Eating while you are out camping or hiking can be quite difficult – I mean, not
everyone is able to pack a portable cooker all the time and not all campsites
have public cooking areas that you can use. That’s why sometimes, freeze dried
foods can come to your rescue. They may not always taste great and may not
come close to the real deal but there are a lot of brands and products that come
pretty close. That’s what we’re going to talk about today along with some of the
things you need to consider if this is going to be the first time you’re trying out
freeze dried foods.
Why Choose Freeze Dried Food?
The first thing you may be wondering is why you should choose freeze dried food over regular, fresh kind. One of the key reasons backpackers pick this is because of its shelf life. You won’t have to worry if your food is rotting in the heat while you are out on a hike or camping.
Freeze dried foods are often used as emergency supplies at home as well because usually, their shelf life ranges anywhere between 3 years all the way to 30 years! So bringing food that will last no matter what during your camping trip will be one less thing you’ll have to worry about.When you are coming from an exhausting hike, one of the last things you’ll want to worry about is to cook a meal from scratch.
Another reason to get freeze dried food is for convenience. As I mentioned in the beginning, with freeze-dried food, you won’t need to bring a portable cooker. All you’ll need is a source of water. Some freeze dried food need to use boiling water while others don’t. But at least you won’t need a cooker.
The final reason why freeze dried food is good for camping or hiking is that it is lightweight and easy to carry in a backpack. The meals are usually served in a single, lightweight bag like a zipper bag. This way, you get all your meals separated and inside thin, lightweight bags.
Things To Consider
One of the first things you can look for and consider when choosing your freeze dried food is the taste. If you don’t like your food, it’s most likely that you’re not going to eat it. While this can be easily remedied when you’re at home or out in the city, you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the forest with nothing to eat. So pick flavors you like.
There are a lot of brands that offer all kinds of different meals ranging from pasta to stews, all the way to rice meals. Better yet, there are some brands that will offer taster packs where they sell a small version of each of their flavors available so you can choose which ones you like and which ones you don’t.
3. Protein and Sodium
An important thing your body needs when you are active is protein. Protein is what will help you recover and help your muscles repair itself after physical activity.
After a long hike, it’s important that you get enough protein to continue on hiking, especially if you are going on a very long hiking trip that requires days of hiking. Try to look for freeze dried foods that are high in protein. The daily recommended intake for protein is about 0.8 grams – 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight.
While you need to look for protein in your meals, something you need to be careful with on the other hand is sodium. It’s no secret that salt is used to help preserve food, so there is a tendency that packaged foods are high in sodium.
Freeze dried foods are no different. While high sodium foods may be delicious, they are bad for your health. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. It also makes you feel more thirsty. It is recommended that you do not exceed 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, so use this as a basis.
Something that is often overlooked is calories. While half of the world tracks their daily caloric intake religiously, the other half, well, do not. You may be able to get away with it sometimes on a regular day, but while you are out on the trail, it is important that you get enough calories to meet your energy requirements.
Some freeze dried foods can be low in calories so you’ll need to plan it out that you get enough. You may need to buy more packets than what is recommended in the packet so be sure to know how much calories you need beforehand.
You can try using this calorie counter if you do not know how much calories you need. Remember to set the activity level to very high or extra active, especially if you are going on a long camping trip so that your caloric needs adjust accordingly.
Here are 5 of the top products you can check out for freeze dried food that is all available on Amazon. These by far are some of the best freeze dried foods out there so hopefully it gives you a guide for when you decide to buy freeze dried food for your next camping trip.
Top 5 Best Freeze Dried Food For 2017
Now that you have a very basic idea about freeze dried food and what you want to look for, here are my top five picks that I feel will be a pretty good companion for you during your outdoor adventures.
#1 Mountain House Classic Assortment Bucket
Mountain House is a brand that specializes in freeze dried foods meant for camping, hiking, and emergency preparation. They make a variety of different meals from breakfast food, main entrees, sides, and even desserts! They also sell them as single served or even as a bucket and kit. This is why it is a favorite among many hikers and campers.
There is a total of 12 meals in each bucket and they cook for about 10 minutes when you add water. The bucket can be enough to feed a person for about 3 days. This classic assortment bucket contains the following meals: beef stroganoff with noodles, chicken teriyaki with rice, granola with milk and blueberries, beef stew, lasagna with meat sauce, noodles and chicken. Each packet has directions on how much water to add so you get the perfect meal.
#2 Harmony House Foods Dried Vegetable Sampler
This next product is perfect because there are a lot of backpacking meals that are lacking in vegetables. This is also great for those of you hikers who don’t eat meat. Either way, if you are using this as a way to add more veggies to your meals or to use as your main source of food, this is a great product to try out. Since it is a sampler pack, you can try it first before deciding which to buy for the bigger cans.
Each pouch has 1 cup of vegetables, which you will need to soak for about 10 – 15 minutes for it to be ready to eat. This is a kosher product and is also non-GMO. The sampler pack contains 15 packets. The vegetables available in the sampler pack are broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Green Beans, Jalapenos, Leeks, Onions, Peas, Bell Peppers, Diced Potatoes, Spinach, Tomatoes. These are great to make your own backpacking meals.
#3 MREs (Meals Ready-To-Eat)
These may not be your typical backpacking meals but they are actually perfect for it. MREs or Meals Ready To Eat are rations that are used in the U.S. Military. The best thing about this box is that it comes with a flameless ration heater so you can have a hot meal wherever you go.
This package also includes an accessory pack, which has coffee and beverage powders, matches, seasoning, gum, wet wipes and tissues, making it a perfect backpacking buddy. This package has 12 meals inside ready to eat.
#4 Backpacker’s Pantry Sweet & Sour Rice with Chicken
This product is from Backpacker’s Pantry, who also specializes in making food for camping and hiking. It is a single packet of sweet & sour rice with chicken that is good for 2 people and is among the favorites among the different Backpacker’s Pantry freeze dried foods.
#5 Good To-Go Indian Vegetable Korma
This product is great for you who enjoy Indian food. It is a creamy tomato and yogurt braized vegetables. This is a vegetarian dish that is also gluten-free and low in sodium so people who require a gluten-free diet can eat it.
They also have a number of different flavors like Thai Curry, Pad Thai, Herbed Mushroom & Risotto, Three Bean Chili and Classic Marinara with Penne, although the Indian Vegetable Korma is the favorite.
Those are the top 5 picks for freeze dried food, but I would have to give the trophy to Mountain House Classic Assortment Bucket. This is because the brand is very popular and well-known so you will easily be able to find it anywhere you go.
The assortment bucket is great as well because you get a variety of different flavors to fit your taste. Once you’ve found your favorites, you can buy only that next time. It is also cooked quickly in comparison to the other products and its shelf life is incredible, making it my top pick of the category.