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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.

 Servings per packageCalories per servingSodium per serving (mg)Sodium per package (mg)
Alpenaire Foods Black BartChili w/ Beef and Beans22907501500
Alpenaire Foods Mountain Chili22705901180
Alpenaire Foods Southwestern Style Masa w/ Beef23307701540
Alpenaire Foods Thai Style Chicken w/ Noodles2250420840
Backpacker's Pantry Katmandu Curry23406101220
Backpacker's Pantry Thai Coconut Curry w/ Beef2270375750
Backpackers Pantry Louisiana Red Beans and Rice23005801160
Backpackers Pantry Shepards Potato Stew with Beef23006701340

Good-to-Go Classic Marinara with Penne
1460360360
Good-to-Go Herbed Risotto1410420420
Good-to-Go Smoked Three-bean Chili1340360360
Good-to-Go Thai Curry1380500500
Harmony House Southwest Style Mixed Bean Chili4603981592
Harmony House Mama Mia Italian Vegetable Soup4463351340
Harmony House Beefish Barley4554561824
Harmony House Corn Chowder4213221288
Harmony House Greek Lentil Soup4754521808
Harmony House Hearty Texas Beefish Stew4604301720
Harmony House Super Savory Split Pea Soup4862751100
Hawk Vittles Black Bean Stew1292891891
Hawk Vittles Cashew Curry163315351535
Hawk Vittles Lasagna190222162216
Hawk Vittles Moraccan Stew1645902902
Hungry Hikers Beef Stroganoff2318467934
Hungry Hikers Chicken Pot Pie22405641128
Hungry Hikers Murray's Hurried Curry25406491298
Hungry Hikers Shepard's Pie22405641128
Knorr Pasta Sides Alfredo22606701340
Knorr Rice Sides Beef2.52308102025
Knorr Rice Sides Cheddar Broccoli2.52405701425
Knorr Rice Sides Chicken Broccoli2.52306401600
Knorr Rice Sides Creamy Chicken2.52405501375
Knorr Rice Sides Mushroom Flavor2.52306601650
Mary Janes Farm Organic Curry in a Hurry1.5350550825
Mary Janes Farm Organic Mac 'N Cheese1.5310170255
Mary Janes Farm Organic Black Beans and Rice1.53806801020
Mountain House Beef Stew2.52008902225
Mountain House Noodles and Chicken2.52206901725
Mountain House Beef Stroganoff w/ Noodles2.52607901975
Mountain House Lasagna with Meat2.5250360900
Outdoor Herbivore Basil Walnut Pene1692565565
Outdoor Herbivore Chunky Chipotle Chili1406738738
Outdoor Herbivore Lemongrass Thai Curry1623570570
Packit Gourmet A Shepard's Cottage Pie247018603720
Packit Gourmet Dotties Chicken &' Dupplngs128015601560
Packit Gourmet Market Pasta Puttanesca1400350350
Packit Gourmet The Big Easy Gumbo137013601360
Packit Gourmet Tuscan Beef Stew233017803560

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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12 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. 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.

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