If you are anything like me and you love going on a camping trip or trekking adventure, securing your food is likely at the top of your list.
But let’s be honest, after a long day of hiking, kayaking, or mountain climbing, the last thing you want to do is spend hours preparing a meal. That’s where freeze-dried foods come into play.
I remember my first multi-day hiking trip; I was weighed down by canned goods and bulky food items that not only took up valuable space but also made my backpack feel like a ton of bricks.
It wasn’t until a fellow hiker introduced me to the wonders of freeze-dried meals that I realized outdoor dining could be both convenient and delicious. Now, I never embark on an outdoor adventure without a selection of the best freeze-dried foods in my pack.
In order to help you avoid the same mistake I made, after thorough research and testing many brands, I created a list of the best freeze-dried foods that will make your outdoor time a lot easier.
1. Mountain House – 30-year shelf life
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Ah, I love Mountain House! The reason they have one of the best-known names is because of their three-decade shelf life in the freeze-dry food world. Its long shelf life makes it ideal for surviving.
You can store a ton of products from Mountain House without worrying about food spoiling. And that’s exactly what you need when you find yourself somewhere in nature, trust me.
Mountain House is virtually any organization for hikers searching for lightweight trail food, and the beef Chili Mac is the longstanding, hands-down prize. This isn’t as high in protéin as the gluten-free variant, but you’ll want that if, at the end of a tiring day, you need a traditional, comfortable meal around the stove.
Chicken Teriyaki is my go-to choice. It’s really quick and easy to prepare and I adore the authentic teriyaki flavor.
However, if this were an exceptionally long walk, you would like one packet per individual, because some hikers say that a single serving might be small, especially for famished hikers. Another hint: For this formula, a little fluid is recommended — use less and add more if necessary.
Most of the meals at the Mountain House are hearty and comfortable plates. Carnivores will find no difficulty in discovering excellent products like beef stroganoff as well as lasagna in their item range. Whoever is seeking freeze-dry food for subsistence situations will find in the Mountain House what they are looking for.
2. Omeals – 3-year shelf life
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Omeals are a new and distinctive take on backcountry food. Self-heating food is not more costly than freeze-dried bags and is readily prepared without a stove or with very little fluid and this makes your life so much easier.
Luckily for me, they are my brother’s favorite which is why he always carries them in his backpack.
Omeals are self-heated backpack dinners fully cooked. They feel like typical, freeze-dried food from the outside. The only distinctive characteristic of the brand’s resealable is the steam vent in the top right corner.
They offer you all the utensils you need for your food in the woods in extra to the heating element. It is one of the most uncomplicated products to use for fresh campers with this convenience which is very important if you’re a beginner in hiking like I was when my brother showed me these.
In comparison with frozen foods, additional packaging is available. It all condenses readily, however, and finally suits into the full pocket. A total of eight ounces of food are provided for each meal, feeding one person and costing € 8.
Given all the comforts you get with packaging from Omeals, in the freeze-dry food world, it is challenging to discover a good offer.
3. Peak Refuel – 100% Meat
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If you are focusing on the creation of slow-burning energy, protein is where it is— and Peak Refuel sums up its whole range of products for delightful meals that are also prepared to energize on the way to the start or finish of a long day.
If there are 11.5 grams of sugar in a portion of strawberry granola, that’s fairly nice. Dishes such as beef pasta marinara and chicken teriyaki are the finalists, but you may also enjoy a single-stop store package (Peak Refuel comes in both a bag for luncheons/dinners and specific breakfasts).
Peak Refuel contains 100 percent real meat. It has no meat fillers at all. The meat is of high quality because they are sourced from the company’s trusted suppliers and they undergo inspection by the USDA. Moreover, the product comes with a five-year shelf life.
4. Backpacker’s Pantry
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Whatever your nutritional limitations are, in Colorado’s Backpacker’s Pantry manual, you will discover a package for your requirements. No matter how special. Backpacker’s Pantry not only produces gluten-free products; it also contains non-milk, no-peanut, and no-soy.
If you have problems with high salt material, you can even buy low potassium from Backpacker’s Pantry.
All original packages arrive in Ziploc caps with two persons and come in mylar bags. Two people eat 2 1⁄4 cups of cooking air and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Backpacker’s Pantry offers many bigger packages and boxes for individuals moving in more prominent categories, who can eat between four and 18 individuals.
