Beans and Rice

An easy and very accessible trail meal option are dehydrated packs of beans and rice. You know, the “authentic New Orleans style” ones that are in every grocery store? With enough salt added for a week? Well, many of them are vegan–some even include vegetables–and are an easy dinner option. They can generally be found in any grocery store, even many small markets will have some version. They’re usually cheap and there’s often a store brand that’s even cheaper. A word of warning, many varieties have meat in them, so read those tiny ingredients lists carefully!

This style of cheap, lightweight dehydrated food is very typical of a thru-hike. In some ways, it’s more typical than some of the other foods I’ve recommended, and that’s intentional. During my thru, I didn’t want to rely on food drops too much, or to be carrying tons of extra weight in order to eat vegan. That was a big challenge sometimes, to find that sense of “normalcy” that made a standard thru-hike. But in the end, everyone got sick of their food. There isn’t some magic diet that makes someone enjoy foil packets of tuna for six months, I promise. Eventually, nobody eats the same stuff they ate in the beginning, everyone adapts and looks for something new and interesting within the confines of the grocery store. By realizing this, and seeking out the few vegan options, I was a thru-hiker just like everyone else, but I happened to eat vegan.

The two brands that you’ll find everywhere are Vigo and Zatarain’s. Vigo comes in sealed bags, but only buy the Red Beans & Rice. The Vigo black beans, and the yellow rice, have chicken. Zatarain’s comes in a packet inside a small white and red box. There’s often several flavors and usually no meat in the standard bean and rice mixes. Red beans, black beans, dirty rice.

These mixes are very very salty, but they’re high in protein, are available almost anywhere, and are pretty tasty. I often would include one or two of these each resupply for the later days out of town, so I could eat any heavier meals first.

They do require a longer cook time than many of my other meals. The best way to overcome this with my alcohol stove is to boil and cover, after it sits for 10ish minutes, boil it again, and it should be ready! If you have an insulated pot cozy you may be able to get away with boiling and then letting it sit for 15 minutes.

I usually ate these with a tortilla or two, plus chili powder and sometimes nutritional yeast.


6 thoughts on “Beans and Rice

  1. I got packet of the Vigo red beans and rice at Dollar General. I came home and found your blog on it. I cooked it up tonight with added chopped jalepeno and a little brocolli, cauliflower, carrots. I also added a chopped up Tofurkey Italian sausage, nutritional yeast, and flax seeds. I cooked it with a little Earth Balance margarine. Followed the directions, but the end result looks like mostly mushy rice, not much beans. I haven’t even tried it yet; put the pan and all in the fridge for dinner later and bkfst tomorrow.

    1. Eek, I’m sorry it didn’t come out looking so hot! I’ll admit, it’s definitely a food that I only eat when backpacking… I’ve never cooked it at home, maybe my trail hunger is more forgiving than real life? Let me know if you figure out a good tweak to make it better!

      1. I actually really enjoyed it! I had some for dinner last night, plus more for breakfast this morning. I’ve only been vegan 2 yrs and still trying to adjust and learn. I think of Vigo’s red beans & rice as an easy cheap vegan “grub”, and I found it to be quite good-tasting and satisfying! Plus I like to use enriched white rice (or enriched white breads/pastas), like this dish, at times b/c they are pumped full of iron and B vitamins. It comes in such a small lightweight packet and cooks up to a pile of steaming-hot grub, so I can see how it’s ideal for backpacking!

  2. Vigo Red Beans and Rice has been a staple of my vegan backpacking trips since my very first time out. I, too, boil it for a few minutes, then turn it off and let it sit. I agree that it is very salty, but if I have been pouring sweat all day, I figure some salt relacement is fine :).

    (I have never had this end up “mushy.” I am thinking the addition of flax seed and nutritional yeast would be the reason. Also, I would suggest that if you add veggies, add towards the end, so they are not overcooked.)

  3. For anyone looking for an alternative, you might try Ready Beans brand from Colorado. They have no salt pinto and black bean flake options so it is just the beans that you can then add to your rice mix. Or just eat it on its own.

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