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We have spent more than 200 hours researching and testing freeze-dried foods and MREs to find the best options for you what you need and for any budget. When it comes to taste, price and long-term storage, we found the best option was Mountain House’s ‘Just In Case’ Bucket, which offers a selection of great meals, that last for a long time, and for a good cost. We have included our other favorable options in this list, all of which cater to different needs.
Freeze dried foods are the perfect solution for any outdoors regular, camper, survivalist or prepper. 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.
Any good outdoors kit, camping kit, bug out bag, or long-term storage plan for those with a survival shelter, will always use freeze-dried foods as a fallback for a practical food option.
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 outdoors, 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 and great tasting emergency food, so let’s take a look at the best freeze dried foods that last a long time available online.
|Mountain House Just In Case Classic Bucket|
|Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply|
|Legacy Emergency Food Ultimate Sample Pack|
|Datrex 3600 Emergency Food Bar|
|BACKPACKER'S PANTRY Pad Thai|
|Wise Company Entrée Only Grab and Go Food Kit|
|ER Emergency Ration 1B 3600 Calorie Food Bar|
First, we should clear up exactly what is freeze-dried food. Often you will find that some foods are considered freeze-dried, but are in fact meals that are ready to eat, otherwise known as MREs. Fortunately, if you are looking for the lot, we have included them in this list. But as far as freeze-dried food goes, there is a little bit of science behind how they are made.
While freeze-drying food is power intensive, the benefits of doing so drive the industry to keep providing it. They are long-lasting and lighter than carrying the foods required to make a full pad thai or Sunday lamb roast.
The process to make freeze-dried food is simple.
Foods are snap frozen – Fresh foods, or recently cooked foods are placed in a special dryer where they are frozen at high temperatures (-40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder). This is a snap freeze method so the food is frozen in an instant.
Foods are vacuum dried – 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.
The food is stored in food storage bags, or other types of moisture and oxygen proof bags. 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.
For many of us, the ability to choose between MREs and freeze-dried foods allows us to have various pre-packaged options until we find a few flavors that we enjoy. For some underground bunker owners, this is a process they undergo before they stock up on a year’s worth of such long-term food.
Having been initially made for astronauts to ensure that they had long-lasting foods in their space missions, freeze-dried foods are now a staple item for military, hikers, campers, survivalists, and preppers. And there’s a lot more than just the freeze dried ice cream that astronauts were snacking on in the first days of freeze-dried food preservation.
The main difference between MREs, normal food and freeze-dried food is the absence 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 reason is why some prefer to carry MREs instead of freeze-dried meals, as they don’t have to carry excess water for the purpose of adding moisture back to their food. It is also why it is recommended to drink plenty of water with dehydrated and freeze dried foods, as the foods will absorb water in the body as well, making you much more thirsty than if you ate an average MRE.
Nutritionally, there is very little difference between foods that haven’t been freeze dried, and foods that have. Anyone that says freeze-drying food loses its nutritional value is wrong. 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 with that in mind, let’s take a look at the best freeze-dried foods, and the best emergency foods you can buy.
So we mentioned these at the top in the list of products, but let’s take a closer look at each one. We really enjoyed eating many of these meals, and having continued eating them during our hikes, camps and even during long roadtrips. I hope you will find a tasty option out of these recommendations.
There is no way I could have written this post without Mountain House playing a part in it. I will be honest, the first sample I tried of Mountain House food was sitting in the car, having a rest in between long drives.
Mountain House rules the roost when it comes to the best freeze dried foods and are a very popular option for great hiking foods as they are made for someone after a good taste in a light product. 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, affordable, light to carry and a large factor to take into consideration 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 foods 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 emergency foods such as in survival kits or bug out bags. Three bags of these would fit easily into a 72-hour survival kit and be a stable emergency food source for a brief 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 then you don’t need it with these meals.
The great news is, 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, but If you use room temperature water, with a bit of mixing your meal can be ready to eat in 15 minutes. It still tastes great even if it is not a hot meal.
For the nutritionists out there, here’s what you get in the Mountain House Just In Case Bucket:
The downside to these meals is that in total, with the entire bucket, you would need 21 cups of water. Each 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.
However, as a smaller option, you can choose from a few of their packs and use them in a bug out bag or survival kit. They work great and are a quality long-lasting emergency food.
If you are a little lost in the long line of freeze-dried foods that taste great, I would choose Mountain House as they are one of the best freeze dried food brands.
Augason Farms is another big merchant in the best freeze-dried food industry. Rather than specializing in meals, however, they specialize 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 the best 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.
The Legacy Emergency kit acts in a similar way to how a military MRE (Meals-Ready-To-Eat) kit would in the sense that it provides a full day’s diet. What’s more, Legacy don’t mess around with shelf lives, their foods are 100% GMO and have a 25-year shelf life. That’s one of the longest lasting foods you can get.
This kit stocks a total of 41,600 calories in 183 serves covering options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as coffee, drinks, and snacks. Working the dollar per calorie count makes this kit the cheapest and best freeze dried food for long term supply, which if you couple with the fact that they have a great reputation with previous users, and have been voted as one of the best tasting in food storage businesses, I’d have to say that these guys deserve a try. That, and they are made in the US with homegrown products.
So what is actually in this huge kit? Most of the meals are just-add-water meals, so are not only prepper foods or survivalist foods but are also great as hiking foods or camping food.
As to exactly what you get, the package features four different breakfast options, 19 dinner/lunch entrees options, 6 side dish options and 3 drinks and coffee options. Each of those seperate options has four of the same, so there’s a lot. The foods are well-balanced and don’t contain any trans fats, are low in sodium, no MSG, no cholesterol and use great sources of fiber.
Serving options for the meals are (four servings each of these): Italian Pasta with Marinara, Pasta Alfredo, Pasta Primavera, Enchilada, Beans, and Rice, Stroganoff, Loaded Baked Potato, Hawaiian Style Sweet ‘n Sour and many more.
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 freeze-dried 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 foods.
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.
As far as economical food storage goes, the Wise Company bucket gives the best bang for the buck at 139 calories per dollar. Here is a breakdown of what you get in this kit:
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 and are one of the best freeze dried emergency foods on the market.
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.
While canning is an efficient way to create long-lasting food supplies with the bumper crops you may reap in your garden, emergency foods and freeze-dried foods are a gift to those looking for a quick, light option that can be ready in minutes.
Both freeze-dried foods and MREs are easy to carry, portable, and are very long-lasting, making them great options for camping food, hiking meals, bug out foods, or survival food. That, and as you can see on this list, many of them are reasonably priced so that you can trial them, and easily purchase more should you find some that you enjoy.