With respect to ingredients, Backpacker’s Pantry has one of the widest catalogs available for any freeze-dry meat business. You can find cajun chicken soup, cocoa beef salad, chicken jerk rice, and pasta pesto salmon.
Backpacker’s Pantry is accessible to buy, in relation to entrees, with plenty of little food, desserts, breakfasts, and cooking. Some of the best products in these classifications are dark cheesecake with chocolate, garlic pudding, Indian rice cake, and natural vegetable juice.
Most two-person packages measure only about six ounces, so you should not have issues on long journeys with these foods. Backpacker products also have a decent shelf life of seven years.
If you’re looking for a wide range of freezing-cold meal alternatives, you have to verify Backpacker’s, Pantry List.
5. Good To-Go
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Good To-Go has a wide range of dehydrated food cans from Italian to Thai cuisines in Maine. Weigh 6.6 ounces and serve two individuals per parcel most of the Good To Go Packages. These foods have a median shelf life of four years.
A characteristic of Good To-Go is that they all have a gluten-free and fish-friendly certification. So you shouldn’t have problems with their spectrum of products if you only consume seafood or have celiac disease.
Note, however, that all Good-to-go food is manufactured in a plant where peanuts, milk, ovules, and corn are The cooking water is necessary for each packet to supply 7 ounces.
The boiling water can be dumped into the pocket straight and immediately zipped in. It requires about 20 minutes for manufacturers to state that your good dinner is prepared for dinner.
A further advantage of these products is that they are not dependent on chemical or preservative additives. You can acknowledge and pronounce most of the items in the roster if you see their components.
These products have less sodium than most of the rivals in their products. The most common item of Good To-Go is Thai sauce with 500 mg per dose of sodium.
Try the famous Thai curry, sheet Thai, or Korean bibimbap if you like Asian cuisine. For campers with a more Italian mood, Good To-Go Marinara can be collected with a herbed mushroom risotto or penne. It’s my personal favorite.
Good To-Go also provides various dishes, such as burnt chili beans, korma, and Mexican quinoa.
This food is not only purchased individually but also in “weekend packages”. Two of the above foods are also included in weekend packages, together with a simple choice to create breakfast like a bowl and granola.
Good To-Go’s varied product variety will most appreciate the health-conscious walkers who prioritize the value of components in their freezing dry foods.
To be honest, that’s the reason I chose to try them. Taking care of my diet has always been highly important to me and I wanted to eat quality food even when I’m outdoors. And Good To-Go made it possible.
6. Wise Company – ReadyWise
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Wise Company is a brand that prioritizes long-term food storage, offering products with a shelf life of up to 25 years. Known for its gluten-free and organic options, it aims to cater to a variety of dietary needs.
The meals are designed to be easy to prepare, making them a convenient choice for outdoor adventures or emergency situations. However, some users find the taste to be somewhat bland, and the products are on the pricier side compared to other brands in the market.
7. Augason Farms
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Augason Farms offers a comprehensive range of freeze-dried food products, from fruits and vegetables to full meals. The brand is known for its affordable pricing and long shelf life, with some products boasting up to 30 years of storage capability.
While the meals are generally flavorful, some may require additional seasoning to meet individual taste preferences. The brand also has limited vegetarian options, which could be a drawback for some consumers.
8. Valley Food Storage
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Valley Food Storage focuses on clean and healthy freeze-dried food options. With no artificial preservatives or additives, the brand offers dairy-free and gluten-free options to cater to various dietary needs.
The products come with a 25-year shelf life, making them a reliable choice for long-term storage. However, the brand has limited international availability and some consumers find the portion sizes to be smaller than expected.
9. AlpineAire Foods
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AlpineAire Foods is a brand that offers a wide range of flavors and cuisines in its freeze-dried food line. The products are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, making them a healthier choice for consumers.
With a long shelf life, these meals are ideal for both outdoor adventures and emergency preparedness. However, some meals may require more water for preparation than indicated, and the brand has limited options for those with nut allergies.
Key Factors to Consider
When it comes to selecting the best foods for your outdoor adventures or emergency preparedness, several key factors come into play. Each of these factors contributes to the overall quality, convenience, and suitability of the product for your specific needs.
