The folks at Mountain House sent me some samples of their freeze dried meals to try, and really I was pretty excited. I've had some Mountain House before and actually had compared it to a couple of other brands of "backpacker" foods and for flavor and texture, the Mountain House was my favorite.
So in order to give these samples the true test, we took them camping instead of eating them in the kitchen. We had a Macaroni and Cheese double serving entree and one of the new Mountain House Barbeque Sauce with Beef Wraps that you can put on a tortilla or a bun or just eat plain if you want once it's reconstituted.
The first thing you need to eat Mountain House meals is water. I did not try to eat either of these dry, but I'm guessing it wouldn't work too well. The instructions tell you how much water each package requires and then tells you to heat the water up to boiling, so bust out the camp stove and pot and get some water boiling.
I didn't bring any measuring cups, so I just used a mug and kind of guessed. I also wanted a little hot water for washing the bowls after, so I'm heating too much water here. While your water is heating, find whatever you need for serving, or just hang out and play cards with your friends.
Once the water is boiling, open your package and take out the oxygen absorber. This little packet is totally harmless as long as you don't eat it. It just helps keep the food fresh and dry in the package. Each food pouch had an easy tear strip at the top and flared bottom so it could sit on your table or the ground or whatever and hold itself up. Nice.
The dry stuff looked like this:
Then add your water and mix well. The package tells you how much to add. Like I said, I didn't bring a measuring cup--I just kind of guessed on how much water was 2 cups for one and 1 1/2 cups for the other. Now it looks like this:
After the water is mixed in, seal the package using the little ziplock strip at the top and let it sit for 8-9 minutes (follow the directions on the back, if you happen to get one that says some other amount of time, believe the package over me). Go put your jacket on, help the kids tie their shoes, get the campfire started, observe nature, or whatever else you need to do while you wait.
When your 8 minutes are up, open the pouches and serve. The two serving macaroni and cheese served all three of our kids plus had some leftovers for me and dad to finish up. The "one 16 oz. serving" wrap package served both me and sweet husband with some left for him to have seconds. So two Mountain House meals served our whole family of 5. And we dished out into bowls, but you could really easily just eat it out of the package so all you'd need is a spoon. That would save you some dishes also.
I didn't guess right on the water amount for the wrap package. It was a little watery when it was done, so we had it in a bowl and dipped our tortillas in it. Quite a lot of spice for me, but husband really liked it. If any of you know me, I'm abnormally sensitive to spicy foods, so it's probably the perfect amount of flavor for the average person. The Macaroni and Cheese was a lot of cheese and less macaroni, but was quite tasty with a little salt or salsa added to it (I did the salt, hubby and son did the salsa). We were totally satisfied for the evening hike.
Here's the quick benefits of using Mountain House freeze dried foods:
1. You don't have to pack much in your cooler. Just make sure you have enough water packed or a source for water.
2. They are EASY to cook. No slicing, dicing, getting your hands covered in raw hamburger, etc. Boil water, add water, wait, done. Left lots of time to be doing other things.
3. They cook up pretty darn quick. Not much waiting for dinner.
4. Not much for dishes. Actually almost none if you eat out of the package.
5. Not much waste either. Once the food was eaten, all we had to throw away was the package it came in.
6. You don't have to worry about them going bad by the end of the week. Super for long term trips where the meat in the cooler is always iffy by the end.
I have some Mountain House foods in my emergency kit. They are lightweight and easy to prepare and taste pretty good. You just have to have water and it's best if you have a way to heat that water. Mountain House meals are available from Mountain House or at most camping outfitters--even my Walmart camping section has some. As a side note, I haven't tried all the flavors, but really like the Turkey Tetrazzini. Do you have a favorite flavor?