Cycling Touring Blog
Eating and Cooking on a Bicycle Tour | Part 2
Welcome back to Part 2 of this post about my take on eating and cooking whilst on a bicycle tour.
In Part One I talked about how I cook, where I eat and what works for me. In this part I'll run through a few of the things I like eat and how I cook them.
Lets get started
There is no better place to start than my favorite meal of the day. A great breakfast will get in you the mood for crunching away the miles, hour after hour. It kicks starts your body and is the foundation for feeling happy all day. As I touched on in Part One, try not to skip breakfast or eat something that isn't matching the energy needed for you day of cycling. You are on a cycle tour, not a dieting boot camp! Getting this wrong could mess up your day and leave you feeling awful!
I like big and flavorsome food when cycling. Food makes me happy on and off the bicycle and I like to make the effort to eat well. What I'll do now is run you through a few examples of what I choose when out cycle touring. The list could go on and on, but hopefully this post will give you some ideas for what you could tuck into when on your bicycle tour.
And not just any omelette here! These will quite often have a mix of sausages / chorizo (or similar), cheese, mushrooms, chilli, old bread broken up (baguette works well) garlic and tomatoes. Not all of these ingredients at once, but I play around with different combinations.
I find omelettes are easy to cook on my Jetboil stove and pan setup. You can cook and eat out of the same pan and they are simple to prepare and quick to cook. And if they go wrong the worst that can happen is you end up with scrambled eggs!
A good example of what I do is to cook out some sausages or chorizo (no need for butter/oil at this stage as the oil from the sausages will come out), add some chilli, a good chunk of butter (optional - just for taste) and then throw in lots of eggs (quite often 4 for me). Another option at this stage is to put chunks of baguette (or similar bread) in and around the eggs. Cook everything until how you like your eggs. Then eat straight from the pan.
This kind of omelette is a good way to get the right amount of calories into me before starting. They offer a great balance of fats, protein and carbs. And they taste so good :-) Just exchange the ingredients for your favorites. The choices are endless.
I find one of these will keep me going all morning. Just top up with a few little snacks along the way. They are also a great option for dinner too.
2. Go Continental
Crusty bread (or similar), cheese and some ham, chorizo or something similar. A great option if I'm in a rush or it is raining. I generally have some bread with me anyway. I find brie or Camembert works well to stuff in and eat for a quick getaway. Or those pre-packed sliced cheese you can pick up are a great alternative and you can store the left overs in the packaging for later.
If I'm feeling extra hungry, I'll top up with some nuts or maybe a few chunks of dark chocolate.
The carbs and high fat combination of this breakfast will fuel me pretty well for a few hours. And this one plays to one of my many food addictions! Cheese and cured meats!
3. Bacon Sandwich
Being English, I have been brought up on this staple. And my love of them is by no means dwindling as I get older! A simple thing to fry up on my Jetboil stove and pan setup. Grab some bread and get as many rashers as possible in there!
If I'm lucky, I remember to purchase some tomato ketchup or grab some sachets from a cafe/restaurant. Sometimes I fry a couple of eggs in the bacon fat for a added energy and flavor. A good tip for bacon (and with other meat) is to use bacon with a good amount of fat (streaky). Much better flavor and the fat will render out and give you a cooking fat. Try to stick to this and you won't need oil for cooking.
4. Poached Eggs
I originally started cooking poached eggs these on my Jetboil stove and pan setup, but one day it occurred to me (sometimes I do miss the obvious!), that I could use the Jetboil main can/cup that you heat water in. Quick to boil up, then break the eggs in. Next, straight into a baguette. Really messy to eat, but who cares?!
If you ever poach eggs at home you will know how easy they are to cook. Once the water is boiling, I like to turn the heat down to stop the water bubbling - this stops the egg(s) from breaking up.
5. Coffee and Pastries
This is another quick getaway option. If I'm lucky enough to be near a bakery/patisserie (or I think ahead the day before), I grab myself lots of Pan Au Rasin, Pan Au Chocolate and flan. I don't normally have a sweet tooth, but this kind of breakfast is amazing with a great cup of fresh coffee.
If I use this option, I do find I need to eat something savory fairly soon, as the sugar hit wears off fast. Still great when in a hurry though. Don't forget the coffee!
