Time for another Food-Off!! It might not be as exciting as SPAM vs Corned Beef, but this will hopefully be as informational.
I was at a local hiking store today and noticed a section of dehydrated food. I'd been there a dozen times but never noticed the meals before because they were on the back of the back shelf. Placement, people?
The two brands they carry are Wise Company and Backpacker's Pantry. I'd never heard of these so I wasn't sure which one I should pick up. Sounded like I needed some first hand experience...
I looked through the available selection and found that both brands offered a "lasagna". To be able to compare them, I wanted the meals to be as similar as possible. It wouldn't be very accurate to compare a beef stew vs a chicken parmesan. So, I bought Wise Company "Cheesy Lasagna" ($6.75) and Backpacker's Pantry "Sicilian Lasagna" ($9.90).
Serving Size 1/2 package
Calories 370, from Fat 160
Total Fat 17g
Sat Fat 5g
Total Carbohydrate 42g
Dietary Fiber 4g
(Sorry about the photo, I had problems getting focused on the white packaging)
Serving Size 1 package
Calories 450, from Fat 120
Total Fat 13g
Sat Fat 6g
Total Carbohydrate 58g
Dietary Fiber 6g
I think Wise Company won points on the Nutritional Information. Not only was it cheaper, it had almost as much nutrition per serving but contained TWO servings per package.
Longevity? The Wise Company has a manufactured date and a best by date, shelf life around 7 years. The Backpacker's Pantry did not show a manufacture date and was stamped for an expiration in 2015. I'm not sure when the BP was made, so I'm not exactly sure of a shelf life, but it's probably around 3-4 years.
I followed the directions on both packages (don't forget to pull the Oxygen Absorber out of the Wise before adding water). As you can see, there isn't a whole lot to distinguish the two visually. Neither looked like a "lasagna", both looked like noodles and paste. Yummy.
Left is BP, right is Wise.
The BP was evenly mixed and absorbed. The Wise came out with pockets of unmixed powder. For both of these I ended up adding about half a cup of water after they "cooked", and mixed them again for a more even texture.
Neither were as good as your mom's, neither I would consider "good" food. I managed to choke down about half of each, though I'm not sure I'd want to depend on eating a lot of these in the future outside of a survival situation (or maybe ultra-light hiking). If I were starving these would be amazing, but sitting in my living room they were not particularly appetizing.
BP, came out with a better texture and it was mixed better. It looked like noodles with a slightly clumpy sauce. It tasted like tomato with a little cheese and noodles. Kind of bland actually.
WC, didn't mix as well, it came out with those pockets of unmixed powder. It was also a bit 'crunchier', than the BP. Take a bite, there would be a couple of crunchy, less hydrated pieces (I followed the instructions, but maybe letting it soak a little longer might have helped). However, there were also lots of chunks of meat and it was very cheesy. It was kind of like making macaroni and cheese with a couple chunks of sausage mixed in. It was very salty, slightly crunchy, but over all fairly edible.
Wise had a longer shelf life, it was cheaper, it had more calories per package, and it tasted better. It's a simple decision, between these two package options the Wise Company was definitely the better one. It required more mixing after "cooking", even then it did not re-hydrate as thoroughly (more crunchy), yet it was still the better option.
Maybe, if you're getting other meal selections the difference might not be so drastic. However, it's pretty clear that for a "lasagna" entree, Wise Company is definitely better than Backpacker's Pantry.