Food Editor Aaron has tried another reconstitutable meal, another Mountain House "Pro-Pak" entree.
His observations are below.
Food Testing - Lasagna
Hello Again, Readers!
It's time for another test of long-term-storable food here, since Lisa's at work and I don't have many tasty leftovers in the fridge for dinner tonight. Yes, I much prefer Lisa's cooking to mine, even when they're leftovers, and the only cooking I have to do is add boiling water. I'm THAT bad a cook. So, if I can make this thing edible, it's a safe bet you can too.
Tonight's meal is Mountain House Pro Pak(tm) Freeze-Dried Lasagna with Meat Sauce. If you remember, I reviewed the MH PP Freeze-Dried Beef Stew not long ago, and found it to be a winner. I haven't tasted this lasagna yet, but it shares several things in common with the beef stew:
CONS: Expensive - at around US$5.00 per pouch, this isn't something most folks will be ready to really stock up on. However, as I noted above, a few in a grab-n-go bag would be affordable and effective. Sticky - this kinda surprised me. There is apparently something that acts just like melted cheese in this bag - whether or not it's real cheese, I'm not sure, but it glopped up my spoon in a heartbeat, and took another utensil to clean the food back into the bag for it to reconstitute. VERY melted-cheddar like. This may turn out to be a good thing, taste-wise, but it's a surprising drawback in the preparation stage. Cooking - While the packaging is excellent for space optimization, preparation requires pouring boiling water into the foil/plastic pouch, and stirring. Like the Beef Stew, this means you probably should be wearing a glove to hold the bag still while you're stirring, otherwise you'll be burning your hand. Maybe there's a trick to it I haven't learned yet, but I find it difficult to hold the bag still and stir the contents when there's 200+ degree water in there.
Observations: Like the Beef Stew, this smelled delicious as soon as the water hit the ingredients. This time, I refrained from licking the spoon. Again, stir THOROUGHLY - there's freeze-dried powdered stuff all the way down there, and it ALL needs to be mixed up completely, or you're going to find a rude surprise in the middle of your meal. Preparation is about the same - add 1.5 cups of boiling water, stir, seal the ziplock, wait 8-9 minutes, stir again, and eat. Which brings me to the eating part...
This ain't bad at all. *Disclaimer: I'm almost as bad as Garfield. Garfield has "never met a lasagna he didn't like". I have, once, but it was on an airline, so I'm not sure whether that counts as actual food.
The pasta - meat - sauce - cheese proportions seem to be about right. Spices are about right, quite tasty. Two items of note - the pasta amount is right, but it's cut up quite small (big pieces are maybe half the size of a dime). There's the right amount of them, but they're not the big sheet-pasta lasagna normally has. Not an issue in my opinion, just don't expect big noodles. Also, I'm not sure what kind of cheese is in here, but it's ... odd. It tastes good, and has the right "mouth feel", but it gloms onto the spoon REALLY bad. Doesn't seem to be sticking to the inside of the pouch, but I have to use my teeth to rake the cheese off the spoon every bite. It's REALLY sticky. Plan extra time cleaning your eating utensil after this, as well as your bowl if you don't eat it straight from the pouch.
Ok, I'm finished eating. For now :) This was another "WIN" from Mountain House, as far as I'm concerned. Quite tasty, quite filling - although, unlike the Beef Stew, I could have finished this in one sitting after being at my desk job all day. I saved a little to get Lisa's opinion on it later. The stickiness lasted all the way through the meal; it will take a little extra effort to clean that spoon. But the taste and texture were fine. I wouldn't put it up against the lasagna from Joe's Pizza and Pasta near work (where I eat lunch regularly), but this was altogether a tasty and satisfying meal. Definitely something I'd look forward to at the end of a march. Now if MH could just freeze-dry a good Caesar’s salad and breadsticks to go along with it....
Two for Two from Mountain House Pro Pak(tm)... I'm actually starting to look forward to trying the rest of them now. And when I do, you'll read about it here.
If you have any questions about anything I've written here, please post in comments, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my home blog, Dad's Garage.
Author's note: These tests are purely subjective (other than the nutrition information). I'm not a good cook, just evaluating what I can do with long-term-storage food. Mountain House is not paying me, or Paratus, anything, and I bought these meals on my own dime from Academy Sporting Goods. I'll let you know right here if we establish any kind of business relationship with Mountain House, or any other manufacturer I review here.