Anyone who has ever spent more than a night or two in nature will tell you that having the proper food and nutrition can make or break any trip. However, bringing the right meals with you is not just important to have a pleasant back-packing journey. In survival situations, it can be a much more dire matter.
Thankfully, the worlds of camping food and survivalist food have a lot of overlap. Both need to be nutritious, shelf-stable, compact, and delicious. Freeze dried foods have become the go-to choice to fulfill these needs.
We’ve combed through the extensive options on the market to find the best freeze dried food around. Here are our top picks, and what you should look for when doing your own searching.
Last update on 2020-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- 1 Best Freeze Dried Foods Reviews
- 2 Augason Farms 30-Day 1-Person Emergency Food Supply – QSS Certified
- 3 AlpineAire Forever Young Mac & Cheese
- 4 Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
- 5 Nutristore Freeze Dried Ground Beef
- 6 Augason Farms Freeze Dried Sliced Strawberries 6.4 oz
- 7 Best Freeze Dried Food Buyers Guide and What to Look For in Survival or Camping Food
- 8 Conclusion
Best Freeze Dried Foods Reviews
Whether you intend to use your food supply for camping or as an emergency backup, buying individual meals can become expensive and time-consuming. Thus, for anyone looking to stock up, buying a larger food supply kit can be a great option. The Augason Farms 30-Day food supply kit is affordably priced and compact, with enough food to last a month packed neatly into a 5-gallon bucket. Augason Farm’s offering is far from the only “survival bucket” option on the market. However, it’s the best.
Not all food survives the freeze drying process equally. While some foods lend themselves to dehydration, others become gummy and unpalatable. Thus, experienced companies take the time to properly engineer their meal solutions to select foods that will rehydrate with the nutrition and flavor intact. The array of food offered by this food supply was carefully selected for flavor, nutrition, and a long-shelf-life. In fact, this kit is rated to last up to 25 years if stored properly. When you consider the affordable price, there seems to be no downside to having this kit in the corner of your pantry just in case.
However, there are more uses for this kit than doom-filled scenarios. The contents are individually wrapped, so this is an excellent kit for repacking your camping supplies. We tested each of the meal options, and all were fairly good. The macaroni and cheese was a particular favorite, and all agreed it was superior to a certain blue-box brand. The texture of the food survived rehydration as well. Often, freeze dried food will taste fine but have a “gummy” texture. This was thankfully avoided in this kit. The only complaint was that some of the food was slightly under-seasoned, so packing a pouch of salt into the bucket may be a good idea.
Overall, this is an excellent kit for survival or camping alike. It offers a lot of variety, great value, and impressive shelf life.
- Good flavor
- 25-Year shelf life
- Meal-plan included
- Slightly underseasoned
- Banana chips were slightly stale
AplineAire is a fairly new entry into the hiking and camping food market. I have tried a few of their products over the years, and have always had favorable impressions. However, this was the first time I had tried their Mac & Cheese. Every brand of hiking food seems to offer their own spin on this classic dish. It makes sense, too. Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food dish and it tends to withstand freeze drying admirably. However, because so many different varieties are available, there is little room for error when a company makes their own version. AlpineAire crafted another winner here.
The primary complaint I often have with mac and cheese is that the flavor tends to be monochromatic. Thus, the first few bites might taste great, but it becomes boring after. That wasn’t an issue here. The cheese flavor comes through extremely strongly, and there is a pleasant sharpness to the sauce. The taste is more akin to a white cheddar than American cheese. It’s a pleasantly refined flavor profile.
The only complaint I had is actually just a word of caution. In my experience, the instructions were somewhat misleading. First, the cooking time was shorter than it needed to be. After the indicated wait period, the noodles were still slightly tough. Second, I would suggest adding slightly less water. With the indicated amount, the texture was somewhat soupy. Reducing the water makes for a creamier sauce.
- Pleasantly sharp flavor
- Generous portion
- Long shelf life
- Instructions slightly misleading
Mountain House food has been a staple of backpacking food for decades. In some ways, I hesitated to include the Mountain House Beef Stroganoff on this list, simply because I think most people have probably been eating it for years. Among the ranks of camping or survival food, this is a long-standing classic. However, an established legacy shouldn’t preclude a meal from being in this roundup. In terms of the best meals to eat on the trail on a cold night, this is hard to beat.
Beef Stroganoff is a classic dish that uses a creamy sauce with onions and mushrooms with stewed beef. Given that the original meal is a somewhat soupy texture, this dish lends itself to a freeze dried treatment. Even though I’ve had this dish dozens of times, I always look forward to slipping a pouch or two in my pack. Surely, my love of it has a little to do with nostalgia and happy memories of past trips. However, nostalgia aside, this is still one of the best tasting freeze dried food meals around.
My only feedback to Mountain House would be to consider increasing the portion size. While this is listed as two servings, my experience shows it more like 1.5, especially after a long hike.
- Tastes great
- Very warm and hearty
- Beef is very tender
- Portion is slightly small
Traditionally, most backpacking or survival food is sold as a complete meal with all of the ingredients packed together. While this is convenient at first, it is also limiting. To allow for more flexibility and control over survival and camping food, numerous companies are moving towards offering individual ingredients in freeze dried form, allowing individuals to customize their meals and diets. Of course, the backbone of any survival food system will be protein. In terms of offering cost-effective and great-tasting protein with an unsurpassable shelf life, Nutristore freeze dried chicken does an impressive job.
