RVing Experiment: Dehydrated Food

The "Hearty Texas Beefish Stew" soup bag comes to about 1 and 1/3 cups of food before rehydrating

The “Verylicious Veggie Chilli” soup bag comes to about 1 and 1/3 cups of food before rehydrating, they’re all a little different.

Down in Quartzsite this past winter I met several vandwellers at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, and over the course of two weeks I got to know a couple of them quite well. I found their ability to sift RVing down to its simplest form very admirable, and of course wondered how they managed to thrive in a space that makes my Casita look large.

Some of the answers were pretty easy to understand. Like me, they would pay for showers in town, although some of them had solar showers and set up tarps for privacy. There are several types of cassette and small portable toilets on the market that take care of that particular need. Their vans are well organized so that the important things are reachable from bed, as that is their primary seating. They spend a good amount of time outdoors where space is unlimited.

But it was the lack of refrigeration that boggled my mind the most. Some vandwellers have mini-fridges, others carry coolers. But some do without and I wondered how that worked, especially as a solo traveler as most vandwellers are. Sure you can buy canned and boxed goods that don’t need refrigeration and can be cooked over a camp stove, but most of those have multiple servings, so what do you do with the leftovers?

I asked one of my friends, and she replied that freeze-dried and dehydrated foods were the staple of her diet.

It makes sense. Dehydrated foods don’t weigh much or take up a lot of space, they have a long shelf-life and you can cook as much as you can eat in a single meal and store the rest in an airtight container and it’ll keep. These reasons are why they’re so popular with backpackers.

Packaging example

Packaging example

But if you go into an REI or similar store, you’ll see that backpacking meals aren’t cheap. Some entrees can cost $10 or more for a single 2-person package. I brought up the cost, and discovered that my friend had a lower grocery bill than I did. Apparently, for the better prices and greater variety, the place to go is online.

Now thoroughly intrigued and wondering if this is something it would be worth getting into, I looked at Harmony House Foods, the company my friend orders her food from. It’s easy to see the difference in approach. Instead of selling traditional meals, Harmony House mostly sells individual ingredients and seasonings (in multiple sizes) that the customer can mix together however they wish. Their top selling item is the award-winning Backpacking kit with zip pouches of cabbage, carrots, celery, sweet corn, green beans, chopped onion, sweet peas, red & green peppers, potato dices, tomato dices, lentils, red beans, black beans, northern beans, and pinto beans. Recipes are included with the kit.

Wanting to keep the experiment as simple as possible and not mix ingredients myself, I look into their soup and chili mixes, which are available both with and without seasoning, and again, in several sizes ranging from 2 oz zip pouches to 20+ lb boxes. Those who’ve read my Boondocking Answers blog post know that I have soup for my main meal every other day anyway, so this won’t change my routine much.

I order the “Gourmet Soup Variety Pack“, family sized, which includes all 12 types of soups and chillis in bags from 3.5 to 7 oz with seasoning included. The cost was $54 at the time, but prices do vary. This kit is about $14 more than getting the same soups in zip pouches, but the volume-per-cost is a better deal (the zips are smaller) and I have zip baggies of my own to put the soups in once opened.

dehydrated-food-for-rving (1)

Shipping was quick, the soup arrived in good condition. The first thing that struck me was how small the bags are, but as the food is dehydrated I suppose that makes sense. According to the directions on the back, each bag is eight servings, and if you’re going to use the soup as a side-dish that’s probably accurate enough.

As it was going to be the focus of my meal, my first day trying it I used just under 1/2 cup of the dry product, which for most of the pouches is about 1/3 of the bag. Most of the bags call for 3-4 cups of water to be added, so I added between 1 and 1 and ΒΌ cup. I’d arbitrarily chosen the “Verylicious Veggie Chilli” (the unseasoned version is simply called “Veggie Chilli”).

It doesn’t look very impressive in the pot, even once I’ve added the water.

dehydrated-food-for-rving (5)

Now, each soup takes about 15 minutes to cook if you just add the water and go, but if you let the the soup sit a while and rehydrate it cuts down on the cooking time. On the website, Harmony House says that if you let the soup sit for an hour it can be eaten without cooking – because there is no meat, just meat-flavored soy, cooking isn’t necessary.

