One thing I found from backpacking is that hikers know how to pack cheap and light.
A few things:
- Check out that tuna carefully. Often, the label on the can tells you the weight of the contents (including the water) which we throw away. The foil packets have less water and are therefore, sometimes cheaper for the same amount of meat.
- Idahoian mashed potatos and stove top stuffing are great bulk to an otherwise boring meal. Add some canned chicken or pre-cooked bacon (can be found in many stores) and you've got a pretty tasty meal.
- Bulk granola pre-mixed with powdered milk and some dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, etc...) is tasty with just a little water over it to moisten it. Full of calories too. Hot water works well in the colder months.
- I found an insulated mug / coffee press at a local coffee shop. Pricy, but makes great coffee and I can't stand instant! Once you own it, it's cheap -- no filters and you can get pretty much any coffee ground for a french press these days.
- I like finding a health food store and stocking up on dehydrated items such as fruits and veggies. A small handful of dried fruit in oatmeal makes it much less boring for day after day consumption. A handful of dehydrated veggies in some raman can be a good treat.
- While raman doesn't have much in it, it has fat and salt -- two things which are very important if you're exerting yourself or in for a long cold night. Eat it with some protein and you're not doing too bad.
- Powdered milk adds calories to just about anything. Sauces, mashed potatos and the like you won't even taste it. Stretches the budget by allowing you to eat less.
I'm a big fan of a multi-fuel stove. Weight aside, waking up to hot coffee on a cold morning or having a hot dinner is really important to mental health for some (myself included). I don't mind eating granola bars or peanut butter tortillas (try nutella on tortillas for a great treat!) for lunches or throughout the day on rest stops. But I really like a hot dinner!