The wife and I went on an overnight trip out to Sheridan Glacier the other day and this time I was going to do the cooking.
This meant that I had to do a little preparation. What should I make? My wife eats food like someone that actually cares what it tastes like. I couldn’t mess it up, or she may not want to go bike camping with me again. Thankfully, I had reached out to Mountain House a while back and they were kind enough to send over some samples. In my backpacking, touring and vagabonding over the last 20+ years it occurred to me that I had never eaten a prepared, freeze dried meal. I’ve eaten instant hummus, rice, oatmeal, MRE’s and various other snacks- but never a freeze-dried meal in a bag. I thought I may wait and use them for a trip I have planned for the spring but there’s not time like the present, especially when a critic with such a refined pallet was to be there to share.
First of all- since I had the meal plan on lock, it took an element of stress off the trip to be sure. There is something to be said for only having to add water to a meal. You don’t even need to bring salt. I left my cook pot behind in favor of my lightweight Optimus kettle. We brought the pizza that was made the night before for lunch, and though I brought more calories than needed, what the hell- we were going to eat well. And of course there was the possibility that the meals would be gross. Thankfully they weren’t.
I will say first of all, that you should have a way to accurately measure the water you add to the packet. I didn’t, and it may have affected our end product- even though our first try was a little watery, thankfully the flavor was still good. It’s also important that you do as the instructions state. That INCLUDES REMOVING THE OXYGEN ABSORBER THAT IS INSIDE THE PACKET! I (thankfully) pulled it out of the packets before rehydrating, and I don’t know what it would do if you didn’t remove them- but I suggest you
double triple check that you have them out before adding water.
- Turkey Tetrazzini $7.79 This was the first I prepared and I think I added too much water. It came out more like a soup, and less like the picture on the Mountain House website. The flavor was good, you could tell there was asparagus in it and whether it was soupy like I prepared it or more like a pasta- it was good.
- Lasagna with meat sauce $7.79 Everything in these packages end up kinda like a goulash. You can’t really expect a slice of lasagna, I don’t think it would even fully hydrate if it wasn’t in bite size pieces.
- Cut green beans $3.69 They tasted mostly like fresh green beans. The bit of squeak that fresh beans make was there, not like the mush that comes in a can
- Raspberry Crumble $8.29 This was tasty, but I think the chocolate crumble stuff made it taste a little bit like Oreos. If that is your thing, get after it. Of the two deserts, we preferred the Apple Crisp.
- Apple Crisp $7.49 Two parts- the apple goodness and the granola goodness. A comfort food. Who wouldn’t like some warm apple crisp after a long day in the saddle?
- Breakfast Skillet $7.49 I know why some school cafeterias use instant eggs. We didn’t bring tortillas, but this would be awesome with a little hot sauce and a tortilla to wrap around.
- Biscuits and Gravy $5.99 I’ve paid more at a diner for a shittier plate. I like B&G- the biscuits are in bite size pieces, and the gravy tastes good.
Though the dinners pouches were designed as two servings- we shared two, with a side. It was more than enough, but to share one wouldn’t have been. The desserts were in a 4-serving pouch and we shared both of those as well. Excessive, but we wanted to try them. Of course I didn’t let any go to waste. The breakfasts felt like larger servings, though still 2-serving pouches. We shared the 2 but couldn’t finish all of it.
There is a fair amount of sodium in the food, but goddamn it tastes good. I’m not much of a stickler for that sort of thing, but I’m sure a heart doctor would frown on it. When it comes down to it- these aren’t necessarily designed to replace a healthy diet of
pizza fresh fruits and vegetables. From now on, if I’m going on a getaway, either backpacking, bikepacking, climbing or some other adventure where weight and space is an issue, I’m sold on freeze-dried food. Not having tried other brands- I’d feel comfortable with Mountain House and the meals that I tried with them. They also have some low-sodium options I’d like to check out.
If you’re heading out for an overnight or a month, do yourself a favor and check out what Mountain House has cooking for you. Because if you can boil water, you can fill the void with a tasty meal. Whether you’re lazy, a shitty cook or just trying to lighten the load, throw a couple in your pack and enjoy!