Picture this: The worst has happened and you're burning through your survival food stockpile. You’re stuck eating rice and beans for days on end. Wouldn't it be wonderful to gorge on a nice hot serving of chicken pot pie or beef lasagna for a change?
If you had freeze-dried food, you definitely can. That’s exactly why freeze-dried food is so popular among preppers and backpackers lately. These foods retain their taste and nutritional value years after they were packed. All you have to do is add hot water to reconstitute a freeze-dried meal. Who wouldn’t want some good hot food without the hassle of preparation?
Now, with so many brands riding the freeze-dried foods wagon, it's pretty hard to pick one brand to stick with. That’s why we rounded the best freeze-dried food in the market today to make things easier for you. Take a look at 5 freeze-dried food brands and see which of them fit your needs:
Mountain House (MH) first supplied quality freeze-dried food to the US Special Forces during the Vietnam conflict. 50 years later and they’re still at it, expanding their reach not only to the military but to civilians as well. Over the years, Mountain House has gained a steady following among preppers, trekkers, and backpackers.
What makes their food so special? For one, they are the only company with a staggering 30-year quality guarantee. They also offer a variety of serving options. Their food comes in:
- Single serve packs - good for one serving
- Pouches - good for 2 servings
- #10 cans- good for 10 servings. Once you open the can, MH recommends you consume the product within one week
Pro Pak - especially vacuum-packed pouches to prevent expansion at high altitudes
- Kits - includes 2 day to 5 day supplies of assorted meals. They contain a max of 37 servings and 1850 calories/day
- Buckets - comes with 29 servings of assorted food
MH’s food products include entrees like beef stroganoff and chicken a la king, sides and meats like ground beef and crackers, breakfast skillets and even desserts.
Prepper favorites include Biscuits and Gravy and Beef Stroganoff. The general consensus is that these meals are tasty and have great consistency despite being freeze-dried and reconstituted. On the other hand, tomato-based meals like their Italian Style Pepper Steak with Rice and Tomatoes appears to be somewhat bland and lacking a certain kick. Nevertheless, if you want a trusted name in freeze-dried food, Mountain House is your best bet.
If you love storing food in bulk, you might want to check out Wise Company’s food offerings. They specialize in long-term food supplies that come in buckets and kits that are guaranteed to last for 25 years.
These range from a 72-hour food supply to buckets that should last for a whole year. Inside these buckets are food individually packed in Mylar bags.
Do you like powdered eggs? Wise Company has a bucket that contains a whopping 144 servings of eggs. They also have buckets of freeze-dried fruits and veggies. Their other varieties include cheesy lasagna, creamy pasta, savory stroganoff, and tomato basil soup.
Wise Company uses both dehydration and freeze-drying methods in their products.
According to their website, this is because some ingredients are better suited for dehydration than freeze-drying. Their products come at a very competitive price point, too. For as little as $20, you can already have a 4 pack meal that can feed a small family. While they’re pretty affordable, most preppers who reviewed their food aren’t very impressed with the actual taste. Based on these reviews, Wise Company may need to work on the flavor and quality of some of their products. However, if you’re a prepper with a tight budget and are looking to buy emergency food in bulk, you might want to consider Wise Company and try their food out for yourself.
Newcomer Packit Gourmet is really making waves in the prepper community. The company, headed by a mother and daughter team from Austin, is bent on bridging the gap between shelf-stability and good old home cooking. The result is pretty impressive: they ended up making great quality food that can last for as long as 12 months. It’s not the decades-long shelf-life of Mountain House or Wise Company, but for many preppers, the quality and taste of Packit Gourmet is worth the trade.
This humble company started small with tortilla soup and some sides. They have since experienced early success, with Backpacker Magazine picking their tortilla soup for the coveted Editor's Choice spot in 2009. Now they serve about 50 different varieties of freeze-dried and dehydrated meals. Many preppers and backpackers rave about their fresh and tasty food. Their packs also include condiments, toppings, and garnishes. According to their website, their popular Austintacious Tortilla Soup includes a mix of dried ingredients (chipotle chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and more), as well as a packet of concentrated chicken broth, and a topping of dehydrated jack cheese and tortilla chips.
What separates Packit Gourmet from most manufacturers is that they also run a grocery where you can pick your own dehydrated ingredients to make your meals. Because they mostly sell natural and organic ingredients, some of their food is seasonal, so their roster may change from time to time. If you don't mind a shorter shelf life, Packit Gourmet may just be the freeze-dried food brand for you.
Valley Food Storage
Valley Food Storage (VFS) is also big on keeping their freeze-dried products as natural as possible. They’ve done away fancy packaging and instead have focused on preserving food quality by using a no-frills Mylar bag to store their food in. They use non-GMO ingredients and do not add any MSG or fillers into their preparations. Another thing that separates them from the pack is that they don’t use oxygen absorbers. Instead, these pouches are hydrogen purged, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to remove those oxygen packets before preparation. VFS food comes in the following varieties:
- pouches good for 5 servings
- kits with assorted products that are good for one month to a year. Their one month kit contains 100 servings and is priced at around $125, which is great if you want bang for your buck. In comparison, other brands' one month supply can run for $160.
VFS also offer gluten and dairy free products as well as customizable kits for those with special dietary needs. Many reviews find VFS food to be tasty and filling. The best part is these healthy foods last almost as long as their Mountain House counterparts with a 25-year shelf life, so you’re really getting the best of both worlds. Their White Bean and Lime Chili seems to sit well with many preppers--- you might want to start with that if you’re keen on stocking up some VFS products in your survival pantry.
Whether you're vegetarian or just health-conscious, you might want to try Outdoor Herbivore's healthy selections. Their products are sourced from the US and are made from organic, whole-food ingredients. According to their website, products come in the following sizes:
- Hungry Single- good for 1-2 servings
- Hungry Double - serves "two adults with a large appetite, or engaging in moderate to strenuous activity" or 1 adult and 2 kids
- Hungry hoarder - 6 separate packages of Hungry Double
While they don’t offer food in buckets, they do provide ingredients like freeze-dried brown rice or dehydrated quinoa by the bulk. They also offer gluten-free and vegan varieties. Outdoor Herbivore products have a shorter shelf life than most freeze-dried and dehydrated food at around 1 to 2 years. Their bags are also not suitable for handling boiled water. This means that you have to use actual utensils to prepare and eat their meals, which may be inconvenient to some. If you don’t mind a bit of prep time, you can try their tasty Lemongrass Thai Curry and Chickpea Sesame Penne.
Freeze-dried food offers a great convenience to preppers. All you need is hot water to reconstitute them and you're done! This is a great help in an emergency situation or even when you’re out on an adventure in the backcountry. Since they are shelf-stable and pretty easy to prepare, it's not surprising that most of them come with a hefty price tag. You definitely don't want to waste money on food that you wouldn't enjoy either. This is why you must choose your freeze-dried food wisely. Evaluate your needs and priorities and see which one of these brands is the best fit for you and your family.
What's your favorite freeze-dried food brand? Let us know in the comments below!