The Mountain Beef Stew Meal from Wild Zora is a just add water freeze dried meal suitable for backpacking that keeps the ingredient list simple while also meeting a slew of dietary requirements and preferences. The meal has no gluten, milk, grain, nuts, or added sugar and was designed to meet a higher meat Paleo dietary requirement. This meal is just one in a line of meals including breakfasts and dinners and with options ranging from the Caldera Chicken Curry to the Bedrock Beef Chili .
While I have no specific dietary requirements that I follow myself, I am also not opposed to meals of this nature in the backcountry. Whether dinner ends up being Paleo, gluten-free, dairy free, etc., as long as the meal tastes good, is easy to make, and serves the purpose – be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner I’m happy to clean my proverbial plate. Additionally, when backpacking with others who may follow a more restricted diet, I often find myself sampling these types of meals anyway, and sometimes it's just easier that way when backpacking and cooking as a group.
The Wild Zora Mountain Beef Stew meal has few enough ingredients that we can list them here: containing just grass fed beef, organic carrots, sweet potato, onion, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, and green onion along with salt and seasonings. Preparation is simple as well, simply remove the oxygen absorber, add hot water, and rehydrate for 5-15 minutes. Once prepared, the meal is quite different than many freeze dried meals in that it rehydrates well without any type of soupy consistency. While not a traditional stew, the meal has quite a bit of texture, the taste is great, and I was surprised that I didn’t even have to break out my backcountry spice kit as the meal needed no additional doctoring. Homestyle potatoes with the skin still on combined with the beef and vegetables remind one of a steak and potatoes type meal, but even though there’s lots of protein in this meal which will make it more filling than many, I could easily eat two. No complaints in the taste department however: the meal is really quite good.
The main thing I appreciate about this meal is that unlike some other options that are out there they didn’t skimp on the meat ingredient, it’s at the forefront of the meal and if you tend to prefer meals of this nature this might be the premade backpacking meal for you: each 3 ounce pouch contains 36 grams of protein. However, at 370 calories this meal is not high enough on the caloric scale to serve as an appropriate dinner for one for most. And at $13 per pouch, if they were able to maintain the price point while boosting the calories it would certainly be appreciated on those high mileage days, although you can always bring the price down a bit by taking advantage of REI’s bulk food discount.
If you are on a restricted or a Paleo diet of course other backpacking meal options may be limited, so the appeal of this meal will be highest in those cases. For me, the Wild Zora Mountain Beef Stew is serviceable as part of a meal and the calories can be boosted by way of some instant rice noodles and / or some olive oil etc., or by using the meal as a “course” in a larger dinner plan with another option for instance. Overall if you’re looking for something different in a freeze dried meal or are looking to mix things up a bit on your next trip and the Wild Zora approach appeals to you, this meal is certainly worth a look.