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Emergency Freeze Dried Food | Tips Before You Purchase

freeze dried food tips before buying a lot of it

Last night we had “Pasta Primavera” for dinner. It came from our emergency freeze dried food storage. And you know what? It tasted delicious!

You all should be rotating your long term food storage. In other words, you should be eating it. And then replacing it. Some foods have a much longer shelf life than others. So those foods might not be rotated (consumed) as often. One example is “freeze dried” food (it lasts for a very long time (decades!).

With that said, we still open up a package, bucket, or #10 can of freeze dried food once in a while, and eat it. Last night’s dinner was one of those instances with Pasta Primavera. We added some delicious peppers from the garden and some of our dehydrated Vidalia onions too! Wow was that good!

Freeze Dried Emergency Food Tips Before You Purchase

Okay, why am I typing all this? Well it got me to thinking about the important things to consider when choosing freeze dried foods for your own long term storage. It’s a fairly expensive investment, so here are a few tips or things to look for before you make a significant purchase.

Freeze Dried Brand Recognition

The brand of freeze dried food. It’s important. More accurately stated, a recognizable brand name could be an important factor because their longevity indicates a longer term business success.

Newbies won’t know all the brands. But there really aren’t that many. So a bit of due-diligence research on the internet will reveal the popular names. None of them directly advertise on this site (their marketing models have shifted to authorized sellers / distributors rather than direct).

My personal recommendation is to look at storage foods from “Ready Made Resources” (they are distributors for a number of freeze dried food brands).

Why do I recommend them? Because his family business has been a sponsor of this site for 10 years and they have proven to be a success in the preparedness industry. Longevity matters.

Calories vs Servings

Survival food is mostly about calories. Servings, not so much. Servings are arbitrary. Calories are definitive.

Most emergency survival foods do not reveal calories. At least that has been my general experience. Value is partly determined by comparing the number of calories that you’re paying for between one choice vs another.

If the caloric content is listed, that’s great. It will provide data for comparison. If it’s not listed, you might look for the overall weight – which may be listed – which in turn may enable approximate comparison of similar food types.

Ask. Email the distributor this question. They should be able to provide an answer. I’ve done that a number of times. It’s something that they don’t necessarily always want you to know. Why? Because freeze dried food is expensive and they probably don’t want to scare you off.

Note that calories can be “stuffed”. So it’s not always a perfect indicator. What I mean is this. Some “mixes” will include filler ingredients that may be higher in calories but not really part of the “main course” ingredients. So don’t always go by just calories. It’s just a guide.

Freeze dried food is expensive. And there’s good reason for that. It’s a costly process. However I can assure you that the benefits are great. Excellent taste. Nutritional value is maintained. Obviously it’s extremely light weight. Lastly, a very long resultant shelf life. Part of a good diversified food storage plan.

Freeze Dried Food Taste

Generally speaking, freeze dried food tastes great. The process “locks in” the original flavor. Which leads me to this next tip…

Freeze dried food is only going to taste as good as the original product. In other words, if the process began with perfectly fresh and quality food, the result is going to be excellent. But when the food begins as mediocre, average, or even “not so good”, then the end product will be no different.

So, this is where a quality BRAND comes into play… One would presume that they are using good fresh content because they’re still in business! A newcomer to the market may or may not be paying for good quality foods up front. The thing is, you’ll never know it until you taste it (or research the brand and reviews).

Buy A Small Sample First

Before you buy a significant quantity of a given freeze dried food brand, you might buy a small sample first. Try it. Eat it. Do you like it?

I have been “burned” in the past. Many years ago I purchased a fairly large quantity of freeze dried (and dehydrated) foods from a particular brand which today is no longer in business. The purchase was part of our diversified food storage plan and we didn’t eat any from that purchase for many years. Then we decided to try some. Yuck. Not so good. Lesson learned.

Before You Buy Freeze Dried Food…

The takeaway from this is that freeze dried food is expensive. So before you buy a lot of it, do the following. Research well known brands, compare value by cross checking calories, and buy a small sample first.

Continue reading: Pros & Cons | Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, Canned, Grains, Legumes, MRE’s

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36 Comments

  1. I have a few Brands I prefer, will not go into whom and why, because others may not have my refined gourmet taste…. hehehe yeah right.

    I would greatly recommend buying a small packet or the smallest can you can get before dropping hundreds of $$$$ into any Brand Name ‘stuff’.

