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Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream
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Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream on 09/27/2012 14:56:56 MDT Print View

I've got one or more "vegetarian" Scouts who aren't vegan but really don't want to eat meat, although they do want to come backpacking with us. Before we get to really cool ideas about home-assembled foods, I am seeking advice and input I can forward onto the boys about commercially-available backpacking food that's meatless.

If you've eaten them, which meatless freeze-dried or dehydrated meals of the sort one might buy at Walmart or REI have you liked/disliked? Of particular interest are the "dinner entree" type foods.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream on 09/27/2012 15:09:30 MDT Print View

The MH vegetarian meals are just as bad as the meat ones. At least that is my view. If a kid isn't used to more "natural" flavors or ethnic they may not like Mary Janes. Backpacker's Pantry is edible. They have decent choices.

One needn't eat meat to backpack.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: Re: Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream on 09/27/2012 15:21:46 MDT Print View

My entry-level Scouts (and I) still enjoy certain MH meals, some of which the guys only get to eat on-trail (so they crave it), such as Beef Stroganoff, Chili Mac, Beef Stew and Chicken w/Potatoes. Now, each of those get "seasoned" before we leave, and I have to admit they're pretty good for dried food. Considering that at least one guy, and possibly more, in the Patrol will have to forego such delicacies in order to share meals with the vegetarian(s), I'm looking for suggestions regarding meatless alternatives that will taste good.

The context here is that first-timers and other such newbies WANT to use the prepared foods they see at REI and I'm okay with that. It's their call and I'm just looking for beta to assist them with ideas for the vegetarians to use in selling meal ideas to their brethren.

Don't even get me started on what a PITA it is to go nut-free.

Tyler Fisher

Locale: northern california
Re: Re: Re: Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream on 09/27/2012 17:20:17 MDT Print View

I like the pasta primavera from MH. I usually bring one or two on each trip to have the first one or two nights. The other nights I bring my own fbc meals, but I really like the pasta primavera and would eat it every night if it wasn't heavier, bulkier and more expensive than other options. They make an Indian meal and a meatless lasagna that I would not recommend.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Mary Janes on 09/27/2012 18:18:10 MDT Print View

Some REIs carry Mary Janes Farm brand of foods - the Mac and Cheese was pretty good if I recall. None of it is inexpensive. REI carries 5 vegetarian entree online.

Edited by dirk9827 on 09/27/2012 18:26:45 MDT.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Eater Reviews of Vegetarian Offerings ... For Scouts on 09/27/2012 18:44:35 MDT Print View

To the OP, how long are you out for? and are you able/willing to use multiple pots or even a frying pan.

If you are talking about one or two nights on the trail, I have been with groups that have used the veggie soups and the vegetarian entrees from Mary Janes. (They are cheaper mail order than in REI and you can also buy in bulk)

For example, some of the pasta dishes can be cooked and served as is. For the meat eaters, you grill a pre cooked sausage like Aidels, slice it up, and add to the dishes at serving time. Olive oil, butter, cream, or fresh herbs can be added to improve the flavor. If out for longer, foil packed chicken or foil packed fish can be used. That way everyone is sharing the same basic food.

I have found Mary Janes dishes to be average to excellent. In contrast some of the MH and Backcountry Pantry meals can be tasteless.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain on 09/27/2012 19:15:02 MDT Print View

MH Pasta Primavera: big +1. I'm not a vegetarian but this is by far my favorite MH meal. I've found that the "meat" in other freeze dried meals is really just bits of unsatisfying, unidentifiable chunks. The Pasta Primavera is delightful. It doesn't try to do the impossible: that is, make a freeze-dried meal into something that it can't be, like a decent Thai-curry chicken. No, simple is best and freeze-dried meals do vegetables and pasta or potatoes best. While backpacking I eat beef jerky or salmon jerky for my actual protein. I doubt that the "meat" in freeze dried meals has a lot of nutritional value. But that's just a hunch; I may be wrong.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
MH Pasta Primavera add ins on 09/27/2012 19:25:18 MDT Print View

