Much ado about salt
We get asked about the sodium content of Next Mile Meals often enough that we wrote a short "Sodium FAQ" for you!
"I don't need an explanation, I just want to know what meals are the lowest in sodium."
"Why does it seem like Next Mile Meals are high in sodium?"
The reason why so few companies make protein- and fat-heavy meals vs. using cheap carbs is because those macronutrients are very, very difficult to preserve. Fat and protein spoil much faster than starches—think about the difference between a steak spoiling and a box of macaroni going bad—which makes them more difficult and expensive to make shelf-stable, especially without adding a bunch of unpronounceable chemical ingredients to the meal. One way we make our shelf-stable meals is to add sodium (in the form of salt): salting meat was one of the first and simplest ways to preserve it. That being said, none of our meals TASTE too salty. In the thousands of orders we've shipped and fulfilled, we've had equal people tell us that our meals need MORE salt as have asked for LESS. This probably means we've found a good balance.
"Is that much sodium bad for you?"
Unless you have a specific, rare medical condition, no. In fact, when on a low-carb/ketogenic diet you may even find that you need to add more salt and electrolytes, ESPECIALLY when exerting yourself during hiking and other strenuous activities. There are some fantastic resources out there explaining why what we've been told about salt and sodium is wrong (The Salt Fix with Dr. James DiNicolantonio is a great podcast episode on this topic), though we do recommend chatting first with your doctor before changing your diet as we are not medical professionals and can only speak to our own experience and research.
"How does the sodium levels of your meals compare to other available options?"
Most other dried food products try to pull a fast one by putting "1.5 servings" or "2 servings" in a meal pouch, because it fools the customer into thinking the nutrition label is healthier than it is. But who actually splits their Mountain House meals between two people? Not me. We took one of our old favorite Mountain House meals (Chili Mac with Beef) and one of our highest sodium meals (Italian Meatball): it's not very fair to compare our highest sodium meal to an average meal of theirs, but it's close enough. Here’s how the nutrition works out:
Mountain House Chili Mac With Beef (labeled as “one serving” = 54g; 2.5 servings per bag)
Fat: 6 g
Sodium: 780 mg
Net Carbs: 26 g
Protein: 12 g
Mountain House Chili Mac With Beef (actual person serving, one full bag = 136g)
Fat: 15 g
Sodium: 1950 mg
Net Carbs: 65 g
Protein: 30 g
Next Mile Meals Italian Meatball (1 bag = 100.5g)
Fat: 39 g
Sodium: 1460 mg
Net Carbs: 7 g
Protein: 42 g
With our meals you get more protein, more than 2x the fat, and LESS sodium per serving (if you eat the whole bag like we do). If you measure it by the gram, then NMM has 14.5 mg sodium per gram vs MH's 14.3 mg/g: a nearly identical amount, in spite of having very different lists of ingredients and preservatives.
Next Mile Meals is a small, family-run business that came to life on the Pacific Crest Trail. This blog is our way of giving back to the hiking community; sharing our successes, our failures, and our learnings as we try to eat better, pack lighter, and go farther in our many outdoor adventures.