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Meal planning for the Overland

Meal planning for the Overland

For the two of us, meal planning is probably one of the biggest logistical challenges of a week-long hike. We haven’t really done enough extended hikes to predict how hungry or calorie-craving we will be by the end of each day, and it can be hard to strike the right balance between going hungry and lugging around unnecessary weight.

That said, with only a week to go, we have finally settled on something that looks feasible (in terms of weight) without being too mind-numbingly monotonous. Our breakfasts and lunches will be quite light and standard, but we’ve built in some variety with our dinners.

Breakfasts
Muesli bars
Dried kiwis (dehydrated by Bruno)

Lunches
Garlic chapattis (Indian flatbread)
Peanut butter

Dinners
Lentils with instant soup base (2 nights)
Cous cous with instant soup as sides (2 nights)
Instant pasta with sauce (2 nights)
Reconstituted mashed potatoes with instant gravy (1 night)
Wakame in miso soup (all nights)

Main meals

Main meals

Most of the dinner options are instant – we spent quite a few weeks experimenting with different brands to see which ones would be the most satisfying and appetising with the least weight. Where we thought the main course might be a little bland or dry, we threw in a few packs of instant (powdered) soup to liven things up. We also added wakame to the daily menu so we would have some sort of green vegetable intake.

Our other main consideration was cooking time because we only plan on bringing the 0.7L fuel bottle with us. That means we can average up to 15 minutes of cooking time per night. That is plenty for instant mash (where I’m only stirring dehydrated potatoes into boiling water), but a little tight for lentils. We therefore needed to pick meal combinations which would balance each other in terms of fuel consumption.

To conserve fuel and generally make life easier, our breakfasts are stove-free. The portions are also quite small because we plan to snack regularly to maintain steadier energy levels:

Snacks
Energy chews
Tamari almonds
Organic sultanas
Teriyaki beef jerky
Freddo frogs

Snacks and breakfast muesli bars

Snacks and breakfast muesli bars

As for the condiments and miscellaneous items, we hunted around for the smallest zip bags we could find and eventually ended up buying a pack of 100 5cm x 7cm bags. We then rationed out the essentials plus a few bonus items:

Miscellaneous
Sea salt
Cracked pepper
Smoked paprika
Dried mixed herbs
Dried onion flakes
Dried garlic flakes
Parmesan cheese
Sugar
Milk powder
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds
Peppermint tea

It was actually quite a lot of fun to package it all up, but we did joke that we should be sponsored by Ziploc or some other manufacturer of zip bags. There is also enough flavour in there to liven up our dinners. To reduce the risk of spillage, we put these into a small lunch box which will double as a bowl, and also put some of the other zipped items (milk, lentils, etc.) into the pot for protection.

Condiments

Condiments

All in all, eight days’ worth of supplies for two people is coming to less than 7.5 kg. It isn’t too bad an effort, and we both think the quantities are reasonable, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I look forward to blogging about how we fare.

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