Valley Food Storage has had to slightly change the way they do business. Because the pandemic created such a large demand for shelf stable foods, some products became increasingly difficult to get. Instead of doing what many companies did and make promises they couldn’t keep, Valley Food Storage simplified their offerings so they could get quality food to their customers faster. For example, the bucket I received contained a variety of entrees. Their site lists what could be in your bucket, and you get a mix that might include any of those entrees. However, you won’t get anything that isn’t listed.
- Easy to prepare
- Simple calorie calculation—each mylar bag or bucket clearly states how many calories it contains so you know how much food you have.
- High quality
- No artificial colors or flavors
- 25-year shelf life
- 21 resealable mylar bags of freeze-dried and dehydrated food
- 27,000 calories per bucket, on average, about enough food for one person for 2 weeks or for 2 people for 1 week, based on a 2,000-calorie diet
- Water-resistant and stackable bucket
Currently, the cost with shipping is about $250. So, if two people were to live on these buckets with no other food or nutrition, it would cost about $500 per month per adult. Considering how much people spend on convenience food and quality food at the grocery store, that’s not unreasonable. Valley Food Storage products are simple to prepare. All you have to do is simmer them with some water for the specified time, so there’s no prep time and barely anything to clean up.
That time savings can really add up in a survival situation or emergency. As someone who has been through some catastrophic floods in the Pacific Northwest and North Carolina, I can tell you that it’s awful nice to be able to concentrate on other tasks and hardships besides kitchen prep and cleaning. Also consider what you would do if you had to evacuate to a hotel, motel, or Airbnb. The cost of eating out can add up to more than your rental unless you eat pure junk. Freeze-dried food can be fixed on a hot plate and served up with ease even in a hotel room.
Freeze-dried food buckets also make a lot of sense for people who want to outfit a camper for bugging out. Note: The food buckets from Valley are a mix of dehydrated and freeze dried unless otherwise specified. Space is very limited in RVs and campers. And if you are trying to conserve propane, you want foods that require little fuel or that can be boiled over a campfire. Weight is another issue when outfitting a camper. Freeze-dried food weighs very little compared to its hydrated version. Three pounds of hamburger only weighs eight ounces when freeze dried.
Our bucket contained the following entrees:
- Chicken Teriyaki 10 servings separated into 2 bags of 5 servings each
- Strawberry Oatmeal 20 servings separated into 2 bags of 10 servings each
- Strawberry Cream of Wheat 30 servings separated into 3 bags of 10 servings each
- Freeze-dried Pineapple 15 servings
- Tomato Basil Soup 10 servings separated into 2 bags of 5 servings each
- Irish Pub Cheddar Soup 10 servings separated into 2 bags of 5 servings each
- Non-fat Milk 20 servings
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 15 servings
- Apple Cream of Wheat 20 servings
- Freeze-dried Sweet Corn 15 servings
- Sweet and Sour Asian Rice 10 servings separated into 2 bags of 5 servings each
- Italian Wild Risotto 10 servings separated into 2 bags of 5 servings each
My first impression was that this bucket is heavy on rice and Cream of Wheat. Of the 175 servings, 70 are Cream of Wheat products. That’s a lot of one thing, even if the fruit flavors are different. Another 20 servings were fancy oatmeal. That means that 90 of 175 servings in the bucket were either Cream of Wheat or oatmeal. Rice-based dishes accounted for another 30 servings.
For dinner, we tried the chicken teriyaki. Since that was all I was fixing and we were hungry, I fixed the entire 5-serving bag. I used the amount of water specified. That was a mistake. At the 20-minute mark, it was clear that there was no way that much water could be absorbed by the rice. I cooked it longer, and ended up with a watery rice dish. Even though the few veggies in it were still a little too firm, the rice was mush.
I also have to point out that there is no meat in this entrée despite the name. There is chicken broth powder. I’ve never had anything labeled “teriyaki” that had no teriyaki sauce flavor. As this was our dinner, I added a small can of chicken to it before serving. There was no way it would’ve been a satisfying dinner without doing something to make it more substantial. I had a similar situation with a dried soup from Valley in the past.
For breakfast, I made the equivalent of three servings of Valley’s strawberry oatmeal. The amount of water they recommend to cook the oatmeal was more accurate than any of the other instructions. The oatmeal ingredients are simple. Some quick oats, freeze-dried strawberries, milk powder, and sugar are the bulk of it. The flavor was sweet, but there wasn’t much fruit in it. We added a few freeze-dried blueberries from Valley that were in our pantry (they were not part of the bucket).
The flavor was good, and I think it would be a hit in households with kids that like sweets. It’s a better quality version of the instant oatmeal packets you can get at the grocery store.
