Best Freeze Dried Food

When you plan a trip or hike, the biggest hindrance is food. It is not just a matter of what to eat. Food is perishable, and they weigh a lot. This is why for you to have a decent meal; you need backpacking food.

And what better backpacking food than freeze-dried food? Freeze-dried meals are no more the exclusive right of astronauts. They are now a popular option for hikers. But what is the best freeze-dried food?

Well before that, where did it come from? How do you eat it? Let us tackle those questions first.

History Behind Freeze-Dried Food

The art of freezing things has been around way before people thought of freezing food. It was first done in 1890 by German pathologist Richard Altmann. Even though he used the method to freeze some living tissues, the method was still unnoticed. That is until 1909 when Shackell utilized the vacuum pump for dry freezing. Then finally on the method was patented in 1927 and 1934 by Tival and Elser.

Even though the importance of freeze-drying things was realized, it was not that significant yet. The significance of the method was recognized during World War II. The value of freeze-drying Blood Plasma and Penicillin during the war reignited the passion for freeze-drying. This caused the development of commercial processes for freeze-drying. This made freeze-drying a go-to preservation process for both pharmaceuticals and food processing.

During the early stage, freeze-dried foods were a thing that only astronauts had access to. Later on, they started being used as military rations. But now, due to the simple and easy method, freeze-dried food is a common sight.

Doesn’t matter if you are someone who hates cooking or just doesn’t have enough time at hand; simply go to a super shop and get yourself a pouch of the available freeze-dried food. Just add some warm water and enjoy a healthy and filling meal. If you don’t feel like going to the shop, then order it online and enjoy it.

They have become the staple food for campers and hikers. This is due to mainly three characteristics. They are cheap, easy to prepare, and, most importantly, easy to carry.

How Is Freeze-Dried Food Made?

Before we learn about how the food is freeze-dried, we must know what foods can be freeze-dried. Almost all food varieties can be freeze-dried, but a few are well suited for the purpose — for example, liquids, thin meat, small veggies, and fruits. We can freeze dry anything as long as the size is not that big.

The process of making freeze-dried food mainly has five steps. They are Testing, Freezing, Drying, Sizing, and Packaging. The steps are briefly discussed here,

Testing

  • First, the food is tested for any form of contamination.
  • If the food requires to be pre-cooked, it is cooked in this step.

Freezing

  • After that, the food is spread out on flat pre-chilled trays, which are stacked on carts.
  • These carts are then wheeled into cold rooms of about -40 οF or -40 οC for freezing.

Drying

  • As soon as the food is frozen, the carts enter a vacuum drying chamber for quick drying.
  • For the drying process, sublimation is done. This turns all the ice crystals directly into vapor.
  • For this process, the pressure is dropped to approximately 0.036 psi via a vacuum. The temperature is raised to around 100 οF or 38 ο

Sizing

  • When the food is dried, it is sent for quality and moisture check.
  • If the food pieces are big, they are grounded to a more acceptable size.

Packaging

  • Finally, the blended and freeze-dried food is sealed in airtight containers or pouches.
  • This makes it easier to carry them whenever you are on a hike.

How to Eat Freeze-Dried Food?

Any form of freeze-dried food found in the market is pre-cooked. This means that they can be eaten without almost any preparations. No matter what the freeze-dried food is, it can be eaten in mainly two ways, cold and warm. Both these steps are simple rehydration of the dried food. But one results in room temperature or cold food while the other produces warm and hot food. The steps they stick to are as follows,

Cold

  1. First, tear off the top portion of the pouch.
  2. Then take the contents out on a bowl if you don’t want to eat the food in the pouch.
  3. Take the amount of cold or room temperature water as instructed and add it to the food.
  4. Wait twice the amount of time the instruction says.
  5. Add the seasonings if there are any.
  6. Then finally, take a spoon and enjoy your meal.

Warm

  • Similar to the cold process, tear off the top part of the pouch.
  • Take the contents out on a bowl, or just keep it the way it is.
  • Take the required amount of boiling water and pour it on the dried food.
  • Wait the instructed amount of time.
  • If there are any additional seasonings, add them.
  • Now at the end, take a spoon and eat away.

16 Best Freeze Dried Food for Camping or Hiking

A Brief Overview

One of the most essential features of any food is its nutrition content. That is why while on a hike or on outdoor camp, the importance of fulfilling these nutrients’ daily requirements is immense. It goes without that freeze-dried foods are not void of this requirement. Here is a table showing the calorie, macronutrient content, and the daily value (DV) to enable you to choose the nutrition you need.

