In this article, we’re hoping to answer all your frequently asked questions about freeze dried meals.
We’ll point you in the direction of what we think are some of the best freeze-dried meals on the market, tell you where to buy them, and even cover DIY freeze-dried meals.
Where To Buy Freeze Dried Meals
The best place to buy freeze dried foods is online, where they are stocked by a wide range of different retailers.
These include the Sportsman’s guide, Augason Farms, 4Patriots, BulkFoods.com, and of course, Amazon.
There’s also Freeze Dried Food Store USA, which serves both the United States and Canada and is the self-described ‘number one place to buy freeze dried food online’.
If you’d prefer to buy your freeze dried meals in person, one surprising place you can pick them up is Walmart.
They’re usually found in the Sporting Goods section. Otherwise, check your local sporting goods store, as they will almost certainly carry freeze dried meals, too.
Best Freeze Dried Hiking Meals
There’s a pretty big selection of brands out there that make freeze dried meals, but it’s important to remember that not all freeze dried meals were created equal.
Some brands just objectively make better tasting meals, and our favorite? It simply has to be Mountain House!
They’re always delicious, high in carbs, and usually contain meat, so there’s plenty in the way of protein for the meat eaters.
- TAKE ANYWHERE MEAL - Whether you’re camping, hiking, backpacking or hunting, take our lightweight, freeze dried and dehydrated Cuban Coconut Rice & Black Beans with you. Just add water to one of our two serving pouches for an easy to prepare and even easier to eat meal.
- ALWAYS PREPARED - Our ready to eat meals are shelf-stable and offer a long shelf-life making them the perfect emergency food supply to stock up. We got you covered whether you’re stocking up for hurricane season or other natural disasters, the next pandemic, or just in case. Security is good food when you need it most.
- NOURISHING & DELICIOUS - A sweet and savory Caribbean classic, our Cuban Coconut Rice & Black Beans makes a hearty meal for any adventure. Freeze dried for freshness, our blend of coconut milk and black beans seasoned with banana and cilantro, is a nutritious and delicious way to stay nourished.
- PACKED WITH PROTEIN - No matter where the road, river or trail takes you, fuel up with a tasty, protein packed meal. Our seasoned rice and beans contain 24 grams of protein to keep you going strong.
- PREMIUM INGREDIENTS - Experience soul-warming comfort food with every spoonful of our delectable coconut rice and beans. Non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free, our traditional Cuban meal is a sustainable and satisfying way to feed your adventurous spirit.
Better yet, they’re readily available, and compared to some brands, relatively affordable. Some of our favorites include the beef stroganoff, the chili mac with beef, and the chicken fajita bowl.
We also love Backpacker Pantry meals. They’re a little bit harder to find, but when you do, they are so worth it!
Their recipes tend to be a little more adventurous than Mountain House, and if you don’t eat meat, they are perfect, as they offer an impressive range of calorific meat-free freeze dried meals.
Our favorites include their pad thai and their Cuban coconut rice and black beans, both suitable for vegans.
Outside of these two, honorable mentions go to MaryJanesFarm, which specializes in organic food, as well as GOOD TO-GO, Peak Refuel, and Packit Gourmet.
Do Freeze Dried Meals Expire?
Because nearly all of the moisture in freeze dried meals has been removed, they have very little opportunity to go bad when they are packaged and stored properly.
Sometimes, they can last as long as 25 years, although we’re not sure we’d recommend digging into a 25 year old pouch if you can avoid it.
How long a freeze-dried meal lasts depends on the producer, as it depends on exactly how the food was first freeze dried and then packaged.
Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for freeze dried meals to last 7 years or more, but it’s worth checking the packaging to make sure.
The best thing about this longevity is that you can buy freeze dried meals in bulk, which should make them cheaper, and simply dig them out whenever you want to go on an expedition into the backcountry.
Freeze Dried Backpacking Food Recipes
Freeze dried meals may be super convenient, but they’re not without their own issues. For example, whilst you may save on washing up with a freeze dried meal, you will end up accumulating a lot of trash.
Since you’ll have to floor Leave No Trace guidelines and take the trash with you, the more of these meals you eat, the more you’ll find yourself carrying a bag of trash along with you on your hike.
The packaging of these pouches can, surprisingly, damage your backpack, as they are usually pretty heavy-duty materials and have deceptively sharp edges.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that with freeze dried meals you have to eat the meals that companies are mass producing, which is a nightmare for a fussy eater.
Thankfully, you can make your own backpacking meals, using a mixture of freeze dried and regular ingredients.
This way, you avoid most of the problems associated with freeze dried meals- it might be a little more time consuming, but it’s totally worth it! We can’t go into the details here, but here are the basics.
To make a well-rounded backpacking meal you’ll need a base, vegetables, protein, spices, and plenty of fat and calories:
- Base– Here we’re talking about starchy food that cooks quickly, like quick-cook rice, couscous, noodles, or quick-cook pasta.
- Vegetables– This is where your freeze dried vegetables come in! Check out this ‘backpacking kit’ from Harmony House, which contains a wide variety of freeze dried, packaged, vegetables.
- Protein– There are a whole bunch of companies, including Mountain House, who make and package great freeze dried and dehydrated meats. If you don’t eat meat, there are plenty of protein-heavy veggies in your freeze dried vegetable set!
- Fats– This should be pretty self-explanatory- we’re talking about oils, butter, and even butter and cheese in their powdered form.
- Spices– These can really make or break your DIY backpacking meal. You could throw in the spices of your choosing, or buy a premade seasoning mix if you’d like to save a little time.
