You never know when an emergency might happen and if you are backpacking, having an ample supply of freeze-dried food is an important back up that protects you from the unknown. Even if you are using it for storage, there are some great-tasting, convenient, and nutritious freeze-dried food products available.
The best way of ensuring you aren’t disappointed when it comes to preparing and tasting them is by ensuring you have bought a quality product. This is why we have compiled our list of the best freeze-dried food on the market and they have something different to offer from long shelf life to plenty of tasting options. Whichever you choose, they won’t let you down when you need them the most.
Quick Summary of the Best Freeze Dried Food
- Editor’s Choice: Mountain House Essential Bucket (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value: Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply (Amazon) – Review
- Best Snack: Brothers-ALL-Natural Fruit Crisps (Amazon) – Review
- Best Variety: Legacy Emergency Food Ultimate Sample Pack (Amazon) – Review
- Best Tasting: Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Mountain House Essential Bucket
This is one of the most popular freeze-dried food buckets available and has everything you need to survive the most hostile of conditions. They are easy to use and each meal can be made within 10 minutes, all you need to do is pour hot water into the convenient pouches which also means there is no clean up after. They are well-suited to camping trips and you get 32 servings in the well-packed bucket with three flavors that include rice chicken, chili mac with beef, and spaghetti with meat sauce.
They come with a 30-year taste guarantee although it might be difficult to keep that handy in a few decades it is good to know they are made to last. The downside is that you need a fair amount of water for all the pouches combined and Mountain House advises that this should keep a person going for 3.5 days.
Best Value: Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply
Another reputable company in the world of freeze-dried food gives you a massive 30-day supply to keep you going. With a shelf life if around 25 years they are great to keep for emergencies but the convenience of being able to prepare them within minutes is what makes them perfect for hiking trips. It comes with a 30-day meal planner so you can work out how to stretch the supply across a month and all meals only need water.
There is a good variety included with the likes of maple oatmeal for breakfast that gives you slow-release energy and creamy chicken rice, mac and cheese, instant potatoes and chicken-flavored soup to name just a few of the meals. The bucket itself is quite heavy but the packets are easy to chuck into a camping bag.
Best Snack: Brothers-ALL-Natural Fruit Crisps
For a freeze-dried snack, these fruit crisps are perfect for bulking a bag and eating on the go for an extra energy boost between meals. They are one of the most popular freeze-dried foods going so it is no surprise that many survivalists and backpackers keep them handy.
You get 24 bags in this pack including fuji apple, Asian pear, bananas, and strawberries to keep you going. 100% freeze dried and non-GMO you’re only getting fruit, no preservatives, additives, or dyes included they offer you a good value way of adding some much-needed nutrition to meals that can be heavy on the protein and carb side but lacking in vitamins.
Best Variety: Legacy Emergency Food Ultimate Sample Pack
Made in the USA, this convenient food pack has enough to keep you going on a weekend of camping and a decent variety of meals so you don’t get bored. We like that it includes coffee and snacks and is one of the best value products considering the reasonable price.
The portion sizes tend to be more generous than most and everything is 100% GMO-free. You get 4 breakfasts and 15 lunch/dinner packets as well as 6 sides so there is plenty for a couple to get by on. There is plenty to choose from depending on which bucket you go for but you only need to add water to the likes of refried beans, pancake batter mix, Italian pasta with Mariana sauce, enchilada beans and rice and plenty more.
Best Tasting: Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai
If you don’t want a freeze-dried food pack and want to tailor your meals for your trip then Backpacker’s Pantry has some great tasting meals available. In their Pad Thai, you get the chance to eat a hearty meal that contains 20g of protein and 460 calories to keep you going when the trail starts to get tough.
You only need water to prepare the meal and you can top it with crunchy peanuts for a meal made with quality ingredients. Gluten-free and non-GMO it is a favorite of many backpackers and has an 84-month shelf life. It’s not the cheapest but you do get a better taste and quality of ingredients compared to other brands.
Freeze Dried Food Guide
At the end of a long day hiking the last thing you want to do is have to spend time preparing a meal. Making a fire is hard enough and even if it is warm enough that you can concentrate on eating, you need to replenish those lost calories with ease.
