I spend a lot of time in the winter scheming up new ideas for my summer trips. Usually these involve lightening pack weight and spreadsheets. Oh how I love my spreadsheets.
This winter’s obsession was cold soaking. Yup it’s what it sounds like: pour cold water on your food and let it sit and soak. No stove, no heat.
Initially I was intrigued, can this really be good? My philosophy for trail food is it has to taste good and be nutritious. I don’t want to eat ramen packets, pop tarts or anything else chock full of things I can’t pronounce. It shocks me what some people eat on the trail (to be fair it shocks me what most people eat in real life). I fully admit that I’ve been known to scarf down some less than “clean” food without shame, I just don’t want this to be part of my plan before I head out on the trail.
What got me onto the cold soak train was thinking about how much I actually use my stove. I realized that on my most recent trips I’ve only used it once per day, at dinner time. I gave up making a hot drink at breakfast a while back to save time and I’ve always, even at home, eaten my oats uncooked. Seemed like a lot of weight to carry fuel, stove and a pot around for just once a day.
There are lots of good companies out there that make pre-made cold soak meals but I’m frugal and enjoy making up my own meals, so my winter goal became to create a nutritionally balanced menu with high caloric density that I actually want to eat. Oh and it has to be gluten free too since K can’t handle the gluten. I was hoping to get 4 solid meals, seemed like a good rotation for an 8 day or less trip: each meal twice... I ended up creating 6, they are: Thai Peanut Rice, Southwest Beef and Corn w/ Rice, Thai Coconut Rice, Green Curry Rice, Beef and Corn Chowder, Pea/Walnut/Carrot Salad, Almond/Broccoli/Cranberry Salad.
All of the dinners vary slightly in weight and calories; however, the average of the 6 is 140.09 cal/oz and 6.92oz each, about 970 calories per meal.
Most of the ingredients I buy in bulk and a good rainy spring day activity is mixing up a bunch of meals at once. Then when I decide to go on a trip I can grab and go from the cupboard.
The cost for each meal varies, but they are between $2.61 - $4.78 per serve and pack more calories than most packaged meals. The beef is the premium ingredient costing about $2/meal, if I were to go vegetarian the costs would be $2.61-$3.69 per meal.
Below is the Thai Cashew Curry recipe, this one costs $3.07 when buying in bulk. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you make it, I’m always open to improvements!