Freeze-dried food is an excellent addition to an emergency food supply. If properly stored, it can last up to 25 years, maintains 99% of its original nutritional quality, and is very easy to prepare in an emergency with just hot water in under 10 minutes.
You can buy freeze-dried food directly online, but making your freeze-fried food is now possible and extremely easy. Admittedly, there is a considerable upfront cost for one of these devices, but it will pay for itself in a short amount of time which we’ll discuss in just a moment.
So what advantages does home freeze-dried food have over store-bought? In this blog, we’ll look at five things you should consider before you start the process of building out a sizeable freeze-dried food inventory. I just recently did a video about building a one-year food storage setup and I’ll be adding a considerable amount of freeze-dried food to it shortly as I want food stored away that is already cooked in advance and ready if there’s a major event or emergency. I’ve also done blogs in the past that go into a much deeper dive covering the freeze-drying process, which I’ll link to in the cards above and the description section below if you want to check those out. So let’s jump in.
If you’re starting with developing your food inventory, there’s nothing wrong with picking up the typical Mountain House or other brands of freeze-dried food. I just found over time that these items we’re about to cover were selling points for me as to why investing in one of these machines made more sense in the long run. If you want to check out the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer anytime during the blog, you can check them out on my website at www.cityprepping.com/freezedryer
If you’ve ever flipped over a food package at the store and read the ingredients listed out, there’s probably a good chance you’ll see many things that you either can not pronounce or simply don’t want in your body after doing a Google search. With most freeze-dried food on the market, you should expect additional additives, chemicals, and fillers such as maltodextrin that you wouldn’t normally expect in your food if you were to prepare and cook it yourself.
When you freeze dry your food, you’ve got 100% control over what ends up going into your food and can avoid having preservatives and artificial additives added to your food and ultimately into your body. When we get fresh food at the store, some items like strawberries are seasonal, so we’ll typically buy these in bulk at local farmer markets. When we purchase this quantity, we can’t usually eat them all before they go bad, so we’ll toss some into the freeze dryer and store them in mason jars that we can vacuum seal.
I recently did a blog on building a long-term food storage setup that could feed one person for one year. I mentioned in that video that I’m slowly building out a supply of freeze-dried meat. It’s effortless to prepare and typically takes less than 30 hours once I add it to the machine compared to fruit which may take closer to 36 hours. Speaking of freeze-dried meat, let’s move to the next point.
Buying a freeze dryer up has a very high initial upfront cost. On the low end, they cost around $2200, and on the high end, around $3400. So, of course, the question that comes up is how long you would need to operate the machine to break even when compared to buying store-bought freeze-dried food. After hitting this break-even point, you’re effectively able to operate the machine turning a profit compared to buying freeze-dried food.
To answer this question, let’s pick a food item that I’m going to be adding a lot of to my long-term food storage inventory: chicken. Sixteen ounces of store-bought freeze-dried chicken ranges from $50 to $60 depending on the manufacturer you select. Let’s split the difference and say we can expect to pay around $55 for 16 ounces of chicken, more or less. So now we need to freeze dry some chicken and determine how much chicken it would take to produce roughly 16 ounces of freeze-dried chicken. For this video, I freeze-dried about 20 pounds of chicken that yielded about 16 ounces of freeze-dried chicken. 20 Pounds of frozen chicken costs around 17 Dollars at my local Costco or Sam’s club. To power a cycle to freeze-dry the chicken, I used 24.11 watts. In California, I pay .23 per kilowatt which means it cost me $5.54 dollars to power the machine to freeze-dry this batch of chicken. So it cost me a total of $22.54 to freeze-dry 1 batch of chicken saving me $32.46 in comparison to buying freeze-dried chicken. If electricity per kilowatt in your state is cheaper, then, of course, you’ll pay less to operate this machine. Based on this number, if I were to run the machine with batches of chicken for 83 cycles, I would break even. Pro-tip: we can cut that cycle time down if you freeze the food in advance as the machine doesn’t have to spend hours freezing your food. One thing to note: I’m using a medium-sized freeze-dryer. If you use a larger one, you’ll be able to run much larger batches and obviously, a smaller machine will not be able to produce as much.
With a freeze-dryer, you can make exactly what you want. Don’t like the options you see online? Guess what, you aren’t limited to what they offer. Have a family recipe for chili that’s unique? Prefer a specific spice or don’t like a spice that’s in most freeze-dried food on the market? You are now completely in control of what you can make. You can freeze-dry literally just about anything you want. With the store-bought freeze-dried options on the market, you’re stuck with what they offer. While I’ve tried a lot over the years, some are great and some are not so great, but in an emergency they would be edible, but not something I would want to have to eat over and over. If you’re preparing for a hiking expedition and you want control over what you will be eating, you’re in luck as you can prepare the food according to the macronutrients you feel is best for your outting. You’re totally in control.
With the rise of various food allergies, also many are limited to their options when buying online, especially if the factory where the food is being produced has food items individuals may be allergic to which leads us to our next point.
One of the typical comments on my videos is subscribers’ asking about long-term food storage options given their dietary restrictions and as we mentioned a moment ago, with regards to food allergies. When you buy freeze-dried food online, you don’t have control over what goes into the food or if it was in contact with food that could make you sick. Not anymore. Now you have the option to create your freeze-dried meals that meets your specific dietary needs. Do you have food allergies or specifically want only non-GMO foods in your prepper pantry or have a Vegan diet? Not a problem. If you can prep it and add it to the machine, you’ve now got options for long-term food storage. In recent years both in the U.S. and abroad, we’re seeing the rise of monoculture food production. Companies are sticking to a very narrow range of food they’re producing which is leading more and more people to rely upon these limited options. With the store-bought freeze-dried companies inevitably turning to these options for their food supply as these mass-produced foods are cheaper for them to buy, the consumer will inevitably be left with only these options. For most, this will not be an issue, but for those that need variety and have specific diet restrictions, having options is good.
Saving money with your own food
The average American household wastes an average of $1,866 a year in food. Had you saved that food and instead freeze-dried it and store it away, that amount would have almost paid for a small freeze-dryer. While this is not necessarily a fair comparison to store-bought freeze-dried food, it does make the point that having this option available to you gives you this advantage. Even if you kept leftover food in the refrigerator and ran a load once a week, you could easily add to your prepper food inventory food that you’ve already prepared and are accustomed to.
As food scarcity will continue to increase as shrinkflation and inflation impacting food costs will continue to impact our nation, being creative and looking for alternatives to preserve food that would otherwise go to waste will be to your advantage.
I’ve been using a freeze dryer for a little over 3 years now and have always been amazed at the ease of use and fascinated by the technology itself. As I mentioned in the last point, with the inflation driving the cost of food up each year, throwing away food will become increasingly expensive, let alone wasteful.
What are your thoughts?
As always, stay safe out there.