Dehydrated Meal Companies

12:51 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Normally we make our own but there are some companies out there that make dehydrated meals.

Packit Gourmet, Hawk Vittles, Enetria trail foods, MaryJanes Farms to name a few. 

I tried Enertia yrs ago and they were good but something changed and the quality dropped off IMO. I have heard great things about Packit Gourmet and good reviews on the other ones.

Which brand is your favorite and why.

2:20 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I used to do mostly Mountain House.  1 or 2 flavors were pretty good,  a couple flavors were ok and several were terrible.  The best thing Mountain House makes is the Raspberry Cobbler.  That is surprisingly really good.  

Currently, I buy Backpacker Pantry.  All flavors I have tried are pretty good so far.  My fav. is the chicken fettuccine alfredo.  

2:49 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Brand?

Mountain House, hands down - have tried BP, but can't find one meal from them MH can't do better.

Specific meals?

#1.) MH Chicken a la King w/ Noodles - my absolute favorite, and ate it so quickly I'd forgotten to photograph it for a review

#2.) TIE - MH Chicken Stew and MH Sweet & Sour Pork

#3.) MH Beef Stroganoff w/ Noodles

REALLY want to try some of the Hawk Vittles. Heard their portions are lumberjack-sized.

3:43 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I've stuck with Mountain House throughout my backpacking career. I just think their meals are so hearty and filling. They're super hard to find but I came across a guy who had bought a bunch of military rations, tried one and it was amazing! I don't think you are technically allowed to buy military rations though haha..

4:05 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I thought there was companies that sold MREs....

4:18 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Mountain House for me, too.

I like all MH meals -- and I mean ALL --  but really enjoy the Chili Mac with Beef.  Nothing better after a cold day of hard trekking.  Really hits the spot.

4:20 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I didn't even think about Mountain House or Backpacker Pantry. Aren't those more freeze dried than dehydrated?

6:43 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I ve had used Packit Goumet..Flavor is good and portions are good.Like to give Hawk Vittiles a try and see what they have..For Freeze dried I like BP...MH only has a few good items..

10:42 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I have tried several brands, but the one that best suits my taste is MH.  My favorite MH is the turkey tetrazzini.

10:59 p.m. on September 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Harmony House Foods sells a backpacker sampling of vegetables and beans to make your own meals. It's become my preferred way to go. I can do a meal for a buck or less.

12:02 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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What are prices like for these dehydrated meals? I have never ate any of them. I always make my own meals from normal store bought meals (mac and chs,top ramen,etc)

I saw some in a store once back in the early 80's and thought for the weight they seemed awfully pricey. 

9:37 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Goose,

I have used some harmony house before and the sampler pack is the way to go. You can get a good mixture of veggies and TVP. I think I still have some up in the cabinet. I hope they are still good

Gary,

prices can range from $ 3.99 (single serving)  to $ 10.99 (2 person serving)

It varies per website

10:00 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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They are pricey at 10.99 but your getting a real 2 person meal..Its also helps not to eat the same old thing..How many ways can you eat Roman and then get bored..

10:02 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I pay $4.50-6.50/ meal for Mountain House, Gary, so they can get pretty expensive, pretty quickly. And even though they say 'serves 1-2', I always plan on one bag per person. 

Unlike other dehydrated dishes (Liptons Sidekicks, Kraft Dinner) the biggest saving is in fuel. For most of them, you just add boiling water to the bag and wait, so there's no simmering time involved. You can do pretty much the same with ramen noodles, but you don't get a complete cooked meal that way. 

The three brands available here are Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry and a few Mary Jane. Most of the MH meals cook in 8-9 minutes, but BP can take up to 15 minutes and more at elevation. Of all the ones I've tried, MH is consistently the best - the chili mac and beef is justifiably famous. BP is less reliable as a brand. I like some of their meals but others were pretty bad. 

Since they all have to rehydrate, though, look for small pieces rather than big, tasty chunks, and be exact with times and measurements. 

10:07 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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G00SE said:

Harmony House Foods sells a backpacker sampling of vegetables and beans to make your own meals. It's become my preferred way to go. I can do a meal for a buck or less.

Could you make up some on your own? I don't think Harmony House is available here. I do miss the vegetables if I'm living off dehydrated meals. The closest I've come is adding sundried tomatoes. 

10:43 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:


Since they all have to rehydrate, though, look for small pieces rather than big, tasty chunks, and be exact with times and measurements. 

 A good observation.

This is more noticeable in some MH meals than others.  For example, the MH Chicken and Rice meal.  Very tasty and filling, but not a lot of actual chicken meat.  I bring along a 3 oz. can of chicken meat to supplement it -- I add the can of meat and a sliced up jalapeno when I add the boiling water to the bag.  This makes the meal a bit more hearty, and you actually get chicken meat in each spoonful.  The jalapeno adds some spicy flavor.