When looking into freeze dried ingredients, noting what isn’t in a product is just as important as noting what is. The best freeze dried emergency food will avoid unneeded preservatives or added chemicals. Nutristore does just that. If you care about having control over the food you prepare, this is a huge benefit.
Once rehydrated, this ground beef still has great flavor. You have to cook it slightly longer than fresh beef. Otherwise, it tends to be somewhat rubbery. However, once rehydrated, this can be used in any dish that needs ground beef. Your meals will all taste great. If you are interested in more variety in your survival pantry, or you want to make your camping meals from scratch, this is a fantastic choice. As a bonus, pets love it as well. If you’re looking for the best freeze dried dog food, this is an excellent starting point.
- Allows a lot of variety
- Needs to be cooked longer
Fruit seems to be one of the least common elements of a lot of backpacking food. Amid the wealth of pasta and rice, a craving for something less starchy often emerges. Aside from the raisins inhabiting trail mix, however, not many manufacturers bother to preserve fruit for camping meals. That’s why seeing Augason Farms shelf-stable strawberries was such an exciting find.
Admittedly, even once they are rehydrated these likely won’t be fooling anyone into thinking they were picked right off the vine. However, they still have a very fresh strawberry taste, and the texture is pleasant even if a little firmer than a fresh version. Whether you are camping or stocking for a catastrophe, having access to berries is an incredibly nice addition. These are great in cereal, or add a very welcome pop of flavor to muffins or cakes. They’re even a great snack food as-is.
Best yet, these have an incredibly 30-year shelf-life. Given their long lifespan and affordable price, there’s little reason to not keep a carton or two stashed away.
- Very fresh tasting
- 30-Year shelf life
- Texture is slightly different than fresh
Best Freeze Dried Food Buyers Guide and What to Look For in Survival or Camping Food
There are a lot of freeze dried and shelf-stable food options available, and separating the wheat from the chaff can be a difficult proposition. However, whether you are looking for the best freeze dried emergency food or the best backpacking food freeze dried options, it is important to know what to look for.
Here’s how to make sure a wrong purchase doesn’t lead to a hungry expedition.
Individual Packaging is Important
Many of the best backpacking food freeze dried options boast some seriously impressive shelf lives. It is not uncommon for these meals to last upwards of three decades before expiration.
However, it is very important to consider how this food is packaged. Although it does increase packaging waste somewhat, this is an area where having individually packaged portions is important.
The issue is that many freeze dried ingredients are packaged in very large containers. Sometimes 20 pounds or more. Yet, the clock starts ticking once you open the container and break the seal. Unless you can eat a pound of blueberries a day, you risk having your supply become inedible before you can finish it. Thus, when shopping for freeze dried options, look for smaller containers so you can portion without concern.
Variety is Key with The Best Freeze Dried Food
Perhaps the largest mistake I see people making when stocking up their long-term pantry is not supplying enough variety. You may love beans and rice, but you may come to feel differently after the 12th day of the same meal. Thus, it is important to prioritize the variety when shopping for camping meals. Don’t be afraid to buy a few boxes of a meal that might not be your first choice. You never know when a craving will strike for something new.
The larger “survival kits” are a great option in this regard. These kits are typically packaged in large buckets and include a dozen or more types of meals. They even include various snacks and side-dishes, which add even more welcome variety.
Pay Attention to Serving Sizes
Serving sizes can be a difficult thing to judge when dealing with freeze dried food. Because the water is removed from the food, it weighs significantly less than a ready-to-eat equivalent. Although this is great for backpacking or storing the food, it can make understanding the portion sizes somewhat challenging. It varies by company, but I have found that most “servings” tend to be somewhat on the small side.
When you are on the trail burning a lot of calories, you don’t want to have to worry about going hungry at the end of the day. Thus, it is best to err on the side of buying more.
This is also important when shopping for the best freeze dried dog food. Until you learn your dog’s eating habit with freeze dried food, it can be difficult to know how much you need. I recommend doing a trial run with dog food to make sure your dog likes it and to be able to more accurately judge quantities.
The advent of freeze dried food is an incredible development for campers and preparation enthusiasts alike. It has never been easier to compile a lightweight, nutritious, long-lasting, and delicious menu for any necessary scenario. This roundup strove to highlight some of the best freeze dried food options on the market. However, never be afraid to try something new. There is a huge variety of new options arriving all the time, and you never know when you will find your next favorite meal.
Yet, within this review, an old favorite rose to the top. As a long-time standby of my hiking adventures, the Mountain House Beef Stroganoff is far from a new experience. But it is still one of my favorites and the winner of this roundup.
- DELICIOUS MEAL! Tender beef, noodles, and mushrooms smothered in a rich sour cream sauce. Freeze-dried to lock in nutrients and freshness. No refrigeration needed.
- NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS OR FLAVORS - Made with no artificial flavors or colors. Case contains six pouches or twelve total servings. Great for one hungry backpacker, or share it with your camping or backpacking buddy.
- QUICK PREP - Just add hot water to the pouch & eat in less than 10 minutes, with no cleanup. The pouch has a shorter, wider, more bowl-like shape for an easier eating experience. Eat straight from the pouch and skip the dishes!
- EAT ANYTIME, ANYWHERE - Pouch is lightweight & portable providing you with a deliciously, tasty meal perfect for camping & backpacking trips! Eat well in the backcountry or in your tent. Also great for emergency food storage & survival.
- RECYCLABLE - Recycled used packaging with TerraCycle to reduce waste.
Last update on 2020-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API