7 Tips – Bikepacking and Cycle Touring Meals and Food

On past bikepacking trips I have had the opportunity to experiment with a variety of meals and foods particularly suited to bikepacking and lightweight cycle touring. The focus is always on eating decent quality, nutritious, lightweight, but varied foods that would supply fuel for the ride and keep your body functioning at its best.

These are a few of tips for eating on bikepacking trips, as well as some simple recipe ideas…


1. Carry Seasoning

My top tip is to bring a small pot of seasoning that you can add to meals—supplying salt and flavour. I mix up a little pot of vegetable stock powder, mixed herbs, and chilli flakes to take with me—adding some spark to evening dishes.


2. Freeze-Dried Back-Up Meals

In all of my past 'Gearing Up' posts you will spot freeze-dried meals from UK brand Expedition Foods. These were a godsend on days like Day 5 of the #CoastsandCols tour—when I got caught out by shop closures and had to camp at the top of the Col de Portet d'Aspet—the hot dinner and breakfast were reviving, and undoubtedly helped ward off hypothermia. I am always impressed by the taste, texture, and nutritional content of Expedition Foods freeze-dried meals.

Expedition Foods Freeze Dried Meals


3. Cook One-Pot Meals and Tins to Minimise Water Wastage

Consider dishes like beans and pre-cooked sausage, or couscous and ham. Opt for carbohydrates such as couscous rather than pasta—as they require and waste minimal water for cooking.

Many would discount an 840-gram tin of cassoulet as suitable touring fodder—thinking it too heavy to carry. However, if you are only carrying it for the last few hours of the day then it is worth it in my opinion; consider most of the weight is water weight, so you would carry that for hydrating dried meals anyway. Tinned meals also only need heating up, rather than cooking—saving time and stove fuel.


4. Shop Local and Shop Early

Do not be caught out by shops closing early—get your evening/breakfast food when you can. It is far better to carry it further, than to go hungry.

I also recommend shopping in local stores rather than large supermarkets—they mean you can place your bike within sight and nip in to get what you need.

French Cassoulet


5. Sustaining Snacks

Protein. Your body will crave carbohydrates when you are racking up the miles, but it is protein that is the building block of muscle repair, and also a lot more sustaining than carbohydrates.

Ensure you eat/take plenty of protein-rich snacks and foods: like nuts, cheese, beans, and seeds.


6. Forage for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

When you get the chance, stock up on fresh fruit and veg. If you are lucky, and happen to be touring in late summer, then you can often find fresh apples, figs, and pears on roadside trees in Europe.

Get scrumping...

Bikepacking Foraging


7. Pots and Packets – Pre-Prepared Meals

If your trip is only a few days duration, then consider what you can take along as pre-made meals from home. With a selection of pots and packets, you can make a surprising number of meals...

One great trick is 'Instant Bircher Muesli Bags'. Choose a soft muesli like Rude Health Soft and Fruity Bircher, and add a serving along with several heaped tablespoons of milk powder to a plastic freezer bag or repurposed seal-tight coffee bag. In the morning, all you need do is add water to the bag to create an instant breakfast. You can also heat the contents on a stove to create a fruity porridge breakfast.

Rude Health Muesli


Bikepacking Recipe Idea No. 1 – 'Romesco Chicken Noodle Pot'

This was my evening meal on Day 2 of the 'Coasts and Cols' trip. I had carried the dried noodles strapped to my seat-pack for the day, and the other ingredients were bought from a tiny road-side convenience store.

Ingredients:
 - 3 wholemeal noodle nests
 - 1 packet of cooked chicken breast pieces
 - 1 small tin of Romesco sauce
 - Seasoning
 - Water

Method:
  1. Heat the Romesco sauce and water in your stove pot – I use a Jetboil Minimo Cooking System – add as much water as you want to make the sauce as rich as you wish.
  2. Add the noodles and a sprinkling of stock, and simmer until the noodles are soft – top up the water if required
  3. Take off the heat, and stir in the cooked chicken breast chunks
  4. Eat straight from the pot
Bike Touring Recipes



Bikepacking Recipe Idea No. 2 – 'Emergency Peanut Butter Satay Couscous'

This is a real back-up meal—utilising a trusty bag of couscous I often carry with me on bicycle touring trips. The additions are whatever I can add/find... that was two sausages from a takeaway van in a small French village, on one occasion.

Ingredients:
 - Couscous
 - Peanut Butter
 - Seasoning
 - Water
 - Added Protein e.g. sausage, cheese, ham

Method:
  1. Cook the couscous following the instructions on the packet
  2. Stir in two tablespoons of peanut butter
  3. Give a generous sprinkling of stock mix
  4. Add your 'Added Protein' of choice


Summary

The key to bicycle touring food is having nutritious snacks and meals you can happily eat all day. The better they taste, and the better quality of the ingredients, the better they will keep you fuelled for riding.

Pack light, shop local, and make the most of available fresh produce. Improvise... and treat yourself.

Bikepacking Foods Tim Wiggins

Comments

  1. Interesting stuff, as I condsider micro adventuring

    ReplyDelete
  2. I see a Thule bag on your handlebars - is that a bike specific bag? I love their quality but cant seem to find the bag for sale in UK. Could you please advise? Also, and i know i am a pushy wee Scotsman, but would you consider doing an article on bags? I find your articles really helpful, than you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! It is indeed the Thule Handlebar Bag, this model: https://www.thule.com/en-gb/bike-accessories/panniers/thule-shield-handlebar-bag-_-100056

      It is not widely available now, which is why I never reviewed it. It worked well though.

      My honest suggestion if you want a great rigid handlebar bag, is this model: https://www.lifeinthesaddle.cc/2013/08/arkel-small-handlebar-bag-review.html

      Delete

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