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Posted: 2/16/2011 3:30:51 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 5:32:23 PM EST by fisterkev]
OK, I've been doing a total reworking of my BOB over the past couple of months and was particularly unsatisfied witrh my food options. MREs - I love 'em, but too bulky and heavy, can't get enough of them in there to last me very long, only about 3 maybe 4 if I'm really cramming it in there. MH meals - closer, but still bulkier than I'd like, and I could only get about 5 in there. My target was to get 5 days of food in there, so this just wasn't going to work. I wanted 2 hot meals a day, to be supplemented by Millennium Bars (2 per day for 800 calories), coffee in the morning, hot chocolate at night, 2 Propel packs for water, and about 4 Jolly Ranchers throughout the day. Basically I needed 2 hot meals packing 500-600 calories each to get to the 2000 cal mark...

So I decided to make my own.

I am a big fan of the Knorr (formerly Lipton) noodle and rice packs, so I decided to make those a base. I also love potatos, so I decided some instant mashed potato packs would also be in order. Also, some soups would make for a nice lunch, I figured. Everything needed only water to cook, as I'm using an alky stove to boil water. I actually got quite a variety going...

Just a sampling:



Of course, I wanted some meat in there somewhere, so I ordered a can of this:



I had actually tried this with some TVP before in the hopes it would be good enough and save some cash, but while it would save cash, it just didn't taste as good as the real stuff, so I bit the bullet and used a can of the FD stuff instead. Tastes much better.

I ordered some 8"x12" mylar bags w/ ziplocs and some 500cc O2 absorbers to seal it all up in, and bought some powdered butter, powdered milk, and powdered cheese to add a little flavoring and substitute where recipes called for those ingredients (these all acquired locally). All mylars were labeled with the contents, amount of water to use, and date of packaging. So then I set about loading up the mylars:



Some cheezy mashed potatos with a serving of FD ground beef thrown in. I got about 30 servings of ground beef out of the can; some packs were big servings, some just a sprinkling. The can says it's 23 servings...



Teriyaki noodles with some beef.



Butter garlic rice with some beef.

After filling them all up I wiped the edges of the opening of the mylar with a damp paper towel to remove any food particles that could create air channels when sealing.



And then they were ready for sealing.





When sealing I sealed the opening about 2-3 inches to make sure I had a good seal. It is very important that you get all extra air out before completely sealing (I discovered this after a few early tests); seal it 90% across, then fold it up and press all air out, and finish the seal. Got 'em nice and tight like that. Afterwards:



Rolled them up and put a bit of tape to keep them compact.



I made 37 of them in this batch...

And for the next post, a sampling and test.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 3:45:24 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 5:46:47 PM EST by fisterkev]
I decided to cook a couple today with the alky stove, one for me and one for the kid.



It's a Trangia burner with a Clickstand S-2 with windscreen combo, and I'm having alot of fun with it. The pot is a GSI Outdoors Soloist pot, with a titanium LMF spork...



On the menu tonight was creamy garlic shells with beef for the kid and chow mein noodles with beef for me. The chow mein noodle/beef opened:



Six minutes after lighting:



After filling with boiling water:



Shook it up, and found out that leaving the sealed mylar on (I was going to trim it) was a good idea, because with it the filled bag stands upright on its own.



While that was cooking, I got the creamy garlic shells/beef ready:







About 10 minutes later the chow mein noodles were ready:





The garlic shells took a bit longer:



Cook times vary quite a bit, so you pretty much just check them every few minutes. I've sampled a few like this now and have found that with the exception of mashed potatos these meals all require less water than listed in their normal recipe; for example, where the Knorr noodles call for 2 cups water, I found about 1-1/4 cups to be ideal with these. The mashed potatos call for 2 cups, and need 2 cups.

Anyway, my teriyaki noodles were good and the kid absolutely loved the garlic shells (he actually ate the whole thing, unusual for him).

As for how they stack up against MH meals...
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 3:50:41 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 5:54:02 PM EST by fisterkev]
MH vs homemade stuff:





MH Pro Pak vs homemade stuff:





I can get 10 of these in the BOB with a little room to spare (could probably throw in 2-3 more...). As for cost, probably on a per unit basis not any more than MH, as these meals are inexpensive to start with; about $35 for the mylar and O2 absorbers, $40 shipped for the hamburger, and the meals are all typically less than $2, as opposed to $6-$7 for each MH meal. I'm pretty sure my stuff is cheaper. It's more compact overall, even more compact than the Pro Paks. Plus, I am eating my own menu, and one probably a bit lower in sodium, too. Every meal is over 500 calories, many 600-700 calories, especially with the beef.

