Food is a key part of any expedition, it is a source of energy, warmth, comfort and motivation. After a cold tough day on the water, what we need is not only something warm, but a meal that is tasty and satisfying to fill our bellies. All too often we don’t realize how well we can eat whilst living out of a kayak. We seem to think that we’ve got to pack instant noodles and breakfast bars, yet they simply won’t sustain expedition paddling.
Having spent five weeks living on freeze dried food in chile, I came to the conclusion that it is not the solution. Freeze dried meals have their advantages, as they are a good option to keep weight down, but I feel I could have done a better job shopping wisely in a supermarket.
In this guide to expedition recipes I have chosen my top five meals, and all of them can be cooked up in a single pot. I find that a medium size tupperware box is super handy and a perfect way of keeping things warm and to one side whilst cooking up other bits.
1/ Gnocchi and pesto– 4mins
Gnocchi is an awesome tasty and filling carb, and it only takes two minutes to cook. Spice it up with a few tasty extras and you have yourself a feast.
Chop half a red onion and fry
Add a chopped pepper and/or courgette
Add chopped up chorizo for extra flavor
Once nicely fried, tip into a bowl and put to one side
Boil water in the same pan (no real need to clean first)
Boil gnocchi for 2 mins or as instructions suggest, then drain
Chuck the veg back in with the steaming hot gnocchi and stir in some pesto
If you’re feeling fancy, top it off with a little grated parmesan (a small zip lock bag with pre-grated parmesan is an ultimate treat and takes next to no space in your kayak)
2/ Tortellini– 6 mins
Tortellini is another quick-cook delicious meal, taking only six minutes. It can be added to a variety of sauces to keep your taste buds interested.
Chop up half an onion and fry
Add chopped pepper and/or courgette
*Olives, sweat-corn and sun-dried tomatoes can make this meal bulkier and tastier if desired
Add a sachet of tomato pasta sauce (red pesto also works well)
For the dedicated carnivore, chorizo or tuna are a perfect addition
Put sauce to one side and boil up the pasta
Mix the sauce into the pasta and top with parmesan
3/ Chile con carne– 2 mins
‘Look What We Found’ are a great little secret I am happy to share with the world. They are a company which make a whole range of healthy and really good ready meals. All they require is heating up but I have found adding a few extras can make them feel like a home cooked meal.
Whilst boiling up water for your flask chuck in a bag of ready cooked rice to warm through, and put to the side
Fry up onion, pepper and chorizo in a pan
Add in the packet of chile con carne
Serve with the rice and top with cheese, cheddar is my favorite (stored in a sealed bag cheese does last a while if your not in hot climates – three weeks is my record!)
*Also really filling when eaten in wraps and extra kidney beans can be added for hungry paddlers
4/ Mushroom risotto– 10 mins
Packets of pre-flavored risotto can easily be found and are a perfect starting point. This meal does take a little longer to cook but it is super simple. I stumbled across dried mushrooms whilst on a recent expedition shop and thought they could be great, it turns out they are a perfect expedition extra, they add a lot of flavor and texture to a meal whilst weighing next to nothing.
5/ Chicken tikka with rice– 4 mins
Another ‘Look What We Found’ gem.
Boil water for a brew and heat up a packet of pre-cooked rice at the same time, then put to one side
Chop and fry half an onion
Add chopped pepper and sun dried tomatoes
Mix in the packet of chicken tikka
Hey presto, serve with the rice
*packets of chapatis add a bit off extra luxury to this meal, they have long sell by dates and are easy to store in boats
A combination of the following make an awesome pudding for those with a sweet tooth! Custard powder and banana. Pancake mix. Nutella & flat bread. Soreen and custard. Freeze dried rice pudding. Wayfarer sticky toffee pudding and chocolate brownies.
Chapattis and tortilla wraps are a great lunch option for any paddler. Using just a little imagination with the addition of cous-cous, olives, sundried tomatoes and a tin or sachet of tuna you have yourself a healthy and filling lunch. The wraps are a perfect expedition lunch as they last for weeks and are easily packable in the bottom of your boat.
There are variations to these lunch ideas, for example pepperoni, chorizo, sweetcorn, beetroot and mackerel to add as fillings.
Fishing and foraging
The beauty of being on your boat and cruising the coastline is that with a line out there is a good chance of catching some fish. Mackerel season brings an abundance of fresh tasty fish, with a few hooks and a filleting knife, some foil and a few spices you can knock up a real tasty fishy feast. For you foragers out there, it’s often easy to find mussels, blueberries and blackberries as an extra tasty treat.