This past weekend my husband and I had a taste testing of sorts going on at our home. While I have been slowly building up my food storage pantry over the past couple of years with canned goods, bulk dried goods, and the like, we decided that we would also like to have some freeze-dried rations on hand as well. There are a LOT of food storage companies out there, all claiming to have the BEST at something: longest shelf-life, better tasting, most nutritious, most appealing packaging, etc. For our family, we wanted to know before we bought a large amount of product, that it was something we absolutely loved, and most importantly, that our toddler would actually eat. True, most adults can suffer through a mushy, bland tasting meal if their life depended on it, but toddlers will just plain NOT EAT. If you have children of any age, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about! And the mother in me worries at the thought of him not getting enough calories and protein. Heck, I worry about that DAILY, but in a high stress situation where these emergency food options would be necessary, I can only imagine how much more stress I would be under.
So, this weekend we held a taste testing. I found a few Mountain House Freeze Dried meals at Wal-Mart and decided to give them a try. Our menu included Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Beef Stroganoff, Chili Mac with Beef, and a Breakfast Skillet.
How to Prepare the Meals
All of the packages included similar, very simple instructions on the back of the pouch.
I set a pot of water on the stove to start boiling first. While the water was heating, I opened the packages and removed the oxygen absorbers.
Then poured 2 Cups (1.5 for the breakfast skillet) of boiling water into the bag, stirred to moisten the contents, closed it back up with the zippered top, and waited 8-9 minutes for everything to rehydrate and “cook.”
What We Liked
- Taste: The first thing out of my husband’s mouth was “Wow! I could eat this every day!” Now, I disagree about the “Every day” part, but for a freeze dried meal, I was pleasantly surprised! Hubby’s favorite was the Beef Stroganoff, and he clams that he doesn’t have a least favorite. Ha 🙂 My least favorite was the Beef Stroganoff (Go figure lol) because it was a bit too mushroomy for me. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms. I think I actually liked the spaghetti best! AND Little Man ate a little bit of all three WILLINGLY! We had to sort of force feed the rest, but he didn’t spit it out, which is a huge plus. (Can you tell how meal times go around our house? haha) The texture is very close to “normal” foods, but was just a tad on the soupy side. I think I’ll add a little less water next time to resolve this issue.
- Quantity: The pouches claim to have 2.5 servings per pouch, which is a good estimation. My husband and I split three pouches with our son for dinner and had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. You could add a few crackers and can of fruit or veggies to one 2.5 serving pouch, and you would have a complete meal for at least 3-4 adults. Keep in mind that if you have teenage boys, this might not be the case 😉
- Price: Each pouch costs between four and seven dollars, which is fairly consistent with other food storage companies. Yes, there are some cheaper brands out there, but I PROMISE you get what you pay for! If you consider that a fast food meal costs, on average, $6 per person, then you’ve already got yourself a deal! You can also buy in bulk to save more money, such as this assortment bucket which contains 12 pouches.
- Nutrition: While they were all different, I was pleasantly surprised by the balanced nutrition that each pouch offered. Of the 4 we sampled, they each pouch contained 11 grams of protein per serving or more! They also each had a sufficient amount of calories per serving, and a good percentage of daily vitamins. While I would rather have fresh produce any day, I think this would be a valuable substitution if the need arises. The only thing I wasn’t too crazy about was the sodium content. See below for more details.
- Weight: The pouches were very lightweight for how much food they contained, which would make them perfect for camping, backpacking, or Bug Out Bags!
- Shelf Life: They each have a 7 year shelf life, which is consistent with other brands’ freeze dried pouches. (Canned freeze dried products are labeled to last up to 25 years in optimal conditions, but pouches are considerably lower)
- Production: They’re Made in the USA! Who doesn’t love a good American made product? Mountain House is a line of products from the company Oregon Freeze Dry, which is located in, you guessed it: Oregon!
What I Didn’t Like
- Taste & Texture: As I mentioned earlier, the texture of each meal was a little bit on the soupy side for me. Nothing a little less water couldn’t fix though! On the breakfast skillet, I noticed some of the eggs didn’t get rehydrated well so they were a little bit dry and icky. This could easily be solved by stirring well before sealing the pouch or by stirring again before eating. The breakfast skillet also just so happened to be the only one that Little Man wouldn’t touch. (He’s not a huge fan of eggs though, so I’m not surprised). Also, I wouldn’t have minded if there was just a little bit more meat in each of the pouches. It wasn’t a bad amount…. but we do eat a lot of meat at our house, and it was a tad sparse. Last, the pasta in both the spaghetti and stroganoff was shopped up into tiny pieces. I would have rathered they had full length noodles in both. I’m assuming they chopped them up so they would cook faster.
- Sodium content: Each package contained anywhere from 600-800mg of sodium per serving, which is over 25% of the recommended daily value. It didn’t TASTE too salty, but I’m not necessarily a fan of over salting. This could cause a need for extra water consumption, which in an emergency, we all know could be a big issue.
Overall, I think our family could definitely benefit from having a few Mountain House Freeze Dried pouches in our food storage. I would recommend them to anyone looking into prepackaged meals.
What About You?
Do you store Mountain House foods for emergencies? Or have you tried them? What are your thoughts?
Please check out my review on Thrive Express Freeze-Dried Pouches, too! 🙂
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