Substantial yet easy food essential for trip – The Sentinel-Record

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I have previously mentioned our backpacking plans for the upcoming fall and winter months. And I have touched on the process of preparation, including choosing and purchasing the proper gear.

But we have also been focused on devising meals from products that can be purchased via the local grocery store, in lieu of freeze-dried meals. It didn’t take a mathematician to figure out that we’ll save a bundle.

Each pre-prepared entree cost in the neighborhood of $10. And although the package suggests that it serves two, one would be hard pressed to convince me that someone who has been traipsing over the mountains with a 25-pound pack on their shoulders would be satisfied with a small serving of anything. Let alone the fact that one’s caloric intake should be significant enough to ensure they have the stamina to continue on the following day.

So the way I see it, we would be spending in the neighborhood of $60 per day, if we planned to eat three squares.

In all fairness, lunch will likely be light, quick and easy, something that we can practically eat on the run. So, I’ll back off on the cost of our food to around $40 per day.

But that’s still ridiculous. So in turn, our trips to the grocery store suddenly became a long, drawn-out affair, literally scanning over every shelf, with hopes of happening upon items that are lightweight, take up little space, easily prepared and yet provide the needed calories to sustain us during our ventures.

Of course, my wife has reminded me, on more than one occasion, that we must also remain health conscious, in spite of the fact that our choices are somewhat limited. In a nutshell, although candy bars and cakes were appealing to me, we would focus on foods that had far more nutritional value and something that would prove more effective at sustaining us throughout the day.

Breakfast was a no-brainer for me. I like oatmeal. And oatmeal was obviously a healthy choice. Let alone the fact that it is lightweight, lacks bulk and is prepared easily.

However, this particular dish is far from high in calories. But that was of little issue. I would simply up the calorie count with ingredients that are both nutrient dense and healthy.

Let’s see, how about adding a little peanut butter into the equation. I had already located individual packets. It was simply a matter of adding a tablespoon to a bowl and there you go; a meal unsurpassed.

One might also consider adding a handful of pecans or walnuts to a bowl of oatmeal. Again, these delectable nuggets would certainly increase the calorie count. They’re healthy, too. And who, other than those with an allergy, would turn their nose up at a heaping helping of oatmeal topped off with a handful of their favorite nuts?

OK, breakfast was no longer an issue. Time to address lunch. Well, this particular meal was the least challenging of all. Heck, I noticed single packets of tuna fish in a plethora of flavors. Add a handful of crackers or a tortilla shell to the mix, and I’ll be a happy camper.

OK, now for the million-dollar question. What to do for supper? Of course, I immediately returned to the tuna fish aisle. Why not? I could boil a package of ramen noodles, drain the water, add tuna and would be ready to call it a night in a matter of minutes.

But there were other items that might fit into the picture as well. In fact, the single packets of chicken were within reach. I suppose the poultry would pair with the ramen noodles as well.

But wait a minute. Why could I not use the chicken in yet another dish, maybe with the rice that could be prepared within a matter of a few minutes.

Now, what to do with the individual packets of barbecued pulled pork. I suspect that would go best with the instant mashed potatoes that were just one aisle over.

And then for the greatest find of all. I was elated upon happening upon individual packages of spaghetti sauce. Simply add a handful of spicy pepperonis and the sauce to a bowlful of noodles and I was on my way to a meal unsurpassed.

And there I was, on my way to eating like a king. However, the search was far from over. There was yet one more task that remains unsolved. If not, I’ll likely be haunted by valid advice that we’ve all heard a million times before, “Eat your vegetables.”

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