Freeze Dried!

In preparation for my next big walk early next week, I have been sampling a number of freeze dried meals from different companies.

Normally, my meals of choice come from Mountain House. Their meals taste natural, are available in large portion sizes and with the odd exception are very, very good.

Given that I’m happy with Mountain House, why am I looking at other manufacturers?

The reason is that in my 18 months of hiking, I have been around the entire Mountain House European menu several times! So I have decided to sample the competition to see if I could widen the variety of my outdoor menu. After all variety is the spice of life!

Now I will say before I start, that of all reviews, food ones are probably the most subjective. What one person finds delicious, another might find unpalatable. So one must bear in mind that this review is based on my own personal tastes, which are almost certainly not the same as yours!

Another thing to take into account is that this is not a field test, so I have no real way of knowing how they compare with Mountain House meals in terms of providing energy and nourishment.

So bring on the meals!

These are the three Freeze Dried meals I tested. Mince Beef Hotpot from Adventure Food, Beef Stew from Real Turmat and Thai Chicken Rice and Vegetables from Bla Band.

These are the three Freeze Dried meals I tested. Mince Beef Hotpot from Adventure Food, Beef Stew from Real Turmat and Thai Chicken Rice and Vegetables from Bla Band.

The first meal I’m going to review is the Mince Beef Hotpot by Adventure Food.

This was by far the cheapest meal and I had real concerns about it even before I opened the package! Namely, that the package seemed quite flat. I thought it couldn’t possibly have enough food in it. However, I was to be pleasantly surprised once the water got added.

The Adventure Food Mince Beef Hotpot weighed in at 157 gms and cost 4.75GBP making it the cheapest here.

The Adventure Food Mince Beef Hotpot weighed in at 157 gms and cost 4.75GBP making it the cheapest here.

One of the things I liked about this package, and indeed all the packages on this test, is that they all had water fill markings. This is in contrast to the Mountain House meals which seem to lack these.

Once the water was added, one has to wait around 10 minutes. The photo below shows the results:

The Adventure Food Mince Beef Hotpot was very tasty, but the taste was quite artificial. I did enjoy it though, and for the price it can't be beaten!

The Adventure Food Mince Beef Hotpot was very tasty, but the taste was quite artificial. I did enjoy it though, and for the price it can’t be beaten!

I found this meal to be tasty, but also quite artificial. I suspect some of the artificiality might have been down to the mash potato used in the recipe? Not too sure. There was also a lot of meat pieces in it too, which for the price was quite unexpected.

The meal was enjoyable if a little gloopy. I would certainly consider taking these on the trail with me, but would probably buy two of them for one meal.

**********

Next up is the Real Turmat Beef Stew.

The Real Turmat Beef Stew weighs in at 161gms and costs 10.35GBP making it the most expensive here - in fact double the cost of the Adventure Food Beef Hotpot. It is also more expensive than the 'Large' pouches I normally get from Mountain House.

The Real Turmat Beef Stew weighs in at 161gms and costs 10.35GBP making it the most expensive here – in fact double the cost of the Adventure Food Beef Hotpot. It is also more expensive than the ‘Large’ pouches I normally get from Mountain House.

This meal was by far the most expensive that I tested and also one of the bulkier ones in terms of packaging.

On adding the water I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one only has to wait around 5 minutes for the meal to reconstitute. This is in contrast to the standard 10 minutes of most other meals.

The photo below shows what it looks like when ready to eat:

The Real Turmat Beef Stew was very filling and very tasty. In fact it was my favourite meal of the three reviewed. The meat tasted a little artificial, but on the whole the tastes seemed pretty natural.

The Real Turmat Beef Stew was very filling and very tasty. In fact it was my favourite meal of the three reviewed. The meat tasted a little artificial, but on the whole the tastes seemed pretty natural.

This meal surprised me. It was extremely tasty, but also very natural.Β As with the Adventure Food product there were a lot of real meat pieces in this one too, although these did taste a little artificial – unlike the meal taken as a whole.

I really enjoyed the Beef Stew as witnessed by my varied attempts to get every morsel out of the pouch!

Speaking of which, I found the pouch design to be a little awkward…

Unlike other companies, the pouch is quite narrow and tall. Even with a standard fork I found it quite hard to get at the food. I’d imagine that if I had been in the field armed with only my trusty spork, it would have been even harder!

To my palate, the taste of this meal is right up there with the best that Mountain House can offer. The only downside being the relative price. For a saving of around 3GBP, I can get a ‘Large’ Mountain House meal with a lot more food and calories in it.

**********

Finally, I get to test the Expedition Meal Thai Chicken with Rice and Vegetables.

