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Freeze Dried Meal Choices?

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Not just “I like Mt. House Beef Stroganoff, and Breakfast Skillet”, but those preferences too if you have them.

I’m sure someone likes Mt House Beef Stew. Someone probably likes the “Veggie Omelet” MRE. Hell, someone probably liked the old military MCI rations of “Limas and Ham”, which were colloquially known by a variety of disparagingly colorful NSFW names.

I know there are other, better tasting manufactured freeze dried meals available; Hawk Vittles and other boutique makers, with less sodium, some of which are not as sealed pouch, good for 30+ years, easy to rehydrate as Mt. House. And yeah, I know I could get a dehydrator and food vacuum bagger and make my own. That’s never happening.

So, questions:

Which (if any) different manufacturer’s freeze dried meal choices do you prefer?

Rehydrate in sealed foil pouch or pot cook/seep or etc?

Rehydration time, and fuel consumption if not add-boiling-water applicable?

Per-serving cost (with shipping)?

I’m OK with Mt. House. Just OK, not especially enamored. Mt House is ubiquitously available, and I can (er, a few months ago could) order a Mt. House “bucket” with 12 meal pouches. By happenstance I ordered a Mt. House Breakfast Bucket some months before Covid-19 wiped out supplies.

https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Hous.../dp/B077ZN2BHJ

Even the “Classic” dinner bucket is sold out on Amazon. Some vendors still have both buckets “available”, watch those shipping charges :-O

https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Hous.../dp/B00955DUHQ

OK, both those buckets are actually ten 2-person meals; there’s that damned “Granola with milk and blueberries” again. They can’t give that stupid cereal away.

Tell me about freeze dried meals. I’m ready to at least try something other than Mt. House.
 
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Well there is Pack it Gourmet. Comes along with a $$$$$$$$$ rating.. The stuff is good but....$$$$$$$$ The Beef Stew Shepherds Pie and Gumbo I liked till the pouch servings shrank. One pouch not enough for two and two too much. Now I pretty much dehydrate my own. If I am going to have a $40 dollar dinner I want table linen and service.

MH I like the Beef Stew actually or maybe it was the end of hard work days in Wabakimi. Breakfast Skillet of course. With two tortillas one pouch does two nicely. I miss the MH Sweet and Sour Pork.. That was really good.

I like rummaging the forbidden center aisles of the market. Pasta Puttanesca can be made at camp if cans are ok and at home and dried if not.
Clams and Garlic and Olive oil and Pisgetti always good.

Why anyone would pay for granola and dried milk is beyond me.. We all can make our own muesli without all that added sugar. Maple syrup is always taken on canoe trips in a little bottle. Dried berries when you are camping among the real ones? LOL.

Hawk Vittles: Bison Stew is really good. I thin it down as on a typical day I have not ingested enough water anyway. Cowboy Pasta too. But thanks for reminding me of HV as I have not had any of their newer stuff. It used to be undersalted ( as opposed to the usual FD meal which has a stroke inducing sodium content) and I had to add a little. But HV is DH and not FD so it does not pretend to be good after a quarter of a century.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I don't care and have no strong preferences re the commercial dehydrated meals I use, except I avoid the spicy ones.

My canoe trips are so rare compared to all the time I spend eating at home or restaurants, it's not important to me what dehydrated meal I eat in on the trip other than as necessary nutrient fuel. Taste is of little importance. I'm there to paddle and experience the outdoors, not to mimic routine gustatory experiences at the Blue Benn Diner or the Angus Longhorn Steakhouse. Moreover, I've always detested meal prep, cooking and cleanup; and since childhood, I've always considered dining to be mostly a waste of time.

If I buy beforehand from REI or Campmor, I've only really ever seen Mountain House and one other brand I forget. If I buy at a camp store on the road, the selection is usually pretty slim and I just buy what's available. Otherwise, I just use what I have left over in my canoe stash. Breakfast is always an egg or sausage dish. Lunch is not a dehydrated dish, but usually protein bars. Dinner is a chicken or beef dehydrated meal. Desert is another protein bar. The focus is on low carb meals.

I only cook by boiling water in a Jet Boil. I always pour the water into and eat out of the commercial bag. My entire "kitchen" is the Jet Boil stove and a titanium tined spoon (spork). I bought a long handle titanium spoon a few years ago but don't like it as much.

