I haven’t had any freeze-dried back-packing meals for a long time. They may have changed, but I always found them to be very expensive with very small servings. In order to fill my stomach and keeps the costs down, I’ve always travelled with the food described in this article.
The first step is getting an electric dehydrator, or making one yourself. A little research and you will be amazed at what you can dry and then re-hydrate when needed. You can buy dried foods at the health food store or bulk items rack in the grocery store, but the dehydrator will pay for itself with the do-it-yourself savings over the first one or two seasons.
Spaghetti sauce can be dehydrated on plastic wrap. It doesn’t look very appetizing in it’s dried form but rehydration brings it back to life. A mid-sized bag of frozen mixed veggies will fit in a sandwich bag after drying. Fruit leather and jerky are also easily created in a dehydrator.
BREAKFAST: A great variety of instant oatmeal flavours are available, with or without dried fruit. Add raisins, prunes, shredded coconut or any other dried fruit that appeals to you. Skim or whole milk powder can also be added before the hot water.
LUNCH: Keep dried fruit like apples and pineapple on hand. Dried sausage is another good option, as are dried soups such as Cup-a-Soup. GORP (Good old reliable protein) or commercial trail-mix with added fruit is a reliable standby.
SUPPER: 5 Minute Rice, Kraft Dinner and couscous are all good options. You can also try pre-cooked pasta with a commercial sauce kit or a dehydrated sauce or foil packaged potato dishes.
You can add chopped jerky, sausage, dehydrated mixed veggies, onions, carrots or peas to any of the above meals. Mixed dried veggies are available at the bulk rack in the grocery store. Rehydrate the veggies first.
BEVERAGES: Tea or coffee bags, hot chocolate and juice crystals (hot or cold) are all good ideas.
TRAIL SNACKS: Try a mixture of GORP, dried fruit, fruit leather, jerky or your own granola bars.
REHYDRATION: Add dehydrated veggies to boiling water 4-5 minutes before adding Kraft Dinner or 5 Minute Rice. Dried spaghetti sauce is rehydrated by breaking it up and putting it into the amount of water needed for rehydration, and leaving it for the day while you are out on the trail. If you are moving camp just do the same and carry it in a sealed container or a double zip-loc bag.
If weight is not a prime concern, freeze a stew, soup or stir-fry in large zip-locs and use them before they thaw and the bag breaks.
If a dehydrator is not currently in your plans, it is still cheaper and much more satisfying to buy from the dried products in the bulk rack than blowing your budget on skimpy freeze-dried meals.