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Dehydrated meals. They’re not just for backpacking

Whenever I mention dehydrated food to people in campers they always say why? My answer? Why not? Freeze Dried and Dehydrated food offer many advantages to those of us on the road.

● Space saving: Many foods dehydrate down into smaller packages than the cans, jars or fresh foods that they once were.
● Shelf stable: Refrigeration isn’t needed so our small refrigerators aren’t burdened. If you don’t use them, you have them for the next trip! 
● Lack of cooking: Many commercial meals don’t require anything but hot water. Most can be eaten out of the pouch. This is great if you’re getting out early or getting in late.
● Decreased garbage: Since most dried foods are kept in plastic bags, you don’t have to pack out cans and jars, nor do you have to worry about breakage…

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated foods fall into two categories: complete meals, and ingredients for other meals. You can buy both, dehydrate your own, or use commercially available dried ingredients.

I won’t go into the commercially available meals. There are quite a few out there, though dietary restrictions or selections may hinder you. Instead I would steer you toward a google search on homemade backpacking meals. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas you’ll find on how to replace bulky food with dried. To make many of these you’ll need dried ingredients. You can buy commercially available freeze dried fruits and vegetables. We buy a bulk box of different vegetables like carrots, beans, peppers, corn etc. We also buy freeze dried eggs and freeze
dried refried beans.

There are also many dehydrated foods in your grocery store. Want home fries and don’t want to carry potatoes? Buy a box of scalloped potatoes and throw out the seasoning packs. You can also find freeze dried hash browns in your grocers isle! Of course there’s always biscuit mixes, pasta sides, sauces, beans, dried fruits and even meats!. Meats? Shaving dried meat like jerky or pepperoni or hard salami into a recipe has been around a very long time.

Don’t forget drying your own. We like cauliflower rice. The commercially dried stuff can get expensive. You can dry your own for next to nothing. If you have a fruit leather sheet for your dehydrator you can dehydrate spaghetti sauce into a sauce roll up and add hot water to reconstitute it later. The possibilities are mind boggling!

There are only two downsides we’ve found. The cost of the commercially available complete meals, and you have to bring extra water to rehydrate. This usually ends up being an extra pint per meal per person or so.

Faux Fried Rice
What you’ll need:

● 1 cup of Dehydrated veggies mixed. (we start with peas, carrots and onions then add corn, black beans and anything else that sounds good that day)
● 1 vegetable bouillon cube
● ½ teaspoon brown sugar
● ½ teaspoon ground ginger
● ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
● ¼ teaspoon sea salt
● 2 soy sauce packets (saved from local takeout)
● Dried Cauliflower Rice or minute rice (you need enough to make about 2½ cups of rehydrated rice)
● Proteins of your choice (eggs, meat etc)

There are two ways to make this. The first is to cover everything with water and cook and simmer until all the water is absorbed and everything is tender (you may have to add water occasionally), the second is to hot soak in a pot with a cozie. The second method you’re going to have to experiment with how much water to use depending on what ingredients you’ve picked (Each vegetable rehydrates differently).

As for protein, you can use regular eggs or we like Ova Easy egg crystals (the only dried eggs worth trying!). You can also use jerky. My wife who is a vegetarian is partial to Louisville Vegan Jerky. I like the other jerkies that I make each year and the egg goes with both!

Between the vegetable and protein offerings the possibilities are endless. Experiment, and take it in your own direction!

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