Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prudent Prepping: Long Term Food Storage

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate  on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

As the planning for my preps goes on, the choices for what foods I buy as long term storage items is mind numbing. Do I look to have several hundred pounds of wheat and other grains put away? What about MRE's? What are the popular freeze-dried meals like? Do they taste good?

I'm going to find out the answers to these questions.

First Things First
Since I am planning for a very small group (1-3 people) and do not have the budget or space to buy and store bulky items, discussions of bulk grains and similar are pretty theoretical for me. I hope this topic can be discussed by an experienced person in a guest post. Submissions welcomed! Contact Erin for details.

What Are The Choices?
They're almost endless. Use your favorite Search Engine and put in 'freeze dried food': 5.4 MILLION hits!

How do you know which is best? Ask your friends who prep, camp and hike, look in your local sporting goods store, and read Amazon reviews to get a better idea for where to start. I went to my local REI for some advice on where to start. Here is what I found:

Mountain House
From their website:
"Mountain House meals have since accompanied many great expeditions — to both poles, towering mountain ranges and even the moon and back! For nearly 50 years, consumers have continued to choose Mountain House as their favorite brand of freeze dried food for on-the-go adventures, emergency preparedness and survival. With just-add-water convenience, easy no-mess cleanup and home-cooked flavors, Mountain House is the best freeze dried camping, backpacking, hiking and emergency preparedness food money can buy"
I bought New Orleans Style Rice with Shrimp and Ham ($8.99, 2.5 servings)

From their website:
"As a pioneer in the food marketplace for over 30 years, ALPINEAIRE FOODS has a reputation for excellence surpassed only by the distinction for outstanding taste. ALPINEAIRE FOODS produces all-natural freeze-dried and dehydrated, instant meal, side dishes, breakfasts, soups and desserts. We also offer an ever expanding variety of tasty Gluten Free options, so there is something for every palate and dietary choice."
I bought Santa Fe Black Beans & Rice ($9.82, two servings)

MaryJanes Farm
Not the easiest website to navigate, but the information is there... someplace. All-organic products, with an all-organic price tag.

I bought Organic Black Beans and Rice ($9.25, single serving) (REI link -- I can't find a direct, easily copied web link from Amazon. This may be an exclusive item for REI.)

Taste Test
The Testers:
  1. A retired Master Chief and SEAL
  2. A picky-eating 10 year old
  3. Me
All items are cook-in-pouch, meaning you just add boiling water and let sit.

Mountain House
  1. "Pretty good." "Not like Grandma used to make, though." " Needs some Tabasco."
  2. "I'm not eating that! That looks gross!" ($5 changes hands) "That tastes like a school lunch and it still looks gross."
  3. Consistency is a bit thin, probably from too much water. Flavor is pretty good, not too salty. +1 for Tabasco.
  1. "That's pretty good!" "Where is the meat in this one?" "Less Tabasco needed here."
  2. "Are those carrots??? I'm not eating that!" 
  3. Nice flavor and still a bit soupy, even with careful measurement of the water. Adding a bit of meat (Spam?) would  make it better.
MaryJanes Farm
  1. "Are you trying to get me wearing sandals and those big shorts by serving all this organic, hippie ----?" "Where's the meat in this one?" "Gimme that Tabasco."
  2. "Are there carrots in this?" "I like the cheese taste." (Shocked face!) 
  3. Still soupy, but better than the first two. I like the taste and consistency of this one, without any extra Tabasco. Still, some Spam or bacon would help.

The Takeaway
Two of the three are reasonably priced; all three are taste okay and are easily ordered. I personally do not think going all-organic is worth the extra cost, but that is a value judgement for others to make. I do think the water required to make these items is about 10-15% too much for my taste. Your tastes may differ, however.

4.5 out of 5 stars for all three brands, with the noted exceptions. I will be looking further into both Mountain House and AlpineAire for other items. Sorry, MaryJanes Farm, you're too pricey for me.

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased be me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds. 

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