Food storage shopping can be confusing. While we have covered the differences between freeze-dried food and dehydrated elsewhere, there are interestingly enough a lot to learn when it comes to shopping for freeze dried food. For that reason we are writing our freeze did food buying guide. Check it out below!
Here are a list of factors and details you will want to think about when shopping for freeze dried food:
Net Weight of Food
Not all packaged foods are created equal. They may look identical in size when it comes to packaging but many retailers employ a variety of tricks to boost profits. One such tactic is to have a lower fill level. Since cans and mylar pouches aren’t transparent, buyers are flying blind when it comes to how much food is in the container (fill level). The little of help comes from the net weight.
Net weight is the weight of the food in the package, not including the weight of the packaging. Thankfully net weight is a required data point when it comes to packaging food in the United States. In the food storage industry, it’s almost always towards the bottom of a can or mylar pouch.
While it may not be fun doing math when shopping it can make a big difference. What you need to do is look at the total net weight in ounces and divide it the cost of the can. This will give you cost per ounce and will help you level the playing field as you shop from can to can.
Dices versus slices versus whole
Many people shop by price per can. They see freeze-dried peach slices at Company A for $20 a can and a can of freeze dried peach dices for $25 from Company B. More often than not the buyer sees the $20 price and pulls the trigger thinking they got a better deal. The truth is often they are getting the raw end of the deal.
Apple dices versus slices
Some fruits and veggies that are large (think broccoli, strawberries, peaches, apples, ect) when sliced or freeze dried whole can create air voids when filled into a can. Unless the packaging company uses a vibrating table during filling their will likely be large amounts of air in the can.
When purchasing these same foods in sliced or diced form, they are turned into much smaller pieces and when filled in a can there will only be product.
Of course if you follow the first step above and look at net weight of freeze dried food and are comparing cost per ounce then you have nothing to worry about. Just know that a full can of peach slices is often going to weigh a fair amount less than a can of peach dices. Size matters, at least when it comes to the size of your food storage reserves.
NOTE: Small fruits, veggies, and meat dices such as blueberries, raspberries, grapes, ect when cut are not much smaller so in these cases you are unlikely to see much of a difference as you will see with these whole and sliced freeze dried blueberries.
Country of Origin
Another aspect of buying freeze dried food is where it comes from. For those that are worried about food safety issues, some 3rd world countries have iffy track records that you may want to avoid. Some people may simply want to buy American, while others may not care one bit and want the best price no matter where it comes from.
Unless you are in that last group you have some work to do. Calling companies and asking them where their food is grown (not where it is processed or canned) is a chore. Over the past year we have reached out to many of them to ask that question (including companies we have yet to review) and a good percentage of them were very resistant to admit it. You can tell they were not comfortable talking about it and especially not admitting to it but it can be done.
Others like The Blue Chip Group (makers of Augason Farms, another company we have yet to review) have no problem owning up to bringing in food from places like China so your mileage will vary but in the end if you want to know you need to call and ask. We have decided against making a list of these companies as we are tired of being harassed by a select few.
Some companies, Emergency Essentials and Shelf Reliance are a couple examples, offer smaller sized packaging options (cans and mylar pouches) and they are great for sampling.
Before you buy a lot of product test it out first. We have tried a lot of products and sometimes we have picked the more expensive product while other times the less expensive option was the winner.
We have invested in a lot of dehydrated and freeze-dried food storage and feel that getting the best value is what makes sense for our family. Others may feel that the cheapest is always the best as they hope they will never have to use it and just want the least expensive option. That is ok too, what makes sense for your family is all that matters but for those that are a little more discerning about the food they eat we highly recommend sampling and these small containers are great for it.
BUYING TIP: We don’t recommend buying your entire food storage in the smaller containers as they are nowhere near as good of a deal as their larger counterparts. For example the blueberries shown above, are $2.47 an ounce in the #10 can versus $5.47 an ounce in the small pouch as of the day of this post. Nearly twice the price when buying in smaller quantities. Use them to sample but for that reason only.
Prepare for Using the Product
You have the food but what happens when it comes time to use? For those that are buying and stowing the product for a rainy day you will want to practice a little with the product so you know how to prepare, cook, and make recipes with it. For those that eat the products daily and rotate through it you will also want to do some things to make your experience the best possible. Here are a couple usability tips:
– With canned product replace plastic over-cap (white or clear can cap) after each use. To keep air out.
– If you are in a humid area, once the can is open put the product in a ziploc bag and push air out as much as possible before resleaing and replacing the product into the can.
– Place opened product into a vacuum sealable bag, one such brand is FoodSaver. Oxygen is an enemy to food preservation and these systems do a lot to help even opened food last much longer on your shelf.