Food for OMM
With The Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) approaching fast I thought it was time to check out some food options. Yes, I know I should be out running and navigating in the hills to get fit for it, but I thought testing some freeze-dried meals would be easier and makes me feel as though I’m preparing!
We have to carry all of our own kit so keeping things lightweight is essential. Freeze-dried meals are therefore the way to go and some of them are actually quite tasty.
Freeze drying is a dehydration process that involves freezing the product and then removing the water. This preserves the food and allows them to come in small packets that simply need hot or cold water to bring the food ‘back to life’. Because all of the moisture has been removed from the food, they take up less space and are lighter to carry. They are also easy to prepare and once ready they taste and look like real food.
Dehydrated foods are similar, and one of the meals on test here was dehydrated rather than freeze-dried. This process typically removes 85-95% of the moisture from food compared to 99% when freeze-dried. Dehydrated meals also take longer (15 minutes) to rehydrate compared to 5-8 minutes for freeze-dried foods.
It’s always good to have something of a treat at camp so some tasty food is worth investing in. The calories and energy they provide are of course essential too. I wasn’t sure which ones to go with so bought a small range to try them out first. These are my thoughts on the ones I tried.
Real Turmat Field Meal
Pulled Pork with Rice
Weighing in at 175g with the packet and providing 700 kcal this meal provides 4.0 kcal/g. It cost £10.99. They have a good range of flavours including reindeer stew, along with some breakfast meals and puddings.
The packet was vacuum packed so was quite small but it was also less flexible for squeezing into the corners of a rucksack. The fill level marking is on the outside of the packet which works OK, but would be better on the inside. Mixing it was easy and according to the instructions it takes just 8 minutes to rehydrate using hot water. It will re-hydrate with cold water as well but takes a little longer.
As far as the taste goes then it was delicious. I actually thought about getting some in for evening meals at home it was that nice! The packet was easy to eat from as well. The instructions tell you to tear off the ziplock closure using a second tear strip before eating which makes it even easier to eat from, but I’d suggest leaving it on as you can then re-seal the packet to stop any mess afterwards when carrying your rubbish back out with you. The packet is recyclable too which is nice.
Chicken Rice with Vegetables – High Energy version
This was in quite a large packet but did provide the highest calorie count of all at 800 kcal. It was also the heaviest of the meals at 206g so provided 3.88 kcal/g. It cost £10.49 and they do a larger 1000 kcal version too at £11.49. The range includes a nice selection of flavours and several breakfast meals and puddings.
There was no fill line on the packaging which meant some guestimating was involved to add the correct amount of water. Not too much of an issue as it’s kind of easy to know how much was needed and the instructions say it only takes 5 minutes to rehydrate. If it’s too dry after that amount of time you can easily add some more, or just wait a little longer for it to rehydrate more. That said, even with plenty of water I felt as though longer than 5 minutes was necessary to make sure things were properly hydrated. 10 minutes was more realistic and even then it wasn’t fully softened even though the overall consistency was still quite wet.
The taste was good and it had a nice warming effect. Just what you need in a tent on a cold, windy hillside. There was also plenty of it in this large packet size but it wasn’t quite as tasty as the Real Turmat pulled pork above. The packet was also too hot to handle when ready to eat and wasn’t recyclable either.
BBQ Pulled Pork with Rice
This one had a small, neat packaging but was also the smallest on ‘test’. Weighing in at 149g and packing in 610 kcal it provides 4.09 kcal/g, that was the best kcal/g ratio out of the three I tested. It cost £7.45 but was reduced from £10.79. The range of flavours is a little smaller here but they do have various vegan and gluten free options and the natural ingredients are often sourced locally to the kitchen in Dorset. These are dehydrated rather than freeze-dried.
It mixed easily and after the 15 minutes rehydration time as stated on the packet had become quite a dry mix of proper food. It actually looked like real food with real chunks of pulled pork and tasted good too. The taste wasn’t amazing but there was nothing wrong with it either and it would certainly do the trick on a windswept hill. The packaging wasn’t recyclable again but I think they do make one that are.
Overall, the Real Turmat Field Meal was my favourite. I loved the taste and it sat right in the middle of the meals on test here when it comes to stats. The packaging was recyclable and the taste was definitely the best. I think I’ll go with these for the OMM. Now I just have to decide which flavours I want and how many I need. It’s only one night so a main meal and a pudding should be fine, but maybe I’ll need a breakfast meal too. We also have to have at least one spare meal that should be left over at the end of the event. It’s an emergency ration just in case.
I should also mention that I haven’t ‘just’ been eating. I have been out training with a fully laden rucksack too. Hence the slower than usual pace on my recent runs.