If all the ingredients are either dehydrated or freeze dried, or store fine in a bag, all you need to do is pop them in a zip-loc bag together and seal them ready for your adventures!
When you come to eat your meals, preparing them should be as simple as boiling some water, adding the boiling water to the back and waiting a little while.
If you’ve got any fresh ingredients, you can prepare them as you food ‘cooks’.
How To Freeze Dry Food For Backpacking (DIY Freeze Dried Food For Hiking)
There’s a reason that most backpackers don’t freeze dry their own food, and instead buy branded, readymade freeze dried meals.
To put it simply, it’s because it’s a costly and time-consuming process. If you’re a particularly committed hiker, one option is to simply buy your own freeze drying machine.
All you have to do is pop the freshly cooked food in the machine, and the machine will do all the work for you. All that’s left to do is seal the food in zip-loc bags ready to take on your adventures.
Unfortunately, though, these machines don’t come cheap, usually costing several thousand dollars a pop.
- ADD WATER and in minutes enjoy a delicious meal made from clean ingredients, on or off the trail
- DEHYDRATED FOOD backpacking food, camping food, hiking food, emergency food supply, survival food
- LIGHTWEIGHT easy storage, 5-year shelf life, similar to freeze dried food but tastes DELICIOUS!
- GLUTEN FREE pescatarian, low in sodium, no preservatives, made from REAL FOOD!
- MADE IN USA Good To-Go meals are handmade, cooked, dehydrated and packaged in Kittery, Maine USA
There are DIY alternatives, but you really need a vacuum chamber in order to freeze dry food properly.
Nevertheless, here’s a technique you can try using dry ice:
- The first thing you’ll need to do is put your fresh food in freezer bags. This is easier said than done, but you must try to remove all the air from the bags. Once you have removed as much air as possible, seal the bags airtight.
- Pop your freezer bags into a cooler, and cover them liberally with dry ice. Try to totally encase the bags, and keep them from touching one another.
- After you’ve done this, simply wait for 24 hours. If when you return all the dry ice has disappeared, your food should be freeze dried, and ready to store in the freezer or pantry.
What Is The Best Freeze Dried Emergency Food
The best freeze dried food for emergencies, in our opinion, is the Emergency Food Supply from ReadyWise.
These freeze dried meals are sold in bulk, coming in a bucket that contains 60, individually packaged meals.
Having said that, the product also comes in buckets as large as 298 servings- a whole month’s food supply!
Arguably the best thing about the ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply is the fact that those sixty meals aren’t all the same meal- instead, the supply contains 13 different meals, so there’s plenty of variety to choose from!
There are different options to choose from too, including, ‘breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks’, ‘lunch and dinner’, ‘breakfast and lunch’, and more.
- ESSENTIAL SURVIVAL KIT: Each bucket contains 120 servings with 13 different meal options to choose from.
- JUST ADD WATER: Each entrée is easy to prepare in any emergency circumstance using just water.
- LONG-LASTING STORAGE: Durable, storable food pouches keep rations fresh for up to 25 years.
- VARIETY PACKS: Get a selection of 13 different ready-to-eat freeze-dried meals in each bucket.
- BE READY: From emergency food rationing to hiking and camping, our shelf-stable food is there for you.
To give you a flavor of what you’ll be getting, each 60-serving lunch and dinner box contains the following:
- 4 servings of cheesy lasagna
- 8 servings of creamy pasta
- 4 servings of pasta alfredo
- 4 servings of chili mac
- 4 servings of chicken noodle soup
- 8 servings of savory stroganoff
- 4 servings of hearty tortilla soup
- 4 servings of potato pot pie
- 4 servings of teriyaki and rice
- 4 servings of tomato & basil soup
- 4 servings of baked potato casserole
- 4 servings of southwest beans and rice
- 4 servings of cheesy macaroni
As you can see, there’s something for everyone there! They’re super simple to use, too, needing just a single cup of hot or cold water and a good stir before you can tuck in.
- Amazing Taste - No longer do you need to compromise taste for convenience! Our Beef Pasta contains high quality ingredients to ensure an appetizing and nutritious meal while on the trail. What you eat matters and we have gone to great lengths creating a meal with non-GMO ingredients so you can experience a flavorful just add water backpacking meal whether on the mountain or at your favorite campsite.
- 49 Grams Protein/Pouch -. This meal contains 100% real meat, with no meat fillers! We provide a meal loaded with protein required to conquer any adventure. Our meats are sourced from trusted suppliers and inspected by the USDA. This results in a superior quality you can enjoy.
- Premium Freeze-Dried - The freeze-drying process locks in important nutrients offering a meal with a natural taste and texture, just like it came straight from your house. So whether you are camping deep in the backcountry or on a day hike along your favorite trail, enjoy a delicious and easy to prepare meal loaded with important nutrition.
- Specs (per pouch): 6.35 oz net wt. Preps in 10 mins with 10.5 oz boiling water. Prepare and eat in pouch. MRE
- Made in USA - Our products are both freeze dried and packaged in the USA.
You’ll have to wait 15 minutes before you can get your fill, or 30 minutes if using room temperature water, but what’s a little longer waiting when you’ve been waiting to tuck in for hours?
Another key selling point is that these pouches keep the food inside fresh for up to 25 years! So, next time you go hiking, pop a pouch or two in your bag- just in case of emergencies.
We hope that this article has answered any questions you may have had about freeze dried meals. They’re a great, if not perfect, meal option for when you head out into the backcountry.