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Dehydrated Foods

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Foods

Copyright January 1, 2014 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.

Some recommended long-term emergency foods are easy to find at almost any grocery store, such as white rice, dry pasta noodles, and dry beans.

However, some of the recommended foods can be more challenging to find at your local food store. Therefore I am providing links to a few internet websites that sell some of the recommended foods. I do not receive any type of compensation if you click on the following links or if you purchase something from one of the following companies. The following links are being provided solely for your convenience. However, I strongly recommend that you do some comparison shopping at each of the following sites before you make a decision to purchase anything because each of the following companies sometimes have special sales on specific products.
  1. http://www.beprepared.com/
  2. http://www.freezedryguy.com/
  3. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/
  4. http://www.raindayfoods.com/
  5. http://www.safecastle.com/

Factors That Are Not Important and Factors That Are Important

Do not make a purchase decision based exclusively on any one of the following factors:
  1. Number of Servings: A #10 can may contain a huge number of servings but each serving may contain a trivial number of calories. This is a mistake that some people make when they purchase some combination of foods for one low price, and the food is advertised as providing two or three servings per day for some period of time. If each serving only contains between 100 to 200 calories then you will not be getting enough nourishment from the food to sustain you.
  2. Cost per #10 Can: The price of a can may be extremely low but the number of calories in the can may also be extremely low. If you pay $8 for a #10 can that only contains 350 calories then you don't have enough calories for one good meal for one adult, even though the quantity of food may be a lot.
  3. Percent Savings per Can: The percent markdown on a can of food may not be important if the food doesn't contain very many calories to begin with. If a can of food is marked down 40% from its normal price of $50 to its sale price of $30, but the can only contains 1,200 calories, then the food is still not a good deal.
Instead you should consider the following factors when evaluating a specific type of long-term storage food:
  1. Type of Food: Is the food something your family enjoys eating?
  2. Type of Calories: All calories are not equal. Calories from nutritious food, such as fruit and vegetables, are better than calories from sugar or sweets.
  3. Total Calories per Can: Multiply the number of servings per can by the number of calories per serving to determine the total number of calories per can. Cans that contain more calories are preferred.
  4. Average Cost per Calorie: Divide the total cost of the can by the total number of calories in the can to determine the average cost per calorie.
  5. Net Weight of the Food: There is usually a correlation between the net weight of dehydrated and freeze dried food and the number of calories in the food. If a #10 can of food weighs less than 10 ounces then it probably contains a lot fewer calories than a #10 can of a different food that weighs more than 20 ounces.
  6. Shelf Life of the Food: Some foods have a short shelf life (cocoa powder) even when they are packaged in a #10 can. Other foods have a long shelf life (white rice) and some foods have an indefinite shelf life (sugar, salt).
  7. Shipping Cost and Sales Tax: Determine the total cost of your order before you agree to purchase the food.
      a. Some companies advertise a low cost per #10 can of food but then they charge an extremely high shipping cost to deliver the food to you.
      b. Some companies have a flat rate shipping cost that is added to your final order.
      c. Some companies include the cost of shipping in the advertised price of the food.
      d. Some companies offer free shipping.
    Therefore you should compute the total delivered cost of your entire food order and not just look at the cost per #10 can.

Cost Comparison of Food in #10 Cans to Food Available at a Grocery Store

Some foods are much cheaper to purchase at a grocery store. You can vacuum seal these dry foods yourself to protect the food from insects, and from oxygen and moisture in the air.
Granulated sugar is one example:
  1. Grocery Store Sugar: 5 pound bag (80 ounces), $2.58 per bag divided by 8,500 calories equals $0.00030 per calorie of sugar in a bag.
  2. #10 Can Sugar: 5.625 pound can (90 ounces), $11.95 per can divided by 8,640 calories equals $0.00138 per calorie of sugar in a can.
Granulated sugar is 4.6 times more expensive in a #10 can than the same product in a paper bag that you can purchase at almost any grocery store.

