We hark from an age where dehydrated food was a pallid shadow of its former self, dried to a point where all flavours blended into one and the texture was that of Guantanamo Bay porridge - something to push calories in, but rarely to be savoured.
With that in mind we were a little hesitant when these Firepot meals dropped through our letterbox - could culinary technology have moved forward sufficiently to remove the crunchy-sawdust vibe from outdoor meals?
The first thing we noted was the option of getting your meal in either the usual plastic pouch, with the ability to pour boiling water in, eat from it and do away with dirty pots, or a compostable paper-type of pouch that required the meal to be prepared in a pot. Hats off to them for offering this option - compostable is a leap beyond biodegradeable which means they can be dropped into a handy compost heap or even household waste where they will quickly break down to nothing. Great stuff and definitely the option we would take where possible, but you just have to be aware that the packs are less bombproof than the waterproof yellow prep-in-the-bag option, and more susceptible to water damage. Basically they need more care, but that shouldn't be an issue with a dry bag and some careful packing.
We did use both of course and there is no denying the convenience of being able to throw the waterproof yellow pouches into your bag and forgetting about them, plus the bonus of pot-free preparation, but we wouldn't be comfortable with all that waste.
With that established we got down to the nitty gritty - how did they taste. Lining up a range of palates from grizzled outdoors veteran to fussy urbanite we cooked up a variety of options. Beef Stew with Pearl Barley, Spicy Pork Noodles, Dal and Rice with Spinach - they all sounded appetising - were just some of the samples we nibbled at, and without exception they went down a treat. Short of individual tastes, there wasn't one we wouldn't recommend.
A closer inspection of the ingredients as we munched away revealed a gratifying lack of artificial additives and flavours; each one was big on flavoursome spices and 'real food' which bolstered our favourable opinions.
So they were tasty and convenient, reasonably priced at £6.95 per meal (try getting that on a pub menu), free from chemicals and light - 222g for our meaty Orzo Pasta Bolognese for example. All that and with the option of genuinely eco-friendly packaging if it suits your needs. They are easy to recommend and we are already eyeing up the website for replacements once these samples have run out.