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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals > Test Report by Michael Wheiler

CACHE LAKE CAMPING FOOD
EGG MEALS
Test Series
By Michael Wheiler
 


SKIP TO THE INITIAL REPORT: MAY 31, 2009
SKIP TO THE LONG TERM REPORT:  SEPTEMBER 22, 2009


INITIAL REPORT
  May 31, 2009


Packaged Product 


Personal Information:

Name:    Michael Wheiler
Age:   53
Gender:   Male
Height:   5'10"  (178 cm)
Weight:   175 lbs (79 kg)
Location:   Idaho Falls, Idaho
Email:   jmwlaw AT ida DOT net



Experience:

I have about 41 years experience hiking, camping, and backpacking.  I was active in the Boy Scout program as a youth and I am an adult leader.  I try to get into the backcountry at least one weekend every month and for at least one week long trip annually.  I also do some mountaineering.  I consider myself to be a mid-weight backpacker.



Product:
Outfitter's Choice Scrambled Eggs
Outfitter's Choice Scrambled Eggs with Sausage
Outfitter's Choice Western Omelet
Outfitter's Choice Tex Mex Omelet
Manufacturer:
Manufacturer's Web Page:
Cache Lake Camping Food
http//www.cachelake.com
Servings Per Container:




Calories and Total Fat Grams Per Serving:
Scrambled Eggs:  Two 3 oz/85 g servings
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage:  Two 3.5 oz/99 g servings
Western Omelet:  Two 3 oz/85 g servings
Tex Mex Omelet:  Two 4.5 oz/128 g servings

Scrambled Eggs:  148/ 10 g
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage:  265/16 g
Western Omelet:  150/10 g
Tex Mex Omelet:  265/13 g
Year Manufactured:
Date Received:
Sell By Date:
Unknown
May 27, 2009
Varies between April 9, 2010 and January 22, 2011
Net Weight (Per Manufacturer):




Packaged Weight (Per Tester):




Size of Each Packet (Per Tester):
Scrambled Eggs:  2 oz/54 g
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage:  3 oz/88 g
Western Omelet: 2.3 oz/64 g
Tex Mex Omelet: 3.4 oz/94 g

Scrambled Eggs:  2.2 oz/62 g
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage:  3.4 oz/96 g
Western Omelet:  2.4 oz/68 g
Tex Mex Omelet: 3.4 oz/96 g

Scrambled Eggs:  5" x 5.75" (13 cm x 14.6 cm)
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage: 5" x 5.5" (13 cm x 14 cm)
Western Omelet:  5" x 6" (13 cm x 15 cm)
Tex Mex Omelet:  5" x 5.5" (13 cm x 14 cm)
MSRP:
Scrambled Eggs:  $3.00 US
Scrambled Eggs with Sausage:  $3.30 US
Western Omelet:  $3.40 US
Tex Mex Omelet:  $3.85 US

Product Ingredients Per Cache Lake:

Scrambled Eggs:  Egg (a homogenized and pasteurized blend of whole egg, non-fat milk, vegetable oil and salt).

Scrambled Eggs with Sausage:  Egg (a homogenized and pasteurized blend of whole egg, non-fat milk, vegetable oil and salt), sausage bits (textured vegetable protein), natural flavorings.
Western Omelet:  Egg (a homogenized and pasteurized blend of whole egg, non-fat milk, vegetable oil and salt), onion, peppers.
Tex Mex Omelet:  Egg (a homogenized and pasteurized blend of whole egg, non-fat milk, vegetable oil and salt), taco bits (textured vegetable protein), onion, peppers.

Manufacturer's General Description:

Each of the packages contains the following, "Home cooked taste with better value" and "Powdered egg mix that actually tastes like fresh eggs!"

