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If you’re reading this article, you know that everyday life can turn into a survival situation in the blink of an eye. Anything from an earthquake to a terrorist attack could cause mass havoc, and when that happens, it’s likely our current systems of feeding ourselves will fail. If that happens, stores will get cleaned out almost immediately. Keeping an emergency food storage at the ready could mean you won’t have to fight for food. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Freeze-drying is a method of preserving food that many outdoors enthusiasts and military personnel have been using for years. Freeze-dried food doesn’t need to be refrigerated; it can last 25 years or more, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. You can freeze-dry just about any type of food, from meat to fruits and vegetables to entire meals, like lasagna. Freeze-drying isn’t complicated: You just freeze the food and vacuum seal it. During this process, moisture evaporates and the food shrinks in size and weight, but most of its nutrients—along with its shape, smell and color—are preserved. Although you typically add water to freeze-dried foods to rehydrate them, some items, particularly fruit, are just as tasty if you eat them dry. Freeze-dried food retailers typically recommend you keep your supplies in a cool, dry place like a basement.

There are a lot of companies these days that offer excellent freeze-dried foods, including Wise Company, Mountain House, My Patriot Supply and more. For long-term emergency storage, you can buy freeze-dried food in bulk at places like Costco or REI.

How Much Freeze-Dried Food?

The American Red Cross recommends you keep a minimum of three days’ worth of food on hand for an evacuation and a two-week supply for your home. Jim Judge serves as the American Red Cross Preparedness and Disaster Health Sub-Council chair and the emergency management director of the Department of Public Protection for Volusia County, Florida. He says that instead of going with the minimum recommendations, a good rule of the thumb is to gauge the amount of food your family eats normally and store food accordingly. This means having breakfast, lunch and dinner on hand for each person in your family for each anticipated day of a disaster. Judge suggests keeping calorie counts in mind as you plan your meals, and to remember that a higher level of activity will increase your need for calories. “Have as balanced a diet as possible,” Judge says, “which means you want to include some vegetables, grains, fruits and protein.”

Wise Company

Wise Company specializes in long-term food storage, including some with a 25-year shelf life. The company offers storage buckets packed with a variety of individual meal options, such as apple cinnamon cereal and cheesy lasagna, as well as buckets of specific types of food—vegetables, fruits, meats and more. Wise offers gluten-free options as well. Customers can use the company website’s food calculator to determine how much to purchase based on number of people. You can also buy packages, like the 12-month emergency supply of food and drinks, which includes 1,344 total servings of entrees, breakfasts, sides and drinks. In the gallery above are four of the food items available directly from Wise. (wisefoodstorage.com; 800-393-2570)

Mountain House

Mountain House, a long-time supplier of freeze-dried food for the military, offers freeze-dried food kits and buckets ranging from a two-day supply to a 14-day supply. The company offers many of its meals in individual pouches, enabling users to just add water and cook the food directly in the pouch, as well as in #10 cans, kits and buckets. Mountain House pouches and cans also boast 30-year shelf lives, which is very impressive.. Check out two of Mountain House’s products above. (mountainhouse.com; 800-547-0244)

My Patriot Supply

My Patriot Supply offers non-GMO, freeze-dried food that has up to a 25-year shelf life. The company sells a large variety of meals and sides, and offers specialized buckets as well. You can also purchase food for a designated period of time, from 72 hours all the way up to a whole year’s food supply kit for four people. Above is a small sampling of this company’s extensive food product lineup. (mypatriotsupply.com; 866-229-0927)

This article was originally published in ‘Survivor’s Edge’ Spring 2017. To get a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.

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