Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Holy Crap Food Math!

I cooked my first backpacking recipe today. Peanut soup, with a bit of ginger and lime added as a personal touch. I ate a sample serving to check its palatability, and the rest is humming away in the dehydrator now.

Then I sat at my lovely color-coded calendar and calculated how much food I'll need to make. I tallied all the days I'll want pre-prepared food. Then I divided by how many servings each recipe provides. I was very generous. I didn't bother subtracting driving, city, and other non-wilderness days, which realistically will take up one or two days a week. I took out only the Grand Canyon trip (catered) and two weeks around the holidays when I hope to be in one friendly city or another, either out west or on a Christmas break back home. I was also generous with the amount of food. The recipes in the book say they make 4 servings (and the author is certainly familiar with the increased caloric demand of backpacking), but I calculated them to make only 3, given my habit of VERY thoroughly taste-testing everything I cook within reach.

174 days. Round up to 180 for easy math. Divide by 3 servings per recipe. 60 RECIPES! Holy crap! And that's only dinner!

I could safely do a lot less, given that I'll both eat on the road and buy at least some fresh and commercially-made foods. But still. 60 recipes! I'm glad I don't have a job. (As for breakfast and lunch: for lunch I'll want no-cook stuff like snacks, sandwiches, bars, and dried fruit. Breakfast TBD, but probably a lot of instant oatmeal or dried eggs, both of which I'll buy rather than make.)

This doesn't mean 60 different recipes, obviously. At home, I subsist on maybe three or four basic recipes for about 80 percent of my cooking. Today's peanut soup is a good approximation of a dish of vegetables, rice noodles, and homemade Thai peanut sauce that's one of my weekday staples. Give me a pasta with red sauce, vegetarian chili, and some sort of tuna noodle casserole, and and you've pretty much described my winter. But I must remember that I'm spoiled living in Boston surrounded by childless, food-loving friends. I go out or grab takeout at least a couple of times a week, and this culinary variety saves my lazy ass.

But I guess 60 is a good number. It's got a lot of factors. Should I make 5 rounds of 12 different recipes? 6 of 10? However the math works out, the point is that I have a lot of cooking to do. And if I want to do it at a reasonable pace (and if I insist on making my own soup stock, as I did for this recipe), I have to get going, and keep going, right now.

Thank God for planning. Thank God for time! Also: mmm, peanuts.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking from no experience whatsoever: Maybe jot down what you eat over a 2-week period where you're making most of your own meals. Then you'll get a sense of what you crave more frequently... wouldn't be surprised if you end up wanting far more of some recipes (like Thai peanut) than others.

    And 'cause over-complicating is my biz: wonder if some things re-hydrate better than others?