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Dehydrated Meals From Home: Easier Than You Think!  

A person pouring water from a nalgene bottle into a jetboil container, with a stasher bag full of ingredients to the side,.

 

I don't like to think of myself as a picky eater, but if you know me, it's pretty tough to deny. Too meaty, too bland, not spicy enough, too much cinnamon... (just kidding, you won't catch me saying that last one). But I do always have a complaint of some kind with nearly all dehydrated backpacking meals - at minimum, they're full of single-use waste which can really add up across a summer. The packets also generally say "feeds 2" but half isn't enough calories for me after a full day; I eat the whole bag for this reason and end up uncomfortably full instead. The last time I was in this vegetative state I thought, there has to be a better way to portion control.

 

First, let's talk about the things I LOVE about those meals: single-use convenience for packing, just-add-water method (no simmering = no wasted fuel), cook in the bag (no pot to pack or scrub), and a huge variety exists for even the pickiest of us to find flavors we enjoy. But how hard could it be to custom make your own at home?

 

A major factor contributing to me even attempting this was finding the perfect silicone bags that are oven- and dishwasher-proof. These can be rolled up and stuck into my pack after eating, and cleaned at home - just the same as packaged food, except reusable instead of trash. I also found some with a 'gusseted' bottom that helps it stand upright while boiling water and getting everything prepped, which is a huge bonus. They're the perfect size for a large single-serving and I can even fit garnishes inside. Stasher brand to the rescue, and you can check them out here!

 

A clear stasher bag, 3 seasons and spices, and dehydrated carrot container.

 

My next hurdle has been dehydrating vegetables. It's certainly possible in an oven, with a lot of human-powered-thermostat work since most ovens don't have a low enough temperature for it. I've tried and failed and thought about investing in a dehydrator, but knew there'd be a learning curve there too. This year, I decided to go through this local Calgary company - Briden Solutions - that sells dehydrated bulk foods so I'd have the perfect broccoli every time, but could still control everything else about the recipe. So feel free to experiment with dehydration, or go straight for the pro freeze dried goods. The latter will keep longer too, meaning you don't have to worry that they'll spoil across the winter like my last homemade batch did. So if you do try making your own: store them all separately, add a food-grade silica gel packet, and make your batch at the start of each season.

 

So what kind of recipes are we talking?

These two are my go-tos; they're vegan, gluten free* and dairy free, and my favorite ways to refuel after a long day. Bonus: if you don't have any dietary restrictions, add in whatever you like!

1) Peanut Pad Thai (*gluten free if using a tamari packet)

2) Veggie Curry with rice

 

Ingredients for dehydrated meals measured out and ready for prep.

­Peanut Pad Thai:

 

Sauce:

2 tbsp peanut butter powder

1 tbsp raw or brown sugar

1/2 tbsp coconut powder

3/4 tsp lime powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

 

Mix together all powders with a fork ensuring no clumps.

 

Build in the Bag:

1/4 package (68g / 2.4oz) thin rice noodles, crushed

(put into bag then seal & smush - smaller pieces cook more easily)

1 tbsp (5g / 0.18oz) carrot

1 tbsp (5g / 0.18oz) red pepper

1 tbsp (3g / 0.1oz) broccoli

1 tbsp (2g / 0.07oz) green beans

1 tbsp (3g / 0.1oz) green peas

1 tbsp (2g / 0.07oz) onion

 

- Add powdered ingredients, mixed

- In separate sealed container(s), add crushed peanuts and fresh herbs if you'll be eating it within the following couple of days.

- Add soy or tamari packet

 

Garnishes:

1 tbsp crushed peanuts

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp chopped green onion

1 soy sauce packet (if you don't have one, add 1/2 tsp extra salt to the dry mix)

 

Method:

Remove all garnish packets from bag. Boil water and add 1 cup, mix thoroughly. Seal bag and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir again, and add more water if needed (always better to start with less water & add more). Let sit 5 more minutes or until rice noodles are cooked enough. Stir in all garnishes and enjoy!

 

A closer look at homemade dehydrated meal prep: a view of the ingredients inside a stasher bag.

 

Veggie Curry:

 

Sauce:

3 tbsp coconut powder

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp mango powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp fenugreek

1/8 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp ginger

pinch cardamom

 

Mix together all powders with a fork ensuring no clumps.

 

Build in the bag:

1/2 cup Minute Rice (be sure it's instant rice, regular rice would need to simmer)

3 tbsp (24g / 0.84oz) chick peas

1 tbsp (2g / 0.07oz) potato

1 tbsp (2g / 0.07oz) onion

1 tbsp (5g / 0.18oz) red pepper

1 tbsp (2g / 0.07oz) green beans

1 tbsp (5g / 0.18oz) carrot

1 tbsp (3g / 0.1oz) green peas

 

- Add powdered ingredients, mixed

- In separate sealed container, add fresh herbs if you'll be eating it within the following couple of days.

 

Garnishes:

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp chopped green onion

 

Method:

Remove all garnish packets from bag. Boil water and add 1 1/4 cups, mix thoroughly. Seal bag and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir again, and add more water if needed (always better to start with less water & add more). Let sit 5 more minutes or until rice & chick peas are cooked enough. Stir in all garnishes and enjoy!

 

A women mixing ingredients in a clear stasher bag on a dock surround by water

 

And that's it! Once you have these ingredients on hand, it's pretty fast and easy (and economical!) to combine into meals for an overnighter on a whim. I also didn't mention - my boyfriend is a hard-to-impress-chef, and we both LOVED these... I've tried a huge assortment of the pre-bagged ones and these are by far my favorites. I may be biased, but I think they're awesome, wholesome and healthy.

 

Written by Maryn Simrak