Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mountain House vs Wise Foods....A Comparison


 The battle for freeze dried food supremacy in the post zombie apocalypse world has taken on a new chapter. I decided to taste test Mountain House and Wise Foods freeze dried backpackers meals. I initially chose Chili Mac as the flavor to be tested. However I soon realized that Mountain House Chili Mac is the creme de la creme of freeze dried meals. This was an unfair advantage for Mountain House in that Chili Mac is THE meal of choice on my back packing excursions.

    I soon added the Lasagna and Beef Stroganoff. I wanted to test a different tomato based product and also a cream based product as well. These are all entrees, I didn't test deserts, breakfasts, or side dishes. Both Mountain House and Wise share some characteristics: They're both packaged in zip lock style thick foil bags, they cook in the bag using only water, they have a 7 year storage life, they're high in sodium, and they both cost less about the same.

     If you're a vegetarian, the comparison stops here for you. The Wise Foods products I tested were 100% vegetarian, and say so right on the bag. Mountain House has real meat in their products that I tested.

     All tests were done by preparing the food using the same amount of water (16 oz.), from the same source, and at the same temperature (190 degrees F). Mountain House took 10 minutes to rehydrate, Wise Foods took 15. The water was not boiling as recommended on the packages of both products.

The Sights:
     When I opened the two packages it appeared that the Mountain House package contained more food that the Wise Foods package. Both packages contain 4.6 ounces of freeze dried food, so maybe it's the texture of the MH foods that made it appear to have more food in it. Once the food was prepared and poured into bowls the Mountain House food looked more appealing to me. The tomato sauce in the Chili Mac and Lasagna was reddish-orange in color vs brownish in the Wise Foods.  The MH noodles looked fuller and still appeared to have more volume than the Wise Foods product. The Wise Foods sauces were runny, more like soup than sauce.

The Smells:
    The Mountain House food smelled like you'd expect chili, lasagna, and stroganoff to smell. The Wise Foods didn't smell bad, it just didn't smell like I expected it to smell. The smell of camping food might not be a big deal to you and it's not a huge deal to me, unless it smells bad. It's kind of like sprinkles on the cup cake. An added bonus at the end of the day.

The Tastes:
     This is where Mountain House really distinguished itself from Wise Foods in my opinion. The Mountain House food was good, I mean really good. I'll eat it for lunch because I like it, not because I don't have anything else. The Wise Foods products didn't taste very good to me. I didn't even finish the lasagna, I threw 1/2 a bag away. The sauce in the Wise chili mac and lasagna had "textured vegetable protein" instead of meat.If you're a vegetarian and you want Chili Mac, Lasagna or Stroganoff, Wise Foods is your only option between the two. The taste of the Wise Foods tomato based products made me glad I eat meat. I liked both companies Stroganoff. Like the tomato based products the stroganoff from Wise Foods was more soupy.

The Conclusion:
    If I could have only one, I'd have to pick Mountain House. It smelled better, tasted better, and prepared faster. The Wise Foods products weren't bad, don't get me wrong. Well...the lasagna was pretty bad, to me anyways. Both are viable long term storage options. Wise Foods actually pack a little flatter ans takes up a little less room than Mountain House does. Maybe it's because it's a 1/2 cup smaller in size when re- hydrated, even though they both weighed in at 4.8 oz packaged.  Wise Foods was about 50 cents cheaper where I purchased it than was Mountain House. The noodles in all three products were more hearty, more filling,  with Mountain House than with Wise Foods.

     I didn't dive into all of the nutritional values, fat contents, etc. This comparison was about USING the product, not chemically analyzing it. How it tasted, smelled, and how it cooked.  If you want all of the nutritional information, please look it up. Google is your friend. I did notice the protein count was a little lower with Wise Foods, maybe because it was 100% vegetarian....who knows.

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. I do know that if you don't like certain foods during calm times, trying to make kids eat food they don't like will only add tons of stress to you during times of disaster. Fortunately my kids like Mountain House, they eat it when camping....and I know they'll eat it if times are bad.

     Topics, suggestions, criticisms (well not really). Always welcome  or leave them in the comments for the blog, you can do so anonymously.

    Above all else, survive to fight another day.


  1. Mountain house seems to have a good rep. Wise, not so much. someone on the SB board said we were now getting the fly-by-night businesses in the survialist industry.

  2. I purchased a one month supply of Wise products from a third party vender. I have tried only one, the Mexican chicken. After a 6 mile hike, and not eating lunch, It tasted pretty good when I mixed it with instant mashed potatoes. My problem was I arived with NO instructions as how much water to add, or how long it had to rehydrate. When I called the company, they admitted they were having a problem with this, and were working to fix the problem.

  3. Thanks for letting us know your thoughts about our freeze-dried backpacking food. We are excited to announce our new freeze-dried meals with less than 300mg of sodium. We’d love to send you a free sample! Please email your name, email and address and we will be sure to get it in the mail. Feel free to out check us out on Facebook: and Twitter:!/mtnhouse (@mtnhouse)!

  4. I scanned a mountain house bucket with an app on my phone.
    The description came up as "Wise foods 84 serving bucket".
    Are these two companies joined in some way?
    I also notice that the email of the MH rep in prior post is @r-west.

  5. I have tasted and tested almost all of the freeze-dried options out there and yes Mountain House has a great taste. One thing to look for when choosing a freeze-dried meal is; you want to look at the ingredients and the nutritional content. Yes taste is important, but you also want to make sure the meal is sufficient enough to give you what you need on a hike or in an emergency. If you ever have any questions or need help choosing which freeze dried meal is best for you, don't hesitate to contact us!

  6. I'm about to purchase a 3 month supply of long term storage food for emergency purposes. I thinking of the bucket(s) system for the purchase and storage. Based on your review, I assume you'd pick Mountain House over Wise. Can you give me any direction? Thanks, Bill.

  7. Bill,
    I would indeed pick MH over Wise. The bucket system from Wise doesn't appear to be packaged the same as the individual packets of Wise. I have some packages from the bucket system, but have yet to try them.

    I use MH because I like them. For some it may be personal preference, but for me Mountain Houise was a better choice.

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  10. I'm about to purchase a 3 month supply of long term storage food for emergency purposes. I thinking of the bucket(s) system for the purchase and storage. Based on your review, I assume you'd pick Mountain House over Wise. Can you give me any direction? Thanks, Bill.