Best Options in the Market

Freeze-dried foods are indeed easy to prepare and lightweight. They are simply perfect for hiking. But there is one problem. Which is the best freeze-dried food? That is why we have selected a few best options available in the market.

Per ServingCaloriesDV

%

Protein

(g)

DV

%

Fat

(g)

DV

%

Fiber

(g)

DV

%

CarbsDV

%

Mountain House – Biscuits and Gravy2801411221013003713
Mountain House – Breakfast Skillet260131428121527238
Mountain House –Beef Stroganoff with Noodles2601311221117142910
Wild Zora Paleo Meals to Go – Mountain Beef Stew41020377481210383512
Wild Zora Paleo Meals to Go – Bedrock Beef Chili4202136728138314214
Backpacker’s Pantry – Lasagna3401719388104134918
Backpacker’s Pantry – Dark Chocolate Cheesecake mix300156121519144516
Good to-go – Thai curry38019102014217275620
Backpacker’s Pantry – Three Sisters Stew41020142891213486925
Alpine Aire – Forever Young Mac & Cheese4002017341215275620
Good to-go – Classic Marinara with Pasta43021112211147257427
Good to-go – Indian Vegetable korma390191530162112435219
Omeals – Vegetarian Chili16089182311443612
Omeals – Spaghetti with Beef & Sauce290142040121828248
Alpine Aire – Cheese enchilada ranchero38019153016215184818
Good to-go – Granola580291734243112427427

Mountain House – Biscuits and Gravy

Mountain House Biscuits & Gravy | Freeze Dried Backpacking & Camping Food |2 Servings

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Product Description

Mountain House is a well-known name in the backpacking and camping food sector. One of the best products they market is Biscuits and Gravy. It is a delicious breakfast containing buttermilk biscuits and pork sausage gravy.

Serving Size

Each package has enough to serve two people. So, it is best for a hearty breakfast.

Features

  • The shelf life is about 30 years
  • Just add water and eat
  • No artificial flavorings
  • Recyclable packing

Pros

  • The food is easy to prepare
  • It is one of the best breakfast options
  • Preparation time is about 10 minutes

Cons

  • Only one serving size option
  • There are no vegan options

Mountain House – Breakfast Skillet

Mountain House Breakfast Skillet | Freeze Dried Backpacking & Camping Food | 2 Servings | Gluten-Free

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Product Description

If you are looking forward to having hash browns for breakfast, then this is perfect for you. Other than the usual hash browns, the breakfast skillet contains scrambled eggs, onions, and crumbled pork patty. It is ideal for a heartfelt breakfast.

Serving Size

Same as usual products of Mountain House, the serving size of each package is for two people.

Features

  • Recyclable packing
  • Add water and eat
  • Zero artificial flavorings
  • 30 years of shelf life

Pros

  • The food is easy to prepare
  • It is one of the best breakfast options
  • Preparation time is about 10 minutes
  • Double serving size

Cons

  • Not suitable for any time other than breakfast
  • No vegan alternative

Mountain House – Beef Stroganoff with Noodles

Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles 6-Pack

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Product Description

Containing tender beef, noodles, and mushrooms along with rich sour cream sauce, it is one of the best dried food for lunch or dinner. If you want, just add some hot water, and you would feel like eating freshly prepared noodles.

Serving Size

There are two options for this product. One is Pro-Pak, a serving for two, and the other is the Pouch which is a serving for two and a half.

Features

  • 30 years shelf life
  • Easy to prepare
  • Preparation time less than 10 min

Pros

  • The food is delicious
  • Preparation time is low
  • Great for any meal of the day

Cons

  • Contains multiple allergens
  • No vegan alternative

Wild Zora Paleo Meals to Go – Mountain Beef Stew

Wild Zora Paleo Meals To Go - Mountain Beef Stew - 100% Grass Fed Beef - Freeze Dried Meal for Backpacking and Camping - AIP Friendly, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, High Protein Meal - (Single Serving)

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Product Description

If you are a hiker and you haven’t heard of Wild Zora, then you must have been eating awful food in your hikes. The Wild Zora – Mountain Beef Stew is a fulfilling lunch or dinner. It has all the necessary nutrition.

Serving Size

The serving size of each package is for one person. It might have single serving size, but the meal is fulfilling.

Features

  • Mixes in Pouch
  • Authentic beef and veggies
  • Delicious and nutritious.

