Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals for Kids

Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals for Kids

One of the most daunting parts of backpacking with kids can be the food, especially on multi-day trips. This can be a chance for you to get really creative with your meal planning, but if that’s not your thing or you don’t have time for it, dehydrated meals can be a really easy and fun part of your time in the backcountry with your kids. Impact-Site-Verification: -564835795

The testers for this review are children aged 6, 8, and 9.5. They don’t typically like spicy food and can be less adventurous eaters at home, though I’ve found that when hungry in the backcountry they do tend to like more variety.

Three children in rain gear sit in the mountains holding backpacking dehydrated meals and smiling.

What to Look for When Choosing Camp Meals

  • Calorie, fat, and protein content of the meals are the metrics we look for. Usually you’ll have no trouble getting the carbs or salts you need in the backcountry, but you may want to look for those things if you have more particular dietary needs.
  • Serving size (most serve 2, but we reviewed options for between 1 and 3 servings per pack).
  • Cost, but remember to not only look at cost as often the pricier meals can be nutritionally denser, and thus a better value overall especially when you consider your pack space and weight. The dry weight to nutrition ratio is discussed a bit more in the next list.
  • Taste! Don’t undervalue this one. Eating good food when in the backcountry could make or break a trip. You’ve done so much work to get out there with your kids, if you can budget for the tastiest options, I don’t think you’ll regret it!
  • Water required/cook time are things I consider too. Having a meal done in around 10 minutes is ideal, and is honestly one of my favorite parts about backpacking with the kids.

Comparing the stats of four alfredo pasta dishes:

All these meals weight about the same, coming in around 5 ounces. That’s great for meals that pack such a nutritional punch, and why dehydrated meals are so useful to reduce pack weight and space in your pack.

The ReadyWise meal is almost half the price of the Peak Refuel meal, but I really didn’t enjoy eating it at all, it had a very packaged taste and I wouldn’t want to eat it again. If you’re really on a budget, ReadyWise meals can be found on amazon and at Fred Meyer, and are very accessible. But they also have substantially less fat than the Mountain House or Peak Refuel meals (30g less), and almost 20g less protein than Peak Refuel.

One blonde child in a pink puffy eats chicken alfredo out of the bag, mountains in the background as she tests the best freeze dried backpacking meals for kids.

The best value meal that still tastes good is the Mountain House. The price is a little bit cheaper than Peak Refuel and Backpacker’s Pantry, but it’s still very high in fat and protein, though you do sacrifice almost 20g of protein. Our choice is the Peak Refuel. You pay a few more dollars, but for the same 5oz you get a really amazing amount of fat and protein, and that makes this meal better for sharing with less need to supplement it.

Backpacking Food Ideas

Another good way to bulk up your meals a little is using additions like a tuna packet (for adding protein) or a wedge of parmesan cheese or cheese crisps (for adding fat). Tuna goes well in all the dehydrated pasta dishes, and you can add it right into the meal or just pass the packet around separately and eat right out of it (that’s what we do, just have the tuna packet follow the pasta pouch as we pass it around in a circle).

Many meals can be stretched by bringing backcountry taco fixins like chips, tortillas, and shredded cheese.

Adding some fruit bars, protein bars, trail mix, and jerkey are other favorite ways to keep energy and motivation high on the trail. Many of these options can get heavy, which is even more reason to use dehydrated meals for breakfasts and dinners.

TMM Team Member Amanda covers food options extensively in Backpacking Food Ideas for Families, and you can see some of my favorites in the post Solo Backpacking with Kids.

Why Freeze Dried Meals?

When backpacking with kids, weight and space are at a premium and you’ll want to be sure you have plenty of food while also ensuring your food weighs as little as possible. Dehydrated camp meals weigh only ounces, but rehydrate to hot, filling, delicious meals in minutes! 

A bag of Heather's Choice African Peanut Stew sits on a rock in an alpine setting.

The ease and taste of dehydrated camp food have always been one of my favorite parts about being in the backcountry, near-instant nourishment in such a convenient little package. Decades past there weren’t many choices, so I pretty much ate the same things (Mountain House Mac and Cheese and Pasta Primavera) over and over and over.

I actually never tired of these meals, and feel rather nostalgic about them now… but gone are the days of no choices! You can find nearly every time of food you can imagine in dehydrated camp meals nowadays!

