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cook/no cook weight difference
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Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
cook/no cook weight difference on 08/24/2013 18:58:09 MDT Print View

I was curious whether going to a no-cook menu - as I have sometimes done for simplicity's sake - would be a weight savings if I assume I want the same caloric intake and using the foods I usually take. So I compared the nutritional info for my lunch/snack food to the nutritional info for the freeze-dried dinners I usually take. I find the calories per ounce nearly identical, the carbs and fat very close, the protein lower for the lunch/snack stuff, the sodium WAY higher for the FD dinners, the sugars WAY higher for the lunch/snacks.
So if I increase my lunch/snack foods by about the weight of a FD dinner, I'll get about the same calories for the same weight, but save the weight of the pot, stove, and fuel. Looks like I'd want to make some changes to the mix to adjust for more protein, though.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: cook/no cook weight difference on 08/24/2013 19:08:50 MDT Print View

I never did a detailed study, but no-cook food weighs a lot more than the instant/freeze dried food I normally carry, assuming water sources are plentiful.

A lot of the non-cook food I take on stoveless trips has high water content.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: cook/no cook weight difference on 08/24/2013 22:05:50 MDT Print View

You might want to take extra salt, too. You might be losing lots of salt through sweat on backpacking trips, and the high-sodium FD dinners might be making up for that.

Salty snacks, table salt, or salt pills, it's all about the same.

Or get salt and protein by adding something like Crunchy Baked Cheese - yum!

-- Rex

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: cook/no cook weight difference on 08/24/2013 22:20:34 MDT Print View

That's assuming that you are carying no-cook foods that have water content. That defeats the whole purpose. If you really need your no cook food to have a moisture, then maybe you should be using a stove.

I find that no cook foods, especially food that would be considered "junk" food outside of backpacking, have more calories per ounce than cooked food. I have put together no-cook menus from gas station convenience stores. Food is food.

Edited by justin_baker on 08/24/2013 22:21:17 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: cook/no cook weight difference on 08/24/2013 22:41:22 MDT Print View

How do you feel about a all cold menu? I can understand for fire restrictions. I do look forward to a hot meal and a cuppa a lot of the time.

What will you do for more protein? What is your current menu?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: cook/no cook weight difference on 08/24/2013 23:03:18 MDT Print View

I find that junk food gets old quick if it is all I eat. So something heavy but good tasting like summer sausage goes with me along with cheese. Peanut butter, honey and or/jelly become part of my no-cook menu.

With a stove it is instant oatmeal for breakfast and Moutain House at night (I like MH), with these I don't mind all junk food during the day.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Cook/no cook weight and time and temperatue difference on 08/25/2013 01:24:57 MDT Print View

If you can go with dry to pretty dry foods for no-cook menus, then, yes, total weight will be less. Cost will certainly be lower than FD food, but pasta, quinoa, rice, dried beans, etc, are cheap, cooked options.

I'd suggest rather than total weight, you consider if you LIKE to make a hot meal or not. When I'm doing miles, I want to eat as I walk. It's a huge mental win for me to consider that while nibbling on my roast-beef wrap, crackers, beef jerky, sausage and cheese, etc, that I got another 2 miles down the trail in that 40 minutes while most other people would have say down for lunch.

If you start hiking instead of doing a hot breakfast and a hot dinner, you really save time. And weight. And complexity. And you gain flexibility. You can only prepare your pasta over your stove. But you can eat no-cook food anytime and anyplace.

No-cook breakfast: Oatmeal cookies. As sweet or not sweet as you want. With or without nuts, raisins, cranberries, etc. No stove, no pots, no fuel, hardly any food odor. Sitting around a stove on a cold morning only makes me colder. Hiking warms me up.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
weight obviously not the only factor on 08/25/2013 12:17:40 MDT Print View

When I have gone no-cook in the past it has been on short summer trips of one or two nights and I did it for simplicity. I like not having do deal with stove and pots and cleanup - just open the food bag and reach in. But I had assumed at the time that I wasn't saving weight, thinking that the added lunch/munch foods I brought to replace my dinners were heavier than the dinners (my breakfasts are normally cold in the summer anyway).
If the weather is colder I'll want hot drinks at least and most likely hot food as well. And even in the summer It's nice to have a hot drink sometimes if the weather cools off, and especially if you get tent-bound in a storm. So I doubt I'd do it on a longer trip where there's more weather uncertainty, unless I was really trying to get the weight down.
To up my protein I'd go with more nuts, and more jerky - those have the most protein of the items I take for lunches/snacks.

