Heater Meals

Review by Alan Reid
Monday 14th August 2006

Hunger Breaks Self Heating Meals

I tried and tested two varieties of these gadget meals, a boil in the bag style Steak and Vegetables, and a plastic tub style Chicken Curry. Both meals weighed 300g, but the plastic tub style was bulkier and its cardboard outer probably weighed a couple of extra grams than the foil bag version. Each works on the same principle: the meal container is popped into a specially designed heating bag which contains a row of chemical cells glued to its inside. The main pack also includes a small sachet of salty water, around the size and weight of 4 tomato ketchup sachets. You just open the water sachet and pour it into the heating bag. The water reacts with whatever is in the chemical cells to produce an exothermic reaction. You then roll up the heater bag and pop it back into the outer packaging for some extra insulation. Make sure the area is well ventilated, sit back and wait ten minutes and viola, your dinner is hot.

Sounds simple? It most certainly is. So what did we think?

Taste: very good indeed. Can't complain at all.

Speed: Also can't complain. No stove set up time, no naked flames, no fuel to carry, and a ten minute wait.

Heat: After 10 minutes both meals were not only ready, but almost too hot to eat immediately! In fact the heater bag remained hot for at least 20 minutes after heating the meals! Probably not recommended by the manufacturers, but we used the bag to heat up some pasties we had with us. After 3 or 4 minutes wrapped in the bag the pasties were too hot to touch! Note that we didn't put raw food directly into the bag as we weren't sure exactly what chemicals the reaction emitted - we just wrapped the bag around the pasties and put a cloth over the top. It would be quite feasible to heat ore than one meal with a single heater.

Portion: I have a fairly large appetite so wasn’t entirely satisfied with a 300g portion. I'd like to see a little more. Furthermore the calorific value was a measly 279kcal for the whole meal. Not exactly a meal to take with you as an emergency energy boost, but pleasant for short trips where you don't want to carry a stove and its associated paraphernalia.

Weight: Meal plus pack was somewhere in the region of 350g. Not a whole lot, but bear in mind that you are carrying a fully hydrated meal and also some extra water for the heating that you can't consume. I would like to see a lightweight version of these meals where you carry dried food and a heater bag - I would imagine this to way somewhere in the region of 100-150g - and re-hydrate with your own water.

Cost: at £2.99 I'd say that they are priced well. They certainly don't break the bank, but as I have said already, I'd like a little more for my money.

Check out the Heatermeals website for more details.


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