When we first started backpacking we SWORE by the Mountain House meals. More specifically the first one we tried that we fell in love with … this chicken and mashed potato one!
It gets pretty expensive to buy two $10 meals every night your out backpacking, plus fitting more than 4 of those bags in a bear canister with other snacks etc proves to be a fantastic tetris challenge!
We started to look into other options and at this point we have decided that making our own meals is the most cost effective (Closer to $4/serving), space efficient, and tastiest way to do it! Please keep in mind… we ONLY boil water for our meals, we do not actually cook anything while we are out, which does differ from some other articles/blogs that I have read.
We will buy a few different items and use them for our trips:
- Freeze Dried Chicken (Or Beef)
- Freeze Dried Peas, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Green Beans
- Dehydrated Mashed Potatoes (Pre-Flavored, or Plain Mashed)
- Ramen Noodles
- Mac & Cheese – WE HAVE NOT TRIED THIS YET, but I am excited to!
PACKING: We pack our food into sandwich zip-block bags, because we eat out of a metal mug (I have heard you can use freezer-bags and cook/eat directly out of those, so that might be something fun to try, let me know if you have!)
PORTIONS: We typically portion into two person meals (because we are two people, and eat the same dinners).
For TWO people we follow the written serving sizes, for the protein and veggies, with the addition of the carb (mashed potato/ramen) we find that is enough food to share. I also like to add spices/salt because I personally tend to crave salt after sweating on the trail all day. TWO people winds up usually being 1/2 of a sandwich bag. Everyone is different and will need different amounts!
COST BREAKDOWN: This cost break down is a common meal for us, and it again assumes you are feeding 2 people with the portions:
- Can of Chicken: $40 for ~14 2 Person Servings = ~$2.86
- 1 Dehydrated Veggie: $13.5 (Avg) for ~8 2 Person Servings = $1.69 (This is low, we probably get closer to 10 servings)
- 1 Pre-Flavored Potato Packet: 2 Person Serving = $1.50 (The amazon link is more expensive than what I typically find at my local grocery store)
- Total Cost: $6.04 for 2 People
- Total Cost: $3.77 for 1 Person (Assuming you take a whole mashed potato for a single person, which again would be way too much food for me)
- *You can definitely make this more inexpensive by making your own mashed potato packets*
COOKING: We currently use a JetBoil system, and each carry a metal mug! We are in the process of deciding if switching to an MSR system that will be more weight effective (and worth the cost). I will write another post about that, as we work through this process!
(Metal Mugs 4.9oz + 4.9oz & Jet Boil 11.75oz = 21.55oz total)
Let me know in the comments below what YOU do & what works for you out on the trail!