On the other hand, some of the food in #10 cans is very close to the price of that same food at a grocery store.
One example would be Instant Non-Fat Dry Powdered Milk as follows:
  1. Grocery Store Instant Milk: $18.28 per box divided by 64 ounces per box equals $0.02856 per dry ounce of instant milk.
  2. #10 Can Instant Milk: $17.25 per can divided by 56 ounces per can equals $0.03080 per dry ounce of instant milk.
When you consider that the #10 can of milk is already packaged for long-term food storage, then the #10 can of instant milk is actually cheaper than the boxed milk if you add the cost of a vacuum seal bag to seal the boxed milk.

In order to compare the value of long-term storage food in #10 cans to grocery store food it would be helpful if we could determine the average cost per calorie of some of the more practical foods available at a grocery store.

Let's use the price of white rice, cornmeal, dry pinto beans, dry spaghetti noodles, and flour as follows:
  1. White Rice: 5 pound bag, $2.98 per bag divided by 7,500 calories equals $0.00040 per calorie.
  2. Cornmeal: 5 pound bag, $2.79 per bag divided by 8,000 calories equals $$0.00034 per calorie.
  3. Dry Pinto Beans: 4 pound bag, $4.22 per bag divided by 4,500 calories equals $0.00094 per calorie.
  4. Dry Spaghetti Noodles: 1 pound box, $1.00 per box divided by 1,680 calories equals $0.00060 per calorie.
  5. Flour: 5 pound bag, $1.68 per bag divided by 7,500 calories equals $0.00022 per calorie.
Average of the above five prices = (0.00040 + 0.00034 + 0.00094 + 0.00060 + 0.00022) divided by 5 = (0.00250) divided by 5 = $0.0005 per calorie.

Now let's look at some of the more expensive long-term storage foods that are available in #10 cans:
  1. Strawberries: $18.50 divided by 630 calories equals $0.0294 per calorie or 59 times more expensive than the average grocery store price of food.
  2. Cauliflower: $14.50 divided by 350 calories equals $0.0414 per calorie or 83 times more expensive than the average grocery store price of food.
  3. Pasta Primavera: $30.50 divided by 1,870 calories equals $0.0153 per calorie or 31 times more expensive than the average grocery store price of food.
  4. Chicken A La King with Noodles: $35.50 divided by 990 Calories equals $0.0359 per calorie or 72 times more expensive than the average grocery store price of food.
If a person were on a budget then none of the above food items in #10 cans would be a good investment for inclusion in a long-term emergency food supply.

Cost Summary: You should do the above math before you invest your money is a specific long-term storage food in a #10 can. Divide the cost of the canned food by the total number of calories in the can to determine how much you are paying on a per calorie basis. This will help you decide whether or not the food is a good value.

Food in #10 Cans

Now let's look at some specific foods in #10 cans.

There are a lot of companies that process, can, and sell long-term storage foods. This article will look at two popular brands: Mountain House and Provident Pantry.

The Mountain House brand is sold by a lot of internet companies. The Mountain House brand has a long list of testimonials from individuals who have reported that their experience with an old can of Mountain House Freeze Dried food was an enjoyable one, even though the can had been in storage for 20 or 30 years.

The Provident Pantry brand is the brand name of Emergency Essentials or BePrepared.com. Emergency Essentials will sometimes purchase large quantities of dehydrated or freeze dried food from one of its suppliers and then they will put their Provident Pantry label on the cans. Therefore there is some variability in the quality of this brand depending on which supplier actually processed and canned the food. The Provident Pantry labels include Provident Pantry, Provident Pantry Traditional, and Provident Pantry Premium.

Only a few food items are included in each of the lists that follow. The purpose of each list is to provide some comparison data on several different foods. Each list shows the normal average price of a #10 can of food and the total number of calories in the can. This will allow you to compare foods in different food groups so you can determine which foods are the best value.

