Christmas Day 2017, approximately 4pm PST.
I was in Bend, Oregon on a solo Christmas soul quest, and I had just finished snowshoeing 10 miles around Swampy Lake. Dusk enveloped me as I stripped layer after layer off and loaded my gear back into my rented car. I sat for a while watching the stars slowly twinkle into existence in the night sky; my stomach growling woke me from my reverie and I blasted the heat to shake off the chill.
I was happy and content, but I was also cold, hungry, and tired. A good day out exploring mostly desolate trails and fresh snow. I won't recount the 3+ hours I spent driving around in circles in Bend trying to find something, anything, that was open for food. I hadn't expected absolutely every single grocery store, pizza shop, and chinese takeout to be closed. This was something I should have planned for, but hadn't.
Embarrassingly enough, this wasn't the first time I'd found myself in this predicament. Only a few months before I had flown to Iceland for a backpacking trip; I hadn't prepared for the plane to be so delayed, so when I finally arrived in Reykjavik, no shops were open to grab a bite to eat. I have story after story of this situation, which is why after a hungry Christmas in Bend, I decided enough was enough, I would always bring freeze-dried meals with me as nothing spoils a good day adventuring like hunger.
Over the past year and a half, and many other travel adventures, my freeze-dried meals have become a staple in my pack or at home in my pantry. The benefits of having a nutritious, ready to eat meal on hand are numerous! Boiling water can be found or made super fast which allows you to have a filling, delicious meal by just adding water. And in the case where you can't find boiling water, regular water will rehydrate your meal too, just at a slower pace. Freeze-dried foods are versatile and easy to store due to their long shelf life, making them the perfect meal to bring with you because even if you don't wind up eating it, you can put it back in your pantry and save for your next trip. Try that with a sandwich or yogurt! Ready to eat meals save you time, save you from hunger, and are usually cheaper than takeout.
In honor of getting older and wiser and learning from your mistakes, here are 5 situations I found myself in this year where dried food saved myself from a night of hunger!
I seriously hate backpacking, snowshoeing, day hiking (you name it) with a sandwich. Nothing turns my stomach as quickly as soggy bread. Yuck!!
I love snowshoeing, and it's one activity that always makes me miss New England winters. So when my dog and I had the opportunity to take an impromptu holiday trip to Redding, California, to snowshoe in Lassen National Forest, I quite literally jumped on it!
Since I hate soggy sandwiches and I knew I would be out each day for at least 5 to 6 hours playing in the snow, I made sure to bring some dried meals with me! Each day before hitting the trail, I stopped at a gas station, poured my dried meal into my thermos, and filled my thermos with hot water from the coffee/tea bar. My thermos keeps my meal warm for hours, so I was able to play in the snow AND have a hot meal when I stopped to take a break. Best of both worlds!!
Not as fun or glamorous as outdoor adventures, but a very real problem that plagues us throughout the year - getting sick! If you're like me, nothing makes you feel better than home made soup. The problem is, unless you've made soup recently and placed it in the freezer (taking up valuable freezer space no less), then you're out of luck.
Or maybe not!
Freeze-dried soup to the rescue! I always keep dried chicken stock in my pantry so that I can have great tasting broth at a moment's notice. When a head cold took me down for a few days, I knew that I could have my home made chicken soup without having to put in much effort. I peeled myself off the couch, put some water up to boil, and raided my pantry for dried carrots, dried onion, dried celery, dried lemon, dried chicken, and dried rice. I seasoned with dried thyme, salt, pepper, and my own dried chicken stock. Within 15 minutes, I had a pot of soup that was ready to eat.
The most traditional reason to bring freeze-dried food with you - backpacking! I traveled through Yellowstone for the first time ever last year and had fantastic adventures! During my stay there, my group went on a 3 day 2 night backpacking excursion. It was originally going to be 4 day 3 nights, but man oh man were those mosquitoes fierce! I have never cut a trip short before this, and next time I'm in the backcountry of Yellowstone, I will be bringing heavy duty bug spray and potentially some bug screens as well. After the trip, I tried describing the mosquito fog that hung over us to friends, but the story sounded too ridiculous to believe. Truly, every square centimeter was covered in mosquitoes and the few times we passed people on the trail, they literally had a black cloud hovering around them. I was horrified when I realized that what those people looked like were also what we looked like. I have never experienced mosquito's like that before!
Having a warm lunch and dinner throughout this was vital for spirits. When we settled for camp, we boiled water and made our dinner, and we also prepared lunch for the next day in advance by making it in the thermos. No way were we stopping midday to make lunch and combat those buggos!
One of the best things about friendship is the spontaneous summer night adventures. That call comes in on Friday afternoon saying I have an itch to sleep outside tonight, you in? To which you, of course, respond with Heeeeeell Yeeeeesss!!!
For me, by the time Friday rolls around my fridge looks like a barren wasteland. One measly carrot, one or two eggs, maybe a bagel. That's it. And if I'm going camping that night and I didn't buy groceries in advance, the likelihood of me going to the store between work and hitting the road is slim to none. Dried food to save the day, once again!
Those are my stories from this past year of where freeze-dried meals either saved me from hunger, saved me time and money, or simply, as most food is, was a good pick me up. The reason I love dried food so much is that it keeps up with my busy life. I'm always on the go, and so I need food that has a long shelf life, durable, and can come on the go with me. Ready to eat meals are my solution! I can find hot water almost anywhere (seriously gas stations are the best for this) or I can make hot water at home, in a campsite, at a pit stop by the side of the road. Ready to eat meals allow me to be ready on the go.
Bushka's Kitchen provides ready-to-eat, lightweight food for every type of busy lifestyle, whether that's backpacking, traveling, parenting, or just plain ol' business. Browse our nutritious, gourmet food and stock up for your busy life!
If you’re applying for the Pacific Crest Trail permit lottery or already have your permit issued, then congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards the adventure of a lifetime!
For many, food is the largest source of anxiety when planning a long-distance backpacking trip. Read our resupply guide for more information on successfully planning your food for the PCT.
As a fellow backpacker, athlete, or active outdoorsy person, you know how vital the right food is to your success — especially when you’re on the trail or on the go.
The problem is finding time to source, cook, and pack food that’s lightweight, tastes great and is actually good for your body (the holy trinity of backpacking food!)