I was walking through the world’s smallest Wal-Mart (OK, I can’t prove that, but lord it is tiny. And old. And I remember when it was built….so long ago) the other week, and saw a side hanging area with small packets of freeze-dried food, in the hunting/outdoor section. I stopped to see what it was, and decided to get a couple packets to review, as it was a brand I hadn’t seen before.
Their selling point made me roll my eyes: SPECIAL-OPS GRADE NUTRITION!! Uh-huh. Ok. It’s freeze-dried food. But, if it is convenient and easy to grab, then carry on. What they tout is their meals have a blend of vitamins and minerals, that they feel will give you optimum nutrition. It’s SPECIAL-OPS GRADE NUTRITION after all! I am sure it lures in some guys to buy it. And if that makes them happy, they can live their best lives. But you might not be happy.
Nutrient Survival Singles. Each packet has a single serving of their meals. All were vegetarian. All had very reasonable levels of sodium per packet, and for such a tiny packet, the calorie count was high (260 to 340). The meals have BOTH soluble maize fiber and oat fiber added, which gives them a boost in the fiber department. I also noted two other fibers added as well. (There will be more on these ingredients below…) Feeding Your Freedom might cause….the distinct need for a privy hole. Just a warning.
And I am going to stop here and say this: I should have kept walking. But as I believe someone needs to try all these meals out, and save you, my faithful reader, from buying items you will be trying many miles in. No one needs to have questionable food, when you are starving, with nothing more to eat – and then you have to pack it out as garbage, on top of it all.
As I opened each packet up, and shook them into bowls, I noted something odd. I could NOT smell any of the main ingredients. There was just this odd smell to each packet. A flat smell. Slightly sweet. But not a food smell. This is very concerning. You should smell tomato in lasagna. You should smell cheese in mac and cheese. But nothing. I could not pick up anything.
My theory, and it’s my thoughts here – there is no smell due to the heavy use of oat fiber and maize fiber. I could be wrong, but that’s my theory. And no, it’s not my nose. I went and bought the boys cheeseburgers after this, and those smelled awesome.
But without having a good smell, it left me not wanting to make it. I get it, there are people out there who see food as calories/fuel and taste/aroma means nothing. I am not one of those people. I eat with my eyes and my sense of smell/taste. Most freeze-dried meals you can smell the ingredients (though some don’t, and those are the ones I don’t like).
The meals were not big in portion size, but for the price point (around $5) this was about right.
The meals were very powdery, so a point to pay attention to if it was windy when transferring the dry mix to a bowl or mug.
The meals are meant to be made in a bowl or mug, not in the packaging. Something to consider.
Breakfast can be a hard to deal with meal, as we have noted many times. This is a mix of freeze-dried cheddar cheese, eggs, potatoes and bell peppers. And so much fiber. Maize, oat AND flaxseed. None of which should ever be in a potato and egg scramble.
Dry mix. The white sticks are hashbrowns.
Homestyle Scramble. 290 calories. 16 grams fat. 380 mg sodium. 25 grams carbs. 12 grams protein. 6 grams fiber. 2 grams sugar (none added).
I added the called for ½ cup boiled water, stirred well and let rest covered for 6 minutes.
It was this odd, really thick, yet moist lump of food. It had no distinct smell of any of the ingredients. It was yellow. With no smell of the food that was in it, I could not get past that. Just a bland, slightly sweet perfumy smell.
Hearty Lasagna. 260 calories. 9 grams fat. 360 mg sodium. 34 grams carbs. 11 grams protein. 6 grams fiber. 9 grams sugar (none added).
Followed directions, adding the ½ cup boiled water, and I let it sit covered for 6 minutes.
Every lasagna I have ever tried for backcountry use smells of tomatoes. In some way. But again, the meal had no distinct smell. It had the same odd aroma. It’s thick, glutenous looking, and you really have to stir in the powder. Tomato powder is never an easy one to mix in, in any meal, no matter the brand. Don’t stir well, and you will have pockets of tomato powder.
Triple Cheese Mac.
Triple Cheese Mac. 340 calories. 21 grams fat. 27 grams carbs. 12 grams protein. 6 grams fiber. 3 grams sugar (none added).
I added the 1/3 cup called for boiled water, stirred well and covered for 6 minutes.
Mac and cheese should not be a meal you can mess up. The worst is it should remind you of Kraft Dinner. This couldn’t even get there. It was just odd. A very thick bowl of liquid with pasta that was a pale yellow color. And no aroma of cheese at all. Just that same odd smell. It contains maize fiber, oat fiber and a third fiber that doesn’t say where it comes from.
My Blunt Thoughts:
I would NOT buy these again. Not one of my children would try them. Even Koda, the purebred Golden Retriever/Trash Compactor wouldn’t touch ANY of the three meals. If a Golden Retriever says no, you listen. That dog knows if I mutter certain phrases, it means I dropped food. He’s the platoon leader of Meal Team 6. And he hid from me, and his sister wouldn’t even look at me.
There are only a handful of outdoor meals I have given the Do Not Buy “award” to. Those meals all got it for excessive salt/use of vinegar that left it inedible. I really do try to find something positive about every meal we review. But I could not find anything positive.
If you are going to buy commercial meals, they should be easy to make, smell good, and taste great. And your dog should be begging pathetically and cute for bites. Not hiding from you.
We purchased the items used to review. All thoughts are ours. Don’t sue me because I said the truth, and nothing but the truth.