Pros

  • Sufficient amount of calories
  • Required amount of fat
  • Gluten-free
  • GMO-free

Cons

  • Each serving has a minute amount of artificial flavorings
  • No vegetarian alternative

Wild Zora Paleo Meals to Go – Bedrock Beef Chili

Wild Zora Paleo Meals To Go - Bedrock Beef Chili - 100% Grass Fed Beef - Freeze Dried Meal for Backpacking and Camping - Gluten Free, Dairy Free, High Protein Meal - (Single Serving)

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Product Description

On a hike, it is not uncommon to get a craving for something spicy. That is why Wild Zora has its Bedrock Beef Chili. It has just the right amount of spice level to satisfy your craving while making sure you don’t get sick.

Serving Size

The serving size says it is single serving. But the amount of food in a single serving is enough for two people.

Features

  • Mild spice scale
  • Easy to transport
  • It can be served in the pouch

Pros

  • Sufficient amount of carbs
  • Sufficient protein
  • Required amount of calories and fat
  • Cons
  • Only one spice level option
  • No vegetarian option

Backpacker’s Pantry – Lasagna

Backpacker's Pantry Lasagna | Freeze Dried Backpacking & Camping Food | Emergency Food | 38 Grams of Protein, Vegetarian | 1 Count

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Product Description

One of the most common freeze-dried food manufacturers is Backpacker’s Pantry. They have varieties of products, among which Lasagna is the best. It is a vegan substitute for those vegan hikers. It is lightweight and has a long shelf life. So as a vegan, you don’t have to panic anymore.

Serving Size

Backpacker’s Pantry mainly has pouches for double serving. Each serving has about 10 grams of protein in them.

Features

  • 100% Vegan
  • High in protein
  • USDA certified non-GMO
  • Perfect for all kinds of travels

Pros

  • Complete vegetarian meal
  • Contains a meat substitute for protein
  • Complete vegan

Cons

  • No nonveg option
  • Some might find the taste to be a bit off

Backpacker’s Pantry – Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Mix

Backpacker's Pantry Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Mix | Freeze Dried Backpacking & Camping Food | Emergency Food | 13 Grams of Protein, Vegetarian | 1 Count

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Product Description

All hiking foods don’t have to be savory in taste. With Backpacker’s Pantry, now you can satisfy your sweet tooth. They have dark chocolate cheesecakes, which just by adding boiling water can quench your sugar needs.

Serving Size

Per pouch has enough for two. But if you are willing, four people can easily eat from a single pouch.

Features

  • 100% vegetarian
  • Easy to prepare
  • Supplies much needed sugar
  • Needs boiling water

Pros

  • Sweet dish
  • A good source of sugar
  • Complete vegetarian meal

Cons

  • Not completely vegan
  • Contains artificial sweeteners

Good to-go – Thai Curry

GOOD TO-GO Thai Curry - Single-Serving | Dehydrated Backpacking and Camping Food | Lightweight | Easy to Prepare

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Product Description

Hikers sometimes crave some curry. And if it is precisely Thai curry, then Good to-go got the perfect thing. Each pack is a delicious meal freeze-dried to satisfy your craving on a hike. The curry has unique flavors like tamarind, lemongrass, and coconut milk.

Serving Size

Good to-go has serving options for hikers. One is a single serving pouch, and the other is a double serving pouch.

Features

  • Gluten-free
  • Unique flavors
  • Jasmine fragrant
  • Pescatarian

Pros

  • Full vegetarian meal
  • Loaded with verities of veggies.
  • Pescatarian

Cons

  • Low shelf life
  • Has no animal protein

Backpacker’s Pantry – Three Sisters Stew

Backpacker's Pantry Three Sisters Stew | Freeze Dried Backpacking & Camping Food | Emergency Food | 28 Grams of Protein, Vegan, Gluten-Free | 1 Count

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Product Description

For those who don’t know, the three sisters in food are beans, corns, and squash. This stew has all three of them, along with some brown rice and thus the name. It is perfect for those of you who are conscious about what you eat.

Serving Size

As usual, each pouch contains only one serving. Each serving is vegan and gluten-free and also contains 14 grams of vegan protein.

Features

  • 100% vegetarian
  • 100% gluten-free
  • 100% vegan
  • Healthy and fulfilling serving

Pros

  • Completely healthy
  • Has beans, corn, and squash
  • Complete vegan

Cons

  • Comparatively longer cooking time
  • Completely void of any form of animal protein

Alpine Aire – Forever Young Mac & Cheese

Alpine Forever Young Mac & Cheese Freeze-Dried/Dehydrated Entrée Meal Pouch, Just-add-Water, 2-Servings per Pouch, 19g of Protein per Serving

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Product Description

Alpine Aire can quench your thirst for some mac and cheese while on a hike. Just add some hot water and wait. Then enjoy a mouth-watering meal that will fuel your hikes with its veggies and three-cheese mix.

