Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Re: Favorite dehydrated meals

I love the mountain house turkey dinner meal. I always joke that I would eat it at home. The breakfast skillet one is real good too. Any others that you find yourself using again and again?

any that you hate?

- I'm the best at being me when I'm outside
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
Labels (3)
28 Replies

We love the Good-To-Go mushroom risotto but prefer the Mountain House Pad Thai to the Good-to-Go Pad Thai (even though we decided reframing it as “spicy noodle salad” helped us enjoy it more).  Also- I learned the hard way to always check the serving amount of the packages of freeze dried food- did not see that they were anywhere from 1-4 servings.  I guess the package size should have been a clue!

Good To-Go Herbed Mushroom Risotto

So does anyone have any recipes that they are willing to share? My creative is a little lacking. I've got come good chilly and oatmeat and that's about it.

Stay safe and I'll see you on the trails!

I buy a few "factory" meals here and there because they sound good, but I'm usually disappointed in the taste and quantity. I used to simply cook and dehydrate my own meals, the problem being that the meat usually doesn't rehydrate well. My current solution is to cook and dehydrate the meals ( l love zatarain's rice meals) and then add freeze dried meat, put it in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber, and vacuum bag it. I make several meals at once, and usually several varieties, then I have them ready to grab and go. I write any necessary directions on them with a waterproof marker. Ok, so my system requires a dehydrator and vacuum bagger, as well as buying freeze dried meat and mylar vacuum bags (they are different than regular mylar bags, but you can find them on amazon), but after adding up the costs, I figure I save about 50%, plus I can season to my liking, and make portions that fit me. It's not for everybody, but I'm basically getting a custom meal for a lot less.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I do the home cooked, home dehydrated meals, as well.  Pretty much anything is fair game that way!  I know how it's seasoned and what in it.  And I can size the portions the way I want them.

Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I can't remember the last time I thought a store-bought freeze-dried meal. I think it was 4 years ago, and if so, I have backpacked around a hundred days without eating any store-bought freeze-dried meal.

I was always hungry after eating freeze dried food. After a backpacking trip where I had mostly eaten freeze dried meals I would feel nutritionally depleted when I got back to civilization.

That doesn't happen anymore since I prepare my own food and make sure it has all of my nutritional needs.

Meal planning has turned into meal flexibility, particularly on the week-long or longer trips that I usually take.

I prefer to not have my Wilderness experiences dominated by technology and modern conveniences. I wish to be more self-reliant when I am outside because I have found that reliance on things of the technological world do not help me enough when I am under the interesting challenges of the backcountry.

It takes a little effort to learn how to be a Backcountry gourmand. All of your friends will be jealous though. They will do lots of favors if you will cook for them. You won't have to do dishes or pump water ever again.

S@Former community member , could you share what kind of things you do eat while backpacking?

Found Myself Outside


First a short discussion on priorities. Many people have priorities on having their backpacking trip be as light as possible. Weight does come into my equation but other things are important to me as well while I'm outside.

Earlier in my backpacking career having a week-long or longer trip was something that happened every year or so. Most of my backpacking trips were short. Sometimes I carried heavy food, sometimes I ate only backpacking freeze-dried food, and that was on the longer trips where I was very weight-conscious. I started bringing extra food to put into my backpacking meals because I never felt sated. I would bring extra packages of meat, cheese, cooking oils, various types of nuts to add to my meals.

And then the problem was that most backpacking food was only semi-palatable. I always left the trailheads hungry for some certain types of food. It would take me a couple days to feel like I had my nutrition right again.

I had heard of and met a few people who only brought staples into the wilderness. I desired that and started to move that way when I bought a backpacking oven. I don't carry it anymore, but I can substitute and still bake in the backcountry if I desire.

Let's get to my basic menu for a week plus long trip. My breakfast is typically dried fruit and nuts, and sometimes some version of packaged bar. I also will eat oatmeal, and cook dried eggs that I find at REI along with dried hash browns.

Lunches and snacks are typically more dried fruit and nuts, energy bars, but with an addition of making sure that I eat some version of meat, typically jerky.