So, to sum up: cheaper, same or better calories, lower sodium, and more variety. Yes, it requires a little legwork, but it's worth it IMHO. I got my 5 days of food, couldn't do it with the MH stuff.

Anyway, that's it. Questions/comments welcome.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 3:54:58 PM EST
Great post.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 3:55:34 PM EST
awwww hell yeah!!!
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:04:30 PM EST
Very nice. I am going to try this out.
Noob question : what is the source for the Mylar and o2?

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:05:43 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 4:06:01 PM EST by survivorman]
sorry new to the mylar bag thing dont quite understand the top pic with the iron........can you please explain the sealing process? do u get as much air out of the bag as possible......zip it up then use the heat to seal? sorry again if a dumb question
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:07:40 PM EST
What I think I loved most about doing this is the variety that can be had. A trip to wallyworld and you can get 90% of the stuff you need for this, and it's limited only really by your imagination.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:09:06 PM EST
Originally Posted By jamesb74:
Very nice. I am going to try this out.
Noob question : what is the source for the Mylar and o2?

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


I use USA Emergency Supply for mine, but there are many sources for them out there.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:12:05 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 4:13:30 PM EST by fisterkev]
Originally Posted By survivorman:
sorry new to the mylar bag thing dont quite understand the top pic with the iron........can you please explain the sealing process? do u get as much air out of the bag as possible......zip it up then use the heat to seal? sorry again if a dumb question


The ziploc side comes sealed already and is notched above the ziploc, so you just tear it open when needed and reseal with ziploc. (these were perfect for this application, BTW)

You seal the "bottom" of the bag - it arrives open and unsealed. It's very simple, you put the food in, throw in the oxygen absorber, and take the iron on hottest setting and iron it sealed. Leave a small opening (don't go all the way across yet) and then get the extra air out, and fully seal the rest of it. Take a balled up paper towel and press it back and forth across the sealed area while it's still hot to ensure a good solid seal.

I got good seals on every bag like this.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:15:34 PM EST
Do you think making a pouch of of that mylar coated bubble wrap insulation would help with reconstitution. I have some and always intended to make a pot cozy out of it.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:15:43 PM EST
Originally Posted By fisterkev:
Originally Posted By jamesb74:
Very nice. I am going to try this out.
Noob question : what is the source for the Mylar and o2?

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


I use USA Emergency Supply for mine, but there are many sources for them out there.


Thank you.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:20:28 PM EST
Originally Posted By cfcw:
Do you think making a pouch of of that mylar coated bubble wrap insulation would help with reconstitution. I have some and always intended to make a pot cozy out of it.


It might. Of course if it's cold out you could always throw this inside your jacket, helping both your food and you keep warm...
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:29:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 4:40:07 PM EST by survivorman]
awesome!!! sorry clicked link what size bags did you get specifically? just saw size above....im a dumbass and need sleep
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:40:41 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 4:43:48 PM EST by fisterkev]
Originally Posted By survivorman:
awesome!!! sorry clicked link what size bags did you get specifically?


These: 8in. x 12in. Flat Mylar Food Storage Bag (5 mils thick)

8" wide x 12" long, sealed about 2-3" of the open "bottom". Gotta leave some room for the water, but you want to ensure you're getting a good seal, too. They roll up nice and tight as long as you get all the air out.

Edited to get right ones... The ones I ordered didn't even list a ziploc, but the ones that came had them. It's a nice feature, but not absolutely necessary...
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:52:25 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 5:01:57 PM EST by Ziggy2c]
I've had this link saved for a while. It might give you a few more dinner options to explore. (It's how to dehydrate meat)
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 4:53:26 PM EST
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 5:01:18 PM EST
Excellent pics and info! Thanks
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 5:45:40 PM EST
Outstanding post! The link to the site for the mylar bags is valuable.



Link Posted: 2/16/2011 5:47:02 PM EST
Great post, thanks!

Any idea on nutritional value for your vs. the MH stuff?
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 5:47:23 PM EST
So do you add anything with the potatoes, or just throw those into the mylars?
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 5:57:56 PM EST
Originally Posted By millsusaf:
Great post, thanks!

