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A1t2o
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06/04/2018 11:44AM
Not sure if I should put this here, the recipe forum or the gear forum, but here goes.

What type of meal packages do you bring and what are the good flavors? They have Mountain House at Fleet Farm near me so I was thinking 2 pouches of the beef stroganoff to supplement our other meals. I just want to make sure there isn't something better or cheaper than the $8.50 a pouch.

We have all but 2 nights planned for meals. The thought is that we would have at least 1 if not 2 fish dinners, no fish means the freeze dried meal and cliff bars for those nights. I don't expect 1 pouch to feed 2 of us by itself, but I don't know if I will like it so I'd rather not plan on that as the only thing in the meal.
 
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06/04/2018 01:01PM
I have used Mountain House and Cache Lake products. In both cases, I have found that the portion sizes are pretty accurate for our groups.

Mt. House beef stroganoff is pretty good. I also try to supplement entrees with vegetables.
A1t2o
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06/04/2018 01:07PM
Ausable: " I have found that the portion sizes are pretty accurate for our groups."

It says it is only 260 calories per serving. Is this supposed to be only a side dish or what? I would expect more than that for dinner.
06/04/2018 01:11PM
It is supposed to be an entree, not a side dish. What I meant by "accurate" is that the portions feel satisfying. I always try to include a side of vegetables and something that is dessert-like. I generally do not worry too much about calorie count, although perhaps I should! My tripping partners and I are 160 to 200 pounds apiece, if that helps.
06/04/2018 01:20PM
I've tried quite a few Mountain House meals, I find most to be pretty tasty. It's the brand I use to supplement food on our trips. I also have had a few from the Trail Center, those aren't bad either.
nofish
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06/04/2018 01:33PM
If you're planning a meal or 2 of fish what else are you planning on eating along with your fish for those meals? If the Mountain House meal doesn't end up being enough just cook up the other food you planned on serving with the fish. Sometimes you need to get a bit creative with the meals if the fish don't cooperate or you find you're still hungry.

I usually bring a Mountain House or 2 as a "just in case" meal. You never know when you might need it. You could get wind bound on your last day leaving you stuck and in need of an extra days food. Or you may end up having one of your trip partners knock over the entire pot of fish chowder that was minutes away from being ready completely wasting the entire meal (yep thats happened).

nofish
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06/04/2018 01:33PM
If you're planning a meal or 2 of fish what else are you planning on eating along with your fish for those meals? If the Mountain House meal doesn't end up being enough just cook up the other food you planned on serving with the fish. Sometimes you need to get a bit creative with the meals if the fish don't cooperate or you find you're still hungry.

I usually bring a Mountain House or 2 as a "just in case" meal. You never know when you might need it. You could get wind bound on your last day leaving you stuck and in need of an extra days food. Or you may end up having one of your trip partners knock over the entire pot of fish chowder that was minutes away from being ready completely wasting the entire meal (yep thats happened).

jlong33
member (21)member
 
06/04/2018 01:48PM
When in doubt, Ramen with some Red Hot makes a great meal for .35....
I realized on a trip, that I paid 9$ for Mac N Cheese. After that I decided on a few Mountain House meals and Ramen to save a few bucks. They are Cheap, minimal waste, lightweight, and go good with fish.
Bumstead
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06/04/2018 01:54PM
A couple of meals that I do for 4 guys that seem to be well liked:

2 pkgs mac n' cheese / 2 pkgs real bacon bits

1 lbs. whole wheat pasta / 1 or 2 pkgs (bags) Pepperoni / a little Olive oil / small can of Parmesan cheese.

I've never bought the mountain house or other brands of pre-mades. Is the $8.50 for 2 or 4 servinings? Because both the meals I mention above can be put together for that amount or less and are very filling for 4 guys.
06/04/2018 01:58PM
Personally, I usually take stuff from Outdoor Herbivore and Hawk Vittles .

One of the things I like about them is that the single serving meals are usually 500-600 calories, give or take a little (doubles usually twice as much). I use them as a full meal. You would have to order these online - I don't think there are any retail outlets - so keep that in mind. Most of them are also lower in sodium, preservatives, etc.

