For our second day of cubicle cooking, we pulled out four very tasty sounding main course meals from Backpacker’s Pantry to try: Chicken Alfredo, Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry, Pad Thai and Beef Stroganoff. Before even tasting the meals, Trent and I were impressed by the variety. I can’t imagine trying to haul out the ingredients for even one of these meals on an extended back country adventure!
Something tricky about Backpacker’s Pantry is that their main course meals and entrees are listed as being good for both dinner and lunch. While this probably rings true for the average hiker and camper just looking to fuel up, those performance-minded explorers aiming to get the most bang for their bite should look over the nutrition facts before buying. We talked yesterday about how you want your back country lunch to be lighter and more energizing for the day with a high calorie count. For dinners, you want meals to help you recover and leave your tummy satisfied at the end of the day. This means protein is important as well a range of different vitamins and minerals. I quickly noted that today’s variety of meals offered a higher percentage of fats and protein -I’d say these would serve best as an end-of-day meal!
Meal 1: Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken
The Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken is a classic back country meal and popular choice among ACK customers. Trent and I were both excited to try it. Pasta with a creamy Alfredo sauce? How could you go wrong?! After some vigorous mixing of spice, pasta and boiling water with my Titanium Long Spoon, the meal was ready in about 15 minutes. It thickened up great and looked VERY appetizing.
Joseph’s Review: Easily my favorite meal so far. It’s a great combination of creamy and spicy and there’s just so much to eat. The bell peppers definitely stand out too and in a good way. I would highly recommend this meal.
Trent’s Review: Very classic flavors and healthy portions. Probably my favorite meal of the day. More true to its name than the similar sounding Tuscan Alfredo Rotini from Trail Foods we tried yesterday, though much heavier and easily double the serving size. This will fill you up and keep you satisfied!
Joseph’s Serving Size Insights: After Trent and a few others got to taste this meal, I had almost a full pouch of this for my lunch. It’s been a couple hours since and I am still very satisfied. I would say this is more than you need for one person although I’m not completely convinced it’d be enough for two.
Meal 2: Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
While the other meals all incorporate a pasta base, this Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry uses rice. It also includes an olive oil packet which you add prior to combining ingredients with the boiling water. If you’re hoping to bring some food with an Asian flair to the back country, this is a meal to consider.
Of our entrees today, the Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry was the lightest and could work well as either a lunch or dinner. It cooked up in about 15 minutes as well and we gave it a try!
Joseph’s Review: This one came out a bit soupy so we drained some water after cooking but we should’ve left some of it in. The rice tasted a little on the dry side. I did like the mix of beef and veggies and could easily see myself enjoying this with the right additives… I’m thinking I’d mix in some Sriracha.
Trent’s Review: I’m a huge Asian food / stir fry fan but the flavors were a bit bland. I have a salty palette and definitely could’ve used salt on the meal and perhaps additional soy sauce. I did enjoy the meal and it was my first pick to have as my lunch for the day.
Trent’s Serving Size Insights: I ate the entire meal around 12:45 – 1 p.m. and am still satisfied now, a few hours later. (I will come back and let you know how hungry I am at the end of the work day). I am a little wary of saying that it’d be enough for two people – maybe with an extra side or snack!
Meal 3: Pad Thai: A Reminder to Read Instructions Carefully!
We were both excited about the Pad Thai. It came packaged with peanut butter, peanuts and some great looking noodles and spices. I separated out the packets and skimmed through the instructions to see what to do next. Little did I know, one more item was hidden away at the bottom of the pouch.
Camp foods from Backpacker’s Pantry are so easy to cook that sometimes you get a little cocky. One thing to always look out for is the oxygen absorber. The oxygen absorber is a very small square packet and will often be buried in the powdered spices at the bottom of the bag. It’s easy to miss this when opening up your meal pouch for the first time so be sure to review the instructions on the back of the bag. Not every pouch has one, but for those that do, Backpacker’s Pantry will either list this as the first step in the directions or have an added warning reminding you to do this. While neither Trent nor I knew for sure if this would ruin the meal, we thought it would be better to be safe than sorry and passed on trying this one.
Meal 4: Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms
Beef Stroganoff is another longtime favorite for backcountry campers because of how well it fills you up. It’s thick and creamy, much like the Alfredo pasta, and comes packed with more fatty calories than any of the other meals we tried today. Just like the others, this meal took 13 minutes to cook up and actually looked quite appetizing when it thickened up.
Joseph’s Review: This one was very true to it’s name – thick, creamy noodles with beef chunks. Not bad at all! I enjoyed this one second-most today and would definitely consider it a meal geared for dinner. After a full bowl of this, I imagine I’d want to sit around for a little bit!
Trent’s Review: I’m not a big fan of mushrooms but gave this meal a try anyways. It was great! This was a close second because I liked the flavor of the Fettucini more. This may be a bit heavy for the middle of a trek but would probably be better served as dinner (says the guy who sat in a chair all day).
You Can Eat Backpacker’s Pantry Meals Anywhere You Want!
One of the greatest things about Backpacker’s Pantry meals and all of the camping food options at ACK.com is that you can eat them anywhere you’d like! Need some proof? I climbed onto the roof of our office with my pouch of Chicken Alfredo and long titanium spoon and did some trail eating two stories up. Yep, still tasted great!
Stay tuned to our ACK blog for more cubicle cooking tomorrow. We’ll be focusing on options that don’t even require a stove!