|A photo of a bunch of the food boxes sitting in my living room waiting for me to pick, choose, organize and pack|
Apologies in advance!
Alright coffee friends, I had planned a very well organized and written post for this one as it's a pretty important topic to me when planning our camping outings. But life is speeding by and time is getting away from me.
If I don't at least get SOME sort of rambling post up with the photos, this may never get posted and because I want to share what we like and what works for us (in the hopes it might help someone else) I'm just going to chug some coffee right now - and get down to business chatting (typing) about CAMPING FOODS WE LOVE!
Let's talk camping gear and foods
Currently our camping trips, whether just for overnight or a two-week trip are primarily freeze-dried.
|Photo taken in our tent while camping in the Badlands of South Dakota last May|
While I've seen freeze-dried meals in big box retail stores like Bass Pro Shop and Cabela's and Dicks for years and year; it never really was an interest of mine to purchase them for our family camping trips. I think in part because of the cost (they are expensive) and sadly, because I just didn't think about it. They were fun to browse, fun to point and look at and discuss and we even bought the freeze dried ice cream sandwiches and neopolitan ice cream packets for 'fun' for our kids to introduce them to freeze dried foods but never, not once did we invest in them for camping trips.
Instead, we lugged coolers of foods and ice... why? I can look at back at me ten years ago and seriously, I say that. Why?!
Now that I know better, I do better.
About six or seven years ago I started to buy freeze dried meals for long term emergency food storage and by complete happy accident had the brain storm idea (duh) to order some for an upcoming solo camping trip I was doing by myself. It was going to be 113 degrees that weekend and when planning my trip I not only didn't want the hassle of more 'junk' to bring with me but I didn't want to have to keep crap cold in that kind of heat.
I liked to have gear in my truck so I could decide to camp at the very last second and already be 'good to go' so I ordered some meals from Amazon from Wise Company and Mountain House... and my eyes were opened to a much easier (and lighter weight and less hassle) way of camping foods.
|We now have a variety of brands and styles in our camping food storage|
At the time (around 2012 and 2013) I first bought from WISE company. I don't typically buy from them anymore (which I'll explain in a minute) but some of their foods are still in our camping food storage bins.
FREEZE DRIED AND DEHYDRATED FOODS: Choose the styles that are packaged, sealed and marked good for 20-35 years. Most of the big name foods of this style are. I personally would never choose nor trust some of the weird, unknown brands I find sold online (especially through Amazon) and absolutely would never trust any that are coming from China. (Do some googling on foods from China - especially melamine in baby formula, their toothpaste and concrete in their street vender's roasted walnuts not to mention the stuff they feed their feed on the fish farms... on second thought, don't. Don't google that. Just don't buy it. LOL)
I do buy Valley Food Storage, Mountain House, Emergency Essentials, Easy Prep from the Ready Store, etc.
Because these foods last 20+ years you don't have to worry about them going to waste if you don't use them for a trip. Just toss them in a plastic bin or box and put them in a closet to save for the next trip.
You can use from a huge variety of meals - whether you want simple macaroni and cheese or chili mac or lasagna or if you are of more a beef stroganoff, chicken and noodles or Teriyaki Chicken kind of person. Soups, stews, rice dishes, noodle dishes... scrambled eggs, granola's and hot cereals; the list goes on.
TWO FAVORITES: Last year when one of my daughters and I camped across the state of South Dakota for 2 weeks, we found we had a couple absolute favorites. The first was Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy. We loved this one so much that we often opted to have it for dinner as well as breakfast - foregoing the usual 'dinner' meals for this.
The other favorite was also Mountain House - their Chicken Breast with Rib Meat & Mashed Potatoes.
Personally, no one in our family likes the Chili Mac - we all love the lasagna though! (But I read reviews all over the internet that people love Chili Mac so it's a great product, but our family will always choose the lasagna first because the Mountain House Lasagna is amazingly yummy!!!)
|We love the Biscuits and Gravy and the Chicken with Mashed Potatoes so much that I ordered 2 cases of EACH this time.|
LET'S TALK VEGETABLES!!!
Vegetables are something most all these meals are lacking. Even the ones that come with some vegetables in them are lacking. My daughter and I found that we were craving vegetables last time (we even gave in - we drove into town and went to the only 'fast' food place in the whole town - which was a store front Pizza Hut - so we could get a huge SALAD.)
Freeze dried foods are so easy - you just add water. Most of them, when rehydrated are very, very similar to the real-deal. The fresh products. (UNLIKE DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES! Yuck. Those are awful. Hard little nuggets that never rehydrate well). Freeze dried foods are usually just like fresh once prepared. The only issue is that things like broccoli can easily 'break' in that form while packaging and shipping so they may be powdery. Even broken up freeze dried foods are great though - easily added to your soups and other meals!
This time around I ordered freeze dried mushrooms to add to some of our freeze dried meals like the pasta alfredo, chicken and rice, etc. We also have corn, green beans and broccoli. In addition, I ordered butter POWDER so we could easily season our veggies with butter, salt and pepper without bringing fresh butter!
|The little white and blue package in the front is the butter!|
LI don't want to waste space with big cans so I just opened them, scooped portions into small food sealing bags and sealed the packages air-tight with my little (cheap and affordable) Weston food sealer.
|HIGHLY recommend this brand for freeze dried foods. I'm rarely disappointed.|
|Almost no weight or space at all! Super thin and weighs almost nothing.|
|Completely blurry - sorry - but showing you the freeze dried foods before I sealed them up.|
THIS IS ANOTHER FAVORITE!!!
This photo is from our trip last May camping in South Dakota. These Easy Prep meals are great - and this particular potato chowder was awesome! One night I added freeze dried corn to mine. It was hot, filling, delicious.
Here was a photo from a different night when I ate it plain with no added corn.
This worked out SO WELL. I was not stuck in the kitchen cooking all the time - everyone could choose the foods they wanted or liked and they could all make them themselves. You simply add hot water to the package, fold, wait for 5-12 minutes and then open and eat.
If you don't want to lug pans or cooking utensils, you are solo or only have 2 people with you, or you can't have fires, etc. (any number of reason really) these are not first choice. But for car camping, group camping or if you love to use your 'dishes' at your site, the TASTE of their meals is awesome.
I WISH SO BADLY I had time to really organize this post for you but I don't... as a matter of fact while I'm typing this I have a guest that arrived at my house - we are supposed to be leaving in about 10 minutes and I'm sitting here typing furiously while still in my pajamas!!! She's playing with my dogs while she waits... and raiding my kitchen so perhaps she doesn't mind waiting too badly.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Products related to this post available through individual websites, some retail stores and also through Amazon: camping gear and foods