Tips, Tricks, & Hacks to Make a Quality Product
Shelf Life of Pantry Packs/Travel Packets WITHOUT Meat
It is hard to know exactly how long your instant meals will store because it varies depending on the ingredients and where they are stored. However, there are few few ways you can maximize shelf life.
- They keep longer at cooler temperatures and unexposed to humidity.
- With freeze-dried meat included, these instant meals are good for 1-2 weeks at room temperature. Without the meat, they will be good for several months.
- If you vacuum seal the meat or entire meal with a Food Saver, it should at least double the shelf life at room temperature. Vacuum sealed and stored in the freezer, they are good for up to 1 year.
- They are likely to be good for a year or longer when vacuum sealed and properly stored in airtight containers. Do not be tempted to add any moist or wet ingredients, oils/fats, or dairy/meats/eggs to these instant packets unless you are ready to eat them right away.
- Use all dry ingredients for maximum shelf life. Once moisture/animal-based products/oils are introduced into the mix, bacteria can begin to form and the contents are no longer safely shelf stable. The only safe way to add wet ingredients is if you freeze them right away rather than storing them at room temperature.
- For longer-lasting Pantry Packs/Travel Packs, leave out the meat to extend their shelf life. Vacuum seal freeze-dried meat separately and store the meat packets in the freezer. Outside of the freezer the freeze-dried meat packet has a shelf life of about 2 weeks.
To Make a Meal WITH Meat
- Use freeze dried meats. It is surprisingly good once it is rehydrated with boiling water, and it has all of the nutrition of fresh meat. I buy my cans of freeze-dried meats on Amazon or from Honeyville Farms.
- If you are adding fresh meat when preparing your meal, cook the meat thoroughly first, and then add with dried ingredients from Pantry Pack/Travel Pouch when rehydrating.
Preparing Dried Vegetables /Fruits for Recipes
Remember, you are preparing “instant” meals; therefore your food will only be rehydrated and NOT cooked. Therefore a bit of extra preparation is needed. Preparing your Fruits and vegetables in this way will give you a quality Instant Meal that will be “cooked” to your preference when rehydrating on the go for an instant, nutritious meal that’s perfect for backpacking, camping, dorms, office, and travel.
A vegetable that you would normally cook before eating such as corn, peas, broccoli, green beans and most root vegetables will usually rehydrate better if you steam them until knife-tender (usually 8-10 minutes).
Fruit follows the same rules and can be cooked using moist-heat or dry-heat methods. Poaching, stewing and other moist-heat methods are wonderful for dressing up plain fruit. Sauces and compotes are usually made using moist-heat cooking.
Follow these tips for cooking fruit using moist-heat methods:
- Pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots are commonly poached fruits.
- Figs, grapes, quince and bananas will also poach nicely.
- Use just enough liquid to cover the fruit.
- Keep fruit pieces uniform in size for even cooking.
- Let fruit rest in poaching liquid for 20 minutes after cooking to allow the flavor to be absorbed.
- Some fruits, such as berries, will not hold their shape after poaching or stewing, but they make a good hot fruit sauce.
Dry-heat methods that enhance fruit include grilling or broiling, roasting or baking, and sautéing. No matter what method you use, take care not to overcook fruit. Exposure to heat breaks down fruits’ cell walls. The less time fruit is exposed to heat, the better it retains its shape. Quick cooking methods are best for ripe fruit.
Substituting for Special Diets
You can use any recipe as a guideline and get creative by altering the ingredients to your liking. Omit ingredients you do not like, add different seasonings to your taste. Make these recipes your own!
- Vegetarian or vegan? Omit the meat and use the Vegetable bouillon. Add more nuts, if desired, to enhance the protein levels. Skip the powdered milk and cheese and add vegan cheese and/or nutritional yeast instead.
- Gluten free? Replace pastas and cous cous with instant rice. Using instant rice makes them naturally gluten-free. Just make sure if you purchase your instant rice that it has been made in a gluten-free factory OR use our techniques to make your own!
- Nut allergies? Leave them out.
- Like it spicy? Add a dash or two of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.
- Need low sodium? Omit the salt.
- Prefer fewer carbs? Swap out equal amounts of vegetables or nuts instead of rice, pasta, beans (legumes), or other grains.
Try Instant Meals at Home First
Before you take these Pantry Packs/Travel Pouches on the road for the first time, make a few instant meal dinners at home first.
- Sample them and make sure they taste good and rehydrate well.
- Add or change any ingredients in your recipe.
- Perfect the directions/rehydration times based on your findings.
These steps will save you from having a disappointing meal when you are backpacking, camping, dorm-cooking, office-cooking, or traveling—and a quick home-cooked meal!
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