Ds10 got back at 10:30 last night, and at 8 this morning, dd14 set off for several days of backpacking with four other girls and one adult. I sometimes long for when everyone was young and doing the same thing at the same time – things that used to be very easy, like eating meals together or enjoying a family read aloud, now require conscious effort and planning. So it will be a few more days before we all are together at the same time!
But don’t think I’m complaining – I’m very glad dd has this opportunity since it’s just the kind of thing she enjoys. She’ll be spending three days and two nights on the Appalachian Trail. Each girl is carrying all her food and supplies for the trip with her, so they need to pack light. Yesterday I asked dd what the plan for the meals was, and she said that each girl was bringing enough of something for everyone. For example, dd packed 24 packets of grits for breakfast, someone else is packing an equal amount of instant oatmeal, yet another girl will bring macaroni and cheese packets for dinner. They’re going to have a pot to boil water and a filter to get water as they go along, so that is the only cooking capacity they’ll have. As I was listening to her, I was thinking that it didn’t sound incredibly well balanced to me. Fortunately, I have a good supply of nuts and home dehydrated fruit I was able to tell her to take from so I didn’t need to run out at the last minute to buy her special food items. As she was packing, it occurred to me that she could take some dehydrated veggies also. Then the idea flashed though my mind that we could make her dehydrated meals to take!
So this is what we did yesterday. We made a quick menu plan for three breakfasts and three dinners (they won’t be stopping for lunch so she packed nuts and dried fruit that she’ll be able to eat as they hike). We decided to include cheese chunks with grits for breakfast for two mornings, and made a homemade instant oatmeal mix for her using quick oats, organic milk powder, dried apples (that we picked ten days ago), and some cinnamon. She doesn’t generally eat sugar but someone who wanted to could add sugar or sucanat.
Then we turned our attention to the dinners. I had hamburger rocks that I made several weeks ago (dehydrated and canned ground meat) that I initially thought I could include. But she said that they were planning dairy dinners, so I shifted away from meat ideas. At first she thought she’d be gone for three nights so we prepared for three dinners, but in the end they’ll be back in the evening in time for dinner at home.
For the first dinner she’ll have fish, mashed potatoes, and cooked vegetables. I had in my pantry some vacuum packed envelopes of salmon and tuna (bought for .50 each instead of 3.29), so she took one of those. It’s about 4 ounces so it’s good for one portion. She cooked mashed potatoes, making them watery so they’d be able to be spread thinly on a paraflexx sheet to dry. Then she cooked up a couple of boxes of frozen mixed vegetable and spread them on another sheet to dry. This is different from how I dehydrate vegetables for cooking use- what I’ve dried is intended to be rehydrated by cooking and hot water wouldn’t make them soft enough. Apparently when making instant meal kinds of foods, the trick is to first cook the food, then dehydrate it, and then use hot water and ten minutes in a covered dish to rehydrate it for eating.
That was dinner one. Then dinner two was chili with cheese. She made the chili and dehydrated it. Then she cooked up more veggies – she made a batch of peas and another batch of mixed vegetables – and dried those. We also cooked and dehydrated brown rice for another meal (was supposed to be eaten with albacore steak and vegetables)- even though she won’t need the food for a third dinner, I suggested to her that she take it just in case. I don’t like the idea of sending her out on a trail with exactly the amount of food she’ll need – it’s good to have a little extra to be better prepared for eventualities. Hopefully everything will rehydrate as planned and she’ll be able to have well balanced food on the trail.
We had fun preparing the foods. Dd said she hopes that the other girls aren’t jealous of her!! (They won’t be, I’m sure – if she was loaded down with chocolate, that would be something else!) I’m telling you, it’s so liberating to be able to make things like this at home! Now we’re starting to prepare for our annual camping trip next week (we usually go the last week of May but this week we had a week old baby so the plan obviously was adapted :)), and we’re considering if there would be a value in doing something like this on a larger scale for our family.