Which brings me to another point, this stuff is suppose to be both tasty and healthy. I’m not a nutritionist or a health-nut. I have no special dietary requirements and didn’t choose this brand over another for that specific reason. I really don’t know in the grand scheme of things how “healthy” the soups are (the ones without the seasonings are probably healthier), I chose it because the price was decent and people say it’s tasty, and it outta be better for me than highly-processed foods. Full nutritional information is available on the website for those to whom it’s important. It’s worth a note that all of the soups are vegan and gluten free, which will interest some folks. For those to whom that’s a turn-off, noodles, rice, or meat can be added to the soups easily enough, from a lot of reviews it seems like many people use the soup mixes as a base and then add to them. Heck, you can even add more vegetables if that’s your thing.

After letting the veggie chilli soak for 30 minutes I heat it up on my stove for about 10 minutes, I like my soup cooked down. The dehydrated bits rapidly swell and soon the soup looks quite thick, I’m a bit more impressed now.

The chunks are small (easier to dehydrate I imagine), which for me lead to some misgivings as I was use to chunkier soup and was worried about there not being enough solids to feel “full”. But, while the individual bits are smaller the total volume of solids is better than my regular soups and definitely felt like a meal. Oh, and it does taste like real soup.

Cooked "Verylicious Veggie Chili", it was good!

Cooked “Verylicious Veggie Chili”, it was good!

Over the next 11 days I try the rest of the types, and am satisfied with them all. I was concerned about how alike they would taste but the flavors are unique, I actually get more variety in flavor than I did alternating canned soup from the store with frozen skillet meals, since I tended to get the same types over and over again.

Multiplying 12 soups by three servings per soup, I’m going to get 36 meals out of this kit. Dividing $54 by 36, each bowl of soup is costing me about $1.50, which isn’t the whole story since I have crackers with it, but is still a pretty cheap meal. As a comparison, a case of 12 cans of the soup I had been eating, (18.6 oz cans of Campbell’s Chunky soup) bought online from a wholesale company like StockUpExpress costs about $42. At two meals per can that’s 24 meals and $1.75 per meal. Which I never could do anyway because aside from the weight and space issue that was only for one type of soup. In reality, I paid more than that per can because I had to buy individually to ensure variety and in the more remote camping locations I favor, individual cans are pricier than average.

Nutritional info for the "Hearty Texas Beefish Stew"

Nutritional info for the “Hearty Texas Beefish Stew”, click for larger image

All in all, I’m counting this experiment a success and will likely be buying more dehydrated products in the future. These soups are convenient, easy to store, filling, cost effective, and if they doesn’t taste like restaurant food, they’re at least as appetizing as soup from a can. For the person who enjoys cooking I’d recommend buying the unseasoned versions and adding ingredients to them and seasoning to taste, you can get a lot of mileage from the bases that way.

Soup flavors in kit:

  • Garden Veggie Chickenish Soup
  • Creamy Good Corn Chowder (didn’t like this one as much, but I’m not a big chowder fan)
  • Verylicious Veggie Chili
  • Great Northern Bean Stew
  • Hearty Texas Beefish Stew
  • Super Savory Split Pea Soup (the peas take longer to rehydrate than the other veggies, I recommend letting this one sit an hour and then cooking)
  • Greek Lentil Soup with Quinoa
  • Captain John’s Navy Bean Soup
  • Beefish Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms
  • Southwest Style Mixed Bean Chili (labeled “spicy wild”, it was spicier than the others but I didn’t find it exceptionally spicy)
  • Unbelievable Black Bean Chili (labeled “spicy wild”, it was spicier than the others but I didn’t find it exceptionally spicy)
  • Mama Mia Italian Vegetable Soup

Note: I have no affiliation with Harmony House and am not making any money from this review, I just genuinely liked the product.

* * *

dehydrated-food-for-rving (8)

Up next: Boondocking at Island Park, ID

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  1. GK Lott on September 9, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Now that you’ve tried the dehydrated food for more than a month, what is your conclusion on this food experiment?

    • Becky on September 9, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Success. I really like the light weight and easy prep for dehydrated foods and haven’t gotten tired of them yet. I will definitely be ordering more once I get to Amazon.

  2. Des on September 8, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Wow Becky,
    Thank you so much for the review. My wife and I are soon to be full-time rver again we’ve been stationary now for about 7 years after full timing for 7 years so we’re very excited. I was wanting to try the dehydrated foods and like you thought it was a bit pricey I didn’t realize until now that you couldn’t get these kids to make soups. We both love soup soon this is going to be a great big help and our future dining and budget on the road… you have yourself a new fan I’ll be following your blogs.

