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Great Alternatives to Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Great Alternatives to Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Posted by Alpinistas on Aug 24, 2022

Do Dehydrated Meals Suck?

Right now, we’re going to say YES! There is a time in every wilderness explorer’s life when they get to the point of being utterly exhausted with the prepackaged dehydrated backpacking meals that are on the market.

Something just strikes us as odd about a food product that has a shelf life of 20 years. What about the newer brands that you are just HOPING to love but when you are 15 miles deep excited about dinner, the results are akin to dog food. (Not that we’ve tasted dog food!) Then you get the ones that just won’t fully rehydrate at your 11k camp elevation despite tacking on another 20 minutes and having it sit insulated in your down jacket!  Not to mention the prices for some of these. Per meal, you are shelling out a decent amount that could be going towards your technical shell jacket collection!

Let's not suffer anymore! Say goodbye to crunchy eggs and suspicious bolognese! JetBoil fast boil stoveSo 

what are the options when you are packing just a fast boil water stove? Let’s get into it.  There is a world of tasty alternative options that will leave you ditching the dehydrated meals.

Just head over to your friendly grocery store and take a peek at the pre-packaged foods that only require hot water to finish off. Combine that with some other pre-cooked items and spices for endless meal options that will be so much better than dehydrated meals. No need for fancy stoves as your JetBoil is more than sufficient to get it done. Yeah, you might sacrifice a little weight but for us foodies, delicious meals are what soothes the soul.

1 - Look for dry, instant carb bases. There are a lot of variations that just require hot water.

Couscous - a great one because it is lightweight.

Instant Mashed Potatoes - Idahoan is a good brand because of the added flavor options and they don’t require added milk or butter.

Pre-cooked rice packages - just warm it up with a tiny bit of hot water.

Instant refried beans

Instant stuffing!!

Tortellini or other harder pasta that requires just heating.

Instant mac n cheese.

Instant oatmeal.

2 - Protein. Another area where you have a lot of options.

Chicken packets - pre cooked in foil pouches a la tuna.

Tuna pouches - obviously cans would be less ideal.

Salmon pouches

Heat-n-eat sausages

Dried meat like salami

Pre-cooked at home turkey, bacon or other meat.

3 - Hard Cheese. Cheese is awesome and with so many varieties you will have a few options to try out.




4 - Kick it up a notch! Flavor enhancement options.

Try olives - great flavor and great fat.

Olive oil pouches

Pre-measured seasoning packets to add to your carb base.

Mayo, mustard, ketchup packets

Dried fruit


Dried herbs

5 - Hardy, take along additions:


Bagel - if a little heavy, you can always scoop out some of the filling. (It holds the eggs better!)

Protein powder - great to add to oatmeal.

Summit Skillet and MightMo from JetBoil

6 - Must have upgrade!

Wine - pack it in a flexible beverage pouch to save weight and after you finish it off, they stow away very compactly.

Uncooked eggs - If you have a JetBoil MightyMo, pack the super light non-stick Summit Skillet for some freshly made eggs. There are these great little camp egg holders you can usually find at WalMart to prevent them from getting squished. Bring some pre-cooked bacon and just add a view for an utterly amazing breakfast.

Take the ideas above and make your own combos! For any pre packaged items that come in a box, disassemble and rely on just the interior pouch or any plastic ziplock or reusable, sealable bags at home. Any wet items, like olives, protect in an extra resealable layer. It is a good idea to bring extra collapsible bowls to mix the hot water and ingredients in to not mess up the cleanliness of your JetBoil. I don’t think anyone wants the remnants of chive potatoes in their morning coffee water!

While these grocery prepackaged items might not be the kind of things that you’d eat at home, they are perfect for when you are having dehydrated meal fatigue.