Oct 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm #1280464
Is there any weight savings to mixing/packing your own FBC meals vs purchasing the "standard" Mountain House, etc meals?
Just curious and looking at a few options….Oct 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm #1789255
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
There certainly is a weight difference for me. If I take a manufactured meal (aka sawdust), I'll eat only a few bites before becoming disgusted with it. That means I'm packing most of a rehydrated meal as garbage for the rest of the trip!
I do use freeze-dried food (veggies and meat) for part of the meals I fix, but I do my own thing with the "filler" and lots of seasonings. Plus I cook up big batches of things like baked beans and lentils and dehydrate individual portions.Oct 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm #1789287
Back in the old days, maybe 25 years ago, the manufactured freeze-dried meals had some problems with texture and flavor. Then I found some ways around that. Before you rehydrate the meal, get an excess of water boiling with some margarine or olive oil in it, and then mix in the freeze-dried food. Stir for a minute or two, and then serve it.
The oil puts some of the slimy consistency back into the stuff, and stirring in boiling water will make it rehydrate better.
–B.G.–Oct 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm #1789290
It depends on the meal you make really – and what you use! For example I often call for pouched meats simply due to them being so easy to find these days – but of course one can buy freeze dried meat and save a lot of weight. But not so convenient for quick meal prep. Same with veggies and fruits – FD will weigh a lot less than dried but again not as easy or cheap to procure.
The biggest reason behind making your own meals is control. Control over the ingredients, freshness, added preservatives, the desire to control sodium, trans fats, cholesterol, etc. That commercial FD meals have broken the $13 a meal marker last year is just sad! We can all do better with our meals than that!Oct 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm #1789295
Wow, $13 per meal is highway robbery.
I would be surprised if my own freezer bag meals cost me more than $1 or $2.
–B.G.–Oct 12, 2011 at 6:02 am #1789484
Bob… cost was one of the reasons I started drying my own foods. The other reason is taste… I simply can't choke down over-salted fare. Then again, we don't eat boxed/pouched/processed foods at home either. You can imagine how going from a non-processed diet at home was when we did our first backpacking trips with the popular commercial foods. It was difficult for me to even eat. Then I tried the grocery-store items like cheese powder, Knorr/Lipton Sidekicks, and various brands of ramen… that wasn't much better. Bleh.
Weight ratios depend on the meal but freeze-dried is a bit lighter than dehydrated. Because food is a consumable, I'd rather have a little extra weight and actually enjoy what I am eating. That, and it is more nutritionally sound. Many backpacker meals, even some homemade, have two to three times the RDA for sodium. That sodium content is far more than even the most active athlete needs in their diet.Oct 12, 2011 at 7:04 am #1789502
What shocked me when I saw those meals for $13 was that all they contained was a tiny (and do I mean TINY) bag of organic jerky that was being touted as containing organic beef. That steamed me because OK jerky is meat but it isn't what one expects when they see "organic beef" loudly stamped on a package. And the meal still barely fed one!Oct 13, 2011 at 4:38 am #1789905
I find that the single serving is enough for me and I usually have some leftover. However, my husband can eat 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 servings of a commercial product. It worked out perfectly when it was just the two of us (we'd buy the 2 serving packs) but when we added Tobias into the mix then we would have had a lot of waste with a third serving… not to mention the expense of that on our average 10-day trip into the wilderness. I still buy the occasional "manufactured" meal. Mary Jane's Farm is our favorite.Oct 13, 2011 at 10:35 am #1790038
I am sorry, it is $13.50. $13.50 for one tiny meal is just crazy! This was a review I did last summer of it:
But it gets worse…this one is $14. Yes $14! For a tiny pouch of salmon added! http://www.rei.com/product/711287/backpackers-pantry-pesto-salmon-pasta-2-servingsOct 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm #1790090
Since there are some of you gals who are really good with recipes and food knowledge, let me make a suggestion. Team up with some commercial freeze-dried food manufacturer. You design the gourmet meals, and let the company produce them and package them. Sales and distribution would take a while to work out, but it can be done. Lots of backpackers would buy them if you emphasized low packaging weight and bulk.
–B.G.–Oct 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm #1790147
It is amazing the markup on the individual pouches, buying the exact same stuff in bulk comes out to like $3-4 a meal.
