Food Finds · Trail Cooking

Commercial Meal Review: Thrive Life Cheesy Chicken

A few weeks ago Thrive Life announced a new line of products. Meals ready to go, with a 20 year shelf life. And as I saw the first photos I was smiling – these were backpacking meals! Big, huge backpacking meals, with both meat and vegetarian options.

The first 2 meals went up for sale last week and I was right on it to get them, and get them reviewed. With 5 more coming soon.

Weighing in at under 9 ounces, Cheesy Chicken meal will actually serve 2 really hungry hikers. Fully. After years of buying anemic freeze-dried meals to review here, this was refreshing. The pouch was BIG. And full. Because anyone who has eaten a lot of hiker meals knows that “2 servings” means 1 normal hungry hiker to get enough calories/protein.

Low tide at the beach encouraged one’s appetite. Fresh air and sun really go far.

The amount dry food was nearly to the top. And it has veggies and a lot of meat in the pouch.

As you can see this meal was packaged only a short while ago, and it was good for nearly 20 years still.

The nutritional stats for the package. It makes a LOT. A mom with 2 children could easily make it serve 3 people, or 2 hungry adults. The sodium is in acceptable ranges, and it’s low in sugar as well. And packed with protein from the chicken. No fake colorings in that ingredient list. It’s an actual meal with normal ingredients.

My view while cooking…..not too shabby I’d like to think as I looked across at the Olympic Mountains and the city of Edmonds on the main land.

While it doesn’t list “bag prep” on the back, I opened the pouch up, pulled out the oxygen packet, discarded it and added in the 2¼ cups boiling water called for. A good stir with a long handled spoon, seal the bag and ignore for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir well and dish up (or as we do….cut the top half of the bag off and eat out of the pouch. The mylar bags are the same as other brands use.

Everything rehydrated perfectly besides the green beans. At 10 minutes they needed a minute or two more. But it was totally fine for eating. That fresh air and exercise always make it so much better anyways.

These are not necessarily cheap, with the price ranging from $16.18 to $19.03, but you get what you pay for when it comes to freeze-dried meals. And I feel this meal is actually worth that price. Because as I mentioned earlier, this will fill you up. You won’t each need to buy a meal to feel full.

For example, a similar type of rice and chicken dish, from Mountain House, is $10.25. It only serves 2 people (2 cups prepared, so a third smaller than the Thrive Life). Mountain House’s version is also quite higher in sodium. And frankly, MH’s quality isn’t exactly high.

Or Peak Refuel’s chicken and rice dish, which is 2 servings and is considerably smaller, which is $13.99 a pouch. And it really serves 1 person. (I reviewed this meal back in 2021, found it small and salty)

The Takeaway:

I would buy this again. Even at the higher price point of $16.18 per meal. It will fill you up, and it’s got great cheesy flavor. I love mushrooms however, so that might be fighting words for some of you 😉 But for me it was creamy cheesy comfort food.


FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that give us commissions on products purchased. These items are what we used in the recipes. This includes both Amazon and Thrive Life. All thoughts and opinions are ours.

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