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by Mountain House February 06, 2023

The Best Freeze-Dried Meals for Camping, Hiking, Emergencies, and Home

Freeze-dried meals have a whole host of uses, from the backcountry to the home pantry. Here at Mountain House, of course, we’ve been leaders in the freeze-dried food industry for better than a half-century, and our delicious, just-add-water meals have your back whenever and wherever you need them.

What is Freeze-Drying, Anyway?

What exactly is freeze-drying? It’s a process (more formally known as lyophilization) which removes water from a product that’s been frozen and subject to a vacuum environment. The crux of the process is sublimation, by which frozen water transforms directly into a gas form (water vapor) without an intervening liquid phase. This helps preserve the molecular structure of the food, and thereby its nutritional value, its texture, and—just as importantly—its flavor!

With 98% of their water content removed (a higher percentage than conventional dehydrated food) freeze-dried meats, vegetables, dairy products, and the like are incredibly lightweight and packable. With the case of Mountain House, you also get premium, durable packaging resulting in an astounding 30-year shelf life. And they’re incredibly quick to prepare, with Mountain House’s freeze-dried foods the fastest-rehydrating of their kind on the market.

That all means they’re perfect for everything from camping, hunting, and fishing trips to emergency preparedness—and those rushed, cluttered, everything-going-off-the-rails days when you just don’t have time to cook.

Let’s run through these different activities and scenarios and highlight just why Mountain House freeze-dried meals are absolutely ideal for them!

Freeze-Dried Food for Camping (Weekends, Long Stays, etc.)

Campers eating Mountain House.

The packability, nutritiousness, and quick-prep nature of freeze-dried food makes it a no-brainer choice for camping trips. Their convenience makes a spontaneous weekend getaway at the local state-park or national-forest campground easy as can be (not least with our Adventure Weekender Kit), with no stress about putting together a complicated larder.

And for longer camping trips, their variety keeps mealtimes interesting and something to look forward to. Freeze-dried pouches and kits can easily be integrated into weeklong camping menus alongside other kinds of foods.

The space-efficiency of freeze-dried meals is a big advantage when packing for camping trips. You’ve obviously got more storage capacity when car camping, as compared to backpacking (which we’ll get to in the next section) or, to a lesser extent, canoe/kayak camping. Because our Mountain House freeze-dried foods only need a few minutes steeping in boiling water to be ready to eat, you don’t need as much stove fuel or burner capacity as for cooking-from-scratch meals.

Excellent options when it comes to freeze dried meals for camping include the breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees available via our Adventure Meals and Classic Meals, with nutrient-crammed Pro-Paks something to consider for higher-octane campouts (such as paddle and hunting trips).

(And there are plenty of ways to exercise some culinary creativity at the campsite with our Breakfast Skillet, Beef Stroganoff, and other freeze-dried meal pouches.)

Freeze-Dried Food for Hiking & Backpacking

Hikers eating Mountain House.

For hitting-the-trail sustenance, it’s hard to top going the freeze-dried route! Whether you’re tackling a long, huff-and-huff dayhike or going on a days- or weekslong backpacking odyssey, you want to gravitate toward lightweight, packable, and highly nutritious—just what freeze-dried meals offer!

The speed with which you can prepare a freeze-dried meal is a big advantage when hiking or backpacking. A delicious, reinvigorating dayhike lunch can be whipped up trailside in no time. And when facing the prospect of setting up camp in the cold of a quick-falling evening, after a long day banging out the trail miles, it’s a joy to know a mouthwatering, piping-hot dinner is just a few minutes away–without burning through much campstove fuel in the process, either! These nutrition-packed camping meals are also up to the task of meeting the higher daily caloric demands of hikers and backpackers.

The diversity of Mountain House products make them the best freeze dried backpacking food out there. Keeping the menu varied becomes a surprisingly important goal in backcountry adventuring, as limited meal options and too much repetition of the same ho-hum fare can lower your motivation and enjoyment levels big time. From Granola With Milk & Blueberries and Veggie Chorizo Breakfast Scramble to our Pad Thai With Chicken, Lasagna With Meat Sauce, and Creamy Macaroni & Cheese, explore our full collection of backpacking-friendly freeze-dried meals.

Freeze-Dried Food for Emergencies

Mountain House buckets in the trunk.

Everybody should have an emergency stockpile of provisions in case of natural disasters, extended power outages, and other contingencies. At the bare minimum, an emergency kit in your home, car, or workplace should include 72 hours of food and water. For a home disaster kit, that minimum supply should be stored for each member of the household, with individual dietary needs and restrictions naturally taken into account. And, of course, having properly stored emergency fare for more than just three days is always a good idea. (You can learn more about assembling a disaster preparedness kit with us or Ready.gov.)

Freeze-dried food is ideal for the purpose of emergency preparedness. And what is the best freeze-dried food for disaster preparation? Well, we’re biased, but we don’t think you can top Mountain House products, given their unrivaled shelf life and 30 Year Taste Guarantee! Our meals can be rehydrated with room temperature water, in case there isn't a way to heat them. Simply double the rehydration time. Perfect for emergency scenarios.

Our Just in Case… collection includes a wide variety of #10 Cans and Multi-Day Kits ideal for disaster preparedness, including 3-Day, 14-Day, 30-Day, 3-Month, 6-Month, and 1-Year packages.

It’s important to store your freeze-dried emergency food properly, including keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from moisture and exposure to high temperatures. (Learn more about how to store your emergency food supply.)

Freeze-Dried Food for Home Use

Mountain House Fettuccine Alfredo

There’s another good reason to have freeze-dried food available in the home besides its usefulness as emergency sustenance: It fits the bill for everyday meals as well! After all, the reality is many of us don’t always have time to cook something complicated, and relying on delivery and takeout isn’t obviously great for long-term health or the ol’ budget.

Delivering toothsome flavor, balanced nutrition, and the unbeatable ease and time savings of just-add-water prep, Mountain House meals serve as the best freeze-dried food for the household pantry, fitting the bill for everything from running-late breakfasts to leisurely dinners where you want the focus on conversation and conviviality more than complicated or drawn-out kitchen work.

Our crowd-pleasing meals also include vegetarian and gluten-free offerings, giving you all the more options when it comes to accommodating everybody in the household. Discover more ideas for at-home meal planning with Mountain House.

Choose the Best Freeze Dried Goodness on the Market

Hiker getting ready for a long hike.

From getting ready for severe storms, floods, and other disasters to making sure you’re happy and well-fed out on the trail or down at that lakefront campsite, look no further than Mountain House for the best freeze dried meals available! With our products, you tap into more than 50 years of industry-leading standard, including our proprietary freeze-drying process.

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