Keeping an adequate supply of quality freeze-dried meat in your stockpile will ensure that you have the nutrients you need to survive an emergency.
The best freeze-dried meat products are from:
- Valley Food Storage
- Mountain House
- 4Patriots Gold Medallion
- Augason Farms
After researching food storage protocols, I have gathered enough information to determine which products are suitable for long-term stockpiles. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best freeze-dried meat products worth considering for your emergency supplies.
What Is Freeze-Dried Meat?
Freeze-dried food goes through a process that involves freezing the product to extreme temperatures of -20F. Once frozen, water is removed from the meat through a process called lyophilization, which extracts 98 to 99% of the moisture from the product.
A vacuum pump removes water from the meat making it a shelf-stable food for long-term storage. One of the main reasons why fresh meat goes bad is the amount of moisture inside, which results in contamination.
Freeze-dried meat is not to be confused with dried meat products such as jerky, as the process for extracting water is completely different. With a freeze-dried meat product, you can count on it lasting for years or even decades making it an excellent choice for any emergency food supply.
How Long Does Freeze-Dried Meat Last?
Freeze-dried meat was designed to last for years, and it’s considered to be one of the most reliable food items for long-term stockpiles. On average, you should expect most freeze-dried meat to last anywhere from 10 to 30+ years.
This predicted shelf-life can vary depending on the product, with some brands advertising a shelf-life of just 10 to 15 years - and others upwards of 25 to 30 years. With shelf-stable foods like freeze-dried meats, the expiration date advertised on the packaging is not always the most reliable way to tell when the product will go off.
So long as the freeze-dried meat is unopened and the packaging has not been damaged, freeze-dried meat can actually last longer than the predicted expiration date. As always, you should observe the contents of any food product carefully after long-term storage to ensure it's still safe to eat.
Best Freeze-Dried Meat
Many people can’t imagine going through an emergency without having access to some of their favorite food items, which includes meat for a lot of preppers.
While fresh meat is generally out of the question, freeze-dried meat is a very useful and reliable product during emergencies. Preppers and survivalists tend to keep a reasonable supply of freeze-dried meat in their stockpiles at all times.
With an average shelf-life of 20 to 30 years, freeze-dried meat can potentially outlast even some of the most advanced survival goods. However, when picking out freeze-dried meat to store at home, it’s important to keep in mind that each product is a bit different. You should consider the following qualities when picking out freeze-dried meat:
- Calories & Nutrition
- Filler Ingredients
- Product Packaging
- Sodium Content
When dealing with emergency goods, prioritize products that are going to be the most practical and beneficial to you during an emergency. Yes, the flavor of the food is important, but a prolonged shelf-life and nutritional intake should be the main focus. These are the best freeze-dried meats for an emergency stockpile.
1. Valley Food Storage
Valley Food Storage takes pride in sourcing premium quality meat for its freeze-drying process. This product was made using only USDA Certified meat that was produced locally in the United States.
The contents of this bucket will take care of your meat-eating needs for virtually any emergency you encounter. With over 96 servings of freeze-dried meat in just a single bucket, Valley Food Storage has successfully created a reliable product that will fit right into any stockpile.
If you are dependent on the limited food you may have in your emergency goods, a little variation in your meals goes a long way. I particularly like that Valley Food Storage incorporates different types of meats into this bucket so that you never get bored with your supplies. These are the meats included in this bucket:
Each serving included in this product adds up to 140 to 180 calories per single package, giving you a source of high-quality protein in your diet. Depending on the meat product that you choose, the contents will be either 15 to 21 grams of protein per serving.
Freeze-dried meat from Valley Food Storage is very easy to prepare and incorporate into your daily meals. Given that this product is 100% pure meat, you can safely use it without adulterating the flavors in your meals.
Valley Food Storage used nothing but pure meat when making this bucket. The contents do not feature any rice or fillers whatsoever, which separates them from third-rate brands that cut corners on ingredients.
The bottom line is that this freeze-dried meat product is one of the best that money can buy. That being said, this is also one of the more expensive options on our list, as only premium-quality ingredients were used. With an impressive shelf-life of 25 years, you know this freeze-dried meat will be there for you when you need it the most.
- USDA Certified Meat
- Multiple types of meat
- High protein & calories
2. ReadyWise Freeze Dried Meat Bucket
Preparing food during an emergency can be laborious, tedious, and often unrealistic. If you want to save time and keep your emergency meals efficient, the ReadyWise Freeze Dried Meat Bucket is going to be the way to go.
ReadyWise designed this freeze-dried meat bundle to include pretty much everything you will need to survive a 60-day emergency. Unlike the previous Valley Food Storage product on our list, ReadyWise features freeze-dried meat meals that include flavors. This implies that you do not need to add any more ingredients such as sauces and spices unless you want to. These are the freeze-dried foods features in the bucket:
- Roasted Chicken
- Roasted Beef
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Stroganoff Beef
- Southwest style Chicken
- Cheesy Beef
In addition to the excellent variety of flavors that come in this pack, the bucket also includes 20 servings of rice so that you have something to eat your freeze-dried meat with. While you may need to incorporate some more rice or grains to fill out the rest of the bucket’s supply, this does simplify a lot of planning for preppers.
