Finding Hard To Find Food Items

Wondering what something is? Can you use something similar? Where can you expect to find this product?

•    Canned chicken comes in cans from 3 oz size, to 5 oz size and also 10 oz’s. The 5 oz size is good for 2 person meals. The broth in the can has good flavor for the meals. Do not drain it! You can also use the 7 oz foil packets of chicken if you like more chicken. Be sure to get the cans with pull tops. While you might think that cans are heavy, once empty they weigh about the same as the foil packets. Stomp the can hard with your boot, and it will fit nicely in your garbage bag.
•    Ham comes in 7 oz foil pouches in some areas. You can also find it in small cans, look for pop tops.
•    Tuna comes in foil pouches. 3 oz size is perfect for one person, the 6 oz size for two. Albacore is the better choice. If you are doing long days, use the oil packed version. Tuna steaks are now available in pouches.
•    Salmon. The small pouches are great for 1 person-larger pouches are good for 2 persons. Canned can be used, make sure it is boned and skin free.
•    Seafood. Shrimp, Clams, Crab,  all come in small pouches.
•    You can always substitute canned products. Just look for pop tops. The liquid can always be used in your meal, so no draining needed.
•    Hamburger: Precooked and dehydrated at home. Directions are in the drying section.
•    Freeze dried meat: There are many choices, and it can be an easy way to carry meat on long trips. Freeze dried meats are not inexpensive though, but if you are trying to save weight and space, they can be worth it. For a large selection online, see Wilderness Dining and Be Prepared. You can also substitute TVP which comes in many flavors. See Harmony House Foods for it.
•    Couscous: It is tiny pasta, full of protein and carbs, and needs only water added. You can find whole wheat also. You can find this at grocery stores near the rice mixes, in bulk sections, natural food stores.
•    Coconut Cream Powder: A high fat/calorie powder that makes coconut cream. It is found in Asian stores and some larger ethnic sections in grocery stores, also online. Used in curry dishes to make creamier.
•    Instant Hummus is a powder you mix with cold water, to make a spread. Made from Garbonza beans and spices. Can be found in natural or ethnic section at grocery stores, in bulk, natural food stores.
•    Instant Refried Beans (Flakes): They come in brown or black bean. Can be found in bulk, in grocery stores, in natural food stores. Sometimes sold as “bean soup” mixes…but can be used to make refried beans. Use more water than the box calls for-as refried style, they can be very thick.
•    Veggie Flakes/Dried Veggies/freeze dried veggies: Tiny shreds of dried veggies. Usually is a mix including carrots, celery, onions, parsley, sometimes also tomato, potato, peas, beans, etc. Found in the bulk sections of grocery stores or natural food stores, sometimes sold as “soup starters”. You can also find this online through some retailers. You can make your own by dehydrating a 16 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies (small cut), then chopping up in a food processor or blender.  Find them online at Wilderness Dining.
•    Dried Mushrooms: There are many kinds to try. Plain white mushrooms work well in many meals. Find in the produce department in grocery stores and online through Harmony House Foods.
•    Dried Bell Pepper Flakes: Dried, in small flakes, these rehydrate quite fast. Either in green or red. Some natural food stores carry,  or at  spice and herb stores, as well as online stores. Find them online at Harmony House Foods.
•    Dried Onions: You want the smaller pieces (some places carry two sizes). Find at grocery stores, in bulk sections, at club stores, online at Harmony House Foods.
•    Dried Tomatoes/Powder: You can find dried tomatoes (sun dried, no oil) in bulk herb sections & gourmet sections. If you cannot find powder, you can run tomato pieces thru a mill, coffee grinder or food processor. You can also dry tomato paste and powder it.
•    Dried Carrots: Online, spice & herb stores, in natural food stores sometimes. If you dry your own, just run through the blender or food processor till flaked.
•    Instant Milk Powder: Non-fat milk is widely found, whole milk (Nido®) can be found online, at Walmart Supercenters® or in gourmet cooking stores in the baking area. For higher protein, you can use soy milk powder, found in tubs in the soy milk section of your grocery store.
•    Soy Milk Powder: Instant dairy milk can be used instead. Find the soy in your grocery store in tubs, in the soy aisle. Usually is 2 Tbsp per 8 oz of liquid, so in many recipes if it calls for 1/2 cup dairy milk powder, use 2 Tbsp instead. Much higher in protein than dairy.  Better Than Milk® is an excellent brand.
•    Freeze Dried fruit: Look in club stores and in your grocery store.  Just Tomatoes® and Harmony House Foods sell freeze-dried fruits. You can also find a limited variety at Trader Joe’s, that changes often.
•    Making Your Own Oatmeal: Take 1 minute “Quick” oats…and run through a blender or food processor till it looks like instant oatmeal. Use just the same as the instant packets, adding spices, sugar, fruit, nuts, etc.
•    Low Sodium Chicken/Vegetable/Beef Bouillon: If you use it and like salt, add a pinch of salt to your food.  We have recipes for making vegetarian “chicken” bouillon on the site, which is very good. By using low sodium, you can control the salt to your liking.
•    Salt: We use kosher salt in allour recipes, if needed. Sea salt is also nice to use. Table salt can be used, but tends to have a “saltier” flavor so use less.
•    Instant Rice: Basic Minute Rice®. In any rice recipe you can use instant brown rice. Brown rice does need to sit in the cozy for an extra 5 to 10 minutes.
•    Cheese Sauce Powder: You can find this in bulk at some grocery stores, or online. You can always sub cheese powder packets from mac and cheese boxes or use a cheese of your choice (1-2 ounces) diced up. Look in organic sections for faux cheese sauce powder as well.
•    Salsa can be easily dried at home on a dehydrator (see drying section) but can also be found as easy prep mix online and an easy to make corn salsa.

