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#94061 - 04/10/08 11:22 AM Tuna packet meal question
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
When I'm on the trail I only eat stuff that can be made by adding boiling water to a pouch. Mostly because I hate cleaning pots and pans. But I'm not a freezerbag gourmet. I use freezerbags for morning oatmeal with raisins but that's it so far. I've been buying the Mountain House or Backpackers Pantry stuff. Usually that's fine but lately I've had some really bad experiences there so I'm going to try some freezerbag dinners. So far I don't have a dehydrator. I've been hoping to just use ingredients I can buy right off the shelf, combine in a freezerbag, and take with me.

So I'm going to try this weekend when I go out with my oldest daughter. I've got a tuna packet and I was planning on doing this tuna casserole thing I've heard about where you add the tuna to mac and cheese. I was looking at freezerbagcooking.com and they suggested cooking the macaroni and then dehydrating it. Is that necessary? It seems redundant. Perhaps they were talking about some special kind of macaroni? It seems like the box stuff ought to work just fine if you add boiling water.

Also does someone have a favorite flavor or brand of mac and cheese that they use with the tuna?

Oh, and a few more questions. Mac and cheese requires butter. Is olive oil the thing to use instead? I've heard people refer to single-serving pouches of oil. Where do you get those?

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#94062 - 04/10/08 11:38 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 862
Loc: Michigan
Use the microwave singles for Mac-N-Cheese. They are precooked. You can also add tuna (or other meats) to Lipton's Noodles/Rice and Sauce, or Idahoan Potatoes or many other such things. I think that the standard M&C will work but you have to let it set for a long time. In any case the butter or oil is not necessary. Also instant rice or couscous work fine for FBC.

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#94063 - 04/10/08 11:50 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2861
Loc: Portland, OR
As mentioned above, when an box of mac'n'cheese lists butter as part of the method for reconsituting it, you can omit it and still get quite edible results. Adding a bit of olive oil is a nice substitute for the butter, but not necessary.

As for boiling and then dehydrating pasta, I have not done it. I suspect that the only reason this would improve matters is that the boiled-dehydrated pasta might have a higher water content afterward than before, making it easier to reconstitute. It seems like overkill to me, but as I say, I've never done it. I should think that using a cozy and extending the 'cooking' time would be sufficient.

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#94064 - 04/10/08 12:06 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: aimless]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

When I'm freezerbagging or mac-n-cheezing it I like olive oil. - Some places in the states apparantly you can get little single serving baggies like a ketchup pack off the salad bar, but I've never seen these
here. If I'm mac-n-cheezing and ramen, etc. I usually take a small 1 or 2 oz nalgene bottle full of olive oil from my kitchen.

While I know you can use the microwave mac-n-cheese, and stuff, I've never had any problem with
the regular old kraft, annies, or generic ones. I have a good cozy for my pot, and my usual tack is to
put the full size mac&cheese pasta into slightly less than 2 cups of water (about 1 3/4 cups) which seems about right to me. I put it over the alky stove, and bring it to a boil - I sometimes then slip the simmer ring on my penny stove for 5 minutes of simmering, but I've found it really doesn't matter much.
When the stove goes out, I then stick the whole pot in the cozy, and walk away for about 20-25 minutes.
When I come back the pasta's cooked up just fine, with enough water left for the sauce (I don't drain it)q. I toss in the cheese packet and a blob (teaspoon or two?) of olive oil, along with any extras I want. (tuna, taco sauce, dehydrated onions etc.) leave it sit for a bit more in the cozy then eat.

My go-to "Safeway provisioned" Dinners cookable over alcohol with cozy on pot:

1) Mac N Cheese with pouch of tuna + dehydrated onions (from the bulk bin)
2) Lipton Sidekick Singapore Noodles
3) CasBah CousCous (roasted garlic flavour) with sliced dry pepperoni thrown in.
4) Dehydrated (Casbah or Fantastic Foods) hummus with pita chips or dry french bread slices

I usually throw a little olive oil in the first three.
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#94065 - 04/10/08 03:06 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
Narf Offline
member

Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Missouri
http://www.minimus.biz/ is the place to go for fast-food style single servings. Also lot of travel size non-food items.