The Bla Band Expedition Meal Thai Chicken with Rice and Vegetables weighs in at 164gms and cost 6.95GBP putting it firmly in the mid-range. A typical Mountain House Large pouch would cost around 7.50GBP, so this meal is almost priced in that bracket.

The Bla Band Expedition Meal Thai Chicken with Rice and Vegetables weighs in at 164gms and cost 6.95GBP putting it firmly in the mid-range. A typical Mountain House Large pouch would cost around 7.50GBP, so this meal is almost priced in that bracket.

I was really looking forward to this one as I adore Thai Food – but alas it was to prove to be a disappointment.

The package is extremely well designed – it is low and wide, plus has fill markings that are on the inside of the pouch rather than the outside.

The Bla Band Expedition Meal Thai Chicken with Rice and Vegetables was a bit of a disappointment for me. Thai food is normally one of my favourite foods, but here, I found the taste a little too bland. On top of which I couldn't find much real meat. What I did like was the water fill markings on the inside of the pouch.

The Bla Band Expedition Meal Thai Chicken with Rice and Vegetables was a bit of a disappointment for me. Thai food is normally one of my favourite foods, but here, I found the taste a little too bland. On top of which I couldn’t find much real meat. What I did like was the water fill markings on the inside of the pouch.

I found the taste of this one to be quite bland, though it was also by far the most natural tasting of the three tested.

In addition to the lack of taste, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of meat either. Overall the meal proved to be the disappointment of the test.

The final nail in the coffin, is that for another 1 pound GBP I could have bought a Mountain House ‘Large’ portioned meal, with a better taste and more food.

In its defence, it could be that I have simply picked one of Expedition Food’s weaker meals and that perhaps their other meals are better. But without buying more of their meals to test it is hard to say.

**********

In terms of an overall winner it has to be the Real Turmat Beef Stew. I really enjoyed this one, and it is likely to accompany me on some of my future walks. The only real downside to this meal is the cost, a lot more than the competitors’ meals.

Have these tests affected my decision over the menu choice of my next walk?

The short answer is no.

Mountain House seem to produce meals that are competitively priced, natural tasting with decent textures and available in ‘Large’ portion sizes. So on balance, I still consider Mountain House to be the best provider of Freeze Dried meals.

I will most certainly mix things up in the future with the odd Real Turmat meal, but on the whole I think I will be sticking with Mountain House as my main provider.

All I need to do now is convince them to make more meal varieties! πŸ™‚

Laters

RobP

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About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
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10 Responses to Freeze Dried!

  1. Robin says:

    I’ve found Real Turmat meals to be very good, if a little salty but very expensive. Bla Band pasta based meals are very tasty, but not much meat. Recently I’ve tried Trek’n’Eat, which are on a par with Bla Band but larger. The best is Fuizion Foods, which are superb. Recently, they ran into financial difficulties, but according to Twitter, they should be up and running again soon. Personally, I found Mountain House to be be a bit underwhelming.

  2. RobP says:

    Some of the Mountain House meals are a little tasteless – their Med Vegetable and Chicken Noodles in Blackbean sauce being the culprits. But I find their other meals are really good.

    I have to say I’m excited to hear that Fuizion are getting back up on their feet. I only heard of them after their demise, but have heard so many good things about them, that I suspect I will like their food a lot.

    Where do they normally sell their food from? Do they have a dedicated website?

  3. Robin says:

    They sell direct from their website.

    • RobP says:

      Ah cool – Thanks Robin πŸ™‚

    • RobP says:

      I have just viewed their site, if the food is anything like the photos it should be streets ahead of the competition. Looks like they are still trying to sort the company out though, as everything appears to be out of stock at the moment.

  4. GR!Z says:

    Another thumbs up for Fuizion! I’m so glad I bought a job lot of their meals last time I ordered. I hope they are back up and running again soon, I’m running low on Thai Green Curry. 😦

  5. Pingback: Fuizion! | Uk Backpacker

  6. JD says:

    Hi, I am a keen outdoors kind of guy and an ex soldier.I stumbled across a Yorkshire company called ExpeditionFoods.com. (The bright orange pouches stand out from the crowd) I have in all my years of eating meals in a bag never tasted anything so good. They are streaks above the others in way of taste and texture. They are a little more expensive than some of them, but you get what you pay for. I have sampled most of their 20+ meals and I love the Chicken Tikka, Porridge with Strawberries, and the Custard and mixed berries. They offer 800+ KCal and also 450Kcal in some of their meals.

    You have to give them a try and let me know how it goes.

    • RobP says:

      I’ve not heard of them before. From the quick look at their site they also do full ration packs too, which is a bonus. To already have the food for my next walk, but will give them a try out once I get back.

      Thanks for the link πŸ™‚

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