What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

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What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby benoloughlin » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 5:40 pm

Hi everyone,
Firstly, I apologise if this has been posted previously.
After returning from a recent hiking adventure in the US followed by doing the Overland Track (Tas) again, I was disappointed with the dehydrated meals I packed for the overland track.
So, I am keen to hear your recommendations for pre-packaged pour-into-the-packet dehydrated/freeze-dried meals.
I’m limited to using a glorified Jetboil ( it’s actually an MSR reactor stove so it boils water quickly and efficiently and it can’t do anything else. And by the time I get into camp I’m usually too tired to do anything other than boil, pour, re-crimp and wait ten minutes. And I’m not going to start dehydrating my own ingredients.
Thanks heaps!!

Ben
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby north-north-west » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 5:56 pm

https://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=18216

I''m a fan of Strive (Tasmanian, bnetter value and less waste than Backcountry and the like) for commmerical meals, but there is also a lot you can do with ingredients from supermarkets. Dang myeon, Pulse Pasta, dried mushrooms, fried shallots, dehy mash, dehy peas and beans and lentils and the like ... meat is the hardest one if you're into animal protein, although the vegetarian meat substitutes generally taste fairly good. Add a bit of cheese and some herbs and spices and there you go.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby benoloughlin » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 6:04 pm

Thanks north-north-west,
Thanks for your response but I’m just interested in the ‘pour hot water in the packet’ dehydrated meals.
Unless I’m mistaken, Strive don’t produce meals in heat-resistant packets. And for reasons I’ve already given I’m not going to cook or for that matter wash up on trail. I’m usually taking heavy photographic equipment and I’m usually knackered by the time I get camp set up. So much so that it’s not unusual for me to forgo the evening meal altogether.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby north-north-west » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 6:12 pm

I don't wash up out bush either. Bung water and ingredients into pot, bring to boil, turn off gas, chuck pot into pot cosy, leave for 15-30 mins, eat, lick pot out.
The foil pouches are so bulky and heavy and there's just too much waste involved for me.
And as far as weight goes, I carry tripod, two dSLRs, at least two lenses, plus spare batteries and a few other accessories. My stove and pot and cosy don't weight much more than a Jetboil system and they're far more flexible. But you do you.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby benoloughlin » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 6:16 pm

Thanks NNW,
I do appreciate your input and perspective.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Warin » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 6:53 pm

Ben .. in what way were you disappointed with the commercial dehydrated meals?

Not enough food? Add deb dehydrated mash potato. Or minute rice... Or couscous. Or go for the 'suits 2 people' meals ... I can consume one of these by myself and not be over full.

Not tasty? Add spices, pepper ... Or parmesan cheese over the top, don't mix it in - makes a mess to clean up.

Of course if you dehydrate your own then you can suit yourself... but you don't want to do that.

Washing up? Boil your water .. put half a cup in the meal foil bag (meal consumed, left overs only) a 'cup of soup' and drink/eat it... add more hot water if it is too dense.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Neo » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 8:34 pm

Yep Strive meals are the best. Best price, taste and ingredients. They come in one, two or five serve sizes. You have to cook in water for five to ten minutes depending on the variety. Very easy. If you can't simmer just boil for a shorter time!

Pardon me but if that is not possible on a Jetboil type stove, get rid of it and go for a normal Soto stove or a mini trangia :)
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby crollsurf » Fri 22 Dec, 2023 8:35 pm

Pre-packaged meals are what they are because they need a long shelf life. They're full of preservatives like salt. You get sick of it pretty quickly

Strive is probably your best off the shelf option.

A better option is to make your own or go stoveless. For overnight walks, I don't bother with a stove. Longer walks, I'll make my own, and you don't need all the kit. Dehydrator, vacuum sealer, etc. An oven and some zip lock bags work fine.

Pouring hot water in a bag and waiting has never worked for me

The secret is when you reach camp, start rehydrating with water and oil in your pot while setting up camp. Olive/vegetable oil will bring the meat back to life. Give it time and heat over the stove when you're ready to eat.





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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby north-north-west » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 7:15 am

Still, if Ben wants the pouches, there are plenty of options on that other thread. Campers Pantry is the best I've tried. Backcountry and Outdoor Gourmet serve sizes are too skimpy for me on multidayers - after the first two days or so, once the appetite kicks back in, the body wants more and double serves are too expensive and too bulky.