When backpacking with kids, you want to be sure that you choose flavors they’ll like. I’ve found my children to be more adventurous in the backcountry than at home, but it’s a bummer if you end up with a really spicy meal that your children won’t eat! So we mainly gravitate towards the less spicy meals, though some give you the ability to control the spice level as you make it.

Freeze Dried Meals Tested

We tasted meals from Backpacker’s Pantry, Good to Go, Heather’s Choice, Mountain House, PackIt Gourmet, and Peak Refuel. While we did like something from every brand, we definitely have some favorites.

Picture of a lot of backpacking meals spread out on the shore of a lake

Peak Refuel and PackIt Gourmet were huge winners, with everyone loving pretty much every single meal we tried from them. We also loved most of the offerings from Backpacker’s Pantry. Heather’s Choice had some options the kids loved, but portion sizes were smaller and many of the flavors were more geared towards adults. Good to Go we were less enthused about on the whole.

Below we provide details on how we felt about each meal we tried, the nutritional information for each meal, and any other details you want to know.

Our favorite meals that will become staples on our trips are marked with a yummy emoji 😋, and a chili emoji 🌶️ shows the spicier options, and an X emoji ❌ is for meals we don’t ever need to try again.

Backpacker’s Pantry Review

Backpacker’s Pantry meals can be purchased through their website, and also at REI, Amazon, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and Walmart.

Overall Thoughts

  • Really good price point for the quantity of food, some offerings have lower cal/fat/protein compared to some other brands.
  • Easy to find these meals online and in local stores, and they have a lot of different offerings. 

Three Cheese Mac & Cheese

510 calories, 18g fat, 24g protein per package of 2 servings – $9.95

Kids really loved it. Rehydrates really well, noodles taste tender. Cheese sauce is a little watery and some chunks wouldn’t mix in even with vigorous stirring. The sauce didn’t cling to the pasta which maybe was why it was watery, which made it less desirable to eat for me but the flavor and tenderness of the noodles made up for it. We’d definitely eat this one again.

Pad Thai

730 calories, 31g fat, 23g protein per package of 2 servings – $9.95

Comes with a packet of peanut butter and a packet of unsalted peanuts to mix in (I really think the peanuts should be salted). I think the lime/spice packet came separate in this meal years past, and now it’s all mixed in. When it came separate I could add less to the kids’ portion and more to mine.

One child tester had a little bit and said it was too spicy, another said it was a little spicy but she kept asking for more because she loved the flavor. One child tester loved it and ate a ton. I really enjoy it too. It seems like way too much water at first but it congeals to around the right amount, though I do prefer to add just a tad less.

They also make a version of this with chicken that has a lot more protein (820 calories, 34g fat, 41g protein), and costs an extra $3. I think that’s well worth it for the extra protein!

Lasagna

620 calories, 18g fat, 29g protein per package of 2 servings – $9.95

Kids thought it was amazing and said they loved the noodles and sauce. But after a few bites they didn’t really want to eat more. I think it was quite tasty, but it tasted like a camp meal. Water added was just right. I’d have this one again but it’s not on the top of my list. As with other Backpacker’s Pantry meals, the price is pretty good for the quantity of food but it’s not quite as dense as some other meals.

Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken

580calories, 18g fat, 40g protein per package of 2 servings – $12.95

Kids loved it, and I was very impressed too. It’s not better than our favorite of all time made by PeakRefuel, but it’s way closer than I expected. It does have significantly less fat than the Mountain House or Peak Refuel varieties, so that’s a negative for me but if you’re looking for a meal with lower fat and higher protein it’s a really good one. Kids loved the cubed chicken in this one. Water added was just right.

😋 Granola with Blueberries, Almonds, and Milk

620 calories, 3g fat, 16g protein per package of 1 serving – $6.95

Some of the best granola the kids say they’ve eaten, they loved it. I’d say the directions asked for way too much water, but the kids loved drinking all the milk from the package after! If you or your kids don’t like to drink the milk up I’d add less so you don’t have extra liquid to deal with. 

This meal has significantly less fat than most other breakfasts, so I’d want to pair it with another meal with more fat. For the price it’s a good option to start the day with something kids will love, but you’ll definitely need several of these or another heartier meal. While the kids were wild about it, there are tons of other breakfast options I prefer.

🌶️ Summit Breakfast Scramble

260 calories, 11g fat, 18g protein per package of 1 serving – $10.95

Had one child taster who liked this – said the eggs were awesome and the spiciness was nice. Another child said it was too spicy (it does have a decent kick to it!) but they liked the consistency of the tender eggs.

