All Dressed up ~ Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee

Well – I am a sucker for coffee and having a bit of Joe out in the back-country is no exception.  At home, I prefer my coffee straight up – black.

For me however, I find I run into a problem, when the coffee I usually bring to the backcountry – (Starbucks Via) usually tastes pretty bitter and burnt and not the ideal cup of hot deliciousness you’d expect on a perfect serene morning in the Boundary Waters.  For me , it often requires  a bit of creamer, or sugar to cut the bitterness, and my husband always prefers cream and sugar in his coffee regardless of the quality of the bean, or brewing method.

When adding dry creamer, and sugar (which definitely adds weight to the food pack) it makes the whole solution taste kind of weird. We’ve also tried the Mate2Go concentrated liquid creamer to kind of cut down in weight, but again, blah for the taste for me.

Perhaps I’m a java snob… perhaps I hadn’t found the right coffee, or the right balance of instant + creamer, or way to brew;  instant vs. pour over, vs. french press….

So – I was super pumped when on a recent Trader Joe’s run I came across this little beauty! The package looked promising with its cute little poka-dots and cleaver marketing lines. (After all – that’s how you should shop right?)IMG_20170413_181541
Ten packets at $1.99 was a steal, and I was super interested. This definitely seemed, “too good to be true”, especially for the price, but then again, at $1.99 it was definitely worth a try, and everything I’ve ever bought at Trader Joe’s had been delicious so far.

So, I threw it in my cart, went to the checkout and was pretty eager to give it a go.




My first impression was that the packets themselves are a bit longer and wider than the Starbucks via, but not obscenely so.  (Perhaps the size of a Crayola Marker). They’ll definitely still pack-down pretty nice, and when I consider I don’t need to haul in sugar and creamer separately it makes the change in size completely negligible.

Once I opened the packet it was evident that little sugar and creamer crystals were present.  The coffee ingredients well – smelled like coffee too, despite there looking like a LOT of cream and sugar.


As I poured hot water over the solution, the aroma was really nice and the “creamer color” ratio looked about on par for someone who likes creamer in their coffee. So I figured it’d be a win for my husband and a win for me – so long as it didn’t have an overly artificial taste, or a lingering bitter taste.


I was really happy with the result! This was with 8oz of water added, so if you wanted it more diluted you could certainly add more water if the size of your cup allows. (This is my brand new Mini Bull Design “Cult Classic” Foster Beer Pot. (I obviously watch too many Shug videos, and if you recognize this pot, maybe you do too!)

The taste is wonderful. It was like having a REAL decent cup of coffee with some half-and-half and sugar added. It didn’t taste weird, or artificial, bitter or overly sweet. (Especially given the fact that coffee is #4 on the list of ingredients!!!) Conclusion: Definitely stocking up in BULK on this stuff. This has been my very favorite coffee for the Boundary Waters / SHT hiking I’ve tried to date, and I’ve tried a lot!


So – next time you’re in the market for some coffee for the BWCA, Quetico and beyond, check out the Trader Joes Instant Coffee – All Dressed Up. 


Meal Review – Good To-Go brand

Simplicity – simplicity – simplicity!

That’s where its at for me in the back-country. I was so excited to test out this new brand “Good To-Go” when I saw it on the shelf at my local REI. They are both gluten free and vegetarian, so if that is something that is a need for you – then these might be right for you!

On my last trip to the wilderness I tested two of these.  The Classic Marinara with Penne, and the Thai Curry. After reading rave reviews I figured I was in good hands.

Classic Marinara with Penne
As with most of these packaged meals for backcounty – it comes in two servings, well at least the package I picked up at REI was.

This meal couldn’t have been easier! Simply add two cups of water to the pouch. It does take at least 20 minutes to soften up those noodles tho, so you do have to plan ahead so that you’re not eating in the dark like I did on the first night!

I also carried in a tiny little bottle of crushed red peppers since I like my food nice and spicy!


This was really good. I compared it in my mind to the Prego Ready Meals, and thought this was better, and lighter! I only ate about half of it though. There was so much left over that I had to pack it back out.

Thai Curry
Right out of the bat I set aside the coconut milk, since that isn’t my favorite, added my two cups of water in and I was set!

The spice is real folks. I didn’t even need to add any crushed red peppers, and the taste is delicious! Little pieces of peas, broccoli and green beans were a really nice touch.  Again, there was way too much for one person to eat the two serving size. (Did a company finally get their serving sizes right? )


Later that night my tummy was a little rumbly though – so I might be a bit shy to try this one again.

All in all – I really like this company, and their meals don’t remind me of an MRE from my Navy days like some of the other companies do. I’m also really excited to see on their website that they DO in fact offer single sizes and lots of new delicious choices!



Preggo Ready Meals

While perusing the aisles at the local Super Target I ran into these Prego Ready Meals. I was intrigued. Picked one up, and threw it in the cart.mnlindsey80-130217-174540

You can either microwave them, or if you’re in the backcountry, simply open and dump into a cooking pot. Its all of the convenience of Spaghetti O’s & Meatballs without the contraband aluminum can!

Once I got home I promptly threw that baby in the microwave and made Basecamp Dad and Basecamp Kid try it. At first they looked at me like, “Do we really need to taste test?”  “Yes, because half the time you don’t LOVE backcountry meals, so were going to approve them all before we go from now on!”.

Not surprisingly they both loved it.

Tastes Delish (as far as this kind of food goes)
Easy to transport
There is meat in it!
Something the whole family loves

Heavy (Might be able to repackage and dehydrate if you were concerned about weight)
Without an abundance of sauce it burns easily in the GSI cookset pots – so ya gotta keep it stirring

On me and Basecamp Dad’s recent winter trip I packed two of these along and a tiny plastic bottle of crushed red peppers. I’m thinking if we had a Bota Box of Cabernet along, and some naan for over the fire this would have been just about perfect!


Will absolutely add this to our mainstay.