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pre-packaged high calorie per ounce freezer bag cooking
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
pre-packaged high calorie per ounce freezer bag cooking on 07/09/2011 22:02:22 MDT Print View

Hi all,

Due to some time constraints I'm looking for high calorie per ounce pre-packaged meals I can order. Any ideas? I do not want advice to dehydrate, or how to make my own.

Hawk Vittles look great (Edit, I was wrong, Hawk Vittles are actually a good cal/ounce)
Enertia looks good, but just a bit under the 1oz/125kcal I want.
Mountain house I hear bad reviews of.

AlpineAire looks the best thus far, albeit expensive.

Any recommendations? Again pre-pack and caloric density are my main concerns right now.

Edited by Trout on 07/11/2011 08:52:18 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: pre-packaged high calorie per ounce freezer bag cooking on 07/10/2011 10:25:16 MDT Print View

My advice?
Whatever you buy add at least a Tablespoon of olive oil to each meal. That will bump up the calories but also give you much needed fat.

IMO the issue with Mt. House is the meals are too saucy. Like weirdly saucy. You can easily add 1/2 cup dry veggies, pasta, rice, etc and there is still too much sauce! Yech.....

Also if you eat cheese I'd recommend adding shelf stable Parmesan cheese to a lot of the meals - adds flavor and calories. You can always add in bagels, tortillas, crackers, chips, etc for more calories.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: high calorie per oz on 07/10/2011 12:05:39 MDT Print View

I do what Sarah does. Not only does it boost the caloric density of whatever you're eating, but it also makes it taste much better. Who knew chili-flavored ramen slathered with olive oil could be so good.

Also take the time to look at individual meal items within the brands you check out. For example with Hawk Vittles, the lasagna, shrimp jambalaya, and linguini with mushroom sauce all average around 180 kcal/oz (pre-olive oil values) which is far better than most mountain house offerings. Hot italian sausage and pasta (highly recommended) is about 155 kcal/oz. Sierra Spaghetti about 150 kcal/oz.

(addendum- looking at the HV packaging, I just realized why you might have thought caloric density wasn't very high. When it lists a serving size as 18 oz, this is the reconstituted weight. None of the single servings dry weighs more than 6 oz or so, and all pack between 550 and 1100 kcal per meal. Even the less "dense" HV entrees are at least 125 kcal/oz which is comparable to MH. The actual dry weight is listed at the very bottom of each label, and you can save even more weight by repackaging in freezer bags.)

Disclaimer: I have no connection with Hawk Vittles. I just like their stuff.

Edited by Ike on 07/10/2011 12:21:23 MDT.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
food on 07/10/2011 12:28:34 MDT Print View

I'll definitely bring olive oil, thanks!

With Hawk Vittles, he lists nutrition info for the double meals, not the singles. A quote from an email response, "yes, the nutritional values listed are for double servings", he was saying he made them originally when double serving was the only size. So for the shrimp jambalaya 4.5oz (the single pack weight) gets you 400 calories, which is 88.9 cal/oz, rather poor! I'm sure the food is VERY good, it looks amazing, it's even very reasonably priced, but it's just not the caloric density I'm looking for. He did assure me that I'll feel full after a single serving, but personally I can't afford to undercut my calories during 20+ mile days.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Calories per serving on 07/10/2011 12:46:44 MDT Print View

Hi Michael,
A two serving pack should still list info "per serving" as the HV label seems to do. I wonder if there was some miscommunication in your conversation with William that might be worth revisiting.

Here is a picture of the newer labeling. This is from the italian sausage pasta and indicates a single serving in the package and 611 cal/serving.


Here's a comparison of Mountain House lasagna (2 serving) vs Hawk Vittles Spicy Chicken (1 serving). Similar size, calorie content, and packed weight. Note the fake orange cheese and powdery texture in the Mountain House meal though. I can tell you which one I enjoyed more on that 40 mile day.


FWIW, it doesn't matter to me what you eat, and my only hope is that you have a great time regardless. Just didn't want it out there that a cottage industry dehydrated (real) food was nutritionally inferior to Mountain House (powdered chemical food).

Edited by Ike on 07/10/2011 13:25:51 MDT.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
I love Mountain House. on 07/10/2011 13:28:27 MDT Print View

Not sure where the bad Mountain House reviews are from. I and all whom I've trekked with absolutely love them. Not like "pretty good for rehydrated", but properly delicious. I'm 6'5", 235lbs, and they fill me up after 20-30 mile days. The Turkey Tetrazzini is particularly awesome. Maybe people aren't preparing them well?

I find that letting them rehydrate for at least 2-3 times as long as recommended on the package makes them much better. The whole meal thickens, so the sauce is more hearty stew than soup. Also, rather than stir with a spoon or something after pouring the hot water in, I reseal the bag immediately and mush the bottom of the bag with my (insulated) hand for a minute or so and repeat every few minutes to get a more homogeneous mix than I can get with stirring, and also to prevent heat from escaping while stirring.

EDIT: The above may well apply to all dehydrated meals. Try it out.

Backpacker's Pantry, despite it's gorgeous package design, I've found unable to match Mountain House in most respects. That said, their Granola and Bananas with dehydrated milk is a delicious change of breakfast pace halfway through a 9 day trip.

I probably sound like a Mountain House shill, but reliably having a hot meal that good after trekking that far has made me a pretty enthusiastic customer.

I hadn't heard of Hawk Vittles before. I'll have to try them! What other well known cottage industry brands are their for dehydrated meals?

I second the oil recommendation, but I use seed rather than olive oils. I find the flavor more neutral. The last thing I want my morning oats to taste like is olives.

