Emergency Food Taste Test

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Emergency Food Taste Test

I've been searching for some emergency food stores for quite some time now. I decided that  I didn't want to go the rice & beans route for fear of potential gastric problems. I tried Mountain House dehydrated foods. Two problems: 1) Cost   2) Very salty and no low salt versions available (I checked with the manufacturer).

Finally, I discovered that Costco has now gotten into the emergency food game and has some offerings on its web site. The price ($84.99) is reasonable (to me) for the amount of dehydrated food provided (275 servings). Here is the link. In the event it doesn't work for some reason, go to costco.com and search on Item #104893.

Another product to consider if you want a combo bucket with Emergency gear and dehydrated food is this one: Item #401641. (I also purchased it for $139.99) It includes food, first aid, essential supplies and enough food for 4 people (not clear for how long but it has 90 servings of food, so it all depends on how you divvy it up and how much you eat per day). Delivery only took a few days from time of order (UPS Ground).

Both products have a list of the items included and the Emergency Food Kit also has a link for "nutritional and preparation information". Extremely important if you have any food allergies.

Since we all probably wonder how the emergency food we are buying might taste, I thought it would be useful to actually experiment and report my findings. I tried one of the meals last night - Western Stew. Here's my opinion:

First off, the recipe calls for boiling 5-cups of water and then adding in the dehydrated package contents and stirring frequently for 20 - 25 minutes. This I did but I was not pleased with the outcome for a stew. It looked more like soup. So, I poured out quite a bit of the liquid and my wife added 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water to try and thicken up the contents. It didn't help much.

Based on that experience, I would recommend starting with 2 to 2.5 cups of boiling water before adding the package contents. Then, see if you are satisfied with the consistency. If still too watery, strain off some of the liquid. If too thick, you can always add more boiling water until you get the desired consistency. Keep practicing until you learn the right amount of water to start with.

As for taste - definitely less salty than the Mountain House packets. Overall, taste was adequate - not too spicy. My wife came downstairs and told me that it didn't smell that great but she tried a little bit and agreed it was ok. (Remember, we're talking emergency chow here - not gourmet cooking!)

Amount of food for one person - just a little bit too much. I was pretty full when I was done. However, if you split the package with one other person, it wouldn't be quite enough for either of you. So, you would want to have a small amount of other food available if possible. I had one slice of toast with peanut butter along with a bottle of water which is why I think it was too much food for one. Perhaps the dehydrated food was not finished expanding!

Overall impression - satisfactory. Especially when you consider this is really meant for when the hard times hit. In my opinion, it beats storing up rice and beans and having to deal with likely digestion issues down the road. This food is more akin to our daily diet, so is less likely to cause gastric upset.

My next experiment is to try a different food packet and boil the water using my little propane stove. I've got to make sure I know how to use it before I have to. Discovering a problem when there's no power is not a good thing!

Since the food is adequate, I'm now going to order 3 or 4 more buckets from costco.com. The buckets arrive sealed and so I had to break the seal to try the food. Now that I know what to expect, I will leave the other buckets sealed up. At temperatures of 60 degrees or less, the food is supposed to be good for 20 years. At temperatures of 70 degrees, the food is supposed to be good for 10 years. YMMV.

Gungnir's picture
Gungnir
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 2 2009
Posts: 643
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Hey Sam I was just looking through the nutritional information.

I suspect gas attacks might begin to start in the next few days if you continue to eat this, depending on your digestive system, it might be minor or significant. The ingredients are similar in many ways to MRE's but without the liquid and animal protein content, and MRE's are notorious for gas, constipation and diarrhea depending on the actual meal (Gas is pretty universal though, which I suspect could be a tactical problem if the enemy had a methane meter ). However you seem to have a lot more TVP in these, which might exacerbate the problems. It's great that you're looking into this though, I hope everything is fine, and you don't suffer any serious issues.

Could you post an update when you've been using them for a couple of days and let us know, I'm not trying to be funny, but this could be a make or break for a lot of people who are thinking about buying this.

Thanks

 

 

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Sheesh, Gungnir, why don't you rain on my parade with a splash of reality! Just when I was thinking I was so clever ...... sigh .......

