Freeze drying foods is a good way to extend their shelf life so that they last longer. The process is very much like dehydrating food, but it removes 18% more moisture from the food than dehydrating and this significantly increases the stable shelf life of the foods. This allows the food to be easily taken on camping trips and rehydrated on the trail, or stored as part of a home emergency preparedness kit.

All the consumer has to do is find the best freeze-dried foods available, and then plan their meals accordingly. There are a ton of different brands and flavors available, so consumers are going to want to do their homework. Fortunately, we’ve done most of the work for our readers, so nobody should have any problems finding the ones that are right for their taste and their budget.

Quick Summary of the Best Freeze Dried Foods

Editor’s Choice: Augason Farms 11-Pounds Emergency Food Supply

Anyone looking for a freeze-dried food that doesn’t cost a whole lot per serving might want to check out this pail from Augason Farms. Inside of this pail, the consumer will find 16 food pouches that deliver 92-servings of food. That’s 11-pounds and 10.03-ounces of high-quality food that delivers up to 21,020 total calories. And it’s all for a price that’s a fraction of the cost per serving of many camping freeze-dried food pouches.

This pail of food contains 11 different lunch and dinner varieties that not only provide the nutrition and calories that people need but also have the variety. Some of the meals that can be found in this pail include creamy chicken flavored rice, cheesy broccoli rice, corn chowder soup, chicken noodle soup, vegetable chicken soup, creamy potato soup, creamy stroganoff, fettuccine alfredo, Italiano marinara, and chocolate pudding.

Because all of these great meals are packed in a pail, they’re easy to store and can be stacked for longterm storage. However, because it contains over 11-pounds of food, it’s not the most convenient for traveling. Sure, the pail has a handle, but this isn’t exactly the type of kit that a person would take hiking with them. Fortunately, the mylar pouches are easy to remove from the pail, so hikers and campers can take their favorite meals with them easily.

Keeping all of its features in mind, it’s easy for us to declare this pail one of the best freeze-dried food kits currently available. By buying a whole pail of pouches, consumers can lower their overall costs and end up with a great selection of meals at the same time. The consumer doesn’t have to purchase pouches individually and at a premium. This unique food kit is also the best option for consumers who are looking to start their own emergency preparedness food stockpiles.

What we liked about it
  • It’s very reasonably priced per serving.
  • It provides 92-servings per pail.
  • There are 11 different lunch & dinner varieties.

Also Recommended: Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki with Rice

Mountain House pouches are freeze-dried food pouches that are designed to be easy to transport and easy to use. We’re quite familiar with this line of products, so we were quite happy to try out their Chicken Teriyaki freeze-dried rice and vegetables. Even though we’re not exactly sure how long these pouches would last if stored, we do know that they are backed by a 30-year taste guarantee, so they should remain shelf-stable for quite some time.

Although many of the things we’re going to say about this particular type of food, a lot of it can be applied to many of the other foods that Mountain House sells, too. And trust us, this company makes a lot of different pouches that include beef stew, beef stroganoff, biscuits and gravy, breakfast skillet, chicken and dumplings, chicken breast and mashed potatoes, chicken fajita bowls, chicken fried rice, and of course, chicken teriyaki. As anyone can see, there’s a lot of meal options that consumers have available to them thanks to this company.

Okay, now that we’ve mentioned the variety of the meals produced by this company, let’s turn our attention back to chicken teriyaki. This meal is made with chicken, rice, mushrooms, vegetables and bamboo shoots that are in a tangy oriental sauce. Each pouch also has 2.5 1-cup servings that can be eaten by one individual as a meal or can be combined with other sides and eaten with a friend. Either way, each pouch delivers approximately 550-calories.

It should also be noted that this product also contains wheat and soy, so consumers who may be sensitive or allergic to these ingredients may want to avoid this product. It should also be noted that these pouches have a higher price-per-serving cost than some of the other freeze-dried foods we’ve reviewed, but some of that can be mitigated if the consumer buys more of these pouches at one time because multi-pouch packs tend to be cheaper. However, we do feel that these meals are very good and are perfect for hunters, hikers, campers, survivalists or anyone else looking for food that remains stable for a very long time and is easy to transport.

What we liked about it
  • This food has a 30-year shelf life.
  • This food tastes very good.
  • These pouches are portable and easy to carry.

Also Consider: Wise Company Emergency Food Supply

Before we begin this review, we’d like to preface it by saying that this wasn’t our favorite of the emergency freeze-dried food kits. Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that these meals tasted bad, and there were even a few of the individual meals that we liked, but overall, we felt that this product didn’t meet our taste expectations. Of course, not everyone shares the same tastes, so some people might end up enjoying this meal more than others. All we can do is offer our opinion.

Having said that, we do like how this freeze-dried food kit was assembled. Each pail contained 104-servings of food, and there was an interesting combination of different food types. There were 12-servings of whey milk, 8-servings of yogurt, 8-servings of butter, 8-servings of vanilla pudding, 4-servings of brown sugar & maple multi-grain cereal, 4-servings of cinnamon cereal, 4-servings of creamy tomato basil soup, 8-servings of peas and corn, 4-servings of creamy pasta and vegetable rotini, and 4-servings of pasta alfredo. Oh, we almost forgot, there were also 4-servings of savory stroganoff. There was also 8-servings of bananas, and 8-servings of strawberries, too.

This food has a shelf life of approximately 25-years, so they’re ideal for use as part of a home emergency food supply, or the pouches can be removed from the pail and used for hiking or camping trips. The food can be prepared in as little as 15-minutes, so it’s a quick and easy food preparation option. All the consumer has to do is add a pouch to the recommended amount of water, cover the container and then wait 12-15 minutes. After that, it can be served and immediately enjoyed.

Because the pouches are contained within a plastic pail, they’re easy to store and are more resistant to rodents and other problems that would ruin the pouches if they weren’t protected. These pails of food are also one of the more inexpensive options for freeze-dried food, and they have a more than a reasonable per-serving price that we feel many consumers are going to enjoy. As a matter of fact, at the time of this review, this was the most inexpensive freeze-dried food option available.

What we liked about it
  • Per serving, this is an extremely inexpensive product.
  • It provides 104-servings of food.
  • It provides a good variety of different foodstuffs.

A Guide To Freeze-Dried Foods

Okay, now that we’ve reviewed what we consider to be the best freeze-dried foods currently available, we would like to take a few moments and talk about how freeze-dried foods should be stored to maximize their shelf life and keep them shelf-stable longer. Before we do that, however, let’s take a few moments to talk about the difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. 

The Difference Between Freeze-Dried & Dehydrated Foods

Even though some people try to conflate freeze-dried and dehydrated foods with one another, there is a difference between the two. Freeze drying food removes approximately 95%-98% of the water found in the food, and this gives it an extremely long shelf-life. Dehydrating food, on the other hand, only removes about 75%-80% of the water from the food, which gives the food shorter shelf life. As a general rule, dehydrated foods last for 25-30 years, while dehydrated foods only last about 1-5 years. 

Another big difference between dehydrated and freeze-dried foods is the nutritional value. Freeze-dried foods keep more of their nutritional value, while dehydrated foods do not. Most dehydrated foods can retain 75% to 90% of their nutritional value, while dehydrated foods will only have about 40% to 50% of their nutritional value. And because freeze-drying is less damaging to the food, freeze-dried foods keep more of their texture, flavor, and smell than dehydrated food products do. 

And finally, it also should be said that freeze-dried foods can be prepared more quickly than dehydrated foods. The average freeze-dried food can be reconstituted in 5-15 minutes, while the average dehydrated food requires 12-20 minutes to rehydrate. Freeze-dried foods can usually be prepared with either room-temperature or boiling water, but dehydrated food requires boiling water to properly prepare. The only real disadvantage of freeze-dried foods is that they tend to be more expensive than dehydrated foods. 

Properly Storing Freeze-Dried Foods

Even though some people may feel like their dehydrated food is practically indestructible and can be store wherever, but that’s not the case at all. Although freeze-dried food does have an exceptionally long shelf-life when properly stored, the shelf life of this product can diminish greatly if the product is stored improperly. With that in mind, below are some suggestions for storing your freeze-dried food properly to make sure that it stays edible for its full lifespan. 

Store Pouches In A Pail

The first thing the consumer should do is to make sure their dehydrated food pouches in a pail—if it doesn’t come with one already. A pail will help to protect the bags from environmental conditions and rodents, so it remains as fresh as possible. 

Place The Pails In A Stable Environment

If the consumer has more than one pail that they want to store for emergencies, they should try to make sure that the pail is raised off of the ground. Not only will this help to protect the pails from floods that might occur where the pails are being stored, but can also help protect the pails against rodents who might try to chew through the plastic pails. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the area where the pails are stored is dry and is temperature stable. 

Store At The Right Temperature

Temperature is also an important consideration. Most freeze-dried food kits are designed to be stored at a constant temperature under 75-degrees. In fact, the 25-30 year estimates on most of the food kits assume that the containers are being stored in temperatures 75-degrees or cooler. The higher the temperature of the surrounding area, the lower the shelf-life of the food products. 

How can you keep the food containers at 75-degrees of lower? In many areas that can be done by storing them in a cellar, basement or even a closet in the home. The worst place to store these food containers is in the garage as most people’s garages get extremely hot during the summer months. 

Keep Track Of The Food’s Expiration Date

Most freeze-dried food manufacturers put the date of manufacture on their products, so it’s easy for the consumer to keep track of that information. If the consumer is going to store several different dehydrated food pails or pouches, then they are probably going to want to take note of the dates on the containers and write them down in a notebook. This makes it easy for the consumer to rotate their food stocks and eventually know when they’re food stocks are approaching the end of their useful life.