Dehydrating Reference Page

It feels like this year in particular there’s been a lot of attention on how unhealthy thru hikers can be despite the incredible physical accomplishments and Trojan muscles at the end of the hike. Trojan as in that mascot statue that is impossibly flexing every single muscle in his body at the same time, one of the only things I remember from my pre-college tour of USC. Turns out slim jims, ramen and instant potatoes aren’t exactly health food, but for thru hikers in their early 20s (read: most thru hikers) their already hyper metabolisms can just power through. As a now 30 year old hiker though, I can really feel the difference in my diet (although I’m sure there are plenty of people in their 30’s who can eat junk food while hiking with no issue). While I do have more saturated fats and sodium when I’m backpacking than in the day to day, I want vegetables and delicious meals more than anything. In the past I’ve been a bit haphazard when making my own dehydrated meals (the only way to get enough vegetables without paying the ridiculous prices for premade meals or carrying a ton of weight) but since I was making such a high volume this past summer I decided to document as much dehydrating data as possible and I ended up with a really helpful reference sheet for calculating calories and weight when creating your own dehydrated meals start to finish.

When documenting the pre-dehydrated data I was calling it “wet” in my head, but boy does that sound gross, so I went with “original.” The calorie and weight data is from packaging where available, or from my own baking scale and an aggregate of data found online. I’m sure it’s not exact but hopefully it’s helpful. Also note that most products were purchased at either Costco or HEB, both of which are very inexpensive; if you shop at Whole Foods or live in a less urban area your prices will probably be higher.

Spreadsheets can be a hiker’s best friend.

Meal Base

IngredientType of MealUnit of Purchase (oz)Original Cals Per UnitDry oz per UnitCal per dry ozDry oz per MealCal per MealCost per Unit/per MealNotes
Refried BeansLunchCan (16 oz)4203.6116.672233.33$0.94/$0.52Add cheese and a couple tortillas for a full meal
HummusLunchCan (14 oz)4553.66124.322248.63$2.33/$1.27Purchase on amazon, add tortillas for full meal
RiceDinnerBag (5 lb/80 oz)800073109.63.65400$6.27/$0.31Cook with ramen flavor packets then dehydrate
PastaDinnerBag (16 oz)160015106.674400$1.19/$0.32Cook with ramen flavor packets then dehydrate
Ramen NoodlesDinner1 pack (3 oz)3703123.333370$0.20/$0.20Use as is
Instant PotatoesDinnerBag (8 oz)88081103330$1.88/$0.71Use as is

Vegetables

For all your vegetables cut them into small, uniform pieces. In the process you will have weight loss due to cutting off stems, removing cores, etc, so the original weight to dry oz will vary from process to process.

IngredientUnit of Purchase (oz)Original Cals per UnitDry oz per UnitCal per dry ozCost per unitCost per dry oz
TomatoesDry pint (10.5 oz)27.9528.42$1.48$1.55
PeasFrozen bag (16 oz)349487.25$1.89$0.47
Carrot6 lb bag (96 oz)102010.2100$4.99$0.49
Bell Peppers2 lb bag (32 oz)210370$5.79$1.93
Broccoli2 lb bag (32 oz)330482.5$4.49$1.12
Summer Squash3.5 lb bag (56 oz)357apparently I forgot to write this down…???$6.99???
Onions10 lb bag (160 oz)1,81014.4125.7$7.99$0.55
Eggplant1 eggplant (~16 oz)1141114$2.36$2.36

Fruits

I just use dried fruits for snacks, with cheese or peanut butter. I also make dried pineapple chips, apple chips and dried mango but didn’t document those well. I’ll update the chart next time I make some.

IngredientUnit of Purchase (oz)Original Cals per UnitDry oz per UnitCal per dry ozCost per unitCost per dry oz
Strawberries2 lb pack (32 oz)4642.5185.6$4.49$1.80
Blueberries18 oz package2933.291.6$3.99$1.25

Meats

There are only two meats I dehydrate. I did try dehydrating tuna but the smell was so upsetting I would never be able to eat it. Stick to the foil packets for tuna and salmon.

IngredientUnit of Purchase (oz)Original Cals per UnitDry oz per UnitCal per dry ozCost per unitCost per dry oz
SPAM8 Pack (96 oz)864943.2200.2$23.99$0.56
Canned ChickenPack of 2 cans (20 oz)3603.33108.11$3.00$0.90

When I make recipes I take a base, a meat, some veggies and then create sauces with either premade dehydrated sauce mixes or dehydrate existing sauces. I shoot for around 600 calories for dinner and lunch, 400 for breakfast and at least 600 for snacks throughout the day.

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