For a week long trip over spring break (teacher benefits) I made 6 dehydrated dinners, all of which I would recommend. For the most part these “recipes” do not have specific measurements, with the exception of the bark. I would include approximately half a cup of the main starch per person, and then add sauce and vegetables to taste. Personally I add a lot of sauce and when I’m rehydrating add extra boiling water so when I finish eating I have soup!
I already had staples in my pantry like dehydrated milk, coconut milk, cheese and powdered peanut butter, all of which I would recommend as pantry staples for dehydrating. In addition chicken ramen packets. I use the flavor packets and noodles separately in most cases. With these and some basic spices on hand, the cost of all of these meals (which I made for 3 people) can in under $35.
To rehydrate, boil water and add equal parts boiled water to the dehydrated food (or extra if you want soup). Rehydration is the fastest with a lid covering the food, which is why I always bring tupperware.All meals are carried in quart sized ziploc bags. For three people I find that a quart sized bag is filled for one dinner.
- Red Curry
- Peanut Noodles
- Green Bean Casserole
- Mac ‘n’ Cheese
- Pasta Primavera
For rice and pasta, I cook them fully in boiling water with a ramen flavor packet. One packet of flavor is enough for a full bag/box of pasta, in addition to adding chicken broth flavor it ensures that you get enough sodium, but spreads that crazy salt packet over several meals. As soon as it’s cooked I put it straight in the dehydrator on the vegetable setting (135) overnight. For ramen just break it into pieces before putting it in the bag.
For vegetables, cut them into pieces small enough to eat with a spoon and dehydrate at 135 overnight, stirring once or twice to ensure even dehydration and lack of sticking. For all of this food I went straight from frozen to dehydrated, which cut down on cost. By the time I had driven home from the grocery store the frozen vegetables had thawed just enough to cut into small pieces.
- Red Curry: Use the red curry bark (recipe here), dehydrated rice cooked with ramen flavor packet, dehydrated mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and spinach (dehydrate spinach on herb setting), and coconut milk powder.
- Peanut Noodles: For three people I used 2 packets of ramen noodles. Ramen noodles are higher calorie than pasta because they’re deep-fried (this is also part of why they’re so delicious). The sauce should be 1/3 peanut butter powder and 2/3 coconut milk, with cayenne pepper to taste. Dehydrated vegetables were green beans, onions, broccoli and corn.
- Green Bean Casserole: Dehydrated pasta that was cooked with ramen flavor packet. I use small shells because I don’t bring a fork or knife so everything needs to go on a spoon (or spork). Dehydrated mushrooms, onions and green beans. For the sauce I used dehydrated milk and a ramen flavor packet but I would recommend if you can find a dehydrated mushroom soup packet use that and add a little bit of dehydrated milk. Black pepper is a key ingredient for this one, as well as garlic powder. In a small bag on the side bring some of the actual fried onions that go on top of green bean casserole and after your meal has rehydrated sprinkle them on top.
- Mac ‘n’ cheese: Same dehydrated pasta, for this I used a boxed cheese mix from Trader Joe’s, which is not as chemical tasting as a Kraft or something similar. In addition I included dehydrated corn, onions and tomatoes. I did not include dehydrated peas but would recommend that.
- Pasta Primavera: Dehydrated pasta with tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, zucchini and mushrooms. For the sauce add a little bit of dehydrated milk, parmesan cheese (the kind in the big green plastic container that suspiciously does not need refrigeration), salt, garlic powder and black pepper.
- “Lasagna”: I suppose this is really just pasta with marinara but I added enough cheese that it felt like lasagna. The cheese was a mixture of freeze-dried cheddar and normal parmesan, and a little bit of dehydrated milk to get that “authentic” bechamel experience. Next time I make this I plan to break up into tiny pieces and dehydrate actual lasagna noodles, but shells worked well. For the sauce use a red sauce bark. The technique is the same as red curry bark (here) with the following ingredients: 1/2 can of garbanzo beans, 1/2 large onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons oregano, a handful of parsley (leaves AND stems), 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste, 2 16 ounce cans of tomatoes (the style of your choice).