Whether you are backpacking in the woods, staying at a campsite, hunting or engaging in some other types of outdoor activity, one of the most important questions is about what kind of food you will choose to take with you.
Mountain House is one of the oldest and most trusted brands of freeze-dried food so here I provide you with a guide to some of the best Mountain House meals available.
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Which Mountain House Meals Are Best? Choosing Your Meals For The Outdoors
When you’re out in the wild, your meals don’t have to be tasteless and insipid – in fact, it’s important that your meals are enjoyable as well as simply providing your necessary calorie intake for a trek.
If you eat well, you will have more energy as well as better motivation and it will make your whole experience more enjoyable. This means that choosing the most suitable meals for your trip is no minor consideration that can be overlooked.
Beyond this, there are certain practical points to remember about which meals are the best to take with you.
Mountain House has a wide range of quality products that are trusted by the outdoor community. Here I’m going to talk about some of the things you will probably want to think about when choosing the best Mountain House meals for you.
Obviously the first thing to consider is if you will actually enjoy the taste of the meal! If you are in an emergency situation and just trying to survive, the flavor might be a secondary consideration – but if you’re planning for an enjoyable trip, a tasty hot meal will keep you in good spirits.
Taste is highly subjective and personal - the most important thing is to choose meals that you enjoy eating so that at the end of a hard day’s hiking, you have a meal that you are looking forward to. It will help you keep going and when you finally get to eat it, it will really lift your morale.
Unfortunately, one of the problems associated with freeze-dried foods is that often, even though they smell and taste good, they don’t always look particularly appetizing. If it looks awful, you might not want to eat it at all!
I find most Mountain House meals don’t look too bad but there are some that look more appealing than others. This is something to consider when choosing which ones to buy for your trip.
The texture of a freeze-dried meal is important because sometimes after you’ve added the hot water and rehydrated the meal, the meat might be chewy, the pasta might be soft or the eggs might be soggy.
Similar to taste and appearance, the texture of food determines how much you will enjoy eating it and the psychological benefits of a good meal after a hard day of walking shouldn’t be underestimated.
A really important consideration when choosing food for energetic activities is the amount of energy you will obtain from your meal. If you are walking more than ten miles a day in rough terrain you are going to need a lot more calories than if you are just sitting in an office.
Foods that contain simple carbohydrates give you a quick boost when you are feeling low on energy whereas foods that contain complex carbohydrates release the energy to your body more slowly so they will keep you going longer.
5. Ease Of Preparation
Mountain House freeze-dried foods have been designed to be as easy to prepare as possible. What could be simpler than boiling water and pouring it into a bag? However, it is possible that some recipes work better than others and this is a point to bear in mind.
How full up you feel after a meal is no minor consideration. Again, when engaging in tough, strenuous activities, your mental state can be just as important as your physical condition. If you finish your meal and you don’t feel full, this may adversely affect your morale.
The price can be important, especially when planning for longer expeditions. However, when choosing between different Mountain House options, the variation in price is not so significant.
8. Allergens Or Other Dietary Requirements
One consideration when choosing which Mountain House products to buy for a particular hike or expedition is the dietary requirements of the people involved.
You may want to think about whether you need to buy vegetarian options, gluten free options, milk free, wheat free and so on. If you are planning a trip for several people, you should check their dietary requirements first and buy accordingly.
9. Pouch Or Can?
Mountain House meals are available in various formats depending on how many people are in your party. Pouches are suitable for individual use but family-sized cans are also available.
Reviews Of Five Of The Best Mountain House Products
For me this is one of the best-tasting Mountain House meals available because I love chili. Actually, I prefer things a little spicier - but I think for most people it will be just perfect. The combination of chili and other seasonings in this option is just about right.
It contains a good amount of beef mixed in with beans and macaroni and this is a meal I always look forward to eating at the end of a day’s hiking. It’s a great pick-me-up when you’re starting to feel tired at the end of the day.
I think the texture of this one is pretty good too. It’s easy to make, just stir to make sure everything is properly rehydrated and you’re ready to go. I find that a portion of the chili mac with beef leaves me feeling full and satisfied. It’s also a good source of protein.
The only allergens in this option are wheat and soy so this might be a good choice for someone who can’t eat milk or egg and so for whom the beef stroganoff is off-limits.
One thing to bear in mind is that as there is some chili in this recipe, those who have sensitive digestive systems might want to avoid this meal as it might have some unfortunate effects on your stomach later while you’re on the trail.
This is a great option with plenty of flavor that will leave you feeling satisfied and ready to go hiking again.
- Delicious spicy flavor
- Works well as a freeze-dried meal
- Great comfort food after a hard walk
- Chili can upset sensitive stomachs
This is a classic beef stroganoff dish with mushrooms, onions and beef served in a creamy sauce.
