Freeze-dried meal add-ins/mix-ins?

9:04 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Wanted to go ahead and give this one its own thread, but I did bring it up awhile back while we were chatting up freeze-dried meals.

Do any of you out there supplement your freeze-dried meals by adding in your own ingredients? If so, which meals and what do you add to them?

Mountain House is my go-to choice for dinners, but I'm looking for a way to spice them up a little if I'm able.

Curious to hear what y'all do!

9:46 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I've seen others add bacon bits to great effect, cheering, carrying on, etc..

11:08 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I like to take a 4 oz package of smoked salmon on overnight trips.  I will mix some of  it with the Backpacker Pantry Pesto Salmon.  The Pesto Salmon has less sodium than most freeze dried meals.  Makes a pretty good backcountry meal.  It's worth the extra 4 oz for a somewhat gourmet meal.  Goes great with crackers too.  

11:16 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Never thought about adding in protein!

That'd be especially useful for meals without it, like MH's macaroni and cheese.

Also a nice way to stretch something like their spuds into a full meal, as opposed to a simple side dish.

11:57 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Part of my "kitchen" includes the basic spices -- salt, pepper, herb & garlic seasoning, small bottle of olive oil, small bottle of Tobasco sauce, and one fresh jalapeno pepper.  I'll add some combination of those to my MH meal as needed. 

I always throw bacon bits into my instant potatoes.

I like adding sun dried tomatoes to any MH meal that is tomato sauce-based (lasagna, spaghetti, etc.). 

12:06 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Green Tabasco sauce is my jam. Love that stuff. Few things aren't improved by dashing a little bit atop it. Salt I shy away from (thank the hypertension) but I'll put black pepper on damn near anything savory. 

Thinking bread crumbs and bacon bits would turn MH's mac and cheese into a legitimate meal - varies the texture and adds a much-needed protein. Hmm.

Where do you purchase your sun-dried tomatoes, EP? Are they in oil, or dehydrated?

12:25 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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We plant a garden each Spring, and tomatoes are one of the vegetables we grow.

I use two methods -- 1) sun drying them outdoors (slice, place on a baking rack, season, cover with a light cheese cloth..... turn as necessary..... until done).  This usually takes a few days, so I bring the rack in overnight.  2) in the oven, on low heat (about 135 degrees) until they have that leathery texture.  This takes all day, over 12 hours.... so plan accordingly.

Then I'll freeze 'em until I use them.

1:15 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I keep one of those little coleman spice containers in my backcountry kitchen kit too.  One side has alpine touch seasoning and the other side has crushed red pepper. Crushed red pepper can really flavor up some of those freeze dried meals.  

2:36 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Is Alpine Touch Seasoning only sold directly from the company, or do any major retailers carry it? Sounds like a good, cover-all blend.

2:55 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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HRH,

I think it is only sold by retailers in Montana.  It is made in Choteau Montana.  I stock up every time I go up there.  I am sure they have a website you can order from though.  It is a great all purpose seasoning.  I cook at home with it all the time too.  Good stuff!!

3:16 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Chicken pouches to BP meals and gravy mixes to mash potoatoes..Lots of fresh cheese to get more calories per meal..

4:09 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Went and checked, JR - looks like AT Seasoning is a Montana "exclusive." Pretty far from my neck of the woods! May try ordering some via the internet (they've their own website, thankfully).

Come to think of it, Denis, you'd probably have a better result using a pouch of instant spuds, some gravy mix, and a foil packet of chicken than you would getting MH's chicken breasts and mashed potatoes meal. 

How a whole chicken breast can rehydrate - and rehydrate well - is beyond me!

8:30 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Cost Plus is a chain in my area and they have small, sample size items like miniature tabasco bottles, jams, cheeses, etc. As well, I take salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash, to spice things up. To add some carbs, I often use couscous, or dehydrated hummus or baba ghanoug. I often cook the couscous with bullion and some fd peas and carrots. On my long trips which last three to four weeks usually, two areas I look to are variety and enough calories. Nice hard cheeses provide a lot of the latter, while the former can be had with little things, like small mandarin orange tins, lobster and goose pate with crackers. Anything to make me feel I'm "living" in the outdoors, rather than just surviving.

10:09 p.m. on October 16, 2013 (EDT)
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couscous and shredded dehydrated beef. YUM!

7:25 p.m. on October 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I like to make up a big batch of veggies, whatever floats your boat. I especially like spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, orange and yellow peppers, green beans, and green peas, maybe some zucchini or squash. Chop it all fine, cook it, and dehydrate it. Then I add some to every dinner before rehydrating.

I also carry a vial of evoo and give each dinner and many lunches a squirt.

