BEGINNERS GUIDE TO GOING STOVE-LESS
I have been backpacking stove-less for several years now. My stove broke on the first few days of hiking the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia a few years ago. I had to last the rest of the 1000km without. Surprisingly I quickly embraced no-cook meals. They were speedy to prepare and I was able to make tasty meals from items I could pick up in supermarkets and general stores.
WHERE TO START
If you want to try out going stove-less but aren’t sure where to start, try making the transition gradually. Maybe only use the stove for dinner and have a cold breakfast and lunch to ease into it.
Plan what you are going to eat. Choose cold items that you like. Sandwiches, wraps, couscous and pastas are all great options to eat at room temperature. If you allow a little extra time, you can have instant noodles with cold water. It just takes much longer to rehydrate. Allow 2-3 hours instead of 2-3 minutes.
If you love coffee and tea, try and substitute it for iced tea or iced coffee while you are making the transition.
The easiest stove-less foods are those that can be eaten dry. Cheese, peanut butter, wraps and vegetables are all examples of these. However, these tend to be heavier than alternatives because they have a higher water content. I still carry some of these as handy snacks, but if you need to carry a lot of food with you because you won’t reach a supermarket for several days, these foods are not that space efficient.
There are some foods which can be eaten instantly after adding water. These are more lightweight and can be prepared quickly. When I am hiking, I usually eat these as a lunchtime meal. You don’t have to stop for a long period of time to prepare them. Powdered hummus and cereal with powdered milk are examples of these. You can also get instant cheesecake meals which only require the addition of water.
For dinner, I add more time to hydrate food. Ramen, instant rice and couscous are always on the menu for dinner. If you don’t want to wait for food to hydrate after stopping for the day, add the water a couple of hours before and re-seal the ziploc freezer bag. This way you can carry it around until you are ready to eat it. In cold weather, put it in your pocket so it rehydrates faster (and it’s warm to eat).
A tasty recommendation of mine is an instant pasta dish, put into a ziploc bag. Then I add powdered milk, dried veggies, nuts and some cheese. Once I add the water the milk and cheese make a creamy sauce. Canned tuna is a great way to add a lot of flavour and protein as a treat. It is so delicious you will wonder why you ever lugged a heavy stove around with you on all those trips.
Do you have any other recommendations for stove-less meals? Share your tips through the comments section below.