Readywise Freeze-dried Foods

If you’ve been at the prepping thing for any length of time, you’ve heard about freeze-dried foods, even if you haven’t bought any. Freeze-dried foods have four big pluses. First, they’re compact. You get a lot of calories that store in a small space. Second, they save time cooking. You can get a large variety of entrees that only have to be rehydrated to eat. Third, they’re quick. You can order them by the pallet and have them dropped off in front of your garage door. Fourth, they last nearly forever. Mountain House is quoting 30+ years for their cans and 6 years for pouches (last I looked). That’s a golden feature for prepping.

They also have three drawbacks. First, they’re loaded with salt. For some folks, this is a problem. Second, you need a lot of water to rehydrate them. This will come at a time when clean water is at a premium. Third, they are expensive. Freeze-dried foods are the most expensive way to stock your pantry.

Even with the drawbacks, I think freeze-dried foods deserve some place in a prepper’s pantry. Depending on your means it may be a large or small place, but having them gives you options you can’t get any other way.

Historically, Mountain House and Augson Farms are the brands that I’ve purchased. However, I recently ran across a mention for Readywise, and looking at their website, they’ve got some items that look very different from what I’ve seen elsewhere. I ordered a couple of pouches to see how they tasted.

First on my menu was the ever-popular chili mac, this variety billed as “Desert High Chili Mac”. OK, whatever. Each pouch contains 2.5 servings (more on this later) and requires two cups of boiling water to reconstitute and heat. Following the instructions, I reconstituted and ate.

Not bad. Plenty of meat–so much that I think it could have used more mac. Somewhat spicy, which is a welcome relief from the salty flavor that I’ve noted eating Mountain House. Nicely filling, and the meal held me for a good while. I could eat this again.

Second was the Still Lake Lasagna. Also not bad. It isn’t lasagna like you’d make at home. Instead of big flat noodles, this has a smallish sort of corkscrew pasta along with plenty of meat. Also somewhat spicy, but unfortunately the same sort of spicy as the Chili Mac. Honestly, they’re interchangeable to my palate. Each has a different mouth feel, but the taste is much the same.

Both items were packaged in a very heavy-duty mylar pouch with what appears to be a polyester coating on each side. The pouch holds its heat better than a Mountain House pouch. Both had expiration dates 15 years in the future, which is a huge plus.

A special note about reconstituting freeze-dried foods in a pouch. The directions say to add the water and stir. The stirring part is critical. A lot of reviews of freeze-dried foods will say they’re tasteless and the consistency resembles glue. They didn’t stir enough. Stir until you think you’ve overdone it, then stir about that much more. I didn’t stir enough with the Chili Mac and had chunks of gluey in the pouch. I stirred the dickens out of the lasagna and guess what? No gluey chunks. Carry a small silicone spatula in your cooking gear for this, as it will get in the corners of the bag better.

Overall, I’d say Readywise is a winner. While no freeze-dried food is going to taste like a restaurant meal, these are not hard to stomach. When Mrs. Freeholder isn’t looking, I think I’ll order up some of this to add to the freeze-dried food aisle.

Now, about the number of servings in a pouch. Readywise says “2.5 servings”. Uh, no. One serving, at least for an adult doing any sort of heavy work. 290 or so calories in their size serving is a snack when you’re working. However, this is a misfeature in every freeze-dried food I’ve ever seen, along with every other food item on my shelves. When you’re laying in pantry food, think calories, not servings, unless you want to be hungry. For reference, here’s a PDF of the calorie requirements for both sexes at various ages and activity levels. I would caution you that heavy work will blow right through these numbers. As an example, when I was in my early 20s and doing very physical work every day, I ate around 4000 calories per day just to hold my body weight.

I do wonder whatever happened to that skinny kid?

So there you have it, another arrow in your pantry-shaped quiver. Let’s hope none of us ever needs to use it.

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