Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eating on the Cheap: Mountain Bike Bumming, Part 2

Granola Bar.  From here.
Click here to catch up on the rest of the series.

"Food is essential to life, therefore, make it good."  -S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A

I love to eat Chick-Fil-A.  S. Truett Cathy has a good (and obvious) point: food is essential to life.  And food costs money... but when you're bike bumming, the key is to make it cost as little money as possible. 

Let me spell it out  simply in big, bold letters: DON'T GO OUT TO EAT! If you are trying to mountain bike on a minimalist budget, you absolutely cannot go out to eat.  Eating out is crazy expensive for a bum, and adds up incredibly quickly.

Food For a Week
Rather, I suggest buying dry foods that you can store in your car and eat cold.  Foods high in calories, especially carbs, are excellent choices to keep you well fueled for those long days in the saddle.  I suggest packing food such as:
  • Cereal
  • Fig bars
  • Granola bars
  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Pre-packaged fruit cups, applesauce cups
Nutrition can be somewhat sacrificed for a short amount of time like a week, but I'd recommend buying the occasional salad from a grocery store, and maybe some milk every now and then.  When I'm traveling, I'll also buy fruit as well, and consume it immediately.  While bumming for a week, I basically only eat cold/dry foods, and don't cook anything. 

Ok, I confess: cravings for a hot cheeseburger regularly overtake my being with a  seemingly supernatural power. When those sort of circumstances arise, the dollar menu is the bum's best friend!

MMM... cheesburger... (From here.)

Eating on Longer Trips
A hot meal cannot be beat! If you are going to be living the MTB-bum lifestyle for more than a week, a small propane stove is really a necessity.  If you shop around, you can easily pick up a backpacking size stove for not very much money. 

A mini stove like this for $17.95 would be great!
While this is $60 off of, I picked one of these up for under $25 at an REI scratch and dent sale.

The number of meals that can be cooked on one of those stoves is amazing! 

Bottom Line
Going out to eat at $10 or more per meal adds up FAST! Remember, we're striving to only spend money on gas, and as little as possible on food.  Buying your own food that stores easily is definitely the preferred way to go.

Your Turn:  What sorts of food do you eat while away on mountain bike tips?  If you know of anything that's crazy tasty, packs a caloric punch, and stores easily, please share below!

Part 3: "What to Do: Keeping Busy"


Daniel July 15, 2010 at 1:58 AM  

Yea avoiding the restaurants is a very good idea if your pinching pennies. I do however enjoy the larger grocery stores that have deli’s, and they are few and far between these days but some still have the salad bar that you can put together a decent little lunch for a few bucks. On the road I use an MSR stove and one pot. It usually only get used to boil water but the occasional can of soup or chili does hit the spot. Here are a few of the staples I usually carry;
Peanut butter- absolutely mandatory.
Jam- optional
Ritz crackers- cause everything goes… well you know-
Oatmeal, the instant flavored packs
Dried cranberries- MTB’s beat the hell out of your kidneys, these help keep them in working order- go great in trail mix or the oatmeal.
Walnuts, 3 times as much protein as peanuts and a lot of Omega 3
Bananas, if I can find some cheap, they replace the potassium you burn up and help prevent cramps
Cup of noodles, quick & hot way to fill the void
Still like Cliff bars and watch for them on sale
Ive started using Shot Blocks (chewy) for electrolyte on the trail vs. a sports drink. Much easier to carry and more for the money. Ive tried Nuun also and like it but it’s a little spendy, but really it probably works out to be cheaper than bottled drinks, check it out.
Ok and here is one I was recently turned on too- a Pepper, green, red, yellow- your choice, pick one up; they don’t weigh anything really. Im not sure of the nutritional value but after you have spent a couple hours huffing up the mountain side and your taking a break before continuing on- pull out a baggie of pepper slices and see just how well they just seem to hit the spot, try it.
My vise is coffee. Gotta have it, I use a lexan French press so once again all I have to do is boil the water. Its when I start hitting the espresso shops that it can get spendy, but they also have my wireless connection so 1 cup a day is justified I guess.

Constantin Gabor July 15, 2010 at 7:33 AM  

I love being frugal!

Just as you said I go with minimal expenses and carry my own dried food.

When going mountaineering I love to cook with my mini stove or my hobo stove. It makes the eating even more rewarding. :-)

Thanks for this post, Greg!

Anonymous,  July 16, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

it would be hard for me leave behind the meat....I would have to pack some bubba burgers or something, even hotdogs. lol

Greg Heil July 16, 2010 at 4:13 PM  

@Daniel, I love the oatmeal and bananas too, but don't know if I could bring myself to try peppers mid ride!

@Constantin, frugal is definitely the best way to travel! And I totally agree, cooking a warm meal over a small stove on a frigid backpacking and/or mountaineering trip is so satisfying!

@Crush#41, I'd definitely bring some hotdogs if I had somewhere to eat heat them!

Denver,  February 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM  

Don't forget the protein and fiber. Buy whole cans of pink salmon and whole cans of refried beans (w/o the lard), mix it 50/50 and roll in a wheat tortilla. Also, pack some bag salad and salad dressing. Oh yeah, I love to grill steaks and sweet potatos. Sweet potatos are one of the best foods for you. Eggs, salted nuts(for sweating), bananas, and cheese are others I bring. I drink water, OJ w/Calcium, and no more than a beer a day.

Greg Heil February 20, 2011 at 6:23 PM  

Great suggestions. Those all sound delicious! Although it might be just because I'm really hungry....

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