Although this is not one of the most pleasing meals on the eye, it is a great-tasting option that should leave you feeling ready to go again after a lunchtime meal or pleasantly full in the evening after a long day of walking.
It is easy to make, although you should make sure you give it a good stir so that all the food is properly rehydrated and comes out properly cooked.
The texture of the meal is good – although don’t expect it to be the same as a home cooked version – and a portion of this has a real comfort food quality when you are out on the trail and it can really lift your mood if you’ve been hiking in the cold and wet for several hours.
One serving has the calorie and carb content you need after strenuous exertion to replenish your body’s needs and help you to recover for the next leg of your hike.
This option contains milk, soy, wheat and egg allergens so it is unsuitable for people who can’t eat these foods.
Overall, I really like this. It looks a little ugly but it smells and tastes great and really fills you up.
- Great taste
- Filling and satisfying
- Easy to make and great texture
- Allergens make it unsuitable for some
- Doesn’t look great
This option is a chicken and rice combo served in a creamy sauce flavored with pimientos. It is a simple recipe that is suitable for freeze-drying. It is easy to make and rehydrates well.
One portion of this meal is filling and satisfying and will help you feel normal again after a strenuous day out on the trails.
I think one of the problems with this choice is that compared to some of the other choices available, it is not one of the most delicious. Compared to the chili mac or the beef stroganoff, the flavor is just a little bland - but this is my personal opinion and some people might enjoy it.
Another reason why this is not my favorite Mountain House meal is that the amount of chicken inside is not always huge. Sometimes you really have to go digging around to find it.
This product contains soy and wheat and is not suitable for people sensitive to these allergens.
It is a meal I would take with me on a multiple-day hike just to have a bit of variation in my diet but it is not the one I look forward to eating the most.
- Good filling and satisfying meal
- Gives you energy to continue your trek
- Slightly bland flavor
- Sometimes not enough chicken
The first thing to remember about this one is that you’re not going to pour in the water, wait ten minutes and then open the bag to discover that a real meat lasagna has materialized in the bag! What you’ll find is a mix of pasta and meat sauce.
If you don’t expect an authentic lasagna like you would get in a restaurant or at home, what you find inside is pretty tasty. The smell is good and the taste is a fairly good approximation of the real thing if you consider this is just a freeze-dried version.
It’s easy to make like all the others and rehydrates nicely. Pasta is always a great food for when you need lots of energy. This choice will leave you feeling nicely full up after your meal and will give you plenty of strength for an arduous hike.
It contains milk and wheat so is unsuitable for people sensitive to these ingredients.
Overall, I like this meal but it is not one of my favorites simply because I love pasta and rehydrated lasagna is nothing like the real thing. Having said that, it is a good functional and filling meal that will leave you feeling satisfied and it will provide the fuel for the next leg of your trek.
- Good taste
- Good source of energy
- Doesn’t look fantastic
- Not a real lasagna!
This is a good option for those who want to have breakfast food for breakfast. While some backpackers might be happy to eat anything hot in the morning, nothing beats the comfort of hash browns, scrambled eggs and pork patty with your coffee in the morning.
It smells good and tastes good although it doesn’t look quite so appetizing. I think this is always likely to be a problem with this kind of meal when it’s all mixed together. I think this kind of recipe is just less suitable for freeze-drying than some others.
It has plenty of calories so it’s a good choice for a morning meal before setting off to do serious walks and it should keep you going until lunchtime. One serving is plenty to leave an average person feeling full up and ready to go in the morning.
It’s easy to prepare like all Mountain House meals but with this one you need to make sure you give it plenty of time and stir well. Sometimes it’s possible that some of the larger pieces of egg don’t rehydrate properly and they are not so pleasant to eat.
The allergens contained are egg, milk, wheat and soy so it is not a suitable choice with people who can’t eat these products.
A good choice for someone who wants to eat a real breakfast but not the most appetizing to look at and other options are more suited to freeze-drying.
- Good, proper breakfast food
- Filling and satisfying, gets you up in the morning
- Less suitable as a freeze-dried meal than some other options
- Doesn’t look very appetizing
In general, Mountain House meals are all reliable and MH has become a trusted brand with over fifty years of history behind it. For many, these meals are the go-to option for any backpacking or camping trip.
Some of the options just don’t make good freeze-dried meals. While they are perfectly edible and filling, choices like the Breakfast Skillet or Lasagna are not top of my list.
I find the Chicken And Rice a little too bland for my liking and while I think the Beef Stroganoff is a great choice, my overall favorite and the one I look forward to eating most is the Chili Mac. I love the kick of the chili and a hot serving of this at the end of a day’s walking is always great for my morale.