Would be great if mildly spicy meals like this had a separate spice packet so I could add it for just those of us who enjoy it. I’d have it again on a trip with just my oldest, but wouldn’t have the younger kids try it until they’re more tolerant of spiciness. Could have added a bit less water to it too, but the photo makes it look more watery than it was when being consumed.

Photo inside bag of Backpacker's Pantry summit breakfast scramble.

Blueberry Peach Crisp

540 calories, 16g fat, 10g protein per package of 2 servings – $8.95

The peaches and the sauce flavor were amazing. It’s quite watery and I put less than the 1 1/4c water requested, but the warm liquid was yummy; still next time I’d add maybe 1c of water or less. The kids really liked it, but say of all the dessert options they prefer some others. I wouldn’t call this a crisp because it was quite soggy, but it was yummy regardless. To make it a crisp it would be great to come with a little packet of toasted oats and nuts with brown sugar to sprinkle over it for some crunch.

Photo inside the bag of Backpacker's Pantry blueberry peach cobbler.

😋 Creme Brulee

610 calories, 30g fat, 12g protein per package of 2 servings – $5.99

Kids all say it’s their favorite camp desert. Takes cold water and 10 minutes to set up. The consistency is amazing, and it’s really filling. There is a slight packaged taste to this, but not as much as I’d expect from dehydrated creme brulee!

The sugar pack was hard to open, it should have a notch in it so you don’t have to use a knife, but that little packet of caramelized sugar crumbles really made this meal. I’d definitely have it again and the kids can’t wait until next time we get to have it. For the price and the amount of fat and protein in this it’ll be one of our go-to desserts.

Photo inside the bag of Backpacker's Pantry creme brulee

Good To-Go Meal Reviews

You can buy Good To-Go meals from the Good to Go website, REI, and Amazon.

Overall Thoughts

  • These weren’t our favorite meals, but there are a few gems in here!
  • They offer one and two serving meals, and it’s nice to have the options.

😋 Granola

580 calories, 24g fat, 17g protein per package of 1 serving – $6.95

Tried it cold. Kids love it. “Really good”, “amazing”. They avoided the walnuts at first but ended up liking them. Little fig cubes are really yummy. This meal had a lot more fat than some of the other granolas and stuck with us longer. Would definitely get this one again, and it’s a great value for the price.

❌ Mushroom Risotto

410 calories, 10g fat, 13g protein per package of 2 servings – $15.50

No one liked this one and we couldn’t even finish it. The kids are very picky about when they like cooked mushrooms, but I love mushrooms and somehow I just couldn’t eat this one! I do have several friends who love this and think of it as a great backcountry comfort food. It’s also not very nutritionally dense, and has a very long cook time (20 min). 

A yellow spoon dips into a bag of mushroom risotto.

🌶️ 😋 Chicken Pho

390 calories, 8g fat, 27g protein per package of 2 servings – $15.50

Two children wouldn’t eat more than a few bites, said too spicy. One child taster and I loved it though, really tasty and flavorful. Not a hugely filling meal and soup is usually not something I choose for the backcountry but I gladly downed all the broth and I’m definitely going to grab this one again for trips without the kids or trips just with my oldest! This would be a really great one for cold wet trips as the broth was so uplifting and would make a really awesome lighter lunch.  

An orange spoon in a bag of pho

Pasta Marinara

370 calories, 7g fat, 12g protein per package of 1 serving – $8.75

“Delicious”, “awesome”! Two tasters loved it, one taster and I thought it was so-so. I like that it was made with rice noodles, but didn’t love the sauce. Just not a very interesting meal. There are a lot better options for pasta that have more fat and protein so I wouldn’t get this one again, but it’s not anything I can see kids refusing to eat so it’s a relatively safe option.

An orange scoop in a bag of rice noodles and sauce

❌ Pad Thai

460cal, 12g fat, 17g protein per package of 2 servings – $15.50

No one wanted to try this again. It was a tad dry (we added the recommended amount of water) and bland so a little extra water could help, but there are other pad Thai offerings out there that are a lot better and nutritionally denser (like the Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai for a fraction of the price). The noodles were tender and I thought it was a good amount of heat for an adult meal, but kids didn’t like that about it either.