The problem with any brand (or restaurant for that matter) is that you're not going to like every meal on the menu. There are some from each of those providers that I like and some I'm not too crazy about, although I've never found one I couldn't finish, but YMMV.
A1t2o
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06/04/2018 03:15PM
boonie: "Personally, I usually take stuff from Outdoor Herbivore and Hawk Vittles . "

For the Hawk Vittles, what meals are good? I know that everyone has there preferences, but some meals are better rehydrated. The bacon baked beans and beef/bison stew catch my eye but I have nothing to reference to. What you said about less preservatives is appealing though. Those can ruin the taste.
OldFingers57
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06/04/2018 03:43PM
Besides all the Freeze dried meals that are out there anymore it is pretty easy to make up meals from just with items from the grocery store that are shelf stable and light weight.
There are the Knorr side dishes, couscous, quinoa, rice that you can add packets of tuna or chicken to. Also mac and cheese and other pre made dinner type dishes that just require meat to be added.
BigFlounder
member (31)member
 
06/04/2018 04:22PM
Backpacking friends of mine turned me on to stuff from the grocery store that just need hot water added, such as the Velveeta mac n cheese in cups. I empty the contents into a zip loc bag and do away with the original packaging, but hits the spot.

Mountain House's sweet and sour pork with rice is my absolute favorite dehydrated meal.

Camp Chow is made by the good folks at Trail Center Lodge there along the Gunflint Trail (eastern BWCA). I've had some of their stuff and it's good. My all time favorite is their chicken alfredo but the secret is to toss in some Buffalo & Blue Cheese flavored Combos once the meal is cooked. Just mix a handful in with the chicken alfredo and it's like having a bite of good Italian food and a breadstick all in one. You'll have to trust me on that one. Lol!

https://www.shop.trailcenterlodge.com/

One of those same backpacking friends loves the Hawk Vittles, despite getting one package that had a hair in it. Not sure I could stomach that.
HappyHuskies
distinguished member (259)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/04/2018 04:25PM
boonie: "Personally, I usually take stuff from Outdoor Herbivore and Hawk Vittles .

The problem with any brand (or restaurant for that matter) is that you're not going to like every meal on the menu. There are some from each of those providers that I like and some I'm not too crazy about, although I've never found one I couldn't finish, but YMMV. "


+1

I also like the dehydrate meals from Hawkvittles and the Outdoor Herbivore. I also like many items from Packit Gormet and Heather's Choice. Sadly Heather's Choice currently only has two entrees available, the Chocolate Chili and the Smoked Salmon Chowder, but I like both of them.

As Boonie stated, it's hard to know what someone else will like, but I've also been able to finish everything I've purchased from the above sources. Some I liked quite a lot and some I have not purchased again. For example, from Hawk Vittles I really like the Black Bean Stew, but did not care for any of the meals that use their spaghetti or tomato sauce.
PapaBear1975
senior member (78)senior membersenior member
 
06/04/2018 08:49PM
Packit Gourmet- little on the pricier end, but I've replace my traditional first night's steak dinner with Texas State Fair Chili. I very seldom use Mountain House, I like Cache Lake Foods, or Packit Gourmet.
06/04/2018 09:24PM
A1t2o: "boonie: "Personally, I usually take stuff from Outdoor Herbivore and Hawk Vittles . "

For the Hawk Vittles, what meals are good? I know that everyone has there preferences, but some meals are better rehydrated. The bacon baked beans and beef/bison stew catch my eye but I have nothing to reference to. What you said about less preservatives is appealing though. Those can ruin the taste."


My two Hawk Vittles favorites are: Bacon Baked Beans! and Cashew Curry. The Beef Stew is good too.

From Outdoor Herbivore I like: Blackened Quinoa, Lickety Split Lentils, and Lemony Quinoa Tabbouleh. The last has a somewhat strong distinctive flavor - I like it, but I could see where someone else might not. Most of those are very filling with over 500 calories and a good bit of fiber.

I got the Smoked Salmon Chowder from Heather's Choice after Happy Huskies mentioned it in a previous thread. I also thought it was very good.