I looked through the ingredients but didn't understand half of them. Mind you, it's the same way with the stuff I regularly buy at the grocery store so I didn't think much about it. I usually focus on sugar, sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories. However, you obviously are more learned in this area than I, so I shall pay heed to your concerns.

BTW- what is TVP?

... this could be a make or break for a lot of people who are thinking about buying this.

Valid point. I wasn't planning on trying this on a regular basis but I shall "take one for the team" and try a second (different) meal this evening - perhaps the Ala King. I shall then report my reactions - whatever they are!

Remember the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for!"

[EDIT] I shall also hold off my follow-up purchases until I'm sure I've survived the experience.

Gungnir's picture
Gungnir
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 2 2009
Posts: 643
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Awesome Sam, you make a fine lab specimen.

TVP is textured vegetable protein, frequently Corn, or Soy to appear as meat, but completely vegetable based, which makes preserving much simpler than preserving animal proteins.

The ones that nail me are hydrolyzed corn protein, Soy protein, maltodextrin, occasionally yeast extract. Fortunately I don't see Mannitol , and Maltitol, which tends to pass through into your large intestine where the natural flora break it down releasing methane. So you I hope that you've lucked out.

One other thing I find surprising is that pretty much all of these include small quantities Potassium Iodide... Are Costco expecting any Nuclear Bursts over the Continental US? Just thinking...

 

 

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Gungnir wrote: Awesome Sam, you make a fine lab specimen.

LOL - easy for you to say!

TVP is textured vegetable protein, frequently Corn, or Soy to appear as meat, but completely vegetable based, which makes preserving much simpler than preserving animal proteins.

Ah - thanks for that info. The product is supposed to be totally vegetarian.

The ones that nail me are hydrolyzed corn protein, Soy protein, maltodextrin, occasionally yeast extract. Fortunately I don't see Mannitol , and Maltitol, which tends to pass through into your large intestine where the natural flora break it down releasing methane. So you I hope that you've lucked out.

I hope so too!

One other thing I find surprising is that pretty much all of these include small quantities Potassium Iodide... Are Costco expecting any Nuclear Bursts over the Continental US? Just thinking...

I've heard of planning ahead but that would be a bit of a stretch!

However, the experiment will have to hold off for 24-48 hours. Something I had for lunch didn't quite agree with me [] and I haven't felt too spiffy this afternoon. (Note - I was fine until I had lunch and Methane is not an issue - I'm just feeling a bit queasy.)

I'm going to wait until I feel better so that this is a controlled experiment. I don't want other issues to confuse the outcome.

Watch this space for further information!

homestead's picture
homestead
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2008
Posts: 54
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

 Dear Sam, you look like such a nice fellow.  I feel sorry for you when I think of you in some future scenario, sitting down to your kitchen table with your reconstituted tute producing dehydrated meal, trying to imagine that you're enjoying it.  At the same moment in time, DH and I are sitting down for our meal of spaghetti and meat sauce and planning tomorrow's meal of turkey with sweet potatoes and cranberries, all of them being foods that we've selected from our food storage pantry.

Sam, Sam -- why would you want to eat that stuff?  Or are you planning for the ultimate TEOTWAIKI event?  I do enjoy your descriptions of the taste testing though.  I'll definitely be watching this space for your updates.  

Smiles and best wishes,    homestead grandma

 

P.S.  While you're at Costco, you might want to pick up a few bottles of Pepto-Bismol.

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Hello Homestead grandma -

I had to laugh when I saw your post.

P.S.  While you're at Costco, you might want to pick up a few bottles of Pepto-Bismol.

You may laugh, but I did pick up a couple of extra bottles of Tums! 

... trying to imagine that you're enjoying it.

Let's be honest here - I did say, "... this is really meant for when the hard times hit." A gourmet meal, it ain't. But, if one has nothing else, it will serve its purpose.

DH and I are sitting down for our meal of spaghetti and meat sauce and planning tomorrow's meal of turkey with sweet potatoes and cranberries, all of them being foods that we've selected from our food storage pantry.

