Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Backpacking Food Ideas: Instant Mashed Potatoes

We were at Big Lots the other day and saw some packs of Hungry Jack Cheesy Homestyle Easy Mash'd Potatoes for just sixty cents. While instant mashed potatoes is not a new backpacking food idea, cheesy flavored mashed potatoes is a newer backpacking food idea.

We recall back in the 1970's when we started backpacking that only unflavored potato flakes were available. We would fortify our spuds with texturized vegetable protein powder and powdered milk and add a crumbled bullion cube or powder to the mix for "gravy". Just add water! Revolutionary at the time. Problem was, after instant potatoes twice daily for a 3-day weekend trip, one was "mashed out." We were so mashed out we didn't even backpack instant potatoes for several decades following.

So we bought a bag to try at lunch.

As we are close to our upcoming section hike, we lunched as we would on the trail. We grabbed the mess kit, potatoes, water bottle, and a pint-sized plastic cup. The details on the spuds said to add to two cups of hot water. We poured a pint (2 cups) of water into our pint cup and microwaved it. (Didn't think the boss would appreciate letting our super cat stove blaze away in the break room.) While the water was heating to a near boil, we transferred the spuds into a freezer bag and mixed. Its looks like the cheese and potatoes are added separately at the processor as there was segregated white stuff and orange stuff. We then placed or freezer bag in our homemade packing envelope cozy ad got out our plastic measuring cup. We measured out two cups of hot water and stirred the potatoes with our trail spork per directions. The potatoes quickly began to thicken. Once it looked like the water and potatoes were well intermixed, we zipped our bag shut (the zipper failed - a first. Good thing it was thick potatoes and not runny soup.) We waited the requisite 5 minutes and discovered that these potatoes, like tomato sauce, has thermodynamic properties for retaining heat.

The potatoes were delish! As the day is cold and wet, the overly hot potatoes were a welcome treat. We did discover that the bag makes four servings and that between serving two and three, one has probably consumed all the instant potatoes one can stand, even if they are cheesy. For trail use, we'll probably split a bag in half with two servings being one meal.

Also, knowing that the potatoes have a tendency to be monotonous when eaten alone, we diced up a cheddar cheese stick and a beef stick and mixed them into the potatoes. While the cheese added little to the taste, the beef stick really brightened things up. Rather than cubing the beef stick, next time we'll try thin slices so there are more beef bits.

We'll probably take along one bag of Hungry Jack Cheesy Homestyle Easy Mash'd Potatoes for two suppers. Likely we'll also pack a beef stick to slice into each bag.

Disclosure: We select and purchase the product(s) reviewed. We have no material connection to either the manufacturer nor the retailer(s).

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