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  1. #1
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    Default Meals for a Thru Hike

    I am currently planning on starting my hike on April 3 and I am not sure what to do about freeze dried food. Please help me out here I am unsure whether how much I should buy or if any at all? What do you guys take for food and what is the cheapest? I have tried to look on line to find cheaper freeze dried food that I can buy in bulk and have yet to find it.

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Unless you really like to eat freeze dried food, there is no need to buy it in bulk ahead of time. Cheaper and easier to buy food along the Trail -- there are plenty of resupply points in towns along the way. (You'd get off the trail to pick up a mail drop, right? So it's just as easy to stop in at the grocery store, and you don't have to wait until the P.O. is open, and you can buy what you like to eat, even as your tastes change.)

    For a lot more discussion of this topic, search for "mail drop."

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
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    Do you think I even need to have freeze dried food at all then?

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    No, you don't. Unless there's a particular meal you like. I think they're generally expensive, bulky and heavy for what you get.
    Consider freezer bag cooking (search past threads). Uses foods readily available at any grocery store and no clean up since you're eating out of a ziplock bag.

  5. #5
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMunch1221 View Post
    Do you think I even need to have freeze dried food at all then?
    Great for short hikes up to a few days when you're packing all the food you're going to need for that trip.

    When you're out for longer it's not really feasible and you'll quickly get used to going into a grocery store and eyeballing stuff on the shelves and grabbing all kind of combinations you would never dream of.

    Gravy, stove top stuffing and a pouch of chicken was my gutbuster of choice for a while.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don H View Post
    I think they're generally expensive, bulky and heavy for what you get.
    Mountain house meals are definately expensive, bulky, and create a lot of grabage. The bulk is what really limits thier usefulness, as you don't have space to carry very many at a time.

    That said, you will likely end up picking up a couple here and there, dispite the drawbacks, but I wouldn't want to buy enough for a whole hike. (and what do you do with all of those meals if for some reason you have to quit at some point?)

    There is another brand of freeze dried meals who's brand name excapes me at the moment. They are quite a bit less bulky than Mountain House and slightly less expensive. I usually have one in my food bag as an emergency back up, just in case.
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  7. #7
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Buy a dehydrator if you want and start some dehydrating to make some of your own meals for variety. We did canned chicken, frozen green beans, peas, and our own jerky.







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  8. #8
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    The only good thing about freeze dried food is its convenient to cook. Thats about it. They're too expensive, too bulky, and they aren't high enough in calories.
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
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  9. #9
    Registered User TheChop's Avatar
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    You can buy Mountain House in #10 cans. It's slightly less expensive and you can just put a bunch of it in one big ziplock and eat out of it as you feel. I believe I'd enjoy that over some of the lighter weight food options available from grocery stores but it's not workable over a long trail. Probably use them in my mail drops.
    No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.

  10. #10
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    Someone mentioned Freezer Bag Cooking. You really should search here on WB for info and also try here: http://www.trailcooking.com/

    Tons of good cooking sites out there to look at.

  11. #11
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    best use for freeze dry is an extra meal or 2 when your resupply is delayed maybe 20-30 meals for the whole trail. in some sections you might carry them for a few weeks but nice to have. I get the backpackers pantry kits at times from sierra trading post for reasonable. I find it is cheaper than having to resupply from a gas station (20$ for a days junk food from my experience)

  12. #12
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    This is what works for me:
    I purchase freeze dried vegetables (spinach, green beans, sweet potato, peas etc, freeze dried fruits and berries and freeze dried TVP (textured vegetable protein flavored as chicken, bacon or beef)) I use SARBAR's book for ideas and I package meals with plenty of vegetable, various pastas and various spices and dried peppers in ziplocks. To save on packaging bulk I package 4 servings per ziplock. I use knorr broccoli and cheese soup mix as a base for many of these meals.
    Breakfast is usually oatmeal (quick, not instant) mixed with lots of dried fruits, some milk powder and brown sugar.
    For my upcoming AT hike I plan on preparing sets of 8 days of food and boxing them up ready for mailing. I will let my wife know where to mail them about two weeks before I arrive. I will not prepare food for the entire trail, probably about half and will purchase the other supplies along the way.
    Last Summer we prepared meals for two people for 4 weeks of hiking and I guess we spent about four or five hours of prep time. Does not include shopping time.
    I use TVP instead of dried meats as it is about one third the price, its not as good as meat but for me it suffices.
    Most of the ingredients I purchase on line (harmony house, Just (fruit), etc), others, dried onion, potato flakes, soup mixes, curry powder, pastas, red pepper flakes etc I purchase at the supermarket.
    I believe I eat rather well and healthily on the trail, I certainly enjoy my trail meals. SARBARS book and on line recipes have been the basis of most of my trail meals.

