Food on the go - again

caorach

Well-Known Member
Sometime back I posted some "eating out while stalking" food solutions.

Recently I've been trying another one in the shape of freeze dried food and here are my thoughts, hopefully this might help someone. I've been giving Mountain House and Expedition Foods branded freeze dried food a try in a range of menus and the results have been fairly positive with most of the meals being pretty tasty and working out well. I think the Expedition Foods chicken korma was my favorite so far but both Mountain House and Expedition Foods get good reputations and I don't think that I could say that one brand was consistently better than the other.

The freeze dried food comes in a plastic pouch to which you add boiling water. The pouch is like a robust version of one of those "space blankets" and so holds the heat of the water while the food hydrates:



Clearly some types of food are more suited to this process than others and you can't have large chunks of anything as it would take too long to re-hydrate. In general the process is simple and it takes the food somewhere between 5 - 9 minutes to re-hydrate depending on the menu and the instructions. So, all you need to do is boil up the water:



Then you tip it in on top of the food, having removed an oxygen absorber packet which is in along with the food to keep it fresh, and wait. Now even after around 10 minutes my meals have always been very hot but I always take care to set the packet out of the wind and I wrap it in a towel, or spare clothing, or whatever is handy. In the end applying a bit of common sense is useful in these situations. Leave it lying in the wind on the snow and things might work out differently.

The meals state that they require between about 380 and 550ml of water to re-hydrate and in all cases I've found this to be a significant under statement of the amount of water required with something over 600ml required in almost every case. The meals that I've been using are, as you can see, marketed as being for those with big appetites or as having a high calorie count as a lot of pre-packed type meals would hardly feed a sparrow. I would say that these offer a decent feed for one person. The down side is that they are expensive and so probably not sustainable for "everyday" use at something around £6.50 - £7.50 for a main meal with the rice pudding type dessert about £4.50.

The huge advantage with these meals comes when you don't have to carry your water - when fishing on Lewis for example I take my water from the lochs and there is a loch every few hundred yards so there is simply no need to carry water - as the meals are dry and so you save a lot of weight. If you have to carry your water, and I guess that is the case in most places, then that will be a problem for anything more than one or two meals as you need in excess of 1lb of water for one of these bigger meals. They are also simple to prepare as all you need is the facility to boil water and so the basic Crusader stove, which has nothing at all to break or go wrong, is all you need to prepare a tasty meal in the middle of nowhere so this makes these meals ideal to "backstop" other plans in case it all goes wrong:



In summary the big plus is a long shelf life and low weight if you don't have to carry water. The downside is that they are expensive and so simply not sustainable as the primary source of food for someone like myself who is out 100+ days per year.
 

Claret_Dabbler

Well-Known Member
Philip, I appreciate you really take this stuff seriously, but for £11 a meal, you can go two miles up the road to Hunter's Pub for pie and chips and a pint of Guinness.
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
I have to ask the question...........why not just take sandwiches? :eek: I'm not trying to be a smartarse, but all I've ever taken has been a sandwich or two, a few sachets of all-in-one coffee mix & a 1-pint Kelly kettle. I've recently started taking my own home made jerky too, and that gives an immediate energy boost when you're starting to flag a bit on a hike.

Seems to me to be a lot of faffing about for what's basically just a fuel-stop?
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
I have to ask the question...........why not just take sandwiches? :eek:
Well, one reason is because I'm out so much I get fed up with sandwiches, though I do take them sometimes, so I like to vary the menu but the other reason is that when I'm fishing I might be out for 2 days, which means 4 or 5 meals. I could, of course, go without eating as it would do me no harm but the only reason I go out is to enjoy myself so I like to be comfortable and well fed.

As Brian says I can go up the road to the pub sometimes, say 20 days in the year, but that still means I have to get fed in more remote spots for about another 80 days. Often I take the bits to make something and enjoy everything from chili to bacon butties on the day but a lot of that stuff doesn't keep so well in the rucksack for a few days plus the freeze dried stuff is light which is useful if you've to carry it 12 miles in and 12 miles out.

I certainly don't see the freeze dried stuff becoming a big part of the diet, but as something to backstop other things if it all goes wrong then it is light, takes up little space and all you need is to heat water.
 

