When you’ve just made it to camp after a long and grueling hike, the first thing on your mind is undoubtedly rest, then food. Thanks to the advent of dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, your meal can be ready in under 5-minutes flat.
With the high-tech dehydrating equipment we have today, you can dehydrate just about any type of food or meal. No longer do hikers and campers have to survive on canned beef and dry bread for days on end.
Looking for inspiration on the best dehydrated food for camping? This blog highlights are a few good options to consider, as well as the food you can dehydrate yourself.
Dehydrated Food for Camping: The Top Brands to Try
Back in the day, campers and hikers were limited between a choice of good food or quick and easy food. After a long day on your feet, easy food is often the first choice, but today, you don’t have to forgo taste or nutrition, for that matter.
With so many options on the market today, you can choose from rich stews, cheesy pasta dishes, and even puddings. Here are some of the best freeze-dried food brands worth trying:
1. Good To-Go
This brand is well-known for its incredibly tasty meals. The only downside is that they don’t offer a huge selection of dishes to choose from.
This being said, Good To-Go is founded by an experienced hiker and backpacker, who was also an Iron Chef contestant. Some of their most popular meals include chili, Thai curry, and penne marinara.
Good To-Go prides itself on simple and nutritious meals — if this is your thing, then this is a good brand to try.
2. Mountain House
While Mountain House may be a little pricier than other brands, they offer a great selection of meals and have thought about vegans and those with gluten sensitivities, too.
This brand is owned and operated by Oregon Freeze Dry and has a history of successful operation for more than five decades. As such, their reputation precedes them when it comes to nutritious, and tasty meals for campers and hikers.
3. MaryJane’s Farm
If you’re looking for a more organically-friendly option, then MaryJane’s Farm is your go-to. This brand stands out from the rest due to its naturally-derived, delicious meals that are packed with nutrients – synthetics not included!
These dishes are the closest that you’ll get to homecooked within the dehydrated and freeze-dried food industry. All ingredients are organically grown, too, rather than being laboratory-produced.
You can also choose from single-serving or bulk options to stock up before a long trek.
4. Alpine Aire
This brand is on the more high-end side of dehydrated/freeze-dried foods. You’ll be able to tell just by their packaging.
While some people think their meals can be a little bland, they are all about natural, wholesome ingredients and being transparent about what’s in each dish.
If calories and satiety are important to you (and they should be when camping/hiking), you can determine the nutritional value of each dish from their website.
This way, you know exactly what you’ll be consuming and know exactly what to pack based on your energy needs.
5. Backpacker’s Pantry
One of the best things about purchasing Backpacker’s Pantry products is that part of the proceeds go to Defenders of Wildlife and Polar Bear Adoption.
While some hikers highlight the heavy sodium content of their meals, Backpacker’s Pantry is ideal for long-haul hiking. These meals are specifically designed to be lightweight so they don’t weigh down your pack.
The portability of their meals is important to them, so you can expect a maximum amount of calories and flavor in small packages.
An added bonus is that you only need boiling water to rehydrate each meal and the pouches double as an easy-to-use bowl.
Foods You Can Dehydrate Yourself
If you’d prefer to create your own meals so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body, then it’s best to dehydrate your own food.
With the right home dehydrator, you can dehydrate almost anything, except for dairy products and foods with very high-fat content.
Just bear in mind that most vegetables and meats must be pre-cooked before you can dehydrate them. Fruit, on the other hand, can simply be sliced and dehydrated right away.
Once you have dehydrated your food items, package each element into its own bag, then assemble them as full meals, as needed.
Alternatively, you can dehydrate entire meals, as is, and then prepare them with hot water. Simple meals to dehydrate include risotto, soups, and some pasta dishes.
In order to save yourself time, try to dehydrate each food item for each meal at the same time. This way, you know what goes together. This is only possible if each food item requires the same drying temperature, though.
Some of the best foods to dehydrate for camping and hiking adventures include:
- Fruits such as apples, bananas, and mango
- Most type of vegetables
- Deli meats like roast beef, turkey, and lean ham
- Ground beef
- Canned or cooked chicken
- Canned tuna
- Cooked shrimp
You can also dehydrate sauces and as well as grains, pasta, and legumes. Try dehydrating rice, pasta, beans, or quinoa in advance, and then combine them with your dehydrated meat and vegetables for a full, nutritious meal.
Tips for Rehydrating Your Dried Food
Once you’ve prepared your dehydrated food items, you’ll need to know how to prepare them so that they’re not only edible but tasty, too.
Keep in mind that dehydrated meals require equal parts of water to food. They’ll also need 15-20 minutes to completely rehydrate.
It’s a good idea to invest in an insulating pot sleeve that holds in the heat as your food reconstitutes.
You want to place your dehydrated food items into the pot and let them soak for 5-minutes, before bringing it to a boil. Turn down the heat, and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes until your food is tender and the water has been absorbed.
Don’t forget to pack a small container of salt and pepper to add additional flavor to your meal!
Invest in Your Own Food Dehydrator Today
If you’re looking to make your own dehydrated food for camping, or perhaps preserve some of your own food at home, it’s time to invest in the right equipment.
Check out the rest of this site for top reviews on the best dehydrators on the market today — all of which you can find on Amazon!