11:10 a.m. on October 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I have never really liked dehydrated food and buy most of my supplies even for backpacking in a grocery store. For the last couple of meals, which might be dehyrated spices help a lot. So does real food. If it is a chicken dish I add a small can of chicken. If it is a cheese dish, I add shredded cheese. I don't mind simple food for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is usually an event. It is good to start with soup or an appetizer. It is best to be able to recognize the food. I can only stand so much rice and beans. Even a small amount of fresh vegetables on the side adds a lot.

10:16 a.m. on October 25, 2013 (EDT)
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denis daly said:

 get more calories per meal..

 GAWD I wish I could say this!!!

6:34 a.m. on October 26, 2013 (EDT)
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My spice kit varies according to what’s on the menu on any given trip.  The following are some general tips, good for a spectrum of entrees. 

Powdered milk adds depth to most any dried entrée.

Butter adds even more depth, and makes meats taste meatier. 

Gravy mix, soup mixes, and other similar items found in that part of the grocery store can broaden the profile of your entrée. 

Dried chilies spice things up; fresh chilies are better yet. 

Curry can radically makeover a dish’s basic flavor profile. 

Fresh garlic is manifold superior to garlic powder, such that the weight differential is insignificant. 

Dried banana chips (rehydrated and pureed) and mashed potato flakes make entrees silkier. 

Lastly condensed milk, while relatively heavy, vastly improves oatmeal and coffee.

Ed

12:26 p.m. on November 3, 2013 (EST)
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I am planning a long thru hike next summer and then one the following year if I like the first.  But I have been wondering about dehydrated foods.  For the most part I am not a fan of the packaged meals, plus for 60+ days that gets very expensive.   I often eat something like rice, pasta, or mash patios and them some kind of meat or fish with it.  Usually just mixed all in the same pot. 

I don't have a dehydrator so making my own is not an option right now.  I have though about getting one, but it seems like it would be one of those things that gets used once or twice and then just sits. :) 

But adding dehydrated veggies and possibly meats and other items to a pot seems like a easy and light way to add good food, nutrition, calories to a meal.  So the next question then becomes, if you don't make your own, what brands are good and would work for something like this?  Any suggestions or ideas?

As for spices and other add-on's, I use the following a lot.

  • Butter and Honey from KFC (the little packs)
  • Mild or Hot taco sauce from Taco-Bell
  • Some times I will use one of the ranch or honey mustard packets if it would work well in a meal. 
  • Spice Mix; pepper, garlic powder, seasoning mix from Costco (low or no salt). I just mix it all together in a small bottle and add to the food, gives it some extra flavor and make it taste better.  A lot of my meals are prepackaged and have to much salt as it is, so I don't add salt to any food.

Wolfman

1:36 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for the tips, Wolfman.

Taco Bell hot sauce sounds like a solid bet when it comes to a Tabasco replacement - they've even their newer, "Verde" green tomatillo hot sauce that goes pretty well with anything.

Honey mustard's my condiment of choice. So much so, it replaced ketchup as the french fry dipping sauce of choice. Good call, there.

What do you use the honey for?

2:06 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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Eric...I already mention to you how you can expand on Brian Green's single-serving medication idea http://briangreen.net/2011/07/diy-single-use-antibiotic-packs.html to include single-serving add-ins like your favorite hot-sauce.

Anything dry like crackers + chips + nuts + instant potatoes + salad mix-ins add texture and thickness...and can resolve the "oops I added too much water" problem while at the same time adding calories protein and heartiness:-) Most of these items can be found in single-serving sizes at your local grocery store...but there is a deli in town I buy from.

Beyond Freeze-Dried

Since you only rehydrate this idea will not work...but for those who cook in the pot you can make small dumplings with biscuit-mix and steam-bake them in a soup or stew to add calories and heartiness...I also believe the warm dumplings make you warmer...but this could be psychological:-)

I also enjoy adding freeze-dried eggs to my Asian-inspired soups. I usually place a couple spoon-fulls of Ova-Easy crystals into a snack-size zip-lock bag...then add water and mix in the zip-lock and pour into the soup once it reaches a good hot simmer...stir...and you have just made awesome.

3:33 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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Gladly appreciate the advice, ladies and gents.

Right on, Joseph. Really trying to find ingredients I can add rather than condiments. 

Finally settled on a JetBoil Zip PCS for my backcountry "cooking." Given about all it can do is boil water, I'm really counting on finding ways of gussying-up FD meals to make them a little more interesting and palatable.

8:34 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
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HornRimmedHiker said:

What do you use the honey for?

 

EVERYTHING!!!  I LOVE HONEY!!