Any idea on nutritional value for your vs. the MH stuff?


It varies. I also dehydrate my own foods and threw some home-dehydrated veggies into some of the meals, so some are really great nutritionally, some are more along the lines of strict pasta/rice/meat variety. I built this to my tastes, but you could put pretty much whatever you wanted in there. Like I said, this is really only limited by your imagination.

MH doesn't need to be the only game in town.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 6:03:52 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 6:06:18 PM EST by fisterkev]
Originally Posted By THOLL223:
So do you add anything with the potatoes, or just throw those into the mylars?


Most of the mashed potato mixes had some beef added, as well as some butter powder ("butter crumbs" at the local grocery) and some of them had some powdered cheese thrown in, too. Also, I used some basic spices and seasonings like garlic salt and powder and such to flavor. Whatever you can come up with and like you can throw in there.

Some of my earlier concoctions tasted sorta bland, so I found that adding a little extra "oompf" helped with taste. For example, on those packs that had garlic or butter, I added some extra garlic powder or butter powder. For stroganoff recipes I just sprinkled a little extra stroganoff powder in there. That sort of thing. Reconstitution seems to sap some of the flavor, so I add a bit more in there prior to sealing. It seems to work pretty well so far... Some of the initial batches were a bit bland, these are more tasty after the additions of basic seasonings and spices.

Of course I also carry basic spices and seasonings in the pack, too...

(I really need to update the BOB post...)
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 6:13:20 PM EST
after opening the Knor and making and resealing the new packs do you have any idea as to what the shelf life will be?

Great post thanks.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 6:38:57 PM EST
Originally Posted By rusteerooster:
after opening the Knor and making and resealing the new packs do you have any idea as to what the shelf life will be?

Great post thanks.


I figure if anything it'll extend the shelf life beyond the best by date on the original package. They come sealed in cheap paper or plastic and are going into a mylar + O2 absorber environment, I've got to think that'll be a more stable environment less prone to beasties and other degradation... Of course I haven't tested it yet.

My plan is to rotate them annually at this point, but I figure they'll probably be good for at least a couple of years. I also intend to eat them when I'm out and about on camping and hiking trips, so I'll rotate through them that way.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 6:47:17 PM EST
will mylar bags work in a vacuum sealer???
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 7:00:00 PM EST
Originally Posted By fisterkev:
Originally Posted By THOLL223:
So do you add anything with the potatoes, or just throw those into the mylars?


Most of the mashed potato mixes had some beef added, as well as some butter powder ("butter crumbs" at the local grocery) and some of them had some powdered cheese thrown in, too. Also, I used some basic spices and seasonings like garlic salt and powder and such to flavor. Whatever you can come up with and like you can throw in there.

Some of my earlier concoctions tasted sorta bland, so I found that adding a little extra "oompf" helped with taste. For example, on those packs that had garlic or butter, I added some extra garlic powder or butter powder. For stroganoff recipes I just sprinkled a little extra stroganoff powder in there. That sort of thing. Reconstitution seems to sap some of the flavor, so I add a bit more in there prior to sealing. It seems to work pretty well so far... Some of the initial batches were a bit bland, these are more tasty after the additions of basic seasonings and spices.

Of course I also carry basic spices and seasonings in the pack, too...

(I really need to update the BOB post...)


Do you think getting a few instant gravy packets (just add water and you have gravy) and adding those might help with the taste?
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 7:02:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By Jacobdw:
will mylar bags work in a vacuum sealer???


No. The vacuum sealer bags have special air channels designed for use with the sealer, the mylars don't have them and will not work.

If you use O2 absorbers vacuum sealing isn't necessary anyway, and the mylars are more durable and less vapor-permeable anyway, so should extend shelf life longer than a vacuum seal.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 7:05:16 PM EST
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:Do you think getting a few instant gravy packets (just add water and you have gravy) and adding those might help with the taste?


That sounds like a good idea... Like I said, this is only limited by your imagination.

I'm thinking FD turkey, stuffing, and gravy now... Why not?

The most expensive individual part of all of this was the FD meat. I am definitely going to do a batch with some chicken next...
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 7:06:24 PM EST
Excellent post! I will be trying this as a replacement to mountain house for backpacking.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 8:02:25 PM EST
Originally Posted By fisterkev:
Originally Posted By Jacobdw:
will mylar bags work in a vacuum sealer???


