One of the most important things when we're planning a backpacking trip is food. And if you ask my family, who are usually my hiking partners, they'd just say: Is there anything else more important?! We love to eat. We'd shed anything we can cautiously shed in our packs just to make room for food, seriously… okay maybe alcohol, too.
Meal planning is fun, but it can be tedious and time consuming. And more often than not, we would end up over thinking and over packing on food. I think our fear to starve for a day (or any point in a day!) is beyond explanation. Ha!
Then I got directed to check out Great Outdoors Food. I thought I was in camping grocery heaven! It has a “Build Custom Meal” tool that lets you shop your way through a wide variety of camping food products while at the same time helps you be organized in gathering your food, watch your nutritional intake and police your wallet.
As you go through to build your custom meal, keep on clicking on those “Yes” or “Next” or “Skip” or “Add” buttons, all the data from the food you grab for your virtual shopping cart gets tallied and there’s a chart that shows you what you have already gather gathered and how much, be it in terms of nutritional value to how much your meal already costs. It’s a great tool for those backpackers who are nutritional and budget conscious. Makes me wish my regular grocery shopping lets me do this!
You can label each meal that you create. I can see it being used to separate daily meals. It would be great to use when composing a resupply cache for those thru-hikes. It can also be used to separate each meal for each person in your group or family and label each their names.
And at the end of your meal planning clicking extravaganza, you get to review you all the meals you have created in separate charts as exactly as how you've composed it. And they pack and ship them out to you the same way! All separated and labeled with the tally chart that you see when you’re shopping for your food. Great to double check what you've ordered!
I did enjoy shopping through their wide array of products, from freeze dried meals up to the last detail of condiments. I love the fact that I can purchase per piece of individual packets of certain things. Things that I know I will never use, if I ever buy them on my own, since they can only be bought in boxes of. Mayonnaises, sugar, creamers, salt, and pepper packets – I do confess, I usually get them for “free”. But hot sauce (in particular Cholula! Woot!), salad dressings, olive oil packets (I get these usually in mini bottles at Cost Plus World Market) and a cheddar cheese spread? Oh the possibilities.
I’m a bit partial to a certain company that produces freeze-dried food, mainly due to some taste testing we've previously done. If we’re packing freeze dried meals, we’d be packing Mountain House meals. Hopefully they’ll start carrying them sometime soon. But for now maybe it's time to try out the other company again. it has been a while.
Price-wise on the products, it’s pretty much within boundary. I’ve found some items they’d carry cheaper and some not. No biggie, I say things even out in the end. The individual packets I’d expect would cost slightly more than when purchased by the boxful, but that’s fine I’d rather pay a just few cents more than be stuck with a box of 97 packets of creamers.
Then there is the shipping cost that also needs to be factored in which kind of balances out when I make a separate trip to the store just to purchase food for an upcoming trip. They offer priority mail via USPS to my CA zip code. And when I got to test the site out with the help of a coupon, shipping was fast. I placed my order on a Thursday and it was already in my mailbox by the time I came home from work on Monday.
In the end, I’m glad Great Outdoors Food was created. The helpfulness and ease of use of it is making me look forward for my big trip in summer, 9 days’ worth of meal planning for 3 people – bring it.
For more information or you'd like to check it out and look around, visit: www.greatoutdoorsfood.com
Update: ended up shopping? Enter gof20off coupon for 20% off. Enjoy!