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Mountain House Beef Stew -- not impressed
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Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Mountain House Beef Stew -- not impressed on 10/01/2012 12:41:16 MDT Print View

It's been, like, 20 years since I've purchased a commercial backpacking meal, preferring to create my own. But this past weekend my son and I went on a two-night backpacking trip in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness (Oregon, USA) and agreed that each would contribute a dinner and breakfast.

Three of those meals were delicious.

But since I had little time for preparation, I decided to take a flyer on a store-bought meal and selected the Beef Stew from the House of Mountain.

I confess that I had hopes that companies like Mountain House had made great strides in palatability in the 20 years since I last bought a commercial backpacking meal.

Alas, I was wrong. This dish tasted of chemicals, it was not very foodlike at all. The carrots tasted as awful as they always had, the beef was weird, the sauce . . . oh, the sauce! It had that creepy glisten typically found only with microwave meals, and never with real food.

Admittedly, it had the advantage of being much much lighter than the supermarket meals, but since I hike these days with no carbohydrates, I get plenty of energy from tins of sardines, nuts, jerky, summer sausages, tuna in oil in foil packets, etc., and I needed only one pound of food per day on an eight-day solo hike I took a couple weeks ago. Food weight is not a problem for me.

Which is a good thing because if I had to face meals like that Mountain House Beef Stew every night I'd probably take up archery or roller-skating.

* It was a short trip so we didn't concern ourselves with shaving ounces. For the two breakfasts we had: real eggs scrambled with rehydrated mushrooms and onions, cheese, olive oil, and bacon; and the other was corned beef hash sauted with Red Boat Fish Sauce [Google it] cheese, and corn tortillas with a side of salsa. The other dinner was instant potatoes, a wild onion found along trail, and fried low-sodium Spam. All three were quite tasty, though much more carby than I normally eat.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Mountain House Beef Stew -- not impressed on 10/01/2012 13:21:30 MDT Print View

Mountain house is pure rubbish, it makes McDonalds taste gourmet ;-)

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Then who's better? on 10/01/2012 13:30:16 MDT Print View

MH is indeed rubbish. It would be good to learn that commercial backpacking meals have improved during the two decades since I last tried them.

Who makes the good backpacking meals?

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Great Backpacking Meals on 10/01/2012 13:51:58 MDT Print View

I'll put in my plug here for Packit Gourmet. Some of my favorites are:
- Jumpstart Fruit Smoothies for breakfast
- Creamy Italian Polenta with Sausage for breakfast
- Austintacious Tortilla Soup
- Dottie's Chicken and Dumplings
- Tuscan Beef Stew over Polenta
- Zydeco Red Beans and Rice
I've actually never had anything from them that I didn't enjoy. The above are all made with just boiling water, but they have other options that require more than one pot.

Other people really like Hawk Vittles but I've never tried them.

There is an option for those of us who don't dehydrate their own...

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Heavy on the carbs, but thanks! on 10/01/2012 14:00:06 MDT Print View

Packit Gourmet is now on my list to use the next time I need to get a commercially-packaged meal. Thanks!

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Heavy on the carbs, but thanks! on 10/01/2012 14:07:06 MDT Print View

Pack IT gourmet is good, used them this weekend.

David K
(aviddk) - F

Locale: SW Oregon
All American Burger Wraps on 10/01/2012 14:07:55 MDT Print View

Try their All American Burger Wrap and the potato salad. The potato salad is our new favorite.

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
Another vote for Packit ourmet on 10/01/2012 14:16:30 MDT Print View

I also like the food offered by Packit Gourmet. I especially like their Kickin' Chicken Hot Wings Wrap (a good no cook option) and their Texas State Fair Chili. Jump-Start Fruit Smoothies have become a staple at breakfast when I'm on the trail. Their single serving meals are generous in size and I often have a hard time finishing the last few bites.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Mountain House Beef Stew -- not impressed on 10/01/2012 14:21:33 MDT Print View

"This dish tasted of chemicals, it was not very foodlike at all."

I assume you took out the chemical freshness packet before boiling.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Mountain House on 10/01/2012 14:35:39 MDT Print View

In my experience the MH beefstew is their worst tasting dish.

The turkey a la king is ok.

I personally prefer to augment Mary Janes dishes or bring something prepared at home. Mike Clelland has some good recipes in his book.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Mountain House on 10/01/2012 14:39:53 MDT Print View

In the past when I've been forced to use Mountain House meals, the only way that I could make them decent was to pour the boiling water over the food, then simmer it with some margarine or olive oil added. Putting back the slightly oily consistency was necessary. If the flavor is still off, add some soy sauce.


Mike Feldman

Locale: SE USA
Other's on 10/01/2012 14:59:16 MDT Print View

I have good luck w/Inertia Foods, and most of the Hawk Vittles. I like Hawk Vittles dinner entrees, for some reason didnt care on recent 9 day Sierra trip in CA, w/their breakfast entrees.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
I'm not /that/ simple! on 10/01/2012 15:16:50 MDT Print View

David wrote, "I assume you took out the chemical freshness packet before boiling."

LOL -- yeah, we did.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I'm not /that/ simple! on 10/01/2012 15:50:16 MDT Print View

"I assume you took out the chemical freshness packet before boiling."

I thought that was a flavor packet.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: I'm not /that/ simple! on 10/01/2012 17:20:47 MDT Print View

It might have given more taste if left in ;-)

There are few meals I'll eat - Packit is some of the few.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Taste ain't everything on 10/01/2012 17:35:21 MDT Print View

Sarah writes, "It might have given more taste if left in ;-)"

Well, lack of any savory flavor is just one of the faults with that meal. The slimy texture and creepily uniform bits of meat, carrots, and potatoes (at least I think those were potato chunks, they were white and flavorless -- but then none of the other bits had flavor except the carrots and they tasted terrible) lacked what it takes to trigger an appetite in me.

We both agreed it was a terrible meal.

If I have dissuaded anyone from purchasing that slop then my work here is done.

John Reichle
(mammoman) - M

Locale: NE AL
Real Food on 10/01/2012 19:17:18 MDT Print View

+1 to Packit Gourmet and Hawk Vittles. PG's fruit smoothies are a great high-cal breakfast side, as is their Jamaican Peanut Pooridge. They also have a lot of cold water prep lunches (Potato Samosas are my favorites) that do wonders to tortillas. And of course some tasty hot meals as well. Hawk Vittles has great dinner entrees, and some very filling hot breakfast meals.

I'm doing the Foothills Trail starting Saturday, and ALL of my meals will be from the above 2 companies. And I'm already looking forward to mealtime.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Yum yum on 10/01/2012 23:05:15 MDT Print View

On our August Trek, 6 of us ate the MH Beef Stew that had been slightly modified with about 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4tsp herbs and 1/4tsp brown gravy powder before the boiling water was added. The result was a richly-brothed mixture we all found to be tasty and good. So good that the Beef Stew and Chili Mac meals are now on the "let's get more of those" list as we're working up recipes to home-build some of the other meals we think can be done better by us.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
bp pantry on 10/01/2012 23:58:08 MDT Print View

Backpackerpantry is blows MTNhouse out of the water.

The kung pow chicken was very very good, easy to make and organic ingredients. A little more expensive though.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
MH Beef Stew on 10/02/2012 00:58:25 MDT Print View

At last...others who think this is an awful dish.

I unwisely took some on my JMT thru based on (what is IMO the very fine Beef Stroganoff as a guide). Instant (or not so) regret....never really reconsituted well, poor taste.

Happily altitude had squashed my appetite flat.