I can only presume that you and DH are partaking of food that you have "put up". If so, I congratulate and envy you. If I knew how to do it, and had enough storage space, I would try to do a similar thing.

Another consideration - will your food store for up to 20 years? I'm not just looking to cover the next year or two. I can stock up enough regular canned/jarred food from the store for that.

I'm looking to have something that will sit quietly and maintain its edibility for a long time in case I ever find myself in an emergency situation at some unknown point down the road. I also can't devote a lot of space to storing food. 275 packets of dehydrated food will store in one 5-gallon bucket. I can't do that with cans or jars!

If you have any suggestions, based on your experience, I would be pleased to hear from you. Feel free to contact me back-channel if that is your preference.

jerrydon10's picture
jerrydon10
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 2 2009
Posts: 442
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Do any of you guys, like me, pre-cook what you like, then freeze it in quantity?

My girl lives in Jersey and when she is in Missouri, she cooks for me. A few weeks backs she cooked meatballs in marinara sauce, Johnson sausages in same, a huge porkroast which she portions out in individual freezer bags, grilled chicken breasts.....etc.

All I add is a plate and the dry stuff, like spaghetti or maybe some frozen or canned veggies.

There is some food storage for you. Of course, I also stock canned and dried foods in my pantry in case the power goes or I need a longer term supply. But that is one way to get a food supply that you like.

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

That's what my wife does when she goes a-traveling a few times a year. She makes a lot of good stuff and freezes it. She often makes more than I can consume so I usually wind up having some of it even after she's returned. As you noted, this works fine - until the power goes out.

Again, my goal is to be able to eat, and drink, in an emergency situation. The presumption is there will be no power, no phone, no utilities, no help from the outside world at all. Self-sufficiency is key. If you're not fully prepared for a disaster, then you're not really prepared. I also have Motorola hand radios, portable propane heaters, propane camp stoves, and lots of water stored around the house. Will I be eating as well as "homestead grandma". Nope. Will I be eating? Yep.

homestead's picture
homestead
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2008
Posts: 54
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

 

 

I can only presume that you and DH are partaking of food that you have "put up". If so, I congratulate and envy you. If I knew how to do it, and had enough storage space, I would try to do a similar thing.

Another consideration - will your food store for up to 20 years? I'm not just looking to cover the next year or two. I can stock up enough regular canned/jarred food from the store for that.

 

Gee Sam, there's no point to DH and I having food that will last for 20 years because we can't imagine that we'll last 20 years.  Covering the next year or two seems like long-term planning at our age. 

 

I've posted a fair amount of information about what we do with our food storage over on the Food Storage, Lessons Learned thread.  We just keep a rolling stock on hand, and much of it is obtained at grocery stores; we do quite a bit with home canned meats as well, and they easily last 5 years or longer if stored properly.  It's what works for us and seems to be the general approach followed by quite a few "preppers" on some other boards that I've been involved with over the years.  It's hard to balance the handling of our sort of approach with also eating fresh foods and frequently enjoying dining out.  We've developed the system I've previously written about but it sure wouldn't fit everyone.  Better to have the approach that works for you and your own situation.  In our case, DH had his fill of MRE's in the service and I'm a persnickity old thing.  

Cheers to you for putting away some food for a rainy day, no matter what it is.  If it's food, it's gotta be good when your belly is slapping up against your backbone.  With only a 3 day supply available in city grocery stores and their nearby warehouses, a bucket of food is good insurance for any kind of major interruption to the modern JIT delivery system.  Yup, food is good; hunger is bad.

Chocolate is very good.  Sam, be sure to pack away a few Hershey bars!  I'm sure that you and the wife can keep them rotated.   Hmm, maybe some Twinkies too; they're supposed to be indestructible. 

Smiles again, grandma

 

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test - Part Two

Well, it took me a while to get around to a second taste testing, but here goes. The product was from my Costco dehydrated emergency food rations.

The food packet I picked out was more of a necessity than a desired selection. Earlier in the day I was repacking all the food into separate one-gallon bags so that all packets of one food type were in the same bag.