Oh man, looks like all of the new meat options are not available directly from her website or in bulk. Bummer. I did buy the six pack featured above and it was a great investment. Been very happy with all of it.Oct 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm #1790171
James….indeed the buying in bulk from MJ is a good deal and frankly as I noted last year – buy the veg options and add your own beef. Keeps the cost normal and one can use whatever style of meat they prefer :-)
To Bob…I'd say Packitgourmet has done well in that niche – so has Packlite Foods (very light meals) and for vegans there is Outdoor Herbivore. Me….I don't know. I kind of like the side of developing/writing recipes and sewing gear. It is way easier than the actual food side of retail ;-)Oct 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm #1790173
Who's your favorite dehydrated meat supplier, if you are not drying your own?Oct 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm #1790178
We don't eat a lot of meat these days (one of the fastest ways to control cholesterol) but when I do use meat I either use freeze-dried (like say in orders from Beprepared.com) and ignore how processed it is..lol!
On jerky…I have eaten so many brands and I love Bison but to be honest I often end up with something from http://www.oberto.com/ as their factory store is just down in the valley from us. And Costco carries their jerky in massive bags. It is always fresh so I can chop it up finely! This is nice to add to meals :-)Oct 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm #1790586
So, I didn't quite follow that. Was it a "Yes" self prepared meals are lighter, or "No" they are the same?
Looking at options for a small scout group who I am training to "go light," and I wanted them to consider food as another way to incorporate weight savings.Oct 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm #1790650
Doug… it's a very broad question and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and from meal to meal within a product line. The same is said for FBC and other styles of home dehydrated food. It will vary by the ingredients that were dried.
The exception… freeze-dried is always lighter than dehydrated.
I have my own feelings about teaching kids to go light with manufactured meals. The sodium content in most of those is way too high for a child.Oct 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm #1790785
Doug…it all depends on what you put in your homemade meals really. If you are willing to buy in bulk freeze-dried meat, veggies, use cooked and dried beans. etc your meals will be light. They will also be nourishing and tasty. What bulks up weight is things like fresh cheese, oil and meat packets. All tasty but yes, they add weight.
As Laurie points out…we both have pretty narrow views of many commercially made meals. Some people love stuff like MH. I know I don't. But…I also don't eat food like that at home (I call it the Chef Boyardee Theory – if you love that stuff for lunch you will love MH Spaghetti or Lasagna)Oct 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm #1790803
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
In regards to the weight, I honestly think bulk is the greater issue. Trying to fit a bunch of Mountain House stuff into your pack is a bit of a trick, especially if you have to bear bag/bear canister your food. The volume of packaging makes it difficult to optimize your food bag. Therefore I think it's much easier to control volume by packaging your own food or repackaging store-bought stuff. If you have carry weight, at least you can maximize the edible kind.
Finally, I'd like to point out on of the obvious considerations – length of trip. This can radically alter what is carried. On short trips I carry extra goodies, on longer trips without resupply I need to be much more careful of what I pack in terms of weight.Oct 15, 2011 at 4:22 am #1790822
Dirk makes some really great points about longer trips and we tend to go lighter in that regard too. Luckily I'm not dealing with a bear canister most times but it is still difficult to make room for 10 or more days of food in a pack if there is too much bulk. I find that vegetarian meals are also a little lighter and take up a bit less space.
If you do end up going the Mountain House, Alpine Aire, or other manufactured route, I find it helps to open the bag and reseal. This lets a lot of the air out and can reduce the space consumption by 1/3 or more.
PS for Sarah… "Chef Boyardee Theory" – too funny. My taste buds cringed even thinking that people eat that stuff… lol.Oct 15, 2011 at 5:51 am #1790834
@dpnollLocale: Maroon Bells
I pretty exclusively go with FBC style cooking.I have kept track of the weights for all of my trips for the last 3 years. You should be able to get by with between 1.4# and 1.6# of food per day. For breakfasts I have a mixture of oatmeal, pecans, brown sugar,Nido and dried fruit. Depending on your appetite 5-6 oz bagged weight should do the trick. Oh yeah, my Via also. For lunches and snacks I use a combo of gorp, jerky, dried fruit, an energy goo, and home made bars. For dinners almost anything you cook can be dehydrated and used. I need 5 1/2 oz – 6 oz dried for dinner and also have a bag of tea and some chocolate for dessert. On trips of more than 6 days I find that I have to increase my daily food intake after day 5. I don't know what freeze dried weighs per day but I do know that it is expensive, high in sodium and tastes like s–t. I use some of the Food Mavens recipes and others I have come across. If you are interested PM me.