    • Becky on September 9, 2016 at 8:34 am

      Welcome to IO Des, glad to have you here! I’m glad you found this helpful. I really enjoy soup and it’s easy to make, I hope you enjoy these mixes as much as I do!

      • Des on September 9, 2016 at 8:54 am

        Thank you. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. Larry Cutting on August 16, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Thank you, Becky. I will be “hitting the road” soon again and so ordered from Harmony House Foods. Also, one of your readers suggested NIDO dry milk formula. I will try that too as I love to boondock and that’ll be a good substitute for “real” milk. I really enjoy your blogs.

    • Becky on August 16, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Glad you found this post helpful Larry, I hope the dehydrated food works well for you! If I drank milk I’d definitely try it myself, but I’m more of a cheese girl.

  4. Sharon Gulezian on July 29, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks Becky for posting about Harmony House. I just ordered the 12 pack variety soup. can’t wait to try it. what a great idea!!!

    • Becky on July 30, 2016 at 9:34 am

      You’re welcome Sharon, I hope the soups work out for you!

  5. Kent on July 29, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Looks to me like a pretty cost effective way to go. Especially for folks with no refrigeration.

    One “issue” with dehydrated foods. Fat does not dehydrate. Fat is fuel.(And also tastes good!) If I were to depend on these as a daily third my own diet I would add something like olive oil to up the fat grams. Add either more TVP or canned/dried meat to them to up the protein content. Or, supplement with cheese and crackers? Something like that.

    I’m an early American West history buff and “diet” is a pretty interesting part of it. Fat, Protein, Carbs, (Flour and Sugar) fueled it. Vegetables and fruits were a luxury. Most probably never think of what a very recent technology refrigeration is. Or just how little relative time has elapsed since the electric refrigerator has shown up on the scene.

    Great report Becky!

    • Becky on July 29, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Yes Kent I’ve responded to the issues you’ve brought up in earlier comments, and mentioned cheese and crackers in the post.

      I’ve read some historical texts myself and agree, it’s amazing how much has changed in 200 years.

  6. Vanholio! on July 29, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I mostly use dehydrated veggies to throw in with rice and/or meat dishes. I also drink the low sodium V8 and eat the solids of my herbal teas. Of course, I also eat fresh fruits and veggies at times.
    Vanholio! recently posted..Top 10 Questions About Living in a VanMy Profile

    • Becky on July 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      *Thumbs up*

  7. Larry on July 28, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Just wondering if the fruits & veggies would work for making smoothies in a blender?

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      According to Harmony House’s website, yes Larry. You’d just need to rehydrate them first by letting them soak in water, then draining off the excess water before putting them in a smoothie.

  8. Dawn from Camano Island on July 27, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Gosh, there’s a big response here. Frankly, I enjoy cooking while we’re on the road during our yearly trips south. I have a menu planner that I found on the web site of RV Goddess so I can plan what we need to shop for. I like to cook & Jim likes to eat so it all works out. We also eat a lot of fresh fruits & veg too.

    Because we’re here in the earthquake zone, we really need to get some emergency supplies put aside & these dehydrated foods would be perfect as long as we had a method to purify water. Adding bars with protein & nuts would be a good way to supplement our diet. My thanks to all of you for your suggestions!

    Happy trails, Becky.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      I’m glad you enjoy cooking Dawn, I’ve never enjoyed it and I hate the time I waste cooking and so try to minimize it as much as possible. Hence, things like this work very well for me.

      A lot of dehydrated food companies including Harmony House do advertising for emergency preparedness, because they last so long and take up little space. You’re welcome for this post and if you do try dehydrated food I hope it works out well for you. πŸ™‚

  9. Julianna on July 27, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks Becky, I just bought the 12 soup/chili pack, gona try them out for lunch at work.
    this will be a good plan for when I hit the road. πŸ™‚

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      I hope you enjoy them as much as I have Julianna! It’s hard to beat the savings in weight and space in an RV.

