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Freeze Dried Vs. Canned: The Pros and Cons in Food Storage

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January 03, 2013
Freeze Dried Vs. Canned: The Pros and Cons in Food Storage - 5

Buying a large volume of food is a serious investment in your survival. It can also be a bad investment if no emergency comes and you are stuck eating hundreds of meals that you find nauseating. There are plenty of food storage options out there for purchase, ranging from historic preservation methods to the latest technology. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the two most popular food storage systems—freeze-dried and canned—to determine which is the better preservation method for you.

The Pros of Freeze Dried
The process of freeze drying food and medicine is time-tested. Medicines were freeze dried in World War II for stable transport, and freeze dried meals have been around for decades. The two primary benefits of going the freeze dried route with your survival meals are that 1.) The meals are lightweight and 2.) They have a long shelf life. With the weight of water removed, most meals are a fraction of the weight of the original food. This is ideal for backpacking and bugging out. The careful packaging of freeze dried goods will keep the food safe and edible for many years. A side benefit from this drying process is the improved preservation of vitamins and other nutrients over the damaging heat of the canning process.

The Cons of Freeze Dried
The two biggest cons of freeze dried food are the price and the fact that preparation is required for most foods. Freeze dried food can cost as much as $8 a meal. This can add up fast if you are purchasing for a large group or for a long span of time. And while some dried meals and foods are ready-to-eat or just need cold water, most meals need hot water. This means you have to get a cooking source fired up, heat some water, and wait for the food to cook or properly rehydrate. The packaging is also more vulnerable to rodents and insects than cans. Unless you are ordering from a manufacturer, you may have a hard time finding the meals and foods you are looking for, as most stores do not sell that many freeze dried foods.

The Pros of Canned
Availability, cost, and durability are the three main perks of going with canned foods. Any grocery store in the land will supply us with cans of chili, soup, meat, fish, and even canned bread and crackers. The cost is about one third the price of freeze dried food (per meal, on average). The cans are also rodent and insect proof.

The Cons of Canned
Canned food is heavy, it doesn’t last as long as freeze dried food, and many vitamins are destroyed by the heat used in canning the food. You also need a can opener unless you are dealing with a pop-top can, which is less durable than a regular can. Another problem is that cans will burst if frozen severely enough. This makes canned food a bad choice for winter survival food in a vehicle.

So Which Do You Buy?
For most disaster preparedness scenarios, I recommend a mixture of freeze dried and canned food. You cover more bases by diversifying. For example, if rats get into your freeze dried pouches, at least the cans are still good. If the temperature unexpectedly dips below freezing, the freeze dried pouches will be unharmed while the cans may be bursting. Going with just one strategy can make sense if you know what will happen at your storage site. Go with freeze dried if you know it will freeze. Go with canned if it will always be above freezing, but the food containers could be breached by animals. If you have a remote cabin or rarely visited site in a cold area, you can also “double-up” your security by placing freeze dried pouches in a tightly sealed metal cans or metal boxes. This takes care of both the critters and the cold.

Do you prefer one method over the other? Let us know in the comments.

 

Comments (5)

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from goldham 5/5/2013 at 09:18am

I store both freeze dried and MREs (although I got so tired of these in the Army). One thing to keep in mind is that most of thesenfoods are just calories and/or macro nutrients. It would be bad to survive a situation just to get sick from the food I survived on. To remedy this, I also stock superfoods like spirulina, chlorella and maca to make sure I have the micro nutrients that I need.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 410skeeter 1/9/2013 at 03:44pm

Just thought I'd ad,
If you are stuck in a situation when you need to use this food,
be creative a little bit.
You'd be surprised how much one can of chili will spread out if you boil some wild rice or spaghety then without pouring any liquid out, add the can of chili. Now feeds 2,3,or 4 instead of one and a much more balanced filling meal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 410skeeter 1/9/2013 at 01:56pm

Don't forget inexpensive staples like rice(repack if away from home), pancake premix, dried instant/potatoes mix, dried milk if u've got kids, tuna, sardines in oil,mustard,variety and other canned high protein food you can eat right out of the container and has known history for keeping for a very longtime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 1/3/2013 at 02:01pm

Hi...

I have always kept a case or more of MREs, some of which weren't too bad, taste-wise. They also conveniently fit into the pockets of cargo pants.

In my BOB however (actually my 'Get Home Bag', but GHB is an acronym that people are not yet familiar with!), are now some smaller tinned items, plus some freeze-dried items.

I don't mind heating up a few ounces of water, and the hot chocolate mix, for example, can be eaten right from the container.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BiggBucks 1/3/2013 at 11:46am

i am a fan of both options, another route that I like to go is with MRE's. Having a family member in the military is a huge plus when it comes to acquiring these at minimal cost. many times you can squeeze two meals out of one by focusing on the main course first and then the snacks as a second meal. there is a large variety of menu options with MRE's as well. freeze dried breakfast items are my preference when it comes to buying those meals and canned chili, beans, tuna, and vegetables are what i usually purchase from the canned food aisle. great article to feature!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

from BiggBucks 1/3/2013 at 11:46am

i am a fan of both options, another route that I like to go is with MRE's. Having a family member in the military is a huge plus when it comes to acquiring these at minimal cost. many times you can squeeze two meals out of one by focusing on the main course first and then the snacks as a second meal. there is a large variety of menu options with MRE's as well. freeze dried breakfast items are my preference when it comes to buying those meals and canned chili, beans, tuna, and vegetables are what i usually purchase from the canned food aisle. great article to feature!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 1/3/2013 at 02:01pm

Hi...

I have always kept a case or more of MREs, some of which weren't too bad, taste-wise. They also conveniently fit into the pockets of cargo pants.

In my BOB however (actually my 'Get Home Bag', but GHB is an acronym that people are not yet familiar with!), are now some smaller tinned items, plus some freeze-dried items.

I don't mind heating up a few ounces of water, and the hot chocolate mix, for example, can be eaten right from the container.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 410skeeter 1/9/2013 at 01:56pm

Don't forget inexpensive staples like rice(repack if away from home), pancake premix, dried instant/potatoes mix, dried milk if u've got kids, tuna, sardines in oil,mustard,variety and other canned high protein food you can eat right out of the container and has known history for keeping for a very longtime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 410skeeter 1/9/2013 at 03:44pm

Just thought I'd ad,
If you are stuck in a situation when you need to use this food,
be creative a little bit.
You'd be surprised how much one can of chili will spread out if you boil some wild rice or spaghety then without pouring any liquid out, add the can of chili. Now feeds 2,3,or 4 instead of one and a much more balanced filling meal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from goldham 5/5/2013 at 09:18am

I store both freeze dried and MREs (although I got so tired of these in the Army). One thing to keep in mind is that most of thesenfoods are just calories and/or macro nutrients. It would be bad to survive a situation just to get sick from the food I survived on. To remedy this, I also stock superfoods like spirulina, chlorella and maca to make sure I have the micro nutrients that I need.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):