I've recently been thinking of buying a lightweight twig stove or firebox as a backup to the Jet Boil, but that would probably require me to also carry a small billy pot. Don't know if I want that weight and volume, unless its a non-portage trip, though a very light billy that could hold the Jet Boil might make sense. I like to pack light -- everything including food in one Duluth pack -- except in my non-golden years I now take a full size folding chair.
 
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I used a bunch of Bean bucks to order a GSI folding square frypan and a new kitchen utensil kit.. The old one was getting pretty ratty and there were sales. The Order Fulfillment Center is 38 minutes from my house. Never wanting to venture to Freeport except when my favorite bakery is open I ordered by mail. I watched my kitchen goodies sail to Chelmsford MA.( the armpit of MA on 495) return to Auburn ( two towns from Freeport ME) experience a two day vacation due to some sort of emergency ( nothing ever happens in Auburn) and now it went right by my house to Windham where supposedly the mailperson will deliver it tomorrow. It was supposed to be here Fri. Tracking shipments is just an exercise in frustration.
I told Bean next time I will just use curbside pickup. Wish they would always have it. They told me that UPS and Fed Ex were all screwed up all over the US and delays were common.

Just whining. Our trip of two weeks starts July 8.

At least it is not the $952 worth of Amazon junk deposited on my porch that I did not order. 14 packages and finally UPS would pull in the driveway and BEFORE unloading the truck asked if we were expecting anything. The car radiator was the last straw. I am not a mechanic. Amazon said Dispose any way you wish!
I said YOU will take this back as I have to PAY to dispose of it. They did..after 45 min of hemming and hawing.

Lord I just want to go to an actual outdoor store touch and feel and ask questions and pay. In person.
 
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Mike, we use some pre-packaged freeze dried meals but usually make up our own from bulk freeze dried foods ordered online and using some things from the grocery store, too. We get pretty much all our fruits and vegetables from https://www.northbaytrading.com/ and used #10 cans of ground beef, diced chicken, turkey and beef along with some home cured meats and sausages, homemade jerky etc.

Nancy watches her sodium intake more out of the habits of a lifelong Registered Nurse than medical need and my cardiologist and neurologist (minor stroke about 5-6 years ago) always say stuff like "You're sodium is low....not quite enough to do something about but low" so I don't worry much about sodium personally. But making up our own meals is quick and we have complete control over what goes into them, portion sizes, seasonings etc.

Open bags or cans of freeze dried foods get moved into glass canning jars and vacuum sealed using a set of Foodsaver's jar sealing accessories for narrow or wide mouth jars. The powdered whole milk, buttermilk, sour cream powder etc go into sealed jars too and so everything retains essentially unlimited shelf life without absorbing any moisture or worries about bugs etc.

We can talk more about it tomorrow when we stop by and if it would help anyone I'll be glad to share tips or recipes in this thread after we are home (Thursday or Friday?).

Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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unlike LanceR, I've got to watch my sodium due to a bad ticker and high blood pressure (what old fart doesn't have it?) So I mostly dehydrate my own, but a couple of years back a friend introduced me to Happyyak, a company out of Quebec that makes high--quality, large- portion meals specifically for outdoorspeople that are low sodium and high in protein.
one caveat though, they're quebecois so english is a second language and there's a lot of spelling and phrasing errors, but they make up for that with "Joie de vivre" and are actually fun to deal with
https://happyyak.ca/en/
 
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Hawk Vittles: Bison Stew is really good. I thin it down as on a typical day I have not ingested enough water anyway. Cowboy Pasta too. But thanks for reminding me of HV as I have not had any of their newer stuff. It used to be undersalted ( as opposed to the usual FD meal which has a stroke inducing sodium content) and I had to add a little. But HV is DH and not FD so it does not pretend to be good after a quarter of a century.
Hawk ( a native Lakota American Indian) who for a time lived in the Adirondacks and was very active on an Adirondack focussed outdoor forum several years ago.

While there he started Hawk Vittles, where he offered dehydrated camping recipes made directly from an excellent book by Linda Yaffe: "Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail". I also use her book quite a lot. Some recipes are a bit unusual and odd sounding, but are good starting points to get you into experimenting with your own dehydrated recipes. Most are surprisingly good and easy to do at home with simple equipment. Unless Hawk has changed his process considerably (which is possible) now that he lives out west, his offerings have always been simply dehydrated like you or I would do, not freeze-dried.
 
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High Sodium is the reason I avoid Freeze Dried foods.

