82837OR - Paleo Meals To Go - John Waters
- Jun 19, 2014
Can’t remember the last time I did an OR but Kathy’s been pushing me, so, here’s one. The HTML is in the test folder at http://tinyurl.com/kv2h6kz and the text is below.
Go easy on me, ok? Just kidding. Let me have it.
PALEO MEALS TO GO
BY JOHN R. WATERS
May 31, 2014
NAME: John R. Waters
EMAIL: jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado USA
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)
My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts.
I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well.
My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.
Manufacturer: PALEO MEALS TO GO, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.paleomealstogo.com
MSRP: US $35.99 Nomad Bundle (breakfast, lunch and dinner) Separately, each meal - US $12.99
Listed and Verified Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
Other details: <em>From the Manufacturer's Website and Packaging</em>
FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
My curiosity was strong when I first stumbled on Paleo Meals to Go. I've heard a lot about Paleo Diets, but knew almost nothing about them. What's the big deal, I wondered? For the sake of this review, I did a little research and the short story about Paleo Diets is this: the Paleo Diet consists of foods early humans ate, meaning foods people could hunt or find, like meats, fish, nuts, veggies and seeds. As one website put it, "If a caveman couldn't eat it, neither can you." OK, they had me at "meats".
Several needs have to be met by my backpacking foods: shelf life and storage, pack-ability, ease in preparation, taste and sustainability and lastly packaging disposal. I'll explain how the Paleo Meals To Go fared in each of those categories below.
During my evaluation of the Paleo Meals To Go, I was in the south central Wet and Cooper Mountain ranges. Elevations were just over 5000 ft (1524 m) and temperatures in the low to mid 60s F (16 - 18 C). It was dry, no precipitation and very low humidity. I also ate one of the breakfasts on a base camping trip in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado where it was about 50 F (10 C) and the elevation was over 8000 ft (2400 m).
I was surprised to not find any instructions as to the shelf life of the means on the packaging. Checking the website, I was very impressed with the excellent, detailed level of communication about the products in the FAQ were I found a very detailed explanation about shelf life determinations and the packaging construction.
Though there hasn't been an official ruling (in the works), it's estimated the lunch and dinner selections would last about 12 months and the breakfast about 6 months. Let me state right here, there is no chance whatsoever; any of these meals would last more than a week or two on our pantry shelf. I had to discipline myself to not snag one of the breakfast meals at home on a couple of occasions.
As with any freeze-dried food, I kept the meals in a cool, dry pantry, just off our kitchen.
Preparation for the Paleo Meals To Go is the same as for most every backpacking meal I have eaten on the trails. Open the pouch at the indentation, reseal, then invert and shake to distribute the seasonings. The pouch can be expanded at the bottom to stand upright. Then I would add the meal's listed amount of hot water to the pouch's contents, stirred the contents and re-closed the zipper, letting the meal stand about 4-6 minutes. After another quick stirring, the meals were ready to serve, either in the pouch or in a bowl.
When eating directly out of the pouch, I found it easiest to rip the pouch's top down closer to the food. Otherwise, it was difficult to get to the very bottom of the pouch. Because the pouch is so tall, I recommend and used a long, foldable stirring spoon for the preparation. According to the website, as soon as the volume of business warrants a custom pouch, the Paleo Meals To Go will have smaller pouches.
Now to talk about what I think is the most important consideration for my trail foods. How it tastes and how does it do at filling me up? Spoiler alert - GREAT!
Each of the meals tempted me with their aromas even before I served them up. They smelled like real food and surprisingly looked like real food as well. The Beef Mountain Stew had a nice bit of broth at the bottom, but none of the meals had that smushed together, bland, brown dog food look of a lot of other freezed-dried meals I've eaten on the trails. There wasn't a blanket of thick gravy to disguise exactly what I was eating, either. I could actually pick out the various vegetable pieces. And the MEAT! There was lots of it in every single bite. No digging through the pouch to find a sliver of protein here and there.
The spices were appropriate in both the Beef Mountain Stew and the Savory Chicken & Vegetables. I think the Stew was a little spicier but not to an unacceptable degree. I didn't need to re-fill my water bottle because my tongue was on fire, but my taste buds did wake up nicely. The Coconut Berry Breakfast was made even tastier by the use of the included honey crystal packet. I didn't even know there was such a thing, but am now a fan of honey crystals. The cereal was much more visually appealing, favorful and filling than my usual trail hot breakfast of instant oatmeal. Of the three meals, Kathy and I both agree, we like the Savory Chicken & Vegetables the best, but all three rate 4-5 stars on the taste charts.
Both the Stew and the Chicken meals are listed as being a serving for one. The breakfast is portioned for two meals. I'm thinking as an extra breakfast on an overnight backpack, maybe? In any case, even after a very long day on a strenuous trail, I found the meals more than enough for me. I mean, really more than enough. I found that by the midway point of the meals, I was satisfied, hunger-wise, and was just eating for taste because the meals do taste that good.
Kathy and I agreed that we were content with splitting one of the meals and that worked well for us. We didn't feel stuffed but we were not starving long before we would normally be, either.
I felt the meals gave me a good measure of endurance on the trails. No downward spiral from too much sugar or carbohydrates. And while on the subject of nutritional make-up, the Stew packs 37 g of protein and the Chicken, a walloping 45 g of protein. That's a lot of protein. For someone who doesn't normally eat that much animal protein in a meal, I suggest some caution. It can be a little hard on the digestive system. Ask my wife!
The Paleo Meals To Go packaging is pretty pack-it-out friendly. It folds down to a manageable size as well as any other trail meal I've had and I like that I can rinse it out and have almost no lingering smells to attract the local wildlife. I almost always pack empty packaging in a zip-lock type bag for that purpose anyway.
So, there you have it; my experiences and thoughts about the Paleo Meals To Go.
THINGS I LIKE
1. Exceptionally tasty! Best dehydrated trail food I've every had.
2. Lots of food in each meal. Very filling.
3. High nutritional value, even for those who do not follow a Paleo diet.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
1.) Only three varieties of meals (at this time).
I don't follow a Paleo diet but these meals are great tasting and do the trick when it comes to satisfying my taste buds and filling my stomach for a long stretch of backpacking and hiking. I would gladly even eat these meals when NOT on a hike, they are that good.
While the meals are just a tad higher than my usual price range for everyday hikes, Kathy and I found we could easily split one of the lunches or dinners, add a piece of fruit, some trail mix or other snack and be quite content. This makes the Paleo Meals to Go feasible, so we rationalized and definitely desirable before or after a summit climb or long day on the trail.
I heartily recommend the Paleo Meals to Go to anyone who wants a good tasting, highly nutritional meal on the trails with no fuss. We definitely plan to buy more for special celebratory meals after a hard day of trail blazing.
John R. Waters
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