This truly is a mega kit! Collected in this assortment are sample pouches of every emergency food that Legacy provides. This not only gives you the chance to try every one of the company’s entrees, breakfasts, side dishes and drinks, but also allows you to create a food plan suited to your customized needs and tastes. Legacy uses only the best quality ingredients, and its “Made in the USA” products are low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, certified Non-GMO, vegetarian friendly and feature an amazing 25-year shelf life. MSRP: $285. (<a target=blank href=http://legacyfoodstorage.com/project/183-serving-mega-sample/>legacyfoodstorage.com</a>; 888-524-4185)
Easy to store and stack, this classic assortment gives you a total of 12 freeze-dried favorites that taste great, are highly nutritious and can store for 12+ years or longer! Enjoy delicious entrees including beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki, lasagna and beef stew. Start your day off with granola and milk with sweet blueberries. Each bucket contains 29 servings and requires 21 total cups of water. MSRP: $86. (<a target=blank href=http://www.mountainhouse.com/M/product/0080635.html>mountainhouse.com</a>; 800-547-0244)
Legacy’s 720-serving package of gourmet survival food will help you maintain the necessary 2,000-calorie/day diet. Your energy levels and nutrition will be maintained during nearly any stressful survival condition thanks to this pack’s contents. Just add boiling water and within minutes you will be enjoying tasty foods, including oatmeal and pancakes, Italian pasta with marinara sauce, enchiladas, chili macaroni as well as cheese and broccoli soup. MSRP: $1,430. (<a target=blank href=http://legacyfoodstorage.com/project/premium-720-serving/>legacyfoodstorage.com</a>; 888-524-4185)
When it’s time to get serious with food storage, this set will secure great-tasting food for one person for up to one year. Each month’s box includes breakfast items, delicious and nutritious entrees, and the choice between whey milk and orange delight drink to wash it all down. The entire kit contains 1,344 servings. MSRP: $1,245. (<a target=blank href=http://www.wisefoodstorage.com/twelve-month-emergency-food-box.html>wisefoodstorage.com</a>; 800-393-2570)
This Polar Bear dessert is ready to eat right out of the package. Now you can enjoy delicious ice cream after a long day of hiking and never have to worry about it melting. These ice cream sandwiches fit easily in your backpack for instant satisfaction, or you can store them in your disaster pantry for years at a time. MSRP: $3. (<a target=blank href=http://www.backpackerspantry.com/products/polar-bear-freeze-dried-cookies-cream-ice-cream.html>backpackerspantry.com</a>; 800-641-0500)
Enjoy a traditional breakfast when camping with these easy to store and prepare freeze-dried eggs. A full 12 eggs are contained in this durable, single-use pouch so prepping a nutritious breakfast for a large family is simple and fast. Cook these up in a skillet and enjoy tasty comfort food in minutes! MSRP: $14. (<a target=blank href=http://www.backpackerspantry.com/products/egg-mix-makes-12-eggs.html>backpackerspantry.com</a>; 800-641-0500)
Freeze-dried whole strawberries make a great snack when out and about. They are tasty and delicious right out of the package without the need for any form of cold storage. They come packed in durable foil pouches that allow them to maintain freshness and quality for years to come. These are a nutritious, easy-to-pack snack for kids and adults! MSRP: $4. (<a target=blank href=http://www.astronautfoods.com/products/astronaut-strawberries.html>astronautfoods.com</a>; 800-253-8283)
Enjoy seven varieties of freeze-dried fruits in convenient, on-the-go packages. Tasty apple, banana, tangerine, mango, pineapple and even Asian pear and cantaloupe offer diverse flavors for just about anyone. These amazing products retain nearly all the nutrients of fresh fruit with no added fat, preservatives or cholesterol. Light and flavorful, these freeze-dried fruit snacks make a nutritious treat for anyone. MSRP: $2. (<a target=blank href=http://www.crispygreen.com/crispy-green-product-information>crispygreen.com</a>; 866-582-5577)
With up to a 25-year shelf life and five delicious varieties, how can you go wrong? Enjoy tasty beef stroganoff, fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti with beef, chili macaroni and Asian-style teriyaki beef in just 20 minutes by adding water and cooking. These are perfect for camping excursions, home-based emergencies or stocking your auxiliary bug-out location. A total of 106 servings are included in this diverse assortment. MSRP: $200. (<a target=blank href=http://www.augasonfarms.com/Entree-Assortment6-10-Cans-UPC-78716-07301>augasonfarms.com</a>; 800-878-0099)
All your meal requirements are meant to last the initial 72 hours of a survival scenario. Just add hot water and stir and breakfast is served. Enjoy tasty granola or hot oatmeal with fruit to start your day. For lunch or dinner, a full hearty portion of beef stroganoff, broccoli with rice and others will replace lost calories from your day of activities. The kit includes nine pouches. MSRP: $50. (<a target=blank href=http://www.liveprepared.com/72-hour-instant-food-kit-breakfast-and-entree>liveprepared.com</a>; 800 272-6178)
