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Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice
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John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice on 04/08/2011 06:27:21 MDT Print View

I use MH freeze dried/dehydrated meals and would like to repackage them to save some weight.

I plan on using a seal a meal for the repackaging. I am sure that this will reduce the bulk in my pack due to removal of the air in the MH packages.

Some questions that I have are:

Will I actually save that much weight?

Does anyone here save and reuse one or two of the original MH foil packages for heating/re-hydration?

Wouldn't the original MH packaging be difficult to wash clean after say preparing one of their Lasagna meals? I even have trouble getting the cheese off of my spoon.

How do you repackage, re-hydrate and clean up?

I appreciate all suggestions, advice and shared experiences that you would care to post.

Thanks in advance.

Party On,


Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
Repackaging on 04/08/2011 08:34:02 MDT Print View

I repackage MH when I end of buying it; we've started dehydrating our own foods so we're using less store-bought meals. We use name-brand freezer bags, quart sized, I think - simply open the MH and dump the contents in the freezer bag... The original MH bag(s) do make a good cozy for rehydration; they'll be lighter than most anything else unless you're multi-purposing gear. Rounding off the sharp corners of the MH bags is a good idea, too.

Lasagna seems about the messiest in my experience too - that cheese is certainly sticky. I tried washing out a few MH bags after rehydrating in them and it was more trouble than it was worth for me. I'd either just use a clean one (repackaged but not used for rehydration) or reuse a bag from a particular meal with the least grease/sticky left-overs.

Edited by AaronMB on 04/08/2011 08:36:03 MDT.

Don Amundson
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
"Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice" on 04/08/2011 12:39:41 MDT Print View

I tried the vacuum sealing route and found it to be a less than ideal solution. It created a bunch of hard rocks in my pack/bear canister and wasted a lot of space. It does work great for things like my emergency 5 matches and mini bic lighter.

I repackaged everything in plastic bags, one meal per bag. At first I used freezer bags and then regular bags (if your worried about health related to plastic bags stop here). I started weighing bags and was amazed at how much it added up to, especially if your carrying 5-7 days of food for a long trip.

To eliminate air I put a pin hole in the top area of the bag. To rehydrate I pull out a bag add hot water zip-the-loc and put it in a cozy. I've never had problems with water leaking out of the air hole. Meal done, clean your spoon, put the plastic bag in your master trash container.

I doubt you'll save weight using vacuum sealing but could do the math to see.

A friend of mine uses MH pro-packs and beats them with a hammer to reduce bulk. Not something I've tried.

Good luck.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: "Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice" on 04/08/2011 23:29:29 MDT Print View

I did some research and an experiment regarding repackaging MH style meals today. Here is what I came up with.

1. Vacuum sealed bags with dehydrated food in them become "bricks" and do not pack well.

2. I should store the MH style meal in its original foil bag until right before I leave for my hike and then repackage it to save weight and space.

3. I took a freezer style Zip Loc brand name bag and added boiling water to the bag, purged out the air and sealed the bag. The results were no melted bag and no leaking water.

4. I need a MYOG cozy to sit the Zip Locs in when re-hydrating my repackaged MH style meals.

I plan to repackage in Zip Locs, mark the required ounces of water on the outside of the bags and re-hydrate in the Zip Loc itself. After a meal this will only leave me with a spoon to clean up and a Zip Loc to pack out.

Party On,


Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Repackaging on 04/08/2011 23:42:48 MDT Print View

I take the MH and dump it into a quart size freezer bag, brand name, not the dollar store generic ones. I then cut the instructions off the MH bag and place them in with the food, or you can right them on the outside of the bag, I've done both. After I have the food in the zip lock quart size bag, I hold up the bag, making sure all the food is at the bottom, once that is done, I zip the bag almost all the way closed, except for about 1/16 of an inch, so air can escape, I lay the bag on the counter, and role it up towards the zip lock, when you get to the top, all tha air should be out, and you can finish zipping the bag closed, after that, role it back out , and move the food around so it lays flat, if done correctly it should look like it was vacummed sealed. I do this when I go for 3 or more days, you can really pack a lot of food in a bear canister this way, and discarding the MH bags saves more weight than you think, not to mention the bulk that they present when packing. When it's time to eat, I just boil water, and put it in the zip lock bag, and then into my cozy, haven't had a problem yet, after I'm done eating I put the zip lock in my trash bag, done!

