Most of the time, one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) parts of camping is packing. It is then always essential to pack as much as you can as lightly as possible! One major item that often can be quite bulky when it comes to packing is food. In most situations, the food you pack will require a sizable amount of cushion and space in order to be transported safely. Bread needs to be in a spot that will not squish it, and meat needs to be somewhere that won’t be too warm.
Couple that with the fact that you might also be carrying your backcountry tent, camping stove, clothing, and even a canoe, and you need the food to be a simple as possible to transport and store.
Hiking snacks will tie you over if you only need to be out for a few hours. But if you are doing an overnight, it can be really nice to have a warm meal in the evening or to start the day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some sort of way to pack meals so that they did not require any of this hassle? Lucky for all of us, there is! A collection of outdoor-centered companies have worked to manufacture meals that are quick and easy to prepare while being extremely low-effort to store and transport. Freeze-dried and only requiring water and a lightweight camping stove, these are the perfect meals for any hiker, backpacker, or camper. They don’t require you to add a bunch of heavy pots and pans to your camp kitchen setup, and they are meant to heat up in a hurry by just adding boiling water.
4 Good Freeze Dried Camping Meals
Of course, I would not say any of this to you without actually trying some of the meals myself! Here are four camping-ready meals I gave a go:
Adventure Meals’ Biscuits and Gravy
An iconic breakfast, Adventure Meals does their best to bring the meal to you in a form that can be carried neatly inside any backpack. Though certainly questionable at first (as any freeze-dried meal is), the end result is actually quite impressive. You boil 1½ cups of water over fire or camping stove to add to the bag, but I
recommend doing this sparingly (maybe only adding 1¼ cups even) as the 1½ cup mix came out to be a little bit soupy. Nonetheless, the pork inside of the meal is not overly chewy by any means, and the gravy holds great flavor. The biscuits even stay nice and crispy on the inside after being surrounded by the gravy!
Being a freeze-dried meal that is cooked by adding boiling water and sealing for 10 minutes, it is hard to find any complaints about Adventure Meals’ Biscuits and Gravy. Full of flavor and containing satisfying textures, as well as being sufficiently filling, this is a 10/10 meal.
Mountain House’s Beef Stroganoff
At least in my experience, beef stroganoff has been a dish widely manufactured among companies that make freeze-dried, MRE-style packaged meals. This being so, it is not uncommon to find a poorly and/or cheaply made version while perusing your options. Such is why I went out and found one that makes sure not to disappoint.
Mountain House’s Beef Stroganoff is a rich, savory dish that honestly is so delicious that I could see myself going out and buying a few packages just to keep at home for when I need a quick yet satisfying meal. It takes two cups of boiling water and roughly 15 minutes to make, but the time and effort is far outweighed by the meal you get as a result. Containing two servings, in case you are with a partner (or you are just very hungry, which is a situation we have all been in), the beef stroganoff would be a great bet after any long day of hiking, traveling, or exploring. The only extra recommendation I have for this meal is that you bring a bit of salt and pepper to season it, as though it is certainly already savory, there are some out there who prefer a little extra kick. A bonus tip for this meal is letting it sit sealed in the bag for an extra 3 minutes or so if you like your noodles softer. Here.
Backpacker’s Country Risotto with Chicken
I personally always thought of any sort of risotto dish to be somewhat elegant and therefore above the standards of any camping meal I could have. I thought wrong! Backpacker’s Country actually does a phenomenal job creating this just-add-boiling water meal, and it is sure to sate (if not even surprise) you with it’s strong seasonings and complete ingredients.
Sometimes a warm, bit blander meal like this hits the spot, and the risotto is a nice, filling option.
Like all the other meals mentioned in this article, Backpacker Country’s Risotto with Chicken is made by adding boiling water (2½ cups, to be exact) and then letting the package sit for 15 to 20 minutes. However, after trying this myself, I would like to recommend that you let it sit for more like 25 minutes instead. I say this because even though the risotto meal is delicious, the risotto itself is pretty hard and takes a little while to soften up from the water that is added. If you prefer your risotto a bit more al dente, though, by all means go along with what the instructions recommend and enjoy! It should also be noted that this meal contains two servings, adding to its versatility. Here.
Trailtopia Banana Oatmeal
I don’t know about you, but breakfast is always a meal I look forward to when camping. You often go to bed just barely full, and your body’s metabolism is working overtime after a long day of hiking or paddling.
There are lots of egg scramble options, but none of them taste right to me freeze dried like this. Oatmeal, on the other hand, is a winner every time, and of the options I like the Trailtopia Banana Oatmeal. It heats up nicely, and has a nice consistency. I find it superior to carrying packs of instant oatmeal because you can make it right in the bag and don’t have to make dishes dirty.
Trailtopia is based in Minnesota, where a lot of good camp food comes from (probably because of the need for it in the Boundary Waters). We like that they keep their food light on sodium, and relatively natural.
In addition to the oatmeal having good flavor and consistency, there is enough banana sprinkled throughout the dish to give it good flavor. It will be a good option for people who are fans of having a hint of banana in their breakfast. Here.