Examination: 

The egg meals arrived in perfect condition.  They looked like what I expected from the description on Cache Lake's website.  I received 4 Scrambled Eggs, 3 Scrambled Eggs with Sausage, 3 Western Omelets, and 3 Tex Mex Omelets.  Each of the products was packaged in a see-through plastic bag that appears to have been heat sealed at the top and bottom.  Each packet has a label stuck to the exterior of the bag identifying the product, the manufacturer, and contact information for the company.  The label also provides a variety of information about the product including cooking directions, nutritional facts, weight, serving size, and ingredients.  The opposite side of the bag only has a small "Sell By" date sticker.  The packages appear to be sturdy but easily opened with a sharp knife.

The cooking instructions were all relatively simple and similar.  The instructions were easy to read and follow.  In summary the instructions were, "Add 1/2 cup/120 ml water (3/4 cup/180 ml for the Tex Mex Omelet); stir briskly until well blended; add 1 tablespoon/15 ml of oil or butter to frying pan and heat to sizzle; reduce heat; add egg mix; cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently; season to taste."

Initial Impressions:

I'm happy to have a variety of new breakfast foods to try while on the trail.   I like the fact that the packaging is minimal but appears sturdy so I won't have to worry about repackaging.  The instructions for preparation are simple and the reported cooking time is fairly quick.  In the near future, I will be reporting on how each product looks, smells, feels, and tastes.  I will also report on how easy it is to prepare these meals.  This is one test I am really looking forward to sinking my teeth into!


LONG TERM REPORT
  September 22, 2009

I used the egg meals during three separate outings this past summer.  The first outing was from June 20-27, 2009 while at Treasure Mountain Scout Camp (elevation 6,500 ft/1,981 m) near Alpine, Wyoming.  The camp is fortunate to have the Teton range as a backdrop.  I used the egg meals on several occasions during this outing and performed two taste tests with the Varsity Scouts and leaders I was working with at the camp.  The first taste test consisted of preparing two packets of the Western Omelet for myself and one of the leaders.  Rather than using real butter, we used imitation butter to prepare the eggs.  They eggs cooked up nicely in about three minutes using a non-stick frying pan.  The other leader and I agreed that while the texture and look of the eggs was good, we were somewhat surprised by their very sweet taste. 

On another morning, following the cooking instructions, I prepared two packets of scrambled eggs, one of eggs with sausage, and one Western Omelet using real butter and a non-stick fry pan.  We were preparing fresh scrambled eggs for breakfast that morning on a stainless steel griddle and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a blind taste test with some of the Scouts.  I placed some of each of the eggs on five plates and passed them out without telling the five lucky Scouts which was which.  Before passing them out, I personally tasted each of the samples.  I found that none of the Cache Lake eggs had the sweet taste we found in the earlier batch prepared with imitation butter.  As such, I attributed the overly sweet taste to the imitation butter.  To me, the powdered eggs looked and smelled every bit as good as the fresh scrambled eggs.

I told each of my test subjects to taste the eggs and tell me what they thought.  I did not tell them that some of the eggs were powdered egg meals until after they had eaten each of the samples.  I then told my test subjects that some of the eggs were "real" and some were made from a powdered mix.  They were all very surprised and not a single one correctly identified the fresh scrambled eggs.  A couple even liked the Cache Lake eggs better than the fresh eggs.  They all told me they would gladly eat Cache Lake eggs on a backpacking trip but were not sure they would have done so before the taste test.

I next used several of the egg meals on July 30 and 31, 2009 at Long Lake near Copper Basin in the Lost River Mountain Range in Idaho (elevation 9,590 ft/2,923 m).  It is about a 7 mile/11 kilometer hike from the trailhead to Long Lake.  Again, I was with a group of Scouts (ages 12-18).  On the morning of the 31st, we were supposed to make fresh scrambled eggs with sausage but someone forgot the main ingredient (the eggs)!  Fortunately, I had packed in all of the Tex Mex egg meals, two of the eggs with sausage meals, and one of the scrambled egg meals.  I proposed to the leaders that we use the Cache Lake meals without letting the Scouts know.  They all agreed.  We had some English Muffins and decided to try making sandwiches similar to "Egg McMuffins."  Some of the leaders started to fry up the sausage links.  Other leaders began toasting the English Muffins on my Backpacker's grill. 