Edited by jumpbackjack on 04/08/2011 23:44:21 MDT.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice on 04/09/2011 00:17:09 MDT Print View

Just save one of your Mountain House empty, stand-up pouches to use as a cozy. Stand the pouch up, slip in the freezer bag with food, close top up, and eat out of the bag when ready...easy-peasy. If for one of the very rare times your bag springs a leak, the pouch catches any moisture.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Sort-of MH Meals on 04/09/2011 06:40:45 MDT Print View

Two weeks ago I packed up all of my dinners for my PCT trip. Many of them were knock off MH meals. I used Hamburger Helper, Nido and Dehydrated Ground Beef (in #10 cans.) I packaged each meal up in a ZIPLOCK freezer bag and also placed an oxygen scavenger in each bag to keep it fresh. The oxygen scavengers made sense in my case where I was doing 75 dinners, in one day and need to keep them for months.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice on 04/09/2011 09:44:32 MDT Print View

I just can't help myself. I'm a MYOG kind of guy. I had to make just one minimalist style cozy for my repackaged MH style meals.

I used some leftover soft tyvek for the inside and outside "pouches" and some leftover fleece in-between the pouches for some sort of an R value of insulation.

Cozy outside 1

Using the leftover scraps from other projects made it basically free.

Cozy outside 2

Hopefully it will keep the warm side warm and the cool side cool, my hand.;-)

Cozy inside

It is sized to fit a brand name Zip Loc, quart sized, freezer bag. I put it on my digital scale and it topped out at .8 oz.

I decorated it with a self portrait and all of the pertinent information required for proper listing and labeling. LOL ;-)

Thank you to all who posted their advice and experience on this thread.

Party On,


Edited by Newton on 04/09/2011 10:25:14 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice" on 04/09/2011 10:18:43 MDT Print View

I alternate between the freezer baggie method as well as cooking food in my pot, both work just fine, the former being the cleanest option- cleanliness being a relatively low priority. If using the freezer bag method I just pig out, lick my spoon, and throw the ziplock into my trash bag. When using a pot, I'll just dig out as much food debris with my spoon, then "cleanup" with a bandana. I usually repackage all my rehydrated food into small ziplock packages to cut down on both weight and bulk- I'll write down the cooking instructions with a Sharpie on the outside- many of these ziplock packs I'll save and reuse on a later trip if they make it out in one piece. I'm considering switching to small paper lunch sacks for storing dry food to cut down on trash while on the trail- wood burning stoves are my thing and the paper sack could be easily disposed of in the fire to cut down on waste.

As far as storing my repackaged food for a multi-day trip, I've found that organizing food and snacks by day and wrapping those into compact bundles with a little Cling Wrap and labeling with a Sharpie which day they're designated for helps me not overeat or eat to little on a trip, each day has a daily ration that I stick to- 16-24oz. is sufficient caloric wise for a full day on the trail for me if I'm deliberate in my food packing.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: "Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice" on 04/09/2011 10:36:55 MDT Print View


"I'm considering switching to small paper lunch sacks for storing dry food to cut down on trash while on the trail- wood burning stoves are my thing and the paper sack could be easily disposed of in the fire to cut down on waste".

Cool multi use way to lighten the load as your hike progresses.

BTW Sweet new avatar.

Party On,


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice on 04/09/2011 15:45:53 MDT Print View

John, you could cut the weight in half by not using fleece but rather using the material we use in our commercial cozies - which is Insul Bright. IB breathes as well and you don't need and inner layer of fabric - it is washable.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: Re: Repackaging Freeze Dried / Dehydrated Meals,Technique & Practice on 04/09/2011 16:19:30 MDT Print View


"...cut the weight in half by not using fleece but rather using the material we use in our commercial cozies - which is Insul Bright".

