Ok.. lets talk about food. I love to try new stuff on camp outs, like I have said in posts before, meals and food occupy a large amount of time on outings. And since I am a Do as I Do kind of leader, I figure the more creative or at least having a variety out there, the Scouts will see these meal options and eventually try them.
What has happened is that many of the Scouts have taken a liking to expanding their meal options. Looking into different ways to prepare pastas, rice options with different meats and yes even veggies.
Since we have a “No Ramen Alone” rule, noodles with extras have increased ways in which our Scouts prepare and eat also.
Prepared meals of the freeze dried or dehydrated variety have also made its way into the packs of our troop, and once again there are many options there also.
I have given many of them a try and some are better than others in my opinion.
Of course every one is familiar with Mountain House and the wide variety it has made available to the backpacking community. Now since this is a Blog and only my opinion here, Mountain House is my least favorite of the dehydrated options. they have a nice selection, are easy to prepare and when cooking for small groups (2 or 3) they are a great choice. I do think that they are a bit spendy at about $8 a meal on average. Some are cheaper than others, while the Beef stew (4 serving) will cost you around $10. This can get spendy and if buying Mountain House I would suggest buying it in bulk. Costco sells it on occasion by the case.
Another option in the dehydrated/freeze dried category is The Backpackers Pantry. Again, some really nice menu items and again, a bit spendy. I do like the “Complete Meal Packages” for 4 that they offer. The price for feeding 4 is pretty good for what you get. The packaging is good and the preparation is easy.
Alpine Aire Foods is yet another option in prepared meals. They are in about the same price range, and they have some nice menu options, but I have to be honest, I did not find them the best when it came to taste, and to me.. well, why eat it if it’s not good. The Beef Rotini was hearty, but I was not crazy about the pasta.
Hungry Hikers is a company that is local to me. They have some good meals that are very tasty . Not a huge selection, but enough to give you a variety. The biggest drawback to Hungry Hikers is the price. Very spendy for what you get. When you are providing this as an option for your Scouts, make sure they sell lots of Popcorn to afford these marvelous meals. The Chicken Pot pie is my favorite. I like their stuff, I just don’t like the price.
I will not talk about M.R.E.’s. they are novel to kids and some “Wilderness guru’s” think they are cool, but they are heavy and while you may get them at a surplus store on the cheap.. you get what you pay for.
My favorite dehydrated meals to date are from the Packet Gourmet. The food is really good tasting, easy to prepare and pack. Not to spendy and they give Scouts a 15% discount when you sign your unit up for a discount code. When talking price, I found them to be the most reasonable. The discount code costs nothing and it is easy to use. They ship the product real quick and have nice customer service. I highly recommend the Packet Gourmet. They even give away meals to get you hooked. Check them out. I even tried one of their desserts.. YUMMY!
Finally, there is always the “Do it Yourself” option. As I write this post I am dehydrating spaghetti with meat and sauce. It was left over from dinner tonight, so I figured why toss it in the disposal when I can toss in the dehydrator. I will make about 3 good servings and costs almost nothing to make. Investing in a Nesco dehydrator (around $75) is a great way to expand your meal options on the trail.
Full meals, snacks, and trail seasonings, and more are easy to make.
I hope this gives you a few more options to discuss with your Scouts. They can eat real well on the trail without Ramen.
Have a Great Scouting Day!