Why You Should Always Travel with Freeze-Dried, Ready To Eat Meals

why to bring dehydrated ready to eat meals on trip

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.

cascade mountains forest oregon snowshoeing
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.

dehydrated components ingredients just add water gourmet
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!

Roadtripping to Joshua Tree & Getting Lost

joshua tree roadtrip road trip dog dehydrated food

My dog and I went on a 6,000 mile road trip, starting in San Francisco and making our way to Austin TX and back. If you're saying to yourself, that's not 6,000 miles, you'd be right! Almost every day, she and I intentionally got lost to see as much as we could or detoured out of our way to hit a different national or regional park.

Except, one day we really did get lost... Driving from Pismo Beach to Joshua Tree, I had made the executive decision to reroute through the San Bernardino Mountains to stretch our legs. Lack of cell phone service and a general ineptitude at navigating highways, I spent several hours trying to find the trailhead that I had selected and that I refused to give up on.

Sadly, this resulted in us getting to Joshua Tree at around 1am and every single campground was full. I was starving and tired and out of gas, so I turned back into Twentynine Palms and refueled the car. I was in desperate need for fuel myself too!

Fortunately, I found the only room in town (under 50 bucks at least) that would take my dog and I, and within minutes of settling into our motel, I was boiling water in their coffee maker and adding dried chicken, dried corn, dried jalapenos, dried quinoa, and more. I had a whole box of dried ingredients in my car to test new meal ideas out! As my dog and I settled onto the bed, I happily stuffed my face with my Italianized Mexican meal and promptly fell asleep.

Snowshoeing in Lassen National Forest

snowshoe adventure with dog in california

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!!

Suffering from a Nasty Head Cold

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.

dehydrated chicken soup at home ready to eat when sick
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.

Backpacking in Yellowstone

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!
backpacking yellowstone dehydrated food
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!

backpacking with friends yellowstone national park ready to eat food

Spontaneous Camping Trip with Friends

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!

tahoe camping
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!

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