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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > AlpineAire Assorted Meals 2007 > Test Report by Jo Ann Moffi


AlpineAire Foods

INITIAL REPORT: April 30, 2007
LONG TERM REPORT: August 12, 3007

Name Jo Ann Moffi Backpacking Background:
I was introduced to backpacking about 15 years ago when I met my husband. We have been backpacking, canoe camping, car camping, hiking, and participating in all sorts of outdoor activities ever since. We live in a border town (US & Canada), so we spend lots of time in both countries for our outdoor excursions. When making a decision on gear, I like to go lightweight and practical. I don't like to carry around extraneous bits and pieces.
Age 33
Gender Female
Height 168 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Weight  84 kg (185 lbs)
Email Address jomoffi AT gmail DOT com
City, State, Country Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Product Information

Manufacturer:  TyRy, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
MSRP: In US $:
        Pepper Steak with Rice: $6.75
        Mountain Chili: $8.99
        Chicken Dijon: $6.75
        Bandito Scramble: $5.23
        Chocolate Mudslide Pie: $4.50
Listed Weight:
        Pepper Steak with Rice: 170 g (6 oz)
        Mountain Chili: 170 g (6 oz)
        Chicken Dijon: 206 g (7.25 oz)
        Bandito Scramble: 99 g (3.5 oz)
        Chocolate Mudslide Pie:162 g (5.75 oz)
Actual Weight:
        Pepper Steak with Rice: 203 g (7.2 oz)
        Mountain Chili: 194 g (6.8 oz)
        Chicken Dijon: 242 g (8.6 oz)
        Bandito Scramble: 126 g (4.4 oz)
        Chocolate Mudslide Pie: 196 g (6.9 oz)

*Please note: my weights are done with the food in the packages. This may explain the discrepancy between the weights listed by the manufacturer and my actual measurements.

Item Received:
April 30, 2007

My package from AlpineAire Foods contained one pouch of each of the following foods:
Pepper Steak with Rice
Mountain Chili
Chicken Dijon
Bandito Scramble
Chocolate Mudslide Pie

Each of the pouches are in a generic AlpineAire Foods labeled package with individual stickers pasted on the front indicating what each pouch contains on the front and another label with the Nutritional Facts of the food on the back.
NUTRITIONAL FACTS Serving Size Calories Total Fat Sodium Carbohydrates Protein Fiber
Pepper Steak with Rice 1/2 Package 321 7 g (0.25 oz) 1241 mg 78 g (2.75 oz) 16 g (0.56 oz) 4 g (0.14 oz)
Mountain Chili 1/2 Package 391 17 g (0.6 oz) 219 mg 97 g (3.42 oz) 9 g (0.32 oz) 1 g (0.04 oz)
Chicken Dijon 1/2 Package 404 9 g (0.32 oz) 828 mg 57 g (2.01 oz) 24 g (0.85 oz) 7 g (0.25 oz)
Bandito Scramble 1/2 Package 220 11 g (0.39 oz) 620 mg 19 g (0.67 oz) 11 g (0.39 oz) 2 g (0.08 oz)
Chocolate Mudslide Pie 1/2 Package 391 17 g (0.6 oz) 219 mg 97 g (3.42 oz) 9 g (0.32 oz) 1 g (0.04 oz)

AlpineAire Foods Excess PackagingEach of the labels on the back of the packages includes the Instructions on preparing the food and the ingredient listing in addition to the Nutritional Facts. The Nutritional Facts also includes a sampling of the vitamin and mineral analysis and how the Percent of Daily Values compare on a 2000 calorie diet. I'm not going to go into the minute detail of each Nutrition Fact label here as it is readily available on the manufacturer's website.

The calories per meal seem to be a bit on the skimpy side for someone who may have hiked 12 - 16 km (7.5 - 10 mi) in one day. I can see that I will have to supplement my meals with additional food to replenish the calories I burn during a day's worth of backpacking.

