Expedition Foods are based in the UK and are providing a wide-range of freeze-dried meals. They were kind enough to provide us with free samples, and I finally got around actually eating mine. Huge thanks to Mary from Expedition Foods, who got us the samples, and sorry it took us so long to give feedback!
I sampled the High Energy Serving Chicken Tikka with Rice, and here are the quick hits.
- Best I know in kcal/weight
- Among the best in price/kcal
- Pick between regular/high/extreme energy servings
- No significant cons
The meal I sampled was from Expedition Foods High Energy Serving range, which has typically around 800kcal per meal. This already highlights one of the things making expedition foods stand out from the crowd. The typical amount of calories for freeze-dried meals is around 450-550kcal, which is not enough for me to eat after a heavy duty day. With Expedition Foods, most meals are available as regular (around 450kcal), high (around 800kcal) or extreme energy (around 1000kcal). Instead of bringing two regular meals, I can just take one high energy meal from Expedition Foods.
The extreme and high energy meals are the best freeze-dried meal I know of in terms of weight per kcal. The Chicken Tikka I sampled gives you an outstanding 578 kcal/100g, which is only beaten by three other Expedition Food meals. On top of that, they also offer great value for money. At an RRP of £7.99, the extreme energy meals are among the best in price/kcal. Being outstanding in both kcal/weight and price/kcal makes the Expedition Foods an obvious choice for longer expeditions because these advantages really make a huge difference when buying food at scale.
Preparing the meal works the same way as every other freeze-dried meal. You take out the absorber, add hot water, and wait for the food to rehydrate for a couple of minutes.
One thing I noticed is that the packaging does not have a fill-line, so you just have to develop a feel for how much water to add. If this isn't your first freeze-dried meal, you probably have a preference of how soupy you'd like your meal anyway, and just know how much water is right for your taste. The package is resealable, so you can pack it away while the food rehydrates without fear of spilling it.
You can eat the meal right out of the bag, but for my taste, the bag was a bit too high for that comfortably, so I just used my multi-tool to cut off the top portion of the bag.
To be completely honest, I am no gourmet. And even less so after a day of hiking or skiing on an expedition. So any hot food will likely make me happy. That being said, I really liked the Chicken Tikka after 15km of tyre pulling. I usually don't eat spicy foods, and it was just right for me. It's spicy enough to be tasty, but not enough to make me drink excessive amounts of water.
I’m difficult to feed on 2 levels - firstly I’m vegetarian, which isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be, but does narrow my options somewhat. Secondly, and more annoyingly, I have an intolerance to onion and garlic. That narrows the field of freeze dried meals I can eat down to about 4! Fortunately, I’ve discovered Expedition Foods’ Scrambled Egg, Potato and Mixed Peppers. I ate this meal 3 times over 4 days when we were in Norway and I looked forward to it each time. It’s very tasty (admittedly, when you’re cold and hungry that’s hard to judge objectively, but still) and amazingly the potato has some crunch to it - a welcome change from most soft rehydrated foods. It rehyrates very well and has a really good, full flavour (something that’s easy to miss with the lack of onion and garlic!). While it would probably get boring to repeat frequently on longer expeditions, I’ll be packing several of these for our next couple of trips!
Expedition Foods also very kindly sent me a sample of their Porridge with Blueberries, which I got to try out when hiking in Wales recently. I like porridge in the morning, and this had a good flavour and texture, in that the oats soften really easily with just hot water (something I’ve struggled with when making my own high-cal porridge). There is a lot of it, and for this reason I think for me these breakfasts would work better on a long skiing trip than a simple overnighter in Wales, but it was still good to have a full, hot breakfast to set me up for a wet and windy day!
I can wholeheartedly recommend Expedition Foods freeze-dried meals to anyone. They are very lightweight with good value for your money and good taste. The different energy ranges offer great flexibility to adjust the meals to your expedition.