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Who remembers Vesta camping food….

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Camping, especially wild camping needs food to get you through it, I’m a bit of of a sucker for a pizza & a beer at any time and whilst these have certainly been in my rucksack over the years, there’s been plenty of other good options, especially these days!

Light years ago, it was Wayfarers (the one no one could afford!), some dehydrated food from Cotswolds that had no flavour apart from stodgy sawdust or whatever you could find in your Supermarkets, those were the options. Tins were frowned upon, ‘wet’ food was heavy and I swear some people thought it was cheating, some folk are nuts - stodgy sawdust or some lumpy stuff from a tin that actually tasted of something! Full English in a tin was a winner, accompanied with some salt & pepper sachets & brown sauce from Little Chef would set you up for the day. Vesta was another firm favourite from the shop, but seriously chewy cardboard is all I can remember.

We’d spend hours trying all sorts of stuff, health food shops starting selling dehydrated soya mice, add some spices and so on and you could get a decent meal. There used to be a cooked potato squeezed out of a foil bag from Sainsbury’s, the Swiss Rosti being the best, although every Rosti I’ve had since has never tasted like that!

A centre I worked up provided us with these dehydrated meals and they were a revelation, the lamb curry was just amazing, that was over 20 years ago, but after that pasta and pesto was cheaper, if you had the time & popped into your supermarket you could cook up some pretty decent food that hadn’t had all the moisture in it sucked out. I guess it’s easy heading down the convenience route…

I’ve probably tried most packaged ‘camping’ food over the years, American military meals that self heated and a NASA astronaut packet some of the more funky stuff, especially the NASA one - strawberry ice cream! Probably like most folk, at some point you come across a brand of dehydrated food that works for you and then you tend to stick with it.

I was put in touch with Tentmeals about a year ago and a short while later a huge box of goodies arrived, a mix of breakfast, main meals and snacks. I realised that all their options are vegetarian & vegan, now I’m a bit of a carnivore, I’m partial to a bit of dehydrated chicken, so instantly I was a little challenged!

Tentmeals, Dehydrated camping food

When you look at the simple facts it’s hard to not be impressed with the calories it carries for the few quid it costs. If you delve a little deeper, all the ingredients are natural, there are no colourings or anything apart from wholesome healthy ingredients, each meal is loaded with complex carbs, protein, and a good hit of fibre to keep you energised, strong, and ..regular - a common problem with dehydrated food! Look a bit further and you'll notice that the carb-protein-fat-fibre amounts vary across the meals meaning you can choose what's most appropriate for your trip or training.

Interestingly no oil is used to tip the calorie count.

But how easy was it to cook and was it in the stodgy sawdust category or….

The packets are ridiculously small and I was instantly looking for the hot water fill level, because that’s how most of these packets are rehydrated…after I read the instructions I realised I needed to go old school and actually rehydrate these in a tub / pan. Initially I was, ‘now I’ve got to carry something else’, actually it turned out to be no drama at all once I got my little system working, certainly just as quick to rehydrate as anything else on the market.

Thai Green curry was the winner, they all were to be fair! Sour cherry & chocolate breakfast packing 800kcal for less than a fiver, set me up superb for the day!

Silver foil packaging seems to be the go to option for most manufacturers, to be honest none of them that I’ve used are recyclable and the packaging is pretty large, so seem fairly wasteful. Tentmeals are working on a packet that is even more environmentally friendly, there are challenges, but meanwhile because of the packet size, it creates just 3 to 4g of recyclable plastic per meal.

If you don’t fancy what you see, you can order the dry ingredients and make your own meals up, who else would give you the flavour free, add curry powder to your shopping bag!

I met Jess the owner for coffee last year and her story of how Tentmeals came about made me smile, a proper adventure, her approach to making some top hydrated nosh is in the same spirit. Exciting to have a natural choice on the market and to see where it goes…..

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