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Old 02-16-2011, 06:09 PM
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huntercook15 huntercook15 is offline
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Default DIY Instant Meals (for backcountry camping)



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Please do direct me to another thread if this one is misplaced or is one of those that makes you groan and say "not this again!"...

I was at my local thrift shop, and along with a decent couch that was tagged at 17 dollars (I didn't buy that, haha.), I found an older model food saver system for 7 dollars... normally these guys are 40-100 dollars, depending on the model of course. Now, it doesn't have any of the attachments you can by to seal food bins or zip bags, but, for what I bought it for (keeping butchered meat), it works great. Of course, my only complaint is that the bags are pricey, but whatever.

But, since hunting season is past, I thought I could use it to hold whole dehydrated meals for camping. So, I've been sealing instant oatmeal, gorp, jerky, and other trail foods. I'm also going to try to get some real man food (beef, chicken, veggies, rice, etc) meals dehydrated and sealed up. I have a basic idea of what I'm going to do, but I still have some parts I'm iffy about.

Such as, when I make these meals, should I cook the meats first? I'm thinking no, as jerky basically cooks and is safe to eat after drying, and I'd imagine thats the same with anything, but if you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

Do alot of people do this? I mean, I hear all the time about Mountain House and all those brands, but I can't really afford that, and it's better if I can make my own (except not freeze dried, but dried).

Because I kinda get the idea that this sort of thing would not only be good for my camping trips, but for medium term storage in a preppers food stash. The dried, vacuum sealed meals would be easily stored, and for backpackers and hikers, very light compared to fresh food, and very cheap compared to brand name instant meals. Plus, it lasts.

I'm going to do some experimenting this week, and I'll post my results.

And if I've totally missed something, as someone has already posted on this before, please let me know. Thanks.
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:45 AM
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http://urbansurvivalsite.com/files/F..._Bag_Meals.pdf

Very helpful link, let me know how they work out for you
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:54 AM
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That's kind of what I do. You can basically dehydrate anything. When I make soups, chillies or stews and theirs extra left over I put a piece of plastic wrap over my mesh dehydrator trays and dehydrate the left overs. I seal them in a zip lock and throw them in the freezer. I've got probably 100 bags of dehydrated meals in the freezer that I take on camping, backpacking and hunting trips.

Even if you wanted to be lazy and not cook you can dehydrate canned soups. I've done canned clam chowder, chicken noodle, etc... I personally think dehydrators are one of the best investments you can make. One tip though, get one with a fan. A lot of the cheap ones just heat and have no fan, heat is not really important in dehydrating it's air circulation. I even make dehydrated chicken treats for the dog

I do long backpacking trips and it would be nearly impossible without dehydrated meals. A .44 mag and a stash of dehydrated meals will get you through anything in the back country!
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:01 AM
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Thanks for the post.
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:19 PM
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I will def try to dry some soups. Right now I'm making a rice/ground venison/peppers type dish that can be reanimated with some water. Once the meat is dry, Im gunna pack it with the rice, with some various spices and some corn starch to thicken it all up. Very similar to the beef and rice I make for a normal dinner. I also sealed up some more gorp and oatmeal... if all else fails, then that stuff will keep my from starving to death. Along with of course, my .22 rifle for these river trips, but I'm not as stupid as to think that when I really need one a squirrel is going to show up, because I know how hunting works .
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Old 02-18-2011, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huntercook15 View Post
I will def try to dry some soups. Right now I'm making a rice/ground venison/peppers type dish that can be reanimated with some water. Once the meat is dry, Im gunna pack it with the rice, with some various spices and some corn starch to thicken it all up. Very similar to the beef and rice I make for a normal dinner. I also sealed up some more gorp and oatmeal... if all else fails, then that stuff will keep my from starving to death. Along with of course, my .22 rifle for these river trips, but I'm not as stupid as to think that when I really need one a squirrel is going to show up, because I know how hunting works .


You can always come around my place. There is no shortage on squirrels here!
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Old 02-21-2011, 03:20 PM
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Question

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Originally Posted by VTguy View Post
That's kind of what I do. You can basically dehydrate anything. When I make soups, chillies or stews and theirs extra left over I put a piece of plastic wrap over my mesh dehydrator trays and dehydrate the left overs. I seal them in a zip lock and throw them in the freezer. I've got probably 100 bags of dehydrated meals in the freezer that I take on camping, backpacking and hunting trips.