The following price data was collected on January 1, 2014. The following prices are provided for reference purposes only. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I suggest that you take the time to do some internet price comparison shopping and that you purchase the food items that you want when you find them on sale, if that is a feasible option for you.

Fruit in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Apple Dices9 ounces900Provident PantryDehydrated$22.25 to $23.25$0.02472
Apple Slices18 ounces1,890Provident PantryDehydrated$12.25 to $13.00$0.00648
Banana Slices16 ounces1,440Provident PantryFreeze Dried$19.00 to $20.00$0.01319
Peaches Sliced6.7 ounces696Provident PantryFreeze Dried$22.50 to 23.50$0.03233
Pears Sliced10 ounces960Provident PantryFreeze Dried$25.00 to 26.50$0.02694
Strawberries Sliced7 ounces630Provident PantryFreeze Dried$18.00 to $19.00$0.02857
Tomato Powder64 ounces5,160Provident PantryDehydrated$22.00 to $23.00$0.00426

Tomato Powder is highly recommended. The cost of tomato powder in a #10 can is $0.00426 per calorie.
A can of generic tomato paste costs approximately $0.44 per 6 ounce can that contains 125 calories, and this equals $0.00352 per calorie.
Therefore tomato powder in a #10 can is only a little more expensive than water packed tomato paste and tomato powder has a much longer shelf life than tomato paste.

Apple Dices and Apple Slices are both included in the above list and they are both Provident Pantry dehydrated apples in #10 cans. However, the apple slices contain twice the number of ounces, and they contain a little more than twice the number of calories per can, but they cost a lot less than the apple dices. Therefore you need to do the math for all the different ways that a specific food item is processed and canned because you may discover that the cheaper can (apple slices at $0.00648 per calorie) is a much better value than the same item processed a different way (apple dices at $0.02472 per calorie is 3.8 times more expensive than apple slices).

Vegetables in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Broccoli Diced5 to 8 ounces400 to 840Provident PantryFreeze Dried$18.50$0.04625
Carrots Diced41 ounces3,710Provident PantryDehydrated$11.50$0.00310
Cauliflower4.5 ounces350Provident PantryFreeze Dried$14.50$0.04143
Corn, Sweet16 ounces1,980Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$16.50$0.00833
Corn, Sweet16 ounces1,540Provident PantryFreeze Dried$20.50$0.01331
Green Bell Peppers Diced4 ounces720Provident PantryFreeze Dried$17.50$0.02431
Green Beans5.7 ounces600Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$24.00$0.04000
Green Peas16 ounces1,840Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$20.00$0.01087
Green Peas18 ounces1,800Provident PantryDehydrated$18.00$0.01000
Mushrooms, Sliced4 ounces624Provident PantryFreeze Dried$16.50$0.02644
Onions White Flakes7 ounces520Provident PantryFreeze Dried$18.00$0.03462
Potatoes Instant Mashed Complete59 ounces5,760Provident PantryDehydrated$12.75$0.00221

Carrots are recommended because they have a lot of calories per #10 can and the price of a can is relative low. The average cost per calorie is $0.00310 per calorie for dehydrated carrots.
If you purchased canned carrots at the grocery store then you would pay approximately $0.68 for a 14.5 ounce can that contains 105 calories, and this equals $0.00648 per calorie for water packed carrots, and this a little more than twice the cost of dehydrated carrots in a #10 can.

Complete Instant Mashed Potatoes are also recommended because they cost approximately $0.00221 per calorie and they can be prepared for human consumption by simply adding water.
Some of the Instant Potatoes available in #10 cans are complete and some are not. You need to read the preparation instructions on the website for the instant potatoes you are considering before you make your purchase decision.

Most instant potatoes at a grocery store require the addition of milk and butter (or margarine) to make them edible. If you follow the box directions then you would need to add 1/2 pound of butter per box (cost approximately $1.49) and 5.67 cups of milk per box (cost approximately $1.30). If you pay $2.98 for a 26.2 ounce box of instant potatoes at a grocery store then your total cost to prepare the entire box of potatoes would be $5.77 ($2.98 + $1.49 + $1.30).