Heather’s Choice Meals

Heather’s Choice dehydrated meals are available from the Heather’s Choice website, REI, Amazon, and Sportsman’s Warehouse. In Southcentral Alaska, you can order from their site and pickup at their warehouse in Anchorage.

Overall Thoughts

  • Locally made, awesome company with creative meal options. 
  • Wish they listed the liquid required in something other than ounces which my cups/pots never have measurements for, it also works out to an odd amount of water often. 
  • Single servings (most other meals come in double), more expensive than other options.
  • Longer cook times than many other brands, most of these take 20 minutes which is double the time of others.

😋 Morning Glory Oatmeal

480 calories, 19g fat, 13g protein per package of 1 serving – $8.95

Kids gobbled this up. They were skeptical about the carrots in oatmeal but after hearing that it tastes like carrot cake they dug in (it is a pretty sweet meal!). Pineapple was so yummy. I’ve had this meal on a number of backcountry trips and it’s my favorite for mornings that I don’t want a massive meal (like a giant serving of eggs) but want to start off with a hot meal.

Summer Harvest Oatmeal

410 calories, 13g fat, 11g protein per package of 1 serving – $8.95

Definitely not as big of a hit as the morning glory oatmeal. Two of the three kids said they’d eat it again but were hesitant about that (one taster only had a few bites and didn’t want more), and I’d never choose this one over some of the others I like more. Everyone loved the raisins, the kids didn’t like the nuts in it.

😋 Swiss Style Muesli with Milk

490 calories, 20g fat, 15g protein per package of 1 serving – $8.95

Really excellent meal, everyone gobbled this up. Two of the child tasters said “this is almost better than biscuits and gravy”, which is the highest praise they could have for a meal! We loved the plump raisins and the flavor of the oats. I love how little water it needed and that it was a delicious hot meal ready in 5 minutes. Will definitely get this one again.

Photo inside the bag of Heather's Choice Swiss Style Muesli with Milk

🌶️ Molé Sauce with Chicken and Rice

520 calories, 23g fat, 28g protein per package of 1 serving – $14.95

Kids wouldn’t eat more than a few bites, both because it was spicy and they also didn’t like the flavor. It’s definitely a more complex flavor with the chili and chocolate, and I spent the time I was eating this meal entirely on my own trying to figure out if I liked it or not. It wasn’t something I’d choose again because of how many other options there are out there.

Photo inside the bag of Heather's Choice Mole sauce with chicken and rice

Blueberry Cinnamon Buckwheat Breakfast

540 calories, 29g fat, 13g protein per package of 1 serving – $8.95

One child taster didn’t like the first bite but tried another and liked it more with each bite. The two other tasters would not eat more than a bite. The kids don’t like chia seeds and it is chia-heavy; I think it’s delicious and have bought it several times, the coconut flakes are really yummy in with the buckwheat and chia.

Photo inside the bag of Heather's Choice Blueberry Cinnamon Buckwheat Breakfast.

African Peanut Stew

480 calories, 17g fat, 10g protein per package of 1 serving – $12.95

Kids weren’t wild about it but they did eat it. One taster said they won’t try any more than one bite, one taster ate it because they was hungry but said she wouldn’t have it again unless she was very hungry. The oldest child taster enjoyed it and said it wasn’t too spicy. It really only had a hint of spice, and I loved the flavors.

I would definitely eat it again because the flavors and textures were awesome, but the cost is a factor as it’s more expensive and significantly less nutritionally dense than many other meals. It was a great meal supplement to mix up the flavors we usually eat. I think it would also work awesome on tortillas with some cheese to stretch it a bit further and have really unique flavorful tacos, just add a bit less water.

Photo inside the bag of Heather's Choice African Peanut Stew.

😋 Spinach Curry with Chicken and Rice

540 calories, 17g fat, 36g protein per package of 1 serving – $14.95

Such a small meal packs a lot of nutrition in it, I found it super tasty! Kids thought the rice, flavors, and curry was amazing. One child taster was gobbling it up and kept asking if they could take a few extra bites. This is another one that could work in tortillas with some cheese. We’ll buy this one again.

Photo inside the bag of Heather's Choice Spinach Curry with Chicken and Rice.

