I use Freeze Dried Food and practice Zip-Lock Bag cooking to lighten my pack and eliminate the need for dish soap, dish cloth, and dish towel. It also allows me to better meet backpackers objectives of LNT [Leave No Trace].
My stove is a Jetboil PCS. It is lightweight, compact, has a self ignitor, does not have problems in the wind, an integrated pot/stove to prevent the pot from sliding off and dumping. Fuel stores inside the unit. I never put food in the pot, ever.
I use it to boil water only. Then use is to pour into instant drinks, freeze dried meals, or homemade oatmeal zip lock packs. All meals are eaten out of a cooking pouch…or I use the zip-lock bag cooking method. No clean-up cooking.
The Zip Lock cooking method is fairly simple. I use the heavy freezer type zip-lock plastic bags to pack food, and cook food.
When buying commercial meal products like Mountain House I divide one of the 2.5 serving meals in half. Each half goes into its own gallon zip lock. That made up food pack, gets put inside another gallon zip lock. The second zip lock has one napkin and a piece of aluminum foil.
The foil is cut large enough to enable it to create a pouch over the zip lock. I mark on the zip lock the appropriate amount of water to add with a sharpie. I note the cook time with the sharpie.
In camp the the water is boiled in the Jetboil. (Extra for your hot beverage and a little for clean-up.
Take the meal zip lock out of the second zip lock that has the foil and napkin in it. Take the foil and create a 3 crimped sided pouch.
Pour the hot water into the zip lock with the dehydrated meal Seal the zip lock but leave a little internal air for expansion. Slip that into the aluminum foil pouch you made. Fold over the open end of the pouch to seal it up. Set aside for the specified cook time. (If the weather is cool or cold, wrap the meal in a coat or something to keep it insulated and hot while re hydrating)
While you are waiting, use some of the left over hot water to make an instant hot beverage in your cup.
When the meal is ready. Eat it directly out of the zip lock bag with a spork to avoid making additional dirty dishes to clean up.
When done eating use any remaining hot water to clean off your spork and cup. Wipe dry with the napkin. Rinse and wipe dry your cup. The used napkin and food cooking zip lock get flattened and put in the clean zip-lock. Save the foil for your next meal if you only brought one piece of foil.
The used zip lock bags do double duty. Providing a great method to pack out your waste too.
But do you even want to backpack the weight of stove, utensils, and fuel? There are alternatives that can lighten your load even more. Especially on your departure day.
For a trip that lasts 3 or 4 days cooking is often not needed. Just remember you will most likely require higher energy, higher calorie foods, or snacks, than normal your normal diet if you are less active around home. If you live without your hot coffee, or hot chocolate, for a few days. You might have to lug the cooking gear.
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