Dan Gliballs

Well-Known Member
When we are at the stags we are on the hill for 6 days a week for 6 weeks, I get a bit bored of sandwiches and a mars bar so I've been taking tins of mackerel fillets in tomato sauce or a couple of oatcakes with a chunk of cheese in between them, the wife has started to throw in a couple of cooked sausages and a couple of hard boiled eggs in the piece box.

variety is the way forward.

Couldnt be bothered with the faff of dried meals though.

I use the Kelly kettle when out fishing though.
 

plonker

Well-Known Member
When we are at the stags we are on the hill for 6 days a week for 6 weeks, I get a bit bored of sandwiches and a mars bar so I've been taking tins of mackerel fillets in tomato sauce or a couple of oatcakes with a chunk of cheese in between them, the wife has started to throw in a couple of cooked sausages and a couple of hard boiled eggs in the piece box.

variety is the way forward.

Couldnt be bothered with the faff of dried meals though.

I use the Kelly kettle when out fishing though.
Tinned mackerel in spicy tomato sauce with nice thick whole meal bread is a winner:thumb: Can be often found in my sandwich box!
dave
 

Taff

Well-Known Member
I think it depends how long you are out, and weather conditions, there's nothing like warm food on a cold day.
 

762Scot

Well-Known Member
I second that. A hot meal is a lot better than a sandwich when out on the hill for a few days. It makes it possible to stay out longer in my opinion.
 

sauer

Well-Known Member
Ok this I'm very interested in .... I'm working on Middle East in the desert in remote locations with no camps so basically for 4 or 5 days at a time your living out of a GMC V8 pick up ... Ok I have an inverter , travel kettle etc but resort to tins o tuna & finger rolls or pot noodle ....
This would work well for me is give a boost / summit half decent .... I could store a heap of them no probs .... Would just have to make sure there was no pork labelled on it
Caorach can you post a link please to these
??!
Paul
 

bogtrotter

Well-Known Member
I can see why it might not be a bad idea when fishing, to much hassle on the hill carrying either some means of boiling water or a flask of hot water.

Think we all get fed up of sandwiches every day, did try a food flask at one time which was fine up to a point still to awkward to carry on the hill so it was left in the vehicle or Argo, which sometimes we never got back to until the end of the day,so all in all not worth the trouble.

Settled for a couple of Mars or energy bars and maybe a bit of fruit in my pocket,guests at the lodge were the same they were given something they could stick in a pocket and eat on the move,no elaborate lunches on the hill.
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
Well, one reason is because I'm out so much I get fed up with sandwiches
Can't argue with that :)

Have you ever tried the dried pasta & sauce that you add hot water to? I seem to remember that you can get MRE-style pouches with a calcium carbonate mixture in a capsule that you crush.......the chemical reaction heats up the meal for you. They might be worth a try if you haven't already?
 

private fraser

Well-Known Member
Your last thread which mentioned self heating meals was good,as is this one.
I haven't tried the self heating meals as the websites I looked at didn't seem to do one or two packet orders. I'll try Tiso's next time I'm there.
The mention of mackerel fillets above brought back a memory. I was working in Zambia many years ago on telecomms outstations in the bush. Food was a problem and we tried tinned stuff.
The sight,smell and taste of tinned mackerel in tomato sauce after it had been in a vehicle where the outside temperature was 110 degrees has never left me.
Couldn't touch the stuff now.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
I seem to remember that you can get MRE-style pouches with a calcium carbonate mixture in a capsule that you crush
I think that is something like the Hot Pack type meals, I did post a wee review on them a while back:

http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.uk/showthread.php/94799-Food-on-the-go

Again most of this is to give a bit of variety, as bogtrotter says a lot of these ideas are not useful for a day at red stags where I would do the same as everyone else and carry my sandwich in my pocket. However, if you are returning to the car now and again (say forestry/lowland stalking) or are carrying a rucksack for a multiday trip then some of these things are worthwhile.