Vegetable Lentil Soup

420 calories, 4.5g fat, 23g protein per package of 1 serving $12.95

I added less water to this one and suggest going with the recommended amount. One child wouldn’t eat it, but the other two enjoyed it. I liked the flavor too, but it’s not the most filling choice and we’d all rather have the spinach curry with chicken and rice. I do think this one would work great in a tortilla too, with some shredded cheese to boost the fat (if eating on a tortilla reduce the water to make it refried bean texture), but we didn’t find it interesting enough to justify the cost.

Photo inside the bag of Heather's Choice Vegetable Lentil Soup.

Mountain House Meals Review

Mountain House meals can be purchased at their website, and also at REI, Amazon, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and Walmart.

Overall Thoughts

  • The original camp meals that I’ve been backpacking with for decades. I’ll admit to having a lot of nostalgia for some of these, so my opinions will have the bias of having them be kind of a comfort food for me.
  • With all Mountain House meals you add the water, wait five minutes, then re-stir and then usually it’s done it another four. I know you could do this with any meal but I like that if the directions with this one because then I can check the hydration halfway through without feeling like it’s going to ruin it, letting all the heat steam out of the bag. 
  • We have had trouble with the seal breaking off one side on many recent Mountain House meal. Never had that issue in the past and it’s happened 4 times in the last few months that the seal either broke up while rehydrating or broke off after when trying to use it to put another wrapper in. That’s a pain because then you have to put that whole bag in a different bag and I usually just use these bags as trash bags.
  •  Terracycle recycling program allows you to send in used pouches for free to recycle them! I only just found out about this program and haven’t tried it but definitely will be sending in pouches in the future and will update this post.
  • Mountain House comes in 2- and 3-serving options, and also offers bulk containers (10# cans). It’s nice to buy in bulk, but the savings are not significant. For example: instead of paying $2.20/ounce for the pre-packaged meals, you get them for $2.17/ounce in the big can and then have to divide it up yourself. Some of the flavors have slightly better savings, but it’s essentially negligible as far as I’m concerned and you’ll do better with REI’s bulk discounts.
Photo of Mountain House meal seam separating.
Seal separating from the side on a Mountain House meal

😋 Biscuits and Gravy

560 calories, 20g fat, 22g protein per package of 2 servings – $9.75

This one is the kids #1 camp meal of all time. We love that it comes in a 3-serving size (stats shown above are for the 2-serving meal). We usually use a bit less water than called for, it leads to slightly crunchy biscuits but the kids like it that way and we prefer the sauce thicker and creamier. We don’t have a single complaint about this meal, and whenever we have anything else (even a super yummy and sweet granola!) there are groans of “awe no biscuits and gravy??”.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

620 calories, 27g fat, 26g protein for package of 2 servings – $10.25

I’ll always think of this one as the Original Backcountry Camp Meal. I’ve eaten it a hundred times. The pasta is on the chewier side but it doesn’t bother us, it’s a really great comfort food. The sauce is nice and thick if you put a bit less water than the package calls for (package calls for 1 1/3 cup but I put a bit under 1 cup). If I hadn’t had decades of eating this under my belt, I doubt I’d appreciate it as much when there are a lot of brands that have much better texture in their noodles (Peak Refuel, Backpacker’s Pantry) and have more fat and protein.

😋 Pad Thai with Chicken

490 calories, 14g fat, 20g protein per package of 2 servings – $10.95

This was great, and tasted a lot better than it looked. One child taster liked the chicken the best, said it was a little spicy but good. Another said they loved the shrimp flavor (fish sauce). The third taster loved the little bit of spice and thinks every part of it is amazing. The chicken rehydrated really well and we all wished there was a bit more of it.

Photo inside the bag of Mountain House Pad Thai.

PackIt Gourmet Review

PackIt Gourmet is currently only available from their website.

Overall thoughts

  • Really impressed with every offering from this brand, will definitely buy them for future trips! In addition to the yummy flavors the packaging is beautiful and info is all laid out in a really smart and easy to see manner. Love that directions are given in cups, ounces, AND milliliters! Makes it so easy to measure using any pot or cup without having to convert.
  • Harder to buy, not sold at REI or any local stores, and shipping is expensive from their website. Orders over $150 are eligible for free shipping, but this excludes AK/HI. Really hope to see this brand offered in more places as they have some really awesome meals that are good enough that I’ll pay the shipping!

Good Day Sunshine Bowl

530 calories, 23g fat, 12g protein per package of 1 serving – $10.99

One child taster and I thought this was fantastic, another child didn’t like it because the nuts were smaller and she couldn’t avoid them. I really loved that about it, each bite had a bit of everything! Added the recommended water and it was a bit much, next time I’d add a little bit less. Everything rehydrated beautifully and the textures were all great.