Best bet is doing like phat states - packing in a small container of it. You can put olive oil into just about any dish for tastey results.

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#94066 - 04/10/08 04:45 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
hootyhoo Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
Me and my dog eat mac and cheese almost everynight out. Were both hooked on it. At times I add tuna to it and we love that even better. I used to freezer bag it and never made a big tadoo about it. I would just boil water, add it to noodles, wait for it to cook, then strain that, add milk (nido) and cheese powder.
mmm mmm good.
I also use the nido for pudding and hot cocoa - if your gonna carry it for the mac you might as well take enough to enjoy.

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#94067 - 04/10/08 06:53 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
Mattress Offline
member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 109
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
Cooking and dehydrating the pasta makes it cook up a little quicker in camp, but not a huge difference. I've found for some of the denser pastas (whole wheat or corn, etc) it helps a bit more. Before I got my dehydrator I made lots of good meals with readily-available ingredients.. after a few years I wanted to dehydrate some of the produce from my garden so it was a natural progression to buy a dehydrator.

For a change from tuna packets, I also like to take 2oz packs of smoked salmon. Toss some asiago cheese (keeps for a week), crumbled smoked salmon and a bit of tomato soup mix with your pasta.

Make sure to keep your camera handy if you use smoked salmon, it's like a bear magnet!
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#94068 - 04/10/08 07:19 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Why the two step process? Simply put, pasta is not precooked in most cases. Small shapes of pasta will cook in 4-7 minutes in boiling water in a pan but big shapes or whole grain pasta can take up to 15 minutes to cook. Pasta also puts off a lot of starch - so when you cook say 4 ounces of dry pasta in a small backpacking pot it can get very, very starchy which of course gives you glue-y pasta. Not so tasty.

Now...pasta can be cooked by sitting in hot water but.....once again, pasta cooks best when in rolling water at boiling temps. So if you cook it at home you can have whatever pasta your heart wants, cook it till al dente, drain and rinse and then dry it. You can dry it in your oven on a cookie sheet as well!

Then you get "instant pasta". All you need to do is pour in your hot water and let said pasta sit in a cozy (insulated) for 5-15 minutes and then use it.

Is it harder? Yes. But it does conserve fuel on trail and allow an easy way to have pasta <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

As for the oil packets some REI's carry them and as does Minimus.biz
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#94069 - 04/11/08 07:06 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Quote:
I was looking at freezerbagcooking.com and they suggested cooking the macaroni and then dehydrating it. Is that necessary? It seems redundant. Perhaps they were talking about some special kind of macaroni? It seems like the box stuff ought to work just fine if you add boiling water.


I tried pasta twice. First I tried FBC straight up and got a gloppy mess. Then I tried boiling and got a gloppy mess. I then dehydrated some cooked pasta, rehydrated it, and had no problems, it was like I fixed it on the stove at home. Maybe this is a sign of my inexperience cooking on the trail, but I think it worked better cooked then dehydrated, or maybe I'm just pickier about the texture of my food than others.

I've tried Annie's white mac n cheese sauce with a little packet of tuna. Not bad. Some cayenne puts a bit of punch in it.

You can get single serve packets of butter, oil, honey and all kinds of other things at minimus.biz. I've also snitched them at fast food places - KFC has butter and honey packets.
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#94070 - 04/11/08 09:13 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
kbennett Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
Quote:
I was looking at freezerbagcooking.com and they suggested cooking the macaroni and then dehydrating it. Is that necessary? It seems redundant.



This question comes up on a fairly regular basis.

