|Rating:||8.8 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.9 / 2.5|
|Tatse||2.1 / 2.5|
|Convenience||2.3 / 2.5|
|Weight||2.5 / 2.5|
Campers Pantry have been known over the past couple of years as producers of high quality freeze dried vegetables but in late 2017 they became the newest entry into the Australian freeze dried meal market releasing ten main meal options in addition to three dessert choices. I was lucky enough to test out some of the prototypes and based on that, I was eagerly awaiting the appearance on the market. These meals are progressively becoming more commonly available and can also be ordered both online, in store and through the supplier.
Before I discuss the taste test many of you would be wondering why bother to introduce yet another range of freeze dried meals to the Australian market when the offerings from Back Country Cuisine and Outdoor Gourmet are so well known. Campers Pantry has done the homework and these main meal offerings which are single serve, sit in the middle, size-wise, of the other two brands at 110 grams.
On simple overnight trips, I find that the single serve offerings from Back Country work well but on multi week trips they are just not enough. This larger single serve suits those of us with bigger appetites who don’t want to go with the full twin serve option. In addition these meals offer some great variety rather than trying to repeat what is already on offer and in doing so, expand the freeze dried meal choices on offer. This includes two vegetarian offerings, that means that everyone should be happy.
The Campers Pantry Spaghetti Bolognese is currently the best bolognese on the Australian market; it actually tastes like Spaghetti Bolognese. The ratio of meat to pasta is good, the texture is good and the quantity works well. The taste was noticeably less artificial than many of the existing meal choices on the Australian market. In addition there is less salt and as someone who doesn’t add salt to food, I appreciate this. One thing that took me a little time to work out and I can’t put this in any other way but this meal appears to be less ‘artificial’ in taste.
My main gripe is that I like spicy food, and I mean really spicy food. I know that many of you prefer your meals slightly on the blander side but I found myself wanting to add parmesan cheese just to give it that tiny bit of tang. I know that this is being picky but I’m someone who makes Spahgetti Bolognese from scratch at home.
Campers Pantry meals have a high protein content which is so important particularly over the longer trips. The Spaghetti Bolognese has 28 grams of protein per single serve pack compared to under 16-17 grams per serve from other meals on offer. Other meals from Campers Pantry have much higher protein content again. And the calorie count for a single serve is also much higher meaning you can minimise the weight you carry to get the appropriate amount of food (listen our Podcast 057 on nutrition on the trail on the importance of protein on longer trips).
The Campers Pantry bag recommends adding 250 grams of boiling water to rehydrate this meal but the supplier informed me that when he reprints the bags he will increase this recommendation. I initially added 300 mls but found this was just on the dry side and a total of 350 mls of water was needed to get a good consistency.
Campers Pantry recommend allowing 20 minutes for rehydration with an occasional stir and partly this is due to the extra protein in the meals requiring this additional time to absorb the water but also because the 10 minutes that the other manufactures recommend is not enough. As I test the full range over the next few months I will see if a shorter times works.
The normal price for these meals sits around the $15.95 mark for a single serve pack which if you compare this to the offerings from Back Country Cuisine single serves is expensive. However, lets talk value for money rather than cost. These meals are great tasting, have a much higher protein content than the other choices currently available on the market which while not an issue for short trips is very important on the longer more physically demanding trips. They also have a higher calorie content which helps to reduce the food weight you carry – particularly important for longer trips. These meals have a two year shelf life so you can stock up at the sales in anticipation of an upcoming trip.
The meal comes in a bag that is well designed and the bottom opens out to provide a flat base if you want to leave the bowl at home. Unlike Back County and Outdoor Gourmet, the Campers Pantry meals don’t have a tear point to make the food easier to access. This doesn’t bother me as I prefer to use a long handled spoon and leave the bag intact otherwise you can end up a big mess in your rubbish bag.
So what is the final verdict? We finally have a real commercially prepared Spaghetti Bolognese to eat on the trail as a large singe serve meal that I would be more than happy to eat in any hiking rotation. I’ll just need to remember to take some dried parmesan with me on the trail.
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Campers Pantry Spaghetti Bolognese meal as purchased
Meal bag with the base folded out allowing the bag to remain upright while rehydrating
Campers Pantry Spaghetti Bolognese meal unrehydrated
Campers Pantry Spaghetti Bolognese meal rehydrated and ready to eat
This review was done with product provided by Campers Pantry