Paleo Meals to Go Review: Paleo Bikepacking
Do you follow a paleo diet, or aspire to keep predominantly to its principles of eating more naturally and cutting out processed food? But let me guess… you still want to pack light when you bikepack? Paleo Meals to Go are crammed with simple caveman goodness… Here’s our thoughts on what’s in them, and how they taste.
If you keep to a Paleo diet, camping in the style of our great-grandpa cavemen ancestors isn’t as easy as it used to be, given the massive amounts of processed food in our society and what’s readily available in the majority of grocery stores. If you choose to keep gas station junk food off the menu and want to carry lightweight food for a few days, you have the option of dehydrating your own vegetables and meats, a la Dammers, or making the most of someone else’s hard work.
Paleo Meals To Go is run by a mother-son team with a farming background and an interest in hiking, ultra running, and outdoor living. Given that my partner prefers to keep to a paleo-based diet but generally struggles to do so on tour, we checked the ingredients and saw they ticked all her boxes. During our family overnighter in Sedona, we sampled two meals, a snack, and a breakfast, making two dinners work between the 2.5 of us.
The Paleo diet is a way of eating based on our ancestral roots of hunters and gatherers. The dietary guidelines are to only eat food that is in its whole, unadulterated state; meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, berries, etc. Forget grains, pasta, bread, and sugar… likely a challenge to many bikepackers. This way of eating has become more recently popular due to the many health issues arising from today’s Western diet, which is increasingly laden with refined carbs and sugars. At its core, keeping to a paleo-based diet encourages a person to eat simply and healthily.
The first meal we sampled was the Mountain Beef Stew (87g), which was a big hit with all of us. It’s laden with chunks of meat, carrot, onion, mushroom and celery, with a very wholesome, non packaged feel to it. It was rich in flavor and we found it filling. True to Paleo eating, the beef stew is high in protein (41g) and relatively low in carbs, whilst also being very nutrient dense.
The Canyon Chicken Chili (85g) wasn’t quite as popular with Sage as it’s a little on the spicy side. But we both liked it – once we’d added some sea salt, which it definitely needed. The sweet potato and cauliflower made the meal feel substantial, while mushroom and green chili gave it a nice taste. Again, this meal is high in protein and low in carbs compared to other prepped meals. Preparation time is typical to other backpacking food – 10-12 minutes, adding an additional minute for every 1000 feet elevation gain about 5000 feet.
- Price (for 1 serving pack): $13
- Weight: 87g
- Protein (total): 41g
- Calories (total): 380
- Manufacturer’s Details: Paleo Meals To Go
For breakfast, we tried the Palisade Pineapple and Mango ($13/128g). This is a grain free replacement for standard issue oatmeal that many bikepackers rely on, with a base of coconut flax meal and almond flour, coupled with walnut, pecans, and freeze-dried fruit and coconut sugar. The meal itself was certainly delicious, though we felt it would have made for a better dessert than breakfast, as we prefer to start the day with protein-rich food when we can. While riding, we nibbled on a pack of Apex Fruit Snacks ($4, 28g); freeze-dried bananas, apples, red grapes, pineapple, and peaches. Again, no complaints there. The available menu is fairly wide and although we didn’t try them, other tempting flavors include Butte Cacao Banana and the Bedrock Beef Chili, while the Lithic Bars certainly look interesting too from an ingredients perspective… given their roasted and milled cricket base!
If you have any specific health-related issues – or you simply want to optimise your health while bikepacking – it’s worth noting is that this is the only company we know of that offers meals and snacks that are gluten free, grain free, milk free, soy free, nightshade free, and in some cases, nut free. There’s no added sugar, no additives, no preservatives, and no sulphur. For some, this will definitely be good enough reason alone to give Paleo Meals To Go a try.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Paleo Meals to Go is the quality of their ingredients – all of their meals are packed with nutrient dense, top-notch goodness, with absolutely no filler at all. For this reason, we think their relatively steep $13 price is actually good value for money. Although they’re typically a few dollars more than other backpacking dehydrated brands, the ingredients simply aren’t compromised in any way, making for a well-balanced diet that will help stabilise blood sugars. In terms of taste bud satisfaction, we weren’t disappointed either. As for portions, I’d consider them reasonable rather than especially generous; you’ll definitely need one pack per person after a long day’s ride, and ideally a dessert as well, split between two.
As for value for money within the meals themselves, the complete dinners definitely score highest in terms of the effort and cost of replicating something similar at home. Simply put, it would take a lot of time to make a comparably well-rounded meal that’s as light to carry and quick to prepare. Good quality snacks are easier to source in many health food shops and the breakfast we tried, as tasty as it proved to be, would also be more straightforward to create and pack yourself. But still, if you place a high value on what you put into your system (which you should!) and appreciate the convenience of extremely healthy and well-considered bikepacking food, Paleo Meals to Go gets our seal of approval.
Note that there’s currently a 25-40 percent discount at the online store, making the meals a very reasonable $9 each and the breakast $6.
With thanks to Dr Nancy Crowell DOM for her nutritional and dietary knowhow. Visit her website, Flowing Elements, for advice on ancient medicines for modern life.