06/04/2018 09:39PM
PapaBear1975: "Packit Gourmet- little on the pricier end, but I've replace my traditional first night's steak dinner with Texas State Fair Chili. I very seldom use Mountain House, I like Cache Lake Foods, or Packit Gourmet. "

For a different breakfast, I'll get a couple of Packit Gourmet's Jamaican Peanut Porridge. It's very tasty! Be forewarned - it's more like a smoothie in consistency than a hot cereal, especially if you add the recommended water. I just take a straw and drink it.
Mad_Angler
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06/05/2018 08:28AM
A1t2o: "...
It says it is only 260 calories per serving. Is this supposed to be only a side dish or what? I would expect more than that for dinner."


It says that it is a meal for 2 people. Really, it is nearly ideal for one person.

They are super convenient. Boil water and put in bag. Let bag sit 10 minutes while getting fire ready or other camp chores. Eat dinner from bag. Throw away bag.

With that said, we hardly ever take real freeze dried meals. You can find so much at a normal grocery store. Just look at all the rice, noodle, and potato options that just need some boiling water and maybe some oil. You can add pouches of chicken to get some protein.
06/05/2018 08:47AM
PB&J tortillas
SummerSkin
member (46)member
 
06/05/2018 09:09AM
We go in with the understand that we'll eat fish every night. We don't catch fish, we don't eat.

We take in the following sides to go along with our fish dinners. (I guess we could just eat these sides if we don't get fish, but that's never been a problem.)

Instant refried beans

Instant mashed potatoes

And maybe a few Knorr rice / pasta sides as well.

The above make for a five-star backcountry dinner.

One word on the Mountain House meals -- some of our crew brought them in for beakfasts / lunches and found that one bag was way too much for an individual to consume in a single sitting. Also, the Mountain House meals are very bulky in your pack. If you do Mountain House (or similar) you might want to consider splitting / sharing them with another trip member.
schweady
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06/05/2018 11:28AM
We're sold on Mountain House. Don't miss their Breakfast Skillet for 2 - we could have that every morning. As far as bulky packaging, I prick a pinhole in the bag, squeeze it down carefully, and tape over the hole.
tphanson
member (45)member
 
06/06/2018 04:56AM
Packet Gourmet for sure, chili and the grits.
06/06/2018 06:37AM
The ova easy eggs are about the only freeze dry I take. As mentioned, the grocery store offers so many dried options and foil pack meats now. Hormel makes a ground beef that is pretty good, but hard to find. Takes a little longer to prepare but price, quality, and variety are better, IMHO.
dele
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06/06/2018 10:22AM
I have found that the dehydrated meals that say they are enough for two people are most definitely not enough for two people. I generally eat 1000-1200 calories for dinner, and that's when I'm not out in the woods paddling and portaging all day. A 300 calorie dinner, which is what most of those provide when split two ways, is definitely not going to cut it for me when traveling on a canoe trip. Therefore we bring a couple freeze dried bags as backup, but we don't use them as the base for our main meals.

Better options I have found that can provide more food for a more reasonable price include:

- dehydrated refried beans (available in bulk at food co-ops and other such stores). Great with some tortillas, cheese, and hot sauce. Also a good side dish with fresh fish.

- Zatarian's or similar brand jambalaya mix or other stew mixes. These take a little longer to cook than the freeze dried meals, but they are very tasty and filling, and only cost a couple bucks for a box that easily feeds hungry 2-3 people. Add some chunks of fresh fish near the end of the simmer time to make it even better and a more complete meal.

- Bear Creek, etc. soup mixes. Flavorful and also a great thing to add fresh fish to if you don't feel like frying.

We also bring a bag of dehydrated vegetables (also available in bulk at co-ops) and add them to just about every meal we make. They help stretch the food, add flavor, and are a good way to keep vegetables in your diet when camping.
mapsguy1955
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06/06/2018 11:04AM
I like Mountain House myself. I'm a Costco member and their online prices are the best anywhere. Usually I get the 30 day deal when it is on sale and prices run about $4.75 a bag. Regular price is $5.71 a bag (84 bags) That is 2.5 servings per bag or ONE serving for me. Since they last a long time I have no problem with buying the full deal and bringing what I need. Much of the rest of your food can be bought at the grocery store as mentioned above. The only negative is that sodium levels are pretty high.
scramble4a5
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06/09/2018 08:12PM
I really like the Alpine Aire meals from REI particularly the Gumbo. I usually add some smoked sausage and it easily feeds two people. Last year we split a Mountain House Southwest Breakfast Hash and put it in some flour tortillas with devil sauce from Taco Bell. Very delish.

