Freeze-Dried Food as a Mainstream Meal Option

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.

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Beef Stroganoff

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.

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Chicken Teriyaki

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.


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55 Responses

  • …”I recently cleaned out my food storage and removed some really out-of-date cans. (2013, anyone?) What a waste of food and money.”

    You are right! It was a waste. Why did you think it was unusable? That little date on the can that has no scientific basis or relevance? From my research, most commercial canned foods are good for 10 years or more.

    • My collection of Mountain House foods continues to grow, but only for emergency preparedness. We could not use it (although we would like to) as a ‘mainstream meal option’ simply because of the sodium content. I clicked on the chicken teriyaki above – it has a whopping 660 mg. sodium (28%).
      Check the sodium contents of other entrees. When will Mountain House get it? Salt is so plentiful & inexpensive, why not cut it in 1/2 and let the consumer add it if desired? Mountain House would surely sell more products if they cut down the salt!

      • Yes…i have same problem with Mountain House and other freez dried prepared meals…seems they are all developed for backpackers in need of extra salt. I read labels carefully….find a few meals with lower salt, but not much. Buying single ingredients now and unseasoned meat.

      • Depending on the variety, it can be too salty, even for a salt fiend like me. We add extra water and some instant rice, instant potato flakes, or hash browns, whichever seems appropriate for the dinner. For the Chicken Breast with Mashed Potatoes, we add enough hot water and plain potato flakes to double the total amount of the mashed potatoes. It helps. And if we are grid down, we’ll probably need the extra carbs. If not, we get 4 servings out of the 2 serving pouch. If grid down, we’ll be adding a lot more mashed potatoes and will be shredding the chicken as we’ll probably be sharing with unprepared neighbors.

  • If the can isn’t bulged, open it up and take a sniff. If it passes both tests, it is most likely save to eat. Looks and good tasting is another matter.

    • You might want to add this little hack. The can may not be bulging but it might be going bad. Wash the top of the can and dry it, Place a drop of drinkable water on the top of the can next to the rim. Put your clean can opener (P 38 is good for this) in the drop of water. When you pierce the metal, the drop of water should be quickly sucked into the can. If not, the safety is questionable. Even a modest, the-water-was-sort-of-sucked-into-the-can means the bad guys have already started multiplying. I would not chance a finger dip taste test. It isn’t worth the risk. And now you’ll be motivated to rotate your stock!

  • I’m in the process of learning to cook with my freeze dried food (using spices, adding other ingredients, etc.) as opposed to just adding hot water.

  • We take some of our emergency food along whenever we go 4-wheeling/off-road etc. – never know where you’re gonna be at dinner time…..

  • I have emergency food on hand and use it for meals because it is easy to use and then my family is used to eating it. Especially love the potato shreds for cheesy potatoes.

  • Been trying to figure out the best options for survival food and came across the contest, so I entered. I hope I win so I can try it out before making my purchase.

  • The food tastes a lot better than you think. I love the Mountain House brand, and look forward to trying more flavors.

  • I love the idea of having some very easy to make food on hand for any type of emergency. Where we live that could be because of ice, flooding, or tornadoes. Of course there’s always the unexpected event too. Freeze dried food put up for those occasions would give me some peace of mind.

  • I have used many of the freeze dried fruits. This is a marvelous and healthy option to keep fruits on hand. No spoilage. The freeze dried vegetables are great for the many soups I make.

  • It’s been decades now but MREs were a handy staple when my family lived in a country home with questionable facilities. Great things to have on hand!

  • We’ve used Mountain House for several years now. I love it for a quick meal anytime of the year. Also comes in very handy during power outages and on camping trips!

  • We love freeze dried food! As a mom of 5, living in the mountains where winters get intense, we rely on freeze dried foods as emergency food storage but use it to expand our pantry as we rotate our storage. I think freeze dried fruit and veg is so convenient and really ensures good quality veg throughout the season…so much of ehat’s sold in the supermarket is nutritionally dead. We use the different entrees when we camp or hike, and they’re an excellent quality. Huge fan of your company!

  • I love being able to grab something off the shelf and get dinner made quickly and have it taste great too. Love freeze dried foods!

  • I don’t have any freeze dried foods yet, but have been wanting to start purchasing them. I think they would be very helpful during the times that both my husband and I are too ill to cook a home cooked meal.

  • I just got into some spam dated 2013 and it was perfectly fine. I think most cans will last much longer than dates, and if the can is still good (not swollen) but tastes a bit off, I will just feed it too my dogs! They will love it! Lol.

  • What impresses me most about freeze dried food is the 25 year life span. I love that you could just add water to a meal that’s 15 years old and have a fresh meal.

  • What impresses me the most is the life span of freeze dried food. It’s great to know that I can just add water to a 15 year old meal and have a fresh meal.

  • This may seem like a stupid question: But is the freeze-dried food covered by food stamps?

    I can understand saving money by not wasting food. I “lose” food in the ‘frig often. And sometimes I don’t feel like eating what I have already prepared in the ‘frig. Depression interferes with many things.

  • I’m not too huge into this outside of backpacking and quick, easy meals when camping with the scouts. I wouldn’t mind learning some ways to enjoy it a little more affordable.

  • Between the sodium content and cost, why would you use emergency food as mainstream food? Thats just enriching those that sell the product and nothing else.

  • I buy the veggies and meats. I make my own soups all the time out of them. I use the hash browns, and powdered cheese to make cheesy hash brown casseroles, fancying it up with dried ham dices.
    When I open a big can, I get out oxygen absorbers and sterile wide mouth quart jars and lids. I divide the can into them, add the oxygen absorber, put the cap on , and seal back up the jars. That way, all stay fresh until I can use the entire can up.

    • We eat the freeze dried fruits all the time. Just buy them when they are on sale and get a bunch. Then you have them for smoothies, for with oatmeal, or mostly to eat as a snack out of the can. I get REAL tired of fresh fruit spoiling so quickly after purchase due to rough handling at the store by workers who toss it around and cause bruises that do not show up immediately. With freeze dried I NEVER have to throw out any spoiled foods.
      We also use the plain meats and veggies for our small dogs when they are not feeling well,or when they have had dental surgery, etc. It is easy to make up small meal sized portions and they LOVE it.

  • I love knowing my freeze dried food is there when I need it, and have given my kids emergency supplies of their own to get them started. Thanks EE!

  • We recently did a church activity by going to a couple of people’s home to show how they did their food storage. We also had sampling from items made by their food storage products. By doing that helped us realize that the options have changed and that the food is not bad. More and more are now interested in starting or switching up their food storage with ideas that would help and work for them

  • We use them for lunch every so often as they taste good and are easy to prepare either alone or mixed in with other ingredients. I always take some packs with me when I’m on the road.

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