11:13 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Always helps to pre-mix the dry contents prior to pouring in water (breaking up the chunks that form together over time in storage) and helps again to stir the hell out of it right when you pour the water in, prior to sealing the bag and letting it sit to rehydrate. 

Anyone aside from EP supplement their FD meals with other ingredients?

What do you use, and with which meals?

11:14 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

G00SE said:

Harmony House Foods sells a backpacker sampling of vegetables and beans to make your own meals. It's become my preferred way to go. I can do a meal for a buck or less.

Could you make up some on your own? I don't think Harmony House is available here. I do miss the vegetables if I'm living off dehydrated meals. The closest I've come is adding sundried tomatoes. 

 Harmony House ships to Canada per their website

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS:

Harmony House Foods, Inc. has partnered with a trusted third-party company, International Checkout, to fulfill orders for our International customers.  Simply put the items you wish to purchase in our Shopping Cart and choose the "International Checkout" option.  Your items will be transferred to International Checkout for processing.  You may pay by International credit card, PayPal or bank transfer.  International Checkout will process your order, including billing, shipping and customer service.  Once your order is completed, all inquiries should be directed to International Checkout at support@internationalcheckout.com.

WHICH COUNTRIES DO YOU SHIP TO?

International shipping is currently available WORLDWIDE from Harmony House Foods, Inc.  Our third party vendor, International Checkout, will ship to all destinations around the world.

11:15 a.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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G00SE said:

Harmony House Foods sells a backpacker sampling of vegetables and beans to make your own meals. It's become my preferred way to go. I can do a meal for a buck or less.

 I prefer their Deluxe sampler over the backpacker sampler

1:31 p.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I suppliment the MH chili Mac with more gravel(dehydrated Hamberger).I also add olive oil to all my meals and some Pesto..Use the pesto tube that I get from foodlion..Can't remember the brand..If I have it extra dehydrated veggies I make..Pistol petes Hot sauce on some dinners..

1:55 p.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Harvest Foodworks out of Frankeville, Ontario makes both dehydrated and fd foods. I have not had their stuff since about 2003, but wasn't too impressed back then with the flavor. Some friends who do long canoe expeditions like I do, have turned to Thrive Life out of Utah. I think they are mostly fd. The advantage is that like Harvest, they sell in bulk, so you can put together your own meals and it reduces cost considerably.

For my trips, I still go with prepackaged fd, usually from Mountain House. I do supplement, though, with couscous as an extender, appies in samplers from Cost  Plus. Co op markets often have dehydrated. Humus is good. Hard cheeses last and are good for calories. Things like ramen and mashed potatoes can often be purchased in bulk from damaged shipments at some stores. There are also stores that supply to restaurants in bulk.

In summary, I use fd from companies like Mountain House, but then supplement with less expensive items in bulk or discounted. Since I'm sometimes out for an extended period, making sure my calorie intake is high enough is critical.

6:26 p.m. on September 27, 2013 (EDT)
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I like Ramen,mac and cheese and Lipton noodle or rice dinners and they are way cheaper than even $3. I spend a budget of about $150 a month for food when I am hiking/cycle touring. 

I was just curious.

8:39 a.m. on September 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

G00SE said:

Harmony House Foods sells a backpacker sampling of vegetables and beans to make your own meals. It's become my preferred way to go. I can do a meal for a buck or less.

Could you make up some on your own? I don't think Harmony House is available here. I do miss the vegetables if I'm living off dehydrated meals. The closest I've come is adding sundried tomatoes. 

 Beans are hard to dry w/o them splitting with the exception of green beans.  Mixed veggies are super simple to do at home though. You can just buy them frozen and they are already blanched so all you have to do is rinse them to thaw and dehydrate.  I keep a big bag in the basement freezer as both backpacking supplies and blizzard insurance.

1:58 p.m. on September 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Compared to real food most commercial dehydrated foods are disappointing. I prefer to buy groceries in a supermarket even for backpacking. Some extra weight is worth the effort. Eat the heaviest things first. I have never dehydrated my own stuff but many people seem to really enjoy the process, especially if the food comes out of their gardens. I like to smoke trout for overnight trips.

6:11 p.m. on September 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Cook beans and rice at home then dehydrate them, then in camp add them to hot water or soups and they will reconstitute easily. 

I use Ziploc bags to transfer the foods I buy at the market like macaroni, cheese (in bulk slabs) Top Ramen (I take it out of the packages, break it up and put as many packs into gallon Ziplocs, then add to water by hand fulls in camp), I make instant rice and beans as described above and either mix them in Ziploc's or separate to reheat later. They both once dry take moments to reheat in boiled/simmering water. 
I find the freezer/Alligator bags last the longest and reuse them till they wear out. I wash Ziploc's out if needed and turn them inside out to air dry. Things like bulk macaroni I put into two Ziploc's one inside the other as the edges of the macaroni can cut the bag after a while. The other bag keeps them inside better.

