Finding good meals for backpacking is not easy, especially if you are a picky eater like me. I’ve tried several of the freeze-dried meals that my friends bring on trips, but I haven’t liked any of them enough to buy them for myself. Instead, I usually make all of my own food. So, when Bushka’s Kitchen contacted me about trying their food, I was a little skeptical, but wanted to give it a try to see if I would like it.
Their mission is “we are creating ready to eat freeze-dried meals and dehydrated snacks that don’t suck.” After giving two of their entrees a try, I have to say that I completely agree… these do not suck… at all!
The first thing I look at when shopping for backpacking food is the list of ingredients. These do not have any artificial ingredients, preservatives, or food coloring. If they did, I probably would not have tried them.
Hearty Harvest Bowl
After opening the package, I noticed right away that this didn’t look like a typical freeze-dried meal. Every ingredient was recognizable and cut into larger chunks. Most backpacking meals look a bit like mush, even before they are cooked.
To cook the meal, the package states to add boiling water just above the food line and wait three minutes. Three minutes? I was certain that this was a typo, or at the least, not complete directions. Most backpacking meals take at least 15-20 minutes to rehydrate and need a cozy of some type to keep the food warm while it rehydrates. Often, I hear that the meal called for too much water, or that even after waiting the instructed length of time, bits of food are still on the crunchy side.
I poured in the water, closed the bag and placed it under my down jacket to keep it warm. After three minutes, I checked and it was already fully rehydrated and ready to eat. I’m not sure how that was possible, but everything was fully cooked. And since not that much time had passed, it was still hot and remained that way while I devoured the meal.
After rehydrating, each ingredient is still easy to distinguish, and now there’s a good amount of sauce covering it all. The taste is the real test, though, and this is the first time I ate all of a freeze-dried meal without hesitation. The flavor is quite good. The pork is soft and not too chewy, the apples still tasted like apples, and I loved the slight firmness of the brussels sprouts. I would definitely want to eat this on a backpacking trip in the future.
These meals are a bit expensive, at $13 for one serving, but if you want backpacking food that resembles real food, tastes delicious, and rehydrates in minutes, I think these meals are worth the cost.
INGREDIENTS: Wild Rice (Wild Rice, Fresh Orange Juice, Ground Ginger, Black Pepper), Seasoned Pork (Pork, Fresh Orange Juice, Smoked Sea Salt, Sage, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Ground Ginger), Caramelized Onions, Apple, Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Brussels Sprouts, Soy Sauce (Water, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Salt), Butter (Cream, Natural Flavor), Balsamic Vinegar (Balsamic Vinegar, Contains Naturally Occurring Sulfites), Kosher Salt, Black Pepper).
Purchase directly from Bushka’s Kitchen: Hearty Harvest Bowl
Unstuffed Pepper with Ground Beef
Opening the package, I noticed again how every ingredient is recognizable and looks freshly freeze-dried.
My favorite part of the Unstuffed Pepper meal is the red peppers… they taste like they are fresh when rehydrated. The ground beef had a good texture and was lightly seasoned, and the sauce had just a bit of heat to it, but not too much. The quinoa was a little crunchy, but I like quinoa that way, so I really liked this meal as well. Two solid choices for backpacking meals!
Purchase directly from Bushka’s Kitchen: Unstuffed Pepper with Ground Beef
INGREDIENTS: Quinoa, Tomato Sauce (San Marzano Tomatoes (San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes, San Marzano Puree, Basil Leaf, Naturally Derived Citric Acid And Salt), Tomato Paste (Tomatoes, Citric Acid), Basil, Sugar, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Oregano, Parsley), Seasoned Ground Beef (Ground Beef, Espresso Sea Salt (Sea Salt, Espresso Beans, Silicon Dioxide (Anti-Caking Agent)), Red Pepper Flakes, Parsley, Garlic Salt (Himalayan Salt, Dehydrated Garlic), Garlic Powder, Oregano, Black Pepper), Red Bell Pepper, Green Onion.
Note: I received these meals at no cost to test but was under no obligation unless I liked them and wanted to do a review. When I find a product that is well made, I like to support it, especially when it’s a small business owned by a woman who likes to spend time in the outdoors! If you choose to purchase these meals, I do not benefit in any way from your purchase.