For our fourth day of cubicle camping, Trent and I elected to get our cooking in early and try some of the breakfast camping food options at ACK. We’ve all heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that’s even more true when you’re out on the trail. A good morning meal will get you energized and prepared for a day full of outdoor adventure. Today’s menu included Trail Food’s PB & Banana Oatmeal and Granola with Bananas & Milk, and then Peanut Butter & Raisin Oatmeal and Huevos Rancheros from Backpacker’s Pantry.
Meal 1: Granola with Bananas & Milk
The Granola with Bananas & Milk from Backpacker’s Pantry was the biggest meal of the morning by far and costs a couple extra bucks over the other options for today. It includes vanilla, banana and milk powder – a combination of flavors I was very much looking forward to! Trent was going to have to sit this one out since he’s got a tree nut allergy… so it was all mine.
A note about allergens: Read packaging closely before buying/ eating. Both Trail Foods and Backpacker’s Pantry will have an allergy warning on the packaging and those will also be specifically listed out on product pages at ACK.com. We didn’t expect this one to have tree nuts in it but Trent is sure glad we read the warning!
I opened it up and my first thought was that it looked a bit like the granola had some sort of sugary frosting to it, although it was really just a mixture of the banana, vanilla and milk powder. I couldn’t resist and gave it a try when it was still dry and really wouldn’t have minded eating it as it was because it tasted great! It was just the right amount of sweet and the vanilla was a great touch. I wanted to see what it was like actually cooked though, so I fired up the JetBoil and had the granola ready in about 5 minutes (2 minutes to boil water, 3 minutes to cook). One thing to note – this works with cold water too!
It had thickened up great when I opened it up which I appreciated because I prefer my granola or oatmeal on the thick side. After a few stirs I dug in while it was still hot. It was delicious, although definitely on the sweet side of the spectrum. For the flavors, I found the banana to be very subtle and the vanilla seemed to have come out more during cooking.
Meal 2 & 3: PB & Banana Oatmeal and Peanut Butter & Raisin Oatmeal
The two different oatmeals from Backpacker’s Pantry and Trail Foods were both one serving meal pouches and each cost under $5. The Trail Food’s Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal beat out the Backpacker’s Pantry option in terms of vitamins and minerals, although both had a good mix of carbs, protein and calories to get you fueled for the day. One thing to note though is that the Peanut Butter & Raisin Oatmeal is an organic option and we were both interested to see how this would affect the taste – it certainly didn’t seem to effect the price all that much!
Joseph’s Review: I enjoyed the Peanut Butter & Raisin Oatmeal quite a bit. It was a very hearty meal and actually kind of reminded me of a Cliff Bar. It might’ve been that we didn’t use the right amount of water but this one turned out very thick and clumpy as you can see in the picture. The taste was still great though and I ended up eating most of this one for my breakfast. It was probably my favorite for the day. It didn’t look pretty, but this would certainly get the job done on the trail!
Trent’s Review: I went for the PB & Banana Oatmeal from Trail Foods. It came with two separate packets in addition to the oatmeal – one with peanut butter and a sugar packet. After cooking, I tried it without them and quickly elected to add them in. The sugar was a much needed touch. It had a very distinct flavor although the banana was very subtle.
We had the opposite problem with this oatmeal in that it turned out to have too much liquid, at least for my taste (I like my oatmeal thick). After pouring a bit out, it was perfect. This was my top meal for the day. It combined good flavor, consistency and was packed with a ton of goodness to prepare you for the day.
Meal 4: Huevos Rancheros
We mixed things up with our last meal of Huevos Rancheros, a common breakfast entree here in the great state of Texas. Would it translate well to a camp food form? We were determined to find out.
Unlike the other meals, the Huevos Rancheros does not cook in its pouch and requires some type of skillet to go along with your stove. This means there’s extra stuff to hike in and dishes to clean up afterwards. It does ask that you first rehydrate the beans for about 10 minutes and without the typical easy standing bottom of other pouches we had to get a little creative to keep it upright while the beans rehydrated.
Once this was done, we fired up the JetBoil and cooked us some eggs. The JetBoil is probably not the best stove to cook this meal. It suggests to slow cook the eggs but the JetBoil only has one setting and it’s not a heat you could use to slow cook something. Keeping this in mind, we served the eggs and dug in.
Joseph’s Review: It didn’t quite live up to its TexMex name and was severely lacking spice (I recommend bringing some kind of salsa if you go for this meal) but the eggs tasted like actual eggs and the veggies, cheese and spices did add a nice flavor. The one thing that didn’t turn out right was the beans, which must’ve needed some extra time to rehydrate as they were a bit crunchy. I ended up eating around them and even after all the oatmeal and granola found myself going for more and more of this meal. I would make this a certain addition to my breakfast camping food pantry IF it didn’t require the skillet. I like to keep things simple with these meals and it if can’t cook in the pouch, I probably won’t be using it.
Trent’s Review: My first thought when trying these was that it had the same texture and consistency of tofu scramble, something I had gotten very used to while I was in in the middle of my vegetarian phase. This didn’t bother me one bit, but I could see how some people might not like it. As mentioned above, I think this would’ve done better over a more controlled fire or at least by holding the skillet above your stove while you cook. I think having the extra control would’ve improved on both the eggs and the beans. Overall though, I thought it had a good blend of flavors that all complimented one another very well.
Too Much Water? Just Drain A Little Out!
Measuring the correct amount of water on these meals sometimes comes down to a personal preference and the amount the pouch lists on the back is just the suggestion. If you ever find that your meal comes out too watery after cooking, there’s a simple solution: drain some out! With the resealable tops, you can easily seal up most of the meal and then pour out as much water as you’d like.
We haven’t had to do this too often this week but we’ve also cut back on how much water we’ve added compared to the suggested amount. Try a few meals and get a feel for how much water tastes best to you.
Stay tuned for tomorrow as we’ll be cooking up our final round of meals – a three course meal from Backpacker’s Pantry!