Food & Nutrition (Dehydration)

A quick look into dehydrated meals and their preparation by Offtrack Ambassador Callan.

 

‘The make or break of your trip’
As an enthusiast of all things outdoors, nutrition and anything that tastes delicious, all trips I plan have a well thought out meal plan. A meal plan that will not get me bored requiring foraging or begging for something tasty. Many new comers to the outdoors often lack creativity, imagination and overall balanced nutrition when planning and partaking in their trips food. Days full of noodles, baked beans and processed food will result in poor physical and mental output. Early on in my outdoor experiences, as a kid, I was immersed in amazing camp food and realised, through many days of hard walking, that you look forward to a scrumptious dinner. A multi day trip requires a well- planned food and nutrition plan to function effectively physically and mentally.

 

‘It’s all in the preparation’
I am a planner. I like to take notes, write lists and systematically pack.

This is no different for my meal preparation. Days and weeks before I venture on a multi-day trip I write out my meal plan and begin to assemble its contents. I break my food down into breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. I like to consume as much fresh and nutritious food as possible but on multi day trips this can become challenging. At the beginning of any trip the first few days contain lots of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. Dehydrating is a great option for reducing weight and storing nutritious food for a long period of time and is common practice on multi day adventures and expeditions. There are many different options of pre-packaged and nutritious meals on today’s market, and these are fantastic, however I personally find something satisfying, both mentally and nutritionally, about completing my entire meal preparation process. You can dehydrate just about anything! Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes, Meats. Be imaginative as most things you can cook and eat at home you can take in the field. Dehydrating is such an enjoyable
process and is best achieved through trial and error. Once your items are dehydrated they need to be stored in an air tight container or zip lock bag and placed in a dry cool place. Personal favourites of mine to dehydrate include:

Chickpea Curry
Bolognaise
Beef or Venison Stroganoff

Bacon, Mushroom and Spinach Risotto
Home made Jerky and Apple Chips

Hot Tip – The freezer allows you to store dehydrated food for long periods of time.

 

‘Lets get cooking’
So we have made a delicious meal at home, dehydrated it and we are now day four of our epic adventure. It is time to rehydrate our meal. I prefer to start hydrating as soon as I arrive at camp. I have tried rehydrating during the day in a separate large bottle but did not like this method. I have eaten my fair share of crunchy meals, that did not have enough time to rehydrate, but rest assured they were still delicious and full of meaningful nutrition. Rehydrating my night’s meal is at the top of my list of priorities when making a campsite. I like to use the absorption method. This means frequently adding water to the meal as it absorbs. This allows for consistent absorption and minimal wastage of water.

Hot Tip – A general rule of thumb is that you should rehydrate something for the same time it took to dehydrate. This can be tricky and not always possible on long days but does make for a more enjoyable meal. Now our meal has rehydrated it is time to fire up our trusty stove. I have tried and experimented with several brands and types of stoves over the years but I nearly always turn back to my reliable MSR Whisperlite stove. Since its introduction over 25 years ago the Whisperlite has gone relatively unchanged and is field proven by ‘outdoor adventurers’. Whether you want to burn a particular preferred fuel, require lightness, compactness, and reliability or crave effective heat output in an array of conditions the MSR Whisperlite is a great all-round outdoor fuel stove. There is a reason MSR stoves are highly distinguished and acclaimed amongst outdoor enthusiasts! Regardless of your stove choice hopefully it has warmed and cooked through your delicious rehydrated meal of choosing. Just think of me after that gut busting day full of sleet, harsh winds and steep climbs when you’re tucking into that delicious nutritious dehydrated meal and can back it all up again the next day.

Dehydrating can be as simple or as technical as you like. Experiment and play with recipes and foods and you will be on your way to enjoying nutritious meals on any adventure.

The Author and Expert: “Callan is a passionate outdoorsmen who loves to be outside in nature. From a young age Callan has been absorbed in hiking, hunting and fishing and has a broad knowledge of outdoor gear and equipment and natural environments. Callan’s at home in the mountains and prides himself on enjoying the freedom and rawness nature possesses. Previously working in the outdoor industry, and now as an Outdoor and Primary Educator, Callan enjoys witnessing new and familiar comers to the outdoors.”