😋 Cajun Ranch Chicken Salad

340 calories, 6g fat, 55g protein per package of 1 serving – $12.99

Cold quick meal, soooo yummy! Super high protein, lower fat so would make a great lunch paired with some cheese or a Heather’s Choice Packaroon. Kids love “the crunchy stuff”, and said “it’s overall amazing add it to the top of my favorite foods!”. Also heard was “I don’t like it, I LOVE it!”. PackIt Gourmet makes several cold salad offerings like this (there’s a curry mango chicken salad that sounds divine) and I definitely want to try more of them. Since it takes cold water it’s something that would be great for a quick lunch stop midway through a backpacking trip without having to get your stove out.

Polenta with Pork Sausage

370 calories, 14g fat, 14g protein per package of 1 serving – $10.49

One child taster didn’t like this one but he isn’t a big corn fan, I think it was completely delicious and would definitely have this one again! Another child taster thought it was just OK. This will be one I’ll take on solo trips, but I might try to get them to try it again as I think polenta might be the kind of food that grows on you and it was that delicious.

Photo inside the bag of PackIt Gourmet Polenta with Pork Sausage.

Dottie’s Chicken and Dumplings

370 calories, 6g fat, 44g protein per package of 1 serving – $13.99

Tastes like deconstructed chicken pot pie. Next time I’d add a little less water than recommended, it was just a tad saucy/watery but we all thought it was really delicious. I’d also love a bit more salt, it was very high sodium (1,420mg) but definitely needed more. Great amount of protein in here, but we’d probably want to supplement with some high-fat food. Would get this one again, but this brand has so many amazing options that it might not be at the top of my list.

Photo inside the bag of PackIt Gourmet Dottie's chicken and Dumplings.

Texas State Fair Chili

680 calories, 27g fat, 39g protein per package of 1 serving – $13.99

This was another tasty meal and we all enjoyed it. Definitely recommend extra chips to eat with this one, the baggie that comes inside is quite small and the crunch is so good. Some more shredded cheese would be good also. I’d add less water next time, while it is a chili no one wanted to drink the leftover soup. This would be great to pile on some nachos and melt over a campfire.

Photo inside the bag of PackIt Gourmet Texas State Fair Chili.

😋 Trailside Bean and Cheese Burrito

410 calories, 19g fat, 23g protein per package of 1 serving – $10.49

We brought some chips to have with this but will do tortillas next time. All of the kids loved it, it’s not spicy (but I added a little of the Cholula hot sauce to mine and it was great, when ordering you get a choice to include the hot sauce packet or not), really great flavors. Kids asked repeatedly if we could get this one again, we split the one-serving packet and everyone wanted more!

Photo inside the bag of PackIt Gourmet Trailside Bean and Cheese Burrito.

😋 Strawberry Cheesecake

620 calories, 20g fat, 14g protein per package of 1 serving – $10.99

Really yummy, kids were thrilled to have backcountry cheesecake! The texture was great, I thought it had a tiny bit of a powdered milk taste that I didn’t completely love but I’d definitely eat it again and the kids went wild for it so it’s a winner. Very filling high energy dessert.

Photo inside the bag of PackIt Gourmet Strawberry Cheesecake.

😋 Mom’s Banana Puddin’

470 calories, 17g fat, 8g protein per package of 1 serving – $10.99

This was amazing. Only issue was there wasn’t enough and it was gone in under a minute! The cake croutons were crunchy which I thought I might object to but they were perfect. Would love to buy again for a treat but will need to get 2 packs for the four of us to share (and it will be a very expensive dessert!). Would love to see some share-sizes for these!

Peak Refuel Meals Reivew

Peak Refuel meals can be purchased at their website, REI, Amazon, and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Overall Thoughts

  • On the pricier side but nutritionally dense and oh so yummy!
  • I haven’t ever tried anything from this brand that I wouldn’t happily eat again.

😋 Biscuits Sausage and Gravy

1100 calories, 85g fat, 34g protein per package of 2 servings – $13.95

Kids all love every part of this meal. It’s more peppery than Mountain House’s offering which is our standard breakfast, I love the pepper and the kids don’t object to it. Lots of discussion whether they like this one or Mountain House better, they might tend towards Mountain House but they both love both; I’d choose this one because it’s really a massive amount of fat for the price and keeps us going a long time (this meal has well over double the fat in the 3-serving Mountain House version).