No. The vacuum sealer bags have special air channels designed for use with the sealer, the mylars don't have them and will not work.

If you use O2 absorbers vacuum sealing isn't necessary anyway, and the mylars are more durable and less vapor-permeable anyway, so should extend shelf life longer than a vacuum seal.


Clarification: depends on the type of vacuum sealer. May work with snorkel type sealers. I am confident I can do them in my chamber vacuum sealer, if they fit. Even the non-snorkel, external type may work for sealing only. I have used that type to seal, but not evacuate. One individual posted in one of these forums quite some time ago he added a strip of mesh type bag/pouch in the seal area and used his non-snorkel, external vacuum sealer to successfully both evacuate and seal. Ability to provide enough heat to create a good seal could be a concern. The mylar pouches I have will not fit inside my chamber sealer, and I did not have that anyway when I bagged rice in mylar. I got sick of screwing around with the non-snorkel, external sealer, and just used an iron. I used O2 absorbers. I just liked the idea of pulling as much air as possible from the pouch before sealing.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 8:28:33 PM EST
yeah, I would seal the bag up to the tube in the corner, suck away, and seal w/ the iron in one orchestrated motion.
most times it's successful, and other times not. fortunately, the O2s do their job.

–– break ––

great post, good idea. thanks
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 8:55:13 PM EST
If you trim a strip of the regular "foodsaver" plasticbags and put that in the mouth of the mylar, just forward of the heat seal strip in your foodsaver you can vacuum seal the mylar.

You don't heat seal the foodsaver plastic into the mylar, it just keeps the air passage clear to evacuate all the air. You can use the same foodsaver plastic for multiple mylar bags.

Another member here posted this technique although I can't find it at the moment.

Great post.
Link Posted: 2/16/2011 9:22:31 PM EST
Originally Posted By Willz:
If you trim a strip of the regular "foodsaver" plasticbags and put that in the mouth of the mylar, just forward of the heat seal strip in your foodsaver you can vacuum seal the mylar.

You don't heat seal the foodsaver plastic into the mylar, it just keeps the air passage clear to evacuate all the air. You can use the same foodsaver plastic for multiple mylar bags…….

Interesting. I personally have never used that method; just vaguely remembered someone talking about it. Could not remember the specifics though.
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 3:53:48 AM EST
Outstanding post!
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 4:40:08 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/17/2011 4:42:23 AM EST by Ziggy2c]
Found a guy on youtube that shows how he vacuum seals Mylar bags. I'm going to have to order some bags and try it out in the next few weeks.







Hope these help.
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 6:07:44 AM EST
Fantastic thread.

Great pics and link info.

Thank you!
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 6:28:37 AM EST
Best post in a while. Thanks alot!
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 7:52:40 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/17/2011 8:30:01 AM EST by TylerC]
I'm going to give this a shot. Do you just throw the 02 absorber in with the food or separate somehow?

ETA: Can you do this with mac n cheese? I'm just curious as to how the pasta absorbs the water apposed to boiling for 7 minutes (my magic #).

ETA # 2: I know you did some pasta shells but I would think elbow noodles take a bit longer.
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 8:12:39 AM EST
Originally Posted By rusteerooster:
after opening the Knor and making and resealing the new packs do you have any idea as to what the shelf life will be?

Great post thanks.


I'd like to know this also.
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 12:56:34 PM EST
Originally Posted By fisterkev:
Originally Posted By NickOfTime:Do you think getting a few instant gravy packets (just add water and you have gravy) and adding those might help with the taste?


That sounds like a good idea... Like I said, this is only limited by your imagination.

I'm thinking FD turkey, stuffing, and gravy now... Why not?

The most expensive individual part of all of this was the FD meat. I am definitely going to do a batch with some chicken next...


Yeah, now you got the little hamsters running on their wheels. My Mormon BIL is always wondering what to do with their soup mix. Might be a good way to get rid of some of it. Add some dehydrated veggies, meat, soup mix/gravy mix in one packet, some dehydrated fruits and granola in another for a complete hot meal. So, in a mylar that size, how many people do you think you could feed out of one pouch?
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 6:06:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/17/2011 6:07:47 PM EST by fisterkev]
Originally Posted By TylerC:
I'm going to give this a shot. Do you just throw the 02 absorber in with the food or separate somehow?

