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Good To-Go Stove-Free Meals Review: A Day Hiker’s Snack, Ultralighter’s Hack

Good To-Go is making unique strides with its new, nutritious, and ultralight cold-soaked meals.

(Photo/Ian Graber-Stiehl)
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Confession time: I’m absolutely terrible at breaking camp in the morning. I like slow mornings. It also doesn’t help that, as an amateur powerlifter, I’m big on nutrition — and require big nutrition. I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked up only to realize that I spent an extra hour in front of my tent, simply because I wanted to cook a breakfast meal that went beyond a big boiled bag of salt and carbs.

Spending less time doing camp chores and more time on the trail has been a major motivation behind the rise of cold-soaked meals in recent years. The other major motivation has been the rise of all things ultralight. For those who count grams and swear by packs that can’t comfortably carry more than 25 pounds, opting for an entirely cold menu can usually cut somewhere between 6 ounces to just over a pound from a pack’s base weight.

Still, most cold-soaked meals revolve around staples like granola, oatmeal, and chia seeds. Few options offer more rounded nutrition with veggies and fiber. So, it was a breath of fresh air to test Good To-Go’s new stove-free meals, which are reasonable in calorie content, moderate in salt, and hefty in flavor, fiber, and feel-good nutrition.

In short: Good To-Go’s two new stove-free, just-add-water meals take an ultralight trend and run with it…into a health foods store. Its Carrot-Ginger Power Bowl and Chaat Chopped Salad offer flavor profiles that venture farther afield than the usual dehydrated meal staples, and offer weight savings and nutrition for those who also like to venture farther afield. The serving sizes are small, and they work best as a side or snack. But they’re also far more cost-effective than other brands’ larger dehydrated hot meals.

The meals will be available online starting March 4, 2024.

Good To-Go Stove-Free Meals


  • Varieties Carrot-Ginger Bowl, Chaat Salad
  • Meal type Dehydrated
  • Dietary options Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan
  • Calories 360, 420 calories
  • Protein 11 g, 18 g
  • Weight 95 g


  • Minimal time and effort to prep
  • More fiber and nutrition than traditional backpacking meals
  • Relatively high protein content


  • Not as good as a hot meal
  • Snack-sized offerings only have moderate caloric content

Good To-Go Cold-Soak Meals Review

Behind the Cold-Soak Trend

Testing the cold-soak meals on a day hike; (photo/Ian Graber-Stiehl)

There are many reasons to opt for cold-soaked meals. As someone who considers roasting gram-counting ultralighters a favorite pastime, I must admit some bias in not finding them all equal. Still, I take my hat off to those who are willing to forgo packing a stove entirely, to spend less time eating at camp while packing, and more time eating on the move.

Weight loss resolutions aside, the time savings are real. I imagine most trail rats who’ve taken others camping or backpacking have had the experience of spending extra hours at camp as the designated starter or the designated backcountry cook.

On the best of days, I’m not efficient. To me, lightweight equipment is an excuse to bring more stuff. (It comes with the job.)

I’m a hammock guy who insists on keeping all my gear suspended and compartmentalized off the ground. And throughout this winter, while testing sleeping bags, hammocks, hot tents, and more — despite frigid temps and the fact that I always had a stove — I routinely found myself foregoing a hot breakfast in favor of Good To-Go’s cold-soaked meals.

Paired with a meal bar and overnight coffee I was, fittingly, good to go. I could pack up my sprawling, overcomplicated campsites and get moving. There was no need to pack my stove and cookware last after I’d prepped breakfast. I could stuff my pack while I stuffed my face and use that cold morning inertia to hit the trail running.

Carrot-Ginger Power Moves

The carrot-ginger power bowl; (photo/Good To-Go)

Cold-soaked meals aren’t all that new. Overnight oats are a certified backcountry classic. Backpacker’s Pantry’s Blueberry Almond Granola has been a go-to for me for years.