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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby benoloughlin » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 8:51 am

Warin wrote:Ben .. in what way were you disappointed with the commercial dehydrated meals?


Not as palatable as the pre-packaged dehydrated (Mountain House) meals I had recently while walking in the PNW in the US. On the Overland we had Backcountry Cuisine and I swear it was like eating cardboard.

Warin wrote:Not enough food?

It wasn’t a problem as I usually allocate a double serving packet per person per night.

Warin wrote:Not tasty? Add spices, pepper ... Or parmesan cheese over the top, don't mix it in - makes a mess to clean up.

Yeah I’d prefer pre-packaged meals that tick all the boxes rather than bring additional stuff if I can avoid it.

Warin wrote:Of course if you dehydrate your own then you can suit yourself... but you don't want to do that.
for the reasons previously given at am not going to go down that route.

Warin wrote:Washing up?
is something I really do not want to do. Anymore than my spoon or coffee cup is too much.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby benoloughlin » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 8:59 am

Neo wrote:Yep Strive meals are the best. Best price, taste and ingredients. They come in one, two or five serve sizes. You have to cook in water for five to ten minutes depending on the variety. Very easy. If you can't simmer just boil for a shorter time!

Pardon me but if that is not possible on a Jetboil type stove, get rid of it and go for a normal Soto stove or a mini trangia :)

I would prefer to support Strive because they are a local Tassie company. But unless they have got their meals in boiling-water resistant pouches I am not going to purchase them.

Replacing my reactor stove is not an option.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Neo » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 10:00 am

Have you tried Radix? When I first tried Backcountry it was pretty bad, including too salty/sweet/dehydrated chicken-loaf etc. Later realised I was trying to eat a two person serve. Have since had a single serve size BC with a bit of something else to snack on, it was passable but still only a last resort.

If you are really that firm on the stove type and only boiling water, perhaps you can import the ones you liked in bulk.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby benoloughlin » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 10:29 am

Hi Neo,

Neo wrote:Have you tried Radix? When I first tried Backcountry it was pretty bad, including too salty/sweet/dehydrated chicken-loaf etc. Later realised I was trying to eat a two person serve. Have since had a single serve size BC with a bit of something else to snack on, it was passable but still only a last resort.

If you are really that firm on the stove type and only boiling water, perhaps you can import the ones you liked in bulk.


No, I haven’t tried Radix. I’ll find out more. Thanks for the suggestion!

There’s a few reasons why I’m not interested in replacing my existing stove.
- I’m currently only working a fraction of what I was doing this time last year so financially I can’t do it.
- it means carrying additional gear to cook and I’d prefer not to do that., also
- prepping a meal at the end of the day when I’m usually dead tired and on my own and then turn around and wash up after the meal. Tbh, unless I was absolutely ravenous I would skip the meal, have a hot chocolate and go to bed.
- it’s a *&%$#! brilliant bit of kit and I know there are going to be options out there which will suit my set up.

Thanks for your suggestion of importing the meals I like from the US. I haven’t given it much thought as the exchange rate (when I was there) was fairly prohibitive. And I’m not sure if I got my friend in WA to send me several boxes from Costco whether it would attract customs duty. Something to investigate!
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby bluewombat » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 10:59 am

Some radix meals are not bad, eg their chilli but there was one (Turkish grass fed lamb) that was close to the worst thing I have ever tried, it does not seem to be on their website any longer
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby ChrisJHC » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 6:43 pm

Hi, Ben,

Every time this question is asked Strive comes up near or at the top.

I also just boil water and add it to the Strive pack.

Unlike you, I boil the water in a metal mug then put the Strive pack into it.
5 minutes later it’s ready to go and I eat it straight from the mug.

When finished it takes me less than a minute to clean the mug prior to putting it away.

Can you please explain why you MUST have a “cook in the sachet” option and that might help us refine our responses.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Neo » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 7:24 pm

Ha! Eye too wondered about the stringent cooking and cleaning requirements. Eat from the pot then rub clean with fingers.

Barely a blue banded bees fart is the difference between boiling water or boiling food.

Although about 400 grams extra weight to carry and two minutes difference but probably more gas burnt by using an MSR or Jetboil stove, compared to using ANY other gas stove option!

