There is an old saying that an army marches on its stomach. It’s attributed variously to Napoleon or Fredrick the Great, but neither said those exact words in that exact way. Nevertheless, it’s true. Hunger will immobilize an army. This is why the toughest military training programs always involve food deprivation, to harden troops to the ravages of hunger.
For those who don’t want or need the 1,200-plus calories in a single-serving MRE and want to lay up food supplies for an emergency like a hurricane or zombie apocalypse, there are plenty of alternatives, offering freeze-dried foods, that are quite good.
When I got the box in the mail from Readywise, it arrived intact and undamaged from transit. Inside was a two-day supply of food packed in bags with an outer and inner seal. These were, in turn, inside a red dry bag. The loadout consisted of four entrees, two breakfasts, and two snacks.
1) Lasagna with sausage
2) Mac and Cheese
3) Chicken Teriyaki with noodles
4) Noodles and Beef
1) Apple cinnamon cereal
2) Strawberry Granola Crunch
Two packs of freeze-dried banana slices.
The packaging also includes a cardboard label with full nutritional information. This can be removed and kept for future reference or to reorder.
I don’t pretend to be a food critic of any kind but I can say these meals are easy to prepare and taste much better than I expected them to. The calories are weighed more towards the carbs, but if you are out hiking or adventuring you need those carbs for energy.
Meal preparation is pretty straightforward in these freeze-dried meals: just rip off the top tab, add boiling water in the range of one to two cups, close the inner seal and turn the bag over a few times to ensure the powdered flavor mix absorbs the water. Let it sit for 10 minutes, or so. You can then eat everything right out of the bag with a spoon. Since the bags re-seal, you can close them up again and save a portion for later if you want. The total calories for breakfast, two entrees, and a snack come out to about 2,000 calories.
The food was very tasty, not too salty or spicy either. I really liked the lasagna and noodles and beef in particular; and the dried bananas were nothing short of great. The difference between freeze-dried bananas versus the beef jerky hard dried bananas you buy at the grocery store is that freeze-drying leaves the banana slices with a certain puffy texture which makes them easier to chew and sweeter, in my opinion.
The breakfasts are prepared much like any other hot cereal, you just have to add hot water, too. I decided to eat the strawberry granola without water like a trail mix. I think that’s the right way to eat that one. It was crunchy and delicious with a nice strawberry flavor along with dried strawberries.
A nice surprise was the red five-liter dry bag which is entirely reusable as a piece of camping gear. It features a round flat bottom, rigid top seal, loop, and a clasp that creates a carry handle. I filled it nearly to the brim with water. Then, with some trepidation, I set it on the counter expecting that it might collapse and dump nearly five liters of water in my kitchen.
It didn’t though. The thick material and rigid top seal held the bag’s shape perfectly. The bag didn’t leak either. I then poured out about two liters, sealed the bag, and closed the clasp. I was able to carry it without worry that the clasp would give way.
It’s a good piece of kit. In the field, it can be used as a bucket to carry water. Alternatively, it can hold sand to put out a campfire or used to store other gear you want to keep dry.
The food packs I received had a “Best if eaten by 2036” tag. I suspect this has more to do with the packaging deteriorating than with the food itself going bad, but, in any case, food this good that can keep for 15 years is bonus.
When you do the math on the price versus the number of meals it still comes out pretty cheap. In bulk, the price breaks out at about $2,35 a meal.
The SOFREP store carries the full line of Readywise meals in a variety of storage configurations and quantities for preppers, campers, hunters, and disaster-preparedness needs. Check them out here.