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Meals for the Adventure

Posted in: Planning colombia

As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time away from towns and villages as I travel. When you go off the beaten track, it can be days, or even weeks, before you encounter a means to cook for yourself. 


I've lost track of the number of times I'm asked how and what I eat in those situations. There is an idea that people that explore or spend extended times away from villages towns or even people, like me can rustle up a meal from the wild in any situation. Popular TV channels have reinforced this idea repeatedly over the last decade. However, the truth is that learning how to survive on wild fruit, berries, and bugs is a complex and often dangerous process. Unless you know what you have stumbled across, without any doubt, there is a good chance of poisoning yourself. 


As any knowledgeable or experienced person, would tell you, it's best to go prepared.  As such, I take British MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) out with me. I learnt about these MREs after spending time in areas where people in the armed forces train or spend time there. Inside the MRE bag are many ready-to-eat snacks, dense cereals, biscuits, and drinks, as well as the main meals, spork (spoon crossed with a fork) and anti-bacterial wipes to clean up afterwards. Firstly, they suggest that you try ALL the available flavours of the main meals. And they meal all of them! There are many options, but most taste very little like their namesakes. So, explore all the options to find the most enjoyable ones for you. Most people can find a few flavours they enjoy. 

Be sure to take a few packets of extra luxuries in my case pepper easily found in any country, to ensure you can give your meal a little zest. If you've followed the above advice, you've already selected a few flavours that suit you best, but being able to tailor each meal a little further will stretch how long you're happy eating them.

Most importantly, be sure to heat your meal thoroughly. Most people prefer a warm meal to a cold one, especially if they are in wet or cold conditions or have spent a long day trekking. Eating cold spaghetti or stew is not my idea of fun. Luckily MREs come with a clever flameless heating mechanism, allowing you to heat your food. Add up to a litre of water into the pouch supplied with the MRE. The water combines with Magnesium, a harmless chemical that oxidises when it comes into contact with the liquid, resulting in a great deal of heat output.  You then slide your chosen meal into the pouch and wait ten minutes. Voila, hot meals! You can also use the pouch to heat coffee or tea, essential on a damp night.  In my case this is was my chosen and has been for a number of years now.

As a safety tip, be very careful not to scald yourself on the boiling water, especially in tropical regions. A burn can quickly become an unmanageable infection, which is life-threatening when you are a hours and sometimes days away from the nearest settlement.  


The great thing about MREs is that they are considerably lighter than just taking regular food with you, and they last for years without perishing, so you can be sure that the food in your pack is good to go. it is also easily done to lessen the load and for those who like to strip out all the weight they deem unnecessary, such as wet wipes, unpopular treats, and so on, so that they only take the absolute necessary load into the field. 


Enjoy the outdoors and plan an adventure.