Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Food in a Pinch

Have you ever wondered about eating freeze dried food? I certainly have. So much so that when the husband and I went to our local big chain outdoor store a few months ago, we picked up some to try.

Now, I know some people have heard that freeze dried is absolutely horrible, and yet others say it was fabulous. But this is what I know for sure- it's food, and in a pinch (say lost job, grid down, or just to supplement your food storage), freeze dried is certainly an option to remember.

Many of you have mentioned to me that purchasing freeze dried food in the #10 cans is more economical. And yes, technically, it is. However, what most people fail to think about is whether or not they will actually *like* the food they are purchasing. 
Why buy a huge can of something no one will eat? Go ahead, spend the $8 on a small package for two, and try it.
There is no amount of savings if you do not eat what you purchase. Hell, if you want to throw that money away, send it my way!

The husband and I decided to take an impromptu camping trip in our own Backyard Outdoors. A local state part less than 10 miles from us. We stayed one night, enjoyed the beautiful weather, wildlife and peace.

Not to mention we love a roaring fire. Can you believe this photo (matter of fact, ALL these photos) were taken with my camera phone? I love that camera!).

Mountain House Freeze Dried Foods was the brand demonstrated in the store. We tried a couple of products in the store and they were not bad. But what about and actual camping (or hiking or grid down type scenario)? Would they be as easy to prepare in primitive surroundings as they were in a fully-equipped kitchen?

We decided to test four products. One beef, one chicken, one egg, and one dessert. We figured it would give us the best variety of meat and side dishes. Of course, Mountain House has a wide variety overall. But since we were only camping for one night and half the next day, we didn't need a huge variety.

First up was our evening meal and we decided to go with the Chicken Teriyaki with Rice meal.
Two one-cup servings per package is standard. However, if you tend to eat large amounts of food, you might want to think of this as one serving since the serving size is 1-cup. For the husband and I, this was about right. Calorie count is around 220 per 1-cup serving.

What we found was that when you go camping, you aren't really a 'measuring cup' kind of person. So trying to get the right amount of water into the bag without a measuring cup turned into a 'let's just use our coffee mug' kind of thing. Turns out, our coffee mug holds almost 2 cups of water (we measured once we got home), so our Chicken Teriyaki with Rice meal turned into Chicken Teriyaki with Rice SOUP.

Still, our first try didn't make the food inedible. It was actually very tasty. Even as a soup. So for this particular variety, the amount of water can be varied. Plus, it has 10g of protein. Not great, but not bad.

The one thing I found with most all of the freeze-dried foodstuffs is that they are LOADED with salt. And salt and I do not get along. Not because I have any type of medical issue with sodium or high blood pressure, but because when I eat large amounts of salt my ankles swell and I end up looking like the Elephant Man is growing out of my feet. It's horrendous.
Thinking into the future, if it is a survival thing, you're going to want the 660 mgs of salt this baby packs in such a small [ackage.
Aside from that, the Chicken Teriyaki was still tasty.

Next up was our morning meal. We went with the Mountain House Breakfast Scramble.
Hash browns, eggs, crumbled pork patties, peppers and onions. Now, usually I am not much of a hash brown kind of girl, but that really helped the consistency of the meal.

 Once again, without knowing how much water we were putting in, we decided to adjust our measuring system and add one mug and a little bit more.
As you can see by the picture, it was just a tad too much water, still. However, it did not detract from the taste.

The crumbled pork patties didn't have a lot of flavor. That came mostly from the eggs and peppers and onions, which surprisingly, were slightly firm without turning into mush from the re-hydration process.

This particular meal packs in 400 calories per 1-cup serving, and a WHOPPING 920 mgs of salt. Holy moly I wasn't sure if I would be walking or waddling out of the park, dragging my elephant feet.

Once again, the taste of the product was surprising. It was not bad at all. I mean really, when you think of re-hydrated eggs? How icky does that sound? Pleasantly surprised we were when the meal turned out to be very filling and tasty and not at all what we expected.

Of course, somewhere in the middle of camping we had to have the obligatory junk food...nacho cheese chips and smores go part and parcel with the whole camping adventure.

As we were getting ready for our afternoon meal, it occurred to me that we did not try the freeze dried ice cream! Oh, how I love ice cream....I honestly think it is my favorite cold thing to eat.

I had high hopes for the freeze-dried Ice Cream. And well, it tasted like large cereal marshmallows. Which is great if you're into that kind of thing. But me personally, I am not fond of marshmallows unless it's in a s'more. So the Mountain House Freeze Dried Neapolitan Ice Cream was very dry because you do not re-hydrate it, very creamy because there is no hydration to it, and very thick because it sucks the saliva out of your mouth.

At least at 100 calories per pouch and 40mgs of salt, I didn't have to worry about cankles.

Lunch consisted of Beef Stroganoff with Noodles.

I think this one surprised us most of all.  260 calories per 1-cup serving, 800 mgs salt, and 11g of protein. The noodles were just the right consistence. Which might have been because we adjusted yet again, our water measuring system (we're going to have to add a collapse-able measuring cup into our survival/camping gear!).
The beef was a bit chewy. The sour cream sauce was creamy if a tad bit tasteless, and it indeed had mushrooms and onions.
Even with all that, we did not hate it. We rather liked it. And once again the 1-cup serving filled us up.

Overall, the salt count is unbelievably high, and in a survival situation, you might need that. The taste is greatly improved over previous versions of freeze-dried foods, and definitely WAY better than MRE's.

These are easy to pack and carry, lightweight, and there's even a vacuum-sealed version called a pro-pak which takes up even less room in your backpack.

I would highly suggest packing some pepper or other spice of your liking. For our review, we wanted the basic food with no alterations. In the future, pepper and possibly some cayenne will be on our packing list, along with Mountain House Freeze Dried food.

And no, Mountain House did not pay me to review their food.
My husband and I wanted to test some of our prepping skills and items, and this was the perfect scenario in order to do so- BEFORE something bad happens for real.

With that in mind, please test out YOUR skills in YOUR Backyard Outdoors. You might be surprised at what you learn you may need to do, or stop doing.

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