Recycled food packets

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Recycled food packets

Postby davidf » Thu 13 Jul, 2017 3:06 pm

I have successfully experimented using a Bhuja Snacks packet, vegetable chiops from coles. Since the chips are dry they rinse out easily. add a 1 person meal of dehydrated mince, vegetables, deb, cous cous, rice, herbs, spices etc and not have to use a whole bulk packet of dehy mince, vege etc. Haven't tried rinsing out used back country ones yet. Think they could be hard to clean even at home properly without food poisoning but will have a go. The boiling pot stays clean.
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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Singe » Thu 13 Jul, 2017 6:06 pm

davidf wrote:I have successfully experimented using a Bhuja Snacks packet, vegetable chiops from coles. Since the chips are dry they rinse out easily. add a 1 person meal of dehydrated mince, vegetables, deb, cous cous, rice, herbs, spices etc and not have to use a whole bulk packet of dehy mince, vege etc. Haven't tried rinsing out used back country ones yet. Think they could be hard to clean even at home properly without food poisoning but will have a go. The boiling pot stays clean.

I was planning to wash and reuse the backcountry kitchen ones on a recent trip to save washing up... opted to use the pot. Practically impossible to get into the nooks and crannies around the base; reusing it to rehydrate a meal would be begging for food poisoning I reckon!

On the OT last winter I split a few dehy bulk packs into ziplock bags and just used one of the clean foil bags as a "snuggie". Some water leached through, and I wouldn't be comfortable reheating in a ziplock on a regular basis, but it worked ok...

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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Zzoe » Sat 22 Jul, 2017 9:55 pm

I have used a recycled BackCountry packet and there wer no problems at all. In fact, I've kept and will keep re-using it until it gives way! It was a mince packet. I don't like thier mince, so I now use the packet to hold my own which I dehydrate. Have happily fed a family of four on the track and no-one has had any tummy bugs at all; the seven year old included!
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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 22 Jul, 2017 10:29 pm

Zzoe wrote:I have used a recycled BackCountry packet and there wer no problems at all. In fact, I've kept and will keep re-using it until it gives way! It was a mince packet. I don't like thier mince, so I now use the packet to hold my own which I dehydrate. Have happily fed a family of four on the track and no-one has had any tummy bugs at all; the seven year old included!


I wonder if the boiling water and zipping the bag up again has an effect of semi-sterilizing the bag. Not only would you have the boiling water but there would be hot steam filling all corners of the bag as well. I guess you if you had spare water then soaking them in hot water after use might help clean them up a bit for reuse also.

Having said that... I decided against reusing them, as others said above.. is just to much left overs in corners and smeared along the sides to make it appetizing for me to reuse the next night.
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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Zzoe » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 3:08 pm

Ahhh... Should have clarified: I washed the bag several times with boiling water and then dried it using a hair dryer before I then put our mince straight from the dehydrator into it. I would not re-use it on the track, if that makes sense: I don't know what I'd put in it, anyway, as we re-hydrate everything with its own allocated bowl/saucepan/vessel.

The spag bol meal is usually eaten on the first night, so the mince is rehydrated in the BackCountry bag, and the sauce is rehydrated seperately in a saucepan. The mince bag is then rinsed out and taken home with any other 'rubbish', where it is carefully washed and dried. I'm on a mission to cut out as much single use plastic as possible, so all our other dehydrated meal ingerdients are packed in baking paper (ingredients) and then paper bags (all ingredients for a meal) and then finally several meals will be put into a single large ziplock bag. Our last four day walk involved only three ziplock bags: a large one for all our meals, and two small ones holding dehyrdrated hommus. If anyone has any tips for carrying dried hommus in anything other than a ziplock bag, I'd love to know!
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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Mark F » Sun 23 Jul, 2017 4:35 pm

I don't like freezer bag cooking. In my clumsy state, squishy, flexible containers of hot food are more likely to end up anywhere other than my mouth. I pack all dry ingredients into appropriately sized zip lock bags and rehydrate in my pot and bowl. The bags get reused for the next trip although one bag is sacrificed to act as the "garbage bag". As all the bags never contain wet ingredients I find a quick shake out at the end of the trip and they are good to go. I think many of my zip lock bags go around at least 5 or more times before they are retired into the municipal (ACT) recycling stream which does handle flexible plastics.

Tip - for a range of small sized zip top bags - Officeworks.

Zzoe - you are still creating a lot of waste with the paper bags etc which also have quite a high environmental cost. Why not cook the spag bol and then dry. when packaged up it becomes a single bag of meat and sauce. I also precook and dehydrate the pasta to reduce the rehydrate time. My spag bol gets packaged as three ziplocks, a sandwich size the holds the pasta with the sauce and parmesan in smaller, thinner ziplocks inside. All three bags are reused several times.
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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Singe » Mon 24 Jul, 2017 10:45 am

Zzoe wrote:Ahhh... Should have clarified: I washed the bag several times with boiling water and then dried it using a hair dryer before I then put our mince straight from the dehydrator into it. I would not re-use it on the track, if that makes sense: I don't know what I'd put in it, anyway, as we re-hydrate everything with its own allocated bowl/saucepan/vessel.


