The Backpacker’s Pantry: Part 1

The Ingredients: Meat

I eat fairly healthy, but admit to having foods along on my trips that I don’t normally eat at home. Some of these foods I am trying to modify into healthier, less processed versions of their former selves and you will see the process here as that is half of what this blog is about; experiments. The “what” of my pantry is a mix of bulk and store bought items. They must be fuel efficient, light, and tasty. I pack for the trip, so what is fuel efficient and light enough for an overnight may not be for a longer trip. The pantry allows for those adjustments. Here we go…

Getting to the Meat of it:

Re-Hydrated Thanksgiving To Go
Re-Hydrated Thanksgiving To Go

Emergency Essentials  cooked freeze dried chicken:  It comes in a small #2.5 can holding 6.4 ounces of product and will last 20 years if you don’t open it. Once open, you will want to use it up. The company doesn’t actually list a use by date once open, but this is one reason the small cans are a great way to stock your pantry without worrying  about waste.  It does come in a #10 can which can be too much for a season.  I average  about ¼ cup per person in most of my meals, though the recommended serving size is 3/4 cup. That would equal 6 meals in one can for the recommended serving size and 18 meals if you use the 1/4 cup size for one person, but it is just an estimate. Some recipes I add more, some I add less. That is the beauty of being able to control your recipes. Chicken does go in the bulk of our meals, so I go thru a lot of it. It is an easy source of protein and in its basic form, bland as can be, which makes it perfect to add to anything. It re-hydrates with hot or cold water, but you want to be careful adding it to other foods that hydrate quickly, like mashed potatoes or stuffing.  It’s best to add the other items after it’s had a few moments hydrating alone in the freezer bag otherwise you could end up with crunchy chicken and not in a good way.

Sausage and  Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Sausage and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Emergency Essentials  cooked freeze dried pork sausage crumbles: This comes in a 10.4 ounce #2.5 can, and like the chicken, is meant to last a long time if left unopened. We use ½ cup in each serving for every recipe and even though I can’t eat most meats with high fat content, I seem to be able to endure small quantities of this. We use the same amount whether it’s the whole family, just the two of us, or solo.  At this serving size, rather than the recommended 3/4 cup, you are getting about 25 grams of fat in each serving, 280 calories, and over 11 grams of protein. That makes it a great way to fuel up for a day of activity. Like the chicken, it’s better to let it hydrate a little first before adding other ingredients, though the fat in it leaves it softer than the chicken and under hydrating it just leaves it chewy rather than crunchy. Because of the fat, you don’t want to leave an opened can sitting around. We vacuum pack the individual servings and they can be stored in the freezer to keep even longer.

Tuna and Tuna Salad
Tuna and Tuna Salad

Starkist Chunk Light Tuna: Sold at your favorite grocery store in 2.6 ounce foil pouches, getting these on sale is a great way to stock your pantry without having to do anything special.  Low fat and high in protein, they are perfect for easy, cold lunches.  The down side is you are left with the fishy foil packet afterwards, which is why I don’t take these on longer backpacks, but they are awesome on an overnight and for the purpose of being able to grab food in a jiffy, they are ideal. Starkist also offers a ready-to-eat Tuna Salad in the foil pack. The protein is lower, coming in at 14 grams, where the regular tuna comes in at 17 grams. I do have both in the Pantry. There are times, like a monstrously long day hike, where I want to not fuss and need to eat 5 times while I am out. I do prefer the regular tuna the best. It’s more homey and fresher tasting to add my own This comes in a 10.4 ounce #2.5 can, and like the chicken, is meant to last a long time if left unopened.

BBQ Burger Roll Up
BBQ Burger Roll Up

Emergency Essentials cooked freeze dried seasoned beef crumbles: This comes in an 8.52 ounce #2.5 can, and will be just fine for 20 years if left unopened. Not only is it worth it to have one on hand for your Backpacker Pantry, these beef crumbles also work well in a pinch if you realize your pasta sauce at home needs a kick in the protein pants. Recommended serving size is ½ a cup, and that comes in at 19 grams of protein. That’s a well placed kick! These re-hydrate in no time and, despite their unimpressive looks, are quite tasty. Add them to some taco seasoning and you can make yourself an enviable burrito out there. Re-hydrate with onions and peppers and add BBQ sauce packets in your tortilla? You’ll have some easy variety and your hiking partner drooling over your shoulder as they are chewing on another protein bar. At 1.32 ounces per serving, that comes in less than what most protein bars weigh, so with the tortilla, sauce packets, dehydrated peppers and onions, you are not breaking your weight bank and will have actually enjoyed your meal. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Enjoying yourself!

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Hayes Signpost
Hayes Signpost





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