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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Dehydrated Food - A verdict

Well, some long time ago, when men were men and women did the washing up, I seem to remember writing that one rainy day I would do some kind of round-up on my findings with regards to the dehydrated food that I used on my Trans-Cumbria-Not-Quite-High-Level-But-At-Least-I-Tried-But-All-The Teasrooms-Were-Closed-And-It-Rained-A-Lot trip.
Just to recap, this took place last August during the monsoon period and went from Silecroft to Bowness on Solway via Bow fell and, during which, I ate principally dehydrated food bought on-line from Outdoors Grub Ltd. (although I seem to remember also buying a meal from Cotswolds in Durham – this may well have beeen some kind of dehydrated rice pudding. Sorry to be vague, but I’m getting on in years and the nurses keep stealing my underpants….

First of all, what of Outdoors Grub Ltd? Many would-be TGO Challengers, for instance may well be interested in the standard of service and delivery times and things. And other backpackers, too may be interested.

They have a website at

This is easy to use and I ordered 11 items altogether and these arrived safely, together with a complementary choccy bar (I think it was a choccy bar anyway – mind’s a blank….)
The delivery happened a day or two later and I got two tracking emails telling me where the order was. So, I thought that the service was, in fact, excellent.
If I had any gripes, it would only be about the choice of sweet dishes which was a bit limited. This must have been the reason why I bought a rice pudding from Cotswolds, now I come to think about it.
I also supplemented my variety of sweet dishes by buying a small cake and scoffing that ravenously with some instant custard. This lasted two meals.
In addition, I had my traditional supply of cheap whisky and loads of mars bars, lion bars, jordan’s breakfast and othe r fruity oaty bars of that ilk. These, it turned out were quite a bit heavier than the seven dehydrated dinners.
Which brings me to the food.
This is what I took:
BeWell Pack n Go – Chile Con carne £4.85
Be Well Pack n Go Porridge with sultanas £2.65
Be WellHot Pack n Go cereal start with sultanas £2.65
Be Well Pack n Go Rice Pudding ?£2.65
Mountain House Chicken Korma with Rice £4.85
Real Turmat Beef and Potato Casserole £7.99
Real Turmat Game casserole £7.99
Adventure Foods Pasta Bolognese £4.25
Mountain House Spaghetti Bolognese £4.85
Be Well Pack n Go Thai Chicken with Rice £3.45
Mountain House Custard with Apple. £3.85

For each meal, I had three (as you were..four) course.

These were:

Cuppa soup – fortified with an oatmeal block or an oatcake
Main meal
Snoozy sleepy cosy dreamz

Five course…..

Breakfasts were either whatever was on the list above or a couple of Jordans bars or a blow out in Wigton…..

What were the meals like?

Taste – they were all acceptable. The real Turmat meals were fabulous – just like granny’s cooking but without the cat hairs. The only problem one was the Mountain House Spag Bol which I left too long to rehydrate and it tasted a bit fatty…. But, in general, none of the meals were nasty or cardboardy or anything like that. Mostly they were very tasty and, well, surprisingly nice.

Ease of preparation – Just add boiling water, seal the pack and wait for however long it says on the pack. Sometimes you have to search out and remove a gel bag. It wouldn;t do to eat the gel b ag. The meals were generally OK if you put in too much water, and its easy to add more if you don't add enough. Stirring well was very important to avoid any lumps of dried food remaining.

Portion size/calories – Everything was sufficient and no extra carbs were needed to be added. The walking I did on this fuel was mainly slightly less than you’d do in the middle bit of a TGO Challenge, but could be described as reasonably substantial. I never felt weak or hungry. Martin Banfield gave me a butty at one point - he said I looked a little thin (note this , Sloman!)

Pack weight – The whole kaboodle added about 2kg to the pack weight. I didn’t weigh it all and I got rid of the packs, but if you were using this stuff for two or three days, the pack weight wouldn’t be particularly significant. I never weigh my pack, I just seem to know instinctively when its too heavy (being unable to pick it up is often a clue)

Time to prepare – Time to boil water and then to wait from between 2 to 6 or 7 minutes.

One pan? No pans were harmed except when I made custard.

Need to wash up? – Just the spork!

Value for money? – You can see the prices. They not really cheap and the Real turmat meals are, frankly, expensive. But they’re soooo nice. The set of dried food for a week cost me around £60 – which, when you think about it, isn’t really all that expensive.

I doubt if anybody would want to survive on dehydrated food alone for a whole week. You’re more likely to be carrying a couple of days, then having a pub dinner or similar. In a case like that, this stuff is convenient, tasty, sufficient and easy on fuel.

A massive breakfast in a café in Wigton, or Newtonmore, or Aviemore, or wherever, comes as a real treat afterwards, though and it seems normal to lust after a banana.

Happy scoffing.

I must try some of the other meals…….
Best: Real Turmat Beef and Potato casserole. Least best: Mountain House spag bol (but it wasn't that bad , really)


Alan Sloman said...

"A little thin..."

This is the new healthy 'No pies please I'm a recovering Pieman Knipe' then? Or perhaps he was unkindly referring to the thinning pate?

Congratulations on clambering up the shelf / laundry basket / ironing board hilly thing.

Totally agree about the Real Turmat Food (poptabulous?) and the less than impressive Mountain House Spag Bol.

mike knipe said...

Only Slimcea Porkanlard (Barnsley? - isn't that down South somewhere?) pies for me now Alan, washed down with twelve pints of Scruttocks Old Dirigible and accompanied by a pound of hot chips for the roughage and vitamin C.

Quasimungous - Now there's a word....

fatdogwalks said...

As I look at the list I think...thank God I live up here and therefore do not feel the need to wildcamp.

For me wildcamping is when there is a small breeze wafting through the dining room of my Michelin star establishment of choice within a reasonable driving distance of the next hill.

I'm sure it all tastes very nice Mike (lol) .

mike knipe said...

Most of it tastes very nice.... but you're missing out on the outdoor experience - peat, grass, midgies and slugs in your tea, for instance; that 3:00 am outdoor bladder call in a sleety gale, knocking your stove over and the strange and dangerous noises just outside in the middle of the night...