Yes, pasta is dried. But it's not cooked, which is the issue. Cooking the pasta at home and then dehydrating it makes all the difference in the world.

In your case, using the instant mac and cheese should work, because that uses pre-cooked pasta. Test it at home first.

In fact, testing any recipe at home is a good idea. To add realism, cook it on your backpacking stove outside, preferably when it's windy and raining. (I am being totally serious.)
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--Ken B

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#94071 - 04/11/08 09:37 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Mattress]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

Make sure to keep your camera handy if you use smoked salmon, it's like a bear magnet!


All fine for you Vancouver island cuddly black bears that eat dead seals in tidepools types. I actually avoid really smelly stuff like that in the rockies for that reason. Our bears are bigger, and while I like seeing them, I don't like seeing them in camp <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

(However, I second your thought that smoked salmon in pasta is bloody delicious...)
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#94072 - 04/12/08 06:11 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: phat]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
Great info. This is the last weekend to gather last minute items and food before we depart thursday morning for the Ozark wilderness area.
I am meeting with my son to go through both our packs and pull out redundant items and shop for food.
For 2 people and 3 nights the menu will be:
Lunch- 3 days-Jerky, Gorp, candy bars, Gatoraide powder drink mix, instant noodles
Breakfast-3 days- Oatmeal, coffee or hot coco, pancakes w/ maple surup, Mountain house eggs, grits with bacon.
Dinner-3- Mountain house chili mac and snack for desert.
Freezer bag Corn Chowder
Fish and rice (If I catch something)
And I'm gonna give the Mac and Tuna a try.
I will also carry condiments, oil, milk powder, spices.
Too much food? Probably. But good meals put the cap on a beautiful day. Oh! and a couple shots of sippin burbon.

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#94073 - 04/12/08 08:29 AM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: chaz]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

Breakfast-3 days- Oatmeal, coffee or hot coco, pancakes w/ maple surup, Mountain house eggs, grits with bacon.


The only thing I can suggest (and what I usually do) to keep your weight down is to avoid the stuff you have to fry. Now, understanding I'm usually just a boil water and dump it in type guy, my breakfasts alternate between instant oatmeal, and "egg and taters" - this is a mountain house precooked (just add boiling water, no frying) eggs - comes with either peppers and ham in it, or bacon. which for me (one person) I split the pack in half, and then pick up an idahoan instant potatoes at the grocery store. I split that in half too, take two ziplocs and put the half pack of idahoan and the half pack of eggs in each one, then chuck
in a little salt and pepper. I then add 1.5 cups of boiling water in camp, cozy for about 5 minutes, and that's breakfast - which breaks the oatmeal monotony nicely. Try at home
first, if you like it you can avoid the frypan and bacon while still not eating oatmeal the whole time.
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#94074 - 04/12/08 12:32 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: phat]
Mattress Offline
member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 109
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
Also don't forget most cold cereals can have hot water and powdered milk added for a change from oatmeal. Experiment with which ones don't go soggy - I like Vector and other high-energy cereals. If your stove breaks, or you just don't feel like cooking in the morning, these are a good quick start to the day.
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#94075 - 04/12/08 02:18 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: kbennett]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Quote:
In fact, testing any recipe at home is a good idea. To add realism, cook it on your backpacking stove outside, preferably when it's windy and raining. (I am being totally serious.)


So very true. And be sure to do it with a wind that is blowing straight across you and it is 32* out <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
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Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond:
www.trailcooking.com

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#94076 - 04/12/08 04:13 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: phat]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
I'm hip to not frying or cooking food. It is to much mesh. But the bacon comes pre-cooked in a 12 or 14 slice package that needs no refridgeration. Chuck the box and you end up with a sealed plastic package that you have to pack out. But bacon and grits for breakfast in the woods is a luxury. I very seldom even eat breakfast anyway. Although I'll need the xtra energy for climbing up and down hills.