Research the price difference if you must.

Folks like what they like I suppose ☺️
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Neo » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 7:25 pm

Not having a dig
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Neo » Sat 23 Dec, 2023 7:29 pm

north-north-west wrote:Still, if Ben wants the pouches, there are plenty of options on that other thread. Campers Pantry is the best I've tried. Backcountry and Outdoor Gourmet serve sizes are too skimpy for me on multidayers - after the first two days or so, once the appetite kicks back in, the body wants more and double serves are too expensive and too bulky.

Gee, we're a bunch of grumpy old farts, aren't we?


Recent meme (which is a photo with witty comment):
There is no such thing as grumpy old people. They are just less polite and more honest.

The photo was of a not-so-old celebrity, forgot who!
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Letstryagain » Sun 24 Dec, 2023 11:06 am

Never, ever eat the same one within 3days. Then they aren't quite so revolting
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Ground parrot » Mon 08 Apr, 2024 8:56 pm

This thread is a little old but recently I tried the off grid pre-packaged meals. They are not dehydrated so the weight might be prohibitive for some. I was doing a 2 night hike so could handle the extra poundage and thought I would give them a go for something different. I also cant stomach backcountry and campers pantry has gone downhill recently imo.

The off grid meals tasted great! I try to eat a ketogenic diet, which can be difficult to sustain on the trail, and they had plenty of meat and fat content which is good for satiety. The curries come in pouches separately to the rice, so I just took curries.

The curries and other meat based meals are pre-cooked and are in liquid form in a pouch, which is why they weigh more. They heat up by dumping the pouch in boiling water. It says for 5 minutes but it was more like 10 - 15 in my little pot. A larger pot would probably reduce the time. You can then eat the meal out of the pouch. No washing up.

Not sure how to cook if you want carbs? I think they sell rice packets etc, so you can probably cook rice in a separate pouch at the same time. Or just take wraps for dipping.

The goat curry and butter chicken were delicious.

For the first night one single serve pouch was enough, for the second night I ate 2 single serve pouches (at 250g each - you can see how the weight can add up). I also brought some low carb keto wraps to pad it out.

Worth a thought for shorter trips.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby matagi » Tue 09 Apr, 2024 12:54 pm

Just FYI Radix main meals are all now plant based and gluten free.

My recommendations would be the Peri Peri and Smokey BBQ, followed by Mexican Chilli and Turkish Felafel. The Indian Curry spicing tastes "raw" to me so it goes towards the bottom of the list and the Basil Pesto is plain yuk in my opinion.

The 800kCal pack fed two adults (64 and 65 years old) supplemented by half a cup of orzo/risoni. Used the 400kCal packs (1 per person) on a recent walk up Arm River Track, which again were fine for us in terms of how filling they were. Radix also do a 600kCal version as well as keto and low FODMAP versions.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Chev » Tue 09 Apr, 2024 1:46 pm

I tried a dehy meal, backcountry I think, on one of my first overnight trips and it was such an abomination it took me three decades to go back to the well. Last trip I tried Strive and they have come a LONG way! Actually pretty good. I'm keen to give Radix a go as I've heard good things about them.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Tue 09 Apr, 2024 9:02 pm

I guess we all have different tastes because I found Radix meals to be borderline inedible stodge. Pity, because the meals were a good size and they had all the vitamins & calories you need. On the other hand I quite like Backcountry meals. With Backcountry, I find they're better if you add a 1/4 cup more water than they say on the packet, maybe I should try the same with Radix.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby matagi » Tue 09 Apr, 2024 9:59 pm

JohnnoMcJohnno wrote:I guess we all have different tastes because I found Radix meals to be borderline inedible stodge. Pity, because the meals were a good size and they had all the vitamins & calories you need. On the other hand I quite like Backcountry meals. With Backcountry, I find they're better if you add a 1/4 cup more water than they say on the packet, maybe I should try the same with Radix.


Yeah, I would recommend adding a bit extra water. When we taste tested the Radix meals at home, we found the Turkish Felafel in particular still had dry lumps in it with the recommended amount of water, even after stirring periodically while it was rehydrating.

