Backcountry Food Review: Good To-Go Dehydrated Meals

Good To-Go Thai curry

Although I'm not 100 percent positive, I suspect most dehydrated meals come from a lab, not a kitchen. That's why when I first heard the story behind Good To-Go, I was excited to give them a try. They are the product of an accomplished chef—Jennifer Scism, who you may have seen on Iron Chef and who got turned onto backpacking and the outdoors after a successful career as a restauranteur. Not happy with the backcountry meals available at the store, Scism set out creating her own with a countertop dehydrator. The result, after a lot of trial and error, is a current line of four meals—each of which I'd be more than happy to pack into elk camp this fall.

Scism touts her meals as “real food” and “all natural,” something that’s confirmed by a quick look at the ingredients list of the Thai Curry dehydrated gourmet meal:

Green Beans, Jasmine Rice, Onion, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peas, Coconut Milk Powder (Freshly Pressed Coconut Milk, Maltodextrin (from corn), Sodium Caseinate), Fish Sauce (Water, Anchovy Extract, Salt, Sugar), Garlic, Grape Seed Oil, Lemongrass, Dark Brown Sugar, Tamarind Concentrate (Tamarind, Water), Ginger, Turmeric Powder, Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon, Dried Thai Chilies, Cardomon, Yellow Mustard Seeds, Black Peppercorns, Fennel Seeds, Cloves, Kaffir Lime Leaf Powder, Bay Leaf

Other than the maltodextrin (a filler/thickener derived from corn starch) and sodium caseinate (a dairy derivative that provides the feel and flavor of milk), the ingredients are not unlike anything you probably already have in your fridge and cupboard. That’s a very refreshing change from most shelf-stable foods filled with unnatural, and unpronounceable, preservatives.

As for the taste, that wholesomeness really comes through in each bite. Good To-Go meals are not all that different from something you might cook at home, with relatively bright and fresh flavors, at least as bright and fresh as is possible with dehydrated food. There was a little problem with consistency. I felt the curry was too watery using the directed 1 ¼ cups of water and there were a few crispy bites from what I suspect was rice that hadn’t fully reconstituted. But I have to admit, it was pretty cool that the first thing that came out of the pouch on my fork was a real broccoli floret. In all the freeze-dried meals I’ve consumed in the backcountry, eating something that looked like an actual vegetable was a first.

Each 3.4 ounce pouch of Thai Curry contains a single serving and delivers 380 calories. Although the sodium is a little high, at 500 milligrams per servings, it’s actually quite a bit lower than you’d expect to find in shelf-stable meals, which generally rely on a lot of salt for preservation. You may expect a gourmet take on camp meals to come with a gourmet price tag, but the prices of Good To-Go meals are in line with what is currently on the market. The Single Serving, 3.4 ounce pouch of Thai Curry goes for $6.75. The other three flavors are similarly priced.