    I would do this for each item you are planning to get/store, after all just because you like the FD Beef Wellington from Augason Farms does not mean you’ll like the Refried Beans.
    Also check out the Shelf Life of each item, some will have 20-25 years, while others will only have a 5 years shelf life.

    KEEP an Inventory with the shelf life on each item you store, tossing out $1000 worth of FD foods is kinda dumb.

    Lastly, look for sales, I know Augason Farms and others do run sales as much as 50% off at times, PLUS the Big Box stores sometimes run sales, DO NOT USE WALLY WORLD!!!!!!
    Lastly Lastly; Eat what you store, store what you eat, this includes the FD goo you have 50 cases of, would be a real bummer if TSHTF and nobody will eat those FD cattails you have.

    Lastly Lastly Lastly, OPSEC, Let me tell ya, those neighbors that know you have 50 cases of FD Hot-Dogs stored up WILL be beating your door down If/When. Tis good to know Ken has some Pasta Primavera stored up for 2020,06,20-20:20. I get the Garage Loft BTW, OK, I’ll shut up for now… hehehehehe

    1. NRP why not buy Emergency Essentials through Wal-mart? Or other emergency foods? They often have them cheaper than the main site?

      I buy canned good from them all the time. Delmonte tastes as good from Wal-mart as Kroger’s?

      Please advise

      1. I don’t know about NRP, but for me the problem isn’t brands but ethics. The recent kerfluffle about guns just reinforced what I already do–stay away from Valdemart!

      2. me2;
        Without getting into a debate about Right/Wrong/Indifferent Wally-Worlds decisions on Ammo and Firearm sales I have made a decision to spend my hard earned $$$ at someplace that does not “try to infringe: on my ability to purchase items I want aka Ammo and Handguns. I totally respect their (Wally Worlds) right to sell to and to limit peoples carrying a firearm on their property, BUT I also have the ‘right’ to shop where I wish, no differently than my right to boycott the NFL.

        Honestly I never did purchase Ammo or Firearms from WW, they actually were more expensive than what I pay, But again tis my decision not to contribute to them. Will my not buying from them make a difference to them? Ahhhhhhh heck no, they don’t care about my miserable $100 per week, but it DOES make a difference to me.

        So I may pay $1.oo per can more, but again, it’s my doing what I believe is the right thing to do….

        Thanks for asking

        PS; I’m wondering when these “politicians” will finally figure out it’s not the Firearm, it’s the people that are brainwashed with Hell-o-Wood violent movies/shows and violent “Games” that are the problem?????

        1. NRP
          Never, thats when,
          The 2A is the last means of redress against an abusive government.
          It has nothing to do with public safety, it has to do with control plain and simple

      3. NRP’s reference to Walmart is likely due to their recent stance being anti-2nd-Amendment. There was a lot of discussion about that topic here on the blog not too long ago. I’m surprised you don’t remember it…?

        1. I do remember it Ken, and when my local Mom and Pop’s stores STOP buying their store stocks from Wal-mart to mark up in their shop I’ll shop elsewhere.

          Even my favorite “Sporting Goods” shop re-sells their ammo as it cheaper than his suppliers. He’s not happy to have to deal with shipping issues and minimum orders with pistol and “Short Barreled Rifle” ammo now that Wal-Mart stopped selling it.

          I see the Mom and Pop store vehicles there most every early morning visit I make to Wal-Mart.

          If I buy from the Mom and Pop’s all I am doing is having THEM Shop at Wal-mart for me.

          1. I’m not opening up that discussion here on this article, me2. I really don’t have an opinion where you shop. You can do your own thing. That’s your business.

            I simply pointed it out (when I said “I’m surprised you don’t remember”) in reference to your question wondering why NRP brought up Walmart… It was because of this issue (Walmart anti-2A). But apparently you do remember. Case closed.

  2. We bought a bucket of freeze dried once. I won’t say what brand it was, except they were in trouble with the .gov lately…
    The oatmeal wasn’t sealed correctly, it was all you could smell in the bucket. The other meals were very small. As far as taste they were edible, but If you were starving they would have been something.

  3. If you live near a Mormon grocery store go there. They ONLY have 25 items for the “Public”. Those 25 items are freeze dried in #10 cans. For the price they are awesome. If I bought the same things at Wally world it would have cost double. Same stuff at half the cost? Yup, I’m there.
    The only thing that sucks is there is just 1 in NY. Out west, there is a lot of them.