In the middle of this process, I noticed that one of the 'Barley' packets had a small hole in it and some of the dehydrated flakes were falling out. So, since that was the only packet like that, it became my meal of the evening. The rest of the food packets were in good shape.

Now, not being too sharp in the food department, I had to ask my wife what Barley was. She explained it was a side dish like rice and that I should add the leftover canned peas that we had in the fridge. This seemed reasonable so, based on my previous experience, I began to prepare my evening meal. Although I had originally planned on cooking the second meal over a propane stove, the weather wasn't suitable for outdoor cooking, so I stuck with the kitchen stove.

However, since I had previously found that five cups of boiling water (per the recipe) was too much water, I opted to start with 2.5 cups of water to see how things developed. After bringing the water to a boil, then waiting the requisite time period of 25 minutes (while stirring every 5 - 10 minutes), I found the contents to be a bit thicker than I anticipated.

So, I boiled an extra cup of water and added it to the mix. I added the leftover peas and then decided to get a little creative (PlicketyCat will shudder when she reads this). I found a can of organic pinto beans in the pantry, so I added that. Then I got a 6 oz. can of wild salmon and tossed that into the mix.

This made my cat very happy as she got to lick the can clean.

I stirred everything together and ensured it was nice and hot, then served it up in a cereal bowl. There was even enough left over for two more meals.

I'm happy to report that the resulting meal was quite successful and no methane issues were forthcoming (if you'll pardon the intentional pun!).

I was pleased with the taste and found that the one cereal bowl, plus a slice of buttered toast on the side along with a cup of tea, made for a very satisfying meal.

Two thumbs up!

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

Good on ya Sam. I've done my fair share of "COR" meals (clean out refrigerator) and some of the combos have appeared odd, but were still quite edible. You can pretty much add anything you have on hand to grains and get something reasonable.

Barley is often used in Beef & Vegetable soup... so there's a thought for next time :)

We had some Imitation Ham/Bacon TVP bits (from Waltons) left over after processing all the buckets, so we decided to add it to some pasta & alfredo sauce for a little Mock Carbonara.  Oh Lord! CAUTION: a little goes a long way!! We added maybe 1/4 cup and couldn't taste anything but the TVP and it was a bit on the salty side. Also suffered from tummy upset and methane emissions for a couple of days. Since I got this to add to stewed beans anyway, the methane part isn't really a concern... but the upset tummy might cause problems.  Glad I bought some real canned meat!

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

I just saw "The Beautiful Truth" so I have changed my perspective on food. I am now only eating raw or unprocessed foods or eating anything with preservatives in it. Hold the salt too please. My new plan for an emergency food supply is to have seeds available to plant or sprout. My Alfredo Sauce is presently out in the pasture. EGP

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test

EGP - that's one of the reasons why I bought dried/dehydrated ingredients instead of pre-packaged meals. Just plain old dehydrated or canned stuff with no salt or chemical preservatives. That faux-ham TVP is a one-off since I couldn't find any decent canned ham at the time, and it was handy to add to beans... but don't think I'll order anymore

All the store-bought stored food is just until the garden and pastures can support us and our livestock. Once we're established, I think our outside long-term storage food purchases will be cut drastically! Along with all those buckets of food, we also have a 6-gallon bucket of a multitude of garden seeds for cold-hardy, open-pollinated varieties recommended by the local Co-Op extension... almost enough to plant an acre if we follow traditional planting guidelines, about 1/2 acre if we go bio-intensive/SQ FT.

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Emergency Food Taste Test
EndGamePlayer wrote:

I just saw "The Beautiful Truth" so I have changed my perspective on food. I am now only eating raw or unprocessed foods or eating anything with preservatives in it. Hold the salt too please. My new plan for an emergency food supply is to have seeds available to plant or sprout. My Alfredo Sauce is presently out in the pasture. EGP

EGP - May I just add a note of caution. I checked the Gerson web site and noticed that it discussed a number of "unconventional" therapies (coffee enemas and cancer cures?).

Having worked in the medical device industry for a number of years, I view unconventional therapies with a large grain of that salt you want to hold. Please be careful - particularly with raw and/or unprocessed foods.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments