GoPicnic

<b>What it is:</b> The Chicago-based company touts its product as "nutritious, high-quality, shelf-stable" food -- that is, packaged food that can sit for several months before going bad. Could be stashed and eaten any time, but I tested as sustenance during a four-day road trip. Could be a light meal but is closer to snack territory. Offerings include a Riviera picnic, consisting of couscous, hummus, pita chips (among other things); Jungle Munch, consisting of pretzel crisps, veggie cheese dip, apple sauce and trail mix; and Salami and Cheese, consisting of -- you guessed it. Kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free and halal versions available.<br>
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<b>How it works:</b> Open the box. Open the packages. Feast.<br>
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<b>The good:</b> The boxed meals allow you to skip the fatty fast-food interstate fare. They're highly transportable and last for several months. The packages include utensils and a moist towelette. All meals are free of peanuts, assuaging allergy concerns for some.<br>
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<b>The bad:</b> Yes, we are talking shelf-stable here, so I know that means I shouldn't expect a New York strip medium rare, but with all its promises of "natural and organic" ingredients, I was optimistic. Much of the food was good, but some wasn't. For example, the diced pears and cinnamon pastry twists were dandy, but the granola was just OK, and the turkey snack stick seemed very salty. My travel companion was dismayed with the couscous, though I was hungry enough to eat it. And it was still better than a Big Mac.<br>
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<b>Bottom line:</b> Probably a wonderful thing to keep around in case kids get hungry on a road trip.<br>
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<b>Cost:</b> $3.99 to $7.49.<br>
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<b>Available from:</b> <a href="http://gopicnic.com">gopicnic.com</a><br>
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<i>--Josh Noel</i>

( February 15, 2009 )

What it is: The Chicago-based company touts its product as "nutritious, high-quality, shelf-stable" food -- that is, packaged food that can sit for several months before going bad. Could be stashed and eaten any time, but I tested as sustenance during a four-day road trip. Could be a light meal but is closer to snack territory. Offerings include a Riviera picnic, consisting of couscous, hummus, pita chips (among other things); Jungle Munch, consisting of pretzel crisps, veggie cheese dip, apple sauce and trail mix; and Salami and Cheese, consisting of -- you guessed it. Kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free and halal versions available.

How it works: Open the box. Open the packages. Feast.

The good: The boxed meals allow you to skip the fatty fast-food interstate fare. They're highly transportable and last for several months. The packages include utensils and a moist towelette. All meals are free of peanuts, assuaging allergy concerns for some.

The bad: Yes, we are talking shelf-stable here, so I know that means I shouldn't expect a New York strip medium rare, but with all its promises of "natural and organic" ingredients, I was optimistic. Much of the food was good, but some wasn't. For example, the diced pears and cinnamon pastry twists were dandy, but the granola was just OK, and the turkey snack stick seemed very salty. My travel companion was dismayed with the couscous, though I was hungry enough to eat it. And it was still better than a Big Mac.

Bottom line: Probably a wonderful thing to keep around in case kids get hungry on a road trip.

Cost: $3.99 to $7.49.

Available from: gopicnic.com

--Josh Noel

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