Dairy in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Butter Powder40 ounces8,640Provident PantryDehydrated$19.00$0.00220
Cheese Blend66 ounces7,200Provident PantryDehydrated$21.00 to $22.00$0.00292
Cheese Colby40 ounces5,376Provident PantryFreeze Dried$39.00 to $41.00$0.00725
Cheese Monterey Jack30 ounces5,350Provident PantryFreeze Dried$36.00 to $38.00$0.00673
Cheese Mozzarella28 ounces4,000Provident PantryFreeze Dried$36.00 to $38.00$0.00900
Cheese Sharp Cheddar40 ounces9,216Provident PantryFreeze Dried$39.00 to $41.00$0.00423
Milk Instant Nonfat Dry56 ounces5,760Provident PantryDehydrated$17.25 to $18.00$0.00299

Milk: Instant milk is highly recommended because the #10 cans ($0.00299 per calorie) are almost the same price as the instant milk in a box at a grocery store ($0.00286 per calorie).

Butter: Butter powder is a reasonable investment at $0.00220 per calorie, although this is about 2.4 times more than the cost of fresh butter. However, butter powder does not require refrigeration and it has a longer shelf life than fresh butter. I strongly recommend butter powder instead of margarine powder.

Cheese: If you can afford the #10 cans of cheese then the freeze dried cheese does not require refrigeration and it has a longer shelf life than fresh cheese.

Pasta Side Dishes in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Macaroni & Cheese20.4 ounces2,880Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$27.50$0.00955
Pasta Primavera21.2 ounces1,870Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$30.50$0.01631

If you are on a budget then the above #10 cans of pasta are not as affordable as some of the other food items that are available.

Meat in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Chicken Diced22 ounces3,000Provident PantryFreeze Dried$43.00$0.01433
Chicken Diced17 ounces2,380Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$49.00$0.02059
Beef Diced15 ounces3,300Provident PantryFreeze Dried$50.00$0.01515
Beef Diced17 ounces1,950Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$60.50$0.03103
Ground Beef31 ounces4,840Provident PantryFreeze Dried$48.00$0.00992
Ground Beef29 ounces5,220Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$49.00$0.00939

Do not purchase meat flavored substitutes such as textured vegetable protein (TVP). Most people cannot force themselves to eat TVP.

If you can afford it, then you should purchase real meat, such as chicken or beef. If you like ground beef then it is usually one of the better meat values on a per calorie basis.

The above list compares the Provident Pantry brand to the Mountain House brand for the same basic meat items. This illustrates that it is important to do some comparison shopping before you make a purchase decision.

Meals in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Beef Stew17.2 ounces2,000Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$34.00$0.01700
Vegetable Stew with Beef16 ounces1,890Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$27.50$0.01455
Beef Stroganoff with Noodles20.2 ounces2,600Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$27.00$0.01038
Chili Mac with Beef19.6 ounces2,400Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$24.50$0.01021
Lasagna with Meat Sauce19.2 ounces2,400Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$33.00$0.01375
Spaghetti with Meat & Sauce19 ounces2,300Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$24.00$0.01044
Chicken A La King with Noodles25.4 ounces990Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$35.50$0.03586
Chicken & Noodles23.6 ounces2,640Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$30.00$0.01136
Chicken Stew19 ounces2,400Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$34.50$0.01438
Chicken Teriyaki with Rice20 ounces2,300Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$28.50$0.01239
Chicken & Rice21 ounces2,700Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$22.00$0.00815
Turkey Tetrazzini17.07 ounces2,400Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$35.00$0.01458
Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice24.4 ounces2,800Mountain HouseFreeze Dried$37.00$0.01321

The above complete meals are very nice but they are relatively expensive. They are not recommended because they are expensive and they will require a significant amount of storage space for a limited number of total calories.