Serving Size

Each serving is for two. There is about one pound of mac and cheese in each pair of servings.

Features

  • Three cheese mix
  • Vegetarian
  • Healthy Nutrients

Pros

  • Tastes as good as fresh mac and cheese
  • Triple cheese mix
  • Vegetarian meal

Cons

  • Non-vegan
  • Void of any animal protein

Good to-go – Classic Marinara with Pasta

GOOD TO-GO Classic Marinara with Pasta - Double Serving | Dehydrated Backpacking and Camping Food | Lightweight | Easy to Prepare

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Product Description

With the sauce made of traditional Italian herbs like oregano and basil, the Classic Marinara with Pasta can make you hallucinate. It will make you hallucinate that you are in an Italian restaurant instead of on a hike.

Serving Size

There are mainly two serving size options. One is for a single person, and the other is for a pair.

Features

  • Lightweight
  • 100% Vegan
  • Five years shelf life
  • Free of gluten

Pros

  • Brown rice pasta
  • Tastes as good as authentic Italian cuisine
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • No wheat pasta alternative
  • The pasta may seem chewy

 Good to-go – Indian Vegetable korma

GOOD TO-GO Indian Korma - Double Serving | Dehydrated Backpacking and Camping Food | Lightweight | Easy to Prepare

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Product Description

In a hike, one might crave anything. Indian food is not off the list. That is why Good to-go has creamy tomato and yogurt braised Indian style korma. It has the classic Indian taste and is sure to fill your belly.

Serving Size

You can find both single and double-serving pouches of this delicious food. They are an excellent dish to eat on a hike.

Features

  • Protein filled
  • Unsulfured and unsweetened coconut
  • Vegetarian
  • Four years shelf life

Pros

  • Contains chickpeas, carrots, green beans, and parsnips
  • Perfect vegetarian meal
  • Vegetarian protein option

Cons

  • No non-veg option
  • Might not suit your taste

Omeals – Vegetarian Chili

OMEALS Vegetarian Chili-MRE-Extended Shelf Life-Fully Cooked w/Heater-Perfect for Outdoor Enthusiasts, Travelers, Emergency Supplies-USA Made

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Product Description

The tradition of nonveg chili is broken by Omeals vegetarian chili. It is packed with peppers, spices, and beans. It is the best source of something spicy for all the vegan hikers out there.

Serving Size

Each pouch is about 8 oz. and serves as a double serving. It can also be used as a single serving if you have a big appetite.

Features

  • Vegetarian
  • Not fully cooked
  • Not fully freeze-dried
  • Three years shelf life

Pros

  • Only needs hot water
  • Freshest it can be
  • Perfect vegetarian meal

Cons

  • As not fully cooked
  • Not fully frozen

Omeals – Spaghetti with Beef & Sauce

OMEALS Spaghetti w/Beef-MRE-Extended Shelf Life-Fully Cooked w/Heater-No Refrigeration-Outdoor Enthusiast, Travelers, Emergency Supplies-USA Made

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Product Description

Spaghetti with beef and sauce is a classic that one might miss while on a hike. Well, not anymore. That is because Omeals has one of the best freeze-dried spaghetti on the market. Each pouch is filled with spaghetti, beef, garlic, tomato, and parmesan.

Serving Size

Single serving size is enough to fill your belly. The taste is enough to satisfy your craving.

Features

  • Self-heating
  • Homestyle
  • Premium protein
  • Three years plus shelf life

Pros

  • All-natural ingredients
  • High protein
  • Low cholesterol content
  • Self-heating technology

Cons

  • Each pack weighs more than typical freeze-dried food
  • Small serving size

Alpine Aire – Cheese Enchilada Ranchero

AlpineAire Cheese Enchilada Ranchero Freeze-Dried/Dehydrated Entrée Meal Pouch, Just-add-Water, 2-Servings per Pouch, 15g of Protein per Serving

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Product Description

For your cheesy cravings, another dish that Alpine Aire freeze-dried is cheese enchilada ranchero. It got tortilla chips that complement the cheesy enchilada. The dish is inspired by casserole and is a vegetarian one. It is sure to fulfill your vegetable and cheese craving with each serving.

Serving Size

Each pack contains enough for two servings. And each serving has 15 grams of protein in them.

