Sunday, November 16, 2014

Project SSF (Senior Survival Food)

    I mentioned something about this a few weeks ago in a blog post as I have been thinking about doing this for some time, but with everything that has gone on the past few months, I just really haven't had time, as I had other things I wanted to take care before it turned cold. This is not a new idea, if you browse the net, there are many other people around that have done something similar to this, whether they use mason jars or other packaging.

     I originally got this idea from DUKE. We had done a MLK weekend camping trip several years ago and the rest of us had Mountain House packaged food or expired MRE's, as one person found out the hard way. He showed up to cook with I believe Lipton cup-o-soup packs, vienna sausages, and some other things. We all sat around heating our water to go into the pouches, while DUKE stirred all his stuff in a mess kit and cooked right in front of us. There was a discussion going around at the time and he remarked about his cost for his food compared to what we paid for the freeze dried pouches. ok, fast forward to today.....

     I have used mylar bags that are similar to the ones Mountain House uses for their packaging in my own food stores. Instead of using the larger bags, I started breaking the stores into smaller, more easier to manage sizes. Here is a link to the site I purchased them from, USA Emergency Supply. 

    I, like many of you have eaten a Mountain House freeze dried meal before. I like them better than the other brands by far, but there are a few issues I have with them. First issue is the lack of variety they have and some of their product line I really don't care for. Second issue is the amount of freeze dried meat that they put in the meals, which to me is hardly any for the price I pay for them. Final issue, of course is the price. 

     I have the bag, now the next step for me was to decide what meal so I want to make.
Knorr pack run around $1.00 each.

    I decided I will use the Chili Mac mix as my test meal as I like chili mac, I sure as hell ate a lot while in the Navy. Since it is hard to find freeze dried meat in local stores, for this project and I am not using TVP or HVP that's in Mountain House, I placed an order with Honeyville and purchased a small can of beef and turkey.

   Next, I open both packages. The recommended serving size for the beef was 1/2 cup. Well I want to make this can stretch so I reduced down to a 1/4 cup.

     I place all the items into the zip-loc mylar bag and place a 500cc oxygen absorber in with the food and remove as much of the air from the bag and zip it shut. I also used an iron to heat seal the top strip of the bag to ensure that if the zip-loc seal does leak, I have a secondary seal.

    Now to break down the costs and weights for each bag:

Mylar bag with shipping: $0.43

Box of hamburger helper chili mac with tax: $1.60

O2 absorber with shipping: $0.22

Freeze dried beef with shipping: $2.18

Grand total for a pouch of Senior Survival Food (SSF): $4.43

Grand total for MH Chili mac from Academy sports with tax: $8.54

Total savings of: $4.11

Total weight of the MH Chili mac: 4.80 ounces

Total weight of homemade: 6.20 ounces.

   By no means am I knocking Mountain house and their products down, as I stated earlier, they are the best tasting ones on the market compared to the other brands but I have a few issues with them. I am looking for a low-cost alternative that I can have more options with. I wanted to also put a picture of the packaging when the 500cc O2 absorber was finished but I will post a picture when I open it and try the meal out. I will do a part two to this post.

   That's all for today, if you have comments or suggestions, please post them and lets get the discussion going.

Till next time, stay safe, carry often, and get ready, it's coming soon.



  1. Love it, as I'm always looking for frugal prep items. How would you make an educated guess on the shelf life of the homemade pouch? For that matter, what is the "best by" date on the Mountain House pouches. Thanks for the post. -K

  2. K, I don't really know how long it would keep, but with most food, keep the elements away from it, specifically air, and I would say it could last 10-20 years. The macaroni in the box is dry and half the thickness of most elbow macaroni. Just think of putting rice in 5 gallon buckets, same principle except I'm not using a bucket. I couldn't find a best buy date on the MH, but the HH had a one year on it. Now, if you know these best buy date on boxes and canned goods, they will last longer than they want you to think so you will rush back and buy more of their stuff. I've had DAK ham and Dinty Moore beef stew that was 3 years past their best buy date and I'm still alive. JUGM and I were talking and I think we will be going to SAM's and buying large quantities of product to make our own, no paying these inflated prepper prices again.

    1. K, remember, I didn't buy a #10 can of beef, I bought the small 2.5 can to experiment with. If I bought a #10 can, my FD beef cost would have dropped to around $1.00 vice $2.18.

  3. A very good post Senior Chief, makes you stop and think.

    1. Thanks rob, just want to get people thinking, especially if your tight on your discretionary spending these days.

  4. Huh, hadn't thought of getting the mylar and doing it myself... Now gotta 'think' about what I'm doing. Thanks!

    1. Just like I replied to Rob, money is tight with most people these days. Why not do a lower cost alternative to MH, Wise. and Provident Pantry. Hell, ordering one MH meal online, you could make 3-4 out of that cost.

  5. Good stuff Senior and planning on doing my own version of this soon.

    1. Cool, I may try another tonight with turkey this time.

  6. I'm always impressed when someone makes their own version of something I buy. Too bad I'm so lazy about following suit. I need to get off top dead center and do some experimenting with doing something similar.

  7. There are so manyvways you can take it. I think I may try my own recipe with minute rice, Boulon cubes and FD chicken.

  8. Senior,

    Great post my friend. Breaking down large containers of dried food into individual mylar bags makes it less pricey for ones pocket. Have you dehydrated your own food, and packed it this way for future use? We've found using a food saver machine with the jar extension (cord) helps to remove extra air from the bags.