Dinners is where we talk about those compromises. I am happy to cook at night, and have that take a little while. I like to cook grain, a couple different kinds. That means that I have to be willing to sit by my stove for a half an hour or so. That means you must have a stable stove, and must be willing to block the wind. Most of my cooking time is on simmer - and to cook this way your stove must simmer. I have a heat diffuser plate.

I'll typically carry white rice, brown rice, quinoa, and usually one other type of grain like kamut. I usually have two different kinds of lentils. I also carry hash browns. I get a lot of dried vegetables, most from North Bay Trading Company. Most every meal has kale, chard, or spinach in it. I have found that keeping up on my greens keeps my energy level up.

I will typically carry dry whole milk and dry coconut milk. I will usually have three or four different kinds of oils with me, including clarified butter. Oils are the most dense caloric food value you can carry in the wilderness.

I have not had as much nutritional success with dried meats, outside of jerkies. This is one area where I will sacrifice and carry foil-packaged meat. Sometimes I'll even carry a can.

As I have gotten older I've become sensitive to some spices and I look for my own mixes. Lots of garlic, lots of sea salt.

Most of my dinners have a similar consistency, somewhat soupy. I'm happy with that as I know I need a lot of liquids when I am backpacking.

I've devised a few different ways to cook though, including frying and baking. I usually don't have to have a hard decision on what I'm going to make each day. I can figure out what I'm hungry for and how much food I want to eat when I begin cooking. Since I am solo, I don't want to have to bury any of my food.

I don't think you could ever do this system with a JetBoil. Plenty of other folks cook with primarily staples. Look at advice online or take a trip with the National Outdoor Leadership School or similar.

There are tons of books out there, but I haven't read a single one. One tip I learned from gardening is: Grow the food you want to eat. One tip I have learned from backpacking is: Carry only the food you know that works for you and you like to eat.

The food I eat backpacking is somewhat similar to the food I eat at home, and that assists my digestion and efficiency outside.

My advice on taking up this manner of backcountry cooking is: Start where you are and trust in your own ability to take care of yourself.

Sorry for the long post, and/or thanks for asking.

Greetings from remote El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico. 

I'm very fond of the Alpine Aire Shrimp Newburg, to which I'll add a pouch of salmon (or shrimp, but those are really hard to find).  AA seems to have stopped selling that particular menu item in the pouches, and the last time I acquired some it was a #10 can one of the survivalist-oriented websites still had on hand -- I have left it unopened until it's really needed and can be used in relatively short order as the level of humidity where I live (Central Texas) just isn't conducive to long-term storage of that type of material, even if the top is kept on and it's sealed in a plastic bag.


The mountain house breakfast skillet wrapped in a tortilla is AWESOME! We buy this every time we go out in the backcountry! Other favorites that accompany us every year are:

  • Mountain House Chicken Breast w/ Mashed Potatoes
  • Mountain House Chicken Fried Rice w/ Vegetables
  • Backpacker's Pantry Cuban Coconut Black Beans & Rice
  • Backpacker's Pantry and Mountain House's Ice Cream Sandwiches (YUM!)
  • Mountain House Macaroni & Cheese
  • Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai (one of my favorites that I'll even eat off-trail)
  • Backpacker's Pantry Three Cheese Macaroni & Cheese
  • Alpine Aire has some snacks that are awesome: Mango Fire & Toffee Break (the bomb!)
  • Thrive Life has some great freeze-dried snackies: Banana Bites, Berry Parfait, Cashew Chew, Cheddar Bites, and Strawberry Pina Colada


Foods that I will NEVER carry/eat on the trail again: 

  • Clif Bar Builder's Protein Bars (I couldn't stomach them on the trail) 
  • Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy (was like eating wallpaper paste)
  • Mountain House Chicken and Dumplings (same as above)
  • Alpine Aire Wild Quinoa Pilaf w/ Hemp Crispies (I liked the taste but became violently ill one night after eating it that I was afraid to ever eat it again)
  • Tortilla w/ Peanut Butter (we still bring tortilla with us, but I will never bring them to eat with peanut butter ever again, it's so dry that it made me gag)
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.