Top Tips for Bikepacking / Bike Touring Meals and Food

good food for bicycle touring
On my 'Coasts and Cols' tour, I had the opportunity to experiment with a variety of meals and snacks that are particularly suited to bikepacking or bicycle touring. The focus was always on eating good quality, nutritious, light and varied foods; which would provide fuel for the ride, and keep my body functioning at its best.

Over the course of the trip, I made some notes on ideas and 'Top Tips' for bikepacking food. In this blog post, I thought I'd pick out my 'Ten Top Tips', and also a few recipe ideas…

  • Top Tip 1: 'Carry seasoning' - My top tip, is bring a small stock pot of seasoning, which you can add to meals to add salt and flavour. I mixed up a little pot of vegetable stock powder, mixed herbs and chilli flakes to take with me. It was a winner; adding some spark to evening meals.
  • Top Tip 2: 'Take freeze-dried backup meals' - On the 'Coasts and Cols' trip, I carried a freeze dried dinner and porridge breakfast, from UK brand Expedition Foods. These were a godsend, when on Day 5 of the tour I had to camp at the top of the Col de Portet d'Aspet; the hot dinner and hot breakfast were so reviving, when I hadn't have a chance to get any other food. I was really impressed by the taste, texture and nutrient content of the Expedition Foods meals.
Expedition Foods Freeze Dried Meals

  • Top Tip 3: 'Cook 'One-Pot Meals' and minimise water wastage' - Consider dishes like beans and pre-cooked sausage, or couscous and ham. Opt for carbs like couscous rather than pasta, as they require and waste minimal water for cooking.
  • Top Tip 4: 'Bring a Bircher breakfast' - In my post 'The Ultimate Bikepacking Breakfast', I talked about the benefits of having a good nutritious start to the day. Muesli and granola are relatively light, and super nutritious. I found the best option was a soft muesli, like Rude Health Super and Fruity Bircher - as with these, you can just add water, and it makes a great mix; or for a warming start, you can heat it briefly on the stove - to create a fruity porridge breakfast!

  • Top Tip 5: 'Get your provisions early in the day, and buy local' - Don't be caught out by shops closing early in France and Spain - get your evening/breakfast food early. It is far better to carry it, than go hungry. I also recommend shopping in local stores, rather than large supermarkets; they mean you can just place your bike within sight, and nip in to get what you need. When travelling, it is always worth trying to go for the local delicacy, anyway!
  • Top Tip 6: 'Tinned food isn't to be ruled out' - Many would discount an 840g tin of cassoulet; deeming it too heavy to carry. However, if you're only picking it up and carrying it for the last few hours of the day's riding, then it can be worth it. When you think about it, most of the weight is water weight - so you'd carry that for hydrating dried meals anyway; there is also the fact that these meals only need heating up, rather than cooking.

  • Top Tip 7: 'Take vitamin tablets' - You can view vitamin tabs as a health insurance policy, of sorts: it is hard to get all the correct nutrition when you're travelling light, so these can keep your immune system and health functioning fully.
  • Top Tip 8: 'Find fresh fruit and veg' - When you get the chance, stock up on fresh fruit and veg. If you're lucky, and touring in late summer, you can often find fresh apples, figs and pears on roadside trees in Europe. Get scrumping!
bikepacking food ideas

  • Top Tip 9: 'Beverages in sachets' - How do you take a variety of hot drinks with you? I collect the spare sachets of drinks that I don't use in hotel rooms; that way you can have everything from peppermint tea through to coffee, all freshly sealed.
  • Top Tip 10: 'Prioritise protein' - Finally, a really important piece of advice... protein! Your body will crave carbs, when you're racking up the miles; but it is proteins that are the building blocks of muscle repair, and also a lot more sustaining than carbs. Ensure you eat/take plenty of protein rich snacks and foods; like nuts, cheese, beans and seeds.
nutrition advice for bicycle touring
Local delicacy of Pâté Campagne, with fresh vegetables and Rude Health Oatys - A great bikepacking lunch!



A Bike Touring / Bikepacking Recipe Idea - '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 or as diluted as you prefer - or as much as your stove pot will allow!
  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



A Bike Touring / Bikepacking Recipe Idea - 'Emergency Couscous with Peanut Butter Satay'

I ended up having this meal twice on the 'Coasts and Cols' trip. It was my back-up meal, and utilised the bag of couscous that I was carrying with me, as well as whatever else I could 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 in accordance with 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/availability
http://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=1857&awinaffid=179717&clickref=&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wiggle.co.uk%2Fjetboil-minimo-carbon-line-art%2F



Summary

The key with bicycle touring food, is to have nutritious snacks and meals, which you can happily eat all day long. The better they taste, and the better quality 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)!
bike packing food ideas
Pizza from the local boulangerie on the 'Coasts and Cols' trip - a great treat!


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