Six Reasons I’m Not a Fan of Pre-Mixed Food Storage Meals and Why I Still Have Some

Pre-packaged food storage meals are super convenient and easy to store and cook. Ranging from MRE’s to dehydrated mixes to freeze dried entrees, these meals have all the meal ingredients in them and are either heat-and-eat or add water and cook. It’s tough to find a food storage company that doesn’t offer at least a handful of pre-mixed meal choices. They sound like a good deal–I mean, who wouldn’t want to be served lasagna or chicken a la king without having to actually make it? Well, here are 6 reasons I don’t like pre-made food storage meals and a couple reasons why I still have some in my preps.

1. Amazingly picky eaters. Especially the kids. No, especially the husband. Well, maybe the kids have him beat sometimes. They haven’t met a pre-made meal they really love and few that they even like enough to eat. A couple of Mountain House varieties have been deemed okay for camping if we don’t have anything else (but only Turkey Tetrazzini and Chicken a la King) as well as a couple of varieties of the Thrive pouch meals (Baked Potato Cheese Soup and Pasta Carbonara). I can’t say that I have tried every variety from every manufacturer–there may be a couple more that my family would accept but I don’t hold out high hopes. Maybe this all stems from reason number two.

2. We eat and like mostly home cooked meals. I take ingredients and put them together and make a meal. We rarely eat out or even eat things like hot pockets or corn dogs. A meal that is already put together just doesn’t taste the same as mom’s homemade dinners.

3. Seasoning content. Some of these meals have the salt level a bit high, some need salt added. Some have too much pepper or whatever other spice in them. You don’t get to customize much when it’s all put together for you. And maybe some of these meals that I think are too salty would be just right for you–different people have different tastes. Which is why I prefer to spice my own food.

4. Richness. Maybe this sounds funny, but sometimes you can have a sample of something and it tastes really good, but by the time you’ve hit your limit with the flavor you’re not exactly full. Like my homemade clam chowder. It really needs a bread bowl with it to fill up on because it’s so rich. Some of these meals are like that. Maybe they’d work as a side dish, but they’re just too rich to fill up on. Straight from the mouth of my husband.

5. Meat content and quality. I really like Mountain House’s Turkey Tetrazzini, but it sure falls short in the protein area. If we’re planning on using it for a camping meal I need to bring some extra pre-cooked, canned, or freeze dried chicken to add to it. Same goes for a lot of these meals. If you’re looking for protein content, you’ll probably need to add some of your own meat to it.

6. Serving sizes. Maybe this is getting picky since serving size is some mysterious standard measurement that all the food manufacturers use, but if you plan on actually feeding four with a 4-serving pouch, you’ll be sorely disappointed (unless, as mentioned above, three of the family members won’t eat it anyway–then you’ll end up with leftovers). One adult and three kids–maybe. Four adults–no way. Just be aware of that in case your meal count is based on the number the manufacturer says it will serve.

And now that you know how un-enamoured I am with pre-mixed food storage meals, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I still have some in my food storage plan. In fact, I have quite a few. Why? Well, here’s the big reasons I still stock pre-made meals.

1. Because I may not be the one needing to make the food and poor sweet husband would have a serious learning curve if he had to start cooking all the meals tomorrow.

2. For the days I am unable to put together a real meal either due to time or physical limitations. I’m hoping in a REAL emergency they family would eat them better simply because there wouldn’t be another option.

3. Occasionally we’ll use them for camping trips, but not too often. However, when sweet husband gets a crazy idea to take off this afternoon on a hike, it’s good to have something to take along to feed everyone. Like I said, we try to stick to storing the varieties I know the family likes. Experimenting on new dishes is for home where they can have a peanut butter sandwich instead if it’s not good.

If you’re planning on making pre-made meals a large part of your food storage, I would recommend spending a bit up front to purchase a few of the meals you want to store. Then open them up and cook them for dinner. Feed them to the family. See if you like the flavor, if the kids will eat them, how much it takes to get full, etc. Then move ahead with a larger purchase if you deem the meals are a good fit for your situation. As for me, I’ll stick with an ingredient based food storage with a smaller supplemental supply of pre-mixed meals.

  • Peggy

    I feel the same way.  We have some for emergency situations and some are ok in the beginning but, after a few more bites the richness or saltiness takes over and I can’t eat anymore.  

  • http://www.jaycehall.com Jayce

    I like a wider range of them than you do, but agree about the sodium, and certain fat levels. Those are my biggest qualms.  Now if it was a real crappy situation, I’d be less concerned, and likely would need those, but I don’t right now.

  • Justanotherlunatic

    First and foremost, most people reading this have ever known real hunger. It is not that unpleastent little feeling you get around lunchtime in your stomach when you skip breakfast due to sleeping in. I somehow doubt you would turn down any of these after not eating for 2 or 3 days because they are a tad salty.

    When you are truly hungry, you are verry happy to recive any food you get. Keep in mind as well some of these may be higher in fat or something else considered unpleasent because your body is stressed, you may be doing more physical work than normal say chopping firewood to keep your family warm.

    I will admit I have some picky eaters in my family, even my kid can be. Funny thing happens tho if you dont offer him anything else he will eventually eat what you give him if he’s hungry enough. Wow amazing ain’t it?

    There seems to be some confusion on what these meals are for, not for camping trips, not for i’m to lazy to cook dinner tonight, or for any other stupid situation you can come up with. They are meant to keep you and your family alive during a time when other food is not an option. Why this is like rocket science to so many people is beyond me.

    Do you really think when in the middle of winter with no steady heat source or lights or maybe even decent shelter the one thing on your mind will be GEE WHIZ i cant eat this because it is a little hight in fat? Let me guess someone out there is a vegan and would rather starve to death instead of eating a prepacked meal of sphagetti with meat flavored sauce.

    If this is all people are worried about in a SHTF or TEOTW situation i’m going to go weep in the corner for the america I once knew and the human race in genral

    • http://foodstorageandsurvival.com Angela

      If I were truly starving, I’d be happy to have any food that was offered to me.  The point is that right now I have a choice what I put in my food storage so that when I have to pull from it to feed myself and my family we can eat food that is nutritious and tastes decent.  If anybody else wants to store a bunch of pre-made meals, great.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I’m storing food I like, and will do all I can to never be in a situation where I need to eat whatever someone else is offering.

  • Nate Lofland

    The main reason I don’t have/use these pre-packaged meals is dairy. For someone like myself who is very lactose intolerant, these would do me more harm than good, even in an emergency situation. It really is frustrating that nearly all of these meals contain dairy, because they ARE handy. 

  • D.S. Lowe

    It is important to remember that these meals are not designed to be long term replacements. Generally, they are used during high activity events (hiking, patrols, emergency evacuation). The high calorie, high sodium diet is great if you are only eating once or twice a day and exerting a lot of energy. That said, when I was in Iraq, we were issued two MRE’s a day for 30 days. No hots. It was gastronomical hell.

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