Category - Food Storage

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Purifying Water in an Emergency Part 1

Harry Weyandt

Harry Weyandt

By Harry R Weyandt, Nitro-Pak.Com Preparedness Expert

Most of us take for granted every day that when we turn on our faucet we will get safe drinking water.  In an emergency or disaster situation, where regular water service has be tainted or interrupted (such as in the event of a flood, hurricane or earthquake) local authorities may recommend using only bottled water, require boiling or disinfecting the water until regular delivery is restored.

The instruction below will walk you thru step-by-step on how to make your water safe for drink by boiling, disinfecting and filtering. However, boiling and disinfecting the waterEasy-As-123 will NOT destroy or remove other contaminates such as chemicals, fuels or bad taste. For those living along coasts, you could be able to use ocean salt water for drinking if you have a water distiller (see #4 below).

In emergency circumstances, FIRST used any bottled water or your emergency water storage you have. After this, ONLY USE TREATED WATER for drinking, cooking, meal or drink preparation, washing dishes or brushing your teeth. Do not take a chance on untreated sources. When in doubt, treat it, filter it or boil it or by using a combination of them.

We do NOT recommend using stagnant water from any source, flood control canals or flood waters since these typically have increased levels of bacteria, germs, sewage, parasites and other possible contaminates that can cause dysentery (severe diarrhea), typhoid and hepatitis. Never use water with debris material floating in it, has an odor or is dark in color. These are indications that the water is significantly contaminated and maybe too dangerous to safely filter or treat.

Red-Cross-truckThe American Red Cross and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not recommend using water from swimming pools, spas, waterbeds, fountains or toilet bowls for drinking.

The best sources for emergency drinking water after your bottled stored water, is from clear flowing springs and streams. Lakes, ponds and larger rivers are your next best sources. Water may also be available hidden in your home from hot water heaters, home water pipes and upper toilet tanks that do not have bluing agent in them.

The best solution, according the American Red Cross, for insuring safe drinking water from outside sources is a 2-step process using methods described below. Which ones you choose will be by personal taste or preference and fuel availability.

When in doubt, treat your water using one or more of the following methods:

See PART #2 to learn about purifying your water by boiling.

© 2017 Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center Inc. Click Here to see our full list of preparedness articles and blog posts.

Harry R Weyandt is the founder and owner of Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center Inc., one of America’s oldest and most respected preparedness companies. He has been a leading authority in the preparedness industry for over 30 years and has been interviewed by CNN, ABC News, FOX News, The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal among others as an expert in his field. He lives in Utah with this wife Vickie along with their children and grandchildren. His hobbies are boating, camping, international travel and anything to do with preparedness

MRE vs Freeze-Dried Meals, What’s the Difference?

MRE vs Freeze-Dried Meals, What’s the Difference?

MRE vs Freeze-Dried Meals, What’s the Difference?

By Aaron Curley and Harry Weyandt

When you hear the term “MRE”, most people usually think of food storage, camping foods or foods that our military uses in the field.  Many mistakenly think that freeze-dried foods and MRE’s are nearly the same, which they are not. Let’s take a closer look…

MRE stands for Meals-Ready-to-Eat (“MRE”s).  They were developed by the U.S. Military as a combat ration containing a full three-course meal for troops in the field. The main entrée is a wet pack, shelf-stable food product that is much like canned foods you buy in a grocery store except they are packaged in a “flexible foil pouch” and have a longer shelf-life. The entree is fully cooked and can be eaten hot or cold anytime, anywhere. No further preparation is required. Because full MRE meals usually contain a 3 course meal, they are easy to hand out and dispense in the field or in an emergency. They are also a great choice for adding to home bug-out bags.

Some MRE’s come with flameless water activated heater rations. These simply require a small amount of water to be poured into the pouch to set off a chemical reaction with the inner heater packet to provide you with a piping hot MRE entrée in about 10 minutes. The addition of these heater packets typically adds about a dollar per meal, or $12 to a case of 12 meals.

The design of the MRE’s multi-layered foil seal pouch can be heated or warmed in other ways also such as placing the pouch on a car dash board, on a hot engine block or placed on a rock in direct sun. This is one reason why they are a favorite among hunters and outdoor enthusiast because of their ease of use, carrying and compactness.  MRE’s generally have about a five year shelf-life from date of manufacture when stored at about 70 degrees or less.

Buying MRE’s:  First, find a reputable place to buy them from. All military MRE entrees and side dishes are made for the government under massive contracts. After a holding for a period time by the manufactures, production overruns are sold on the commercially market. These are typically 6 – 12 months old when they become available. In the industry, these are considered “fresh”.

Because the variety of entrée and side dishes are constantly changing with each contract, try finding a MRE seller that offers a wide range of entrée choices per case, 12 different meals is most preferable, though most companies offer only 3 to 4 varieties per case.

If you see MRE’s on bargain sites like Ebay or Amazon, beware that surplus sellers often dump their expired old stock on unsuspecting buyers who are not armed with this information here and do not know the right questions to ask. These MRE’s often seem like great bargains at $35-$60 per case of 12, but buyer beware. These can often be upwards to four years old with little shelf-life remaining. Know the manufacture dates before you buy so you get the longest shelf-life possible.