ETA: Can you do this with mac n cheese? I'm just curious as to how the pasta absorbs the water apposed to boiling for 7 minutes (my magic #).

ETA # 2: I know you did some pasta shells but I would think elbow noodles take a bit longer.


Yes, you just throw the O2 absorber in with the food. Don't forget to take it out after opening... And before cooking. (I did that once...)

I actually did a few pouches with the instant mac n cheese with some FD beef in there, they work fine. I threw in a little extra powdered cheese for some extra flavor.

The instant stuff cooks pretty quick, not sure how long regular stuff would take. I've used other "regular" pasta noodles in there and it takes a little while, but it works. Like I said, cooking times vary widely, from 5-7 minutes up to 20-25 minutes, depending on the meal.

So, in a mylar that size, how many people do you think you could feed out of one pouch?


One, maybe two. This is really a solo deal, and you need to leave room for water. Also, some of the food expands - like mashed potatos, they expand alot. Probably a soup mix for two you could do.
Link Posted: 2/17/2011 7:08:02 PM EST
Originally Posted By Ziggy2c:
Found a guy on youtube that shows how he vacuum seals Mylar bags. I'm going to have to order some bags and try it out in the next few weeks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU8W92U37PU


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em0_ageCtb0


Hope these help.


GENIUS!!!!!!!!!
Link Posted: 2/19/2011 10:01:31 PM EST
fisterkev, were you able to get the freeze-dried-ground beef locally or did you mail order.
Link Posted: 2/19/2011 11:18:37 PM EST
Interesting.
Link Posted: 2/20/2011 4:39:35 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/20/2011 4:48:18 AM EST by Bubbles]
Very nice! I keep a lot of the instant pasta/rice/potato sides on-hand anyway for whipping up quick meals at home. Just a note - the generic ones I've found are 10-20 cents cheaper and sometimes contain more product. You could even buy certain base ingredients, like minute rice or mashed potatoes, in bulk, add a soup mix or spice packet and the meat, and reduce the price per meal that way.

IIRC the pastas in these are really thin, which is why they cook in only 5-6 minutes on the stove. If I wanted pasta in a DIY MRE I'd either break up thin spaghetti or use orzo, as both cook quickly.
Link Posted: 2/20/2011 4:41:09 AM EST
ost
Link Posted: 2/20/2011 5:09:07 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/20/2011 5:10:12 AM EST by SALTDOG]
I went through this kinda fast, but I don't think I have seen this mentioned...make sure that what your doing that with guys, is a just add water...I believe that is the case here...but if you need to add anything, other than water to it for it to be worth your time and effort making it...make sure of the just add water.

Also you can vaccum pack together, all dry items needed for making bread and seal them also in a foodsaver...then you just need to add water to make dough and place on an open fire/coals for tasty bread.
Link Posted: 2/20/2011 5:27:19 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/20/2011 5:30:23 AM EST by fisterkev]
Originally Posted By PA22-400:
fisterkev, were you able to get the freeze-dried-ground beef locally or did you mail order.


No, ordered it from Honeyville. Wish I could find stuff like that locally... But their shipping is only $5, so the total was $40, not outrageous for what it is.

Link is in original post.
Link Posted: 2/20/2011 5:29:57 AM EST
Originally Posted By Bubbles:
IIRC the pastas in these are really thin, which is why they cook in only 5-6 minutes on the stove. If I wanted pasta in a DIY MRE I'd either break up thin spaghetti or use orzo, as both cook quickly.


Yes you need thin-type pastas for this, otherwise it will take forever to cook or won't cook properly. I actually made some of my own stroganoff with some thin fetucinni briken up, FD meat, and stroganoff powder.
Link Posted: 2/20/2011 5:43:43 AM EST
Originally Posted By cfcw:
Do you think making a pouch of of that mylar coated bubble wrap insulation would help with reconstitution. I have some and always intended to make a pot cozy out of it.


More than likely yes it will. I went camping with a guy and wanted needed something to put his MH meal in that would retain the heat. I had some the silver reflective sun block stuff around (hey I camp I take the camper on the truck). I made up a pouch with some gaffers tape and he slid his MH in there. Kept it nice and HOT he had to pull it out to cool so he could eat it.
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