I was impressed with the flavor at first but it has a strange after taste that you don’t immediately notice. Mozzarella is not a cheese that keeps that well, so some drying out makes sense. I figured the flavor would suffer more. I think the aftertaste would not be so noticeable if the cheese was mixed with other foods or used in cooking.
This cheese is just dried, not freeze dried. This has encouraged me to get out my dehydrator and figure out how to dry my own cheeses. I wouldn’t mind having some powdered dried mozzarella, Gouda, or other specialty cheeses on hand.
I buy quality cheese powders, but typically all you can get is cheddar, parmesan, Romano, and maybe a few blends with Asiago. The shredded mozzarella in the bucket is intended to go on top of the basil tomato soup and possibly the risotto. It could also be used to add more substance to the Irish pub cheddar soup mix.
Valley freeze-dried pineapple
The freeze-dried fruit offered by Valley is usually quite good. The pineapple chunks are wonderful in oatmeal or smoothies. You can make excellent cakes with this fruit. I have no problem recommending all the freeze dried fruit that Valley offers. Demand for their freeze-dried fruit is high so you may want to sign up for updates on any out of stock items.
The importance of non-refrigerated food
Many emergencies happen every year that lead to power outages. During longer events, refrigerated foods and freezers won’t work unless you have substantial back-up power. Unopened, freeze-dried food is shelf stable for 25 years, giving you peace of mind. If you’re bugging out, even if you have a camper, refrigeration could still be an issue. All it takes is a hurricane for your electricity to be out for a month or more. Some who just experienced the wrath of Hurricane Laura faced that very situation.
The current price of this kit is $4,599. It provides enough freeze-dried food for one person to eat a 2,000-calorie diet for about 11 months. This kit is more like a year’s worth of food for an active adult. Purchasing 24 buckets at once reduces the cost to around $400 per month, far lower than many people’s current food budget. A single person without a lot of space to store food and extra preps may want to consider this option. It’s also quite easy to move to another location. Twenty-four 5-gallon buckets sounds like a lot, but because the food is dehydrated or freeze dried, the buckets don’t weigh that much.
This extensive food package contains some freeze dried meats in addition to vegetables, fruit, and entrees.
Freeze-dried fruit bucket
I really love Valley freeze-dried fruit. It’s delicious and full of flavor. I received some for a review a few years back, and we made a lot of smoothies and delicious fall desserts with it. Survival doesn’t have to mean that you never get a treat. Fruit is an excellent and healthy way to add sweet treats and comfort foods to your preps. A few spoons of freeze-dried fruit make bland oatmeal or cereal really pop. You can also add some water to rehydrate the fruit and sprinkle a little sugar on it to make a decadent topping for pancakes.
Many preppers put back foods for some meals and snacks. Not everyone eats a large breakfast, so they may not be too concerned about putting back a lot for that specific meal. Valley offers buckets that are designed specifically for breakfast as well as just entrée buckets that can replace dinners and lunches. My husband and I like to fix a special breakfast occasionally, but most days we grab some coffee and a granola bar or smoothie made from homemade yogurt and call it good. Powdered milk makes great homemade yogurt as long as you use whole powdered milk.
Stick to the freeze-dried offerings from Valley Food Storage. I do not find the dehydrated foods they sell to be a good overall value. The ingredients are great, but the cost is too high for what you get with their dehydrated options. I encourage you to try their freeze-dried vegetables, fruit, and meats.
The bucket we received was just what they said. A bucket of 175 servings of food. I had to really think about how I would use a few of the items in the kit with the rest of the food that was randomly chosen for my bucket. The corn, for example. I suppose I could add it to some of the soups or maybe the teriyaki chicken? It just didn’t seem to complement any of the other foods. I suppose with a few spices I could use the milk, corn, and some of the cheese to make a soup.
Since Valley is just putting together these buckets with what they have in stock at the time but guaranteeing a mix of entrees and things appropriate for different mealtimes, it might be hard to offer a recipe pamphlet. A card with a link to recipe ideas you could print from their website would be nice for people who are not used to cooking, especially survival foods.
I like Valley’s freeze-dried options, but the dehydrated foods they sell don’t seem to be a good value. The amount of Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, and rice products in our food bucket seemed far too much for a bucket that cost $250 at the time of this review. Most people are not going to want to eat breakfast gruel for lunch and dinner.
The 175-serving bucket did not provide a balanced diet, and with an average of 27,000 calories, it’s just a two-week food supply for one person. The total lack of meat in any of the meals was not okay for a bucket that cost so much.
Perhaps when Valley Food Storage goes back to offering a better selection of entrees, their food buckets will improve.