  10. Norm H. on July 27, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Excellent post! Our daughter-in-law has been dehydrating veggies, soups, herbs, etc. at home to feed her family of five (soon to be six) when they travel/vacation as they tent camp with a Toyota van and space is at a premium! Dehydrating, whether doing it ones self as she does, or buying as makes sense in your case, seems to be a great solution with minimal food value loss. Just have to keep an eye on the salt content in some products. They all seem to eat well and come home happy. So, keep on keeping on. It seems like a great way to carry more food supplies without adding to your trailer weight. Happy eating. πŸ™‚

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this post Norm. I could definitely see the advantages of dehydrated foods with a larger family and I’m glad it works for her. Take care.

  11. Debbie LaFleiche on July 27, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for the post Becky. I hadn’t ever considered dehydrated food for fulltiming since the RV has a kitchen. But your review definitely gave me cause for pause. Will look forward to hearing what you think of the other items as you try them.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Debbie, even if you have a good-sized kitchen I’d think dehydrated food would be a good thing to have as a backup in case the fridge fails or you find yourself in a remote area without a good grocery store. You’re welcome!

  12. David Michael on July 27, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Thanks Becky. Great review. When I bicycle toured through Europe with my teenage kids many years ago, we had lunch out in a small cafe, and then ate breakfast and dinner at our campgrounds. By using packaged noodles, which were easily available in the local stores, we added fresh veggies and made a nutritious evening meal. We rarely spent more than $50 a day for the three of us for everything. Times have changed, however, and it would cost us about $100 a day today. I like your idea of dehydrated food and plan to keep some in our van as a backup. Great idea! Thanks for the thorough review.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      You’re welcome David and I’m glad you found this info helpful!

  13. Jim on July 27, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Great post, really gleaned a lot of good info from it.

    I like the concentrated protein available from pemmican as an addition to a good veggi soup. Especially during times of extra work effort. Just a small bar really takes the hunger away. And it lasts for years without refrigeration and needs no cooking. It’s a little spendy but at under $1.50 per 1.5 oz bar in bulk, not too bad.
    Jim recently posted..Settled in at Fairview…My Profile

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks for sharing Jim and I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

  14. Alice on July 27, 2016 at 7:55 am

    thank you, good article. I live in a hurricane area and this would be good for that as well. Wondered about this for RV living, so will give it a try. Minus the soy.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      As I mentioned to another reader above, not all the soups have soy, I’ll put together a list.

      I use to live along the coast of South Carolina at about ten feet above sea level so I definitely get you on the hurricane thing Alice. Dehydrated foods would be a good thing to put in a preparedness kit.

  15. N Sky on July 27, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Becky, well done. Thanks for the new source and ideas.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this N Sky.

  16. Shelly on July 27, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Thanks for all the great information. Wie will give it a try.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      You’re welcome Shelly, enjoy!

  17. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor on July 27, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for the review – really useful! We live on a sailboat with some similar food storage issues to some RVers and campers. I recently got some of Harmony House’s peppers to try out as it can be really hard to find fresh produce in some of the areas we’ll be cruising in. I haven’t tried their soups, but it might be something we add to our food storage based on your review.
    Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor recently posted..5 Frugal Things | Keeping The Cruising Kitty HappyMy Profile

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Glad you found this helpful Ellen, you’re welcome. If you do try the soups I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

  18. Dave Rambeau on July 27, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Don’t miss Mesa Falls while in Island Park, ID!

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Ooops! I’m already considerably north of there Dave but I’ll check the distance and see if I can’t work it into my schedule. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Marcia GB in MA on July 27, 2016 at 7:03 am

    This is excellent information. I like the sound of the products you tried, except for the soy. I’m allergic to soy, so would have to buy individual ingredients and add chicken. Thanks for all your helpful reviews on many topics of interest to campers of all kinds.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Marcia, you’ve brought up a good point. The soy is a substitute for the meat in the soups that are suppose to be “meaty” (the ones with chickenish, beefish, etc. in the title), not all of them have it.

      Sadly I’m not at the RV right now so I can’t tell you which of them are soy-free. When I get online tomorrow I’ll hopefully remember to come back to this comment and tell you. πŸ™‚

  20. Steve on July 27, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Great post, Becky. I have eaten plenty of Mountain House pockets from WalMart in my backpacking trips. Fine for short term, but high in sodium and little protein; seems yours is similar based in your photo.

