We recently got a box of freeze dried foods from a marketing company representing Fuel Yo ur Preparation. I had a few of them last summer and I remember really enjoying their sweet
and sour chicken with rice (so I’m gutted that wasn’t in there) but there are plenty of foods in this 5 day kit to keep me and Gav fat on a weekend hike. Although I knew from the start I wouldn’t like every meal as I am a fussy eater with certain things. I can at least give an honest opinion on meals I would/should like and the rest, well, let’s just say I know how to make Gav ‘choose’ the ones I don’t like so that I can actually have the ones I do.
First I want to talk about the weight of the 5 day box. I often take fresh foods on a night out in the woods as I love a good steak and jacket potato from a camp fire and who doesn’t love a full English in the morning so, the fact that I have about 5 times the food in my backpack and it weighs about the same is quite surprising. I have several breakfasts, many main courses and a few deserts and all I need in addition is some water in a pot and heat. Obviously this quantity of food does take up a large amount of space in my pack but I’m carrying enough for 2 people over 2 1/2 days and I still have space for my essentials like hygiene kit some tools spare clothes and my sleep system so it’s not bad at all. Also as they can be placed around my pack it means I can get the large items in without concern and then put the smaller pouches around the gaps. On that note of how light and space saving they are, they need a LOT of water to ‘cook’. I think around 6 litres for this 5 day emergency box which isn’t huge but definitely not going to make it weight saving if you are looking at a long trip. However, this doesn’t stop you stockpiling them for emergencies and this is really what they have in mind for you to do with their meals hence the ‘Preparation’ part of their brand name.
They take a varying amount of time to ‘cook’, the chicken tikka with rice is about 8 minutes of sitting around not including boiling water in the first place. You will probably be looking at something around 15 minutes if you are using a camp fire or camp stove but, you are out in the wilderness and 15 minutes is nothing to be grumpy about for a hot tasty meal. With regard to the content of the pouches, they aren’t as full as I(or most) would like. I can easily eat 2 or 3 of these in a sitting and the calorie content is less than you may need for hiking or heavy activities as you will burn a lot of energy, but for emergency food in your home they are more than adequate. The 5 day kit has about 1620 calories per day which is not quite the recommended daily intake but isn’t far off if you are just sitting around the house waiting for the world to end and you can always eat another one or two if you are doing lots of manual work.
Now for the important part, how they taste. I was going to do a little bit for each pouch but I didn’t think there was much point as they were all pretty good for the most part. The meat, like all freeze dried foods, is a little chewy but it is not off-putting. The meals, such as the rice-as-is-tradition-pudding or morning oats could only be improved with milk and if you have it use it because it was delicious and really nothing bad to say about them in the slightest. The tikka’s were nicely spiced and had a better flavour than any I have bought from a superstore. To be perfectly honest I hate store bought curries. I have only 2 curry houses in a 20 mile radius I like the food from and I make my own vindaloo from scratch because I am a curry fiend so, my liking of these spicy meals is quite surprising and I praise Fuel Your Preparation for making a spiced dish I would HAPPILY eat again. It’s not all great though, I made a chilli con carni with rice meal and from the moment the water went in I knew it was not going to be nice (it smelled like socks after a 10 mile hike through a bog). Maybe it was a bad batch but I assure you I wont ever look at one of those again. Other meals I wasn’t a fan of because I don’t like fish or cheese so they were never going to be high on my list but really the Chilli was the only one that disappointed. I also wasn’t as pleased with the vegetable tikka as i could taste the onion too much and I don’t like onion although it wasn’t a bad meal by any means. So, while not everybody will like every meal, you can always try a few to find the ones you like and some websites will even let you make your own food kits to skip out on the ones you hate without having to pay higher prices for the individual packets.
This is a basically a copy from their website as it details their products shelf life better than I could:
Based on storage studies conducted over many years, our shelf life is at least 7 years from the date of manufacture if stored properly. For best results, we recommend the pouches be stored unopened in a cool dry area.
Fruit and cheese pouches only have a 2 years shelf life from the date of manufacture if stored properly.
Each tin benefits from a 25-year shelf life.
So with a 25 year shelf life on the tins and 7 years on the pouches you can really get your stores set up with very little effort.
The only real downside for these is that they all require water to cook and not like boil in the bag but, actually put water in with the food (all freeze dried meals are the same) which meals you need fresh clean water so unless you can source clean water and purify it out in the wilderness you will be carrying more water. This means its not the most convenient food for you on a long hike or weekend out but it is great for taking if you have a vehicle or caravan or just to keep in your pantry for emergencies. I wont lie though, I have had a full fridge but still grabbed a meal like this because I like them and I’m lazy.
Overall these are a good product on the market and are as good or better than any other freeze dried products we’ve have available in the UK. I do feel a bit limited with the choice of foods as its not a huge range but hopefully we will see a lot more variety from them in the future. Right now though I have to be honest they have a good selection for people interested in starting or adding to their prep stores or like me you just want something quick and easy when you go camping. The ones I do like, I really like. The ones I hate, I don’t have to buy again. Either just buy one or two to see if you like them or go for a kit like the 5 Day Emergency Preparedness Kit for One we had. I recommend you give them a go and feel free to send me your chicken tikka’s if you don’t want them.