Drink Mixes in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Apple Drink Mix88 ounces9,960Provident PantryDehydrated$16.00 to $17.00$0.00161
Peach Drink Mix85 ounces9,460Provident PantryDehydrated$16.00 to $17.00$0.00169

Drink mixes are an option that some people like to include as part of their emergency food supply.

Fruit flavored drink mixes cost approximately $0.00169 per calorie and they do contain a reasonable assortment of vitamins, including approximately 50% to 60% vitamin C.

Or you could invest in powdered drink mixes available at a grocery store, such as Tang and Powdered Gatorade.

Tang costs approximately $2.50 for a 20 ounce plastic jar that contains 480 calories and 100% vitamin C. This equals $0.00421 per calorie for Tang, and this is 2.5 times more expensive than the fruit flavored drink mixes in a #10 can.

Powdered Gatorade costs approximately $8.48 for a 51 ounce plastic jar that contains 5,040 calories but no vitamins. This equals $0.00168 per calorie for Gatorade and this is almost the same cost as fruit flavored drink mixes in a #10 can, but Powdered Gatorade does not contain any vitamins.

White Rice in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
White Rice83 ounces8,460Provident PantryDehydrated$9.50 to $10.00$0.00112
Instant White Rice49 ounces4,960Provident PantryDehydrated$10.50 to $11.00$0.00212
Instant White Rice42.3 ounces4,560Mountain HouseDehydrated$18.49$0.00405

A 5 pound bag of white rice at the grocery store contains approximately 7,500 calories and it cost approximately $2.98 per bag, and this equals $0.00040 per calorie.

A #10 can of white rice contains approximately 8,460 calories and it costs approximately $9.50 per can, and this equals $0.00112 per calorie, or approximately 2.8 times more expensive than the white rice you can buy at a grocery store.

A 6 gallon pail of white rice contains 44 pounds of white rice and approximately 71,820 calories at a cost of approximately $58.00 per pail, and this is approximately $0.00081 per calorie, or approximately 2.0 times more expensive than the white rice you can buy at a grocery store.

Therefore, if a person had a limited amount of money to invest in emergency food, then that person should consider purchasing white rice at a grocery store and vacuum sealing the rice themselves. (Note: A 20 pound bag of white rice is available at Walmart for approximately $9.98 per bag and this equals $0.00033 per calorie. This is a very good price for an emergency food that has a shelf life of thirty years or more, if it is properly stored.)

Grain in #10 Cans

Food ItemNet WeightCaloriesBrandTypePricePer Calorie
Wheat, Hard White88 ounces8,460Provident PantryDehydrated$7.50 to $8.00$0.00089
Wheat, Soft White88 ounces8,460Provident PantryDehydrated$7.50 to $8.00$0.00089
Wheat, Hard Red88 ounces7,990Provident PantryDehydrated$7.50 to $8.00$0.00094

I strongly recommend the purchase of wheat berries in a #10 can (or in a 6 gallon super pail) instead of the flour that is available at a grocery store. Wheat berries have an extremely long shelf life when compared to flour in a paper bag.

I also strongly recommend the purchase of dent corn (not sweet corn or popcorn) in #10 cans or in a 6 gallon super pail. Dent corn has a long shelf life and it can be ground into cornmeal. Although popcorn can be ground into a coarse gritty cornmeal, I do not recommend grinding popcorn into cornmeal (unless it is all you have). Unfortunately some companies do not sell dent corn so you may have to shop around to find it.

If you purchase a 6 gallon super pail of wheat berries or dent corn, then make sure the grain is sealed inside a mylar bag inside the plastic pail. Grain that is packaged this way will easily last 30 years or more if it is kept in a reasonable food storage environment.

If you purchase wheat berries or dent corn then you will also need a grain grinder. Some information about grain and grain grinders is on my website here.

Click on www.grandpappy.org for Robert's Home Page.

Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com