I find you can sometimes improve a MH meal with a few add-ins. For instance, MH Pasta Primavera improves a lot with the addition of some toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan cheese. The MH Spaghetti dinner also benefits from the addition of some grated parmesan cheese.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream on 09/28/2012 09:47:58 MDT Print View

Then take them to REI or similar for a "field trip". Let them look at packages. Seriously! Food has to be each person's responsibility. They need to look at packages, know what they like and figure out a food menu. Crazy I know, but it sets a theme for life. Frankly, after doing a number of BS presentations the overall thing I took away was how many of the young men had never cooked ANYTHING in their lives and had no concept where food came from - besides Mom and the refrigerator.

At one, I had a Mom come up to me and whisper "He has never cooked ANYTHING before! Thank you!" and geez.....all I had done was show them how to bag up food and pour water in ;-)

And if one loves looking at food/shopping/cooking going nut-free isn't hard. Really.

A field trip to the grocery store is also an excellent outing.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: Re: Eater Reviews of "vegetarian" offerings from Mountain House or other mainstream on 09/28/2012 15:44:56 MDT Print View

Whoa, hold on there. We're still requiring the mothers to come, boil the water, pour into the bags, feed the boys and tuck them into bed. I mean, c'mon! Be reasonable! Do the crime, do the time, mama!

Ho ho.

Yeah, I don't find that looking at bright, shiny packages is more effective for shopping than getting advice from folks who've tried the food before. In terms of the "meated" meals and one or two of the vegetarian offerings, I have personally tried many of them and I'm able to describe them in terms understandable to the youths' palate. (I may look old like you folks, but it's a facade!) However, I haven't really tried many of the no-meat options and so I'm putting out feelers for folks that maybe have. Since I've got one or two Scouts who've taken enough autonomy to decide to go Vegetarian, but who have to "sell" their diet to others in their patrol, I'm willing to ask around and get them some advice regarding what might be good options. I've gotten a few nuggets in this thread and another, so thanks folks --keep'em coming.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Nut-free on 10/01/2012 16:52:58 MDT Print View

"Don't even get me started on what a PITA it is to go nut-free."

I'm a wahine, but I agree, nobody should have to be neutered to get to go on a BP trip. :)

Edited by veganaloha on 10/01/2012 16:54:25 MDT.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: Nut-free on 10/01/2012 23:09:01 MDT Print View

Ha ha ha...and now I sound like Roger Rabbit!

This weekend, I had a chance to see/taste some lentil products purchased from Costco and the Backpackers' Pantry "red beans and rice", each of which were good! I have some more ideas for my vegetarians... and a sinister plan to meat-up those red beans and haul in some Louisiana hot sauce for us!

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Veg or Vegan on 10/02/2012 13:10:20 MDT Print View


all in fun...

I totally understadn trying the prepackaged foods because it's probably a fun treat for the kids and I applaud you for working to make the vegetarian kids feel welcome and included rahter than just making funof them like a lot of adults would do.

Here's a few more ideas. I really don't buy a lot of the prepackaged meals (MH. BP, Knoor sides) becasue I find them expensive and loaded with salt and preservatives, but there are a few good alternatives out there.

Someone shared a Mary janes Outpost meal with me that was vegan and I really liked it. It was the Ginger pasta meal. Also, if you're looking for some ramen-type noodles, I like the Thai Kitchen rice noodle ones. They come in a variety of flavors, all are vegetarian and a few are vegan. Also, if you like the wheat flour noodle ramen, a good choice is the Koyo brand. I really like the ginger lemongrass and the miso tofu ones. They are organic and also come in a good variety to please differnt palates. these can be found in and health food store, the Thai Kitchen is also in many major grocery stores. The market at Tuolome meadows in YNP even had them.

You can also get tofu in sealed 10-12 oz. packages that don't need to be refrigerated, which comes in the differnt firmness options, so you can always add it to any other meal your making as a vegetarian protein source. It's a little heavey because it's not dehydrated, but it's a nice treat to have fresh tofu on the trail adn it's very versatile.

have fun!