  13. #13
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    This is what works for me:
    I purchase freeze dried vegetables (spinach, green beans, sweet potato, peas etc, freeze dried fruits and berries and freeze dried TVP (textured vegetable protein flavored as chicken, bacon or beef)) I use SARBAR's book for ideas and I package meals with plenty of vegetable, various pastas and various spices and dried peppers in ziplocks. To save on packaging bulk I package 4 servings per ziplock. I use knorr broccoli and cheese soup mix as a base for many of these meals.
    Breakfast is usually oatmeal (quick, not instant) mixed with lots of dried fruits, some milk powder and brown sugar.
    For my upcoming AT hike I plan on preparing sets of 8 days of food and boxing them up ready for mailing. I will let my wife know where to mail them about two weeks before I arrive. I will not prepare food for the entire trail, probably about half and will purchase the other supplies along the way.
    Last Summer we prepared meals for two people for 4 weeks of hiking and I guess we spent about four or five hours of prep time. Does not include shopping time.
    I use TVP instead of dried meats as it is about one third the price, its not as good as meat but for me it suffices.
    Most of the ingredients I purchase on line (harmony house, Just (fruit), etc), others, dried onion, potato flakes, soup mixes, curry powder, pastas, red pepper flakes etc I purchase at the supermarket.
    I believe I eat rather well and healthily on the trail, I certainly enjoy my trail meals. SARBARS book and on line recipes have been the basis of most of my trail meals.

  14. #14
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMunch1221 View Post
    Do you think I even need to have freeze dried food at all then?
    You will find them at many resupply points. The key thing is, right now you just don't know what you will crave, and what you will be sick of, in June.

    Trying to save money by planning ahead could end up costing you more.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  15. #15
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    Well, I went the opposite extreme from what everyone is suggested. I bought a lot of Mountain House in #10 cans and repackaged it in double portion servings in vacuum seal bags. This was my main source of dinner on the trail from Kathadin to Springer. I mixed in Knorr Sides for variety. I did freezer bag cook and it was wonderfully convenient. I certainly did not save any money this way and I did produce a lot of garbage for carrying to the next town. I had strong support back home and used a lot of mail drops.

    Having said all this, if I were to thru hike again, I would not do the same thing. I would use fewer mail drops and less freeze dried food. I have no regrets about how I did it. It's just that the extra logistics are not necessary.

  16. #16
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    Agree with wcgornto, go for relatively few boxes on the trail, but for the few that you send it can be nice to have something different than what you can buy in a medium-to-small sized store. I.e., don't mail yourself Lipton (i.e. Knorr) sides or Ramen or dried potatoes. Perhaps do buy a few Mountain House (2-person) meals or go the #10 can route so you have something a little different as a treat.

    Similarly, it can be good to send a few other food goodies that are light to carry and can't be purchased too easily along the way. Refried bean powder is one thing I sent in the five boxes I had this year --- a light alternative to peanut butter for getting protein, and really tasty.

    Another thing I really liked was that I bought some ground beef ahead of time, cooked it, got most grease out, dried it, vacuum sealed it in per-meal (thru-hiker sized) portions, and stored it all in the freezer. A few of these pouches in each resupply box were very welcome, a nice way to make a Lipton or even a Ramen into a much nicer meal. A fair bit of work up front, however. For more normal meals, it was TVP purchased along the way --- good enough.

    But most of what you need can be purchased along the way, so keep it simple.
    Gadget
    PCT: 2008 NOBO, AT: 2010 NOBO, CDT: 2011 SOBO, PNT: 2014+2016

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