This is a fresh, healthy and tasty alternative to…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Good to Go for testing and review)
This is a fresh, healthy and tasty alternative to the every growing line of pre-packaged backpacker meals. The taste and ingredient list are excellent but the re hydration period is quite a bit longer than other similar products.
I would highly recommend this product for those looking specifically for an all-natural, gluten-free option. And since I'm a huge fan of Thai food, this is a well-received addition to my outdoors kit.
- All real, natural ingredients
- No chemical preservatives
- Made in Maine/America by a small family start-up
- Comes in 1 or 2 serving size packages
- Reseal-able package can be used directly to hydrate contents (no need to dirty dishes)
- Slim, durable packaging
- Some ingredients take a little long to rehydrate
- Only 3 meal options (for now)
- Not as long of a shelf life as others (due to the lack of chemical preservatives)
A note: I’ve included some of the same commentary for all three Good To Go reviews—Smoked Three Bean Chili, Thai Curry, and Herbed Mushroom Risotto. For particulars of each meal, skip to the section titled 'Taste'.
Here's what was included in my sample box...note the bonus 'happy' beverages!
About Me: I have progressed somewhat in my backcountry cuisine habits but will never achieve true greatness. You won't likely ever catch me porting fresh, raw ingredients into the wilderness to ingeniously craft baked goods in a dutch oven. I’m just not much of a cook at home and so my choices in backcountry foods are even more basic. I also like to travel light, fast, and for long distances, which just doesn’t equate to grand culinary efforts.
For years, my budget for three square meals on a backpacking trip consisted of 1-2 Clif bars for breakfast, 2 for lunch, and a pasta side mixed with tuna for dinner. Oh, and don’t forget the desert chocolate! I’ve added in the usual suspects such as dried fruit, nuts, beef jerky, etc., but my strategy has always been very minimalistic. Where many are willing to carry more weight in order to have fresh food, I always saw this as an opportunity to cut weight.
Fortunately I’ve also been able to get by doing more for less in terms of caloric burn/ intake, at least for periods up to a week. But I realize this won’t work for everyone nor would it probably work for me if I were to ever take on an extended thru-hike.
A size comparison of Good To Go meals to other market competitors
The area where I stand to realize great improvement is in the quality of the dehydrated foods that I carry in my pack. A few years ago I started upgrading from the ramen and pasta packets to the trendier purpose-made meals, the likes of Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry.
While it’s true that most of these options provide very lightweight, quick, easy, AND tasty/filling meals, they’re still not exactly what you’d call healthy. Mainly they’re chocked full of sodium, some with as much as 45% DV per serving! These, like so many packaged foods, also tend to have a lot of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
So I am glad to see a small, family owned start-up company like Good To Go filling the niche of healthier, more natural backpacking meals. They have taken all the benefits of the self-contained packaging and filled it with more nutritious, better-tasting, real food.
Taste: I must admit that I'm a huge fan of Thai food and curries in general. So I had to exercise constraint in not ripping into this sample immediately. Finally after a 10-mile paddle (one-way) to one of the most remote Florida Keys, I felt satisfied that I had earned the right to do my taste test. And the wait and effort, plus view, were worth it!
First, I was surprised to find that the powdered coconut milk comes in a separate packet, I guess to preserve freshness. Upon discovering this incredible product, I now want to know where I can find more of this stuff! It is delicious by itself but adds a lot of richness to the meal. It would also go great in drinks, mixed with oatmeal, etc. But I digress. I also enjoyed the large chunks of vegetables. It really did not feel like I was eating a backpacking meal.
I enjoyed this meal at high noon on the beach, with a cold Singha beer to accentuate things. The medium spice from the curry and the heat of the sun were not quite quenched by this, so I later took the show into the water. It was nice to be able to enjoy these flavors in such a lovely tropical setting...I could almost envision being back on the beach in Thailand from my travels years ago.
Prep: The long re-hydration period is probably the biggest downside. Instructions call for a full 20 minutes after boiling water has been added. This wouldn’t be a big deal if one is settled down in camp for the night. The package can be sealed and set aside while various other chores are accomplished and the time will go by quickly. The package suggests that you ponder ‘how big the universe is’…good advice I think.
Even though I made the meal for lunch, I had some time on this trip to be able to enjoy my meal. All the ingredients re-hydrated well, perhaps because I also made sure to add plenty of water. It ended up being a little runny but this is close to what curries are often like.
Packaging: The packaging is top notch. I didn’t struggle to open it, it sealed easily, and the bottom expands sufficiently in order to stand upright unsupported. I was impressed by how slim and compact the package is compared to other similar products.