    1. Jabba;
      Agreed, the Bishop’s Storehouse are a good place to buy.
      Good quality and very nice people, here anyways.
      FYI, those 25 items will do very well If/When you need them. The “trick” is to get to know someone behind the scene and have access to the other “stuff”.

  4. In my limited experience, if ya call and ask, these companies will send you a “sample” for free. Who knows if they’re sending their best or most popular, I would. It will at least, give you an idea of what you’re potentially, storing away.

    I/we have only sampled a few. Hopefully, we’ll never discover the taste and texture of them all. I much prefer fresh food, don’t we all? Anyway, better to have something than nothing at all. If ya find one you just can’t stand, well that’s good to know. Might be a greatly appreciated gift, for a hungry friend/neighbor/who-knows.

    1. Some sell samples. I sampled some meat from Emergency Esst. Was ok. Put in some soups and such.

  5. Years ago I purchased big buckets with a variety of veg and fruit packets just to see what I liked. Ditto a case of assorted FD meats.

    I do have some Mountain House meals picked up on sale at Costco and a few other buckets of meals elsewhere also on deep discount. Mostly my Long Term Storage food however consists of ingredients from which to make meals. Far less expensive than pre-made meals. And I get to balance protein and carbs, and adjust flavor, as I like. Lots of LTS onion. Everything has a shelf life of 25-30 years, except for some dried egg. Bulk of food is staples for the long haul – wheat, other grains, rice, oats, beans, pasta, potato, milk, with a few cases of veg, fruit, meat. Then spices and flavorings.

    My tips: Cans need can openers and either lids or secondary containers. Grains need a grinder and yeast/other leavening for anything other than flatbreads. Milk, wine, beer making take specialty ingredients and equip. Sourcing seeds or nuts for oils may require an oil press.

    1. That should have read

      Cheese, wine, beer making take specialty ingredients and equip.

  6. Always good to keep this in rotation.
    Most of the calories from FD companies are carbs. Rice, pasta, and sauces seem to reign in any of vendors assortment. We will need a better protein from time to time than one from grain.

    Next is serving size, VARIES a lot folks. Research the serving size!!! Varies anywhere from 1/4 a cup to 1cup. Beware a company that does not have any photos of their Nutrition Facts on their site to accompany the item. What are they hiding?

    Meat, some have real and some have meat substitute. The price will usually reflect the difference.

    1. Mrs. U
      I agree, hence the home Canned Meats, aka Beef Chicken so-on, that 75 minutes for a pint canning is nada when it comes time when we “may” need it. OR a stash of that Semi-Pork stuff aka Spam is good to have on hand.

      Also I don’t know of anyone that depends 100% on the FD’ed stuff, it’s a GREAT supplement for the Deep Pantry, but not a stand-alone…… Also remember to add a few MREs to your stash.

      Cooking ‘smells’ will travel a long way If/When, so having some stuff you don’t need to “cook” is a good idea for a month or two…. Maybe?

      1. NRP,
        I have to agree on the smells travelling a long way. I think I am part blood hound. I can smell a flea fart a mile away in a high wind..lol…
        Bacon is a big one. I can smell that for miles.
        I would have enough set aside that you don’t have to cook for at least a couple months. I plan on staying dark for a while and that includes not giving off odors.

      2. Mr. likes MRE’s. Fine I say you eat them!!! ha well I would need a big stash of Zantax to get through those.

  7. Something to add to this Conversation….. Spices

    Now I don’t care how “nasty” some FD foods may be, if you add enough Spice to it you “may” be able to swallow it down.

    And I guarantee ya, if someone is hungry……

    Buy Whole Spices by the pound, they are cheep, and Vacuum seal them in a Mason Jar, will keep for many years.

    Not actually Freeze Dried subject, but…. Food for Thought.

    PS: do you have Water for all those FD items?

    1. My thought as well, FD food needs water. We have a few cases of #10 cans of Mountain House stuff. We did open a can of FD cheese once and it was really pretty tasty without water to make it “normal”.
      I’m also wondering what a diet of FD food would do to a person’s digestive system. Our “innards” need water to function , at least mine does.

      1. You don’t eat the same thing everyday normally do you? Same should be for your long term good storage. Diversify. Always. FD is just one piece of the pie.

