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Friday, February 13, 2009

The art of the Hobo Lunch

Here's a post from a guest blogger and another local prepper.

Over the years I have continued to refine and evolve what a good, self-contained, efficient, cheap lunch could be and how to get the most out of it. With lunch being more of an adventure or outing, rather than a chore or an imposition due to financial restrictions.
When I first started doing these kinds of lunches it was years back. I had my first car and a job learning a skill (not used anymore) getting my 40 hours a week and living thin as far as a dollar went. We grew up in good sized city back in Nevada. Our Mom had to raise two sons on just her income, we learned early on the value of the buck and how to live cheap but, to live healthy and happy. Mom was a great enthusiast of the outdoors, hiking in the desert and the pine forest and showing us what bushes could be eaten and always a keen eye for watching the wildlife. It was during this time the idea's of how to be self sufficient and portable as possible started to percolate and grow.
A few years later with my first car and a small income I started my first “go box“; it had things that could keep as-is for long periods, such as canned spam, peaches or pears, oatmeal, a couple gallons of fresh water and my ever present potato's, yes they are great survival food just ask the Irish.
Another one of my favorite items was and still is the M.R.E., oh yes I love most of them anyways, back then we didn't have on-line stuff or EBAY(which I do use now days as it is saves a lot of money and time), so I would journey down to one of my favorite haunts the Twin City Surplus, otherwise known as a military outlet, so many good things for exactly this kind of stuff. Portable stoves, hand warmers, cold weather gear, tents and backpacks with the slight smell of mold and oil, equipment begging to go on another useful adventure. So from here my box grew a bit bigger and better. Now, I had a cheap two burner stove(gas fuel) M.R.E.’s, complete meals, a good knife and portable shovel, water tablets... So after a few more months I again refined the go box a little further. I went to the local second hand store and got a coffee pot for .50 cents, some camp plates and cups for a couple dollars. Oh and some of those first portable canvas chairs, a cheap oil lantern. Then back a staple that I had grown up on and use a lot even today, the canned food outlet style store and what do you know, tons of food with long shelf life that can be kept in your go box and is easy to prepare. Remember variety keeps it fun and tasty.
As time went by I came to calling on the go box for lunches at work, not having the finances to have made a fresh lunch or to go out to lunch with the others, I resorted back to my go box for lunch. With my camp stove fired up and water boiling for some Noodle Roni and applesauce with M.R.E. cookies and a tang like drink, I found that I not only had lunch for the day, that was very cheap, but that the making of it was very good for breaking up the monotony of the day and bringing back good memories of the outdoors. By pure necessity I stumble upon what I would later call the Hobo Lunch, oh sure at first I got a lot of strange looks (still do) seeing this dude pulling out a chair, a portable table, cooking gear and whipping up a lunch out of the back of my vehicle. Sitting anywhere, the parking lot, the park ,or even out in the boonies.
As the years went by, whether the money was thick or thin, I have often fallen back to the Hobo Lunch as a way to escape, even for a brief time. As well as a common ground to share ideas and a good conversation as with my friend Rick. I keep a flint striker and many other tools that easily slip into my pockets. However this is where the beauty of these lunches come in to play. Rick and I would slip off to a Hobo Lunch. Rick with some strange concoction of oats, dried beans and other ingredients in a cup. Added some hot water and what do you know, we had a instant hardy stew of a sorts and very good tasting as well. Rick even knew the basic break down of the nutrient levels, WOW! So now Rick had taken the Hobo Lunch and my Black Box ( I will talk about the black box at another time.) to a new level. Rick knew well, my buddy the potato, tossed next to the fire and letting it cook. Rick, being always the innovator of minimalism yet quality, showed me a stream of fun new ways to have dried supplies, that took less room and weighed far less (great for packing). I could go on and on here at some of the very interesting things that Rick and I would could converse on and attempt for lunch and I will definitely expand on that if there is any interest here.
What I want to impart here is the value that the Hobo Lunch could bring to you. It’s a continued lesson in how to be set up on long term foods (variety) and how to seek the best deals (you would be surprised how cheap you can shop). Finding and using things like portable chairs and tables (easily bought cheap at garage sales), or make your own portable stuff. This will make the atmosphere even better as a matter of fact. I almost always do a full set up, as it only takes a couple minutes to do so and you would be surprised how it will make you feel while eating.
I always kind of saw it as going on a Urban Safari. As on any Safari, I never liked to talk about work, or the woes of life, but rather to focus on the moment enjoying the lunch, learning from your Hobo Lunch Buddy and exploring ways to better ones situation. In times like these it's good to explore all options of affordable eating, yet without sacrificing taste or the fun of the outing. So okay it's not one of those swanky sit down restaurants or one of those fast food shacks. You have something better, self reliance, a sense of accomplishment, the outdoors even if it's in a parking lot. Look around and then you to will start seeing a lot more options around you that were hidden before and best of all, for at least the time it takes to make lunch and pack up, you’re free from all else. If not, you need to get into the Hobo Lunch Spirit!

Thanks again Rick for your encouragement.


Thanks for the post Brett, feel free to yell next time you're in town and will do lunch at our usual spot!


Bullseye said...

Brett, thank you for a very enjoyable post. I hope to see more of you here. Please tell us more about your Hobo activities..lol Sounds like a great way to practice your skills too. Good job man.

nitewalker said...

Good post Brett. Always good to feel better and realize you can do anything you need to.

RoadScribe said...

Useful info Brett since I'm on a shoestring budget and will be tent camping out of my truck until I can get a camper.

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