Sunday, December 14, 2008

Alternative food storage methods

There is no doubt that you should store what you eat and eat what you store. But one alternative is to store some type of emergency food either freeze-dried or the military style MRE (Meals Ready to Eat). All I can say about this type of food storage is, that you had better eat a sample of the food before you store it. Some of the MRE's I have eaten would have been refused by starving Boy Scouts. Most of the suppliers of the freeze-dried and MREs claim a shelf life of from five to ten years or longer. Right now, there are some super sales on both types of food.

Years ago, there were considerably more outlets for freeze-dried and emergency food. Now, it is only common to see freeze-dried food in some of the pricey sporting goods stores, where it is sold to backpackers. The prices, on a per meal basis, are fairly high and purchasing a lot of food in this fashion could cost more than is reasonable. There are, however, on-line stores that sell a wide selection of either main entrees or full meals.

I remember the MREs we got in the army, not that many years ago. The main course was usually highly spiced. They used to have this packet with something like a cracker. We could never decide if it was a cracker or supposed to be a cookie, but in either case, it was inedible. It was rock hard and could have been used for ammunition had we found a way to throw or shoot it. However, suprisingly, some of the dinners are pretty good and will fill you up rather quickly. In later years, on occasion I have taken MREs on backpacking trips with good results.

On sale, MREs go for about $6.50 per meal per person. In freeze-dried food, you can purchase a whole year's supply for one person for about $3000. That works out to about $2.75 per meal, a little more reasonable. For freeze-dried, the manufacturers claim a 20 to 30 year self life. There is a major catch however, the freeze-dried route contains no dairy products, no sweets and no water to unfreeze-dry the food. This storage method has no oil, shortenings, breads or crackers, no salt, no sugar, no spices at all. It is clear that unless you were really into freeze-dried food, living on a steady diet of it would probably get old really fast.

The only person I ever knew who actually bought a whole year's supply of freeze-dried food had, unfortunately, not tried it. When he finally did, he threw away the whole pile. First and most important rule in food storage: Eat what you store and store what you eat. Do not buy any kind of emergency or food storage items without actually fixing a meal and eating it to make sure you can stand it. Enough said.

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