Radix have reformulated their meals, so it might be worth giving them another shot.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby headwerkn » Wed 10 Apr, 2024 12:40 am

Best freeze dried meals IMHO are those produced by Alps and Amici here in Launceston. I can happily eat (and have) their Butter Chicken night after night for a week or more. Lamb Tangine is great, and the Chicken & Mushroom and Green Chicken Curry are fantastic too. They have veggie options too, if you're so inclined.

They are quite pricey at $23-$27 ea for a 100g pouch but are pure meat and sauce - meat being the one food that really benefits from freeze drying over simple dehydration. I split these in two and combine with home dehydrated veggies and cumin rice, which bulks them out, adds carbs/fibre and improves the value equation. These go into ziploc bags, in goes the boiling water and 10 mins later they're ready. Texture is great, flavour is great, you're only boiling water and cleanup is one ziploc bag, no cleaning of pots etc.

Past experiences with both Strive and Radix have both been quite negative. Granted the Strive meals were from a few years ago now (apparently they've improved) but I found they took forever to rehydrate, even when simmer'd. Ain't nobody got time (or gas) for that. One meal that, after half an hour of rehydrating, resembled the contents of a baby's nappy, saw us generously donate our remaining meals to a family member who didn't know any better.

As for Radix, both times I've tried one of their meals I've had terrible stomach issues, which is pretty odd given for a decade prior I subsisted on Backcountry without gut problems. Curiously my partner has had at least two Radix meals show signs of spoiling due to moisture ingress into the supposedly sealed packet. Apparently it's not unheard of.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby north-north-west » Wed 10 Apr, 2024 8:20 am

Simmering is a waste of gas. A little extra water, bring to the boil, bung it in a pot cosy (I use a home made unit, from car sunshade material) and leave for 20 miins (or more - it will stay hot for over an hour).
I still like the Strive but lately I'm more into dehydrating my own meat and veg at home and adding pasta/noodles/cous cous or whatever. Cheaper and I get to try to sleep with the smell of that sauced roo mince drying overnight.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby phATty » Wed 10 Apr, 2024 11:52 am

north-north-west wrote:I still like the Strive but lately I'm more into dehydrating my own meat and veg at home and adding pasta/noodles/cous cous or whatever.


One thing I will say with home dehydrated meals is to add nutritional content after you've dried it if you can, this is maybe more pertinent to longer trips. Typically, commercial meals will already have additives for fat/vitamins etc... I'll do maybe 1/3 commercial to 2/3 homemade/supermarket for this reason.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby north-north-west » Wed 10 Apr, 2024 1:24 pm

phATty wrote:
north-north-west wrote:I still like the Strive but lately I'm more into dehydrating my own meat and veg at home and adding pasta/noodles/cous cous or whatever.


One thing I will say with home dehydrated meals is to add nutritional content after you've dried it if you can, this is maybe more pertinent to longer trips. Typically, commercial meals will already have additives for fat/vitamins etc... I'll do maybe 1/3 commercial to 2/3 homemade/supermarket for this reason.


I generally do 1/4 commercial, mostly from laziness on those evenings I can't be bothered to put all the pieces together.
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby vagrom » Wed 10 Apr, 2024 6:26 pm

Thanks Headwerkn, the Alps and Amici website is helpful and their shop in Lonnie looks very good. I wonder if they're Italian. - Thus the good food. When you say you add stuff at home into a zip-lock bag and later simply add boiling water, is it their zip-lock bag or are you confident to add boiling water to your own-bought Zip-locks - Glad?

Yes it's a little pricey but on an extended walk there are times that it's nice to have something special and variety's the spice of life.

Could I add that if you like a nice soup with a difference then look for small pack-single serves of Hikari Instant Miso Soups at Coles (and Woolies?). Bonito protein and Wakami seaweed. Tassie still exports seaweed?
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Re: What are the best dehydrated/freeze-dried meals?

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 11 Apr, 2024 8:22 am

headwerkn wrote:Best freeze dried meals IMHO are those produced by Alps and Amici here in Launceston.


Might be a bit out of my price range, but I may still give them a shot sometime. I've been walking with some people who brought along some Alps and Amici vacuum sealed (not dehydrated) meals (so fairly heavy) and they raved about how good they were.

Daniel Alps (the 'Alps' in 'Alps and Amici') catered for my wedding back when he had his restaurant at the Strathlynn vinyard at Rosevears and we were very happy with the food there (the rest of the day was fairly good too).
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