I would note that in this picture, the sample is being compared to double-serving packages, so it’s not a fair comparison. But it does give you an idea of scale if you’re familiar with these other products. My only suggestion would be to include a fill line on the packaging to know how much water to add. I tend to just pour water in until it ‘looks good’…so perhaps it’s time I invest in marking lines on my pot.
Satiety & Energy:
I had the curry for lunch as part of full day, 20-mile paddle. I ate another small item with lunch but now I can't even remember what it was. I had brought a lot of food but after the meal, I wasn't hungry anymore. Essentially it was the curry that lasted me through the day. It was a long and very tiring day, but my exhaustion was more due to the heat and the fact that I hadn't paddled that distance in over a year. In fact, I hadn't even paddled a short distance in months.
So all things considered, I felt the curry was very satiating and energy rich. I didn't even feel hungry until later that night, but perhaps this also had to do with the couple of beers that we downed after we got back to the marina.
Since I’m used to eating very little during the day and then splurging on double-serving meals for dinner, I would probably opt for the same strategy with this product. That or bring other foods to pair it with. I’m not a vegetarian so I would probably consider pairing it with beef jerky or some sort of packet protein like tuna.
I did note that of all the various meal samples I have on stock, the Good To Go meals have by far the most calories per serving, from 340 to 410. If you’re looking for better bang for your buck in terms of caloric density, these would be a good choice. However, at around 3.4 oz per serving, they are not quite as lightweight as some of the others (though still plenty light for backpacking).
This weight per serving would probably be reduced slightly if you opt for the double-serving package and plan to split the contents between meals or two persons (does anyone actually do this in the backcountry, I’m curious to know?)
All three Good To Go selections are both gluten free and vegetarian (except the Thai Curry, which is pescatarian). They are advertised as being ‘real food’ and in reading the ingredient list, this claim is not exaggerated.
In fact, just looking inside the packets, you can recognize actual food stuffs…in the case of the Thai Curry, there are whole chunks of broccoli florets!
Mmmm...look at those chunks of vegetables
I would also point out that the three selection are generally much lower in sodium than their counterparts. The Thai Curry has the most at 500mg, the chili has only 360 mg and is also pretty is high in protein at 16 g. So in my experience, these meals did provide a fresh, healthy and tasty alternative to the every growing line of backpacker meals.
Best For: I would recommend these products especially for outdoors people that are particularly conscious of food ingredients. My friend Megan is a good example. She loves the outdoors and also enjoys spending hours prepping amazing foods for the trail. She is vegan and thus has to essentially create all her own meals from scratch. Knowing this, I asked her to try the Smoked Three Bean Chili on a hike and after reading the ingredient list, she agreed that she could eat it. She also agreed that the taste was great for a pre-packaged, dehydrated meal.
Final thoughts: Aside from the good taste and nutritious nature of the products, I also like the idea of supporting small American businesses. The co-founder of the company, Jennifer Scism, is a former New York City chef who now resides with her husband and business partner in Maine. It's the little things, like a handwritten postcard from Jennifer included in my sample package, that impress upon me the sincerity and genuineness of such small businesses.
As always, I thank them and Trailspace for the opportunity to do some TASTE-testing (my favorite kind of gear testing!) and I wish them all the best in their new endeavors.
Excellent flavor and easy instructions offset the…
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Trailspace - Reviewer of the Month Prize)
Excellent flavor and easy instructions offset the long wait time. This was my personal favorite of the two Good To-Go samples I tried, but had similar hydration issues (no more than other meals of its kind).
- Excellent flavor
- Sturdy packaging
- Healthy vegetarian alternative
- Clear easy instructions
- Rehydration consistency
- Wait time
Note: Some of the text below is similar to my review of Good To-Go’s Smoked Three Bean Chili but most of the detail is specific to this meal.
I did this review to supplement Lah’s excellent review of the meal and to give another non-biased account of experience with it. No offense to other reviewers, but several seem to be related to the company in some way and I felt they might not carry the same weight as non-affiliated reviews. I do appreciate the fairness of these reviewers admitting their relationships to the company.
First off, when evaluating food choices I think it is a good baseline to describe my eating habits on the trail:
- Lots of fresh stuff on short trips especially first day or so
- Meals are usually a base (rice, pasta, barley) with home dehydrated vegetables and flavor/spices
- Supplement the menu for variety with pre-packaged meals and sides, tending to stay with favorites.
