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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trailtopia Cheesecake Dessert
I don’t know about you, but dessert has always been my favorite part of a meal. It should be no surprise, then, that I was extremely excited when I found out that the very same companies that make already scrumptious packaged camping meals make even more scrumptious (hopefully) packaged camping desserts as well! Though there is quite a wide variety of freeze-dried desserts to choose from, I went with the chocolate-and-berry cheesecake by Trailtopia.
This dessert is an especially appealing item for camping because it takes just one cup of cold, not boiling, water. You stir it in and then let it sit for 10 anticipation-filled minutes, and what comes afterwards is, to put it simply, great. Because the dessert includes a graham cracker crumble topping that can be sprinkled inside the bag once the cheesecake is done sitting, you effectively get to eat a sort of ideal camper’s-style
cheesecake pudding. It sounds iffy, I know, and that is totally fair. However, I cannot urge you enough to give it a try. It would be a delectable finish to any good camping meal and a surefire way to end the night with a smile.