Tag Archives: food

Food, food, food

For next week’s trip to Scotland, I’m carrying the most food I’ve ever had to carry on a backpacking trip: 6 breakfasts, 6 evening meals and 7 lunch/day time snacks. For three or four days, it’s pretty easy to sling together some food and add in a bit extra just in case. This time I’ve had to be a bit more disciplined. It’s not just the weight that’s an issue, it’s the volume too.

The total weight for food, including packing cells and dry bag is 5.4kg, which I’m reasonably happy with. Here’s a breakdown of items and weights:

Breakfasts: 6 Summit to Eat freeze-dried scrambled eggs meals, Biltong, 6 granola bars

Evening meals: 6 Fuizion Foods/Blå Band/ Food on the Move freeze-dried meals, dried fruit (dates, mandarins)

Lunches/snacks: Tracker bars, Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, Nakd fruit bars, sesame seed snaps, brazil/macadamia/almond nuts, salted peanuts and cashews, banana chips/berry mix.

Tea bags (green and English breakfast).

Recently at home, I’ve been having porridge followed by poached egg and smoked salmon for breakfast. I’ve found that having a good amount of protein in the morning helps my energy levels, hence I’ve tried to replicate that for backpacking. The StE scrambled eggs are reasonable and adding a bit of Biltong (dried beef) adds a kick.

For lunches, I decided it was easiest to just have snack bars and supplement them with nuts and dried fruit. At home, I’ve cut out biscuits and cake and now snack on nuts or fruit. It seems to work for me.

Evening meals are pretty much what I always do: a freeze-dried meal followed by dried fruit. On this trip I will be using the last of my Fuizion Food freeze dried meals, which is a bit sad. I might add some Biltong to the Blå Band pasta meals as they have minuscule pieces of meat in.

I’ve made sure I have plenty of tea bags as I don’t want to run out and give myself the migraine from hell, like I did a few years ago. I’ve not calculated calories, but I suspect it might be a bit light, but that’s not a huge issue for one week.

In case you are wondering about the missing breakfast and evening meal, I’m taking the sleeper up to Fort William and will have some breakfast on the train and pick up something from a supermarket from the station. At Aviemore, I’ll arrive late afternoon and have dinner before catching the sleeper back home.

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Breakfast

Nutritionists tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For me, I need a decent breakfast to give me enough energy to start the day well. At home I begin the day with a bowl of porridge with cranberries and honey. For a few years, I tried to do the same backpacking. I used traditional porridge and Ready Brek. In the end, I found both inadequate and messy so I gravitated to various grain and nut bars.

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Pictured above is now my typical backpacking breakfast, a combination of grains, nuts, fruit and cheese all washed down with a cup of refreshing green tea. I find I need a decent amount of bulk to keep me going for the morning. I highly recommend the M&S super nut, fruit and seed flapjack. It’s lovely and moist, tasty and packed with calories. The Nature Valley granola bars are a good substitute for porridge.

I like to eat plenty of nuts while I’m out and both Eat Natural and M&S do some good bars. A small box of raisins provides a bit of extra fruit (and digestible sugar). Lastly, I like to have a bit of cheese to boost my protein intake as I don’t carry milk. Babybels are ideal as they keep well and are a reasonable sized portion.

I used to drink black tea but found that powdered milk was a pain to carry when backpacking. I tend to drink more green tea at home now, as it’s healthier. When I’m backpacking, I drink only green tea as it’s much easier to prepare, not needing milk. I also find it’s more refreshing and clears my palate after eating.

Bla Band freeze dried meals

The problems and possible demise of Fuizion Foods left me in a quandary over evening meals for my recent trip. I still have four FF meals left, but I decided a short trip was a good opportunity to try some new food. Second best to Fuizion, IMO is Real Turmat, but they are very pricey at c.£10 a meal. So I thought I’d give Bla Band a try and ordered some from Outdoors Grub.

Mashed Potato with Beef and Vegetables

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On my first evening, I sampled the mashed potato with beef and vegetable meal. The first thing to note is that the pouch is squat rather than tall, making it easier to access, fill and stir. It also has fill markings, taking the guesswork out of the volume of water needed.

Fuizion meals are by far the best freeze dried meals I’ve tasted, so I was prepared for a lower level of quality. However, this meal was really disappointing. It looked like brown gloop. The carrots and turnip pieces were identifiable but the meat seemed to have gone missing. The taste was was very bland, not offensive, just largely absent. This one gets a thumbs down from me.

Skinnarmo’s Pasta Carbonara

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I approached the next evening’s meal with some trepidation. I selected the Skinnarmo’s Pasta Carbonara, which is named after a Swedish explorer. This is basically a macaroni pasta with minced beef in a cheese sauce. When I filled the sachet, it looked very runny, but don’t be deceived, after leaving for 12 minutes, all the water had been absorbed.

I was very impressed with this meal. It had a good cheesy and slightly peppery taste. The pasta rehydrated properly. OK, the pieces of beef were tiny, but overall I really enjoyed this one and could easily have eaten another sachet. So this gets a big thumbs up as one of the best non-Fuizion freeze dried meals I’ve tasted.

Risotto with Mushrooms and Chicken

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After the previous evening’s experience, my faith had been restored in Bla Band and I was looking forward to the Chicken and Mushroom Risotto. Again, preparation was simple. The guide mark is very helpful in gauging the correct amount of water. Unlike the pasta, not all the water was completely absorbed, but it wasn’t a soup.

While not as good as the carbonara, the taste was still pretty good. The chicken pieces were small but discernible, as were the mushrooms. The rice was was properly hydrated, with no crunchy bits. Overall, this gets a thumbs up as well, but not quite as enthusiastic as the carbonara.

Summary

I’d certainly buy two out of the three meals again (carbonara and risotto). In terms of ranking against competitors, they are not quite up to Real Turmat standards, but are much cheaper and less salty. They are some way behind Fuizion (so is everything) but they are better than Mountain House, Expedition Foods, Adventure Food and Be Well. They don’t suffer from that dry feeling and after-taste that some meals have. They also have a  low flatulence rating!

I still have three more to try, beef stew with mushrooms, creamy pasta with chicken and potato with beef and sauce Bearnaise. I’m sure the pasta one will be fine, but it will be interesting to see how the two beef dishes stack up against the one I’ve already sampled. I’m certainly not going to buy the mashed potato with beef and vegetable again.

Overall, I think Bla Band is worth trying and would recommend trying the pasta and risotto dishes.

Disclaimer: these meals were purchased with my own funds. I have no financial or commercial arrangements with Bla Band or Outdoors Grub.