Sometimes for breakfast we eat the Mountain House breakfast granola with blueberries. Easy, just add water.
mastertangler
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06/10/2018 06:27AM
I'm only 180 and never had any problems finishing a 2 serving freeze dried meal. If you wait longer than the suggested times by at least 10 minutes you will have a superior meal.

Do not get Kraft instant mac and cheese from the grocery store. I'm not fussy and I found it inedible.

Mountain house pasta primavera makes an excellent side dish to fish. The granola with milk and blueberries is fairly awesome.
Captn Tony
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06/10/2018 07:57AM
I've found that just going to Hy-Vee or Aldies is way less expensive for a lot more food. They have everything you would need for meals.
lundojam
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06/10/2018 10:54AM
I agree with chef tony. Go walk around in Aldi with an open mind. Pre-made pizza crusts are much cheaper and just as good as boboli, for example. All kinds of good mixes, etc, at literally a fraction of the cost. Any grocery store, for that matter, is a much better value than the freeze-dried "camping food" in my opinion.
analyzer
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06/10/2018 12:09PM
A1t2o, I know some of those pre-packaged meals like Mountain house (which I like) are kind of expensive for eating at home.... but there's no reason you can't buy a few and try them out at home. It will give you a good idea of what you like and what you don't like, and how big the portions are. Take notes, so if you go 4 or 5 years between trips, you won't forget. It's better to find out at home before you go.

Depending on how active you are at home, you may spend more energy in the boundary waters. I normally eat 1 good size meal at home, but usually 2 in the boundary waters. I just seem to be hungrier up there.

So what does your username mean? If that was on a license plate, I would be scratching my head.
billconner
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06/10/2018 02:34PM
Captn Tony: "I've found that just going to Hy-Vee or Aldies is way less expensive for a lot more food. They have everything you would need for meals."

Same here - Trader Joes/Walmart/other supermarkets - but good things between pasta and rice sides, many potato options (found a just boil and cool potato salad in an envelope at Walmart), stove top dressings, and more. Anyones pizza dough mix makes good frypan bread. Some great hearty soups. Look around and you dont have to get sodium plus. And of course hungry jack hash browns.

Dehydrate some meat or use summer sausage (in Zatarains beans and rice) or foil pack tuna, salmon, or chicken. Some dehydrated mushrom, onions, and peppers along with condimnts in packets from truck stops, fast food, or Packit Gourmet.

Half the price and better tasting imho.

Now, I havent found guacamole other than in freeze dried at REI so splurged on that to go with quesadillas, refries, (just dehydrated seveeal cans - enough for 2 for 69 cents), and rice.

I do gave a fondness for vegetables so got a bunch of corn, peas, green beans, and asparagus.
billconner
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06/10/2018 02:35PM
I guess I have found the Mountain House 2 1/2 serving pouches adequate for two, but with vegetables, maybe some cheese and crackets or bread, sour cream in those little packets, a couple of glases of wine, and dessert. Maybe some dark chocolate after.
GearJunkie
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06/10/2018 04:22PM
I’m going to experiment with repackaging mountain house meals this time for space reasons. Vacuum seal them in smaller bags and then use my pot to rehydrate.
OldFingers57
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06/10/2018 05:12PM
GearJunkie: "I’m going to experiment with repackaging mountain house meals this time for space reasons. Vacuum seal them in smaller bags and then use my pot to rehydrate."

