Gear Review Chief "5-Minute" Meal (not quite gear)

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by DKR, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    What it is - Chow
    (Self-Heating Backpack Meals | Chef 5 Minute Meals)

    These are tagged as "backpack meals". These are not a meal, they are an "entree".

    I wanted to replace my (high sodium) SPAM with a retort pouch 'entree' in my carry bag.

    Nothing against SPAM, it is what it is, and it is high in sodium (730 mg/2.5 oz serving). I decided to cut back on my own before some doc tells me I have to cut back. My BP is normal to low, but getting older means paying more attention to stuff like this.

    I have access to full, current production MRES (from the military commissary) but at $9+ a pouch and the weight, I was looking for less.

    I found a new source here locally (Anchorage) – for "Chief 5 Minute Meal" This offering is a retort pouch entrée with a heater and for just under $5. By Alaskan standards, not a bad price.

    The company offer 4 meal choices (see site at link for all meals offered) and the company also offers tortillas as a separate side. Since I buy locally, the cost of shipping is baked into the price.

    For my first taste test, I picked an old standby, Pasta Parmesan with chicken in tomato sauce. This is a wet pack and contains a MRE-style heater and the salt water required to activate the heater. Sodium is listed at 580 mg/9 oz serving. OK, less sodium. The 'meal' comes in a carry pouch (plastic bag) as seen in the posted image.

    Following the directions, I put the salt water in the heater pouch, smooshed it to ensure the entire heater pad was wetted and gave it a minute to get cooking. After sliding in the retort pouch, I gave it 10 minutes to heat. It came out very hot, I had to use a bandanna to hold the retort pouch. Seriously, I can see you getting burned if not careful.

    I suspect that there was more than enough residual heat to warm up a MRE beverage pouch of coffee/tea to go with dinner...even pre-wetted rice in a bag /microwave rice would be a good choice for this as a warm side dish.

    This was indoors. If outdoors, I already have a Reflectrix insulation cozy for the heater to sit in and capture the heat generated. You will need a long-handled (MRE style) soon to eat out of the pouch. The meal comes with a dinky spork + salt&pepper + napkin pack. Leave this pac home.

    This entree was served with a side of MRE whole wheat snack bread I hand on hand for this taste test. Not bad tasting and it will work well in rotation with other items I already have on hand. The chow was shell pasta, bits of identifiable meat and thick tomato sauce. The sauce is thicker and more plentiful than shown on the package, hence my suggestion of adding some rice. A packet of dry cheese would be a nice addition to top off the food.

    This product would make a decent hot meal before hitting the rack – but you should plan to have at least something soft (bread/crackers/hardtack/bannock/tortilla) as a side item. Some fruit would really make this a kick butt dinner. I weighed the product *out of the pouch* and got a tad more than 9 oz, so it is an honest weight for the food.

    The bag claims a "3 year shelf life" but the package had a Best by date only 19 months distant. (shrug) As a soft-sided can of Chow, I would have no problem leaving this in an indoor storage location for 2 or 3 years. You can decide for you.

    I called the company about the difference in the time frames and got an answer that didn't make a lot of sense to me, but the person on the phone didn't shy away from the question either – so, meh…no big.

    Bottom line – Not a bad value for a 9 oz entrée.

    It will need some sides to make a full meal. It needed no potable water to heat or eat, but it would be added weight to hump if I had to carry this very far – so, good for home use/car camping without a doubt.
    A plus to me – the entree comes with a heater, MRE heaters (recent production) can cost $1.25 or more – each. So a cold camp (no fire) and a hot meal is possible.

    I'll be picking a couple more for my short-term Chow bag, to add both variety and a hot meal.

    See the company website (Chef 5 Minute Meals) for more information) They offer several lines of product related to no-cook food.

    (rolls eyes) They even offer a bucket of Chow…..

    As with anything food related, your tastes will be different than mine - so YMMV.

    (not for contest and today's final)
    Motomom34 and sec_monkey like this.
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Sounds like a wonderful product. I will be looking at the link and try it out.
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