Author Topic: to cook or not to cook?  (Read 4042 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline EAkerberg

to cook or not to cook?
« on: August 18, 2016, 01:34:03 pm »
Doing a coast to coast in the summer of 2017 - solo and self-supported.  I hate the idea of having to cook after 60 miles in the saddle.  Also. it means more stuff to carry.  Looking for experienced input pro and con.

Offline jamawani

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2016, 05:39:12 pm »
I have 30 years touring experience - trips as long as 5000 miles.
When I ride with others I cook - when I ride solo I do not.

You hit on two important concerns - the extra stuff to carry and the time.
When you are with others you can share the weight and the cooking is social.

I find that I am perfectly okay eating sandwiches - and I like PB&J anyhoo.
Plus, a meal a day at a cafe keeps me from becoming a recluse.
Local cafes for b'fast or Subways for lunch, rarely dinner.

It costs more to solo tour - esp. camping fees, motels.
I consider the extra food cost part of solo touring, as well.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2016, 12:59:21 pm »
In my tours I have always eaten at restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.  All meals, all food.  Every night you should be camped close to a town or in a town.  There should be places to eat.  During the day I ride through a town every few miles with food to eat.  If for some reason it happens to be a ride with zero services all day, then you can plan ahead and buy some easily eaten food the day before or the morning of, until you get back to a more populous part of the journey.  Meals also give you some social interaction.  In the USA and Europe, food is easily found in every town.  Pre-packaged, ready to eat food.  And almost every where has food you can buy and eat on the spot.  The food may or may not be the healthiest.  But eating all fat and carbs for a couple days won't kill you.  You can eat lots of vegetables and fruits tomorrow.  It is probably more expensive than cooking your own food.  But does not have to be if you try to be cheap.  As already said, bread and peanut butter and jelly is good.  And very cheap.  Cans of tuna or chicken.  Apples, oranges, bananas.  Bags of salad at grocery stores.  Bread, crackers.  Milk and cereal is a fine meal.  Have to carry a bowl and spoon for this.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 11:26:11 pm by RussSeaton »

Offline John Nelson

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2016, 04:50:42 pm »
I've done it both ways, and both ways work just fine. It's certainly not necessary to cook, so if you don't want to, don't. When not cooking, I eat about one third of my meals at cafes, and two thirds from grocery store food. When camping out of town, I stop in the last town I pass through before camp and buy a sandwich, fried chicken, chocolate milk, etc. for dinner, and bagels or donuts or pop tarts to start the next day.

When I cook, I use an alcohol stove. It's very simple to use, but you can only make very simple meals. Those freeze-dried meals in foil taste great to me at the end of a long day, but it can be hard to find them out in the middle of nowhere. You can also easily cook rice with some sort of meat and vegetables. The biggest advantage of the stove for me is having oatmeal for breakfast before setting out. It's a lot better than eating pop tarts and donuts.

A big part of the decision depends on how okay you are with cold food, or how much you crave hot food.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2016, 10:13:57 pm »
My preference is to go to a restaurant, diner, etc. for breakfast and supper.  Lunch can be a hamburger or sandwich, or something picked up earlier on the trip -- an apple, a bit of cheese, and maybe some sausage or tuna on crackers is fine dining in the right surroundings (like under a tree 30 miles from the nearest diner).

It's probably a good idea to have some plans for the occasional meal-in-the-woods even if you plan not to cook.  There are places where there's nothing to eat where you may be forced to stop for the night, either by weather, fatigue, or the dreaded too-many-flats-to-get-there day.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2016, 02:24:25 pm »
Like others, I like to tour both ways.  With the new Jetboil system and freeze-dried meals, cooking takes way less time than going to a restaurant.  I use it for backpacking, and the water boils in 2 minutes, then you have to wait a little for the mixture to "cure"--10 or 15 minutes, which can be used for other camping chores. Also, there are no pans to carry. And with oatmeal/PB/fruit, breakfast is done in a jiffy, too. Again , no pan, as the oats are poured into the boiled water in the cup provided as part of the unit.  It all packs up neatly and weighs little.  (No, I have no financial interest in the technology.  I'm just amazed at the difference 45 years has made--we used to have frying pans, cans of gas, pan scrubbers, etc, etc....)  Because of this simplicity, I will now cook more than in the past, when it was a real chore.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline canalligators

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 09:06:20 am »
Breakfast at diners, or even at fast food places, are cheap and quick.  For lunch we get a sub.  For dinner we typically get something at a grocery store along the way, and eat it at camp.

I don't care to cook or carry the extra stuff.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2017, 11:32:31 pm »
Breakfast at diners, or even at fast food places, are cheap and quick.  For lunch we get a sub.  For dinner we typically get something at a grocery store along the way, and eat it at camp.

Every diner I have ever eaten in has been expensive.  $5 minimum just to get a bare minimum of food.  Not enough to get you more than 20 miles down the road.  Fast food places are cheap, but not plentiful in small towns in rural America.  Subs are $5 plus at official restaurants and at convenience stores too.  Maybe $1 cheaper if bought at a grocery store.  Not cheap.  Good though.  Your grocery store dinner can be cheap.  But the breakfast and lunch options you mentioned will run you $15 total.  Does not fit my idea of cheap.