    What to do, what to do? Well, I know that protein is a staple of any diet to preserve (or build) muscle. The general wisdom is to take 0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein per day of body weight in pounds…those working to build muscle through resistance training need 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. So, a 125 pound person who is not working out with resistance, for instance, requires 90-125 grams of protein every day. Without it, the body will rob from muscle. Eating the soup, at 4 grams of protein, does little or nothing to getting toward the daily need.

    One solution is protein powders added to 20 ounces of water in a Nalgene-style bottle and shaken. A personal favorite is Muscle Milk Banana Creme, which has no real milk, btw. Two scoops is 32 grams of protein. It’s not cheap…one serving as I describe is about two bucks. ;-o. But, it’s very thick and filling. I’m just suggesting it as an accessory to the dehydrated, proteinless soups. I often use just the Muscle Milk for a whole meal…and it’s hard to get any nutritious meal for two bucks.

    These are simply ideas. You’ve got it going on, girl, so I respect your learnings and teachings. Frankly, I’ve after wondered if I would have a fridge on the road, since I’d eat out fairly often, I think, when I could. I don’t know the reality, though. You’re living my reality! Thank you, young lady, for being you. Steve in Chicago.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Yeah Steve, there are plenty of solutions of which your protein shake is a quick and easy one.

      I, personally, have meat with my second meal of the day (usually) so I get my protein that way. You could also add protein to the soup easily enough.

      As for the sodium, a person who was concerned about such things should look into the unseasoned versions of these soups, which Harmony House sells as well. I’m not enough of a health nut to worry about it. πŸ˜‰

      You’re welcome for this article and I’m glad you’ve found IO helpful. I wish you all the best in getting on the road!

      • Steve on July 30, 2016 at 8:00 pm

        Sounds great, Becky. The average slab of steak has about 20 grams of protein, so if you eat five slabs a day, you’re good. Lol.

        Thanks for the tip on the sodium. I used to not worry about sodium because I am perfectly healthy, but when I understood that it bloats the body by retaining water, and it makes one very thirsty (not great for a backpacker or boondocker), I now avoid it when I can (there’s so much of it in everything!).

        I sure like your independent nature on the road, Becky. Your emails light up my box and my smile. Steve

  21. Dog on July 27, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Check out thrive life.com. Really great freeze dried ingredients including fruits, veggies, meats and ice cream.

    • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing Dog.

  22. MB from VA on July 27, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Thanks for the informative review. I had wondered about that on occasion. Not sure what type of rig I will end up driving so I had given some thought to dehydrated foods and wondered how good they are. Have a good day out there! MB from the sweltering VA.( I had been working all day and had an errand to run in town (I manage a farm). As I was driving I looked at the dash and the temp read 101! Whew….glad I didn’t know that while I was working!!) πŸ™‚

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

      You’re welcome MB, glad you found this helpful. I can’t speak for other brands, but I’ve liked what I’ve tried at Harmony House.

      101? Yikes. Glad I’m up in the mountains. Hope it cools down soon.

  23. Mike on July 27, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Hi Becky:

    Great article!! I recently saw a bunch of dehydrated food (advertised as “emergency food” ) being sold at Sam’s Club. I’m definitely going to give it a try!

    Thanks, and be safe!


    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Yeah you see that a lot Mike, it lasts a long time so it works well for that process. I hope the experiment goes well for you!

  24. pamelab on July 26, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I’m curious about the nutritional value. Do you lose any of the nutrients in the dehydrating process? What about enzymes? I have done a tiny bit of backpacking where we prepared meals in baggies with water. They were more flavorful than we expected and so convenient.
    Becky, I’m pleased you did the experiment and shared results with us. More good information.
    Today, I got my towing hitch and brake controller. Almost empty little apartment. I will pick up my Casita 17′ Deluxe on Tuesday. Then, it’s back to Missouri City TX to show my son and grandson and shuffle items from my storage unit and rig. Then, to Lubbock to visit my daughter and her family for a bit and then on to Grand Rapids MI to see good friends. I have some plans after that, but I’ll just see how things go and what I feel is a good fit for me.
    Thanks, Becky, for your very enjoyable blog.
    Happy Trails.
    Pamelab in Missouri City TX

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:49 am

      I’m not sure Pamela, if you go to their website you’ll find more about the process and how it’s designed to hold in the nutrients, but like so much when it comes to food, it’s hard to prove.

      Hope the rest of your Casita preparation goes well, take care!