The packaging of the foods seem to be a bit more than necessary for what each pouch contains. When I slide the food all the way down in the package, I can fold each one more than halfway over with the excess packaging. I'm certainly not a gram weenie when it comes to backpacking, but this still seems wasteful. There is also a considerable amount of the package - about 6.35 cm (2.5 in) - that is above the resealable portion of the packaging that is just going to be torn off and thrown away. AlpineAire Foods Folded

Interestingly, all but the Bandito Scramble are 'No Cooking Required' foods. Once the water is added to the mix, the Bandito Scramble needs to be cooked the same way as fresh eggs. The rest of the foods are 'add water and let stand 12-15 minutes' preparations. All of the foods carry a warning to remove the oxygen absorber prior to adding water. I have not tried out any of the foods, but the instructions seem pretty straight forward and should be easy enough to follow.

August 12, 2007

Chicken Dijon:  The AlpineAire Foods website describes the Chicken Dijon entree as 'A creamy Dijon Sauce with Fresh Dill Blends, Brown Rice, and White Chicken Meat.'
The ingredient list includes (in addition to various spices and flavourings):
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley Flakes
  • Freeze-Dried Chicken
  • Romano Cheese Powder
  • Bulgur
  • Sour Cream Powder
  • Parmesan Cheese Powder
  • Freeze-Dried Peas
  • Potato Starch
  • Carrots
I ate the Chicken Dijon entree after a day of backpacking in Lake Superior Provincial Park in late June. It was easy to prepare: remove the oxygen absorber, add boiling water, let sit, and stir. Simple enough. However after letting the entree sit with the boiling water for 10 minutes what I presume to be the brown rice, barley flakes and/or the bulgur were still hard. I tried adding more boiling water after another 5 minutes, but there were still crunchy bits in the entree. It was also very dill flavoured. Overall, not a very satisfying culinary experience. My dog seemed to enjoy her portion though.

Chocolate Mudslide Pie: The AlpineAire website describes the Chocolate Mudslide Pie as 'A rich chocolate pudding with chocolate cookie crumb crust and a peanut brittle topping.'
The ingredient list includes:
  • Fructose
  • Corn Starch
  • Whole Milk Powder
  • Chocolate Pie Crumb
  • Dark Cocoa
  • Peanut Brittle
  • Whole Dry Eggs
  • Natural Chocolate Flavour
  • Vanilla Flavour
  • Salt
  • Flour
I ate this dessert after the wholly unsatisfying Chicken Dijon entree. It was a surprisingly good 'pie'. I was skeptical at how well it was going to mix up as it started out quite lumpy, but after a few minutes of mixing then letting it sit for 5 minutes, it was quite smooth. Not blender smooth, but I wasn't finding lumps of brown powder either. Pie is a very loose way of describing this dessert, it really is more of a pudding with chocolate graham cracker crumb and peanut topping for sprinkling on top. I mixed my toppings in as they were getting stuck to the sides of the bowl anyway. My dog didn't get any of this dessert!

Pepper Steak with Rice: The AlpineAire website describes the Pepper Steak with Rice as 'Beef slices with rice and sweet peppers.'
The ingredient list includes (in addition to various spices and flavourings):
  • Rice (instant white)
  • Beef (freeze dried)
  • Beef Powder
  • Corn Starch
  • Sea Salt
  • Red Peppers
  • Beef Flavour
  • Green Peppers
I ate this entree on my first evening of a backpacking trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park in late July. The beef slices were little cubes about 0.64 cm (1/4 in) square. I let the meal sit for the full 15 minutes before trying a bite. It was much better than the Chicken Dijon experience. All the ingredients were equally hydrated and quite tasty, for a backpacking meal. It was a bit salty but overall had a nice flavour. It should have been called Rice with Pepper Steak as the bulk of the meal was the white rice with a handful of beef squares tossed in. I ate about 2/3 of the package before starting to feel full. My day of hiking wasn't particularly strenuous and I had been snacking on fruit leather and nuts throughout the day so 2/3 of this package was enough to satisfy me for the evening. My dog shared the remainder of the meal with me.