Sauer, there are a few options but Mountain House and Expedition Foods seem to get the best reputation and my experience has been positive. They have a "best before" date of something like 5 years but I'm told that in practice they will keep for ever and people have tested them after many tens of years with no problems. It is also worth considering the Hot Pack people as their meals are also handy, in a different way as they are self heating so all you carry is what you eat basically. Links as follows:

http://www.mountainhouse.eu/

http://www.expeditionfoods.com/?gclid=CLqvxavXz8MCFafLtAodNGYAWA

The Hot Pack people - they are very helpful and a little less expensive per meal but are hydrated so you might be carrying a bit more weight with multiple meals, but not enough to matter if only carrying one or two:

http://www.hotpackmeals.co.uk/
 

sauer

Well-Known Member
Cheers
The hot pack looks fine for half a dozen kicking around the jeep , but looking at the "gubbins" of it I don't fancy trying to get th thru security or into hold of a plane ....mmm
Mountain house I think ... Few sample packs & see how they work out over here ..... Amazing when yer stuck in the desert how a hot meal perks you up .... A colleague appeared on one location with home made cottage pie heated up then wrapped in foil ... 4hr drive into desert and passed it to me , still warm and by Christ was licking the container ... Sorted me right out
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Cheers
The hot pack looks fine for half a dozen kicking around the jeep , but looking at the "gubbins" of it I don't fancy trying to get th thru security or into hold of a plane ....mmm
Mountain house I think ... Few sample packs & see how they work out over here
It might be worth talking to the Hot Pack people as they are very helpful and most of their market is emergency services and military so it is possible they are all sorted with documentation for flying etc. with this stuff. Clearly they are handy for a "one off" type meal as there is no need to carry a stove or water, literally everything you carry you eat apart from the packet and heating element which weighs virtually nothing.

I'm doing the same thing with the Mountain House at the minute - trying a few to see how they work. As you say it is great to get a hot meal and some are tastier than others - I wasn't dead keen on the sweet and sour chicken but loved the korma.
 

sauer

Well-Known Member
For bringing it in , mountain house easier as more product for weight in my baggage , once here water is no big deal as with the heat in summer we carry bottled water by box loads & have a travel kettle & inverter in the truck for boiling water..
Have found another brand ... Slightly cheaper but found here

Adventure foods
Adventure Food, Outdoors Grub

They also do a long polycarbonate spoon for the pouches for 96 pence

Just a case of buying & trying I suppose.... Yeah it's expensive but when I'm away from family & stuck out here it's a boost and I like my grub.....otherwise you just eat crap....

Always have Kelly kettle in back of jeep so couple of them be good too for home

Paul
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Just a case of buying & trying I suppose....
That is all you can do as we all have different tastes. However I get sick of the same thing day in and day out and so like to have a range of options available to me. I've been testing the freeze dried stuff for about 2 - 3 months now (maybe 8 meals) and it will add another option especially when walking long distances to places where there is plenty of water (i.e. fishing in the Hebrides) and also for keeping one or two in the rucksack for emergency backfill.

I went for Mountain House and Expedition Foods as they got the best reviews in terms of taste and food quality but, as you've seen, they are not the least expensive and others might be equally good. Also be careful as some of the meals can be quite small whereas the ones I've been testing are more than enough for me, hence why I haven't got around to eating my rice pudding yet :)

Don't spend big money on titanium stuff, if you are after a spoon, as I can never see any difference between it and aluminium other than 1000%+ more money to buy it but that does bring one thing to mind - for good results stir it very well after adding the water and it is also worth a stir half way through the waiting time so a reasonably robust spoon is an advantage as you'd cry if you broke your spoon. Some of the menus, with noodles for example, tend to start out with the noodles in a bit of a clump and so it takes a while for them to hydrate unless you break them up a bit. Again common sense needs to be applied.
 

Cadex

Well-Known Member
They look just the ticket, but far too expensive to be in the lunch box every day.
 

sauer

Well-Known Member
That long handled spoon polycarbonate worth a bash for. Less than a quid .
Could bring my desert dining to another level hopefully.
So far it's apples, local equivalent of pot noodle, and individual size tins of tuna on finger rolls with splash of hot sauce !!!
Paul
 

bruce w

Well-Known Member
a tin of fish ,or ham in your pocket and a sup out of a burn will do for me ,if i went to the bother of boiling water i might as well take a bag of oats and have porridge thats a hot meal and cheap, and get you through the day.
 

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