Secondly, don’t buy on price alone, cheaper does not mean it’s a better deal. Look closely at the average calories that the meals provide (many companies conceal this and say nothing hoping you will not ask) and look at the meal choices and other side components that are included. A normal contract military MRE meal contains a main entrée, side dish, bread item, dessert, beverage drink, and spoon and compliment accessories. These typically provide 1200 to 1500 calories per meal. The actually MRE’s sold to the U.S. government are not sold to the general public. All commercially made MRE’s are usually made of both military and commercially made parts and pieces to keep the prices more affordable, but compare the individual components carefully to know if it is a deal or rip-off.

MRE’s are perfect for quick meals with no preparation and you can eat them hot or cold. They are a great addition to any short term emergency plans for your home or business. Their disadvantage is their shorter 4-5 year shelf-life which takes them out of the running for long term storage plans. For extended food storage, we recommend looking closely at freeze-dried foods.

Freeze-Dried Foods and Meals

In comparison, freeze-Dried foods have up to 99% of their moisture or water removed through a process of sublimation, or freeze-drying as most people call it. This is done through a process where the foods are prepared, seasoned and cooked then flash frozen. Next, the foods are placed inside a freeze-drying chamber where a vacuum is pulled and the chamber slowly warmed to remove nearly 100% of the moisture from the foods. This whole process can take from 24 to 48 hours to complete, but the end result is well worth it.

Most people like freeze-dried foods because they simply taste better, much like frozen corn is preferred over canned corn. In addition, the end result is that they are super light-weight, retain their same shape, texture and flavor. These foods reconstitute fast in about 5-10 minutes by just adding hot water (cold can even be used in a pinch). No other dry food storage is faster to prepare or stores longer.

In addition, and perhaps most importantly, freeze-dried foods, because of the freeze-drying process, have the longest PROVEN shelf-life of all long-term storage foods.  Mountain House® says that their freeze-dried foods packaged in metal cans or foil sealed pouches will store safely for 30 years when properly stored. They are the only company that offers a full line of real freeze-dried meals. Most of their meals are also made with real meats and not soy TVP, in both metal cans and foil pouches.  They offer a wide variety to choose from such as beef stroganoff, lasagna, chili mac, beef stew and chicken teriyaki just to name a few.

It should be noted here that the name “freeze-dried food” does not always mean that the foods are really freeze-dried. Some food storage manufactures make survival foods and call their powdered soup based blends that are sprinkled with a few freeze-dried vegetables or meats as “freeze-dried”. These are not really freeze-dried meals. Dry powdered mix blends cost much less to make than real freeze-dried entrée meals and will not store as long. Only Mountain House® brand prepares, cooks and packages their own real freeze-dried meals.

Freeze-dried meals have been a top choice for campers, backpackers and preppers for over 40 years. If you have a stove and some water, they are the perfect choice for any camping adventure or emergency food storage plan.

When looking at the differences between MRE’s and Freeze Dried foods, they both have pros and cons which should be considered before purchasing. MRE’s are a great choice for immediate short-term emergencies when you need to bug-out fast but have a much shorter 4-5 year shelf-life. On the other hand, freeze-dried foods cannot be beat for both short and long term emergencies for a wider selection of meal choices, storage compactness and ultra-long 30 year shelf-life.

We recommend having a combination of both. MRE’s for 1-2 weeks for providing instant meals and freeze-dried foods for anything longer. Whatever you decide, just do something now while it is still fresh on your mind. As always, Have a Plan, Be Ready and Be Prepared!

© Nitro-Pak® Preparedness Center, Inc. September 2016



Why You Need 30 Days of Food on Hand

Why You Need 30 Days of Food on Hand

Why You Need 30 Days of Food on Hand

When you are new to prepping or even if you are somewhat practiced at it, you are probably still trying to figure out just how much food you should be storing. You will read about folks who have a year’s worth of food sitting in their basement or bunker. It seems like a far-fetched, nearly impossible goal to attain without spending hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars overnight to get that much food stored away. How did they do it? They have probably been at it for a while, years more likely. You can reach that goal by doing a little at a time.

For new preppers, your ultimate goal should be to get at least 30 days worth of food on hand right out of the gate. This is where your focus should be. Food and water will be your priorities assuming you are going to be hunkering down in your home. If you have plans to bug out to a secondary location, you will still want to have a minimum of a 30-day supply in your main home and the bulk of your other supplies in the retreat location.

Why 30 Days?

When you are trying to plan a food storage, it is easiest to work with months. That is one reason. Another reason is the typical fallout from a major disaster will likely leave you holed up in your home for at least a couple of weeks. The government recommends a minimum of 3 days of food and water, but in the grand scheme of things, that is nothing. What if it takes at least a few days before your area can be accessed by rescue services? Will they bring enough food and water? Will there be riots, pushing and shoving as people try to get the minimal supplies that were brought in? It could be another week before adequate supplies are brought into the area or you are able to leave and find food elsewhere. It is simply too risky to leave it up to hoping for the best.

