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I'm trying to put together a list of foods I can easily replenish in the USA as I tour around the country on my bike. I'm looking for things that are:

  1. non-perishable or last in 100F heat for at least 4 days (Assuming desert summers in my bags).
  2. Preferably light-weight.
  3. At least relatively healthy.
  4. Low-cost and ready availability.

Thus far I have various thick-skinned fruits/vegetables that should be alright (especially if attached to vine), peanut butter, beans & rice.

Are there any other suggestions here? I will naturally find information for the area I'm in to scavenge for natural sources of sustenance. However, in the deserts of the southwest where I will be starting this and doing all my training these sources are few and far between so they can't be readily depended upon.

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Related –  Vorac Apr 20 '13 at 10:20
    
Go to a place that sells hunting supplies. They will have easy-to-prepare packaged meals of dried food. The prices tend to be a little high, though. Dried fruit is relatively cheap, and a good choice. Groceries now carry things like tuna in single-serving foil packs. And there are lots of other "convenience" foods, suitable for your needs, lurking in groceries. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 20 '13 at 12:18
    
Check out some books about backpacking/touring cuisine. There are lots of them and they're really quite useful in meal planning and portioning! –  WTHarper Apr 20 '13 at 15:06
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Welcome to Bicycles SE. Unfortunately, the Q&A format of Stack Exchange sites doesn't work well with questions that ask for a list of things. That said, wheat bulgur and quinoa both make excellent alternatives to rice. You can use either one in pretty much anything that you can put rice in and it gives you a bit of variety. –  jimirings Apr 20 '13 at 17:19
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@Benzo is right, and as it so happens, The Great Outdoors already has a question that's very relevant. In addition, this question deals with longer trips and also has varied answers (with considerable overlap). –  Eyal Apr 26 '13 at 14:14
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3 Answers

I finished the ACA southern tier just this last month!

I'd usually be carrying bananas, sardines, peanut butter, oatmeal, knorr rice sides, whole wheat tortillas & granola bars. Less could certainly have been carried, but I'd usually go crazy at the grocery store. Most days you'll pass by a couple reasonably priced groceries so you don't actually need to carry too much on you.

Granola bars are your friends! I started off w/ rice & beans, but they take too much energy to heat up with a stove, and starting a campfire every night is not realistic.

"I will naturally find information for the area I'm in to scavenge for natural sources of sustenance" Don't know how much luck you'll have with that, but you'll be suprised at people's generoristy towards you. There were times when I'd go one or two days without touching my food stores.

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If you're bringing a camp stove with you, I highly recommend lentils and rice for dinners. They're non-perishable and very light when dry, take just 20min to cook, and they're easy to find (and cheap) in grocery stores or even convenience stores. You're sure to pass at least one tiny store every 2 days on your trip, so you don't actually need to carry that much on your bike at once. In addition, lentils and rice can be improved significantly by adding vegetables and salt, and I found that adding some high-quality canola oil made them taste significantly better, in addition to providing critical extra calories during a tour.

For breakfast, I usually had oatmeal of some sort. Like beans/lentils and rice, they are easy to find, non-perishable, lightweight, and cheap. They are similarly improved by adding things like dried fruit, trail mix, peanut butter, etc.

For daytime snacks, I am something of a Clif bar addict, so I tended to carry a bunch of those on my bike. These, or similar energy bars, are also easy to find these days in grocery and convenience stores basically nationwide. I also had a lot of trail mix of various sorts -- almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds (surprisingly high in calories), whatever you come across. Stay away from chocolate in your mixes, though, because it melts quickly (unfortunately) when you're out in the heat. (Amusingly, though, I found that keeping chocolate in my northern panniers -- I was riding west so these were the ones on the right side of my bike -- kept it significantly cooler than the southern side.)

Also, depending on your budget, stop whenever you can to partake in the awesome diners that you're sure to come across ! I had a lot of fantastic home-made pie on my trip, which hands down beats granola bars and lentils and rice. :)

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Little Debbie Nutty Bars (and the like) are available in most gas stations, nonperishable, and have a lot of calories to the pound and to the dollar. They're not the best food in the world nutritionally, but you're going to need a ton of calories in your body to travel ~70 miles a day. I picked up the idea from 2x RAAM winner Danny Chew.

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Nutty Bars fail on two of the OP's four criteria: They're not healthy and won't hold up in the heat. They work fine if you have a support crew like RAAM racers have and are riding 300 miles a day. –  jimirings Apr 25 '13 at 19:27
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