- How To’s
- Bug Out Bag
Freeze dried foods are the perfect solution to a core element of survival, hunger. Not only are they light to carry, packed with nutrients and absolutely delicious, but the majority of them have a shelf life valid for more than a few years.
Most survival supplies, whether they are quick bug out solutions for 72 hours, or for long-term solutions in underground bunker scenarios, always use freeze-dried foods as a fallback for relieving the hunger of their survivors.
Even the military and disaster relief agencies use freeze-dried foods as a solution to feed soldiers or to get foods out to mass victims in cases of floods, storms, and other natural disasters. They’re a resource that doesn’t have to be prepared and are packaged in a manner where many of them can be transported at a time to feed mass amounts of people.
But when it boils down to it, we want to make sure that if we’re sitting tight in a storm shelter, or on the roof of our home surrounded by floodwaters, that we are going to be snacking on quality food, so let’s take a look at the best freeze dried foods available.
The top seven freeze dried food sellers are:
Freeze drying food is power intensive, but the benefits of doing so drive the industry to keep providing it.
So how is it done? Fresh foods, or recently cooked foods are placed in a special dryer where they are frozen at incredible temperatures (-40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder). This is a snap freeze method so the food is frozen in an instant. The second process is where the freeze dryer creates a vacuum around the food and when the food gets slightly warm the ice evaporates rather than liquifies leaving the food in a dry and frozen state.
Mylar bags, or other types of moisture and oxygen proof bags are then used to seal the food. Generally, an oxygen absorber is also used in the bag to ensure that no oxygen gets to the food.
The entire process suspends the food until water is added to it, which then essentially brings the food back to life giving it that fresh taste, appearance, and smell as if it had just been cooked.
What was initially made for astronauts, to ensure that they had long-lasting foods in their space missions, freeze dried foods are now a luxury for military, hikers, campers, survivalists, and preppers. And there’s a lot more than just the freeze dried ice cream that only astronauts were snacking on in the first days of freeze dried food preservation.
The main difference between normal food and freeze dried food is the absense of water. When you freeze dry food, you are removing almost all of its water content through the evaporation method we mentioned above.
Removing the water removes the chance of the food spoiling while still keeping the same texture, taste and smell.
This is why it is recommended to drink water with dehydrated and freeze dried foods, as their absence of water means that you will get quite thirsty as your body hydrates the food for you.
Nutritionally, there is very little difference between foods that haven’t been freeze dried, and foods that have. Researchers have found that freeze dried foods that contain vegetables or fruits have fewer vitamins, but that those amounts lost were very small. For calories, freeze dried foods contain more as they are missing water so their density and calory count goes higher.
So we mentioned these at the top in the lis of products, but let’s take a closer look at each one.
There is no way I could have written this post without Mountain House featuring in it. They rule the roost when it comes to freeze dried foods. They are used by backpackers, hikers, campers, hunters, literally every industry has stores that stock ranges of Mountain House foods. Why? Because they are quality freeze-dried meals, readily affordable, light to carry and a large factor to take into conisderation is their huge range of selection.
I chose to include the Mountain House ‘Just In Case’ Bucket because it is a selection of 29 ‘just-add-water’ meals. This is one of the better kits to start with as it gives you a range of choices so that you can narrow down on what you would like to get more of.
The added benefit of Mountain House is their absolutely huge shelf life. While a lot of freeze dried meals are good for six to 12 years, they can still be eaten after 20 years. This puts these meals in a great advantage if you are sitting tight in a nuclear bunker waiting for the world to settle, but if you are a hiker or outdoorsman like me you are probably not going to be needing this sort of shelf life.
For survival kits, this is a great food. Three bags of these would fit easily into a 72-hour survival and be a stable (yes, limited) food source for a brief emergency period. But that’s what 72-hour kits are for. And if you are in a survival situation and don’t have boiling water with you (I don’t think it would be a survival situation if you did), then you don’t need it with these meals. According to Mountain House directions, if you add boiling water you only have to wait a few minutes and you have a fresh, hot, meal. If you use room temperature water, with a bit of mixing my meal was ready to eat in 15 minutes. Given, it wasn’t warm but it was still delicious.
For the nutritionists out there, here’s what you get:
The downside to these meals is that in total, with the entire bucket, you would need 21 cups of water. Eahc of the main meals take two cups of water per pouch. The issue with this is, in a survival situation, if you don’t have enough water then these types of meals are going to be limiting your water use. So only consider these if you have a stable option for water whether it be a natural source with a filter, or your own stored water.
Augason Farms is another big merchant in the freeze dried food industry. Rather than specialising in meals however, they specialise in providing freeze dried ingredients such as eggs, meats, apple, potato, carrots and butter powder. Of course, they do provide meals as well, but Augason Farms have been one of the top suppliers for preppers specifically because they provide freeze dried food solutions to people who want to be able to use essential freeze dried ingredients in meals, so rather than focussing on providing ready-to-eat pouch meals, they specialise for homesteads and prepper communities.
An amazing kit that Augason Farms have released is a 30-day emergency food supply. It has 307 food servings in 35 food pouches and provides 1,822 calories per day. It also comes with a 25-year shelf life, so you’re guaranteed to be able to use the kit when you need it the most. Essentially, this 7 gallon bucket of food is to feed one person for 30 days, or a family for a week.
The dishes included in this kit are high carbohydrate meals that use base ingredients of rice, pasta, potato and oatmeal as their foundations and it comes with a 30 day and 45 day meal planner in case you have to stretch out your rations.
While a lot of Augason Farms meals work in freeze-dried separate ingredients, the kit I chose to look at has individually packed ‘grab and go’ meals, so if you’re caught in a three-day flood and have family and friends on your roof, it’s easy to hand out and to deliver to others.
Again, much like the Mountain House meals, these Augason Farms pouches are water lovers and need about a cup of water to rehydrate, so keep that in mind when planning with your water stocks and allowances.
MREs, or Meals-Ready-To-Eat are the backbone of a military food solution. They’re a long shelf life food that is easy to transport and can feed a lot of mouths.
Each meal contains about 1250 calories and are made up of a variety of Asian, Mexican, Italian, traditional, and vegetarian foods. While the past two food providers were simply meals in pouches, MREs differ a little in that they offer a fun eating experience. When you first open up a day kit you will find that there are a number of products in it such as flavour seasonings, matches, toilet paper, coffee, salt, pepper and other necessities.
For the specific MRE provider being Western Frontier, there are two cases titled A and B with differing meal options. The menu structures (I’ll pick two for an example) are as follows:
Each case has a 5+ year shelf life and has 12 of these meals, so you can see that one meal can include quite a lot of extra types of food which, if anything, makes for an interesting experience.
The Datrex Food Bar is essentially a last-resort emergency food supply to keep you alive. It is a single 200 calorie bar made of natural ingredients, no preservatives, and a five-year shelf life.
These food bars are ready to eat, so there’s no necessity to prepare a meal or add water, it is simply a high-energy bar that you can eat on the run, or on the go.
Each individual bar is about the size of a bar of soap and is individually wrapped, so if you had a pack of these they would be easy to disperse amongst family and friends that needed a quick food and energy source.
One other bonus I like about these bars is that they are non-thirst provoking. Which is great considering this has been a problem for any bars or energy-related survival foods that I have used in the past. If you were to couple energy bars like this with freeze-dried meals then you would definitely have to choose an option that is not thirst-provoking otherwise you will end up getting dehydrated through the food you consume.
When you are in a survival situation, consuming food is a beneficial way to reduce stress and panic and keep yourself in alogical thinking pattern. Because Datrex bars don’t need any water or preparation I would go so far as to say they would be a necessary option in a 72-hour kit or bug out bag just to keep you and others full with manageable nutrition levels.
This Pad Thai option comes from Backpacker’s Pantry, a big ‘just-add-water’ food provider to hikers, campers, and backpackers. The Backpacker’s Pantry group specialize in vegetarian and vegan options and differ on the side of health in survival foods to provide delicious as well as healthy freeze dried meals.
The pad thai option is a two-serving pouch with a shelf-life of seven years. This specific meal is a very popular option for hikers and backpackers as it easily feeds two people who have normal appetites and is very easy to make to prepare by just pouring in hot water, resealing the top and waiting a few minutes.
This 25-year shelf life food supply from Wise Company packs 18 days worth of food on a 1500 calorie diet with a vast range of entrees and 120 servings of food in one bucket.
These kits are a very affordable and still tasty option for the outdoors, or for the disaster preparedness stockpile. the only problem is you need to use hot water with these meals, so make sure you factor that into your kit.
The ER Emergency Ration is a 3600 calorie bar for survival, outdoor or emergency situations with a 5-year shelf life. These food bars, like the Datrex bars, are individually packed and are ready-to-eat on the go.
Each packet contains nine bars, with each bar packing 410 calories and no trans fats, cholesterol, coconut or nuts, so they’re pretty dispersable amongst the general population.
The bar originated as a formulation specifically for disaster victims to replenish the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals and do not use any thirst provoking ingredients. Their taste is actually not too bad and is much better than the Datrex bars mentioned before. I found these bars to be akin to that of a dense lemon cake biscuit.
Each large bar has little divisions made into it so that you can easily break them off to eat, much like squares of chocolate.
I have two packs of these stored in a 72-hour kit which gives myself plenty of sustenance and enough for others who might also get hungry in any instance.