Even if you wanted to be lazy and not cook you can dehydrate canned soups. I've done canned clam chowder, chicken noodle, etc... I personally think dehydrators are one of the best investments you can make. One tip though, get one with a fan. A lot of the cheap ones just heat and have no fan, heat is not really important in dehydrating it's air circulation. I even make dehydrated chicken treats for the dog

I do long backpacking trips and it would be nearly impossible without dehydrated meals. A .44 mag and a stash of dehydrated meals will get you through anything in the back country!
Can you tell me a little more about how you dehydrate your leftover soups/chilli/stews? This sounds like the way to go! Do you dehydrate the meat and all? How long does it take? What should it look like when it is dehydrated?

I am a frequent backpack camper, and this would be a lot better than ramen noodles and tuna fish!
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Old 02-23-2011, 01:28 PM
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i've been prepping a long time it seems and once i had guns and ammo and reloading all provided for, i realized that without food prep, everything else is futile, so i turned my attention to food... prepping for food much more involved than reloading and such...
i found a food-saver on craigs list for $12 bucks and an older model american harvest dehydrator there too for $7 bucks, then i bought additional food saver bags from ebay sources and began cleaning out the fridge of leftovers from my families daily meals, the wife at first couldn't understand where all the leftovers were going but soon i had compiled enough dried and sealed food pouches for my family for 90 days easily... this turned out to be the best way to prep and no extra expense to speak of... i end up creating individual meal pouches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, just like military MRE's... each meal pouch wrapped in aluminum foil to keep out light...also figured out that the people who did back-packing long range for fun had the dried food down to a science, so went to amazon and bought a dozen different books on backpack cooking, alot of great tips and recipes and these folks have worked out the kinks to be able to carry all your supplies and eat good, even if there ain't a McDonalds around for miles ... LOL
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Old 02-23-2011, 02:22 PM
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Here's a pretty good site with lots of recipes if you want to make quick freezer bag meals. I've used several of these recipes and they have turned out well.
http://www.trailcooking.com/
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:30 AM
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Good stuff here guys, Dehydrated foods in ANY way shape or form are great especially when it comes to weight. My father and I are in the process of getting a dehydrator and what you guys are saying just makes us that much more ready to invest in one!
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:26 AM
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Today I dried out some apples, bananas, and grapes, which can be added to oatmeal, stewed for breakfast, or eaten as is. When you cut up apples and bananas to dry, toss them with a little lemon juice to reduce browning, and add a little flavor. The apples take longer than bananas, and the grapes take the longest, but homemade raisins are a lot sweeter than store bought ones.

It seems as though bananas kinda lose their sweetness after drying, so the next time around, I may put a little sugar with them. Or maybe not, as they taste fine without being sweet. I personally like green apples for this whole drying thing, as they have firmer flesh, and they taste better to me. Yellow ones seem to be really oversweet and mealy, and red ones are okay... Seedless red grapes are my way to go with raisins, unless you like green ones better, and the bananas shouldnt be green when you cut them, but they shouldnt be too ripe, or its just too mushy to work with.

I can buy dried fruit at the store, but it is crazy expensive... Dried instant potatoes aren't that expensive, I haven't seen dried onions, so I'll see if it is worth it to dry my own onions. Fresh onions keep without refridgeration for a long time anyway, and I don't plan to be gone anywhere for more than a week...

Im going to start mixing premeasured mixes for bannocks, cornbread, banana bread, and other good things soon. Maybe I can add some dried fruits and veggies to the mixes to spice things up more.

Also, a few things I learned about making dried meats....

Don't oversalt the marinade, especially if you are adding soy sauce.

Store bought barbecue sauces and most ketchup has a bunch of High Fructose Corn Syrup and other junk in it... The reason I make my own jerky is to cut down on that stuff.

Dont use too much real sugar in a marinade either, as it kinda candies the meat, which is gross. Caramalization (sp?) in BBQ is fine, total candified jerky is not.

Liquid smoke, Chile Pastes (the real good stuff), soy sauce... all goes a REALLY long way, and it can easily overpower your jerky.

Dont make the meat too thin. Dont make it way thick either.

If making hamburger jerky, make sure the meat is 100 percent lean.

Dont let the meat sit in the marinade too long. 4-8 hours does the trick.

Dont let it dehydrate too long either. Its jerky, not crackers. This is hard to get right, I cant really post an accurate time... I usually let it dry overnight. 8-12 hours...

