13:39 MDT Print View

You could heat freezer-bag type meals by 100°F with the Mountain House "Mountain Oven":
No fires, just add water to heat a pouch.

Not cheap or light, but might be worth it to impress.

-- Rex

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Meals when any fires are forbidden on 08/18/2013 12:29:51 MDT Print View

David, are you absolutely SURE that the "no fires" rule also excludes small backpacking stoves (esp. butane/propane canister stoves)? Usually "no fires" would preclude alcohol/esbit stoves, but not canister stoves... Also, Europeans have slightly different ideas about food preservation than we do: for example, my German friends think nothing of bringing yogurt in their packs for the first 3 days; many bring hard boiled eggs for a few days; also cheeses. Other things you might look for: biscotti (great for European breakfast with coffee); squares of whole grain rye bread (very dense, used for making canapés); pate in cans (a little goes a long way). And by all means, ask the butcher at the local Charcuterie (preserved meat shops) what he might recommend under the circumstances -- he'll know the local products. Bon voyage!

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
You've got lots of options on 09/06/2013 02:08:14 MDT Print View

If you really can't cook any meals on your trip, you can still pack out some delicious and calorie-packed foods.

I would start with dry salamis, cheeses, olives, and breads. Individually packaged string cheese is very safe to store unrefrigerated for weeks. Nearly any cheese that is not a soft cheese will be fine.

As another poster mentioned, hard boiled eggs are also a good choice, at least for the first two days of a trip.

Smoked salmon is also a great option as another delicious protein source.

I will even take bagels and cream cheese on trips and happily eat the cream cheese after days of no refrigeration.

Lastly, you can always also just make a pasta dish beforehand (I wouldn't recommend a cream sauce though, anything else is fine), put it in a lightweight tupperware container, and eat the pasta dish straight up. I will often do this on one-nighters with my wife.

It is certainly heavier, but for short trips or in times when you can't cook, it sure is a nice option.

I would say that in general, we Americans are on the very conservative end of the "eating perishable food that hasn't been refrigerated" spectrum. We almost never do it, but IMO we are usually being overly cautious. I have never gotten sick from this in years and years of doing it for backpacking trips. Just don't eat mayonnaise that has been sitting in the sun for days. This seems to be a tricky food item that can get you sick if you're not careful. The individual mayo packets are fine though. Those will last for years unrefrigerated.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. Take from it what you will and good luck with your trip!

Edited by dmusashe on 09/06/2013 02:15:58 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: You've got lots of options on 09/06/2013 09:36:45 MDT Print View

+1 on small condiments packs. However they preserve them works well.

+1 on meats, hard cheese and yogurt for a day or two or three. just not the issue that Americans with their gigantic refrigerators imagine. If you freeze it all and then wrap it inside your sleeping bag, you gain an additional day or two - I do that a lot.

+1 on dense, thinly sliced breads like pumpernickel. They can last for months unrefrigerated. .

Tabouli from dry mix. Add cold water, olive oil and set aside for 30-4o minutes.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Meals when any fires are forbidden on 09/06/2013 13:35:57 MDT Print View

I can't imagine any place in southern France (yes, it's dry and hot and the brush is close to spontaneous combustion) where you won't encounter some kind of store and/or the equivalent of a farmers market every day or two. Just buy the local food as you go. I've done that when car camping (and day hiking) throughout southern France without using an ice chest or doing any cooking. The local cheeses keep for several days as do fresh fruits, veggies, sausage. Live off the bounty of the land and enjoy! For heaven's sake don't do freeze-dried in the land of the life-prolonging Mediterranean diet and REAL FOOD! I'm salivating just thinking about it!

Have a great time on your trip! Where specifically are you going?

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/06/2013 13:37:41 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
dried fruit on 09/06/2013 14:06:58 MDT Print View

Don't forget dried fruit like figs for some quick energy.

Have some cured meat like salami, bread, a hard salty cheese and some dried figs and you have a killer meal off trail or on. :)

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Disappointed Paul on 09/06/2013 17:27:40 MDT Print View

Where's the recommendation for fried chicken!

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
ha! on 09/06/2013 18:10:55 MDT Print View

..with a therms of coffee and chocolate for afters? :)

I have indeed done fried chicken on the trail. My rather subtle avatar even has it. ;)

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: ha! on 09/06/2013 18:25:25 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 15:29:23 MDT.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Night time refrigeration... on 09/08/2013 00:57:01 MDT Print View

Even though it might not be relevant to the OP's trip to southern France, I just thought I would mention that there is one more aspect of taking perishable foods on the trail that hasn't been discussed here, and that is that in most mountainous regions, even in the summertime, your food will be refrigerated to some degree at night.

I think this is often overlooked when people think about food selection for the trail, but it is a very real effect. Oftentimes your food sitting in its food bag at night will experience temperatures in the 40 to 50 degree fahrenheit range, which really isn't all that far off of a real refrigerator setting.

In fact, I like to take advantage of this effect by eating salami and cheese as a snack in the mid-morning and early afternoon because it's still cold and refreshing from its night time temperature dip!

The process of food "going bad" is not really an all-or-nothing kind of phenomenon. Even if your food gets to room temperature during the day, the fact that it cools off at night will still help to prolong its freshness... Just some food for thought (I know, bad pun, I couldn't help myself).

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Mayonnaise on 09/26/2013 16:05:05 MDT Print View

BTW, mayonnaise does not need to be refrigerated. There is enough acid and salt to keep it from going bad. Keep it sealed so it does not dry out and it's fine. Those who have gotten sick from bad mayonnaise actually got sick from something else mixed in with the mayo (typically some sort of meat).

They put e. coli in mayonnaise and it did not grow even at room tempratures.

"The pathogen did not grow in either mayonnaise formulation, regardless of the inoculum level or storage temperature. Increases in storage temperature from 5 to 20 degrees C and from 20 to 30 degrees C resulted in dramatic increases in the rate of inactivation." [30 degrees C = 86F]

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Meals when any fires are forbidden on 09/29/2013 18:55:06 MDT Print View

This probably wouldn't be ideal for France, but I dehydrate my own meals and they rehydrate just fine with cold water.

I make pulled pork or chicken using pork tenderloin or chicken breast, shred it, and dehydrate it. I dehydrate various cooked and raw vegetables. I dehydrate cooked, mashed sweet potatoes. I mix this all together and add something for flavor (salt, miso, chili seasoning, whatever.) At breakfast I will add water to my lunch. At lunch I will add water to my dinner. My friend does the same thing but he'll just add water to a big bag at breakfast and eat half for lunch and the rest for dinner.

I imagine cold rehydration a few hours prior to the meal would work with commercial products so long as they are not wheat pasta based. I think wheat pasta needs heat otherwise it'll just stick together.