Low Sodium Backpacking Meals

Low Sodium Backpacking MealsHave you ever looked at the nutrition labels on Mountain House and Harmony House backpacking meals and Knorr Rice and Pasta sides. You’ll be appalled by the amount of sodium included in these meals, especially since the other trail foods (nuts, bars, salty snacks) most people eat during the day, also have their share of added salt.

For instance, here’s a list of backpacking meals, mainly dinners, I’ve compiled that lists the amount of sodium per serving and by package, since more often than not you’ll eat the whole thing in one sitting. As a point of reference, US Guidelines recommend eating a maximum of  2300 mg of sodium per day.

 Calories per packageSodium per package (mg)
Alpenaire Foods Black BartChili w/ Beef and Beans5801500
Alpenaire Foods Mountain Chili5401180
Alpenaire Foods Southwestern Style Masa w/ Beef6601540
Alpenaire Foods Thai Style Chicken w/ Noodles500840
Backpacker's Pantry Katmandu Curry6801220
Backpacker's Pantry Thai Coconut Curry w/ Beef540750
Backpackers Pantry Louisiana Red Beans and Rice6001160
Backpackers Pantry Shepards Potato Stew with Beef6001340

Good-to-Go Classic Marinara with Penne
460360
Good-to-Go Herbed Risotto410420
Good-to-Go Smoked Three-bean Chili340360
Good-to-Go Thai Curry380500
Harmony House Southwest Style Mixed Bean Chili2401592
Harmony House Mama Mia Italian Vegetable Soup1841340
Harmony House Beefish Barley2201824
Harmony House Corn Chowder841288
Harmony House Greek Lentil Soup3001808
Harmony House Hearty Texas Beefish Stew2401720
Harmony House Super Savory Split Pea Soup3441100
Hawk Vittles Black Bean Stew292891
Hawk Vittles Cashew Curry6331535
Hawk Vittles Lasagna9022216
Hawk Vittles Moraccan Stew645902
Knorr Pasta Sides Alfredo5201340
Knorr Rice Sides Beef5752025
Knorr Rice Sides Cheddar Broccoli5801425
Knorr Rice Sides Chicken Broccoli5751600
Knorr Rice Sides Creamy Chicken5801375
Knorr Rice Sides Mushroom Flavor5751650
Mary Janes Farm Organic Curry in a Hurry465825
Mary Janes Farm Organic Mac 'N Cheese465255
Mary Janes Farm Organic Black Beans and Rice5701020
Mountain House Beef Stew5002225
Mountain House Noodles and Chicken5501725
Mountain House Beef Stroganoff w/ Noodles6501975
Mountain House Lasagna with Meat625900
Outdoor Herbivore Basil Walnut Pene692565
Outdoor Herbivore Chunky Chipotle Chili406738
Outdoor Herbivore Lemongrass Thai Curry623570
Packit Gourmet A Shepard's Cottage Pie9403720
Packit Gourmet Dotties Chicken &' Dupplngs2801560
Packit Gourmet Market Pasta Puttanesca400350
Packit Gourmet The Big Easy Gumbo3701360
Packit Gourmet Tuscan Beef Stew6603560

Even if you’re not at risk for high sodium intake, meals that have a large amount of sodium in them can be unpleasant to eat, if only because you have to drink so much water to overcome the thirst they create.

Using the list above, I’ve picked out a few of the meals with less salt, mainly from Good-to-Go and Outdoor Herbivore that I plan to eat every week with a little rice added in. I’ll also eat a few of the higher sodium meals, but not on successive days.

While eating meals high in sodium probably wouldn’t affect me if I had to do it everyday for a short weekend trip, it’s not something I want to subject my body to over a period of weeks. Finding all this extra sodium in backpacking food, some of it quite extreme, was a real eye opener. There’s got to be a better way.

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14 comments

  1. I too hate high amounts of sodium , I find my self eating alot of rice and salmon / tuna , for breakfast oats and honey… I think the thing I eat that has the most sodium is smoked summer sausage but I don’t eat alot of it just as a snack …

  2. Harmony House also sells soups and chilis without added sodium, so you can add your own seasoning to your liking.

  3. I dehydrate a lot of my food so I can control my intake. Also supplements are fantastic when you can’t pack the good stuff.

  4. wow, I had no idea they were that packed in sodium. I’ll be taking a closer look at the food I bring on my hikes.

  5. Mountain House used to offer two delicious low sodium options — white bean chicken chili and a cajun shrimp — which I used to buy all the time. Unfortunately, they were discontinued. The lasagna is my go-to right now, but I do wish there were more low sodium options.

  6. Thank you for compiling this list, I also do not like all the sodium added to backpacking meals. I keep experimenting9cooking my own) and trying new ones (purchasing) in hopes of finding the one with the least amount of sodium. This list is helpful.

  7. I dehydrate all my backpacking meals. It’s easy, fun, healthier, and cheaper than store-bought dehydrated meals. I also make beef jerky, fruit leathers, bean bark, sweet potato bark, and dehydrated fruits that are practically weightless. Get a good recipe book, like The Backpacking Chef, and a good quality dehydrator, like an Excalibur. You’ll never regret it!

  8. I tried to go to outdoor herbivore but the y say the site is not found or deleted anyone have info about these meals or where to find them?

  9. I have been using military ration meals like the US MRE and the Canadian IMP for many decades . They have the right amount of everything and don’t require any guess work . Maybe pricey but I have never had any problems and they come with electrolyte powder , the strawberry is great . Some of the meals are really good especially the Canadian IMP’s if you can get them .

  10. Murray Callaghan

    Most of my trips range from 2-3 nights and while I’m always conscientious of weight try to eat a normal meal of fresh protein (one is frozen and the other partially thawed) and starch which may include rice, noodles and even small potatoes leaving the already prepared meals for emergencies. In addition, pepperoni, jerkies, farmer’s sausage cheeses and the like travel rather well. I broke that rule last summer and enjoyed a nice Lasagna dehydrated meal from one of the big names and let’s just say that the period after is still known as the infamous flatulence fest. I see that the manufacturer no longer produces that item. I’ll revisit the dehydrator as I had bought one with the best intentions but it was returned when it crapped out on the very first attempt. Till then, I shall remain old school and encourage others that with common sense and some basic skills that one can reasonably take a trip into the wilderness with something that more closely resembles the kitchen table.

  11. Even the best of these are around break-even point, which is my quick rule of thumb for low-sodium food. If a portion of a certain food contains x mg of sodium but provides x calories, on a typical grown up diet one will take in 2000mg per day (and 2000 calories) living off only that food, which is in between commonly mentioned targets (3000 in general, 1500 for at-risk). My target is much lower so this stuff is off limits for me.

  12. I recently had a Mountain House meal that was so salty I could not finish it. I threw away the other Mountain House meals I had.

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