Texture – For my money, there’s nothing worse than the rubbery meat of a ready-made meal. So it was with some hesitation that I dug into the Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce. But whether it was ground beef in the lasagna, shredded chicken in the Mexican rice, or Sweet and Sour Pork, it all felt like meat. And no mushy pasta or cardboard veggies, either. Something about the magical process of freeze-drying, which Mountain House (part of Oregon Freeze Dry) has been perfecting since the 1960s, preserves food at the moment it’s frozen. That means, when reconstituted, your meal looks, tastes, and feels almost identical to how it did when it was first prepared. (Want your mind blown? Read about the freeze drying process.) Variety – Here’s some fun history: during the Vietnam War, Oregon Freeze Dry was approached by the Department of Defense to develop portable meals that “tasted better, weighed less, and were easier to prepare” than the bulky canned rations servicemen had been toting around since WWI. The Mountain House line was the result, which means that the company has been experimenting, refining, and expanding their repertoire for more than four decades.
At any given time, Mountain House offers 20-25 different entrees, ranging from pasta dishes like Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Turkey Tetrazzini, and Pasta Primavera to down-home favorites like Chili Mac with Beef and Chicken Stew. The four I tried were all winners, which makes me think I could really brighten up a protracted emergency situation if I were to fill my shelves with all 20. And, of course, as icing on an already super palatable cake, the Mountain House meals are extremely light, store easily, require only boiling water, and (did I mention?) last for 30 years! This is one reformed skeptic who will be stocking up.