You have my head spinning around in circles. Will I notice .4 of an ounce? But the little voice in my head keeps whispering it is lighter, lighter! But mine was essentially free and its finished! But Hancock Fabrics has Insul Bright and they're only a half a mile from my house! They're open until 6:pm! It's only 5:14 pm, I can make it!

LOL Thanks for sharing the information on your cozies with me. ;-)

Enjoy your precious little one that's eating up so much of your sewing time. They grow up much too quickly. Savor every moment!

Thanks again.

Party On,


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Always love to enable on 04/09/2011 21:31:46 MDT Print View


I gotta say I love the Sharpie drawings though ;-)

Little one is keeping me busy - he is walking now :-D

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
Re: Repackaging on 04/26/2011 10:01:39 MDT Print View

@Jack: freeze dried meals don't have "instructions" beyond adding the proper amount of boiling water for the proper amount of time. All I do is write what it is, how much water, and for how long to let it sit on the outside of a bag in sharpie. Easier, less time consuming, and lighter than cutting out and pasting from the actual bag.

IE (Wild West Chili 1 1/3 cup H2O, 13 min) I even abbreviate for WWC (less letters, less weight!)

Cassie Thomas
(Kesugi) - F

Locale: Anchorage
I repack MH etc. food, add my own ingredients, and use an ensolite cosy on 05/16/2011 17:39:07 MDT Print View

It's usually cool enough here on the Last Frontier that we need good insulation to keep freezer bags hot while our food "cooks," so I use a homemade ensolite cosy. Quite light, waterproof/non-absorbant, and my Ti pot fits neatly inside for packing.

I like to jazz up the commercial freeze-dried food, in part to improve nutrition and flavor, and also because I can't stand the unpalatible amount of salt all commercial manufacturers use. Also, the "serves two" sizes do not actually make two meals, even for my lightweight (108 lbs) low metabolism (= old). I find that if I add some home dehydrated brown rice, quinoa, beans, angel hair, mushrooms, and/or veggies (e.g. broccoli or zucchini), and maybe some dried nonfat milk, I can make the MH meals big enough to constitute a full meal.

I never bring the original packaging on a trip. Too bulky. Fires are not feasible above tree line (most AK trips are on alpine or arctic tundra) and the less trash I generate, the easier it is to fit it back into the bear resistant container.

Best shape for full freezer bags is as flat as you can get them. Who cares if the contents get crushed? Not me.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
I'm like others on 05/21/2011 20:37:28 MDT Print View

Either Ramen or MH meals repacked into freezer bags, which are a bit heavier plastic but can handle hot or boiling water. So, I add water, put in cozy, eat in ten or so minutes. Clean up my spoon and pack out the bag. Fast-n-easy. Back to having fun. Heres a photo of my cozy. It's a Trail Designs cozy from a Keg-H. Works great.

Edit: it also has a lid - not shown, so the rehydration process speeds along. The FB bags I use are about 7" wide and 8" long. I just get the generic store brand. No need to pay more for name brand.

Cozy in action.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 05/21/2011 20:40:45 MDT.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: I'm like others on 06/13/2011 14:24:35 MDT Print View

Do you guys really find it necessary to use cozies? I've never used one and haven't had much of a problem at all (even at altitude in coldish weather).

I also agree that the portion sizes are miniscule. I find that I need to eat a full 2-serving package per night (600+ calories). I find it humerous that they (Backpacker's Pantry) can call a 230 calorie meal (Mashed Potatoes & Gravy with Beef) as 1-serving, while at the same time, they can also call a 400 calorie meal 1-serving (Santa Fe Chicken).

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Portions are undersized on 06/13/2011 18:52:16 MDT Print View

I'm a small guy and eat fairly small portions. But the MH meals are just small. I need a meal for two people. It is not hard to finish that portion. But for me it is enough. I could see bigger people with larger appetites wanting to eat one and a half or two portions. Course, that would take up allot of room in the pack or canister.