I love good food: at home, while I travel, and most importantly when I’m backpacking on the trail. Over time, I’ve become quite creative in meal planning and preparation; picking a mix of fresh ingredients for top quality cuisine on shorter, cool weather trips. Or dehydrating my own meals for light-weight, gourmet on extended trips. But sometimes there just isn’t time to plan that far ahead. Fear Not! There are plenty of great ready-to-eat options out there.
Exploring the freeze-dried food section at your local outfitter can be overwhelming; so many choices and brands. Without trying them, it’s impossible to judge which may be a winner. At about 8 bucks a pop, this can be an expensive risk of trial and error. If you are looking for a quick and easy, go-to list for food ideas for backpacking trips, I would love to share some of my all-time, top favorite foods for backpacking that are easy to pack, keep long periods, fuel the hungry hiker and taste awesome.
Good To-Go takes dehydrated food to the next level of quality and taste. They use real ingredients and go bold on the flavors in this dish. The two servings package is a generous portion and a hearty taste explosion. This dish is better than any thai curry I could prepare at home in my own kitchen.
Pack some tortilla chips or flatbread to eat with this easy to prepare snack. It comes prepackaged in its own re-hydrating bag. Just add hot water. I loved the texture and real cheese flavor of the dip with a bit of kick. All that’s missing are the margaritas… which you can also order from pack it gourmet! Genious 🙂
This shelf stable variety is pre-cooked and has great flavor and texture. It’s perfect for having with eggs or to throw in any meal (baco-spuds?). Just needs a super-quick fry in a pan and is ready to eat.
4. Good To-Go: Herbed Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods at home so I was skeptical of how this one would turn out. The flavor wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, BUT the taste was very very good and I ended up devouring the entire package and wishing I had another for another day. I added a couple packages of parmesan cheese and a touch of salt and this was surely one of my most favorite meals on my hike.
5. OvaEasy: Dried Eggs
I’m not a huge fan of most dehydrated or freeze-dried eggs. But these eggs are far more edible than most because of the process they use to prepare the egg crystals. The flavor and texture is the closest I’ve been able to find to real, fresh eggs. Spruce them up with some of your favorite spices or some veg, cheese or meat in an omlette and you won’t even notice a difference. When you can’t bring real eggs, I would absolutely bring these. Don’t forget, once you rehydrate the eggs, you still need to cook them just like you would with real eggs.
The quality of the products made by this company is outstanding. You can recognize the ingredients you are eating and the flavors are robust and hearty. This chili takes the prize at the end of a long hiking day. A bit spicy and super filling. Maybe my all time favorite hiking meal. I love to eat this with mashed potatoes (see below).
7. Idahoan: Mashed Potatoes
I’ve tried all kinds of dehydrated potato brands. Nothing beats Idahoan brand. There are a variety of flavors to choose from and many ways to add in extras (bacon bits, cheese, or fresh veg if you wish). Super lightweight and easy to prepare (just add hot water and stir).
I usually stick to chocolate or cookies for dessert but sometimes a warm fancy treat is in order. This may be an expensive dessert, but it’s great for sharing. Very decadent and extra sweet! Great creamy banana flavor. Just be sure to mix it well in the corners.
KIND Bars are by far my most favorite trail bar for taste, quality of ingredients and energy boosting magic. They are chock full of nuts and other tasty morsels. They taste great; never hard or dry. I find these bars keep my energy high so I will often eat them for breakfast or lunch.
10. Classic Kraft Mac and Cheese: Spruced up with olive oil and Spam
This classic hiking meal is worth the extra hassle of cooking vs choosing the freeze dried variety in my opinion. Keep a bit of extra water in the pot to mix with the cheese mix and spice it up with some salt and pepper. Spam and olive oil come in handy single-serve foil packets and can easily be carried and added to your mac and take this dish to the next level.
H@H Tip: Many individually sized and wrapped condiments can be scavenged from fast food restaurants you visit. OR: to save time and effort, shop at minimus.biz.
Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way to recommend these products or companies. It is soley my own preferences and opinions. Remember, just because I like these products, doesn’t mean you may enjoy the same flavors as me. Regardless, the quality of these ten listed items, in my opinion have far surpassed the status quo of other freeze dried meals and regular hiking snacks. Happy trail dining.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TRAIL FOODS, SNACKS AND MEALS ? DO YOU LIKE FREEZE DRIED OR PREFER TO PLAN ON FRESH ? PLEASE SHARE !