One of the best ways to reign in calories on the road is to dodge the fast food joints, and instead pack along a picnic lunch and stop at parks and rest stops along your route. And although this is standard practice for us on road trips these days, I decided to add a little variety to the menu by including some Mountain House freeze-dried entrees.
Although they were designed for camping and disaster supplies, they are also great for lunch stops. We pack along our camp stove anyway, because we usually stop at least one camping cabin or yurt along the way, so we have all the tools needed to prepare a tasty meal al fresco. And unlike many of their competitors, many Mountain House entrees are lower in calories in sodium. So here’s how our Mountain House choices stacked up on a recent road trip.
Chicken Fajita Filling
This entree is pretty easy to make – you just pour a cup of water in the pouch, stir, let sit, add some more water, let sit again, and enjoy. It came out warm, not hot, but it was pretty tasty with a tangy seasoning. It contained beans and veggies, and chicken. Although the recommendation is to carry along some tortillas, we wrapped our filling in lettuce leaves and it turned out just fine. We also had some leftover rice that we packed along, but it would have been just fine without the added rice. The pouch contains two servings, with just 160 calories and 540 mg. of sodium per serving. It was very filling and satisfying, for relatively few calories. The only down side was that the bell peppers in the mix were a little chewy, but it certainly wasn’t bad for a freeze-dried meal.
I was a bit skeptical about this entree, as it’s the only one that uses cold water. Granted that does make preparation a bit easier, but I really wondered if it would make the cut taste-wise. In the end it passed muster, as the pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries really gave the chicken a great flavor. The folks at Mountain House have the whole flavoring thing down, and they don’t do it by dumping a bunch of salt on it.
I also have to say that we didn’t follow the timing instructions to a tee – in fact we kind of winged it without a watch – and even with all of our mis-steps, this one still turned out. I packed along some lettuce and served up my chicken salad on it, but Charles just enjoyed his plain. We were both happy with it, and by splitting the pouch, our lunch came in at a very respectable 260 calories and 580 mg. of sodium. This is a great option for lunch on the trail, or anyplace that you don’t have access to a camp stove or microwave.
Chicken Breast with rib Meat and Mashed Potatoes
Since this was a more complicated preparation, I decided to do it in our hotel room, when we had a microwave. The chicken pieces and potatoes are separate, so you remove the potato packet, and add some boiling water to the chicken and let it set. After it is cooked, you plate it and put the potatoes in the pouch with some boiling water and let it set. I also added some frozen veggies since we had a microwave, but to be honest we could do that on our camp stove too. In the end, it really tasted pretty good. I will admit that the potatoes didn’t look very good, but they were amazingly tasty. This meal had a bit more sodium than our other ones, but for a prepared dinner it really wasn’t bad. The package contained two servings, with each serving weighing in at 210 calories and 800 mg. of sodium.
New Orleans Style Rice, with Shrimp and Ham
We whipped this one up at a rest stop, and I really liked the flavor. I was surprised at the sodium content with ham and shrimp. It had a nice spicy flavor to it and it was very filling. The pouch contains 2.5 servings, and when I did the math, that came out to 375 calories and 435 mg. of sodium per sodium.
Scrambled Eggs with Ham, Red & Green Peppers
Last but not least we also tried one breakfast entree. It was easy to make in our hotel room, as we just boiled some water in the microwave and added it to the pouch. For freeze-dried eggs, this one was pretty good – OK not like real eggs, but not like some of the horrible freeze-dried concoctions taste. The ham and peppers added to the flavor and it was surprisingly filling. I think I will keep this one on hand for those times when we really don’t like our breakfast options, or when we have to hit the road before the hotel restaurant is open. For camping, I’d still prefer real eggs, but in a pinch this will do. The pouch has two servings, and with just 190 calories and 640 mg. per serving, it fits in with our Lifestyle Plan too.
In the end, I liked all of the Mountain House choices that I tried, and they will definitely go on our permanent road trip menu. The entrees range from $5 – $8, with most costing about $6, so it’s actually a very economical meal for two people. And if you have a disaster kit at home (which you should) Mountain House meals will make a very good addition to that. Bottom line – it’s a pretty versatile product!