They are great. They can be used to thicken soup, too! Or you can make them up (even the night before) then fry them for a kind of potato pancake. Great with eggs.
I like making chipped beef gravy for over the potatoes. Some dried (chipped) beef comes packaged in plastic. If you can't find it, then transfer from the glass jar to a plastic bag ot container just before the trip. Make up a packet of Country Style gravy and dump in the chipped beef. Simmer a few minutes. Serve over potatoes. Easy.
Here's a new twist for instant mashed potatoes. I was doing some reading about a new first aid product called "Quik Clot". It is used in the military and by first responders for serious wounds with massive bleeding. When normal compression doesn't work to stop the bleeding, they open a packet of the product (it's a volcanic byproduct), sprinkle it on the wound and it clots the blood immediately and seals the wound. Once in the ER all the doctors need do is rinse off the wound, it apparently has saved many lives.
Along with reading about Quik Clot, I found a study conducted at Mayo Clinic in which the doctor used instant mashed potatoes as a clotting agent. He had "processed" the instant spuds into a fine powder which was applied to the wound using a snuffer bottle (sprays a fine, dry mist). It worked just as well as the commercial clotting agent.
I since have read that a fellow successfully treated a wound at home using the typical instant mashed potatoe flakes.
I always carry instant spuds for all the reasons others have mentioned but now I carry a pack (plain, no seasonings) for first aid purposes.
Who'd a thunk?
Our kids love them and eat them at home all the time. This past week we had them at Sawbill... added sundried tomatoes, garlic, turkey bacon bits and some cheese. Smothered with foil pouch chicken in gravy.