Over the past few years, my food menu for backpacking has settled down to a fairly predictable formula. However, for Dartmoor, I introduced two new variants: a proper porridge breakfast and a dessert for dinner. I used Mountain Trails food for the first time. In addition to breakfast and dessert, I ordered a couple of main meals as well, pasta bolognaise and beef risotto. Service was very quick, arriving in two working days. Prices are pretty comparable with competing meals.
All the meals come vacuum packed in robust packaging. They are quite compact compared to some competing products, which would be an advantage if you are carrying several days food. Calorific values are reasonable. There is a choice of sizes, with large portions for expeditions. I chose the smaller sizes.
So what are they like? I thought the pasta bolognaise was quite reasonable, if not as good as the best (Fuizion/Lyo/Real Turmat). The beef risotto was very disappointing. It was almost devoid of taste, like eating sawdust. Alan had a cheese pasta and said it was good. In my experience, rice based meals can be disappointing, whereas pasta is generally a better bet.
However, both the porridge (apple and sultana/cranberry and apple) and the rice puddings (sultanas/strawberries) were excellent. I suppose it’s difficult to mess these up but I really enjoyed having a hot breakfast and a hot dessert. They’ve both got decent calorific values as well. I’d be tempted to get the larger porridge for breakfast which has nearly 600kcal.
A large breakfast, average freeze-dried evening meal plus a small dessert is around 1,500-1,600kCal for around 375g. An average adult needs around 2,500kCal per day, so you’d only need to find another 1,000kCal. Obviously, on a strenuous trek, you’d need more, but you could probably keep your daily food weight down to around 800g and still have enough energy. You could boost it with a large dessert!
The porridge reconstituted really well and was tasty, with full cream milk. I eat porridge every day, so it’s my breakfast of choice. In theory, you could make these breakfasts up a lot cheaper using your own ingredients, which is something I might experiment with. However, the low bulk and convenience is an attraction.
The rice puddings were very good too. They were a nice boost at the end of they day. I will experiment with some of the other puddings as well as, perhaps, using a rice pudding as a breakfast. I might even have a pudding at lunchtime!
The downside of hot breakfasts and desserts, apart from cost, is increased fuel usage. I almost ran out of fuel at the end of the trip, whereas I’d normally been safe with a 100 cartridge. The upside, is more calorie dense, compact and appetising food, with the boost to morale of more hot food.
For my two remaining evening meals, I had Fuizion Food meals and they were fabulous. To my mind, they are still by far the best. It’s such a shame that they appear to be struggling at the moment.