That makes sense to me - and definitely much better to dehy yourself. Too lazy to google, but would unbleached paper bags be OK to put in composting toilets? If using a poo tube I guess you could use them as part of a true end-to-end food packaging system...
Mark F wrote:I don't like freezer bag cooking. In my clumsy state, squishy, flexible containers of hot food are more likely to end up anywhere other than my mouth. I pack all dry ingredients into appropriately sized zip lock bags and rehydrate in my pot and bowl. The bags get reused for the next trip although one bag is sacrificed to act as the "garbage bag". As all the bags never contain wet ingredients I find a quick shake out at the end of the trip and they are good to go. I think many of my zip lock bags go around at least 5 or more times before they are retired into the municipal (ACT) recycling stream which does handle flexible plastics.

Tip - for a range of small sized zip top bags - Officeworks.

Zzoe - you are still creating a lot of waste with the paper bags etc which also have quite a high environmental cost. Why not cook the spag bol and then dry. when packaged up it becomes a single bag of meat and sauce. I also precook and dehydrate the pasta to reduce the rehydrate time. My spag bol gets packaged as three ziplocks, a sandwich size the holds the pasta with the sauce and parmesan in smaller, thinner ziplocks inside. All three bags are reused several times.
I could be wrong, but seriously doubt that recycled paper bags have a higher environmental cost than plastic ziplocks that are typically used once then sent to landfill, your reuse and recycling notwithstanding. I'd be more concerned about the potential for any water to ruin multiple items using paper than anything else...

If I'm honest I use a lot of ziplocks when bushwalking, probably two or three per day on average, and they all end up in landfill as rubbish bags. I always try to reuse the ones I don't cook in a few times, but have found they are a bit thin and weak these days. Maybe the officeworks ones are heavier duty?

TBH I always think these discussions are interesting but a bit ott given your overall environment impact while hiking is likely so much less than the average person at home in the suburbs it almost doesn't bear worrying about.

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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Zzoe » Mon 24 Jul, 2017 12:20 pm

It's a curious conundrum and one that I'm particularly interested in at the moment because we're doing plastic free July; which has shined a light on exactly how much plastic our family uses in the course of a single month (!).

We've always been very environmentally conscious around the easy things- cloth nappies, byo shopping bags, absolutely packaging free kid's school lunchboxes etc... But I have to say that I've hung my head in shame at the amount that still passes into and out of our house on a daily basis.

The paper that we use is recycled baking paper, a sheet about the size of an A4 page is folded into a nifty origami pouch and holds all the dried veggies for one meal, for example... Another will hold the risotto rice. This bundle of two papers is then popped into a paper lunch bag with the meal's name written on it. Other meals are packaged in the same way, separating the sauce or base (Vegetable tagine sauce leather, for example) from the ingredients separately dried (vegetables and chickpeas), and the carb (cous cous)... So that meal would have three, A4 sheets of baking paper. Then all the paper bags (four, for a 4 day walk), are put into a single large ziplock plastic bag.

At the moment our longest walks with the kids have been four nights so this has worked well. I guess I'll just use another ziplock bag for subsequent meals on longer walks. But the big ziplock bag keeps everything dry, so no problems there.

Standared ziplock bags and things like gladwrap aren't food safe when they are heated above certain temperatures (like boiling water) so I've never added hot water to these. Parmesan cheese goes in a little reusable plastic container. The whole lot gets taken home in a paper bag used as rubbish and the paper is chucked in the recycling bin (though in theory I could use most of it again). But yes, it would all biodegrade without any problem. I use the large ziplock bag again... Doesn't even need washing because it's never had anything wet in it.

Just for what it's worth, I know there are problems with any type of product or wrapper designed to be disposabable. But from everything that I've read, paper at least has the potential to biodegrade, whereas plastic is around forever.

Also just a quick and friendly note that none of this is intended to be holier than thou or pontificating!! I'm only talking about personal challenges that our family have set for ourselves. I'm a bit sheepish to say that the plastic free July thing has become something of a hobby for me... (It's actually very exciting to see all the creative solutions people have come up with to lessen disposable plastics.) And we hike with our two kids (7 and 10), and there's nothing like having young children to motivate you into changing old habits in any effort- no matter how small- to make a difference for our environment. It's quite probably a good example to set for them, too... (Hoping to compensate for our parenting-by-benign-neglect approach in other areas! :) ) I think kids are growing up in a culture of consumption and disposability which I really deplore.
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Re: Recycled food packets

Postby Mark F » Mon 24 Jul, 2017 1:30 pm

Good on you Zzoe - it all has to start with our own actions. We live a relatively waste-free life starting with buying as little as possible so no wasted food and unpackaged if possible especially f&v. Our bin waste is about a litre per week with the recycling bin being emptied when full about every 6 weeks. Luckily the ACT has a good recycling system and now covers flexible plastics through supermarket collection. Much harder to achieve with kids at home.

The plastic vs paper issue is interesting with plusses and minuses on both sides. Far too complex to have an absolute answer - depends what you are most concerned about. Energy, atmosphere, biological diversity, land clearing, pollution etc. My view is that the lighter packaging will usually be the best environmentally given the range of issues and the more often it can be used the better.
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