Choosing your Emergency Food: Freeze-Dried Foods vs MREs - Which is Right for You?

Choosing your Emergency Food: Freeze-Dried Foods vs MREs - Which is Right for You?

Having a reliable and nutritious food supply is essential when it comes to being prepared for emergencies or natural disasters. In times of crisis, we need food that is easy to store and quick and convenient to prepare. Two popular options for emergency food are freeze-dried foods and MREs (ready-to-eat meals). This article will explore the differences between these two options and help you determine which one is right for you.

Understanding freeze-dried foods

Freeze-dried foods are dehydrated and preserved through freezing and then removing the moisture through a vacuum. This method retains the food's nutritional value, flavor, and texture while significantly reducing its weight. Freeze-dried foods are often available in various forms, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and even complete meals.

Benefits of freeze-dried foods

Freeze-dried foods offer several benefits that make them an attractive option for emergencies. they have an incredibly long shelf life, often ranging from 25 to 30 years. This extended shelf life means you can stock up on freeze-dried foods and be confident that they will remain edible and nutritious for many years.

They are lightweight and compact, making them easy to store and transport. Whether storing them in your basement or taking them on a camping trip, freeze-dried foods take up minimal space and are lightweight, allowing you to carry them conveniently.

Its are quick and easy to prepare. All you need to do is add hot water to rehydrate the food, and within minutes, you have a hot and delicious meal ready to eat. This convenience is especially important during emergencies when you cannot access traditional cooking methods.

Also read: Safecastle Stands in Solidarity with Red Cross Month

Freeze-dried food options on the market

A wide range of freeze-dried food options are available on the market today. Many companies produce high-quality freeze-dried meals catering to different dietary preferences and restrictions. Whether you're a vegetarian or vegan or have specific dietary needs such as gluten-free or dairy-free, you can find freeze-dried meals that suit your requirements.

Some popular freeze-dried food brands include Mountain House, ReadyWise Company, and Survival Cave Food Storage. These companies offer various meal options, from classic favorites like spaghetti and meatballs to exotic dishes like Thai curry. With such a diverse selection, you can ensure your emergency food supply is nutritious and enjoyable.

Try our Future Essentials 

Pros and cons of freeze-dried foods


  • Long shelf life of 25 to 30 years

  • Lightweight and compact for easy storage and transportation

  • Quick and convenient to prepare with just hot water

  • Wide range of options to cater to different dietary needs and preferences


  • Some people may find the taste and texture less appealing compared to fresh food

  • Requires access to hot water for rehydration, which may not always be available during outdoor activities.

Understanding MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat)

MREs, or ready-to-eat meals, are another popular choice for emergency food. Originally developed for the military, MREs are self-contained meals in individual packages requiring no additional preparation or cooking. They are designed to be eaten directly from the package, making them extremely convenient in emergencies.

Benefits of MREs

MREs offer several advantages that make them viable for emergency food supplies. they have a long shelf life, typically lasting up to 5 years. This extended shelf life ensures you have access to nutritious meals for an extended period, giving you peace of mind during emergencies.

MREs are known for their durability. They are designed to withstand harsh conditions, including extreme temperatures and rough handling. This durability makes them ideal for emergencies where you may need access to proper storage facilities or carry them on the go.

MRE options on the market

Multiple brands produce MREs Meals for both military and civilian use. Some well-known brands include MRE STAR, XMRE, and Ameriqual. These brands offer various meal options, including entrees, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. MREs often come in different menus, allowing you to choose the flavors and combinations that suit your preferences.

Pros and cons of MREs


  • Long shelf life of up to 5 years
  • Self-contained and require no additional preparation
  • Durable and designed to withstand harsh conditions


  • Limited variety of flavors and meals compared to freeze-dried foods
  • Some people may find the taste and quality of MREs less appealing.

Also Read: Benefits of Long Shelf-Life Foods: A Comprehensive Guide

Factors to consider when choosing b/w freeze-dried foods and MREs

Now that we have explored the features and benefits of both freeze-dried foods and MREs, let's delve into the factors you should consider when making your choice.

Nutritional Value


Freeze-Dried Food


Preservation Method

Freeze-drying (lyophilization)

Canning, dehydration, irradiation

Water Content

95% removed

70-80% removed

Shelf Life

3-25 years

3-5 years


Add water (hot or cold)

Typically requires heating (hot water or flameless heater)

Calories (per serving)



Protein (g per serving)



Fat (g per serving)



Carbohydrates (g per serving)




Preserves 90-95% of vitamins and minerals

May lose up to 30% of original content

Sodium (mg per serving)

Generally lower

1.6 g/meal to 2.3 g/meal

Additives and Preservatives

May contain minimal amounts

Often contain preservatives and additives


Generally better, closer to fresh food

altered due to processing


Personal preferences and dietary restrictions

Consider your personal preferences and dietary restrictions when choosing your emergency food. If you have specific dietary needs, such as allergies or intolerances, freeze-dried foods may offer a wider range of options to accommodate your requirements. On the other hand, if you have no dietary restrictions and prefer the simplicity of self-contained meals, MREs may be a suitable choice.

Shelf life and storage considerations

The shelf life and storage requirements of your chosen emergency food are crucial factors to consider. Freeze-dried foods generally have a longer shelf life of 25 to 30 years, making them an excellent option for long-term storage. However, MREs also offer a respectable shelf life of up to 5 years and are designed to withstand harsh conditions, which may be advantageous depending on your circumstances.

Cost considerations

Cost is another important aspect to consider when selecting your emergency food supply. Freeze-dried foods are more expensive than MREs, primarily due to the longer shelf life and the additional preparation process. Evaluate your budget and determine how much you will invest in your emergency food supply.

Convenience and ease of use

Consider the emergency food options' convenience and ease of use. If you prioritize convenience and want meals that require no preparation, MREs may be your better choice. However, if you don't mind the extra step of rehydrating freeze-dried foods and prefer a broader range of flavors and meals, freeze-dried foods may be more appealing.

Reviews and recommendations

Before making your final decision, it's always a good idea to read reviews and seek recommendations from others with experience with the brands and products you are considering. Online forums, review websites, and social media platforms can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed choice.

Also Read:Safecastle's Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

Making the right choice for your emergency food supply

Ultimately, the choice between freeze-dried foods and MREs will depend on your preferences, dietary restrictions, storage capabilities, budget, and convenience requirements. Consider all the factors discussed in this article and weigh them against your specific needs to make the best decision for your emergency food supply.

By evaluating your personal preferences, dietary restrictions, storage capabilities, budget, and convenience requirements, you can make an informed choice and ensure that your emergency food supply meets your needs during times of crisis. Stay prepared, stay safe.

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1 comment

Thank You. Great coverage of MRE’s vs freeze dried foods

Donna Gage

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