The usual commercial backpacking meal options (foil packs, freeze-dried, that sort of thing) have never appealed to me, mainly for reasons of price and choice*, and for the last decade we have, with the exception of a couple of our foreign trips, cooked and dehydrated almost all of our in-tent evening meals. However, back in May I had the opportunity to try a couple of the offerings from a little company called TentMeals and I was impressed enough to pen a few words in their favour (something that I was under no obligation to do when I tried them – I didn’t receive them direct from TentMeals and the company has no idea that these meals landed in my stomach**).
Three things immediately struck me when I saw these meals:
1) they don’t have an excess of packaging. They’re very small and neat packages (which does rely on you having a pan/bowl/tub available to make up the meal); and
2) they look thoroughly wholesome, being presented in layers including nuts, seeds and fruit; and
3) they contain a goodly amount of calories (the packs shown below are both 500 calories for a 127g pack; they also come in 800kcal/180g-ish packs)
I would have sworn that I took photos of the main meal I ate, but if I did I now can’t find it, so here’s a photo of a different main course, as well as a breakfast which may or may not have been the same one as I ate.
I tried both a breakfast and a main meal:
I’m not entirely sure which breakfast I tried as it ended up in my hands because the label was missing, but I think it was the Blueberry Burst pictured above. Whatever it was, the main things that struck me about it was that it produced a massive portion and that it used oats of a much better quality than those I usually use. The portion would, perhaps, not have seemed so large if I was on a walking trip when I tried it, but as I was spending my days sitting down at the time, the portion proved big enough to keep me feeling full until lunchtime. That’s quite remarkable for someone who is renowned for the phrase ‘I’m hungry’ and who usually only makes it a couple of hours after breakfast before snacking. My verdict for the recipe was a definite thumbs up.
It was the Morrocan main that I tried, which is a couscous based meal, with fruit and nuts, a few veg, herbs and flavouring. Very tasty it was too. Another thumbs up, and my perception was that it was definitely more wholesome and filling than an Ainsley Harriet flavoured couscous sachet. It wasn’t as filling as the breakfast, but it was enough for me, and if a bigger portion was required, the company also does an 800-calorie version of its mains.
TentMeals is only a little company and I really like what they’re offering. I would happily eat these again on any of our trips.
Unfortunately for TentMeals, that doesn’t mean that I will necessarily become a customer (although, that said, if the generous discount voucher I have is still valid, I might be tempted). Whilst I think that £4.50 for both of the meals I tried is competitive when compared to the rest of the commercial backpacking meals market, the fact is that these are essentially raw food meals that get their high calorie content from nuts, seeds and dried fruit and I could knock up something very similar myself. However, not everyone wants to spend time making up their own backpacking meals, so for those who want to buy off the shelf, I’d say that TentMeals is very much worth a look.
(*choice being a particular issue as I avoid meat; all of TentMeals offerings are meat-free, albeit with serving suggestions that meat can be added.
**that was me doing the ‘disclosure’ thing!)