The salt is an interesting factor. I do sweat a lot on the trail and I crave salt. I would have thought my lunches were fairly salty, with salted peanuts,jerky, sesame sticks, salami - and yet that comes in at only half of the salt that's in a Mountain house dinner. Those things are packed with salt - some over 2 grams if you eat the whole 2-person dinner like I usually do. So I would think seriously about adding salt to my lunch /snacks menu if it becomes dinner as well.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Cook/no cook weight and time and temperatue difference on 08/25/2013 12:32:36 MDT Print View

I usually cook (actually boil water), but do a lot of no cook trips.

I cook in the morning and at night. Keep in mind that when I am cooking breakfast and dinner, I am also engaged in other tasks... setting up my night camp or taking down my camp in the morning.

Preparing meals like this is not an isolated event. While the water is boiling and the meal in cooking in the freezer bag I am doing other things.

Think efficiency ala Industrial Engineering / Kaizan :)

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
time... on 08/25/2013 16:41:32 MDT Print View

part of it is time.

If you're taking 45 minutes to rehydrate meals, that time could be spent hiking.

It's a weird tradeoff... that 45 minutes also counts as rest.

you need to ALSO make sure you're ok with the difference in food. I think that this can work with some people. I think I'm going to be practicing this some and doing more no cook to see if I can mentally handle it.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: time... on 08/25/2013 17:26:45 MDT Print View

Less than 10 minutes to boil 16 ounces of water with Esbit or alcohol in most conditions.

8 - 10 minutes for my MH meals to be ready to eat.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: time... on 08/25/2013 20:48:06 MDT Print View

and then however long it takes you to eat and clean your pot.

My problem with cooked food is I have a very unreliable sense of appetite when hiking, especially on the first couple days. I will make a big thing of food and then not feel hungry enough to finish it. With non-cooked food I can just nibble away and stop whenever.

If I am hiking somewhere with lakes, I can just fish for a hot meal. I can cook it over a fire with a stick and leave the pot/frying pan at home.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: cook/no cook weight difference on 08/26/2013 19:42:26 MDT Print View

I'm not sure the weight difference, but for my no-cook trip my kitchen was a plastic screw-top jar, a plastic "cup" made from the bottom of a plastic jar, a plastic peanut butter jar and a spoon.

The routine was to eat breakfast in my "cup." Breakfast was "granola" (look up paleo pumpkin spice granola) and fresh yogurt. Rinse with water and drink. Clean enough.

After breakfast, I put more Nido and water in my peanut butter jar, which was where I cultured my yogurt. The jar was never washed. I put the jar either in the top of my pack where the sun would warm it or in my shirt. It went in the bear hang at night and was ready to eat each morning. So, it was technically a powder I was carrying but each day I did have to haul 16 ounces of liquid while it cultured. Turned a barely palatable food-like substance into real food, though.

Yogurt and berries

After breakfast I dumped my dinner into the other plastic jar and filled it with water. Just like the yogurt, it was technically a dried food, but every day's dinner was soaking in water in a 16oz jar as I hiked. I also had to cart around a bottle of olive oil to make dinner more palatable, so there's that weight there. I only rinsed this jar with water after eating. Not a big deal.

chicken and veggies

Lunch was generally nuts, dried fruit, homemade pemmican, Journey bars and lots of wild berries collected in my cup during the day.

My longest leg with these foods was 5 days and the food never felt like a burden. I guess it was a happy half-way point between full-on fresh foods and crappy mac-and-cheese and bars.

Richard May
(richardmay) - M

Locale: Swamplands.
the extreme. (yuck) on 09/04/2013 10:03:52 MDT Print View

I think it's possible to go lighter by going on a powder diet. Now, I don't think it's healthy but it covers your macro-nutrients. It's definitely minimal though...

Whey powder
Olive Oil

Find a good balance, add water and drink olive oil straight from a Platypus bottle.

No cook & lighter than bringing 'wet' food. yuck :P

just Justin Whitson
Re: the extreme. (yuck) on 09/04/2013 10:11:10 MDT Print View

They make powdered olive oil now? Will wonders never cease!

More seriously, i advocate coconut oil since it's a lot more stable than most others, and easier to digest.

Richard May
(richardmay) - M

Locale: Swamplands.
Re: the extreme. (yuck) on 09/04/2013 11:10:36 MDT Print View

"More seriously, i advocate coconut oil since it's a lot more stable than most others, and easier to digest."

I'm sure we could find a powder to mix Everclear and coconut oil for some kind of tropical flavored concoction. :D