Dinner Any Time


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Food Storage

I have started experimenting with long-term food storage options. No, I’m not worrying about the end of the world. My main reason is to have backup food on hand since I can only get into town to go grocery shopping once a month due to my job. A month is a long time to try and make fresh food last (it doesn’t) and I really hate getting ready to make something for dinner or to bake and finding out I am out of an ingredient. There is also the limit imposed by freezer and fridge space in an RV refrigerator. Can food storage save space? I have been wondering too lately if there is a way to save money on fresh food by using freeze-dried and powdered food. Will I still get the same great taste and nutrition of fresh food?

Even as an RVer, I had times when I was traveling all over the country that I ran out of items and either didn’t feel like running into town or town was too far. In fact, recently when I went on a month long vacation, I had to empty out my refrigerator to put my RV into storage then when I got back, I had nothing to eat after a very long day. I have also had times when I went grocery shopping and the store didn’t have my favorite food so I had to compromise. Food storage may be an option to resolve these issues so stay with me as I explore the possibilities and update this page as I go along.

To start, there are three choices:

1. Canned food – You can buy all manner of food in cans with some exceptions. Canned meat like tuna and chicken taste very good. There is even canned beef. I currently keep a lot of canned food. The cans are heavy so together they add a lot of weight to an RV and they take up a good bit of space in cans for two – four servings. Some things like red peppers lose their crunch so they just aren’t as good canned. Cans do last longer than fresh food though I am not sure I trust cans that have been stored in 100 degree heat for a long time.

2. Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) – Hikers and the military often use these freeze dried meals in pouches because they are lightweight, store more easily, and last for 25 years unopened. At $5-$7 a piece, they are not cheap and contain two servings. Just add hot water and they are ready to eat so they are nice for a quick meal if you don’t feel like cooking. I do have a bucket of 4 days worth of meals on board just in case. The meals are not the best I have ever had by any means but they are edible and many of them are even enjoyable. I like the freeze dried ice cream though it is weird eating warm dry ice cream. I liked the Salisbury steak too. How good they are really depends on individual tastes. They are readily available at Wal-Mart, sports stores, and military surplus stores as well as online.

3. Powdered and freeze dried individual foods also know as food storage – This is what I am experimenting with now. Food storage is actually meant to be used and rotated through though it also makes a fine long-lasting backup. I am purchasing #10 cans and smaller cans of food ingredients to use to make meals both as an addition to fresh food and to replace some of it. A #10 can of powdered eggs holds the equivalent of about 216 eggs when reconstituted with water. Unopened, the can lasts 10 years. Opened it lasts 1 year which is still a long time. Before you go blech!, powdered eggs and powdered milk are great for baking and use as part of a whole dish. You don’t taste that powdered flavor in a combined dish and how nice is it to always have eggs and milk around when needed? The freeze drying process occurs so quickly after picking that it captures the best nutrition and maintains it until you are ready to use it. The cans are lightweight and can you imagine how much fridge space you would need to store 216 eggs even if you could eat them before they spoil?! Then look at the cost compared to fresh and you will see huge savings in many items though not all. For those going vegan or who are on a diet, you can get freeze dried chicken, beef, and pork TVP which is a textured vegetable protein that tastes like meat and still provides plenty of protein from plant sources. Sounds weird I know but I have really come to love veggie burgers and veggie spicy chicken patties while dieting.

Thrive powdered eggsThrive beef TVP

Let’s start experimenting!

Powdered eggs – As plain scrambled eggs I don’t like them. The taste is very different and they aren’t as thick when frying them up. However, they do work fine in baking with no added odd taste. They work as part of fried rice too though not quite as good as a real egg. To use in recipes, you can add the egg powder in with other dry ingredients and up the water called for in the recipe. 1 T. egg powder + 2 T. water = one large egg. The company I use, Thrive, does have an alternate selection called “Scrambled Eggs” which is crystallized rather than powdered and gets high ratings so I will be trying those soon. I rate powdered eggs a Keeper With Limits on use. Huge savings on space and money. Convenient.

Powdered milk – First, you should know there are two kinds, instant and non-instant. You need twice as much instant milk in a recipe as non-instant generally speaking. Some folks like the taste but many do not. I would not drink instant milk but it is fine in recipes and very convenient when your fresh milk is found soured when you need it. Every RVer should keep some on board. For instant milk I rate it a Keeper With Limits. Good savings on space and some on money.

Non-instant milk is even better than instant! You do have to make it beforehand and chill it for at least a couple hours in the refrigerator but it does taste better to drink and both looks and smells like real fat-free milk with plenty of body and perfect color. This I do drink and it works great in making my favorite dessert, pudding, as well as anything else requiring milk. A can of it goes a long way too. I may stop buying regular milk altogether! Non-instant milk is an unqualified Keeper.

Non-instant milkNon-instant milk pudding

Beef TVP – To test this I used 1/2 cup beef TVP with 1/2 cup boiling water to reconstitute it to replace 1/2 pound of ground beef in my chili recipe. I mixed the reconstituted TVP with 1/2 pound of ground beef, added the other ingredients, then slow cooked my chili in a crockpot as usual. It came out delicious! The texture was still great and I couldn’t tell I had used TVP in it. Next time I will try using TVP only. Either way, it did also save some significant money and saved space in the freezer since it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I rate this a Very Limited Keeper. UPDATE – I tried using the beef TVP alone and I didn’t like the taste at all. It is really only good when substituted for half the hamburger in a recipe and only in recipes with a strong taste. Unfortunately, freeze dried meat hamburger is very costly at $8-$10 a pound when reconstituted.

Beef TVP chili

Freeze Dried Broccoli – Excellent! The can I received was mostly the green tops which is my favorite part. They easily rehydrate and are delicious. I will definitely be keeping these around. I rate them a Keeper. Very lightweight. Solid texture as they should be. Cost is more than fresh or frozen but they don’t spoil or take up fridge or freezer space. A good alternative.

Powdered Cheese Blend – Good taste. I prefer not to use heavy cream as they suggest. I used milk and a little corn starch. Low cost. Tasted good on my broccoli above. I rate it a Keeper. I can see using this for Mac n Cheese or plain cheese sauce.

Instant Refried Beans – Easily rehydrates and I like being able to cook just the amount I want. Much lighter weight than canned. Good texture. Stronger taste than I am used to so perhaps served with sour cream. On the wall with rating this one. I think it will be an acquired taste or perhaps add some other seasoning. I generally like mine blander. I rate this one as Reserved for the moment. Neither bad nor good. Very low cost though.

Potato Chunks – Potatoes come pre-peeled and pre-cut in small cubes that rehydrate in boiling water. I had some doubts as to how good they would be since eating perfect cubes is a bit odd to me but I gave them a try by making Breakfast Scramble with them. Oh my I went to heaven! They were delicious! Absolutely totally delicious! Potato Chunks are an absolute Keeper.

Breakfast Scramble

Freeze Dried Onion Slices – Pre-cut onion sliced exactly right to eliminate prep-time with plenty of onion smell and flavor without the tears is a real hit. You will always have onions available with these. Freeze Dried Onion Slices are a Keeper.

Freeze Dried Cauliflower – As excellent as the freeze dried broccoli with the same characteristics. Again, costs more than fresh or frozen but they keep much longer and don’t take up fridge or freezer space which is a valuable commodity in an RV. Freeze Dried Cauliflower is a Keeper.

Chicken TVP – Useful for soups, BBQ sandwiches, served dry on salads, or eaten right out of the can like fried onions. It tastes like BBQ chicken in a can. Yum! Chicken TVP is a Keeper.

More tests to come!

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