    • Karen on July 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Pamela, I’m new to Becky’s wonderful blog and loving it! I hope to join all of you wanderlusters some day! I just wanted to mention I used to be into the food dehydration for a while. DH and I owned a health food store. From what I’ve read, when the water is removed by natural dehydration, the minerals are concentrated, vitamins supposedly, though, not sure as they are less stable. Some reports say enzymes are also intact when dehydrated at low heat. Most of this makes sense as they are naturally a concentrated food. I like the light-weight feature, and do thank Becky for an interesting and informative post. Pamela, I’ve been seeing some of your posts on here. You’re getting so close! !!! Excited for you. Will you (or do you ) have a blog?

      Peace and adventure!

      • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:15 pm

        Yeah that’s what I’ve heard about dehydrated food too Karen, there’s just no concrete numbers so it’s hard to prove how “healthy” the process is. But there doesn’t seem to be any articles out saying that it /isn’t/ healthy so the way I see it, can’t be bad. You’re welcome for the article.

        I don’t think Pamela has a blog of her own, but she does frequent the comments of several bloggers including mine and RVSue’s. πŸ™‚

  25. Ron on July 26, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Really good report, we used dehydrated food many years ago ( about 40 years) canoe camping and didn’t like it. Maybe it has improved, I think I may like to have some on hand for emergencies and variety.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:45 am

      Yes, Harmony House along with the other dehydrated food companies do a lot of marketing for emergency preparedness, it lasts so long.

      I don’t know how much it has changed over time Ron but I hope your next try goes better (or tastier if you will).

  26. Paula Frazee on July 26, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Also, to save on water usage – I do “freeze bag cooking.” You might be interested in some of the ideas if you google it. There are even books of recipes. Basically, you mix everything in a freezer bag, add hot water, and let it sit wrapped up in a “cozy” – or any available blanket, sweater, etc.

  27. Paula Frazee on July 26, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Really interesting post for me since I have been backpacking for 40 years and had never heard of Harmony House! LIke most people I’ve have my backpacking food “routine” down for years and just vary it a little bit once in a while. I dehydrate a lot of my own food – hamburger and canned chicken are really easy, I even dehydrate my toothpaste into small dots to save weight on my geriatric knees. I just recently heard of freeze dried beef and chicken and was thinking about ordering some because it is lighter than dehydrated. But I usually buy “Just Veggies” (freeze dried mixed vegtgies) for the vegetable ingredients in my meal. The Harmony House info is fantastic because they send individual packets of the beggies. I’ll probably order some from them because it will make prep easier. If you are a fan of pasta salad (one of my backpacking favorites), it is easy to do with ramen noodles (throw the seasoning away) and mix with water and dried veggies to rehydrate, then add a packet of Italian Dressing and some dried Parmesan Cheese. Some people also add some pepperoni that doesn’t need refrigeration. If you mix it after breakfast, it will be ready by lunch. A nice meal when the weather is hot and doesn’t require any cooking at all.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Thanks for sharing your recipes Paula.

      Yes, it seems like there are a lot of options out there for dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

  28. sarah shillinger on July 26, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for this post. I have been thinking about dehydrated food. I like to cook so I am a little hesitant about an RV kitchen. I was wondering how dehydrated potatoes, veggies and meats would taste. I think that I will try this out before I hit the road.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Certainly can’t hurt to try Sarah, I hope it works well for you.

  29. wildflower in prescott on July 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Becky, I have a batch of blackeyed pea soup on my dehydrator right now! I am single and I used to freeze the extra servings of food I would cook. But I got hooked on dehydrating because of my backpacking and river trips. I have used harmony house vegetables and they would be a great source for people who do not have their own dehydrator.

    Also if you use milk you might try dehydrated powdered whole milk like Nido. I buy it at Wal-Mart. I have also used Peak. I calculated how the cost compares to milk in a jug and I think it is about twice as expensive, but no waste, no refrigeration, and no running to the store before I can drink my coffee. And tastes just like milk in a jug.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Wildflower. I don’t drink milk often (prefer cheese) but that’s a good tip for travelers who do.

