I’ve never seen so many commercial food storage options before. The market is full of processed, packaged food that is reconstituted just by adding water. No one expects to have their palates daily tantalized with rehydrated mush, but that’s not the issue. The question here is whether it represents a good value in hiking/camping/bugout lightness and convenience.
Valley Food Storage brings it pretty well. The 250 g package yields about 1150 calories for $12 (a decent value), and the directions are simple: Stir package into 5 1/4 cups of boiling water, boil on low 15 to 20 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. If you will not eat the entire package, you can reduce the water and use less of the mix — it has a zipper closure so you can reseal it and carry on. It has no MSG, no trans fats, no cholesterol, and is made in USA.
Here’s the Chicken and Rice we tested, but they make many other flavors, including Classic Chili and Chicken a la King. Most of these are Amazon Prime eligible, so if you’re a Prime member, you can get free two-day shipping; it’s a fairly cheap way to test several dishes before buying larger quantities at a discount.
I tried the Southern Style Chicken and Rice, and it reminded me of the Knorr soups I used to eat as a child. It was a bit bland, but that’s appropriate because it allows you some room to season it — a little extra salt and black pepper helped it considerably, and some fresh herbs from my garden really kicked it up. This illustrates something common to most of these dehydrated foods; their dishes can often be treated as a base, or ingredient, in a meal. You could certainly eat this one as is, but if you’re eating packaged food for months at a time, you’ll enjoy varying the dish with some of your own additions.
I should note that I did not detect any genuine chicken meat, but the mild chicken flavor was competent. I actually liked the flaked vegetables; they retained a little crunch that was a welcome texture.
As mentioned previously, the 250 g package costs about $12 on the Valley Food Storage web site, but they do offer larger quantities at a discount. It yields a nominal 5 servings of about 230 calories each; realistically, two people would eat this for lunch after hiking all morning. I had the little bit you see in the video, and my children finished the rest for lunch… and asked for more.
I have to mention the “up to 25 year shelf-life” claim on the package. I don’t know how they made that determination, or if they have any repeatable experiments to support the claim. Perhaps they used accelerated shelf life testing. I simply don’t know. However, I don’t doubt that if stored in the right conditions — cool, dry, dark, and oxygen-free — some packaged foods would keep for 25 years, or even more.
I prep most of my own stored food, but when it comes to dehydrated meal packages, I buy that. If that’s what you’re looking for, Valley Food Storage probably has something you’ll like.