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 07/10/2011 13:37:00 MDT.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
food on 07/10/2011 14:02:39 MDT Print View

Hey Thanks Ike, that sealed my decision for sure. It must have been a miscommunication indeed! I appreciate you taking the time to clear that up for me.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: I love Mountain House. on 07/10/2011 14:27:56 MDT Print View

Bradley, my reason behind not liking MH and similar much is the heavy sodium. It just is too much and the flavors are that - salty - not spices and herbs and the food itself. I also am not a fan of stewy/thick sauced food. That is me though. Then again I am also not a fan of eating Chef Boyardee canned food and the MH spaghetti tastes JUST like that ;-)

I can't eat food with artificial coloring so that is also a big reason as well - many commercial meals have that in them to boost the appearance. As well they can contain nasty partially hydrogenated fats.

For companies if I eat commercial I would recommend Packitgourmet (although read them labels of course!) and Mary Janes. Of all commercial meals Mary Janes are the healthiest but that is due to much of the line being vegan friendly and nearly all are vegetarian.

Other good companies?

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: I love Mountain House on 07/10/2011 15:56:06 MDT Print View

I didn't mean to bash mountain house. The flavor is fine (I always liked the breakfast skillet and the chicken ala king and still bring these on trips.) Like Sarah, I object to the salt and to all the chemical additives. I started looking for alternatives after one particular trip. I had covered about 30 miles per day for 4 days straight eating MH for breakfast and dinner. Based on my activity level and calculated caloric intake, I estimated a 4-5 lb weight loss during the trip. When I got home, I was surprised to find that I actually had gained a pound. 2 days later, my weight dropped about 5 lb overnight. I assumed that it was the high sodium content that had led to water retention for a little while.

And then there's the flatulence...

Edited by Ike on 07/11/2011 09:10:23 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: I love Mountain House. on 07/10/2011 16:00:20 MDT Print View

Mountain House is the only kind of pre-made backpacking meal I've had, and I found it (I forget what flavors) really, REALLY salty. Processed food in general nearly always tastes overly salted to me, a side effect of using few processed ingredients in my own cooking (NOT judging, that's just how I learned to cook). I think if you're used to a higher amount of sodium they'd probably taste very good. It's too much for me, though. I'm happy to have found BPL and the many alternative recommendations, though I've yet to take a hike long enough to justify buying some.

Edited by spelt on 07/10/2011 16:02:24 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: I love Mountain House. on 07/10/2011 16:04:51 MDT Print View

I don't buy much Mountain House anymore, but I used to in the old days when there were few choices. Yes, it is a bit salty. However, I would cut that down by thinning the portion with instant rice or instant noodles.

In hot weather, I sweat a lot, so there is a lot of salt lost for me. I figure it doesn't hurt me to get a _little_ extra dose of salt in my backpacking meals, although I would not want to make a practice out of it.


Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Valid critiques on 07/10/2011 16:18:51 MDT Print View

Those are fair points. All I bother checking on my trail meals is caloric density, all further judgment is left to my taste buds.

Kind of odd, considering how regimented my diet is at home.

On the trail I'm all Perpetuem, bars, gels, and electrolytes. Gorp and Jerky to mix it up for lunch. When I finally pitch camp, comfort food with quantity and convenience is all I'm after. Mountain House has always hit that button for me so far.

Glad to have found out about these cottage meal companies. I'll certainly give them a shot.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
a on 07/10/2011 16:21:38 MDT Print View


Edited by asdzxc57 on 01/25/2012 17:54:48 MST.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Hawk Vittles. on 07/10/2011 16:57:12 MDT Print View

Hawk Vittles is a regular on the Adirondack Forums ( ). I think he's a one man operation. If you need modifications of his products, just ask.

For adding calories to many premade meals, just add cheese or olive oil.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Hawk Vittles on 07/11/2011 08:53:23 MDT Print View

"Maybe I'm confusing you more then helping you. I just looked at what I had replied before and it was incorrect.
The nutritional information listed on the website and meals should be for a single serving."

So it turns out that they are for single servings.

I can't wait, I just bought a ton of Hawk's Vittles =)

Edited by Trout on 07/11/2011 09:21:32 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
MH meals on 07/24/2011 19:17:23 MDT Print View

Let's see if you STILL like MH meals when you are in your sixties. MH meals are WAAAY overloaded with sodium.

It's FB cooking for me.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
pre-packaged high calorie per ounce freezer bag cooking on 07/24/2011 20:46:20 MDT Print View

I have found I like Mountain House's flavor better than all of the others I have tried. I repackage them in a freezer bag, but dump the entire contents in a bowl first and 'sift' the bigger stuff for use in my freezer bag and discard about 1/2 - 2/3 of the powdery, sodium filled powder. It still tastes good and I get rid of the overall 'soupy' nature and some sodium. I have no way of telling how much sodium is removed this way, but it is noticeable. You can still add olive oil as well for extra calories, ect. I soak mine at least 2 minutes longer than the package recommends.

Top 5 MH, ( IMO ): Beef Stroganoff, Rice Pilaf, Pasta Primavera, Turkey Tetrazinni, Cheesy Mashed Pot. with Brocolli.

Edited by rp3957 on 07/24/2011 20:47:14 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: MH meals on 07/25/2011 09:46:53 MDT Print View

One thing I have worked on the past couple years is to make DIY versions of popular commercial meals - but where they taste a LOT better, are not soupy and can be made organic if desired.
That couscous was a good example of one of my re-do's. And trust me, it tasted many many times better!!