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Every prepared individual should have a stockpile of freeze dried foods. After all, they offer huge variety, are generally easy to prepare, and are readily available on many grocery and outdoor store shelves. Freeze drying is nothing new — it is said that as far back at the 15th century, the Incas were using the dry air and low temperatures of their high-altitude settlements to freeze dry potatoes. The process has obviously been refined since then and has proven to be an economical way of preserving food’s taste and nutritional value. In SHTF scenarios, you’ll require adequate caloric intake, so being prepared with the right foods and a plan can mean the difference between making it through and becoming a statistic.
Valley Food Storage was established in Utah in 2005 to answer the growing demand of food storage needs while also providing high-quality ingredients. The company’s philosophy emphasizes food with no fillers, no artificial preservatives, no hydrogenated oils, no GMOs, and no MSG. Valley Food Storage products come in sealed mylar bags and their web site allows complete customization. When a representative reached out to offer us some samples, we jumped at the opportunity to see how these taste in comparison to others we have tried.
We opted for the Everything Family Emergency Pack, however we substituted chicken for beef and the vegetables for green beans, as they are a favorite in this author’s family. This kit is designed for 4 people for 1 week, with a total of 100 servings weighing in at 8 pounds. It shipped in a reusable food-grade plastic bucket for safe storage away from light, the elements, and critters and boasts a shelf life of 25 years. The Family Emergency Pack normally retails for $110, but we’ve seen it on sale as low as $80.
The kit we received consists of:
• Strawberry Oatmeal (10 Servings)
• Irish Pub Cheddar Potato Soup (5 Servings)
• Enchilada Beans and Rice (5 Servings)
• Mac and Cheese (5 Servings)
• Fettuccine Alfredo (5 Servings)
• Beef Dices (10 Servings)
• Apple Slices x2 (15 Servings/ bag)
• Green Beans x2 (15 Servings/ bag)
Each of these are simple to prepare — just add hot water, or in the case of the apples and green beans, you can eat them right out of the bag. In total, for all servings to be rehydrated you will need 4 gallons of water. We sampled each product by itself and followed the instructions on the package.
The Strawberry Oatmeal provides a decent amount of carbohydrates and calories for being a standalone meal. The texture of the oatmeal was much finer than what we were used to from other brands, making it seem more like cream of wheat. The oatmeal was not flavor-packed —the strawberry flavor was present but was not prominent.
What we liked: Filling, and can be supplemented with fruits or spices (if available)
What we didn’t like: With 12 grams of added sugar, we would expect it to be much sweeter than it is.
This is one we were really looking forward to, and it delivered. Cheese soups can be tough without the right consistency, so we were pleased to find that the Valley Food Storage soup was creamy and thick. This meal had plenty of carbs and a reasonable amount of protein, potassium, and calcium. Paired with a Guiness, this meal was excellent and we look forward to eating it again.
What we liked: Filling with rich flavors
What we didn’t like: This is great for fall and winter, but eating this when the temperatures are up does not seem appetizing.
This meal has everything going for it as a one-stop shop. It had the highest amount of calories per a serving in the kit (290), is a great source of carbs, protein, and fiber, and it has some iron in it. Being dairy- and gluten-free make it ideal for sensitive stomachs too. The down side, however, is that it has no discernible flavor. This should have been spicy and smoky, but instead it was simply bland. Being the resourceful survivalists that we are, adding a bit of taco seasoning and some salt and pepper made this an enjoyable dish.
What we liked: Well-rounded and provides precious nutrients and calories
What we didn’t like: Weak flavor meant it needed to be amended with seasoning
Everyone should like macaroni and cheese. We have eaten Mountain House Mac and cheese for years, and enjoy it as a meal or as a side. The Valley Food Storage mac and cheese is a little different from other types in that they use a smaller elbow noodle than what we are used to. This is not good or bad, it is simply different. The meal itself has a good amount of calories (270/ serving) and also packs some calcium. The texture and flavor is closer to Kraft than Velveeta. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser if you have little ones in your survival party.
What we liked: Creamy and rich flavors, and with proper preparation we didn’t have any undercooked noodles.
What we didn’t like: Nothing, this was exactly what we hoped it would be.
The Fettuccine Alfredo is a staple with freeze dried food companies, and rightfully so as it is simple and familiar to consumers. Valley Food Storage’s offering is OK, but not outstanding. The texture is what you would expect from instant noodles and the flavor is that of a not-particularly-rich alfredo. It has decent calories (250/ serving) and some protein. The nutrition facts don’t offer much else that will blow your skirt up.
What we liked: Familiar taste and texture that is filling and easy to prepare
What we didn’t like: We added some seasonings like parsley and pepper to make it more enjoyable.
Beef Dices are an excellent addition to most meals freeze dried or otherwise. Valley Food Storage did not disappoint with these. The beef was uniform and did not contain any pure fat pieces, which we have seen in the past from other brands. Beef dices are really meant to be added to other meals, however we ate them plain to be sure of what we were getting. These are an excellent way to add much-needed protein and iron to other meals and they can give familiar textures.
What we liked: Great nutritional value and taste by themselves or with salt and pepper
What we didn't like: No complaints — this gets a thumbs-up from us.
Freeze dried vegetables are usually predictably good and these were no different. When reconstituted per the package they are indistinguishable from canned green beans. We didn’t heat them up because the packaging didn’t mention that step, but we do recommend doing it when possible.
What we liked: Reconstituted or not, the taste was great
What we didn’t like: They stick to your teeth when eaten straight from the bag, but that’s is just us being picky.
Freeze dried apples have been a regularly-occuring snack in this author’s household for a few years now. They are simply delicious straight from the bag and there’s only one problem: they do not last long between two kids. We encourage all prepared families to have a healthy supply of these snacks on hand.
What we liked: Delicious to the point of being addictive
What we didn’t like: We ran out
Valley Food Storage has many more offerings than the sample kit we reviewed, and each one is made with high-quality ingredients and excellent packaging at a reasonable price. All of the meals we tried were significantly better than eating pigeons and rats or starving — that's not a jab at these products, that's just the reality of survival. If you are looking to get a basic supply of shelf-stable food for your family, we encourage you to look at the many packs and add-ons that Valley Food Storage offers. You can never be too prepared when it comes to food storage, and as they say “variety is the spice of life.”
For more info on Valley Food Storage freeze-dried food and family emergency kits, go to ValleyFoodStorage.com.
Alexander Crown served as an Infantryman with the Scout/ Sniper Platoon of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Ft. Richardson, Alaska, where he specialized in radio communications and reconnaissance. Since separating, Alexander spends his time as an avid outdoorsman and hunter with an appreciation for self-sufficiency in the form of gardening. He also enjoys woodworking, firearms, and reloading. You can follow him on Instagram @acrown509.