I recently changed my way of cooking on the trail. Previously I used a pretty standard setup. I had my aluminum 4 cup pot with 2 cup lid, 8 oz butane/propane cylinder with screw on burner, and a spork. My routine was always boil water, add in whatever dehydrated meal, and simmer while stirring. Not much work. The worst part was always cleaning the pot, especially if I ate anything with parmesan or mashed potatoes. When I first heard about freezer bag cooking, I thought it could be the end of scrubbing pots on the back trail. The only required piece of equipment (other than the freezer bags themselves) was a bag coozie. I made one out of an old windshield sunshade that was that metallic bubble wrap material, and duct tape.
My first freezer bag meal was at home; Creamy Parmesan Ramen (400 cal/100 grams). Boiled my 2 cups of water, poured it in the freezer bag, and dropped it in my coozie. A few minutes later I had cooked, but watery and excessively hot noodles. I learned two things; I no longer needed to bring the water to an full boil, and I didn’t need as much water. Both reduce the amount of fuel needed, and there wasn’t a need to simmer either. All this meant my 4 cup pot was way too big, and 8 oz of fuel can was overkill.
The 2 cup lid would now be my cook pot. I picked up one of the 4 oz fuel cans for my next adventure. A section hike, 53 mile from Springer Mountain to Unicoi Gap along the Appalachian Trail. I weighed my fuel before and after my hike. With a little math, I figured out a single 4 oz canister now lasts 10-14 boils (depending on how much water is required for each meal, and the initial temperature of the water). My mess kit is now roughly half the weight. I make tally marks in permanent marker on my fuel cans denoting how many cups of water I’ve boiled. A quick weigh and a little math and I have a pretty good estimate of how many cups of water I can boil with the fuel left in a can.
I have 200+ miles PCT section hike coming this summer. I’ve dropped cooked food from my lunch. I usually skipped lunch on long mile days anyways, opting to snack while I walked to limit my downtime. Breakfast was already no cook. Usually granola or Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, and Nido (powdered whole milk, 516 cal/100 grams). My 4 oz can will last as long as two weeks. Saved a bit of weight, and no more scrubbing pots!
Pro Tip: Get a long spoon. The Dairy Queen Blizzard spoons are perfect!