Features

  • Vegetarian entrée
  • Easy to prepare
  • Ready in 12 minutes
  • Requires boiling water

Pros

  • Delicious meal
  • Filled with nutritious value
  • Perfect as energy slack

Cons

  • No form of protein
  • No vegan option

Good to-go – Granola

GOOD TO-GO Granola | Dehydrated Backpacking and Camping Food | Lightweight | Easy to Prepare

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Product Description

Granola has always been a power-packed food. That is why Good to-go presents the best freeze-dried granola in the market. It is filled with whole grain oats, blueberries, almonds, figs, and whole milk. It is sure to give you the boost one expects from a well-balanced breakfast.

Serving Size

A single pouch is of single-serving size. But one can easily share it as one serving is big enough for two with a medium appetite.

Features

  • Gluten-free
  • Whole grain
  • Filled with antioxidants

Pros

  • Easy to prepare
  • Quick preparation time
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Full filling serving size

Cons

  • Shelf life of only two years
  • Has no vegan option.

Buyers Guide

So, you are going on a hike, and you wish to get some freeze-dried food due to their usefulness. But you must be confused about which ones to take. Well, you cannot just take any regular freeze-dried food. It would be best if you kept in mind a few things before choosing the one you think suits you. They are,

Cookability

One of the main issues that any instant food has is its cookability. Some food requires more than just rehydration. If proper measures are not taken, then the food, even after rehydration, feels like a chewy gum. This results in an inedible lump of food that has a gummy feel to it. That is why the food that is to be chosen has to be something that only needs rehydration. If not so, then it is advisable not to choose that freeze-dried food.

Time

During any hike or outdoor camping, time is one of the most critical factors. One can miss the sunset or the train if one is late. And in any form of hike, one of the most time-consuming activities is cooking. That is why freeze-dried foods are the perfect food for hikers as they are quick and easy to prepare. But the fact is even among the freeze-dried foods; there is a difference in preparation time. Some foods take about five to seven minutes, while some take about twenty-five to thirty minutes. The time taken to prepare them is doubled if one uses cold water instead of hot water to rehydrate them. That is why choose the one that suits your time frame.

Taste

It is crucial for the food that you consume after a long hike is tasty. Dried food also costs a bit more than the usual so make sure the food is yummy. The freeze-dried food has fancy names but don’t expect them to taste as good as the real thing. The food only needs rehydration; that is why all the seasoning and cooking are pre-done. This compromises the taste. But after a long hike, the taste, despite being inferior to the homecooked counterpart, will taste just as good. That is why even if the food may seem dull, they will taste amazing on the field.

Weight

One of the core features of Freeze-dried food is that they weigh less. This is since all the moisture in the food is dried out. This makes them easy to carry on any hike or adventure. But this does not compromise the calorie content of the meal. Most freeze-dried foods contain 300 to 800 calories per three to seven ounces. So while choosing the freeze-dried food for your hike, make sure the food contains the required amount of calories. If not so then be sure to take something that fulfills the deficiency.

Nutrition Value

Any regular hiker or camper knows the significance of nutrition. There is a fixed amount of all the essential nutrients that one needs daily. For freeze-dried foods, the importance of nutrients is kept in mind. And for this very reason, some even have additional nutrients added to them. So if you are in the market for some freeze-dried food for your next camp or hike, then make sure to check the nutrition values. And it would also be great if you mix matches the dried foods that fulfill your daily nutrition value.

Cost

Freeze drying foods is a commercial process. That is why most of the pouches cost anywhere between $6 to $15. So while in the market for freeze-dried food, be sure to check the price. You might also be amazed to see that a few meals may cost the same, but their serving or nutrition values are different. So, get a few different meals that satisfy your taste while costing less.

Ingredients

There are a ton of options when it comes to the ingredients of freeze-dried food. Some brands use all-natural ingredients, while some have artificial ones. This makes them different in taste. Moreover, some brands use all vegan recipes while some don’t. That is why if you are a picky eater, then it is best to find the one that has the ingredients that compliment your taste bud.

Origin

Different brands use different ingredients without a doubt. But even if the ingredients are the same, the food might taste different. This difference in taste is caused due to the difference in the origin of the freeze-dried food. It means the origin of the raw material. So, if you have any preference, then you should get the one that suits you.

Bottom Line

The first rule that every traveler should follow is to travel light. Regardless of the destination, traveling light is very important which could be hindered if one has to carry lots of food as well.

That is why freeze-dried foods are so popular. And it is due to this that there are so many options in the market. I hope that our list of the best freeze-dried food will help you find the one that suits your taste.

Last update on 2021-11-26 at 02:01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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