Last week stank. One daughter had her tonsils removed Monday. All of the rest of my family – including me – were suffering through nasty colds. And my husband’s been out of town. I could barely leave the house.
To feed my family, I relied on food storage, especially products like freeze-dried beef stew and freeze-dried vegetables that were fast and easy to cook.
This TV news story, from a Houston ABC affiliate, said freeze-dried food isn’t just for natural disasters or astronauts anymore. It’s also showing up in everyday cooking, as people discover that freeze-dried foods are convenient and save money.
Preparing a freeze-dried meal takes less time than going out to a restaurant or ordering something in. It also costs less than a restaurant meal – even a fast-food one.
It’s fast. Add boiling water to a freeze-dried meal pouch, stir a couple of times, and 10 minutes later, dinner’s ready. As more people have discovered freeze-dried foods, the variety of food available has increased too.
"Basically, anything that you would normally cook can be freeze dried," Alissa Rumsey, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told ABC 13.
Or, if you’re Misty Marsh from the ABC 13 news story, combine ingredients from separate cans of freeze-dried meat and vegetables to make a quick soup.
Freeze-dried ingredients are already washed and cut, so you don’t have to do it yourself. I’ve tossed reconstituted freeze-dried hash browns into a recipe that called for potatoes. I’ve done the same for freeze-dried corn.
Like other prepared foods, freeze-dried food is more expensive than canned or fresh food. However, it can still reduce your food budget, not just your dining-out budget.
American families throw away about a quarter of the food and drinks they buy, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That costs a family of four an estimated $1,365 to $2,275 annually.
The NRDC attributes much of this loss to factors like poor planning, spoiling and waste from past sell-buy dates.
Freeze-dried food can help with all these issues.
You should be rotating food storage anyway. So, plan meals using food storage items, then replace them as they get used up. This will help reduce the hit to the wallet from food waste. It will also allow you to spread out food storage shopping throughout the year, so you can buy items when they’re on sale, instead of when you run out.
Have you ever lost a zucchini or bunch of spinach in the refrigerator? And discovered it three weeks later, a soggy, mildewed blob?
Freeze-dried vegetables and fruit last longer, so they’re less likely to spoil than fresh ones. If you’re keeping more of the food you buy, because it doesn’t spoil, you’re saving money.
Freeze-dried food has a much longer shelf life than canned or frozen food – 25 years and more, if left unopened. I recently cleaned out my food storage and removed some really out-of-date cans. (2013, anyone?) What a waste of food and money. I could have bought freeze-dried food that would still be good.
Freeze-dried foods take some practice. The first time I tried tossing reconstituted freeze-dried hash browns into a casserole, they came out soggy. I learned if I fry them just a bit before I toss them in, they hold together more like fresh potatoes. Also, different brands have slightly different flavors. So experiment. In the long run, you’ll save time and money.