My Dad had a Stroke, and was put on a Salt free diet. I don't want to end up that way.

Most any processed foods carry a High Sodium content.

Bear the extra weight, and be Healthier

I want to keep you around a Long Time Mike !

Jim
 
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I've gotten a few GOOD-TO-GO meals lately, made in Maine. Expensive, but pretty darn good. I usually get those Dr. McDougals soups that come in a cardboard cup and put it in a ziplock.
 
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Mike........
Thanks for the "flash back" I haven't thought of all the Ham & Lima Beans"C Rations" I had eaten back in Sunny Southeast Asia in many years. If you were not the one opening the case that the C-rats came in, you didn't get any the good stuff. I finished my childhood growth spurt fueled by "C Rations" from 6 foot/155 lbs. to 6'2"/180 lbs. Back in the day a can of Pound Cake & a can of Peaches was as close to perfect desert as one could get over there.
........Birchy
 
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I know I could get a dehydrator and food vacuum bagger and make my own. That’s never happening.

Come on, Mike, do it, dehydrate! Don't you have leftovers at your house? Just scrape it into the dehydrator and turn it on for a day. Then pack it in zip locks. Vacuum baggers make a hard chunk of food that don't nestle together, whereas the zip locks are pliable and settle into less space. Also, dehydrated foods can be prickly and puncture the vbag. So, bag the bagger.
 
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Unless Hawk has changed his process considerably (which is possible) now that he lives out west, his offerings have always been simply dehydrated like you or I would do, not freeze-dried.

I should have used better choices of words, “Freeze dried, dehydrated and etc meals”.

Back when we were doing canoe and gear reviews we received a box of some serious gourmet meals made for long sailing voyages. They were sealed package meals with entries and sides, and were damn tasty, but where expensive and had long, fuel-spendy cook times. Nice for a treat, but I don’t want to carry that much fuel on a long trip.

Some interesting suggestions above, and I hadn’t heard of a few. Worth a look just for funsies.

Hawk Vittles. I had heard praise for Hawk Vittles, but have never tried one.

The Bison Stew is $8 for a 113 gram serving, or $15 for a 226g double helping. Dehydrated, not freeze dried, little to no added salt, good for 1 to maybe 3 years. I recall the recommended cooking time seemed a bit long, but I think some can be boiling water sit and seep rehydrated

http://www.hawkvittles.com/Bison-Stew_p_27.html

Good-to-Go meals. Never heard of them before. Lots of, uh, fad type ingredients and meals, Quinoa, Kale, Bibmbap. Had to look that last one up, not a lot of Korean restaurants out my way. Picking out one I might eat.

The Chicken Gumbo is $14 for 6.8oz. Dehydrated, not freeze dried, preservative free and gluten free, with vegan options. 3 to 4 year shelf life. No idea about cooking or boiling water seep time.

https://goodto-go.com/collections/en.../chicken-gumbo

Happy Yak Foods. There’s that word, or at least a part of it. Lots of rice and macaroni and spaghetti grocery store type stuff??? Lots of vegan, vegetarian & lactose free choices.

Pad Thai, Vegetable and Peanut meal maybe. In USD $13 for a single serving, $25 for a double. I think they are freeze dried, but that is not clear, nor is cook/seep time. 3 year shelf life.

https://happyyak.ca/en/product/pad-t...le-and-peanut/

Packit Gourmet. Dotties Chicken and Dumplings maybe. 3.9oz single serving, $12. FAQ’s mentions “Dehydrated and Freeze dried” ingredients? 10 minute seep time, 18 month shelf life.

https://www.packitgourmet.com/Dottie...Dumplings.html

North Bay Trading does look like a good bulk source of already dehydrated or freeze dried fruits and vegetables for DIY meal kits. Some air dried, some freeze dried. Just to grab one offering at random, something the vegetarian wife might use, Freeze Dried Broccoli Florets, available from ounces to 15lb bulk. She does love broccoli.

1.25lb foil bag of broccoli florets, $50. 18 to 24+ month shelf life. Unknown cooking/seep time (or just eat them crunchy?)

https://www.northbaytrading.com/free...occoli-florets

If the shipping cost wasn’t a deal killer I’d be tempted to order a meal or two from each vendor and have a “taste off” next group or family trip. That is as unlikely to happen as me dehydrating and vacuum sealing meals before a trip.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Sodium.

