Chapter 55: How to Cook With Freezer Bag Cooking

Freezer bag cooking gives you an inexpensive way to take some of your favorite foods backpacking. And the cleanup is a snap.

Freezer bag cooking is simply taking your own food, usually dried, in zip seal freezer bags, and then adding boiling water and letting your meal “cook” in the bag. Eat right from the bag and there’s no cleanup.

You have total control. You can customize each meal for size and variety. You’ll likely find your meals are healthier.

If it sounds difficult, let’s start with some simple ideas. You can get fancy later if you like. For breakfast, start with your favorite oatmeal or other hot cereal. Put a one meal portion in the freezer bag.

Let’s get just a little fancier. Add some fruit from foil bags in the supermarket like blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and plums and now it’s really your favorite hot cereal.

Want to get hiking quicker and just have a cold breakfast? Take your favorite granola-type cereal; add some fruit and dried milk and you’ve got a nicely flavored freezer bag meal that just needs cold water. Again, no cleanup. Just zip the bag closed.

For lunch, let’s start with a simple package of dried soup. Put it in a freezer bag and you’ve already saved your cleanup time when you’re on the trail. Add some big chunks of chicken and some sun dried tomatoes, and it tastes better and gives you more energy.

Think of the packaged lunch and dinner meals that are already in your house. There are all kinds of rice, pasta, dried potato, and couscous meals that can stand alone or have spices, herbs, meat, and veggies added. Tuna and chicken can be added when you add the water to your meal.

Soon you’ll get more daring and put together your own meals. Think of how good and how simple it would be to make couscous, chopped almonds, garlic powder, and sun dried tomatoes. Another meal is done – another cleanup avoided.

Meals with quick-cook beans offer flavor and protein.

Your use of herbs and spices is unlimited. Here are just a few things that can give your meals more flavor: garlic powder, chili powder, minced onions, and beef or chicken bouillon.

You can find some dried veggies in your supermarket, and even more at health food stores and specialty markets. You’ve probably been meaning to spend more time learning about healthier foods anyway.

If you buy a food dehydrator, your possibilities will really be endless.

An “envelope cozy” will help hold the heat while your food cooks. See our chapter 33 for how to easily make a couple of different cozies. And be sure to see our chapter 11 on ultralight backpacking food.