All 4 of us share one of these and it’s satisfying so a little goes a long way! There are several large biscuits in this one so definitely don’t skimp on rehydrating time. We usually chop them up a little bit but the kids enjoy taking bigger biscuit bites out of this one (Mountain House has more crouton-sized biscuits).

😋 Chicken Alfredo pasta

870 calories, 48g fat, 53g protein per package of 2 servings – $13.95

This is my go-to meal and I’ve brought at least one on every backpacking trip I’ve taken for the last few summers. The kids all love it and while it’s pricier it’s a great value for the taste and nutrition. Kids love the creamy alfredo sauce, and the pasta and chicken are super tasty also. Everyone is always excited when this is what’s for dinner.

Child tasters gobbling down some Chicken Pesto Pasta with a volcanic Hawaiian landscape in the background.

😋 Chicken Pesto Pasta

920 calories, 65g fat, 43g protein per package of 2 servings – $13.95

Sooooo yummy, another family favorite and it has more than double the fat and protein of many other meals. Lots of chicken in it, and the chicken has an excellent texture, as does the pasta. The pesto sauce is flavorful and delicious, a little watery even with how little water is required for this one (2/3c is all that’s required but I think you’d be good going with between 1/2c and 2/3c), but we always slurp it all down.

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli

1090 calories, 69g fat, 52g protein per package of 2 servings – $13.99

This is the most filling meal we tried, with nearly 70g of fat and 52g of protein! For one person this would probably be a bit overkill unless you’re mountaineering or sheep hunting or really needing to pack a lot into one meal, but it’s great for splitting between hungry kids or sharing with two adults. Unfortunately only two of my child testers would eat it, and only one loved it like I did. The flavors and textures were both fantastic.

😋 Beef Pasta Marinara

1040 calories, 55g fat, 49g protein per package of 2 servings – $13.95

Delicious. Kids loved every part of it and it was all gobbled right up. They loved the beef and the pasta and the sauce (I’d add a bit less water so it’s less soupy, the liquid left as we approached the bottom of the meal is shown below). I tend to be picky about marinara sauce and this one was excellent, not too sweet and excellent flavor. Also so dense with calories, fat, and protein that we don’t need to supplement this one a ton when sharing!

A child taster eating out of the bag of Peak Refuel Beef Pasta Marinara with mountains in the background.

😋 Sweet Pork and Rice

750 calories, 12g fat, 40g protein per package of 2 servings – $13.95

This is another great one. Has a really nice flavor and the sweetness keeps the kids interested in it. We’ve eaten it plain right out of the bag, but also have taken it on cabin trips and car camping and put it in tortillas with shredded cheese and it was truly amazing eaten like that. Adding cheese also bulks up the fat and makes this a really filling meal as there is really a ton of it in the package.

😋 Freeze-Dried Brownie Bites

610 calories, 21g fat, 7g protein per package of 2 servings – $6.95

Really yummy, and the bag was a good splitting size for a nice tasty snack for the 4 of us. I think I prefer these over the cookies but loved both. I prefer rehydrated desserts for after dinner but this is a great trail snack.

😋 Freeze-Dried Cookie Bites

640 calories, 25g fat, 11g protein per package of 2 servings – $6.95

These were delicious, really great peanut butter flavor. Kids preferred these over the brownie bites, but begged for me to get more of either. I’m not sure how much lighter weight these are than other cookies (Tate’s are a yummy choice for the trail), but they’re very satisfying.

Backpacking Meals for Families

Dehydrated camp meals can help make your life a lot easier while packing for a trip, with pack weight, and when it’s mealtime. There are so many options to choose from, with more brands with exciting meals coming out all the time. So what are you waiting for? Grab some backpacking meals and get out there!

Related Articles:

Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals for Kids

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Author

  • Kristin grew up in Western Massachusetts but moved north to Alaska in 2008 in search of more snow and bigger mountains. She homeschools her three children and tries to spend as much time as possible learning outside. Kristin loves hiking, camping, puddle stomping, laughing, igloo building, reading, science, baking, photography, and watching the sun go down from on top of a mountain; and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for the natural world and her knowledge of the gear that can get you out there in every kind of weather. She works part-time from home as an Environmental Scientist and technical editor.

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