A lot of backpacker just put them in a ziplock bag as vac sealing them again makes the bag hard and more difficult to pack. Putting them in the ziplocks right before you go on your trip they will be fine in the ziplock bags. In fact backpackers doing the PCT and AT do this several weeks in advance and mail their resupplies off.
06/10/2018 06:31PM
I know we were never typical (one of us was overweight and trying not to eat too much, the other was a diabetic on insulin and counting carbs, plus we didn't fish), but we didn't find the 2-person freeze-dried entree enough for an evening meal to meet my husband's carb needs. We always also had a fd vegetable to go with, (the corn or peas were favorites), and a dessert. Because our trips were usually 10-12 days during the majority of our tripping days, we appreciated the lightweight meals, and I didn't do my own drying. We just bought the pre-packaged meals, and I would supplement them with extra noodles (as in the stroganoff, or ), pasta (for the spaghetti, turkey tetrazini, etc.), or Success rice (for the Asian dishes.) I had to figure out how much extra to add to make the carb count approximately enough so that there wasn't a middle-of-the-night insulin attack. It was always a crap shoot at best.

Personally, if I had the time and energy, I usually found that most of the meals were better if you cooked them just a few minutes on the stove or the fire, rather than just hydrating in the bag. It made a pan to clean up, but it made a better meal. And if I was adding rice or pasta, I would cook that first, and then add the fd meal once it was cooked (figuring out the water to be the correct amount, then cook it down to the right consistency). If that makes any sense.

We had the additional problem of needing low-sodium items, and when Spartan1 was on the kidney diet for 16 years, in addition to that we were having to limit protein and potassium as well. It sometimes got very complicated, but by shopping online at Mountain House, AlpineAire, Packit Gourmet (LOVE their strawberry cheescake! and fd fruits), and Backpacker's Pantry, I was able to come up with a variety of good choices. Supplemented, of course, by grocery store fare. After the kidney transplant, things became much easier as far as planning meals was concerned. But by then we were getting old, so we weren't going out for as long, weren't going nearly as far in a day, and we didn't need to eat as much either.

06/10/2018 06:39PM
GearJunkie: "I’m going to experiment with repackaging mountain house meals this time for space reasons. Vacuum seal them in smaller bags and then use my pot to rehydrate."


If you're doing it for space reasons, you'll be better off not vacuum packing them. I used to take the Mountain House ProPacks that were vacuum packed. That was like packing a bunch of baseballs with a lot of dead air space vs. just in bags so that they conform and you can pack more in the same space.
BuckFlicks
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06/11/2018 02:51PM
We used to buy the freeze dried meals from Mountain House, Backpacker's Pantry and Richmoor that said "Serves 2" on them and each would prepare one for dinner... and felt like we had to stuff ourselves to finish them to avoid having to deal with the unfinished leftovers. Now there are single serving size packages that while they may say "2 servings" are actually more appropriate for for one person for dinner and we find that it's usually inadequate after a long day of backpacking or paddling, but one side of mashed potatoes or something similar split between the two of us with each of us eating our own single serving freeze dried meal is just about perfect.

My favorite meals are beef stroganoff, shepherd's pie, and spaghetti with meat sauce. It's been a while since I've bought new meals, so I don't know what newer offerings are.

Another of our favorite camp meals is to buy a few foil packs of cooked chicken, some taco seasoning, and flour tortillas... chicken tacos are easy to make and are a pretty delicious camp meal.
bwcadan
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06/11/2018 04:49PM
$8.00 is in line price wise. I would go to your store and purchase one if you are in doubt about taste and whether to buy 1 for every 2 on trip. Maybe 2 for 3 on trip, etc.
GearJunkie
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06/11/2018 06:37PM
boonie: "GearJunkie: "I’m going to experiment with repackaging mountain house meals this time for space reasons. Vacuum seal them in smaller bags and then use my pot to rehydrate."



If you're doing it for space reasons, you'll be better off not vacuum packing them. I used to take the Mountain House ProPacks that were vacuum packed. That was like packing a bunch of baseballs with a lot of dead air space vs. just in bags so that they conform and you can pack more in the same space. "

My concern was about humidity ruining the food if I dont eat them within a day or so.

Sounds like my concern is not a thing! Thanks for the advice. Will just rebag them the day before I leave.
06/11/2018 07:14PM
I would put the oxygen absorbers/desiccant packs in there with them too.
 
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