Note: I was given this item by the manufacturer for the purpose of reviewing their product. No compensation (other than the chance to eat free survival food) was provided.
Ok, so I’m not really a foodie – and thus my picture taking for this review lacks a little of that fancy touch. Which is fine by me, because this is about how survival food stores, tastes, and nourishes my family.
Earlier this month, I got an email from a rep at Valley Food Storage asking if I would be interested in reviewing some of their long term food storage options. With an eagerness to try out some new and interesting LTFS options – I happily waited for my package to arrive and began researching a company that I knew very little about.
It’s obvious that this company was created by preppers for preppers, with a focus on providing quality shelf stable food without the hard to pronounce ingredients and crazy preservatives and semi-hydrogenated this, that, and the other. How that works over a full 25 years of sitting in the basement, I can’t say – I barely let it sit for 2 weeks. If they’re right though – it could mean the absolute difference between having good food in your preps or cases full of wasted money.
Enough about the company though – the real “meat” of the review is in the food. Though this particular meal doesn’t have any…or any of that textured fake protein stuff that pretends to be meat but might as well be a sponge. I looked at a few of the other recipes, and I don’t see any of that TVP stuff anywhere – so that’s a good start.
The meal they sent over was the Irish Pub Cheddar Potato Soup packed nicely in a durable and resealable mylar bag. The bag is pretty plain with just the standard ingredient list sticker on it. Which suits me just fine…I don’t see the need to put pretty pictures on the bag and spend marketing money on fancy packaging.
The ability to reseal the bag is a good plus – 5 servings may be too much for the 3 of us, so the ability to make only a partial bag is a pretty nice option. Though how well you can pour out a dry mix soup and get equal parts left in the bag may be somewhat difficult, I still appreciate the option. It also makes the bag useful as a secondary prep once the food is long gone. So that’s a plus in my book.
At a similar serving size (50g of dry mix) to other meal-in-a-bag option, 5 servings in a pouch makes this also appealing to a larger family or group, compared to the 2.5 servings that come in typical “backpacker” meal bags. Twice the food for only a 60% increase in price (when buying non-bulk single bags) makes it more affordable as part of a bulk food prep plan.
SurvivalWife is hobbled on the couch, so I took to the task of cooking for a nice cold weather Super Bowl Sunday lunch. The packet says to boil 5 cups of water, add ingredients, and keep on a low boil for 15 to 20 minutes. It didn’t take but a few minutes after stirring in the soup mix and the house was filled with a nice “bready” aroma. Might be something to consider in a bug out situation, but for bugging in at home – it was a welcomed “feel good” kinda smell.
We let it go for 15 minutes and let it sit for a few to thicken up as per the instructions. It was still a little watery when I turned off the heat, but by the time it got to the bowl it had thickened up a fair bit. I think going the extra 5 minutes to steam off a little of that water, or maybe decreasing the initial boil by a half cup might have resulted in a thicker “stew”. The picture of Valley’s website shows it in a bread bowl – but I’m guessing mine might have leaked out a little if I would have tried that.
As we go into taste – here’s a few caveats to consider:
1) I don’t eat onions or peppers
2) My wife doesn’t do cheese, and isn’t a fan of soup in general
3) This is a soup with cheese, onions, and red/green peppers
Based on those facts, I was a little worried that we might not like the soup – and for reasons outside of the manufacturer other than their recipe.
In the end, we were both surprised quite a bit. It didn’t taste like “emergency food” or something just to pack in some calories during a bug out. This was a tasty meal that had a good home cooked feel to it that was hearty enough to fill us both up in a single bowl without any other side dishes or additions. On a cold (19F) afternoon, it was a welcome warm lunch that tasted as good or better than many canned soups, but could last in our pantry much longer and without degradation of texture and flavor.
I imagine it would taste even better with some chicken bits picked off the bone from the previous night’s meal. Being a homebrewer, I might even consider replacing some of the water with beer to jack up some of the beer flavoring that lingered nicely in the background.
But the reality is – it tasted pretty good without adding anything to it. It might have been nice to have some of the vegetables packaged separately in their own little bags so we could add or remove some of the stuff we (ok me…I wish I could remove the onions and peppers easily) don’t really like to eat. But I understand the cost issues that brings, and luckily its easy enough to eat around. That was one of the reasons I passed on the Mango Chili they originally offered to send.
My only real complaint is sodium content. This is an issue with many long term food storage meals from a variety of manufacturers, but at 680mg per serving, this particular meal is one that you really have to consider watching how much you eat when combined with other meals of the day.
Overall – this was a great experience for my family. We learned about a company that isn’t quite as well known, but I’m sure will be gaining momentum in the prepper community, as well as the opportunity to eat some really good “survival food” that doesn’t taste like something just there to add calories (emergency ration bars – I’m looking at you!).
All told, we are happy preppers, looking forward to trying a few other items from the Valley Food catalog in the future.
Want to try some out for yourself? Valley Food Storage offers a sample pack for just the cost of shipping on their website here: www.valleyfoodstorage.com
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