However, most cold-soaked meals are typically granola, grains, or dessert. I knew I had something different when I opened the first offering, the Carrot-Ginger Power Bowl ($9).

Even sans steam, I could smell a menagerie of fresh veggies, the freshness of wakame, and the acidity of a gingery vinaigrette. I saw carrots, sesame, and quinoa galore. It was sweet and lightly acidic.

As a Creole guy who favors warm spices, heat, and creamy sauces, it was a bit tangy and acidic by itself. Likewise, being only offered in 420-calorie sizes, it didn’t cut it as a full meal for me. It was, however, a perfect in-between size to be either a snack or a side.

Alongside an RXBAR and some beef jerky, I genuinely felt like I had a quality, well-rounded meal every time. With ample fiber, 18 g of protein, and plenty of veggies, the Power Bowl proved to be just as much of a mouthful as its name, keeping me full and happy. That’s a high bar for somebody who often likes to cook full meals at camp. On the trail, hold the sides, it was a quick, easy, and vegan midday snack.

The Chaat Chopped Salad With Chutney

Taste-testing the cold-soaked chaat; (photo/Good To-Go)

Good To-Go’s Chaat Chopped Salad looks to the Far East for its inspiration. Chaat is a common Indian street food. Like all Indian food, there is no shortage of variations. But almost all chaats have five main components: some starchy base, veggies, chutney, crispy toppings, and a spice mixture called chaat masala.

Good To-Go’s Chaat Chopped Salad ($9) is a cucumber-based one, with a chaat masala and a tamarind chutney. As the kind of person who likes to use a mortar and pestle for making his own curry powders, I was surprised at the depth of flavor in the chaat masala. It’s spot on.

Most backpacking meals have flavor profiles dominated by cream, salt, cheese, or tomato sauce — pick two to three, and leave the rest. Spice-forward veggie dishes, especially ones that aren’t lime-accented pad Thais, are harder to come by among backpacking meals.

Vibrant and nutty, the chaat hits the nail on the head as a snack or side. Although, at 11 g of protein and only 260 calories, for many, it leans a touch more toward the latter. Future larger meal sizes with more calories would be a welcome thing to see from Good To-Go.

Good To-Go Cold-Soak Meals: Cost-Wise Conclusions

Munching on the Carrot-Ginger cold soak afield; (photo/Ian Graber-Stiehl)

Jennifer Scism, the co-founder of Good To-Go, comes from quite an extensive culinary background. And it shows.

“You know how you start to crave fresh veggies when you’re out on the trail for a few days?” Chef Jen told GearJunkie before the Cold-Soak Meal launch. “Well, me too, and this is my answer.”

Coming in at under $9, both meals are right on the mark price-wise. Most backpacking meals range from $9 to $15. Granted, many in that price range are entrees, boasting somewhere between 500 and 850 calories. Purely in terms of calories for price, Good To-Go’s cold-soaked meals lag a bit behind.

However, factoring in quality, nutrition, and fuel savings, they’re ultimately a cost-effective choice. The only major downside, if you’re already willing to forgo a hot meal, is the need for a slightly wider range of offerings for those hoping to tackle long trails entirely stoveless.

The talk around cold-soaked meals typically always revolves around saving time and weight. But Good To-Go packs enough quality cooking into its meals for that to be a genuine talking point.

In most areas of life, I’m not picky. Cooking is where I get bougie. Before trips, I often make pemmican, a dried-meat-based food — with morel duxelles and caramelized onions cooked in black garlic, truffle, and bone marrow butter. I’ll add figs and cranberries dehydrated in bourbon, and mix with beef, rabbit, and a little wagyu tallow. That’s one of my go-to’s for the trail.

Basically: I’m a crazy foodie. And I found Good To-Go’s cold-soaked meals to be tasty.

“Real food” is one of those phrases that is often nebulous. But cold or not, Good To-Go tastes like real food — or at least like a real side.

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