The key is to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. When you have 30 days of food on hand, you don’t have to spend time and energy trying to take care of that very important need. You can focus on taking care of the injured, finding information about what happened and when you can expect things to be set right again. Things will be tough enough as it is, you don’t need to add to your stress level worrying about where you will find your next meal and what you will feed your children. You need time to get your head on straight and possibly heal from any wounds. If it becomes apparent that the disaster is going to cause a major interruption in the food supply chain for longer than 30 days, you can start scouting for food without panicking that you are not going to be able to eat tomorrow. You have a cushion.

What Food Should You Store?

You need to store food that isn’t going to spoil. Ideally, items with long shelf lives are your best bet. Canned food is often a food of choice for preppers because it can store for years without spoiling and it is inexpensive. However, there is still the risk of it going bad or botulism developing if it hasn’t been stored correctly or the cans have become dented or dinged in any way. Canned food can also be heavy, requiring you to have sturdy shelves to hold a 30-day supply. Another downside to canned food is the salt content in many of the foods. At a time when water is in short supply, you need to manage your salt intake to avoid dehydration.

Freeze-dried food is certainly a favorite for preppers. The variety of meals that are available is astonishing. It requires only a little water to re-hydrate and actually holds quite a bit of flavor. You will find food options like spaghetti and meatballs, chili, chicken soup with veggies and even pork chops! No, the food doesn’t taste exactly as it would should you make it fresh in your kitchen today, but it is pretty close. One suggestion is to have a variety of spices on hand to help add some flavor to the pre-packaged meals.

One of the downsides to the freeze-dried meals is the cost. They can be extremely expensive, especially if you are buying individual packages. However, you can save a great deal of money buy buying in bulk. The foods are regularly sold in 10 pound cans that store for 30 years or more in the right conditions. If you or someone in the family has dietary restrictions, you can find freeze-dried meals that are designed to follow those guidelines, like gluten free, low sodium or even vegetarian options.

It is important you read the serving size details on each can. A 30-day supply for a woman is going to look a lot different than a 30-day supply for a man who is burning thousands of calories every day doing manual labor. Your best option is to focus on calorie content and not pay attention to how long the cans should last you. A single serving is probably not going to be enough for any adult. Factor that in when you are deciding how much to store for 30 days.

BIO – Anthony Urso










As a firefighter, I see every day how an emergency can affect a family. I strive on helping people with their emergency and survival plans while continuing the course on my own preparedness journey.
You can learn more on our blog

How Long Can Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Canned Products Last Once Opened?

Food Storage

How Long Can Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Canned Products Last Once Opened?


Most food products have a recommended “once opened, use by…” time-frame.  For example, each can of Mountain House food states:

“Once open, contents should be used immediately.  However, product resealed using plastic recloseable lid has been found to be acceptable up to one week after opening.” 

Since manufacturers want you to be pleased with your product every time you use it, they will often give a much shorter time-frame than the product can actually last.  This means that while the product will have the best flavor and nutrition within the given time-frame, the food can still provide you with a great meal long after the fact.

The question of how much longer a food can last depends on a number of variables.  While there isn’t a set period of time that we can recommend for you to use your product, there are some guidelines we can offer to help you get the most out of your investment.

The thing to remember is, if something can harm a product while it’s being stored, it can harm it after it’s been opened.  Our main concerns are then:

  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Moisture
  • Light

Heat:  Heat can quickly breakdown a food’s vitamin and protein content.  To maintain a high level of nutrition, it is still best to store opened food in as cool an environment as possible, preferably 70 º or lower.  If you still have electricity, storing remaining food in the fridge or freezer is a great way of preserving your reserve.   Just be sure to store it in airtight and moisture proof containers.

Oxygen and Moisture:  Oxygen and moisture can usually be avoided at the same time.  Since freeze-dried and dehydrated food has already gone through a process to remove moisture, our main concern is the moisture in the air.  By immediately storing your opened food in airtight containers, you can reduce the affects of oxygen and moisture at the same time.   Each can does come with its own resealing lid, but it is far more effective to store the unused portion in something like a Ziplock bag before placing it back into the can.

Light:  Light is probably one of the least thought of dangers to our stored food; however, light can degrade components in our foods, such as vitamins, proteins and fats.  They can also cause the color and flavor of the food to change.  If you are storing your opened food in clear bags or containers, placing the containers in a cupboard or dark pantry would help the food keep long

Other factors to consider are how your products were stored and what condition your can is in.  If your products were stored under less than ideal circumstances, the food inside may have already degraded to a certain extent.  Also, if there are any significant dents along the seams of the can, there may be cracks that have let in air and moisture.  These will significantly decrease the amount of time an opened product will remain good to use, no matter how well you store your products later.

By continuing to treat your opened food reserves with the same care as you did while storing them, you can continue to enjoy great meals for potentially months to come.  We here at Nitro-Pak have seen first-hand Mountain House products last four months and longer and still have a great taste.  Just remember to treat any prepared meals like you would normal leftovers.