Given that flavors and spices are already included in each meat package, you can cook your freeze-dried meals without having to keep a bunch of other ingredients handy. This is particularly useful for basic, short-term stockpiles.
However, the additional flavors used for these complete meals do compromise the shelf-life. Emergency goods used for long-term stockpiles should ideally have basic or raw ingredients. Ultimately, the flavors in these meals will cause the products to deteriorate and expire faster, with ReadyWise advertising a 15-year shelf-life for this bucket.
Preparing these meals is incredibly easy and convenient. All you need to do is add some water to the freeze-dried meat and the product will begin to change form. The easy preparation combined with the grab-and-go bucket design makes this freeze-dried meat product very practical overall.
- Complete meals
- Includes 20 serves of rice
- Grab-and-go bucket design
- 15-year shelf-life
3. Mountain House Freeze-Dried Diced Beef
Mountain House is a reputable manufacturer of survival foods, and they feature a plethora of top-notch products in their store. However, the freeze-dried meat in their stock that stood out is the Mountain House Diced Beef.
I appreciate that Mountain House sources high-quality ingredients when designing their survival food. The freeze-dried Diced Beef only contains premium quality meat without any “artificial anything”. This product from Mountain House does not have preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors, making it a pure freeze-dried meat product through and through.
You can add the Diced Beef to pretty much any meal that requires meat. Just pop open the can and pour the freeze-dried chunks into whatever meal you are preparing. That said, Mountain House does recommend incorporating this product into things like stews, tacos, and soups.
Unlike the other products on our list, this freeze-dried beef from Mountain House does not come in a large container. The standard 14 servings included in the can should be plenty for most short-term emergencies, but you may want to consider buying more cans for long-term stockpiles.
The preparation process is very straightforward. Mountain House recommends using hot water when readying the meat, but you can feel free to use room temperature water - just let it soak a bit longer.
Lastly, this freeze-dried meat product from Mountain House has one of the best shelf lives on our list. With an expected lifespan of 30+ years, this product will be reliable decades after you buy it.
- No artificial ingredients or flavors
- Small-size container (14 servings)
- 30-year shelf life
- Small container
4. 4Patriots Gold Medallion
Quality lean protein is what the 4Patriots Gold Medallion freeze-dried meat bundle is all about. Instead of offering consumers a huge variety of complete meals, 4Patriots designed this product to be a solid source of pure nutrients for an emergency.
The contents of the 4Patriots freeze-dried meat pack only include chicken and beef. Despite the lack of options, 4Patriots chose to focus on quality over quantity. This bundle features nothing but pure chicken and beef, with no other additives or fillers. You will not find any rice or cheap ingredients weighing down your protein here!
The purity of this product makes it ideal for so many different meals. Unlike freeze-dried meat packages that come with complete meals, you will not be limited to what you can cook and how you can use your meat.
The chicken and beef provided are unflavored and will not inhibit cooking any recipe where meat is required. While this does imply that you should have herbs and spices available in your food storage, it also means that you can cook whatever you want during an emergency.
This product features 68 total portions at roughly 180 calories per serving. In addition, the lack of added ingredients keeps the 25-year shelf-life of this freeze-dried meat stable for any long-term stockpile or survival plan.
My biggest complaint about the 4Patriots freeze-dried meat box is that it requires boiling water to prepare. You may be able to get away with adding room-temperature water and waiting longer for it to absorb. But for the best results, boiling water is recommended by 4Patriots.
- Pure lean protein
- No additives
- Long shelf-life
- Boiling water required
5. Augason Farms Freeze Dried Beef Chunks
While calorie counting in your daily meals often requires you to eat less, the opposite is true for emergency stockpiles. Having access to quality calories during a survival scenario is absolutely essential.
At the end of the day, you need to consider that calories equate to energy, which you will need plenty of during an emergency. That’s why Augason Farms designed their freeze-dried beef chunks to pack a very solid punch of protein in every serving.
With 180 calories per serving, this freeze-dried beef product will ensure that your body has plenty of energy when you need it the most. Augason Farms used premium quality, all-natural beef when making these freeze-dried beef chunks.
Unlike most of the other options featured above, the Augason Farms product does not come in a bundle. A single #10 can hold all of the freeze-dried beef, which adds up to 13 servings per container. This makes it easier to buy smaller quantities of freeze-dried beef in case you are not looking for a massive bucket.
One of the best things about the Augason Farms freeze-dried beef is its extensive shelf-life. This product was designed to retain its quality for upwards of 30+ years, which is enough to impress even the most hardcore preppers.