11:41 a.m. on October 1, 2013 (EDT)
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A few years back, when I was in college, the sponsor of my scholarship was Food Machinery and Chemical Company. They also provided me a job for a couple summers. During one of the summers, I worked with the group that was developing the freeze-dry process for the US military. Since they knew I was a climber and backpacker, each Friday, I was given several bags of the latest attempt and told, "If you figure out how to successfully rehydrate this, let us know! " Some of the trials were pretty good, others were awful. One notable experiment was apple slices. My climbing partner and I climbed a peak in Tuolumne that weekend, and enjoyed snacking on the whole bag full on the summit - crunchy and sweet. But they were dried, after all, so we drank a fair amount of water on our way back to camp. Well, we discovered that a rehydrated 4 or 5 pounds of rehydrated apple slices takes up a lot of space. Hiking back to the car the next morning was, shall we say, a bit uncomfortable.

9:19 a.m. on October 2, 2013 (EDT)
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I came across two guys doing a backpacking trip at Waterton/Glacier Park a month or so ago, and they were packing 45 lbs of food for a 5 day trip! The mistake was that they had selected foods that were the lighter versions of regular supermarket meals, but they were carrying no freeze-dried meals at all. That seems like an awful lot of unnecessary weight to be humping up steep mountain trails.

They were also using a map that didn't have any topo lines, and they were complaining that it didn't show them where the cliffs were. Based on their projected route, they may have been the two people riding the SAR helicopter skids that I saw being flown out the next day. 

7:13 p.m. on October 2, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm gonna have to try some of this Harmony House stuff.  The samplers look quite enticing.

7:12 p.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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have tried MH and BP. prefer the MH. they have better variety and quality.

2:08 p.m. on November 3, 2013 (EST)
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Has anyone tried any of the other bulk dehydrated or Freeze Dried food companies besides Harmony House?

Also, does anyone know where to get dehydrated black beans, or refied beans?  I have read a lot of hikers using this, but can't seem to find it in any of the local stores.

  • Rocky Mountain Food Reserves?
  • Rainy Day Foods?
  • Natural High
  • Van Duran Farms
  • AlpineAire Foods
  • Mountain House Bulk

Any others?  I am sure there are more Bulk Food makers/sellers.  I would like to know if any of you all use these and how they taste?

Wolfman

3:32 p.m. on November 3, 2013 (EST)
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Wolfman (Wolfgang Greystoke) said:

Has anyone tried any of the other bulk dehydrated or Freeze Dried food companies besides Harmony House?

Also, does anyone know where to get dehydrated black beans, or refied beans?  I have read a lot of hikers using this, but can't seem to find it in any of the local stores.

  • Rocky Mountain Food Reserves?
  • Rainy Day Foods?
  • Natural High
  • Van Duran Farms
  • AlpineAire Foods
  • Mountain House Bulk

Any others?  I am sure there are more Bulk Food makers/sellers.  I would like to know if any of you all use these and how they taste?

Wolfman

I use to buy #10 cans when I needed them and you should break the contents down in freezer bags when you open it and put them in the freezer they last longer and wont mold..The meals I chose to get were the ones I liked Like chilimac,Beefstew and Stoganoff.Now I make my own and dehydrate..Its cheaper and I get better meals.For Refried beans Mexicali Rose Instant refried beans you can find  on Amazon..Blackbeans Maryjane farms blackbeans REI has them or you can find them on Amazon..Both are good..www.trailspace.com/forums/camp-kitchen/topics/86024.html

6:56 p.m. on November 3, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for that Link Denis, that was a lot of help.  I have heard of Minimus before but I think I did not save the link.  Great source for all those little things and really not that expensive. 

Do you know where to get the little packs that they put in food to absorb any water?  I have read of a couple hikers doing this with vac sealed meals that they ship for long trails and it helps to keep the food fresh and dry.  I don't really know what they are called. 

8:59 p.m. on November 3, 2013 (EST)
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Wolfman (Wolfgang Greystoke) said:

Thanks for that Link Denis, that was a lot of help.  I have heard of Minimus before but I think I did not save the link.  Great source for all those little things and really not that expensive. 

Do you know where to get the little packs that they put in food to absorb any water?  I have read of a couple hikers doing this with vac sealed meals that they ship for long trails and it helps to keep the food fresh and dry.  I don't really know what they are called. 

Oxy Sorb Oxygen absorbers you can bags of them on Amazon..Pretty cheap

Of you looking for Freezed dried meat I also use www.CarolinaFoodStorage.com

 

10:08 a.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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Denis Daly,

Thanks for the link to http://www.carolinafoodstorage.com/ I may be looking into some food from them.

10:20 a.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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Again many thanks Denis!  I think I am going to have to make a Folder just for food companies! 

And I will look up the "Oxy Sorb Oxygen absorbers" on Amazon and ebay. 

1:03 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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Wolfman, as I posted earlier, both Thrive and Harvest Foodworks sell in bulk. Unlike a lot of folks on TS, a lot of expedition paddlers are out for quite long periods and either buy in bulk and repackage, or dehydrate their own, or use a combination.

September 18, 2014
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