Just what Ive learned... you can agree or disagree as you wish.

This discovery of dehydration and vacuum sealing has made a monster out of me... hehehe...
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Old 02-28-2011, 06:22 AM
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dried onions are available in bulk, not too expensive ($ 4.00 ish) in the spice isle of Kroger.
i spent the day yesterday taking 4 lbs of fresh carrots, shredding them in the food processor and dehydrating them (well, still drying them today).
i'm trying to dehydrate tomato paste, i'll see how that goes....
good luck
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Old 03-01-2011, 03:03 PM
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thanks for all the tips
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:49 PM
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You can buy rolls of bags off ebay that are not food saver brand but work just fine.
Old 03-01-2011, 10:30 PM
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You can buy rolls of bags off ebay that are not food saver brand but work just fine.
I'll definitely look into that. It stings every time I buy a roll of those bags... they are too, too expensive.
Old 03-01-2011, 10:33 PM
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Learned something else.... citrus fruits don't dry very well. They end up as bitter skin and nothing else...
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:49 AM
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Learned something else.... citrus fruits don't dry very well. They end up as bitter skin and nothing else...
Those are better canned.
We can grapefruit; it's a pain but worth it. Peel then de-skin and de-seed the sections, pack in sterile jars top with juice. Leave 1" headspace. Add a teaspoon of honey per jar, seal and boil for 10 minutes in a bath canner or 5 minutes at 8-10lbs in a pressure canner.

20lbs of grapefruit will yield 12 pints or so.
Good eats!
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:58 AM
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Dehydrated items can be stored in mason jars or ""PETE" plastic bottles with O2 absorbers.
I've got a bunch of veggies done that way.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:07 AM
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I like VT Guys idea. Also look into the book 'Dinner Is In The Jar' she puts the meal in a jar but you could use the Food Saver, she also puts the dinners in mylar bags, no food saver necessary.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Xi Bowhunter View Post
Can you tell me a little more about how you dehydrate your leftover soups/chilli/stews? This sounds like the way to go! Do you dehydrate the meat and all? How long does it take? What should it look like when it is dehydrated?

I am a frequent backpack camper, and this would be a lot better than ramen noodles and tuna fish!
Theirs 2 ways i do it. I used to just take plastic wrap and cover the mesh trays and just spread the soup/stew/chilli in a thin layer. I dehydrate them until there is no moisture. Basically you cannot over dehydrate them so let them get nice and crispy. Every once in a while take out the trays and break it up so that everything dries (inside, underside, etc...) Meat and all can go right in there. just ladle the soup or whatever you want to use right onto the trays and turn it on. Get a dehydrator that has a fan though. the cheap round dehydrators usually just have heat and that is not how you dehydrate that just cooks it more. You want air movement to dry. Look into an Excalibur dehydrator it will pay for itself in a week.

I recently bought some paraplexx non-stick sheets to go in the dehydrator so I don't have to use plastic wrap anymore (nothing wrong with the plastic wrap just make sure you break up the soup/stew about half way through so it all dries since theirs no air movement on the bottom with plastic wrap) the paraplexx sheets have micro pores on the bottom so the underside dries as well. Either way will work but the paraplexx sheets make life easier. I've dried canned soups like chicken noodle, clam chowder, you name it. You can make pasta with a meat sauce for dinner and dump the rest just as it is in the dehydrator and that's it. Just about anything except raw eggs or milk I dehydrate. Pretty much any soup/ stew chilli or whatever you make can be dehydrated as is, meat, veggies doesn't matter whats in the dish just ladle it onto the trays and turn it on. I've been doing it for years.

Theirs a really good book called "backpack gourmet" it's all about dehydrating full meals like you would make for dinner. Great book for a serious backpacker.

Jerky is one thing you CAN over dehydrate but when it comes to meals you want them completely dry. Your going to rehydrate them before eating so you literally cannot over dry them if you tried. Jerky you eat dry so that takes some practice. On backpacking trips I carry an extra nalgene and in the morning before leaving camp I dump my dry dinner for that night into the nalgene put some water in there and by time I get to camp at night its ready to cook. Walking all day stirs it around and it rehydrates nicely. You could also just dump it into boiling water at night and rehydrate it that way either will work.

I've got a batch of jerky in there right now which should be done tonight, I have a bunch of left over split pea soup from the weekend I'm going to dehydrate I'll take some pictures if I remember.
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