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For health reasons, I usually try to keep my sodium intake fairly low. However, most freeze dried dinners offered in camping stores contain an more sodium than I'm looking for. I consider 800mg a serving to be fairly high, especially considering I most likely will eat two servings to refuel after a long day of hiking. Are there any products that don't have as much sodium? Ideally, I want lightweight, reasonably priced ($10ish for an entree) food with a low sodium content (200mg/serving) that I can take backpacking with me.

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Clarify please. What is "obscene" and what is "low". Do you want low sodium/serving or sodium/calorie? Same thing for "reasonably priced". Reasonable is a subjective measure by each individual. What's a "reasonable" cost per meal? Not trying to be picky, but these are important details for hiking (and those trying to answer you question) –  Russell Steen Feb 8 '12 at 0:20
    
Any sort of freeze dried fruit will meet your requirement. Perhaps a better question would relate to protein sources. –  Bryce Feb 8 '12 at 1:29
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Given that the DRI value for sodium is somewhere around 2.3 g (source), is 800 mg per serving really that high? Especially when hiking, where it’s almost certain that you will lose some sodium from sweating? –  zoul Feb 8 '12 at 7:45
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@zoul A good goal for people with high blood pressure is 1500mg of sodium a day (source). If I eat two servings (which is very likely) I'm at 1600mg in a single meal. Sweating or not, my daily sodium intake isn't going to be where I want it. –  jeffreywrichards Feb 9 '12 at 0:39
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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I see that a good option on the sodium is to buy the components (vegetable medley, cooked beef, green peas, etc.) which are all lower sodium than the premixed meals. Instead of buying dehydrated/ freeze-dried meals, start looking into dehydrated/freeze-dried ingredients. This page has a good list of source for ingredients.

Make it yourself:

  • Pemmican — 1/2 beef fat and 1/2 ground dehydrated beef (like jerky). Done right, no salt
  • Spaghetti, Herbs, Olive Oil, and any dried meat (a friend takes this a lot and it's good). Cook it all yourself in camp. Also no salt.
  • Hard tack, you can choose the amount of salt to use
  • Boiled eggs will keep several days even in warm climates (I do this every hike)
  • Shrimp and Grits The entire backpacking chef site is pretty good.

Mountain House has the following in that sodium and price range (I'll keep adding other brands and meals as I find them). I'm including some that are over your limit because you can mix and match to get the proper average.

Backpackers Pantry has the following options from here.

  • Organic Scrambled Eggs — 360mg/per
  • Spicy Cheese Omelet — 160mg/per
  • Cinnamon Muesli & Milk — 70mg/per
  • Granola w/ Bananas & Milk — 105mg/per (one of my favorites)
  • Granola w/ Blueberries & Milk — 105mg/per
  • Egg Mix — 150mg/per
  • Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce — 230mg/per
  • Pesto Salmon w/ Pasta — 140mg/per
  • Vegetable Medley — 55mg/per
  • All of the desserts
  • Cooked Beef — 55mg/per
  • Cooked Chicken — 65mg/per

Other brands

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I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that the Mountain House/Natural High nutritional information you're linking to is already per serving. You shouldn't be dividing the amount of sodium further. I have a Mountain House pouch with me and it matches the nutritional information on the site. The package I have explicitly says, "Amount Per Serving." –  jeffreywrichards Feb 9 '12 at 0:56
    
I believe you are correct and I am updating now. –  Russell Steen Feb 9 '12 at 1:03
    
@jeffreywrichards -- Updated, hope that helps –  Russell Steen Feb 9 '12 at 1:23
    
Going to the store, or looking online, and reading labels takes time-- but it gets the job done. ;) –  Clare Steen Feb 9 '12 at 14:11
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I would recommend making your own.

I've used a bunch of the recipes from FreezerBagCooking and found them generally easy to make and incredibly tasty. You can adjust them to fit your budget or sodium needs.

The general idea is that you use a "freezer" ziplock bag (basically, the thicker kind) and put all your dehydrated ingredients from the recipe into it. On the trail you can pour boiling water directly into the bag (same as the store bought ones) and seal them, wait for however long, and then eat directly from the bag.

Here's an example recipe (I've made this one, but substituted a tuna packet for the chicken):


Chicken Diablo Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 c instant rice
  • 1⁄4 c freezedried corn
  • 3 T dry tomato soup mix
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1 cn 3 to 5 ounces chicken
  • 1 c water

Instructions: At home in a quart freezer bag pack the dry ingredients. Pack the chicken with the bag.

On the trail: Add chicken with broth and 1 cup near boiling water. Stir well, seal tightly and put in cozy for 15 minutes.


Source: http://www.trailcooking.com/recipes/chicken-diablo-rice

The site also has lots of tips on how to make/procure lots of the ingredients, including low sodium options.

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We had the same concerns - the sodium levels on most freeze dried foods are appalling. We bought from Pack Lite Foods and were not disappointed. We only tried the dinners, so can't comment on their other meals. The dinners were tasty and the double servings were the right amount of food for two.

http://packlitefoods.com/index.html

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Hey Sal, I checked some of those and none of the ones I looked at are below the level (200mg/serving) requested by the op. Can you break out the specific ones that meet the op requirements? –  Russell Steen Apr 23 '12 at 2:48
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Mountain House has a low sodium line of freeze dried for long term storage and/or hiking/camping. They are about 250-350 mg/sodium per meal and even Wal Mart carries them individually at about $8/packet. Great for emergencies, hiking/camping and survival. Stay safe.

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Welcome to The Great Outdoors S.E.! –  MaskedPlant Mar 7 '13 at 18:43
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