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#94077 - 04/12/08 04:17 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Mattress]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
Thanks, I did consider that very option and picked up some Nido dehydrated milk from wally world today. Not the Kinder stuff.

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#94078 - 04/12/08 04:23 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: chaz]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
chaz, you can also get real crumbled bacon in bags - it is smaller in size than the whole bacon strips. Good stuff! It is often sold near the salad dressing.
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#94079 - 04/13/08 02:38 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: sarbar]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
I havent thought of that. I'll just combine the bacon crumbles with grits or eggs.
thanks....

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#94080 - 04/13/08 04:31 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: chaz]
kbennett Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
Love the real bacon bits in with my grits on the trail. Then my burps taste like bacon for the rest of the day....
_________________________
--Ken B

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#94081 - 04/14/08 12:30 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences and knowledge. I gave it a try this past weekend when my daughter and I went out backpacking. The weather was horrible (cold and WINDY) but the food was pretty good.

We tried the tuna casserole thing with a packet of tuna and some microwave "easy mac" with a white garlic sauce. I chose the microwave variety because of the feedback I got that the pasta is pre-cooked as opposed to most pasta. I could have boiled regular pasta of course but that would have meant more time and fuel. As it turns out it was getting dark and cold by the time we set up camp and started thinking about dinner so the time savings was useful.

Thanks again to everyone. I may become a freezerbag gourmet yet! I guess I'll know when I buy dehydrator!

Heber

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#94082 - 04/15/08 05:36 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: chaz]
NiytOwl Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/04
Posts: 501
Loc: California
Pull the bacon out of the package, cut slices in half, then make square foil packets with the bacon inside. Heat the packets over your stove for minute to get crispy bacon - ready for breakfast burritos or bacon sandwiches! The packets keep without refrigeration for at least a few days - a week or more if you keep everything sanitary. Now if I can just figure out how to get the bacon crispy without the foil. Maybe use a wood skewer?

Fast Mac & Cheese tip: Precook and dehydrate macaroni. Four hours before dinner, pour cold water into bag with macaroni. Drain, add 1/2 cup boiling water, wait for a minute, drain again, then prepare according to box (or premix the dry sauce, 1/4 cup worth of powdered milk, adding 1/4 cup boiling water on trail and two of the Colonel's (KFC) butter packets). This makes M&C in under 5 minutes from lighting the stove to grubbing.

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#94083 - 05/19/08 03:13 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Heber]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee

This has been posted before but Glad says that they do not make a bag that is safe for cooking. The plastic is just not designed to take the heat. Hope that helps....Happy Trekking....sabre11004....

The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there !!!!!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />
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#94084 - 05/19/08 03:21 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: Mattress]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee


The real difference is that if it is dehydrated you "don't" have to cook it. It is already cooked at home. My wife and I will every now and then use the Mountain House brand of dehydrated food and we always save the bag that it comes in. We clean them and then just re-use them. We checked with REI about re-using them and they said that it was totally safe to do. Every now and then we throw the old bag away and start using a new one and they work great. That is the big difference though is when you dehydrate the food it is already cooked and it does speed up the preparation time in camp...Hope that helps...Happy Trekking...sabre11004...

The first step that you take will be of those that get you there !!!!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
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#94085 - 05/19/08 06:57 PM Re: Tuna packet meal question [Re: sabre11004]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Freezer bags are rated for use in microwaves btw. They are not rated for being put in pots of boiling water - something that Glad is referring to (ie. the "Ziploc Omelet"). That is where a bag is layed in boiling water in a pan for 10-20 minutes. The point of eating out bags is using hot water (below boiling) and using it as a "bowl". You are not "cooking" the food - the food is all precooked and dehydrated.

Btw, the bags they used to use in MH meals? Those are basically oven bags which you can buy in nearly any grocery store. They are usable in ovens to usually 450* or higher. So yes, they could lie in boiling water for LONG periods. So can vac bags.
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