DaveOct 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm #1791365
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I'm interested in going to this style of cooking to cut down on fuel weight (just boil water) and time. Personally, I'm happy to pay a little for commercial freeze dried meals for some trips for the moment. I might move to drying more of my own in the future (I used to dehydrate a lot of complete meals years ago for trips).
I'm wondering, and yeah I know I could weight it myself if I go down and buy one, but how much does the packaging on say a backpacker pantry meal weigh? I'm a bit turned off by it-looks a lot heavier than say a small snap lock bag that you could repackage it into. I'm also turned off by using the packaging too cook it into; I don't want to carry that for potentially days afterwards before I can bin it in a responsible manner. I might be better off finding a small light sealed container to rehydrate in. That might also be more secure; I want to change my style/schedule so that I stop and rehydrate a meal about an hour before I camp. If I have a more secure rehydrating container that is easy to clean out and is more secure than a backpackerpantry package, then as soon as I finish boiling, I can chuck the water straight in and then get moving.
Does anyone else do this?Oct 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm #1791373
Adam… I use a 32 oz wide mouth Nalgene for the 3 of us (now 4) and sometimes I start rehydration for a lunch at breakfast and sometimes start rehydrating dinner at lunch or later in the afternoon. Most times I will cool water rehydrate when we get into camp and just do a mere reheat. It really does depend on the trip. My menu will vary by the length/difficulty of the day's travel, time of year, etc.
The Nalgene does add weight but on a 10 day trip this can reduce fuel consumption. A screw-top Ziploc brand container is lighter but I have had the lids break on us a few times so I went back to the old stand-by.Oct 16, 2011 at 9:06 pm #1791437
You can always move the pre-packaged meals into bags at home, right before you leave. That dumps the very bulky mylar bags which tend to be stiff (and don't roll up well for a tidy garbage bag – where as freezer bags do).
As for a container, the Ziploc and glad ones work well. They are cheap, durable and can be light if you look at them carefully. Just look next to the plastic wrap and bags at any grocery or mega mart for them. $3-5 buys you 3 of them! But buy only name brand, they are US made, not China made – and can handle temps as they are microwave safe. You can also line these containers with a bag and eat out of them that was as well, using the container as a "cozy".Oct 17, 2011 at 6:58 am #1791515
Thank you all for your replies. I want to put keep this as a "food" discussion, but I want to off a brief description of how and why I am pursuing this. I am considering alternatives at Philmont Scout Ranch, for a trek next summer. Philmont has a particular way of doing things, especially in regards to food, so I am taking the approach that we will follow their rules, but how can we lighten up.
For starters, Philmont provides MH meals for dinners, and for a 10-day trek, stages food at pick up points every 2-5 days (depending upon the route). Personally I am not fond of MH meals, for the same reasons as everyone else here. But it gets complicated (again, not trying to turn this into a "Philmont" thread). First, the decisions on how to do things (such as departing from the standard food protocols) would be the decision of the scouts, not the adults, as we strongly promote a "scout led" program/environment. I can offer good information, but it is the scouts who must buy into it. Second, we must convince the staff at Philmont that, for our crew, they need to stage our food for us instead of their food. Again, this agrument is one that the scouts must make, not the adult advisors, so it is important to get into the scout's head that it is a benefit and why.
One of the biggest disadvantages of FBC (in this instance) is the cost. The cost of going to Philmont is already pricy, but it includes food. To add the cost of 8 crew times 10 dinners (80 meals) and the prepreation is significant. I am working with my son's crew to lighten their load. If I cannot justify a reasonable weight savings, it may be a challenge for them to appreciate what they will "get out of it."
If you can suggest addional benefits, I would certainly welcome them here.Oct 17, 2011 at 7:38 am #1791531
One way to lower cost is to only have "x" amount of meals for them to choose from and then buy everything in bulk – and if you stick with basic recipes (not all my fancy ones!) you find that the cost isn't so high for rice, potato and pasta based dishes. Veggies are not expensive since you don't need much for each meal. The pricey thing can be meat – but this is where a big can of freeze-dried meat can be a friend. And there is rarely a teen boy who doesn't love cheesy mashed taters full of bacon – and then instant pudding for dessert with cookies ;-)
Good thing is teen boys are pretty easy to please. The arguing to get Philmont to allow it could be the biggest hurdle though. Good luck on that! If for anything…having group meetings where the teens make their meals up from the bilk items teaches independence and planning!
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