Food Finds · Trail Cooking

Commercial Meal Review: Augason Farms Ready Plus Lunch & Dinner

Most commercial freeze-dried meal companies make some sort of “emergency food supply” where a selection of items come in a plastic tub, box or in this case, a waterproof mylar sack with a handle on top, sold to consumers to make it easy to plan out meals. Augason Farms makes #10 cans of freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients and meals that can be sourced on Amazon easily – and often quite affordably. One reason is they overall do not add meat to their prepared meals. This cuts the cost considerably. You of course can add in freeze-dried meat to the meals to boost protein.

I have a bias out of the gate with pre-packed emergency food supplies, because of the meal portions. They are not enough calories for an actual emergency, if you eat the size of meal that is claimed by the brand (doesn’t matter which brand honestly).  This kit doesn’t say how many people however. But more on that below.

Often these meal packs come with a “2 day”, 3 day” or a “7 day”. Augason Farms just does “emergency food supply” and says “25 servings, 141 grams protein, 5,820 calories and a 25 year shelf life”. This is of course open to discussion on if that is really 25 servings or not. But more so, 5 of the servings is chocolate pudding. That puts it as 20 lunch/dinner servings. We paid $21.97 for it on a sale, however it seems to run for around $30 on average. Which in itself should be a tip off that it isn’t the highest end, as the emergency buckets (that come in 5 gallon buckets) range from $85 to $185 on average.

This pack does not include breakfast, as many emergency kits do. They sell it separately.

“Ready For Emergencies” for snowstorms, floods, earthquakes and fires, with “Just Add Water & Cook”. Which leads to a huge issue: These are not ready to add water and let sit. You must actually boil water and cook them. Yes, there are tricks to doing it to save on fuel (adding the dry ingredients to cold water versus to the boiling water, that cuts 5 minutes off, or boiling for half the time, and letting sit covered for the other half). But these are promoted as being emergency ready. When I think emergency ready I think freeze-dried where you only need to add boiling water, and letting sit for 15 minutes.

If you are in an actual emergency (no power, cooking on a protected porch outside on a propane stove) the last thing you want to do is…actually cook. Or worse, it is in your bug out kit – and you didn’t know you’d need full cooking gear (and the ability to clean your pot) and didn’t have enough fuel along.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but September is National Preparedness Month and if you are buying this for having on hand, you need to know the negatives. Much less you buy this as a cheap option for camping meals and you end up hungry and frustrated in camp.

The Ready Plus Lunch & Dinner bag comes with 4 serving Fettuccine Alfredo, 8 serving Cheesy Broccoli Rice, 4 serving Corn Chowder, 4 servings Chicken flavored Noodle Soup and the awkward 5 serving Chocolate Pudding.

Once opening up the resealable bag you will find 5 pouches inside. Each item has its own directions on the pouch it is in.

Now lets get back to the servings. Of the 5 items, only 1 has the actual ability to divide equally into portions and be made. So right there the portions go out the window. If you make the chicken noodle soup, you will need to make the entire pouch – all 4 servings. But 1 serving is a meager 190 calories. But it has 790 mg of sodium. So if you split it with another person you get close to 400 calories, but now have nearly 1600 mg of sodium. Ouch.

And this is something you must consider with any pre-packed bag. If it is just you, you may eat most of it, to get calories, but you’ll be salted out. Chug-a-lug the water…..

At least you can break the pudding down. But have a way to seal the bag, so the remaining powder stays dry (such as a paper clip or tape).

The highest calorie entree is the fettuccine alfredo, at 300 calories and 8 grams protein per serving.

I decided to try one of the meals, to see how it fared for making it.

Chicken flavored Noodle Soup:

This soup called for 5 cups water brought to a boil, the mix to be whisked into it, then simmered for 20 minutes. Yes. 20 minutes for what tastes and looks like instant cup a noodle soup mix. I don’t want to simmer dry soup even at home for 20 minutes! That is a huge waste of fuel for very few calories (at 190 calories a serving). It also really boils up, so you need a large pot to cook it in, even when it is simmering, it didn’t quit trying to boil over until 10 minutes in.

The other issue is while I stirred it often, I still had noodles stick to the bottom. Even letting it sit in a bowl, the noodles in the serving sunk to the bottom and stuck.

The soup is thick with noodles, I will give it that, however it is minimal on vegetables. To make the soup worth it, it needs more dried vegetables, and yes, meat, added to it to boost the calories and protein (a serving only has 5 grams protein, which is all from the pasta).

Because if you sit down and serve a portion of 190 calories that is only a ½ cup serving, you will have the most disappointed people with you.

So to be blunt….this was not a great bag of food. I am sure it has a place – at the bottom of the outdoor food pantry – but I hope to not need to eat it anytime soon.


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