Stack up and store several cases and create the perfect short-term survival food cache in your home, cabin or auxiliary bug-out location. These MREs have a five-year shelf life, are pre-cooked and are easily heated with the included flameless ration heaters. There are absolutely no preservatives added and vegetarian assortments are available. Supply yourself with 1,200 calories per meal! MSRP: $130.(<a target=blank href=http://www.mealkitsupply.com/store_us/home/8-12-case-of-3-course-mres.html>mealkitsupply.com</a>; 877-833-1418)
Surviving for three full days has just gotten easier! This one-person, 72-hour kit has all the basics covered while you’re under emergency conditions. Its included MREs will supply you with needed calories while on the go, with no heating or preparation required. Also included in this life-saving kit are sealed fresh water pouches, a survival blanket, a poncho, light sticks, fire-making accessories and personal hygiene items. MSRP: $85.(<a target=blank href=http://beprepared.com/personal-72-hour-emergency-kit-with-mres.html>beprepared.com</a>; 800-999-1863)
Six delicious entrees (two each), including southwest style beef, Mexican chicken stew, penne with vegetables, asian beef strips and more, are included in this MRE bundle. Select delicious side dishes, desserts and tasty snacks that will supply you with over 1,000 calories per meal. Each unit is easily eaten cold right out of the pouch or heated with the included MRE heaters. All of the included MREs store for three to five years under proper conditions. These are perfect for home storage or to carry along on any outdoor day trip. MSRP: $110. (<a target=blank href=http://beprepared.com/case-of-12-eversafe-mre-meals-kit-a.html>beprepared.com</a>; 800-999-1863)
This kit offers a complete meal anywhere and anytime you need it. The Emergency Backup Meal offers all components to replenish lost calories and “recharge” your batteries while under survival conditions. Enjoy a hot entrée, using the enclosed MRE heater, a tasty side dish, a dessert, a drink and bread or crackers. Utensils, a wet wipe and a piece of hard candy to satisfy your sweet tooth are also included in this 12-piece collection. MSRP: $100. (<a target=blank href=http://beprepared.com/mre-emergency-backup-meal-ebm-case-of-12.html>beprepared.com</a>; 800-999-1863)
Don’t forget the little extras even when under survival conditions. This pack contains all the needed accessories to complement your MRE lunch or dinner entrees. Included are matches, a napkin, non-dairy creamer, sugar, salt, pepper and freeze-dried coffee. After you eat, two included breath mints keep your breath clean and fresh. MSRP: $15. (<a target=blank href=http://www.mredepot.com/product-p/mre501.htm>mredepot.com</a>; 949-366-9484)
Add some flavor and energy to your water with lemonade or raspberry flavored drink pouches. These individually packaged mixes require only 12 ounces of water to create a tasty and refreshing drink. They are perfect to add variety to your beverage supply stock or use them to mask the aftertaste of chemically treated water. It’s a great alternative to plain water . MSRP: $13 per 25. (<a target=blank href=http://www.mredepot.com/product-p/bb150.htm>mredepot.com</a>; 949-366-9484)
This pack offers six different menu items all in one convenient, easy to carry and store box. This MRE assortment comes complete with entrées, side dishes, dessert items, crackers or wheat bread and spread. Beverage powder creates a tasty drink to wash it all down. Condiments, instant coffee, creamer and sugar round out this complete package of vital survival food. The kit has a five-year shelf life. MSRP: $50. (<a target=blank href=http://www.shop.meyerscustomsupply.com/product.sc?productId=233>meyerscustomsupply.com</a>; 800-451-6105)
This 12-pack MRE kit contains six varieties of the tastiest survival food available. Enjoy meals like beef ravioli, beef stew, grilled chicken breast, spaghetti in meat sauce and more for lunch or dinner when out camping or during an unexpected emergency. Eat directly out of the pouches in a pinch or heat them with the optional flameless heaters. A condiment pack, beverage powder, dessert and coffee add the “home feel” touch to any harsh situation. MSRP: $90. (<a target=blank href=http://www.shop.meyerscustomsupply.com/product.sc?productId=1&categoryId=41>meyerscustomsupply.com</a>; 800-451-6105)
Vegetarians now have access to survival foods that conform to their particular needs. Choose from three entrées varieties including vegetarian chili, cheese tortellini or pasta marinara and tasty snacks like dried fruits, sugar cookies, crackers or energy bars. Cutlery packs, condiment items and entrée heaters are included for every entree. Each complete meal provides 1,100 to 1,300 calories. MSRP: $90. (<a target=blank href=http://www.survival-warehouse.com/12-mre-full-case-vegetarian-w-heaters.html>survival-warehouse.com</a>; 888-995-9495)
This set of tasty MRE items provides the entire caloric intake for four people for up to three full days. Enjoy entrees, side dishes, bakery goods and desserts—all ready to eat whenever hunger may strike. Beverages, accessory packs and one-use heaters complete this essential emergency food kit. MSRP: $195. (<a target=blank href=http://www.longlifefood.com>longlifefood.com</a>; 800-601-2833)
Survival food options are available nearly everywhere these days. The mega-outdoor store, the neighborhood department store and, of course, the internet “stores” are all fully stocked with emergency food products. The majority offered are freeze-dried foods and MREs (meals ready to eat). Although both can be generally grouped as “survival foods,” they differ in many important ways. Which one is right for you? That all depends on your budget, storage capabilities, preferred taste and, most importantly, your overall personal survival plan.
