Pouch cooking is very popular with backpackers and bicyclists looking to keep carry weight down, preparation time to a minimum, residue trash almost non-existent, and clean up simple and easy. It involves carrying the ingredients for each meal in individual pouches, and when dinner time comes adding water, either cold or boiling, and waiting a specific amount of time for the food to hydrate. Viola, a meal ready to eat in a bag. When boiling water is used the pouch can be placed in a cozy to retain the heat.
You can make your own meals using a quart freezer bag as a pouch, or some companies, such as Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry, sell a wide variety of very tasty prepared meals in a sealed foil pouch. There is significant weight savings when carrying pouch meals because the the water contained in ‘regular’ meals is eliminated.
Freezer bags, versus the standard household storage variety, are better because the bag material is thicker and more resistant to punctures. Also, the top seal on freezer bags are stronger. In laboratory tests the press seal, versus the slide seal, was more reliable, however, the slide style was a lot easier to close when the pouch was filled with boiling water. The bags can easily reused if rinsed lightly after use and then cleaned thoroughly at home.
A cozy is some type of insulated material used to retain the heat and keep something warm longer. Hot tea drinkers are familiar with cozies as they frequently place them around hot water pots to retain the heat.
There are numerous ways to make a cozy for pouch cooking; I choose to make one out of diamond sewn double sided quilting fabric. Two pieces of fabric, 11″ wide X 10″ tall, were sewn together on the bottom and sides to form the pouch; binding was used on all of the edges to eliminate loose threads. Fabric was chosen over other materials as it is easily folded and will conform to what ever storage space is available. Total cost: $3.
My cozy handles a 1 quart freezer bag and the purchased pouch meals with space to spare. The extra space allows me to easily slide a very hot pouch inside with enough room at the top to help retain the heat. The cozy certainly does it’s job; after 10 minute food some foods are still too hot to eat.
If you have never tried cozy pouch cooking give it a try; you may be surprised. It can certainly simplify your life between stops at restaurants and grocery stores.