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1. Save Fuel and Time: Rehydrate on the trail.

Start rehydrating your dehydrated foods about 1 hour before dinner time. A wide-mouthed container with lid (eg., a plastic peanut butter jar or Tupperware-type bowl) supports the plastic baggie filled with enough water to cover the contents of whatever is in the bag. The sandwich baggies get "dirty", not the jar, so only the dirty baggie goes into the ziplock trash bag.

 2. Save Fuel: Don't simmer.

To cook oatmeal, ramen, couscous, instant rice, soups, or to simply rehydrate any food, bring water to a boil, add food, cover then turn the stove off. Let the pot sit for the recommended time. The contents do indeed simmer for at least 5 minutes (in 60o weather). Even in cold weather (30o), whole/quick oats (and, of course, instant) will cook in a covered pan if you just add boiling water and allow it to stand 5 -10 minutes.

 3. Save Fuel: Choose the right cook kit.

Water will heat faster in a shallow broad pan, than in a narrow, tall pot. To further improve fuel efficiency, paint the outside of your pots with flat-black stove paint and use a windscreen. Use a fuel exchanger only if the fuel bottle is separate from your stove--check manufacturer's instructions. Don't carry more cook kit than you need, but do take the lid. It saves its weight daily in efficient use of fuel. Get a cook kit that is slightly larger than your stove top.

 Use plastic containers with tight fitting lids for dishes, rather than the metal plates supplied with the cook kits. You can use them as serving bowls, they retain heat longer with the lid, and they make great mixing bowls, especially for foods like mashed potatoes or "Rocket Fuel" (see Pudding Variations in Recipes). For cold weather, insulated cups are well worth their weight.

 4. Save Fuel: use No-cook/instant Foods.

Instant pudding, instant mashed potatoes, Minute rice (not instant rice), Ramen rather than spaghetti, instant soups. Walk through the grocery aisles with an open mind, especially in the "ethnic foods" sections. Dehydrate your own favorites.


Commercial Dehydrators are well worth the investment if you spend significant time in the wilderness. Unfortunately, dehydrating reduces Vitamin C content, so take a supplement (see Vitamins).

1. To save money, dehydrate foods when they are in season.

DO NOT dehydrate onions. Itís not worth the complaints regarding the odor of the house and all thatís in it. Buy dehydrated onions.

2. To save time and (your) energy, dehydrate frozen vegetables, canned stews/chili/meats.

Another quick 'n easy idea: dehydrate thin sliced deli meat (low fat ham, turkey, chicken or beef).

3. Saving Money: make your own Fruit leather.

Even without a dehydrator, you can make fruit leather from any fruit with any stove. Wash and peel fruit, heat to a boil with or without sugar, according to your taste. (No sugar is necessary, but tart fruits may appeal to you more with sugar added. For a natural sugar alternative, just combine high sugar fruits with tart fruit, such as strawberries with rhubarb or peaches with plums.) Simmer for 10 minutes, then pour on plastic wrap-covered cookie sheets. Spread to 1/4" thickness. Dry in a warm oven (135-150oF) until leathery, (6-20 hours, depending on how full your oven is). Crack the oven a bit to allow the moisture to escape. If you have a gas stove, the pilot light provides enough heat to keep your oven at a reasonable temperature. Electric stoves require more watching, since they generally heat erratically, which may cause the fruit leather to dry unevenly. To prevent scorching the leather, remove strips of fruit as it dries (generally along the edge first). Allow to cool, then store in ziplock baggies. Freeze for future use, or store in airtight bucket.

4. Saving Money: Buy Ready-Made or Dry It Yourself?

It depends on how much you have to pay for your produce, and how much leisure time you have. Drying your (or your neighbor's) abundant FREE zucchini harvest is always a good bargain. But drying food you have to pay top dollar for does not make good economic sense. Appreciate that dried vegetables have lost about 75-90% water, so less than 1/4 "solid" remains; dried fruits have lost about 50-70% their water. Adjust the price accordingly.

* I dry to the "crispy" stage, so fruit is about 10% water, and vegetables are less than 5% water.



anything dried (cereals, fruits/vegs)  any food that you normally refrigerate 
mustard, oil, vinegar, syrup  mayonnaise, after opening
margarine, peanut butter, jelly  butter
wax-coated hard cheeses  soft cheeses
crackers, chips  bagels, pita (mold after about a week)
dried eggs  raw eggs never, boiled eggs for a few days
powdered milk  liquid milk never, yogurt for a few days



1. Saving Time: Combine ingredients at Home

Get everything together but the water. For example, to make "Rocket Fuel" (See Pudding Variations in Recipes), measure out the 2 oz. instant chocolate pudding, 1/3 C powdered milk and handful of walnuts/chocolate chips into one baggie before you leave home. A bit of tape on a sandwich bag will keep it adequately sealed for hundreds of miles on the trail if it's tucked snuggly in a second ziplock baggie. Write cooking instructions on the baggie, or insert a recipe into the bag, if you need one.

Further Benefit: Repackaging will save you a garbage can full of trash on the trail.

2. Saving Time: Get organized.

Experts debate which is better--The 3 Bag Method or the Series Method.

Whichever suits you, LABEL bags, preferably with indelible marker, including cooking instructions (eg. "Rice-1C Hot Water" tells me to add 1C boiling water to the contents of the bag). I stack the sandwich bags of food into the ziplock bag in the order I intend to use them, one ziplock for breakfast cereals, one for soups, one for desserts, etc. Crackers, peanut butter and snacks go on the top of the pack or in the pockets for ready access.

Miscellaneous: CLEAN UP

1. Drink your dishwater. Of course, you don't use soap in the "dishwater". Simply pour a mouthful of water into the cup/bowl containing a remnant of oatmeal, pudding or casserole, swirl and drink. Soap is generally not necessary, since its purpose is to remove grease. How much grease do you use to fix your oatmeal? Probably none.

2. Use a stick, sand, or a penny for a scouring pad, rather than carry a foul-smelling, bear-attracting dishrag with you for days on the trail. Discard the stick or sand well away from the campsite and from water sources (i.e., 200 feet). To make cleanup easier, buy a cook kit that has no ridges on the bottom of pans as they are hard to clean.

3. Reduce your trash. I recycle my plastic bags, separating "clean" used sandwich bags from dirty plastic sandwich baggies (eg., the baggies in which I've rehydrated spaghetti sauce or turkey-vegetable gravy). The dirty bag gets thrown away at journey's end. The "clean" plastic bags get washed and recycled when I return to the comforts of home (the bags that just held instant pudding mix or oatmeal). Because the bags are recycled over and over, it pays to buy Heavy Duty freezer bags. Remember to keep all used baggies (and toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) in the food bag, properly hung to prevent marauders during the night.

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