We all must make our own decisions about sodium intake, especially if we have hypertension -- assuming one believes the research about sodium causing hypertension, which is conflicting in my opinion.

But for those who are concerned about sodium intake, according the the Mayo Clinic, "DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that's designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension)."
  • Standard DASH diet. You can consume up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day.
  • Lower sodium DASH diet. You can consume up to 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
So, how much sodium do the various dehydrated and freeze dried prepackaged meals have? Here is a web page that has a helpful list:

https://sectionhiker.com/low-sodium-backpacking-meals/

It seems to me that one can have two or even three servings of many of these meals per day without exceeding even the lower sodium DASH diet.

As one with hypertension, I've never much worried about salt, especially if it's just for a short canoe trip where I'll be getting a lot of exercise, usually in warmer weather. However, I do read the ingredients list on the commercial meals and stay away from the higher sodium, calorie and carb meals.
 
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Sodium.
-- assuming one believes the research about sodium causing hypertension, which is conflicting in my opinion.
In prep for a backpacking trip next weekend with limited water sources, I bought a MH lasagna and meat sauce last night. It tasted pretty good, but later I was beyond thirsty. I dug the wrapper out of the trash. 1500mg for the bag I ate. I'll need 12 ounces of water to mix in the meal and then I'd need to carry an extra 1000g of water to quench that thirst. Luckily with canoeing you should have unlimited water, you'll need it, lol

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Mike, you'll really like the freeze dried broccoli from North Bay. Good flavor and has a nice bit of crunch to the texture.....unless you overcook it. As far as weight to volume to fresh equivalent and cooking times (soaking really if you use a pot cozy or pouch cozy); on the page for each item there is a "Cooking Tips" tab. Hit that and you'll see the typical re-hydration time (note that most or all freeze dried stuff will rehydrate just fine at room temperature), approximate freeze dried or dehydrated weight to fresh equivalent etc. Here's a cut and paste from the broccoli page (italics added):


Freeze Dried Broccoli FloretsEasy to Prepare
  • Use alone as a dry snack or add to veggie trail mixes.
  • Use dry for a crunchy effect in salads and, while serving cooked rice and cooked pasta.
  • Add dry during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking soups and stews that have sufficient amounts of broth.
  • For most other applications, hydrate by soaking for 5 to 10 minutes in a generous amount of cold or hot water (hot water works slightly better). Then drain.
Yield — 1 oz equals about 2 cups dry with less than 4% moisture content.
Rehydration Ratio — 1 lb of freeze dried broccoli, once rehydrated, equals approximately 13 lbs of fresh prepared broccoli.
Storage — Best if used within 24 months of purchase. Store tightly sealed and minimize exposure to heat and humidity.




BTW, a pound of freeze dried broccoli is a lot of broccoli. Like around 45 cups or almost 3 gallons worth. And I suspect that it would rehydrate to closer to 4 gallons volume.

If after opening the heavy duty Mylar bag North Bay ships in you use vacuum sealed canning jars to store the product, the shelf life is the same as an unopened bag....about the same as the half-life of uranium-238.

In freeze dried we have broccoli, cauliflower (both are florets looking like cute little HO train layout shrubs....) , green beans, peas, corn, sweet potato chunks, white diced potato, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, white mushrooms (and dehydrated cremini mushrooms) and spinach (yes, it is leaves of spinach, not crumbles). If you want to try any of them I can make up little CARE package packets and send them along. There is some freeze dried asparagus here but it has been unavailable lately and Nancy would shoot me if I gave any of our last bag away.

I know that we each have our own experiences and prejudices but in my experience if you compare the freeze dried to fresh servings and commercial dehydrated weight to fresh servings and factor in the cost you'll find that if you buy the mid size or larger bags almost all the freeze dried stuff is less expensive per serving than the commercial dehydrated (at least at North Bay). And the freeze dried is far lighter and comes with the easier rehydration, shorter cooking/soaking times, better preserved nutrients etc. The only place where dehydrated is ahead is that it takes up less volume.

And, of course, the cost ratio stuff changes when you dehydrate it yourself.

We do some home dehydrating and are increasing how much and what the number of things we dehydrate are but a mix of grocery store starches and freeze dried works very well for many, if not most of our backpacking dinners. As we are just returning to paddling trips I'll have to report back in the late fall as to how much freeze dried factors into canoeing food plans versus fresh or dehydrated foods especially as, for now anyway, our trips will be in the 4-6 day range and not expedition style trips.

