The Quick Review of Good To-Go MealsPros:
- Really delicious backcountry food.
- The food packets only need boiling water to cook.
- Real ingredients that you can actually pronounce.
- Dehydrated food that isn't frozen.
- The meals take 20 minutes to cook (which might seem like a longtime when cooked outdoors in bad weather conditions).
- Only four flavors are currently available — Good To-Go meals are so delicious we are eager for more flavors!
The Full Dish on Good To-Go
"Open. Stir. Eat. Smile."
If only everything in life could be as warm and simple as the instructions on the back of my Good To-Go meal.
And I’ll admit it. I was surprised taking that first bite of Smoked Three Bean Chili. I was more surprised when my husband picked up Good To-Go's Thai Curry and wouldn’t share the meal, turning his back and digging in until the ready-made dehydrated camping food was almost gone.
I received four packets of the Maine-based company’s Good To-Go dehydrated meals for this review: the Thai Curry, the Smoked Three Bean Chili, the Classic Marinara with Penne and the Herbed Mushroom Risotto. While I would have rather been sitting around a warm campfire after a long day on the trail, I was admittedly in my kitchen boiling water, pouring wine and reading the instructions on the back of the packets.
My husband walked through the door, home from work and looked at the four packets standing upright on the counter. He pointed and asked, “Dinner?”
I shrugged wondering if we would like these meals enough to consider this dinner.
I’m not one for following instructions to a T. I like to fudge in the kitchen. I seldom use teaspoons and tablespoons to measure recipes out, and I like to “cook to taste.”
So when we cracked open the steaming packets of food prepared by chef Jennifer Scism, my husband asked, “Did you follow the instructions?”
So far, yes. One and a fourth cups of boiling water. Check. Open. Check. Stir. Check.
I dipped my spoon into the bean chili. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from the dehydrated camping food. Like most people, I like to eat. And when we’re on the trail, I still like to eat good food that will fill me up, warm me up and work to carry me to summits unexplored. When hubby and I hike, climb and camp, I’m the one in charge of the food and I’d like to think I’ve become a pretty good backcountry gourmet. Thai noodles and chicken are my specialty, as well as pasta alfredo, and I’ve even packed in steak and potatoes (it was a canoe trip, we had a cooler). Then I heard the man in the kitchen say, "Holy cow, this is really good,” except it wasn’t exactly holy cow; but the point remains, the look on his face was one of delight as I saw him dive deeper in the Thai Curry. It’s no surprise really, as the Thai Curry did win Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award.
I took my first bite. And then I took my second bite. Into my third heaping spoonful of chili, dear husband turned back to me and said, “This stuff is amazing.” Smile. Check. We swapped packets. The Thai Curry was just as savory and delicious as the chili. It tasted like food! It tasted like Thai...and chili! And the marinara? Yes, it too was classic pasta and tomato sauce! While the Mushroom Herb Risotto was flavorful, I didn’t prepare it correctly. I think my water wasn’t boiling at the time I poured it into the packet so the wonderful little rice-like pieces of pasta were not completely done when we dipped into the food. User error. Husband was disappointed, but not in the food.
Also important to note as we daydreamed about being in the backcountry with our Good To-Go meals, is it does take 20 minutes to “cook” in the boiling water. As we ate, I started reading the Good To-Go ingredients. Yep, there was nothing on the back of the package that I could not pronounce and everything I read was actual food and spices. Thai: green beans, Jasmine rice, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, peas! Chili: Chipotle chili powder, ground coriander, dried oregano! The portions were generous for a single serving, but Good To-Go does make double serving size packets.
Founded by celebrated chef Jennifer Scism and husband David Koorits, Good To-Go is creating healthy, real food that provides for amazing taste as well as energy while you’re out in the hills. The packets are light and flat, easy to carry and pack in and out of the backcountry. And seriously, I’m thinking of keeping a stash in the house for those evenings where I need a good meal in 20 minutes simply by adding water. (I’m not alone. A comment on Good To-Go's Facebook page reads, "If it’s wrong that I eat Good To-Go even when I’m not in the woods, I don’t want to be right.”)
Good To-Go meals average 325 calories per packet. The Three Bean Chili and Mushroom Risotto are also vegan meals. They are high in protein, cholesterol free and low in sodium (the highest sodium count was found in the Thai Curry at 21 percent of the daily value).
Good To-Go uses virgin olive oil, to provide for less fatty acids, and all the products boast a zero trans fat level. Good To-Go does not use any preservatives, relying on the dehydrated process to create their meals. “The dehydration process alone is what makes our products shelf stable. We believe that Real Food cannot and should not last 25 years,” reads the company web site.
But at the end of the trail or simply at the end of your work day, isn’t "Open, Stir, Eat and Smile" all you really want?