 What to always carry in your “kitchen”:

The good thing about freezer bag cooking is usually your food is going to be ready to go taste wise…but you never know how your taste buds might be day in and out. So carry with you in a small bag:
•    A couple salt and pepper packets from a fast food place. I carry a small GSI Pepper Mill.
•    A couple packets of Parmesan cheese.
•    A couple snack size baggies with some herbs & spices such as thyme, garlic, dried parsley, etc. If you are planning on making soups in a cozy, it never hurts to carry some instant mashed potatoes to thicken if it is thinner than you like.

Building your “outdoor” pantry:

Keep on hand in bulk or boxes:
•    Instant Rice
•    Couscous
•    Instant refried beans
•    Instant hummus mix
•    Cheese sauce powder
•    Dried minced onions
•    Dried veggie mix
•    Dried bell peppers
•    Dried tomatoes, flaked
•    Dried mushrooms
•    Soup mixes
•    Gravy packets
•    Stuffing mix
•    Pouches of tuna, salmon, cans of chicken, turkey, dried hamburger or flavored TVP.
•    Drink mix packets.
•    Ramen noodle pouches.
•    A vast assortment of  packets of condiments. I keep them in small zip top bags by type. Whenever I eat out I always ask if I can have triple what they give me. Ask nicely and don”t be greedy and you will be rewarded.
I also have in my kitchen a large assortment of herbs and spices. Whenever I want to perk up a recipe this is my mode:

Savory foods:  
•    Dried thyme, garlic, dried parsley, fresh ground black pepper, dried chives, dried rosemary, pizza and spaghetti blend herbs.

Deserts, Breakfasts: 
•    Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pie spice blend.
•    A favorite item for me is candied ginger. If you buy it in bulk, it is very affordable. Dice it up and add it to your oatmeal.


Where to find single serving items & condiment packs?

If you look into Sarah’s food bag you will find a world of flavors, all in single serving packets. The items stay fresh and are ready for when you need them. They can take a plain meal to something spectacular in a couple seconds!

Don’t be shy! Ask for packets whenever you eat out. Most fast food places will give them to you if asked nicely.

Organize the packets you collect in snack or sandwich zip top bags by type of condiment. Try to rotate your stock, and for items like mayo and dressings, use them up in couple months or toss them.

Honey: Starbuck’s (real honey), fried chicken places, other fast food such as fish shops – though some are flavored corn syrup. Read carefully.

Butter and its imitators: fried chicken and fish shops, other fast food, continental breakfasts, diners.

Ketchup & mustard: Your favorite fast food place, grocery store delis.

Salsa/picante sauce:
 Fast food that offers burritos and convenience stores, sometimes you can find 4-8 packs of tubs at grocery stores and Quickie Marts.

Ranch tubs: Fast food and Hidden Valley Dressing® in 4 packs at the grocery store.

Parmesan Cheese & Red Pepper Flakes: Costco and Sams Club food courts, any pizza joint.

Jam packets or tubs: Fast food, continental breakfasts at motels, diners.

Soy Sauce & sesame seeds: your favorite Chinese place or full service grocery store deli.

BBQ Sauce: fast food.

Salt and pepper packets:
 most places.

Mayonnaise and relish packets: Convenience stores that sell fried foods, deli’s in grocery stores, truck stops, sandwich shops.

Arby’s® is great for Horsey sauce, their BBQ sauce, etc.

Many McDonalds® and KFC® have moist towelettes in packets.

Papa John’s®: will sell you tubs of cheese sauce, garlic sauce, marinara sauce for minimal cost. They also have Parmesan cheese and pepper packets.

How to get packets with no begging involved:

Visit PackitGourmet and/or Minimus. These companies stock so many items you will want to order as many as you can. They carry many hard to find items. Minimus also carries supplies for stocking your first aid kit as well. Both have excellent customer service and are fast. Now go shop!

Shopping For Items Online:

PackitGourmet – consider it an online store for hikers.

Justin’s Nut Butters – some of the best out there and it comes in packets.

Just Tomatoes – Full line of dehydrated and freeze-dried vegetables, fruits and powders. Many organic versions.

Harmony House Foods – full line of dried vegetables, fruits, beans and meat subs ready to go on the trail.

Wilderness Dining – They carry many items.