By Gabby Zaldumbide
Backpacking still feels new to me. Growing up, my family didn’t really do anything outdoors, whether it was camping, hunting, fishing, or hiking. Luckily, during college, I was accepted into one of the Wild Rockies Field Institute’s field courses in Montana and dove head-first into a three week long backpacking trip. I finally earned the dose of the West I’d been yearning for. At 19 years old, that was my first big-girl experience in the outdoors.
On the WRFI trip, we packed in fresh vegetables, pasta, cheeses, and more. While the eating was fantastic, my pack was weighed down by beets and Idaho potatoes. As I moved on from backpacking to backcountry hunting, I realized how impractical it would be for me to pack in root veggies for several days when I intended to fill my pack up with meat. Yes, I’d be getting essential nutrients during times of extreme physical exertion, but at what cost?
As a solution, I decided to give freeze dried meals a go. Like most folks, Mountain House products from the closest Walmart became my go-to backcountry meal. Easy to make, light to carry, and full of salt, they seemed to be a logical solution. However, I quickly learned that eating Mountain House meant I needed to plan for a nap afterwards, too. Although tasty and filling, the simple carb-heavy meals made my eyelids and booted feet feel heavy. Were freeze-dried meals like those my only option for lightweight food? I hesitate to sacrifice my energy and mental clarity when I need it most just to have a warm lunch. Wasn’t there something out there that had actual vegetables in it, too? And is texture too much to ask for?
Turns out, it’s not. Vegetables are out there, too. I found them in Good To-Go meals from goodto-go.com. I cracked these bad boys open for the first time while on a bear hunt in northern Colorado. Spot and stalk black bear hunting is easier said than done, and after getting a few miles under my boots, I was hankering for a hot meal.
I whipped out Good To-Go’s Mushroom Risotto. I’m not a huge mushroom fan, but I love risotto (and was admittedly hangry at this point), so I bit the bullet and opened it up. Not only was it absolutely delicious, but I ate every single mushroom. There was texture! And the flavor had depth! This was a real, honest-to-goodness actual meal. The back of the package left me in disbelief; I could pronounce every ingredient. Mushrooms. Rice. Garlic powder. Basil. It was actually risotto. And 30 minutes later, I wasn’t napping. I was back out looking for bears.
I ordered a variety of meals to try during my bear hunt: Good To-Go’s spaghetti, Thai curry, Mexican quinoa bowl, chicken pho, and of course, the risotto. I will admit, the spaghetti was a bit tomato-heavy for my taste, but the Thai curry is my all-time favorite. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I appreciated that Good To-Go offered delicious, flavorful options for those who are. The quality, variety in textures, complexity of flavors, pronounceable ingredients, and genuinely thoughtful packaging sets this brand’s products apart from every other freeze-dried meal I’ve tried. Good To-Go, you’ve got a new customer for life.
I’m not sure if this was because I was fueled up by Good To-Go or was wearing my favorite hunting hat, but I was lucky enough to punch my bear tag on Labor Day. After becoming a hunter almost two and a half years ago, I’ve only become more thankful about being able to put meat on my own table. You bet I’m dreaming of a 2021 bear hunt and am planning on putting in for Colorado’s draw system again next spring. Plus, if I draw the tag, I already know what food I’m going to bring.