During the summer that I spent biking cross-country, I found a direct correlation between my level of hunger and how uncomfortable my bike seat felt. Food had the miraculous and instantaneous effect of making my seat feel not like a slab of concrete. So, it was best to stay well-fed.
I could just as easily characterize that summer as The Bike Tour of The Great American Super Market. Head east 3,000 miles from France and you’ll end up in Russia. Travel 3,000 miles in the U.S. and you’ll find Cheetos in the same aisle at the store. God bless. We couldn’t ride our bikes in the stores…though some were so massive I really felt like it wouldn’t be that much different from pushing a cart and could maybe go unnoticed.
Instead, we’d dismount in the parking lot of some Food Emporium, Save-A-Lot or Dan’s and start basketing what came to be a finely curated list of items. Feast your eyes: here is a breakdown of our cross-country meal plan. I would not say it was the healthiest, but crafting all the permutations of what we had in stock, in ravenous circumstances, made for some of the best meals I’ve ever had.
- We transferred anything that came in bulky cardboard packaging into ziplock bags
Breakfast- definitely don’t skip
- Oatmeal – tried all the flavors, settled on original
- Condensed milk – it took us until Michigan (started in VT) to think of this. Add water and shake for literal milk shake.
- Add-ins to taste – apples, left-over trail mix, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon…we tried bacon once but I wouldn’t recommend it
Lunch- everyday’s a picnic
- Tortilla – the most space efficient starch, doesn’t get moldy, assumes shape of whatever you put inside
- Avocado – not in every grocery store…in Montana a checkout lady asked us if it was a kiwi..
- Cheese- gets kind of sweaty/waxy when not refrigerated, but still safe to eat
- Salami – the most non-perishable of the lunch meats
- Apples – eat the core
- Peanut Butter – you’ll find something to put it on, and if not put it on your spoon.
Dinner- patience is a virtue
- Cambell’s Chunky
or, a real recipe:
- Put beans, cheese and sausages in a pot on the stove
- Let cheese melt
- Scoop into tortilla
- Hot sauce to taste
They also sell astronaut food aka freeze-dried meals at REI. My mom sent us a box of it General Delivery (send a package to any US post office with “General Delivery” written on it and voila) which was a very welcome luxury.
- Cliff Bars – surprisingly ubiquitous across America, even in the mini marts.
- Kate & Mer’s Trail Mix–divied up into ziplock bags
- Box cereal (Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Oatmeal Squares, Grape Nut O’s, Oh’s!)
- Peanuts – the cheapest nut that’s not even a nut
- Chocolate chips – or MnM’s if it’s really hot
- MSR Whisperlite stove — the stove comes with a refillable can of “white gas” which (sounds invisible) is not easy to find. We got by with no explosions by refilling with “blended fuels” sold at hardware stores, sometimes grocery stores or gas stations, once from a Minnesotan’s garage…like I said, faith in strangers.
- Swiss Army Knife — one of those little sticky-hook things is a can-opener.
- Cooking pots — we had 2 pots and a pan, all useful
- Eating bowls — it’s good to pretend to be a little civilized
- Spork –spoon on one end, fork on the other, made of plastic, will break. Just get a spoon.
Take-away: Delayed gratification is always best, which is a good reason to pray before eating and probably why those kids that waited for the second marshmallow did better on tests.