We love food – especially when we’ve been adventuring all day and are famished. When you’re camping, cooking a good meal can require a lot of heavy equipment (camping stove, cooking utensils, pots, pans, cutting boards, cooler). There is an easier way: Freeze-dried meals. All you need is your tiny backpacking stove burner and canister to boil water (Sean bought one of these for $8 online years ago and it still works like a charm). Add boiled water to the freeze-dried meal bag and let the food sit for around 10-20 minutes, and Ta-Da, you have a fully cooked meal.
The two main brands sold at REI and in the Walmart outdoors section are Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House. But proceed with caution: some of the meals are downright nasty. We are slowly making our way through the various breakfasts and dinners and compiling this list to remember which were great, which needed salt, and which to never buy again.
- Mountain House Lasagna – delicious. Bite-sized lasagna pieces and balls of sausage in full-flavor sauce. One packet could fill up a hungry person.
- Mountain House Breakfast Skillet – loved it. scrambled eggs, hash browns, pork sausage, peppers, and onions that soak up the water to a decent consistency.
- Alpine Aire Cinnamon Apple Crisp – Sean liked this dessert. I wasn’t as big of a fan because it has raisins mixed in with the apples and I thought that was a weird combination.
- Mountain House Granola with Blueberries and Milk – Sean says it tasted just like granola with milk and blueberries from cereal. He recommends it.
- Backpacker’s Pantry Louisiana Red Beans and Rice – This was great, but if I remember correctly, it needed salt. (Also, beans and rice combined make a complete protein.)
- Backpacker’s Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo – really flavorful and filling. Has good tasting chicken.
- Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy – delicious. The mushy consistency is totally not gross.
Do not buy these:
- Backpacker’s Pantry Chana Masala – super spicy. Besides the spice, there was no other flavor to it.
- Alpine Aire Vegitarian Burrito – tons of cilantro that overpowered whatever else was in that sad little bag.
- Alpine Aire Thai Style Chicken with Noodles – bland flavor.
Next on our list to try:
- Mountain House Beef Stroganoff – Sean doesn’t like any kind of beef stroganoff, and this freeze-dried version was no exception. I would like to try it though, because everyone else seems to love it.
- Backpacker’s Pantry Granola with Milk and Bananas – Great customer ratings on REI.com
- Mountain House Chili Mac With Beef – Sean says this was great. I think it sounds like canned chili mixed with Easy Mac… yuck. But I’m willing to try it out.
- Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Piccata with Tagliatelle Pasta – Can’t pronounce this, but it sounds like it could be amazing. Great customer ratings on REI.com.