On my page ‘What’s For Dinner? Tried and True Comfort Foods Adapted for Lightweight Backpacking’ I share several trail-tested dinner recipes that my family loves to eat at home and are easy to dehydrate and rehydrate for the trail.
But this may still be more difficult and time consuming than some people want to bite off. Maybe you have a job with long hours, maybe you’re a busy mom, maybe you’re a student, maybe you just don’t like to cook! That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with Mountain House meals on the trail!
You can adapt many different take-home and frozen meals from the grocery store or your favorite restaurant to dehydrate and rehydrate as wonderful tasty trail dinner alternatives! Think leftovers from that great pasta or Mexican Food dinner at a nearby restaurant! Think a takeout burrito bowl from Q’Doba! Think your favorite casserole from the dinner bar at Whole Foods! Think a frozen lasagna or superfood pilaf from the freezer case at Trader Joe’s! The main principle: they need to be chopped into uniform small (1/4 inch or smaller) pieces after they’ve been fully cooked or reheated to at least 180 degrees, measured into servings (I usually use 1.5-2C of food before dehydrating as a serving size), then spread thinly (1/2 inch thick) onto the tray of a basic dehydrator and dried until they are crispy-crumbly – usually overnight. When you get up in the morning, test for dryness and put it back in the dehydrator if it’s not done (no harm to dehydrating longer than needed). Once it meets the ‘crispy-crumbly’ test, let it cool on the counter and put each serving of the dried meal (or two servings if you’re going to be feeding two on the trail) into a zip-loc freezer bag. The fully dried food can keep safely in a bin in a cool garage, or in the freezer, usually for 3-6 months!
Experiment before you go out. I have found that the dehydrated-then-rehydrated meals taste just as good on the trail as the original food did!