6. Something Different
This is a new one I found after reading a recipe in a newspaper. It is from the Middle East and I think it is perfect for cycle touring. In a pan over a gentle heat, throw in a tin of tomatoes (or fresh), a clove or two of chopped garlic (to taste), a couple of teaspoons of cumin, chopped chilli (can be dried) to taste and gently simmer until everything is lovely and soft. At this point crack in 2-4 eggs and let them cook until soft (or harder if you prefer). Grab some crusty bread and dunk away.
I think this one is adaptable and it would be easy to add some meat or chorizo. Those kind of flavors will certainly enhance the taste and give more protein and overall energy. Again, this is a great choice for dinner too.
1. Fresh Pasta
Most of you have probably seen fresh pasta in supermarkets. The tortellini style with various cheese, meat, and vegetable fillings. They are great for quick easy cooking. They don't take up much space in the panniers, so you can pick them up along the way for later.
Really simple to prepare. I boil up water on my Jetboil and stick them in. Hey presto, in five minutes or less you have a simple dinner that tastes pretty good. Some lumps of cheese on top and some butter makes them tastes even better. Or you could pick up a sauce.
I like these because they are so simple and very cheap. Some days I'm tired and don't want to spend ages on dinner. And I don't want the expense of cafes/restaurants. These are quick and easy. And generally taste pretty good.
Who doesn't like a good BBQ after a long day in the saddle? Yes they are a little time consuming and may require a little thought, but with many campsites supplying fire pits and/or BBQ, that is the biggest headache taken care of. Alternatively, pick up a disposable one from a supermarket.
I like to buy simple things to cook; sausages, kebabs, burgers and vegetables. Also pick up some good salad (quite often with cold pasta in them) and fresh bread to complete the meal. Again, some ketchup or salad dressing adds more flavor. Of course, I often wash down with a beer or two :-)
3. Roast Chicken
I don't mean cook one! I find many supermarkets sell cooked chickens fairly cheaply these days. I pick one up with some salad and maybe some cold pasta. Use my knife to get all the meat off and sit down for a real protein rich dinner. You will be surprised how much you can eat after a long day! I can eat a whole chicken to myself over a few hours!
This option is a firm favorite of mine, as it is instant dinner after setting up camp. This really is food that makes me happy :-)
If you are on a budget or just not that hungry, then you cannot go wrong with a soup. Readily available in supermarkets in a variety of flavors and prices. From a simple tomato soup in a can to a lovingly prepared fresh soup, you can always find something. I quite often have soup if it has been an easy day, or I'm keeping costs down and then have multiple cans!
A great tip is to make sure you either buy cans you can open with your hands or you have a tool to do the job! Fresh soups more often than not come in plastic cartons.
Bread always goes hand in hand with soup. Fills you up and tastes great!
Downside to soup is it can leave you hungry a few hours later and it is bulky to carry.
I don't eat a specific lunch. I eat lots of lunches throughout the day! If I'm on the bike by 8AM, I will normally graze on nuts, chocolate or fruit every 30-60 mins and then stop around midday for my first mini lunch. This is quite often sandwiches, cold pasta, salads, etc.. Washed down with some coffee made on my stove and maybe some delicious pastries picked up along the way. I don't really have a sweet tooth at home, but when out on tour, it takes over!
I pick up all these mini lunches at various points during the day. I think about where I am and where I'm going. Are there shops around? Thinking this through helps to make decisions. You don't want to carry too much weight and you don't want to run out of food and water!
If I'm in mainland Europe then I normally budget around 10-15 euro per day for food. I know I could do it for much less, but my cycle tours are holidays to me and I want to enjoy what I eat and have enough energy to do the miles I set out to do. That being said, i have started to run out of food towards the end of some trips and I need to adjust my choices.
From the options I have run through above, it is possible to make smart choices that match a budget. Ultimately it is your own decision over what you do and only you know what your body is capable of. You need to experiment and learn as you go. We all make mistakes, but nobody should be put off by making some.
I hope this post has given you some food for thought? Excuse the pun!
Eating whilst out and about on your bicycle doesn't have to be difficult. It can be a challenge, but it is also fun. It is a learning process that always evolves. Before you know it you will be experimenting with all kinds of ideas.
Eating is fun and a great way of meeting new people. It fuels you and getting that right is what will turn a bicycle tour into a great bicycle tour!
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