    2. Water. Yes. For preparedness it should be squared away first. Before thinking about food storage. Go back to square one…

  8. I have purchased only individual ingredients so I can “make up” my own types of meals. I tried several pre-made meals from different companies and didn’t like them enough to make a big investment. I found the individual ingredients to be quite tasty, especially pineapple!

    My research included meeting with a representative who threw a big “tasting” party. Then I bought pantry sized cans and tried them for myself. Then the bigger purchase for the deep pantry. Beach’n

  9. Our FD foods are part of our overall long term storage foods. One reason I was interested in FD pre-made meals was (1) the short time needed for a meal to be ready (2) the small shelf-space needed to store the item (3) the lack of aroma coming from a meal being cooked.

    We have tried some of the #10 meals and chose the beef stroganoff and lasagna to be the FD pre-made meals we stocked. Most of our FD cans are fruits and veggies. But I do confess to having a nice stockpile of those delicious DH Refried Beans that I use often (soups, Mexican Lasagna, Tacos, etc).

    I have my ‘favorites’ and like Beach’n, those pineapples are deeeelicious!

  10. Since NRP brought up smell. If cooking smells would put us at risk when preparing our pre-cooked freeze dried foods, I will use a pressure cooker at low pressure to avoid venting. Then take to a closed room and open just long enough to spoon out a serving. If this is too much of a risk, then eating the re-hydrated food cold would be possible.

  11. A little off subject,but when the diet changes abruptly so will the digestive system.
    A supply of antacids,stool softeners,laxatives,and anti diarrhea meds would be wise.
    Just sayin!

  12. I would like to begin this post by asking what brand of food you folks use and would recommend for myself. I used to use and eat Mountain House and Richmore foods back in the day but, Richmore is no longer in business.

    I see Auguson Farms and Wise Foods on sale and I have never tried either one. Have any of you had good or bad results with either brand? How about food that goes south before the expiration date?

    My situation is that I would be buying for my wife and myself with the possibility of feeding others but most of the time, it would be the 2 of us. ( so I would be looking at packages that produce smaller quantities of entrees like beef or chicken stew, beef stroganoff, spaghetti with meat sauce etc.)

    My past experience with freeze dried foods is as follows: Learn from my mistakes made in the past:

    #1 Before you buy and bring home that large order of freeze dried food, have a rodent proof container in which to store it. I like a large metal garbage can with tight lid tied on for this purpose.

    #2 Add 10-15% more water than the instructions call for when reconstituting your freeze dried meal. Yes, I did bring a measuring cup with me into the backcountry and it will pay for itself.

    #3 Let the food sit for a good long while so the freeze dried chunks of food can rehydrate themselves. I used to keep the envelopes of reconstituted food sit in a pot of hot water for 15-20 minutes after the water was added to the entree.

    #4 Whether eating freeze dried food or MRE’s, bring along, and eat, a small box of raisins or several dried prunes per day. Most people will have trouble with constipation if on a steady diet of reconstituted food without the addition of fiber and roughage from another source.

    #5. Eat fresh whenever possible: One thing I was blessed with in the Mountain West was an abundant supply of miners lettuce to be found in wet areas around clear running streams and low lying areas. It is rich in vitamin C and A as well as fiber. If I was eating freeze dried food for more than 3 days, my body began to crave the tang of miner’s lettuce while hiking in the back country. To this day, I still keep an eye out for it and will bring a handful home to eat.

    #6 My background: During my 20’s, I would go for extended trips with no resupply by air or food cache. I went into the mountains with all of my supplies on my back so a majority of my food was dehydrated or freeze dried after day 2 on the trail. Even then, my backpack at the start of the journey would weigh roughly 50% of my body weight.

    My longest trips with no resupply was 8 days. If I was not carrying food, I was packing extra stove fuel, a lightweight fishing rod and tackle box and my .22 revolver to head shoot some bunnies or ptarmigan to be found along the trail. The US govt. dropped me off by chopper somewhere and they knew they would not have to worry about me for the next week or so.

    To Dennis and Matt in OK: Hunger is a great motivator to hit the small target at longish distance.

    For more bang for the buck, I used to bring a small bottle of scotch with me into the backcountry. ( when a float trip or using saddle stock, I would bring wine or beer.).