Mountain Chili: The AplineAire website describes this entree as 'A savory blend of pinto beans, corn, mushrooms, & spices.'
The ingredient list includes (in addition to various spices and flavourings):
  • Pinto Beans
  • Texturized Vegetable Protein
  • Tomato Powder
  • Corn Meal
  • Chili Powder
  • Freeze-dried Corn
  • Red & Green Bell Peppers
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
I ate this entree on the second evening of my Lake Superior Provincial Park trip in late July. I followed the directions on the package, adding the 3 cups of boiling water. After 15 minutes, not all of the water had absorbed yet there was still crunchy bits in the chili. The pinto beans and the corn retained a slightly chewy texture. After trying to pick out each major ingredient to figure out what it was that was still a bit crunchy, I determined it was the onions. This was not as unsatisfying as the Chicken Dijon meal, but it wasn't my favourite. The chili flavour was pretty good, but there was a strange aftertaste that I couldn't put my finger on. I have experienced this in the past with other vegetarian chili mixes that I think might have to do with texturized vegetable protein. This was definitely the most filling of the AplineAire meals I tried, I was feeling full after about 1/2 of the package. I didn't want to give that much chili to my dog, so I packed out the remains of the meal. I think that the addition of some rice or bread with this meal would have made it more appealing to me. 

Bandito Scramble: The AlpineAire website describes this breakfast as 'Eggs, potatoes, our special cheese blend, mild chilies & other treats will liven up your morning.'
The ingredient list includes (in addition to various spices and flavourings):
  • Egg Mix
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Sour Cream Powder
  • Uncoloured Cheese Powder
  • Onions
  • Red & Green Bell Peppers
  • Freeze Dried Chilies
This is the only of the meals that AlpineAire provided that required more than just adding water. I made this meal for a breakfast on the same trip I consumed the Mountain Chili and the Pepper Steak with Rice. I mixed the meal with the cool water right in my cook pot. I let it sit for the 10 minutes required, then turned on my stove. Once it started to boil, it quickly absorbed most of the liquid. There was a bit of remaining water, so I let it cook a bit longer to evaporate the liquid. There were lots of onions in this meal, about 1/2 the contents in the package was onions. I like onions, but I would never be able to convince my picky nephews to even take a bite of this meal. It was quite tasty, and built up a bit of spicy heat after a few mouthfuls. Again, after about 1/2 of the package was consumed, I felt full and had enough of the onions. On the whole, it was a pretty satisfying breakfast with my tea.

Final Thoughts
With the exception of the Chicken Dijon, the AlpineAire Foods were tasty. I would consider using them in the future on backpacking trips where complete prepackaged meals would be preferred over my usual food planning and dehydrating. They would be especially handy for a short notice backpacking trip where I didn't have time to prepare my meals in advance.

As for the amount of food and the fullness feeling after consuming the meals, I would definitely take one package per person per meal or have other food items available to consume with the AlpineAire meals in their recommended serving sizes. I am not a hard core mileage backpacker, but I feel I need more calories than each serving provides. During the test period, I snacked while on the trail and when I took breaks.

I still think the packaging is excessive. I prepared all but the Chocolate Mud Slide Pie and the Bandito Scramble in the package as I believe was intended. There was still plenty of packaging above the food line once I added the required water. I must not be a very tidy eater either as I managed to get food on the sides of my hand when reaching in the package to eat. The shape of the bottom of the package also makes it a bit difficult to get all the food out of the corners. In future if I use AlpineAire Foods, I would probably prepare the meal in a bowl or pot to eliminate these issues.

This concludes this test series. Thank you to TyRy, Inc. and BackpackGearTest for the privilege of testing this food.

Read more reviews of AlpineAire gear
Read more gear reviews by Jo Ann Moffi

Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > AlpineAire Assorted Meals 2007 > Test Report by Jo Ann Moffi

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