But it's great with breakfast, hot oatmeal or cold cereal, coffee if you like it sweet, Tea (I like sweet tea, but not sweet coffee, go figure.)   I have also used it in some dinners, to me it's the same as if you use olive oil on everything to add extra calories.  Honey adds calories and natural (?) sugars.  Although to be honest I really have no idea what's in KFC honey, but they always give you a bunch and it works great for camping.   It actually works really well in mash patios with a pack of "butter" from KFC too.  Any yes I know that stuff has nothing to do with cows!  Again no idea what it is made of but it works great. 

I will have to keep my eye open for the green sauce, that is my favorite kind, usually.  One work of warning on the hot sauces, they will go bad, so get them close to the time you leave on your hike.  Nothing like dumping putrid hot sauce on your only dinner!   IT SUCKS.  :D

3:17 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
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Never thought about using it as a sugar/sweetener substitute, Wolfman.

Nice.

Wishing they made miniature bottles of Tabasco's green hot sauce - that stuff's good on about darn near anything. If they do, in fact, make it (and any of y'all are aware of said fact) be sure to let this guy know!

4:53 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
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HornRimmedHiker said:

Never thought about using it as a sugar/sweetener substitute, Wolfman.

Nice.

Wishing they made miniature bottles of Tabasco's green hot sauce - that stuff's good on about darn near anything. If they do, in fact, make it (and any of y'all are aware of said fact) be sure to let this guy know!

What I would do is invest in 2oz and 4oz bottles you can get them cheap on Ebay..I do that for oliveoil.. Minimus carries it in small bottles.

5:33 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
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Think you just hit the nail on the head, Denis.

I think it's neat that Minimus offer travel-size, well, everything - but you're paying a premium for, essentially, a single-serving, one-use item. All that packaging gets wasteful, too.

2 oz. would be more than enough. I'll probably pick up a couple next time I swing by REI...really want that $0.20 added to my dividend. :)

8:14 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
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I was going to say Minimus too, but I think you get a better deal with a small plastic bottle and some kind of pour top.  One thing to be careful with is the "Flip Spout" tops.  I have had issues with these partially opening and getting stuff on other food or just making a mess.  I had the olive oil pop open somehow, but luckily it was in a separate zip lock bag so the mess was confined to that bag.  Would have really sucked to have it all over my pack.

I also would not recommend the glass or hard plastic small containers from Minimus, just because of the weight and having to pack it out.  The little tear open pouches seem to work the best for me.  I just collect all the wrappers/bags in one zip lock and then throw it away.

On the subject of small bottles, anyone know of a good source for these? Denis?  You been answering all my other questions on this subject!  

I have heard that the small eye drop or contact solution bottles work great, although you may need to enlarge the hole depending on what your using.

Wolfman

10:33 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
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Wolfman (Wolfgang Greystoke) said:

I was going to say Minimus too, but I think you get a better deal with a small plastic bottle and some kind of pour top.  One thing to be careful with is the "Flip Spout" tops.  I have had issues with these partially opening and getting stuff on other food or just making a mess.  I had the olive oil pop open somehow, but luckily it was in a separate zip lock bag so the mess was confined to that bag.  Would have really sucked to have it all over my pack.

I also would not recommend the glass or hard plastic small containers from Minimus, just because of the weight and having to pack it out.  The little tear open pouches seem to work the best for me.  I just collect all the wrappers/bags in one zip lock and then throw it away.

On the subject of small bottles, anyone know of a good source for these? Denis?  You been answering all my other questions on this subject!  

I have heard that the small eye drop or contact solution bottles work great, although you may need to enlarge the hole depending on what your using.

Wolfman

 Haha you must be doing Logistics on a long trail?I had to research this stuff for the Appalchian Trail.The bottles can be found on Ebay but you have to buy 12 for 9.95 But I used alot of them with breaking down Doctor Bonners,oliveoil,Deet I needed quit a few for different things and it worked out buying 12 and if you don't use all 12 sell them in the Classified.

2oz LDPE Bottlesw/PolyTop Dispencer Cap #12     They have the old kind of pour spout on shampoo bottles that fold over..I still have some empty ones..

8:42 a.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
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Actually Denis I am!  I am in the planning stage for hiking the PNT next summer and then if all goes well the PCT the following year.

I also posted on the new thread that HornRim started on bottles.  But I will see what I can find on Ebay.

Wolfman

5:44 p.m. on November 19, 2013 (EST)
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I carry Tobasco, dried garlic powder, dried onions, salt, pepper, and dried corriander. I find that a judiscious sprinkle of these will pep up any freeze dried meal.

 

Parmesan is also a good thing to carry, it lasts for ages and can be shaved onto a plate of food or straight into the bag.

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