OMeals – Pasta Fagioli
Facing intense rain in Northern Main, minutes from the Canadian border, we were excited to try Omeals unique take on camping food. The packaging includes a self-heating element, so no extra cooking equipment is necessary.
But despite the potential ease of preparation, the result was sub-par. The self-heating element proved more novelty than useful, the end-product tasted more like SpaghettiOs than true Pasta Fagioli, and the weight-to-calorie ratio was exceptionally poor, leaving us slightly hungry despite having extra waste.
Specification: OMeals – Pasta Fagioli
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Dairy, Egg, Soy, Wheat
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Omeals is theoretically a breeze to cook and eat, as the package already includes a self-heating element, spoon, and napkin. The heating element is exciting to use, but isn’t necessarily new: older MRE’s have used the same exothermic techniques for decades.
To start the cooking process, you fill the bag with water, insert the heating element (a small packet of iron, magnesium, and salt), and seal the package. Then the magic begins: your water will instantly boil, with the bag expanding, and stream exiting the built-in, one-way vent. The directions aren’t perfectly clear for first-timers, but once you get acclimated, cooking future Omeals shouldn’t be an issue.
The cooking process can be somewhat dangerous given your water instantly boils, and continues to do so for 10 to 20 minutes after you remove your meal and begin eating. Overall, while it was fun to make, we’re not sure it would have been a huge deal to just use traditional cooking equipment (like our JetBoil). We also ended up using our own titanium sporks in lieu of the flimsy, likely-to-break plastic fork that was included.
- You don’t need any additional cooking equipment or fuel
- It’s fun to watch the chemical reaction of the self-heating element
- The food heated more quickly than anticipated since the meal is already pre-cooked
- Instructions aren’t obvious for first-timers
- Included plastic fork is low-quality and often unnecessary
- Bag become extremely hot, so take caution
Pasta Fagioli is a classic comfort food for many Italians. While Omeals’ take was admirable, it struck out on many of this dishes best qualities. And yes, we know backpacking food shouldn’t match the quality of restaurant-grade meals, but we’ve actually found a few (like the Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai) that came close.
Due to the meal being pre-cooked and jammed into a tiny, smaller-than-your-hand package, we found the meal to be a slop of mushy ingredients, reminisce of our childhood SpaghettiOs. The taste was certainly “good enough,” but it’s far short of memorable.
- Well-rounded ingredient list
- Everything was cooked perfectly (because it was pre-cooked)
- The meal being pre-cooked resulted in a mushy texture
- Sauce was bland despite plenty of ingredient components
- Tasted like something out of a can
At Outdoor Food Lab, we list our weight ratings as such:
- 150+ calories/ounce: / Ultralight Hiking Food
- 131-149 calories/ounce:
- 111-130 calories/ounce:
- 90-110 calories/ounce:
- Less than 90 calories/ounce: