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Freeze dried commercial foods. Worth it, or not if the SHTF?

 
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I am looking at making a rather large purchase of commercially available freeze dried foods; but worry about the taste, and the best way to go about it.  Being in earthquake/flood zones I do not trust that glass jars will survive or be easily transported if we have to flee, and want stuff I know will be good for at least 15 yrs.

In addition to the items below would be mylar encased rice, pasta, cereals, animal food etc.

At the moment I am leaning towards a pail costs $219 Canadian dollars, $3.65 per serving.  

ReadyWise 60 Servings - Emergency Freeze Dried Meat

Servings within this Bucket:
[3 pouches] Roasted Chicken (12 total servings)
[3 pouches] Southwest Style Chicken (12 total servings)
[2 pouches] Teriyaki Chicken (8 total servings)
[2 pouches] Stroganoff Beef (8 total servings)
[2 pouches] Cheesy Beef (8 total servings)
[3 pouches] Roasted Beef (12 total servings)
[2 pouches] Rice (20 total servings)

OR this at $425 Canadian, by The Daily Bread about $2.65 per serving:  

   Contains [6] #10 Cans
   Prepared in 10-15minutes and only requires water
   25-year shelf-life

   Includes:
       [2] Freeze-Dried Cooked Chicken- Daily Bread®
       [2] Freeze-Dried Cooked Diced Beef- Daily Bread®
       [2] Freeze-Dried Sausage Crumble- Daily Bread®

   Total Servings: 160
   Total Protein: 2776
   Total Calories: 26560
   #10 Can Dimensions: 15.9 cm diameter, 17.8 cm height
   Freeze-Dried Chicken Weight: 1.45 lbs (658 g) (per can)
   Freeze-Dried Beef Weight: 1.54 lbs (700g) (per can)
   Freeze-Dried Sausage Weight: 2.12 lbs (964 g) (per can)

OR these #10 cans by Mountain house, $7.80 per serving (avg of three cans)

7 servings per can
30 Year Shelf-Life
Gluten-free, no artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives
Easy to prepare - add hot water and wait ten minutes

Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Bacon #10 Can, $67.25
Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce #10 Can,  $57.50
Mountain House Rice and Chicken #10 Can,  $38.50

Does anyone have experience with any of these companies, have you tasted the food?  Has anyone else prepared such a food kit for emergencies?

All will be kept in 5 gallon pails with gamma lids, including all required cooking, eating, prep utensils for easy grab and go if we need to leave.





 
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I've tried the Ready Wise & Mountain House brands. I prefer the Mountain House by a large margin. Will spare you the gross details. I mostly use freeze dried foods for backpacking but keep a few around for emergencies. They are rather expensive meals but generally taste good & have decent nutrition. I think if one wanted to keep a lot of them it might be worth buying a small freeze drier. Not sure of their current status but they were becoming cheaper & more readily available for home use.

edited to add after thinking about this some more ... I suggest buying a couple of individual meals & try them before buying larger quantities. I prefer the rice dishes over the noodle based ones. The noodle ones aren't bad but their texture seems a little bit off. Not enough to avoid them though. I strongly suggest avoiding anything with sausage. Learned that the hard way:(   Also, allow about a 50% margin of error for the number of meals it claims. It might be fine for a normal meal but after a hard day of work like might be encountered in SHTF one individual serving is not quite enough for a full grown male. Add some snacks or extra portions.  
 
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When I was younger, I was heavily into backpacking and canoeing.. Some of my trips  were several months long.  Mountain House certainly puts out a good product. As I gained experience, I relied more on my own creativity.  I always carried some Mountain House for fast meals, but I primarily packed far less expensive foods that can be purchased in any grocery store.  I have a hunch that you can achieve your goals for far less money.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Mike:  I did consider trying them,  but individual portions are about $15 each...by the time we "tasted" them all  we would  have spent almost as much as the bulk purchase.   So, my frugal nature has me seeking input from those such as yourself who can hopefully speak from experience,  as you  did, thank you!

John:   Thank you!  I agree, it is the longevity that seems to be lacking in regular grocery store items.  Case in point, stockpiled Mac&Cheese - who thought the expiration date meant anything,  not me!  But, I have recently discovered the "cheese" powder does not age well,  and tastes quite yucky.  Instant Noodles, crackers, tins of soup...all either tasted nasty,  looked nasty,  or both when past their "best before" dates by a year or so.

The nutrition and safety was likely not compromised, but the green bin was working overtime as I was unwilling to eat it. I am hoping that by using mylar and O2 excluders I CAN seal stuff like Mac&Cheese  cookies, crackers etc. that will extend its EDIBLE shelf life, but it will be an ongoing experiment,  without results for years.

Any supermarket suggestions/storage tips?
 
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I have purchased from Emergency Essentials out of Utah. Costco carries ReadyWise, Nutristore and Mountain House brands of food storage. Wal Mart locally sell Auguson foods. Patriot Supply might be worth a look.
 
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I bought freeze dried food  a few years ago. I bought from Legacy.

Honestly, the taste was awful. I can't make myself eat them. Weird seasoning, tastes 'fake' to my spoiled taste buds.  I am keeping them, but it truly needs to be a SHTF situation before I would eat them again. I haven't even wanted to bring them camping.

I am not a huge fan of Mountain House product either when I have tried them for backpacking.  They are tasty on the 3rd-4th day of a trip when you are really hungry.

The individual components I bought at the same time (freeze dried corn, peaches, etc), were good, as were pieces picked out from the 'sauce', the rest was not.  They were marginally improved with he addition of more fat.

Personally, if I were to buy freeze dried again, which I have considered as I DIY camping food, I'd lean towards straight meat protein like in your second link. Seasoning is easy to do, and I can grow veggies, but protein is harder.   I'd rather eat plain unseasoned food, or food with a bit of salt and nothing else, than chemically tasting food.   Plus, I always have rice etc on hand and it does not go bad in a power outage situation - I feel silly paying for those things to be freeze dried.

 
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I was going to say that Mountain Home dinners in your house are not very good.  Mountain Home dinners after a day on the trail, or especially 3 days, are awesome.  

So in SHTF, I'm guessing they'd be awesome.  Just keep your hunger in mind when taste testing in the comfort of your home.
 
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Any supermarket suggestions/storage tips?



My suggestion is you shorten your rotation. I bought 60,000 calories of oil, rice and beans for $40, and it all fits into a 5 gallon bucket. It would be fine for a couple of years, but my plan is to rotate it at least once a year. Donate the food to a food bank before it expires and you wont be wasting it.

I also have a stash of Mountain house, which I would say is "inoffensive" when eaten at home, and quite palatable after a day of hiking. Some of it is better than the rest - I second the opinion about the rice dishes being the best. It is a lot easier to prepare and lasts a lot longer than rice and beans, but for the same price, you could buy new rice and beans every year for decades.

Ultimately, emergency stashes of food are a psychological comfort, right? Has anyone here ever actually been forced to eat their e-rations? When we evacuated from the big wildfires in 2020, the food wouldnt fit in the car, so it was left behind to fend for itself. Once we drove about 10 miles from home, life more or less returned to normal, anyway, and we just went and bought the things we needed at the grocery store.

I think being prepared is a great idea, but I also see that it can become something of an obsession. It is easy to dream up scenarios where you wish you had just slightly more supplies. And if you are fantasizing about the end of the world, then your money is probably better spent on building up your food production. I know a couple of people now who have bought freeze driers, and the more I learn about them, the less I feel like they actually make sense. They consume a LOT of power, like 20kwh to make a couple gallons of food. Basically, it uses less power to leave the food in the freezer for 3 years than it does to freeze dry it. It makes me think that the best use for them is storing things that have a cyclical nature, like a fruit that does not yield well every year.

I think cultivating a mentality of resilience really is the key, though. If things go really sideways where you live, you will likely simply end up leaving - so you really only need enough supplies to get you from home to the new border of civilization. If your car and the roads still work, that will likely be a couple of granola bars away; and if not, do you really want to try to evacuate pushing a wheelbarrow of food?

 
John F Dean
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Hi Carl,

You approach a good point. I suspect that for many people a few bottles of water and some energy bars would better serve the purpose for an evacuation than expensive survival meals..... assuming the period of evacuation was in terms of days and not weeks.   The last time I backpacked in the Canyon Lands of Utah I only took water a few energy bars for the week I was out there.  
 
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Things to think about before you spend a ton of money on freeze dried foods.
How do you cook?
Does your household have dietary restrictions or allergies?  
What can you easily and consistently produce yourself?
Do you have family members with food texture issues or very picky eaters?  ​

The answers to these questions will help you figure out if freeze dried foods would fit into your pantry and if you will use them.  While I haven't cooked with freeze dried ingredients but I do find my cooking tastes a lot better than Mountain House prepared meals.  

If you need grab and go food for an emergency would it be cheaper to acquire things that you already eat and rotate them out every 6 months or so?   Canned meats, nuts, chocolate, dehydrated fruits, soups, ramen, pasta, and other various snack foods all good options and far cheaper than freeze dried.  If you have children you may need to stick to foods  they are familiar with eating.  

How much of your regular pantry can be adapted for long tern food storage or set aside for grab and go in an emergency meals?   What foods do you currently produce that would do well dehydrated for longer term storage.  Many of the fruits and veggies in those emergency kits and #10 cans are dehydrated.  Dehydrated vegetables, herbs, soup mixes, and fruits are far cheaper to buy in bulk and package up yourself.  We dehydrate excess garden produce to be used in winter soups, stews, Sheppard's pie, chili, tomato sauces, and other slow cooker meals.  We keep these in canning jars but you could easily store them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.  

There are lots of DIY videos on how to store bulk dry foods in 3 or 5 gallon food grade buckets with or with out mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.  It is a great way store bulk purchases from places like food Co-ops, Azure Standard, and restaurant supply  businesses.  Bulk grains, dried legumes,  flours, pasta, salt, and sugar are all good candidates for storing buckets.  

Thrive Life has smaller cans of single ingredients freeze dried foods so you can try a few and learn how to cook with them.  I see them as more versatile than prepared meals.   Freeze dried meats are crazy expensive but may be worth it if you can DIY other parts of the meal.  
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Thanks to all who have commented.   I am now, based on your helpful comments, leaning more towards just freeze dried meats, veg, fruits, cheese, butter and regular dried rice,  regular pasta, mashed potatoes (we absolutely LOATHE beans/legumes).  Mountain House scrambled eggs with bacon and the beef stroganoff had great online reviews, anyone concur?

You can buy freeze dried pasta/rice/potatoes,  but not sure if it is necessary if properly packaged in mylar/O2 eliminators; anyone know about this?  Same with dog kibble,  animal feed; would the mylar +O2 eliminator make this stuff stable, long-term?

Where we live would not flood,  and I suspect we could easily withstand earthquakes.  It is access in/out that could easily be affected, so supplies such as food/feed for the critters and us our biggest concern. Because of the animals (sick, injured, orphaned wildlife), evacuation is exceedingly difficult.   We have a bug out location,  7km away if staying is impossible or otherwise not safe (evil humans), complete with temporary small caging and pens, stored water etc.  I would rather not have to capture/move patients during a natural disaster,  or keep them for weeks in tiny enclosures.

Ideally both home and bug out location would be stocked for a solid two weeks of necessities: food, toiletries, water, bedding, clothing, foot wear, outerwear, cleaning supplies and medications.

If it weren't for our wildlife patients,  then most of this would not be needed,  but we are,  unusual, and unlikely to be welcomed in a shelter. Soooo, preparing for the worst case scenarios is just something we've got to do.

Thanks for all the help so far,  here's hoping there is more information to be gleaned!
 
Kate Muller
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Thanks to all who have commented.   I am now, based on your helpful comments, leaning more towards just freeze dried meats, veg, fruits, cheese, butter and regular dried rice,  regular pasta, mashed potatoes (we absolutely LOATHE beans/legumes).  Mountain House scrambled eggs with bacon and the beef stroganoff had great online reviews, anyone concur?

You can buy freeze dried pasta/rice/potatoes,  but not sure if it is necessary if properly packaged in mylar/O2 eliminators; anyone know about this?  Same with dog kibble,  animal feed; would the mylar +O2 eliminator make this stuff stable, long-term?



I found Mountain House Beef Stroganoff to be bland and starchy.  Then again I haven't had Mountain House in 10 years.  

Storing dog kibble in mylar and oxygen absorbers will not keep the fats in it from going rancid.
 
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At any given point in time, we have enough food on our property to last a year. Granted we won't have the variety that we usually desire but we will survive. A food supply that only lasts two weeks isn't much. I'm surprised that you don't already have that, maybe that just speaks to my fears. I've found the best way to prepare is to fold preparations into everyday life. Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around stocking up and rotating out, maybe that's what you are trying to avoid. Some things that I like to have in are dehydrated soups like lipton's noodle soup and lots of home canned products, particularly meats. If you are planning on relying on two properties, I don't understand why you would be worried about taking things with you. Each place could have it's own canned goods, no need to transport glass jars. Or possibly you could evacuate to one place and yet still access the other for longer access to supplies.

In response to the rancid fats in dog kibble or just in general, my understanding is that rancid fats aren't good for long term health but are definitely better than starving to death. But in the end, proper rotation seems to be always the best option.

 
Lorinne Anderson
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Rancid fat: what if one used those giant ziplock type bags for storing quilts etc., and sealed an entire bag, then tossed to the bottom of the deep (chest) freezer?

Emergency pet food, plus how many lives would be saved by preventing "fell head over heels into the freezer" syndrome?  Usually, I store 4 liter jugs on the bottom,  but maybe this would also work?
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Stacy: yes, of course we have what we need, usually we hit the store 1-2 times per month. The supplies in the pantry and freezers would easily keep us going for a month.

At issue is if those supplies were compromised, got wet due to roof damage etc. OR inaccessible; further, they certainly would not be swiftly or easily loaded up if we had to leave, and without power,  the freezer would soon become useless (it makes me fearful of becoming a target if we run a generator  -  heard from miles away, magnet for troublemakers).

Plus,  there are the animals that we would be responsible for caring and feeding.

The "two weeks" would extend our ability to stay, in situ, to the point that infrastructure repairs could take place,  reestablishing our access.  We have already done 6 wks with no power, just fine.  It was the realization that although we have 3 ingress/egress routes to civilization,  flooding or earthquake could shut ALL those routes down, for weeks.

Obviously,  freezer food gets eaten first, then pantry, then the freeze dried. I figure we could easily do several months, as humans, without blinking.  The dogs and other critters are harder to stock up for and supply, this is when SPACE becomes an issue,  and grabbing a few pails of prepared freeze dried food becomes critical.  Between transportation of animals, bedding and feed, there simply will not not be room for "regular" food for humans, if we need to go.  The bug out location is not temp controlled,  freezing in winter,  hot as hell in summer, not suitable for canned, bottled or anything but the most basic of dry goods.  But it is a roof, protection from weather, a reliable (if nasty and would need filtering) water source and securely fenced off from desperate/crazy folks.



 
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Hi, Most freeze dried meals are not very tasty and some do not have enough calories needed for the day for the average person, so you slowly starve to death if shtf.   What I did find was freeze dried food, organic, separate where I would have to cook everything and prepare the meal myself.  When I make the meal it is to our taste and not some lab rat. Chicken chunks, carots, peas, onions, etc... Meat, vegetables and fruit are available.  I used Auguson Farms and we had to rely on that this year at times when my wife became ill and I could not go out because I had to do everything myself, as well as being her caretaker.

Another benefit besides taste was that  It only took me a couple of hours to prepare meals for the whole week.
 
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