- 30-year shelf-life
- Quality ingredients
- High calories
6. Legacy USDA FREEZE DRIED MEAT PACKAGE
Legacy used only 100% USDA meat when designing this freeze-dried meat pack. The quality ingredients combined with the solid nutritional intake make this product from Legacy a solid contender for any food storage stockpile.
This package from Legacy only features two types of meat: beef and chicken. Both options are packed with protein and essential calories, with the chicken offering 22 grams of protein per serving and the beef 17 grams.
The caloric intake from Legacy’s freeze-dried meat is lacking compared to most other options that I cover. With just 120 to 130 calories per serving, a single package may not be enough to fill the belly of every adult.
That said, the quality ingredients used will be enough to convince many preppers of this product. With lean protein being such an important part of your diet during an emergency, Legacy delivers on providing essential nutrients.
Preparing this freeze-dried meat is as easy as it gets. Adding water will rehydrate the chunks of meat to make them edible and better for incorporating into meals. Since no flavors or ingredients were used in this product, you can safely add it to your food without sabotaging the flavor.
While the 10 to 15-year shelf-life advertised by Legacy will be plenty for most people’s stockpiles, long-term preppers may find this expiration date to be unsatisfactory. Despite the quality ingredients used to make this product, the shelf-life could be better considering that this product does not contain additional flavors.
- High protein
- Easy to prepare
- 10 to 15-year shelf-life
- Low calories
Factors to Consider When Buying Freeze-Dried Meat
There are a lot of different freeze-dried meat products on the market, and some are undeniably better than others.
Each prepper has specific needs for their stockpile when picking out emergency goods, and you need to consider your system when making decisions. To help you pick the right product for your emergency supplies, consider the following factors when buying freeze-dried meat.
If you are creating a food stockpile at home, it’s important to have an estimated timeframe for your emergency goods. Are you setting up a food storage system that can last for 10, 20, or 30+ years?
Keeping the ideal shelf-life of your stockpile in mind will help you choose a freeze-dried meat product that is in line with your storage needs. It’s quite rare to find freeze-dried meat that lasts for anything less than 10 years.
However, some dehydrated foods and freeze-dried products last a lot longer than this and advertise a 30+ year expiration date.
2. Calories & Nutrients
It’s essential to keep your diet in mind when planning for an emergency. You need to ensure that your body is getting the quality calories and nutrients that it needs to function properly in a disaster scenario.
Evaluate the calories and nutrients advertised by a freeze-dried meat product you are considering. An ideal product should be packed with quality protein and plenty of calories.
An additional tip is to incorporate freeze-dried fruit and freeze-dried veggies into your emergency food supply for more nutrients and vitamins.
You may not have access to a fully-loaded kitchen when disaster strikes. If that’s the case, you want to stock up on food items that are quick and easy to prepare.
Freeze-dried meat is not difficult to cook, but some products do recommend using boiling water instead of just regular water. This is a factor worth keeping in mind as you weigh out your options.
4. Avoid Filler Ingredients
Cheap freeze-dried meat brands will often stuff their products with filler ingredients like rice and cheap freeze-dried vegetables, which are used to weigh down the bag.
Ingredients such as rice and other fillers should be avoided whenever possible. They do not add significant calories or nutrients to your diet and will be less beneficial compared to a pure protein product. Unless you are buying complete freeze-dried meals, fillers should be avoided.
Quality survival food comes at a price, and you can expect to pay more for some freeze-dried meat products. While many companies price their freeze-dried meat high because they use quality ingredients, brand recognition does also make some products more expensive.
If you want to keep your costs down, pick a product that delivers nutrients and calories but is more affordable than the competition.
6. Product Packaging
When buying goods for a long-term stockpile, you want to ensure that they are properly packaged and contained. This is important to reduce the chances of contamination and to prevent pests from getting into your supplies.
I recommend choosing a product that features reliable packaging. Durable buckets are great for keeping out pests and preventing contamination, so long as the freeze-dried meat packages are 100% sealed.
If you decide to take out the individual meat packets from their original container, remember to leave them unopened and add them to an additional durable container for safe storage.
7. Sodium Content
Some freeze-dried meat products contain more sodium than others. The FDA recommends that the average adult consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
While most of the products featured on our list should keep you within this range, eating too much red meat can particularly imbalance your sodium intake. Freeze-dried beef and sausage particularly have more sodium - with chicken containing less.
To avoid any health issues during an emergency, remember to diversify your meals by using different types of meat. This will keep your sodium consumption balanced.
Survival food is never someone's first choice for a meal. That said, just because it's designed for emergency use, that doesn’t mean that it has to taste bad. If you are going to be eating the same food for days, weeks, or longer, you should choose a product that you will genuinely enjoy.
While calories and nutrients should always be prioritized first, make sure not to leave your gut out of the equation when choosing freeze-dried meat for your stockpile.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker