Most people stockpile non-perishable canned and dry goods like beans, pasta, and energy bars in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis. But moving half the grocery store into your pantry takes up a lot of space. Lyophilization, or freeze-drying, is a food-preservation alternative designed to remove most moisture from dishes while minimizing impacts to flavor and nutritional value. While we hope you never have to use them, these four compact kits offer a surprising range of meals that last for an astonishingly long time.
If you’ve never had freeze-dried food and want to supplement an existing emergency stash of non-perishables, these dishes give you a chance to dabble. They’re designed for camping—and thus actual eating—compared to cheaper alternatives focused on getting you the most for your money in terms of sheer ability to survive. Hit the trail with the sweet pork and rice or breakfast skillet meals, or test out a six-pack to determine what suits your tastes best in the event you have a crisis at home. Each pouch contains 49 grams of protein, and no meat fillers are used in any of the dishes. Keep in mind the shelf life of these selections is five years, so combining a few of these with longer-lasting options is a good strategy for optimizing your budget.
If you experience short-term blackouts in your city or town and have a gas stove that works without power, consider adding this 42-serving freeze-dried food bucket to your emergency kit. You’ll need to add hot water to each meal to reconstitute it, and then you can enjoy a whopping total of 8,000 calories of oatmeal, potato or chicken soup, chicken rice, and rehydrated banana chips. Each of the five types of meals is contained in a single multi-serving package, so you’ll want to consider how many people you’ll be sharing with and if you can safely store any food you don’t eat before it spoils. The unopened kit has a shelf life of up to 25 years, which means you could theoretically be consuming a dish made in a previous generation.
Freeze-dried vegetables are more expensive than frozen, but if you’re without power and don’t have access to a garden or grocery store, they can add welcome variety to an emergency kit. This bucket contains corn (which is technically a grain), peas, green beans, and broccoli and holds 120 servings. Veggies are not a high-calorie food, so depending on your appetite and what else you have on the menu, you probably won’t get that many servings in practice. They have a shelf life of up to 25 years, so you don’t have to eat them today in lieu of dessert.
This food kit from Oregon-based Mountain House holds 12 pouches of freeze-dried meals that each offer up to two servings depending on how hungry you are. Enjoy beef stew with potatoes and carrots, beef stroganoff, granola with milk and blueberries, spaghetti with meat sauce, and chicken fried rice as you make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in. (People allergic to shellfish should take note that the chicken fried rice contains oyster sauce.) The company offers a taste guarantee up to 30 years, but we hope you’ll have a fun overnight adventure to test out a dish in the interim, as the meals are also made for camping.
Four freeze-dried bulk foods to stash away for emergencies