    Beyond 3 days in to the last day out, one will survive by rationing and food discipline. You cannot count on finding trout in the streams or a bunny that will sit still long enough for you to complete the trigger squeeze.

    Menu planners out there: My serving portions were generous considering I was covering some 10-15 miles per day with a backpack that started out at 50% of my bodyweight at 7-10,000 feet altitude. Take into account how hard you are working prior to departing on your trip.

    1. @Calirefugee, I asked the favored brand question awhile back. Here’s an article that I posted about it:

      Favorite Freeze Dried & Dehydrated Food Brands

      One that’s not on the list during that time (new?) is NUMANNA GMO & Soy Free. I mention it because ReadyMadeResources is distributing (they also distribute many of the other brands) and has peaked my curiosity. I don’t have any, but maybe it’s worth asking them about. Or any of the others (Link in article).

    2. Hunger is always a great motivator.
      I’ll put this as mildly and as eloquently as possible because normally I have diarrhea of the mouth, and the Platoon Sergeant comes out, and spew off explicatives at the spoiled population when it comes to food and the great quality of it in America.

      In the taste of most of these FD products and the complaints I hear from folks around here I always take it with a grain of salt because I think I because they eat more out of timing rather than actual hunger. It’s 6pm so to them it’s dinner time. I might eat at 4pm if I’ve been working hard or if it’s too hot I might eat late. I eat for fuel more than taste most days. It’s a rarity for me to say I don’t want something in particular for a meal because I just don’t care. In my Army days I’d eat 5-6 meals a day just because of what I burned and had a 2% body fat count for many years. I ate the salt/sugar packets in the MREs and the dehydrated ketchup to just to get a little more outta it. I’d eat the napkin just to save time later.
      I’m blessed because I don’t know what it’s like to live hungry. I’ve had hungry times but I’ve not had to live continually like that.
      Post SHTF when you are hungry you will eat everything. That FD pasta meal supplemented with a breast of robin and a boiled off yard mole and a side of dandelion leaves will be very good. Look more at the vitamins, proteins and real calories, not fluff calories, of the food and deal with the little things like the pasta is sticky/tacky or the fruit wasn’t sweet and if your oatmeal is bland then as suggested already store spices.

    3. – Calirefugee,

      Agreed, hunger greatly improves marksmanship.

      I cannot help you too much, as most of what little bit of freeze-dry I have is Mountain House, and I have used their brand since the seventies.

      Wise I have tried twice, was very unimpressed and then they got in trouble with the FDA; I probably would not recommend them.

      Good Luck

      – Papa S.

      1. Cali, Mountain House/Emergency Essentials so far, other than my own, seem to be the best. Like any vendor there may be some items better in one than the other. Like Papa I was not impressed with Wise at all!
        Check the serving sizes and whether the meat is real or not. One item I like is Mountain House Oatmeal with Blueberries and Milk. A bit sweet but good. Just add water. I have had the MH Beef Stew, lots of potatoes but OK. Their Mac and Cheese is just so so. Tried to order from Thrive one time and they were so rude I said forget it.
        Received a free Corn Chowder with a kettle purchase from 4 Patriots. In the 2 serving sizes there was 10 pieces of corn in sauce. Tasted ok if you like sauce. It was NOT chowder by any means.
        I do FD my own of course but supplement some items with commercial brands. Onions to be one!
        Homework and samples or small bags like the camping sizes.

  13. The longer you prep the more refined your choices become. What I prepped as a novice is not what I store now. I have tried many different brands and ready-to-eat meals and been disappointed with them.

    I tend to store whole grains which I can’t or won’t grow myself; for example rice, wheat and beans. Rice needs lots of water and back-breaking care; wheat is easy to grow but more difficult to harvest; beans are also easy to grow but harvesting is extremely time consuming. Right now all three are relatively inexpensive and easy to store.

    I can grow and store many of my favorite spices, others I choose to purchase in bulk and repackage them for storage. I am not a bee keeper so I store raw local honey, honey powder and honey crystals.

    Be careful of what you purchase on “special sales.” I ordered some sale items from Emergency Essentials and found the exterior of the #10 cans to be rusted beneath the labels. As previously mentioned the LDS Bishop’s Storehouse has high quality products at reasonable prices.

    1. Yes, diversification is highly recommended regarding food storage.

      You’re also right regarding most “sales”. There’s usually a reason ;)

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