Letter Re: Food Storage Question


With limited storage space, cost not a concern: Is it better to store the typical dry beans, rice, etc.? Or would you obtain a higher calorie count with something like the Mountain House cans?

HJL’s Comment:

It really depends upon your budget and what means you have to store food. Dry beans and rice (and similar foods) are easy to store and can provide a basic sustenance, dense calorie count diet with very little supplementing from other food sources. However, it is a very bland existence. If just surviving is the name of the game, it will work, but I like more variety. If you are willing to add herbs and spices to your survival pantry, you will be much happier. More expensive items like freeze dried foods work very well when you need to minimize the cooking aromas (so as not to draw attention to yourself) or are on the move. They take very little time and effort to prepare and are lightweight.

I do not personally use commercially prepared freeze dried foods because we own a Harvest Right freeze drier and we prepare our own foods using that, but it is a significant expense. You also need to be cautious about commercially prepared foods because many companies use smaller portions than what you really need to eat. Rather than use their meal count, use a calorie count method to determine how much you need to store. There are several SurvivalBlog advertisers that sell freeze dried foods of high quality.


  1. I live and work overseas. I have access to US postal service via my job, and for the last year have been eating an average of two out of three meals from Mountain House. In the beginning after I taste-tested and decided which meals I liked, I thought it would be smart to use the cans instead.Wrong……the dollar cost for the cans per serving is more (in my case) and once you open the can, you have to use it within a day or two, or it absorbs moisture and starts to spoil, even with a lid on. Contrast this to the pouches, which are rated for as long as the cans are, and have no after-opening spoilage issues. I eat a meal on the street here in the Middle East for around 5 to 7 US dollars, and one pouch of delicious MH Mac and Cheese is $7 delivered to my box at the local APO. Someone smarter than me should do a servings/calorie analysis against dollars per item and figure this out. I just feel in my gut that the pouches are a better value for me.

  2. Ok here’s the deal from Amazon’s website:

    1 #10 can of MH mac and cheese = 9 x 1 cup servings for $27

    1 pouch of MH mac and cheese = 3 x 1 cup servings for $7.

    So the delta is $6. Also, I need to say that I east the whole pouch of 3 x one-cup servings for a meal; it seems the products MH sells are designed to be part of a larger meal.

  3. Beans and rice are your best choice since you have limited space, that’s a good way to cram as many calories as possible. To avoid boredom, I would suggest also stocking freeze dried meals and then supplementing them with the rice or beans.
    For instance a 3 serving package of stroganoff with a couple cups of rice added and you get 3 actual servings with decent flavor, add spices as desired. Chili with beans, soup mix with rice, you get the idea

    Its amazing how much space food and water can take up.

  4. …I keep a stock of dried beans on hand…but….even after soaking them all night they take considerable fuel to cook….so for now I’m switching to canned beans when they go on sale at the supermarket…I look for the longest expiration dates available…

  5. There are many ways to use beans and rice and also pasta which also stores well. Since we’re on a tight budget I dehydrate spices , herbs and other foods I grow. I then place them in canning jars and vaccume pack them. I keep them out of sunlight and they have stayed good for ten years or more. Also if you learn to can you can pressure can meats to add to your dried goods. the home canned meat is good for many years. I’ve used canned meat that was over 10 years old and it was fine. Just check the seal. We raise some of our meat but you can still get great deals on meat when it’s on sale and you can buy the cheaper cuts because pressure canning makes them tender. For storage ideas think outside the box, Under the beds in the back of closets and other unused areas. Instead of thinking “I can’t” think “I can” and make it happen. One step at a time will get you a long ways if you keep going.

  6. RE dried beans taking a long time to cook.

    No soaking here …. We wash the beans, put them in our pressure cooker with a little bit of water and salt pork, and about 45 minutes later, they’re ready to eat. I’m from Louisiana, red beans and rice country, and my mother always cooked them this way, as does my DW. Red beans and rice, package to plate in about an hour …. yum.

  7. Box mac and cheese 33 cents,dry pasta and cheeses powder is available in bulk from commercial food outfits much cheaper. Unless you’re in SaudiArabia you should be able to eat “on the economy” much cheaper than that-find where the local house wives(or household servants) shop. If you order imports buy in bulk and store in smaller qualities(#5-#10 cheese powder,seperated into pint jars(vacuum sealed))

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