Food can be a pretty big expense and is really not something you should skimp on while traveling. Without it you can have a huge lack of energy and even make you sick, causing the entire trip to be uncomfortable and sometimes very risky. For instance a lack of water will lead to dehydration and possibly put you in the hospital or even worse!
Weight is another factor depending on how you plan to go about traveling cheap or free. You really shouldn’t weigh yourself down since it too will cause an uncomfortable trip. Not to mention it can greatly reduce the distance of the travel depending on how much walking you plan to do. To combat this I have gotten a lot of information from backpackers, hikers, and campers. They are an excellent source of information on how to travel long distances with light supplies.
First let us start with water. Not only is it key to keeping hydrated but it can also be key to your meals, both making them light to carry and keeping them fresh longer. The good part is it is free and fairly easy to obtain. The bad part is it can be very heavy. So the idea is to limit yourself of how much you carry but be sure to know where you can collect more before you run out. A CamelBak or some sort of hydration pack is a great way to carry water and can easily be refilled at restaurant bathrooms, rest stops, or even at the hostel/where ever you will be staying the night. Just be sure to top off whenever available rather than waiting until you run out. If you are going to be somewhere a little more remote (like in the woods) it would be better to also have a water filtration system so you can collect water from ponds or lakes. Plain water can be a bit boring to drink the entire trip so adding some of those drink mix packets can be added to improve that and some can also be additional energy. I would also encourage using something like tea as it can be a lot cheaper depending on what you get. However tea will need to be boiled but I will go into that a little later.
Another trick some backpackers use is to travel with dehydrated food. It can easily be done with a cheap dehydrator or even just the oven set on a low setting for quite a few hours. There are a TON of recipes on the web for dehydrated foods. You can even just make a normal meal but make a little extra and dehydrate the rest for later use. Now this all depends on what you make but in a lot of cases it will work fine. I tried this out on my New York trip and also once while camping in Florida. It works great providing you have the water and ability to boil it. The hostel I stayed at had a full kitchen which made it very easy to do. You can carry one of those mini stoves also just in case. The propane tanks are very small, light, and last quite a while. Again depending on how you travel this may or may not work. Getting on a plane with one of those could lead to a huge mess with the TSA. Also depending on where you will be stopping to use it you may get yourself into some trouble as it is an open flame.
The tip I got from backpackers is to eat a big meal in the morning, have snacks or energy bars for the trail and a decent meal at night. So far on my trips I have been able to keep that same routine and save some money. Refrain from stopping at the fast food or restaurants that you pass and instead break into your snacks to hold you over. I have yet to find some really good and cheap snacks. I have used dehydrated fruit and energy bars and it seems to work great but not very cost effective. I suppose that is something to work on for another blog!