Offline J Griffin

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 08:59:28 am »
My stomach doesn't respond well to greasy fast food, so I cook pretty much all the time.  Not really a problem as I love to cook anyway.  But..we tend to be bikepackers rather than on the road, so we're pretty much working over the dehydrated stuff.  We have a good dehydrator, so that's not really an issue with the veggies.  Fortunately we live in an area that has frequent access to fresh seafood, shellfish and such-even here in the eastern Cascades where you wouldn't expect it.  I'm always carrying pasta, and if there's a market with shrimp or crab, we grab it and i'll do scampi or a crab linguini on the Trangia.  I also carry one of those Platypus wine bags so we can get the shrimp, ride out of town into a campground, do the meal and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine too.  Why eat cardboard freeze-dried stuff?

Offline staehpj1

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 08:27:42 am »
If I use my homemade pop can stove I find that I can assemble cooking/eating gear that weighs as little as 7 ounces plus fuel, so I never leave it home.  I often eat cold food, but it is really nice to have the option of hot food or a hot beverage some of the time.  You can't do very elaborate cooking with the 7 ounce setup, but it will suffice for me on most trips.

I carry more stuff if I want to do more elaborate cooking, but can still keep it super light.  Even on a backpacking trip where I was catching and cooking trout and making other more elaborate than usual meals I got by with about a pound of cooking/eating gear.

So for me even if I plan to go ultralight and keep meals simple I take cooking gear.

As far as cooking being trouble...  It is often easier than riding into town to a diner and not much more trouble than making a sandwich if you keep it simple.


Offline J Griffin

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 10:09:23 am »
We have the Trangia 25-8 cookset, which is both bulky and heavier than something like a Jetboil.  If we're on the road, I'll take the Trangia for it's superb simmering ability.  Foods like scampi, crab linguine with lemon-cream sauce, stews and potages, crepes and the like, are easy on it, and if you can buy the fresh food on the way to camp, it's great to enjoy a really nice meal!  I do think I might want the smaller 27 set though.  I have one major weakness in food-a dish a colleague of mine created years ago when he was an undergrad: Mack & Cheese "a Doty" (his last name).  A package of mac&cheese, diced onion, hamburger and a bag of frozen yellow corn.  You cook the M&C, dice the onion and sautee it with the burger, season with lots of Worchestershire Sauce, and toss it into the Mac&Cheese, then add the thawed bag of corn.  My wife hates the stuff, but I love it!  I can get all the items except the pasta in either freeze-dried, or dehydrated form from Packit Gourmet in Texas; they're in their "general grocery" section, so I'll have to experiment with this for off-road travel!!

Offline SprocketWeasel

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2017, 01:14:22 am »

To cook or not, depends entirely on what you want to get out of your tour.  They both have their "trade off".
As for me, cuisine is half the adventure!  I do both, I'll ask a local when I eat out, then discover that non-franchised, "best kept secret", amazing bistro or the like!  I wouldn't want to miss that!

When I cook, I really cook!  My favorite dish, is custom cut beef tenderloin, with caramelized onion and sauteed mushrooms in a butter wine sauce, with fire roasted veggies. I'll ask for 3-4 pads of butter during my second breakfast stop.

My camp menu expanded drastically, when I added a (light weight) skillet and a soft sided cooler (fits in my handlebar bag).  This allows me to buy dinner first thing in the morning, if that's my only opportunity. I buy a bag of frozen veggies to keep things cool.  I've purchased frozen shrimp at 8am and was it was semi frozen that evening!

Weight is not a problem.  I usually travel (road) loaded at 40-45 lbs. including panniers.  Whether I travel 2 days or 2 weeks, my weight doesn't vary that much.  So, that's how I roll!  Many happy adventures to you!
Cheers, SprocketWeasel

Offline J Griffin

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2017, 01:20:23 am »
Hadn't really thought about a little soft-sided cooler, and using frozen items to keep the rest cool!  I've done pretty much everything from crepes to scampi on the Trangia, but it's really not for serious bikepacking.  touring, it's fine with resupply each day on a pavement tour.   but the soft-sided cooler, that's a great idea!!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2017, 09:54:18 am »
I'll ask a local when I eat out, then discover that non-franchised, "best kept secret", amazing bistro or the like!

Bistro?  You tour where there's a bistro??  Heck, I thought a Subway or Pizza Hut was fine dining most days!

Offline staehpj1

Re: to cook or not to cook?
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2017, 10:07:54 am »
I'll ask a local when I eat out, then discover that non-franchised, "best kept secret", amazing bistro or the like!

Bistro?  You tour where there's a bistro??  Heck, I thought a Subway or Pizza Hut was fine dining most days!
Yeah, I don't see many bistro's on my tours either.  I do like to sample the local food though, regardless of whether it is at a diner or even a gas station.  Things like locally made tamales or home made biscuits and gravy at a gas station, diner, general store, or whatever are more likely to show up on my tours than bistro food.  Good barbecue, great local seafood,Tex Mex, Cajun, and so on really do make for an enjoyable trip when you get to eat the genuine article.

Sampling the local regional food for me is part of the fun, but I still like to cook.