Last night I flew into LA from Barcelona, promptly got picked up by my friend, went to a bar, ate sushi with more friends, and had a short and decidedly out of shape karaoke session. Nothing like hitting the ground running.
With my Japanese fix quenched, or at least soothed, off it was to start dehydrating everything.
I paid $5 to get two boxes of organic veggies via a Living Social deal that was hackable. All of the veggies above were included! I got started on chopping kale and chard and was ready to go when my friend kindly dropped off the super awesome, 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator. *Side note!* When doing a budget dehydrate-a-thon, probably the best place to do it is somewhere like LA. Because half the people there have a dehydrator they are not using. I placed the greens on the trays, sprinkled with zaatar seasoning, and put them in the dehydrator.
It took 3-4 hours to reduce 5 huge bunches of greens to this:
Man, shrinkage is a drag.
Anyway I felt emboldened by my first attempt and went on to the next step in my dehydration learning curve: veggies for a curry I will make. Apparently the best thing to do is dehydrate each ingredient separately as much as possible. I chopped up 4 HUGE broccoli heads and got this after about 6 hours:
That is so crazy to me! The carrots and celery took an extra hour or so. Chopped basil and cilantro only around 4 hours total. I also dehydrated 2 lbs of bok choi.
In general when dehydrating vegetables, if the item can be eaten in a salad, one doesn’t have to pre cook it. Otherwise, it’s best to boil, blanch or steam first. I was lucky in that I am staying at a friend’s house, who happened to still have a giant steamer pot from a tamale-making party I hosted a couple years ago. Total score for bulk steaming! I steamed the carrots, broccoli, and bok choi for a few minutes each. These veggies are all going to go in a Thai green curry with SeaBear salmon I am making.
In the evening another friend came by with HER giant, 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator, so I have good hopes for tomorrow. The plan is to finish the rest of the vegetables- drying mashed sweet potatoes and mashed cauliflower. It’s a pretty natural progression on my learning curve. I was really hoping to start on dehydrating the pasta for a grain-free spaghetti I will make, but apparently it still has not arrived yet. So if I have time tomorrow I will probably try to start on a hummus or bean dip, which will be one of the lunches I will eat. I’m kind of bummed since customs confiscated the awesome and cheap Spanish tapenade I had hoped to mix into the hummus (the jar was 135g and I guess the limit was 100g). But, life goes on, and certainly there are decent options to mix in here in the US.
Total costs so far for food:
$4.96- Living Social promo for two Farm Fresh to You organic CSA boxes of veggies
$39.85- 12 8oz packs of 100% buckwheat soba noodles
$3.05- 45 sq feet parchement paper for lining trays when I make mashes, sauces, etc 😦 would have been cheaper at dollar store but I was able to just run across the street to Smart and Final to buy
$6.67- 1kg Tunisian deglet noor dates (bought in Barcelona)
$12.49- Google express/groupon promo (Got 5 packs of instant sticky rice, 1lb organic mulberries)
$10.95- Google express/groupon promo (4 6.5oz boxes Mary’s Gone Crackers to use with dips/nut butter)
FOOD BUDGET TOTAL THUS FAR:
Other things I have gotten so far for free:
I used $35.05 in Amazon credits to buy 5 lbs of dehydrated coconut milk powder. I hope to use this in quite a few things because of it’s great calorie/weight ratio, and health benefits. I am not counting the Amazon credits in above totals since they were basically, or actually free from a variety of sources.
4 3oz packs organic beef jerky, 9 grass-fed meat sticks, 2 lamb bars, 20 3oz pouches wild-caught salmon, 30 1.5 oz pouches smoked wild-caught salmon, 123 gluten free, mostly Paleo bars from assorted companies, 10 small chocolate bars, 8 packs seaweed cracker snacks, 24 packs seaweed snacks, 3 lbs sprouted seeds, 6 single-serve size coconut snacks, 6 16oz jars sunflower seed butter, 18 9.75 oz jars chocolate-nut butter, 31 single-serve packets of sunflower or almond nut butter, 24 packs of superfood supplement drink powders.
I got all of this for free just by telling quality food companies (I only wrote ones with sort of things I’d recommend my patients) about my trip and how I am trying to eat healthy on a budget! I will be reviewing these products on this site and/or Appalachian Trials so that people know there are options out there besides ramen noodles and Snickers bars for their thru hike diet.
I am hoping that I can only spend another $2-300 on food for the grocery part of my hike (I plan to have meals in towns of course when I pass through). Even though it seems like a lot, it’s actually my food for 4 months of life! It’s really not that much. So we’ll see if that works out or not. I have not made my major expenses of meats yet which could be quite pricy potentially. Also nuts may be very expensive, but there’s a possibility I may have more Amazon credits soon, so that might be covered.