Making sure you have enough food during an emergency situation is one of the most important parts of prepping. Although there are many ways to build a food supply, one of the easiest options is to stockpile freeze-dried food. One of the best companies for freeze-dried meals is Mountain House.
Mountain House is well-regarded in the preparedness and camping communities for producing high-quality and tasty products. They produce many varieties of freeze-dried entrees, desserts, and even staple foods, such as ground beef and diced chicken. Mountain House is so highly-regarded that the U.S. Military uses them to produce their long-range patrol rations. These are special versions of their meals that are designed to suit the needs of soldiers.
Do Mountain House Meals Expire?
One of the most commonly asked questions about emergency food storage is, “When does it expire?”. Compared to most other emergency food storage, Mountain House is at the top of the pack. Mountain House meals can expire but they have a shelf life of 30 years when stored properly.
Having food with a 30-year shelf life is amazing. For example, I just bought a couple of pouches of freeze-dried lasagna that will not expire until 2048. This long shelf life makes it possible to acquire large quantities of food without having to worry about it expiring before you need it. To ensure such a long shelf life, Mountain House exercises outstanding quality control. This means that when Mountain House puts an expiration date on their package, you can have confidence that it is correct.
It is important to note that the expiration date on the package, in reality, is more of a “best by” date. This means that the food probably won’t be dangerous to eat past the expiration date. Instead, it will likely lose nutrients and look a little different. However, use your best judgment. If the food smells rancid, then throw it out. However, this is extremely unlikely to occur if the food has been stored properly and remained sealed.
Easy to Store
Another advantage of Mountain House meals is they are easy to set aside for the sole purpose of emergency preparation. This is beneficial because it helps you to avoid eating your preps. I keep my Mountain House meals in a separate area from my pantry and other food storage. This prevents them from becoming victims of a case of the munchies or me avoiding going to the store. When they are stored separately, I forget they are there, which prevents me from eating them until I actually need them.
Where Can You Buy Mountain House Meals?
Mountain House meals are widely available in various sporting goods stores, Walmart, and numerous online vendors. This allows you to shop around for the best price and gives you more opportunities to stock up. I have noticed that prices fluctuate, especially online, so check back on the price every once in a while to see if you can get a good deal.
Other good places to look for Mountain House meals include Army Navy Stores and if you have one near you, an emergency preparedness store. You may even be able to find them at swap meets and trades days. However, if you do this, check the packaging thoroughly for any signs of damage.
Mountain House Varieties
They also come in numerous varieties, which will help you and your family avoid becoming sick of eating the same thing over and over again. My personal favorites are the Chili Mac with Beef and Lasagna with meat sauce. Although I haven’t tried them yet, I hear that people love their Breakfast Skillet and Italian Pepper Steak meals.
If you have kids, Mountain House’s ice cream desserts would be good ways to introduce freeze-dried foods to them. You can tell them that it is “Astronaut Ice Cream”, which they will probably think is the coolest thing ever. After you have them hooked, introduce the others as well.
Light-Weight and Portable
Mountain House meals are also extremely lightweight. This allows the pouches to be carried in bug-out and get home bags and would also be helpful if you had to quickly load up your car and leave.
If you want to conserve space in your bug-out bag, then their Pro-Paks are an excellent choice. Pro-Paks are offered in most of Mountain House’s varieties, however, they have a slightly smaller portion size and are vacuum-sealed. This reduces the amount of space that they will take up in your pack. They also won’t expand at higher altitudes, making them a great choice if you are going to be hiking or camping in mountain areas.
Mountain House offers its products in a few different packaging options. Purchasing the #10 cans is probably the most cost-effective way of stocking their meals. The cans usually contain around 10 servings of food, which would probably provide two people with lunch and supper entrees for two days.
Mountain House also offers buckets that contain pouches with a few different varieties of meals in them, which are fairly cost-effective as well. They offer three bucket options, which are detailed below:
- Essential Meal Assortment: Contains 4 pouches each of Chili Mac with Beef, Rice and Chicken, and Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. (12 pouches total)
- Classic Meal Assortment: Contains 3 pouches each of Beef Stroganoff with Noodles and Beef Stew and two pouches each of Chicken Fried Rice, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and Granola with Milk and Blueberries. (12 pouches total) You can find the Classic Meal Bucket by clicking here.
- Breakfast Assortment: Contains 4 pouches each of Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Peppers, Granola with Milk and Blueberries, Breakfast Skillet, Scrambled Eggs with Bacon. (16 pouches total)
The most expensive way to invest in their meals is by buying them by the individual pouch. Although the pouches are great for stocking a bug-out bag or camping, investing in #10 cans and buckets are much better ways to build a stockpile for your home or bug-out location.
Mountain House also offers their meals in the form of emergency kits as well. These include 2, 3, 4, 5, and 14-day Emergency Food Supplies. If you have a big budget, they offer 4-week and 12-week Emergency Food Supplies as well. The amount of time each of these kits advertises, according to Mountain House’s website, is meant to “meet most of one person’s daily caloric needs”. So, be sure to take this into consideration if you are buying for multiple people.
How to Cook Mountain House Foods
Cooking methods will vary depending on if you have purchased the pouches or #10 cans. For the pouches, simply boil the amount of water specified on the packaging, pour the water into the pouch, close the bag, and let it sit for however much time the packaging states. The meal can then be eaten directly out of the pouch or emptied onto a plate.
I really like this method of cooking, because it does not require you to get a pot dirty when you are cooking. This will help you conserve water, which will be very important during an emergency situation. Being able to cook in the pouch and then dispose of the pouch will also help create a more sanitary environment. The pouches can be flattened, closed up, and then placed in a trash bag.
You can cook the contents of a #10 can in a similar fashion, however, if you only want to cook a partial amount from the can, you will need to remove the amount you want, place it in a pot with the appropriate amount of boiling water, and cover it. The only downside to this is that you will need to use more water when cleaning up. However, the #10 cans give you a container that can be washed out and repurposed for any number of uses.
My favorite Mountain House meals are the Chili Mac with Beef, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Rice and Chicken, and Lasagna. These varieties are just the tip of the iceberg of what Mountain House offers.
I recommend picking up a few individual meal pouches and trying them for supper. Doing this will give you an idea of which varieties you need to stock up on. Be sure to also stock up on varieties that members of your family like as well. Emergency situations are stressful enough without having to deal with hungry and cranky family members.
Truth be told, my food preps are nowhere near where I want them to be. However, I plan on continuing to make Mountain House meals an essential part of my preps. They offer great taste, a long shelf life, and are fuel and water-efficient. They are also great food options for camping or hunting. I would strongly recommend them to anyone wanting to expand their food preparations.