Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Prudent Prepping: More Adventures with Freeze-Dried Food

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.

I've always planned on Bugging In, and I have made food purchases for my emergency stores an extension of my normal shopping list: I buy one extra of my normal items and then put that into my emergency reserve. This is pretty much the standard way to build up extra supplies (most prepping sites and in all the popular books give this advice), and this is what I'm doing every week. It has built up a pretty good stock of foods I like; the downside of this method, though, is "where do I put all this stuff?"

Canned goods like pasta sauce, chili and fruit don't take up too much room but weigh a lot. Bagged goods like pasta, beans and rice take up more room per pound than cans and have to be protected from damage to prevent spoilage and waste. There is limited storage available to me where I live, so if my food preps are going to expand, what I buy is going to have to change.

I wrote about my first bit of exploring the many choices in freeze dried foods back in January. I'm still looking into what to buy, which items taste better, and how affordable everything is. I'm pretty lucky to have a local friend who has more disposable income than I to give me some pointers and suggestions.

If I had the money (which I don't right now), I would be looking to buy something like the Augason Farms 30 Day Emergency Pail or one of the many similar offerings from other food companies. I really like the ease of storage, portability (if needed) and very long shelf life (if left unopened) in the original pail. My local Sam's Club carries this for virtually the same price as Amazon, and that is one of the reasons my friend the Gear Nut chose Augason in the first place: ease of purchase and an easy return and refund (no shipping required) if it didn't taste good! Since he has only sealed pails at the moment, there was no chance for me to try that brand; so what I could try was what I could buy locally and individually. 

The Items
First up is Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles, a safe choice in that I know what tastes to expect.

From their website:
"Mountain House Beef Stroganoff is hands down one of the most popular meals we make. Made with real pieces of tender beef and savory mushrooms and onions in a creamy sauce, one bite will make you a believer. No longer do you need to waste time cleaning pots and pans after a meal. Simply add hot water and you'll have a delicious meal you can eat anywhere!"

Next is AlpineAire Black Bart Chili with Beef & Beans, another familiar taste. From their website:
"Great-tasting, nutritious meal is made from high-quality black beans, kidney beans and beef to fuel your adventure.

Easy to prepare; just add hot water to the fill line without the need of a measuring cup.

All-natural, gluten-free instant meal; no artifical colors, flavors, additives or preservatives."
Taste Test
I did not have my original panel of taste testers; the Master Chief was out of town and my picky eater was at a friend's house Saturday, so I was the only remaining judge. Based on results from the first round of tests, I planned to reduce the recommended water by about 10% to prevent the food from being too runny for my taste. If things did turn out to be too thick, additional water could always be added.

Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
This, when mixed up with reduced water, was a bit too thick. It also lists this as a 2 serving size, and at 2 1/2 cups I would be very full from eating the whole package -- but if there were another dish, along with someone to share this with, the portions would be about right. I added salt and a bit more pepper to make it taste better.
Black Bart Chili with Beans
This was also mixed with less water, and I think it could be done with the recommended amount. It was a little bland, but it had more spice than standard canned chili (which I realize isn't saying much). A little Tabasco fixed the flavor. Serving size is 2 per package and I could have eaten all of this item, but again with a second dish and someone to share this with, the portions seem fine.

The Takeaway
Both items come from good companies, have excellent shelf life and pass my taste test. My decision to reduce the water didn't work out too well this time -- perhaps this is due to a difference in consistency from item to item, or maybe I can't measure. I would have no problem adding either one to my prepping pantry!

  • Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles: $6.23 from Amazon 
  • AlpineAire Black Bart Chili with Beans: $12.01 from Amazon, $6.29 from REI

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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