Food Finds · Trail Cooking

Commercial Meal Review: Simple Sensations by Mountain House

As the long time readers of Trailcooking well know….I don’t have a love affair with the Mountain House brand. It was what drove me to developing hundreds and hundreds of recipes. For the first years of my backpacking I often had MH meals in my backpack, I ate them often 4 weekends a month. Then on a trip in the Olympic Mountains, below Marmot Pass I opened up a meal, something that was their take on Asian Fusion. And as I went to take the first bite I couldn’t eat it. The smell was so overwhelming I was repulsed. It turned out that meals soaked in what tastes and smells like vinegar might not be overly yummy when tired and dehydrated. I ended up going to bed without eating that night and hauled out that meal in my garbage bag. And for a very, very long time I never ate another meal from them. It was the mid 2000’s and new companies were coming out yearly. By the 2010’s it seemed Mountain House was the choice of young Boomers, even REI was finally carrying other, more innovative, brands. The taste and appearance of MH meals were very out of date by in the past few years. I didn’t want to eat meals that looked and smelled like Chef Boyardee©.

However, as I passed a display of the new Simply Sensations meals from Mountain House in a Safeway store this past week I considered trying Mountain House once again. It had been a long time I told myself. And most of why I didn’t like MH meals was missing in the Simple line. No soy protein, no artificial ingredients. An actual short ingredient list and wait for it….reasonable levels of sodium. I know. Color me shocked.

The modern packaging helps a bit I’d hedge as well. The downside is the calorie counts are not high (less than 300), but it is a true single serving with adequate protein.

I picked up the Italian Style Pepper Steak:

I thought it was OK, Kirk enjoyed it quite a bit. He said he’d eat this while hiking. I’d suggest you pair it with a cheesy roll picked up from a bakery on the way to the trail. And no, it doesn’t taste Like Chef Boy-O. High Fives to that. It has actual flavor.

Chicken Fajita Bowl:

A very flavorful dish, with a modern taste profile, it even has spiciness. I really enjoyed this dish. If served in tortillas as a burrito filling it would bump the calorie count to fill a man.

At $6 a bag, it is reasonably priced for a single serving freeze dried meal.


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