Freeze-dried foods are exactly what their name implies. Various types of foods, like meat, pastas and vegetables, are frozen and then, through a multi-step process, water crystals are removed, leaving dry product ready for long-term storage. MREs, on the other hand, closely mimic canned products found on grocery shelves, the difference being that MREs use flexible aluminum foil and plastic pouches instead of aluminum cans. Normal foods, such as chili or beef stew, are pre-cooked and sealed in the pouch. Then the complete package is heated to sterilize the contents, which allows the food to stay fresh for a number of years. Again, this is very similar to canned items found in a typical supermarket.
Both food options share a few common characteristics, however. Each offers the necessary nutrition and calories to keep your body functioning properly when other food choices are nonexistent, and the variety of food choices for each are plentiful to appease nearly everyone’s taste preferences.
Both MREs and freeze-dried foods take up about equal space in your pack or your bug-out vehicle during transport, although freeze-dried food pouches tend to be a bit bulkier due to their irregular shape. The main difference between both food choices while traveling is the amount of weight that each group would add to your overall load.
MREs are by far the heavier of the two. If you’re using a backpack and transporting enough food to survive for a minimum of three days, you will severely feel the excess weight upon your shoulders. From 1 pound to 1.5 pounds each, MREs could add 9 to 15 pounds to your overall load, far too much if you have miles to trek to reach your destination.
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Freeze-dried foods are much lighter. Their Achilles heel, however, is the possibility of damaging or puncturing their Mylar pouch and rendering the food unfit for further storage purposes. This is a minor point, though, and can be avoided if you pack correctly to prevent possible damage to the pouches before you venture out. Also, the necessity of carrying water to prepare most freeze-dried foods can also add weight to your load. Shelf life plays a major role in survival food storage. You first have to identify which type of storage you are prepping for: short term or long term. Short term is anywhere from a several weeks to a few years, while long term is a time frame from about three to five years to a few decades. Once you determine which timeframe fits your particular purpose, the outcome of which type of food to store will be very clear. Luckily, there is no grey area when it comes to shelf-life numbers.
MREs last only about three to five years, if properly stored. Properly stored can generally be described as being kept in a cool, dry area. If your MREs are stored where excess heat or moisture may occur, their shelf life will diminish considerably. You don’t want to be surprised when you open your MRE expecting a meal and find spoiled product, even though the box stated an expiration date of several years.
For short-term food storage, MREs will do the job. But for longer storage needs, freeze-dried food is the king! Freeze-dried foods last nearly 25 years. They have little loss of taste or consistency even after decades of storage time. This is your go-to survival food when preparing for long-term scenarios.
Basically speaking, MREs require no preparation. You can warm them with flameless heaters (which are sometimes included in MRE meals) if desired, but if you have no time or no source of heat, eating directly from the pouch without preparation is perfectly fine. This, in itself, makes MREs a worriless form of survival food when faced with unpredictable conditions or a lack of other supplies. Knowing you can replenish lost calories anywhere at any time is a comforting thought.
Freeze-dried foods, however, require water to prepare—and not just water, hot water. This is where a problem may occur. During survival situations, you may not have access to fire or another heat source, let alone water or a vessel to boil it in. Some freeze-dried food packages state that room temperature or cold water also works, but it will take longer to prepare and the overall taste and texture will most likely be negatively affected.
Again, everyone’s survival plan and preparations are different and individualized. Always examine your available resources (water, heat source, available time for preparation of food, etc.) when you choose what type of survival food to add to your overall supplies.
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Some may argue that taste should not be a factor when dealing with food while under survival conditions. Most people are just happy to have some form of sustenance. This is true, but why not have the best-tasting survival food available? Why deal with added pressure if your kids don’t like the food and want something else? Your focus should be on surviving during whatever emergency situation occurs, not spending time trying to convince your family that the food tastes great.
The general consensus concerning which survival food is more pleasing upon consumption is that freeze-dried foods taste better than MRE packaged meals. However, and this is a big factor, the water used must be at or near full boiling temperature to properly reconstitute the product for optimum texture and flavor. Lukewarm or cold water will slowly bring the food product to an edible consistency but with a severe decrease in palatable taste. MRE meals, which can be eaten cold “right out of the package” are considered fair when it comes to taste, but when warmed with optional heaters MREs are a bit more pleasing to the taste buds. Psychologically, a warm meal will feel more comforting and thus give the illusion of better taste.
So after all that this, what type of survival food is better? That can only be answered by you after you exhausted all the trial-and-error tests that should be performed well before you actually need the food to survive. Examine the weights, shapes, tastes, consistency and ease of preparation under both “normal” and extreme conditions. Only then can you make a personalized decision to fit your needs while under harsh and stressful conditions.
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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Fall 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.
Harvest and utilize this delicious, plentiful and often free fruit!
by karriesteely / Jul 2, 2015