- Not usually a boil in bag guy– I find simmering my own meals hydrates them better (using wood burner so no fuel issues)
I approach a meal test the same way for pre-packaged as I do for my own recipes and concoctions. Rather than relying on my trail hunger to override my taste buds, I test each meal out at home or the office to ensure I like it in “normal” surroundings. If I enjoy it there, I know I will like it on the trail. This takes the “I’m starving and will eat anything after a long day” factor out of the evaluation.
I have yet to have a meal on the trail taste worse than it did at home. Therefore I feel this is a high-bar test of the product. I do make sure I have worked out extensively that day to ensure that I have an appetite somewhat resembling what I will be like on the trail. I also follow instructions to the letter with the amount of water etc in order to get a consistent comparison. I usually (and did this time) test at lunch during work so I can see if it keeps me full and sustained through the rest of the day.
The Good To-Go Thai Curry comes in a sturdy package that looks like it can stand up to some abuse. I had no problem shaking it around to mix it and felt confident it would hold the meal after hydrating with no issues. I knew it wouldn’t leak and the shape of the bottom kept it balanced and difficult to tip over. The only, very minor, drawback with the packaging is that it is not clear if the material is recyclable after use and washing.
The instructions were clear as you could ask: just tear the package open, remove the oxygen absorber, add the coconut milk powder, add boiling water, mix well, and wait 20 minutes. During the wait they offer some friendly and mildly humorous advice – always welcome after a long day on the trail.
The coconut milk was powdery and didn’t clump when boiling water was added. I stirred with a utensil then closed and shook/massaged the bag until I felt the mix was thorough. As I mentioned in my review of the Smoked Three Bean Chili, I found the 20 minute wait time a bit long compared to other meals of its kind.
I am a patient cook in camp who simmers his own meals on a regular basis, but would tend to go for this type of meal on one of those days when you reach camp with a ravenous hunger after a really long day on the trail pushing the limits of your endurance. Having to wait about 30 minutes to start the stove, boil water, and hydrate the meal would be a negative, but I guess snacks could fill the gap.
Rehydration of the curry was as good as any pre-packaged backpacking meal I have tried, but still not 100 percent. There were several vegetables that were still a little on the crunchy side, but nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe the mixing wasn’t as thorough as I thought, or it needs slightly longer than 20 minutes?
Either way, it was a minor amount of “crunchies” which I expect in this type of dinner. In future I will try hydrating for longer or maybe simmer the meal in a pot, but I wanted to stick to the instructions for this test.
The flavor of the Thai Curry was excellent – the best of the Good To-Go samples I have tried (Smoked Three Bean Chili being the other one). Truth be told, I might be slightly biased as I was raised on curry and it is still my favorite meal. I did add some curry powder to the second half of the meal to simulate what I might do on the trail, and that gave it the right amount of kick for me.
I could also really taste the freshness, and lack of preservatives. This is a simple meal with all natural vegetarian ingredients that you can easily see in each bite. I always enjoy a meal more when I know it is healthy and can taste that difference.
Check out the ingredient list (Good To=Go even points out how easy it is to pronounce them). Please note that I am not a vegetarian by any means, but can enjoy a variety of food. If you really need meat or a protein boost in a meal I would suggest considering using a little more water and adding dehydrated or freeze dried chicken to the mix. The flavors would seem to work well together at least in theory.
I ate this 3.5 oz serving for lunch at work, after not snacking all morning and doing a full hour on the elliptical before work. I was completely satisfied with the 380 calorie serving and made it no problem to dinner time. I am not sure the 3.5 oz serving would work for a hungry hiker dinner, but feel confident the 7 oz version would fill your tummy!
Overall this is an excellent choice for an easy backpacking meal that fills the corners and tastes good. The only down side I found was the long wait time that still resulted in some vegetables not fully hydrated. I can simmer my own meals within 20 minutes, but that may be too much work for most folks.
I don’t think any meal will convert me to a regular package meal guy, but I recognize this is better than most others I have tried and may be on my list for longer trips to help with backpack weight and menu variety. This is a very good choice for the fuel conscious and non-fiddlers in camp. The Thai Curry is a healthy alternative to overly processed options with much longer ingredient lists.
I rate this highly with only a reduction for the hydration issue common to many meals of this type. The Smoked Three Bean Chili was not as flavorful in my (curry biased) opinion but I rated it slightly higher since it had less “crunchies”. Hope you enjoyed this review and find this meal as tasty and convenient as I did!
Excellent taste, easy to prepare, with just enough…
Source: bought it new
Excellent taste, easy to prepare, with just enough bite on a cold evening.