      • marijka on July 28, 2016 at 12:04 am

        I don’t drink milk either, which means I never have it on hand to mix with instant pudding. πŸ™‚ I prefer Nido, too – it’s full fat and has good flavor as opposed to Carnation fat-free dry milk. I also use Nido powder in my home-made instant oats, add to soups for extra protein, and mix with water when making Knorr noodle sides. It’s usually in the Mexican aisle, but be careful to read the tiny print so you don’t end up with their infant formula! lol

  30. Airstreaming Pagey on July 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I am intrigued. Preferring fresh, whole foods and being vegan, I spend a good deal of my free time preparing meals for the next week. Using dehydrated would free up a lot of the time I spend chopping vegetables. I will look up Harmony House when the Internet here in Yellowstone allows me to do so.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:34 am

      I’m not sure how the flavor will compare to fresh veggies as I’ve never been big into them, but it definitely would save time Pagey. Good luck!

  31. John L. on July 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for posting this Becky! I had been considering dehydrated foods via Amazon as they have a big variety. Dehydrated takes up a lot less room, and based on your take, they sound pretty good! Will definitely be trying some on my trip to the Q this winter!


    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Glad you enjoyed this John, I hope your experimenting goes well. πŸ™‚

  32. Lynn Haddon on July 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    I am concerned about the nutritional values. Looking at the Veggie chili I noticed that 1 serving (2/3 cup) is only 2 gms protein and 51 calories.I suppose adding cheese and crackers and fruit would round it out. I have been wondering how I would make out on the road needing gluten=free products, How do you keep from having to shop almost daily? Thanks fpr the thoroughness of our research and the pictures. I love your photographs.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I eat enough other stuff (often including meat for my other meal of the day, I’m not really a vegetarian) that it hasn’t been an issue for me Lynn but yes, I don’t imagine you’d want to eat only this.

      I’ve never had to shop daily, so I’m a little confused on what you mean by that. I go grocery shopping about once a week and do just fine, you can read more about the food I eat on the road here: https://interstellarorchard.com/2016/05/24/boondocking-answers/

      I know several RVers who are gluten-free and they do just fine on the road, http://www.technomadia.com for starters.

  33. Linda Sand on July 26, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I like Mountain House entree’s. They make the full dish then freeze dry it whereas I’m told most companies freeze dry the ingredients then make up packets of them. My favorite is their Noodles with Beef Stroganoff. I like my main dish to have meat in it. They cost more, though.

    Another thing I like about Mountain House is you heat the water not the food. Put 2 cups of water in my measuring cup, microwave it for 3 minutes, stir the water into the food packet, and let sit 10 minutes. You can eat right from the packet but I like to pour it onto a plate so it feels more like eating a meal. Most packets say 2.5 servings but I eat all of it with no sides. Sides can be eaten later if I need them.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Mountain House was the brand of backpacking food I was familiar with from sports and outdoor stores Linda, I’ve tried one or two of their meals in the past and did like them, but they’re just too pricey for me to keep around as a staple.

      Funny story about their Beef Stroganoff, back in high school my best friend went on a backpacking trip with her class across Isle Royale, in the UP of Michigan. The teachers did a poor job of sorting out the food and her group (they split the class in a couple groups for the trip) got all Mountain House Beef Stroganoff to eat. For 7 days. She’d liked it at first but was so tired of it by the end. Now whenever she sees it it makes her laugh remembering.

  34. Jerry Minchey on July 26, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Becky, You’ve convinced me. I will give it a try. I don’t like a lot of spicy food, so I will go with the unseasoned packs.

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 9:27 am

      It’s worth a try I’d think Jerry. It should be noted that the unseasoned kind really has no seasoning at all, so you’ll probably want to add something to it. This way you’ll be able to flavor it to taste.

  35. GK Lott on July 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Nice idea. Recommend you consider these:
    They sell complete means and many separate ingredients. Soups are excellent. Have tried many other vendors, but we repeatedly come back to these for a delicious meal. We use these when backpacking and when traveling in our trailer.
    GK Lott recently posted..Skirt TrialsMy Profile

    • Becky on July 27, 2016 at 9:25 am

      I’m pretty happy with Harmony House GK but thanks for sharing, this could be helpful for other readers as I bet there’s a whole slew of dehydrated options out there that, because I’m not a foodie, I don’t know of.

    • Linda Sand on July 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Mary Jane’s Farm has a one person sized wok with a handle that folds in. We like to make our scrambled eggs in it. Her bake-overs are fun to do if you have an oven.

      • Becky on July 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

        Neat Linda. My 100 watts of solar won’t power something like that nor do I have an oven, but wok food is tasty!

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