One of the most critical factors to consider is the shelf life of the freeze-dried food. This is especially important if you’re planning to store these foods for an extended period, perhaps for emergency preparedness.
Brands like Mountain House stand out in this regard, offering an impressive 30-year shelf life. This long shelf life ensures that the food will remain safe to eat and retain most of its nutritional value over decades, making it an ideal choice for long-term storage.
When you invest in such products, you’re essentially buying peace of mind, knowing that you’ll have a reliable food source in times of need.
Freeze-dried foods are not just about convenience; they should also provide the essential nutrients your body needs. High protein content is crucial, especially for strenuous activities like hiking or in emergency situations where you need sustained energy.
Brands like Peak Refuel specialize in high-protein meals, making them an excellent choice for those who require that extra boost of energy.
On the other hand, if you have specific dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance or vegetarian preferences, brands like Good To-Go offer gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Always check the nutritional information to ensure you’re getting the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Ease of Preparation – Convenience is Key
The last thing you want after a tiring day of outdoor activities is to spend a lot of time preparing food. Some freeze-dried foods require a stove and boiling water, which might not always be convenient. Brands like Omeals have revolutionized this aspect by offering self-heating options.
These meals come with a heating element that only requires a small amount of water to activate, eliminating the need for a stove or fire. This feature is incredibly convenient, especially in situations where resources are limited.
Taste and Variety
Let’s face it; nobody wants to eat the same thing day in and day out. That’s why it’s essential to choose brands that offer a wide range of flavors and cuisines.
Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry are leaders in this aspect, providing an extensive menu that ranges from classic American dishes to exotic international cuisines.
Having a variety of options not only makes your meals more enjoyable but also helps to keep morale high, which can be crucial in challenging situations.
While it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, it’s crucial to balance cost with quality. Brands like Augason Farms offer a middle ground, providing affordable options without compromising on quality.
Remember, you’re not just buying food; you’re investing in your well-being. It’s always better to spend a little more on a product that you can rely on.
Special Dietary Needs
If you have special dietary restrictions or preferences, such as gluten-free, non-GMO, or vegetarian/vegan diets, some brands cater specifically to these needs. Backpacker’s Pantry and Good To-Go offer a range of products that are gluten-free, non-GMO, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
How long does freeze-dried food last after opening?
Once freeze-dried food is opened, it will start to degrade and lose its quality. However, the shelf life of opened freeze-dried food can vary depending on several factors, including the type of food, the packaging, and storage conditions.
In general, opened freeze-dried food stored in airtight containers and in a cool, dry place can last for up to 1-2 weeks. Some types of freeze-dried food may not last as long and may need to be consumed within a few days.
It is always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific storage and shelf life recommendations for the particular freeze-dried food you have.
Do These Lose Their Flavor Over Time?
Generally, freeze-dried foods maintain their flavor for a long time, especially if stored properly. However, like any food product, they can lose some flavor and nutritional value over an extended period, especially if exposed to air, moisture, or high temperatures.
Can I Freeze-Dry Food at Home?
Yes, you can use specialized freeze-drying machines or simpler methods involving a freezer or dry ice. However, the quality and shelf life may not match commercial freeze-drying processes.
Is This Food Nutritious?
Freeze-dried foods retain most of their nutritional value, as the freeze-drying process only removes water content. However, some vitamins like Vitamin C may degrade slightly during the process.
Can I Mix Different Freeze-Dried Foods to Make a Meal?
Yes, you can mix different ingredients to create a more complex meal. For example, you can combine freeze-dried vegetables, meats, and spices to make a stew or casserole. Just make sure to adjust the water content accordingly.
Choosing the right freeze-dried food involves a careful consideration of various factors, each contributing to the overall quality and suitability of the product for your specific needs. From the longevity offered by a long shelf life to the convenience of easy preparation, each factor plays a crucial role in your decision-making process.
When it comes to me, nutritional values are the most important factor. However, brands like Mountain House, Peak Refuel, and Omeals each have their unique strengths, catering to different consumer needs—from long-term storage to nutritional content and ease of preparation.
I hope this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the world of freeze-dried foods. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast planning your next adventure or someone preparing for emergency situations, I aim to assist you in making an informed and personalized choice.