After years of tolerating regular store-bought backpacking meals, Melissa Lieser to begin creating her own dehydrated meals for the trail. It was when she began introducing her kids to the outdoors that she became inspired to tackle backcountry nutrition.
“After our first backpacking adventure with them, I knew I had to figure out something that they'd eat while we were out because they wouldn't force food down like grownups do,” she said.
The whole family liked risotto, so that became Melissa’s first experiment – eventually becoming the Risotto Primavera Backpacker's Bistro now offers.
Another early creation was Mexican Rice and Beans, which Melissa loves for its versatility. She offers some expert suggestions: “Add eggs at breakfast time, beef jerky for a non-vegan spin, or tortillas for some extra energy.”
Once Melissa’s friends realized her whole family was eating delicious and healthy meals on the trail, they wanted in on the action ... and in 2016 Backpacker's Bistro was born!
All of Backpacker's Bistro’s recipes are made in small batches from scratch, using local Oregon ingredients whenever possible. Melissa even hand makes the pasta!
Melissa has a small state-licensed kitchen where she prepares all the backpacking meals before they get dehydrated and packaged.
Melissa’s interest in local food was born from her time at The French Culinary Institute in New York. She spent a year in San Francisco only eating foods grown within 150 miles of her home, which also spurred an interest in food preservation.
Backpacking requires a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories. Backpacker's Bistro uses experience and creativity to offer meals that are a nourishing and filling way to refuel your body.
Backpacker's Bistro Mini Review
In true New England nature, we've been hit with several Nor’ Easter’s lately, knocking out our power several times. Cue the backpacking food buffet!
It was dark and I didn’t read the instructions properly for the hash, so I added a bit too much water, creating more of stew – which was totally comforting in the storm and felt very creative to me!
These meals are truly delicious. As soon as you open the pouch you can smell how tasty it’s going to be! It feels like restaurant food under the stars.
Besides the taste, here are a few of my favorite things about Backpacker's Bistro meals:
- They offer really hearty vegetarian and vegan options. Vegan meals can be hard to find and are usually limited to mushy pasta. Backpacker's Bistro offers risotto, rice pilaf and beans.
- The macro-nutrients are clearly printed on the front label, making it easy to keep track of your nutrition throughout a trip.
- A portion of each purchase goes to outdoor preservation groups like the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
- Pouches come in both one and two serving sizes.
- Meals are created around healthy carbohydrates. So many dehydrated meals are overly meat heavy with some carbs thrown in. This usually leaves most people feeling sluggish and weighed down.
- I love that the company is USA made, female owned and uses sustainable practices.