- Excellent taste
- Actual food for ingredients
- Easy to prepare
- Some of the veggies don't rehydrate well
This is the second Good to-Go meal I have tried. On a snowy Lassen campout last weekend, it sounded like the perfect tummy warming dinner. The taste did not disappoint. Just the right amount of bite to warm things up without being oppressive.
Prep was easy. Empty the coconut milk packet into the pouch, add boiling water and stir, wait 20 minutes (beer time!), and eat. I finished feeling completely warmed and satisfied.
The packaging is fairly minimal for a meal this size, and wouldn't be that difficult to pack out (though in this case, I just put it in a trash receptacle). Their meals come in both single and double serving sizes.
My only complaint, and I've experienced this with another Good to-Go meal... some of the vegetables did not rehydrate, and I found myself crunching on some of them, even after allowing an extra five minutes to cook. I did an earlier review for their pasta meal... which again, was delicious, but after allowing double the time to cook, some of the pasta was still hard to eat.
If Good to-Go could figure out how to solve this, they would be perfect meals... tasty and satisfying!
This is G2G's Gastronomical Leader of the Pack. I…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $11/bag
This is G2G's Gastronomical Leader of the Pack.
- Easy to prepare
- Portable and light — yet very filling!
- Spiffy bag, too!
- The big bag is two servings, but you really won't want to share!
I have eaten a lot of trail food, and this bag of mouth-watering, then pleasing+genuine THAI flavors, is the epitome of a really great, out-there dish! AND, leagues beyond the typical over-dried, salty, flavorless trail fixin's you find in most backpacks (including all of mine, up until G2G!).
Here's the thing: I want to really LIKE — and feel connected to — the company (the people!) who make food and other goods that I prefer to eat and to use. Before this company gets really big, please try to meet David and Jen, Good To Go's co-owners, founders, and better yet: husband and wife team. They are salt-of-the-earth normal, creative, fun, funny and just all-around lovable folks.
Can't get better than that. Try a Good To Go meal....you'll never go back.
DISCLOSURE: I fully disclose that I have done business — and am friends — with the founders of Good To-Go.
AWESOME camp food! By far this is the tastiest camp…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer
AWESOME camp food!
- Easy prep
- Very tasty
By far this is the tastiest camp food I've ever tried!!! Better yet, it's not full of sodium or other nasty stuff. Real Thai curry flavor and lots of veggies. Great texture too, not all mush like some other options. Would recommend again and again!
Full disclosure: I am friends with the owners of Good To-Go. I've had the opportunity to sample these recipes as they were evolving before production, and Jen keeps making them better and better! What you've got here is the best recipe yet.
Love the Thai Curry. Haven't actually tried it in…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Ate it.)
Love the Thai Curry. Haven't actually tried it in the backcountry yet, only in my home. Who cares though? It's delicious no matter where you are.
- Real food
- Easy to prepare
This can be used on any kind of trip where weight is a factor, but the real bonus here is how tasty it is. No more ramen for me.
This is some of the best food regardless of fact that…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Ate it)
This is some of the best food regardless of fact that is camp food...this one is my favourite.
- Super tasty
- Fresh ingredients
- Easy to make
- It may not make it out on a trip cause you may eat it before you go
Jen and Dave are good friends, but I don't think I am biased. Jen is an amazing chef. This is a brilliant idea and frankly I'm shocked that there is no real competition. Dave is the whole reason she came up with the idea.
Thank you, Dave! I'm truly excited for my next backcountry trip cause I know exactly what I will be eating and it will be amazing.
Good enough to eat with candles and a tablecloth.
Source: received it as a personal gift
Good enough to eat with candles and a tablecloth.
- Fantastic taste, not trail food....real food
- Good packaging and easy instructions
- Doesn't come in a barrel!
I'm not an outdoors guy at all, save a few walking tours where a taxi brings your packs to the next B & B in England.
But I am somewhere between a glutton and a gourmet, and we got three packs of this food recently and decided to make all three at once for dinner.
I was completely blown away by the flavor. I'm not a lightweight, I cook, I have two personal friends who are high-end chefs, I've eaten at a dozen of the nation's best restaurants. This stuff is out of this world. This isn't freeze dried; it is real high-end food made by a prize winning NYC chef — seriously — and dehydrated. Easy instructions.
I'd eat this at home, in fact, I'd have no qualms about SERVING this at home to guests! Easy prep, just needs boiled water. Totally filled me up, very dense (in a good way), plenty of high quality calories. I still cannot believe something like this is dehydrated.
DISCLOSURE: I am in investor in Good To-Go and have a relationship with the owners.