Of note, corn and peas retain the most of their fresh weight when freeze dried so although the cost to freeze dried weight seems attractive at first glance the freeze dried weight to fresh weight in terms of servings is lower than any other common veggie so it's really not the great bargain it seem at first glance. We still us e a lot of them, especially corn,, but don't be fooled at the low cost per pound up front.

Also note that if you eat freeze dried anything without re-hydrating it you need to drink a good bit of water or you'll get a "belly bomb" when it sucks all the available moisture out of your digestive tract. Don't ask how I know this.....

Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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Everyone's tastes differ. About four years when Good To Go came out ( it was only local then) we tried the Bibimap and the Mushroom Risotto. They tasted just the same. blah. Hopefully the taste has improved. because it is nice to have options. But I am not apt to try again

Kale is actually OK.. roasted with garlic..had it last night The thing with veggies is it is so easy to dehydrate yourself even if you just have an oven that goes down to 135.

I never understood freeze dried starches anyway.. What I really do not understand is heat and eat spaghetti in the bag.. Please don't tell me some of you do use it.
 
G

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High Sodium is the reason I avoid Freeze Dried foods.

Bear the extra weight, and be Healthier

Jim, it isn’t so much the extra weight. Hell, I bring beer.

We don’t consume much salt at home, which may be why my taste buds don’t appreciate over sodium saturation on trips. Nor much meat. A halved Mt. House, with some sides, works for me.

On 4 – 5 day to week long trips I bring better victuals, although I bring a freeze dried meal or two. Even on those length trips I plan an “insurance” day’s worth of food. One 10 (?) year old “Pro-Pack” Mt House beef stew has more uneaten river miles on it than most paddlers.

That freeze dried shelf-life part does matter to me; we have enough leftover Mt House freeze dry right now to pack for a multi-week trip (provided I want multiple servings of beef stew)

It is mostly a matter of storage volume, and, equally, the necessary fuel consumption for cooking/boiling water seep time. If I’m heading off on a multi-week trip some of the dinners are going to be freeze dried Mt. House type stuff.

I like rummaging the forbidden center aisles of the market.

Agree about grocery store easy rehydrate/cook dry goods and eat-straight stuff. Grits and oatmeal. Dried fruit. Foil tuna packs. Even a few small cans when already carrying potable water; I’m partial to shoe peg corn, new spring potatoes or sweet peas as side dishes.

A few cans are OK by me, they go in the trash along with the crushed/flattened beer cans. For a week-long trip I can wander re-supply grocery store aisles anywhere in the country and find enough choices to make a fuel-efficient breakfasts and dinners. The fuel efficiency matters on a long trip; I’ll happily eat shoe peg corn or sweet peas cold from the can, especially the mini-cans with pop ring lids.

The small town grocery out west may sell ammunition, arrows and salt blocks. Freeze dried food, not so much. I’ll bring a goodly supply of freeze dried food in the truck, and if I don’t use it, back in home storage it goes, good for decades to come.

Come on, Mike, do it, dehydrate! Don't you have leftovers at your house?

Chip, I still have one son living at home. What are these leftovers of which you speak?

. What I really do not understand is heat and eat spaghetti in the bag.

Pouch of Mt. House Granola, Blueberries and Milk for breakfast, Lunch-ables Ham and Swiss with Crackers & Juice box mid-day, freeze dried Classic Spaghetti with Meat Sauce for dinner.

YUM-EEE!
 
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No not freeze dried. It is cooked spaghetti meat and sauce in a shelf stable pouch.. About as appealing as dog food.. Go peruse those center aisles. Even in the pandemic I think those were still thee along with lentil macaroni ( who the H dreamed up that horrid idea)
 
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I wondered about that YC comment also. Home dehydrated spaghetti with sauce turns out pretty good. I guess he means the vile stuff like canned chef boyardee. One of the Adirondack Lean2rescue guys I work with opens a can of the stuff and eats it cold for dinner. gag.
 
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I wondered about that YC comment also. Home dehydrated spaghetti with sauce turns out pretty good. I guess he means the vile stuff like canned chef boyardee. One of the Adirondack Lean2rescue guys I work with opens a can of the stuff and eats it cold for dinner. gag.

not worth the trip you need to take to the middle aisle of the highly processed food section. So here ya go.. It is in the pasta section not the SPAM section

https://www.walmart.com/ip/6-pack-Ho...unce/544693059
 
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