While I am firm believer that everything tastes better in the backcountry, finding lightweight options that provide ample calories, but don’t add bulk to your pack, can be a challenge. Adding in dietary restrictions or specialty diets can make dining al fresco on the trail even trickier.
On a recent trek through Las Flores Canyon, I took along a variety pack of freeze-dried backpacking meals from Paleo Meals to Go – created by a Denver-based mother/son team. While I don’t adhere to the paleo diet, I seriously appreciate the lack of preservatives and other added junk often found in dehydrated meals. If you require gluten free, grain free, milk free, soy free meals, or just prefer all natural ingredients in your food, these meals might appeal to you as well.
Paleo Meals to Go offers four different meals; Summit Savory Chicken, Mountain Beef Stew, Cliffside Coconut Berry and Palisade Pineapple Mango – all packaged in resalable, lined paper bags that are easy to pack in and pack out. The meals can be cooked “stove top” or straight from the package with the addition of boiling water. I chose the latter option for a less-mess, easy clean-up option and had no complaints other than the occasional sticky fingers (hand, really) from digging deep into the pouch to scoop out dinner. (The packaging suggested cutting down the bag to a smaller size after cooking in it. I should have listened.)
Summit Savory Chicken: There are a ton of ingredients in this one, like: chicken, green peppers, onions, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, mushroom and spices. This meal has great flavor, but I found it a little dry (especially compared with the Mountain Beef Stew). I tried adding a bit more water, but it didn’t seem to change the texture of the chicken much.
Mountain Beef Stew: This one tastes like home cooking – I could hardly tell it was Paleo or came from a package of freeze-dried ingredients. The garlic-infused blend of beef, onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices were savory and delicious. Make sure you shake the package well before you add water or you’ll get huge pangs of the garlic and salt.
Cliffside Coconut Berry: This was a nice change from my usual backcountry breakfast of instant oatmeal or dehydrated eggs. With the same consistency of hot porridge, the coconut flakes, almond flour, nuts and berries cooked together into a super-sweet breakfast that stuck to my ribs. The fruit rehydrated really well, which was impressive.
Palisade Pineapple Mango: Another fruity breakfast option, this meal has great texture from the pineapple, mango and banana. It smells amazing, and certainly tastes better than plain ol’ oatmeal
– but that’s what sugar does. (Editors Note: Paleo Meals To Go pointed out that while the meals are high in sugar it is naturally occurring sugar from the fruit. There is NO sugar added to any of the Paleo Meals To Go menu items.) I also loved the addition of flaxseed, which is a great source of fiber.
Paleo Meals to Go taste great – especially the Mountain Beef Stew. They are lightweight, take up very little pack space and are ridiculously easy to make. The lack of preservatives, gluten and other non-paleo ingredients are a huge plus. The flavor of the meals was as good or better than other freeze-dried meals I’ve taken into the backcountry, but at a price point of $13 per meal, it’s not something I could commit to for regular backpacking trips.
If you would like to try out Paleo Meals To Go for yourself, be sure to use the coupon code SBM5 to receive 5% off of your order!
Date available: order now online at paleomealstogo.com, new options including Bedrock Beef Chili, Canyon Chicken Chili and Apex Fruit Snacks coming soon.
MSRP: US $12.99/package
Dimensions: weigh 3-5 oz./package