The rest of us mixed up the egg meals separately and using a pineapple can with the top and bottom removed as a mold, we melted some real butter in the mold which was sitting on a non-stick griddle and then we poured some of the mix into the mold and over the melted butter.  Once the mixture began to stiffen up with cooking, we removed the pineapple can.  This left us with a perfectly round cooked egg mixture which was easy to flip and fit perfectly on an English Muffin.  Again, the cooked egg mixture had a nice visual appearance, good texture and smelled great.  Once the sausage links were cooked we placed two or three sausage links and a cooked egg mixture between two halves of a toasted English Muffin.  Some of the Scouts and leaders added a slice of cheese to the sandwich but others did not.

McMuffin
Tex Mex Egg Sausage "McMuffin"

Everyone raved about the meal and most wanted seconds or thirds.  I know for a fact that some of these Scouts are very finicky eaters and they would never have even thought about trying powdered eggs.  However, they had no idea they were eating powdered eggs until we told them--after they came back for seconds.  I personally did not really enjoy the flavor of the Tex Mex Omelet.  It tasted very much like an egg taco.  Not that I have anything against tacos, I just don't really like that taste for breakfast.  Others thought the Tex Mex Omletes tasted great.

On August 14-15, 2009 while camping at the Teton Canyon Campground (elevation 6,500 ft/1,981 m) near Alpine, Wyoming for one night.  I took this opportunity to cook the last scrambled egg packet in a different fashion.  I wanted to see if I could use the Cache Lake meals without carrying a frying pan.  I prepared the mix in a quart sized Zip-Lock bag with a tablespoon of butter.  I then boiled some water in a pot on my backpack stove.  When the water was at a full rolling boil, I placed the bag into the water.  I stirred the egg mix occasionally while it cooked in the bag.  It took about 10 minutes for the egg meal to cook.  This was a much longer preparation time that I had previously experienced with just using a non-stick frying pan.

Eggs In A Bag
Eggs In A Bag

I was then able to pour the cooked egg meal out of the bag and into my bowl without much left inside the bag.  I "fluffed" up the eggs with my fork, added a little more butter and some salt for taste.  While the look and texture of the eggs weren't quite as nice as those made in the frying pan (there were some tough pieces of egg and the color was a little off), the flavor was just as good as before.  I'm not sure the weight savings of not having to pack the non-stick frying pan was worth the extra cooking time and the slight difference in texture and appearance of the egg meal.  However, I now know that I can use the egg meals without having to carry the frying pan and still have an enjoyable meal.

Each of the packages of egg meals was designated by Cache Lake as a two-person serving size.  For me personally, I would agree with Cache Lake's designation.  If I just ate the eggs for my meal with nothing else, I believe I could eat the whole meal.  However, during the test period, I always shared the egg meals with someone else and I almost always eat toast and/or potatoes with my egg meals.

LIKES:
  • Lightweight packaging
  • Great taste, texture and appearance
  • Easy to prepare
  • Variety of flavors to spice up breakfast on the trail
DISLIKES:
  • A little more work than boiling water and more clean up after meal preparation
  • More weight with the addition of the non-stick frying pan
In short, I liked the Cache Lake egg meals that I will purchase more for use next summer.  While preparing these meals does add weight to my pack and takes a little more effort for preparation than boiling water and clean up is more difficult, I like the variety these meals give me for breakfast and I really like the taste and texture.  These egg meals really are just like fresh eggs.

I wish to thank Cache Lake and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test these meals.






Read more reviews of Cache Lake Foods gear
Read more gear reviews by Michael Wheiler

Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals > Test Report by Michael Wheiler



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