Thanks to preppers and innovations in freeze-dried delicacies, you can cook a full holiday dinner in the backcountry. Here’s how.
Nothing helps you avoid family drama like throwing your tent in the car and heading to the woods—preferably by yourself, or with a select few of your most low-key friends. Camping-friendly food packets come in such an array of choices that we discovered it’s possible to recreate the Thanksgiving meals of your childhood at your campsite. Think of it as a testament to how many kinds of foods we've freeze-dried—or think of it as comfort food when you're sitting under the stars, avoiding questions from your nosey aunt about your love life and career track.
We even jazzed things up a little with ingredients you'll probably already want in your pack. While everyone back home wrings their hands over their turducken, you'll just need to add hot water and stir—which means you can spend extra time on the trails, and that’s something to be truly thankful for.
Saratoga Farms promises that its Freeze-Dried Diced Turkey will never be “chewy or oily.” Sold. Unfortunately, the company only sells it in a 10-pound can, but the leftovers will last for three decades, and it's worth the investment for an authentic Thanksgiving experience.
If you want something that structurally resembles a perfectly carved turkey breast, try Mountain House Grilled Chicken Breasts and Mashed Potatoes. The packet contains two freeze-dried chicken breasts (complete with grill marks for authenticity) and a generous helping of spuds seasoned with Parmesan, herbs, and chives.
No freeze-dried food company makes a ready-to-go stuffing mix, but that’s probably because there’s no need to. Stove Top Stuffing is little more than dehydrated vegetables, bread, and herbs. The package directions suggest adding hot water and butter, but liquid oil will work in place of butter.
Saratoga Farms makes instant gravy, but there’s no real need to buy it from a specialty company when you can simply pick up an instant gravy packet from the grocery store. Now, heat-and-eat gravy isn’t fancy, but two backpacking staples can help dress it up. First, for additional thickness, stir in a few flakes from your instant mashed potatoes. It will bulk up your gravy without causing lumps. For a deeper flavor, stir in up to one teaspoon of plain instant coffee.
Green Bean Casserole
Start with a package of Mountain House Cut Green Beans. Add to the package one packet of instant mushroom soup (Campbell’s and several other brands make these) and half cup of French fried onions. Add hot water, stir, and top with more fried onions. If you really want to get fancy, crumble some dried porcini mushrooms into the mix.
Saratoga Farms sells freeze-dried sweet potatoes that plump after just a few minutes in a steaming bath. Again, you’re going to have to buy a 10-pound can of these. Top with a few marshmallows if desired—we know you already packed those for s’mores.
A Thanksgiving without pie is not a Thanksgiving at all. Mountain House’s Apple Crisp tastes almost as good as mom’s (sorry, mom). For extra flavor, try throwing a handful of the dried cranberries and almonds from your trail mix into the packet. If you’re more of a pumpkin pie person, Clif Bar offers a Spiced Pumpkin Pie flavor that’s pretty on-point.