This is why a lot of survivalists and hikers like to make sure they have freeze-dried food in their camping bag. The best freeze-dried food requires little prep and has a good amount of nutrition but it can be hard to tell which are the better products. To help clear a few things up, we have created the following guide.
What To Look For In Freeze-Dried Food
If you have been walking all day then you will have burnt off a fair amount of calories. In order to wake up tomorrow and be ready to clock up the miles again, you need to refuel. The best freeze-dried food has a good amount of calories to support the average intake of 2,000 kcal a day and plenty of protein to help those aching muscles.
This will depend on what product you go for but if you buy a multi-pack or a bucket style supply of freeze-dried food then you will want to get one with a good variety. No one wants to eat oatmeal 3 times. a day for a week and even classics such as mac n cheese can get a little tiresome when eaten every day.
The better products come with a variety of meals and although you’ll end up liking some more than others, it is good to be able to mix things up in terms of flavor and nutrition. Variety packs also give you options for different meals so you can get your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks sorted with one purchase.
There is little point in buying freeze-dried food if you can barely stand the taste or smell once you pour hot water into the pouch. Make sure the brand you are buying has a reputation for making quality food that tastes great. Reviews are often a good gauge so if it has enough backing from people who have used it then it’s a good sign.
The higher the quality of ingredients the more money you might find yourself paying but this doesn’t always have to mean you get bad value. You can pick up multipacks that save you money and some brands even provide snacks as a bonus.
Long Shelf Life
This might not be high on your list of priorities unless you are using freeze-dried food for emergencies but if that is the case then there are plenty of quality freeze-dried foods with a shelf life well over 20 years.
The whole point of using freeze-dried food when camping is that it keeps mealtime simple. This is usually by requiring minimal prep in the form of pouring hot water into a pouch that you can eat out of. Because of this, clean up is also easy and you only have to wash the spoon or fork.
How Good Is Freeze Dried Food?
If the end goal is to keep your calorie intake up when in the wilderness or on a long hike then freeze-dried food is great because it doesn’t spoil at the same rate as other foods.
However, there are a few important things to know when it comes to nutrition. Because of the demands on your body of traveling long distanced day in day out, the freeze-dried food you choose needs to give you a decent balance of nutrition. Everything from carbs to proteins and minerals needs to be in ample supply.
There might be a lot of sodium in freeze-dried food because this helps to preserve the food for longer. Because of this, you will need a good amount of water to prep the food and to stay hydrated. If you have any sodium related restrictions as part of your diet or health advice from your Doctor then it is best to consult an expert before you eat several freeze-dried foods in a row.
Do Freeze-Dry Foods Contain Preservatives?
This is one of the benefits of using them because most products do not need to use preservatives. Their method of preserving them comes fro the freeze-drying process that sucks most of the moisture out of the food, allowing them to last a long time.
In most cases, freeze-dried foods are either free-from preservatives or contain a minimal amount.
Do Freeze-Dried Foods Expire?
Although they are made to be long-lasting they do have a used by date. Most of the time this is several years from the time of production but be careful when making a purchase. Some products last around 20 years but if you are getting a product that was made 12 years ago they won’t last as long as you might think.
Who Uses Freeze Dried Food?
They are a number of people who use them from astronauts to survival experts and anyone in between. Popular with campers they are great for long hikes in the wilderness as the sealed packs do not attract animals as long as you don’t leave the used packaging lying around.
Does Freeze-Dried Food Taste Good?
Although a lot of this is down to personal opinion, many people say they would use certain recipes at-home for mealtime. There are many brands known for creating great-tasting freeze-dried food and you can get all sorts of meals that range from Pad Thai to chicken rice dishes.
Why Does Freeze-Dried Food Cost More?
Because of the freeze-drying process. This can be expensive for manufacturers to do as it requires specialist equipment and the process itself can be time-consuming. Because of this, it can take a while for companies to make and package the food, and as they say, time is money.
Whether you are stocking up for an emergency or planning your next adventure, freeze-dried food can taste great and lasts a long time. It is always a good idea to pack a few freeze-dried snacks to give yourself more energy whilst on the move and if you use freeze-dried fruit you can get some valuable nutrients into your system.