If you do a lot of wild camping, then while specialist dehydrated meals might be convenient and light, it can work out extremely expensive. I tend to buy them for my main backpacking trips when I may need to carry five days’ food, but look our for some cheaper alternatives when I’m only out for a night or two.
Here’s our selection of easy and cheap wild camping main meals that should be readily available from any large supermarket.
1 – Look What We Found – We reviewed these recently, and they’re head and shoulders above any ready meals we’ve ever tasted. Ranging from £2 upwards, they’re at least half the price of ‘proper’ camping food. Personal favourites are the Chicken Tikka and Meatball varieties, which have been something to look forward to at the end of many a tough day’s wild camping. The only downside is that they can be low in calories compared to other options, but something that’s easily rectified by making sure you’ve got pudding.
2 – Pasta And Sauce – These come in various varieties, which are all much of a muchness. It doesn’t get any cheaper than this for a lightweight meal, but you will need to find some method of livening them up as they can be utterly bland, making a tasting session beforehand vital. You can improve the taste by adding a small tin of tuna, some smoked bacon or topping with cheese. We recently found a ‘wet’ variety in a pouch, but we weren’t overly impressed. Remember to read the instructions thoroughly before you hit the hills as most of these require the addition of milk, with optional butter.
3 – Beanfeast. If you haven’t heard of it, Beanfeast is a soya protein based dehydrated sauce that’s available in Bolognese, Mexican and Savoury Mince varieties. It was once the mainstay of student diets, but is now difficult to find in anything but the Bolognase variety. The Savoury Mince variety goes well with dried mashed potato, if you can get your hands on it. Presumably it has lost favour due to the side effect that’s normally attributable to beans and the knock on effect that extra methane has on anthropogenic climate change, not to mention the well being of flat mates*. Half a packet, along with some egg noodles or pasta, should be more than enough as I find it extremely filling. However, ensure that you don’t need to share a tent after eating this. More importantly, make sure that anyone you need to share a tent with doesn’t plan on eating a hearty bowl. SERIOUSLY.
4 – Supermarket Tortelloni and Ravioli. These make a satisfying meal for one coupled with a pot of Napoletana Sauce, which is usually enough for two. You’ll need to make sure that your cooking pot can accommodate the entire packet in one go, which is only just possible with a 850ml MSR Titan Kettle by using a lot of care! The pasta is drained and the sauce added to the pot to warm up. Not the recommended method of cooking, but I’ve been OK so far. The downside is that it’s rather heavy and is only suitable for the first night of any trip.
5 – Leftovers – Admittedly, this is an “I couldn’t think of five” copout. That said, the best meals that I’ve had on a mountain have been home made ones. Lamb curry, made with plenty of mushrooms and frozen in a ziploc in order to prevent leakage. Soak in hot water the minute you arrive in camp, to cook it slowly and defrost if needed. Simply eat along with some rice and perhaps a naan bread. Same goes for anything similar that you have leftover.
*I never thought I’d get anthropogenic in the same sentence as a fart joke.