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Freeze Dried Food Cost Comparison

Sticker shock is not uncommon when looking at freeze dried foods. #10 cans of freeze dried meats and entrees typically run $35-$45, which certainly can seem like a lot for a relatively small and lightweight can--especially if you're shopping in quantity.

I was curious about exactly how the prices might stack up to more conventional canned goods available at your local grocery mart. The results were actually pretty surprising.

For the comparison, I chose THRIVE freeze dried chopped chicken, which is on sale this month for $34.99. This is cooked and chopped chicken, only white meat and hormone free--usually stuff you pay a premium for to start with.

Based on info on the Shelf Reliance website, a #10 can contains 12 cups of freeze dried chicken. Two and a half cups of FD chicken make a pound of chicken, so there's enough FD chicken in one can to reconstitute 4.8 pounds of chicken.

That gives you a price per pound of $7.29 or $0.46 per ounce.

Compare this with a 12.5 ounce can chicken breast, like the Costco/Kirkland brand. Off the top of my head, one of these cans costs around $2.50. They contain 7 ounces of actual chicken, which gives you a price per pound of $5.71 and a price per ounce of $0.36.

So, you pay about a $.10 per ounce premium for the THRIVE freeze dried chicken. Not bad at all, and less than I would have guessed.

Things really swing in favor of the freeze dried stuff when you look at shelf life. Regular canned chicken has around a 3 year shelf life, while Shelf Reliance lists a 25 year shelf life for the freeze dried chicken. That means you'd have to rotate the canned chicken 8 times over the shelf life of the freeze dried chicken.

Sure, if you eat canned chicken as a part of your regular diet, then rotation is not a big deal. But if you don't--if you frequently find yourself getting rid of old canned food or if you just want something stored for insurance purposes--then that's certainly something to think about.

THRIVE freeze dried foods are available from our sponsor, Shelf Reliance consultant Jade Garn. Visit her website here.


    I am going to have to heartily endorse Shelf Reliance as a very intelligent food storage resource. What is odd about my endorsement is that I have never actually purchase their goods.

    Rather, I make my own. And my experience as a Do-It-Yourselfer prove that Shelf Reliance would be even MORE cost beneficial than our A-Wolf suggests.

    Like he said in the article, I have quite a bit of canned veg' s that I either have to throw out or eat this month. What a waste that will be. It is soil because of lack of discipline in my rotations.

    Secondly, I raw pack my own beef and chicken. That is, "canning" meat with a pressure cooker. I get beef for about $2 per pound (deer is free). By the time I pay for electricity, lids, salt, beef, misc... I might have $3 per pound invested in the finished product. Three bucks divided by sixteen = 19¢ per ounce.

    But it takes all darn day to do it. Do you work for free? I don't, so add in a reasonable lost labor rate... Now you end up with no cost saving.

    So, making your own is for the few that are poor like me, have the knowledge-equipment-and time, and have nothing better to do.

    Do yourself a big favor, save yourself the trouble and just buy the good stuff.

    My hat is off to Shelf Reliance!

  2. I wish all f-d food manufacturers had small sampling sizes to try out! I hate to make the large investment without trying it first. That's one more benefit of canned food.

    1. LyndaKay,

      There is a smaller size avaliable called a Pantry Can. It is 0.42 lbs and has 19 (1/4 cup) servings for $16.79.


      A great way to try it out! I do agree though, it is wise to try a product before making a large investment!

  3. For anyone interested, we have a GREAT sale going on right now until March 8 2012!

    Freeze Dried Chicken and Beef 6 Pack $144.60
    Includes: 3 #10 cans of FD Chopped Chicken
    3 #10 cans of FD Ground Beef
    That is a savings of $77.64!

    To order this package; e-mail jadegarn@yahoo.com or call 435-279-7017. These great deals are not available online.

  4. This may well shift me in the direction of freeze-dried. I keep canned chicken and canned and foil packed tuna in my rotation boxes. I actually use up the canned tomato products, corn and green beans, the rest either go to my college-student daughter or the local food bank. When it comes to canned tuna, I'd rather put it outside and say "here, kitty, kitty.." with a .22 than eat the nasty dang stuff. My kids love it, that's why I store it, just in case.

  5. It's good to see someone counting the cost like this. I would really like to know what the inflation rate on #10 canned food has been since prepping took off in 2008. Good job!


    Thanks for the reality check! I have never tested Shelf Reliance specifically, so my endorsement has to be limited to the concept. That is what I should have clearly stated. FOR THE TROUBLE IT TAKES, IT IS MORE COST EFFECTIVE TO PURCHASE QUALITY FREEZE DRIED MEAT THAN TO CAN YOUR OWN... IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO MAKE THE PURCHASE.

    You can do the cost comparison "number crunching" on various manufacturers, and at the end of the day, that is what matters. That is assuming that quality is otherwise equal. Taste is of very little relevance for survival. It needs to be decent and palatable by taste. But nutrition is critical; if it is tasty, that is a good bonus.

    However we do it, just be sure to store food. And thats another great thing about Shelf Reliance... You make up your mind, make a phone call or place an order. Then it is done, your family is fed.

  7. Interesting! I wouldn't have guessed F-D would be so competitive, but then again I have no idea what kind of costs go into freeze drying food in the first place.

  8. Don't forget about the weight benefit you get from freeze dried food. It would be interesting to know what 4.8 freeze dried chickens weighs in #10 can versus 4.8 chickens canned in water or broth. The weight savings can also be a huge factor if you plan to relocate some of your preps in a bug-out sitution. Great article.


  9. I think that #10 cans of freeze dried foods are actually as cheap, if not cheaper than regular canned foods for long-term storage.

    Any given mountain house entree in a #10 can will last 25+ years. If you just purchased regular canned food (i.e. spaghetti-o's) those would only last about 2-3 years. So, during 25 years you would have to factor in the cost to replace the regular canned food about 10 times or get the long storage life with freeze dried and purchase only once.

    1. AnonymousMay 12, 2012

      Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing. Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color and texture. Canning is a high-heat process that renders the food commercially sterile. Food safety is not an issue in products kept on the shelf or in the pantry for long periods of time. In fact, canned food has an almost indefinite shelf life at moderate temperatures (75° F and below). Canned food as old as 100 years has been found in sunken ships and it is still microbiologically safe! We don't recommend keeping canned food for 100 years, but if the can is intact, not dented or bulging, it is edible.

      Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_long_does_can_food_last#ixzz1ueVbjkp5

  10. AnonymousMay 12, 2012

    My 2 cents is that not only is it cheaper to go with cans, it does not require additional water. Also it is well known that canned food out last freeze dried food. Even though it may say best buy, there are cans of food from the early 20's that scientist say wouldn't kill you if you eat it. Now I do have a good store of fd food but its more for when shtf where we have to bug out and do not want the weight of cans. Also cans can be bought in numerous sizes. Also we eat what we store so it is our diet and will not have any issues if this is what we are going to be living off of. I don't know I have had some good fd food but I mean when you compare taste there is no contest. We have over a years worth of food and probably 200 different dinners.

  11. Great article. I definitely think Thrive is a leader in this industry and I myself prefer freeze dried foods to canned by far. They're very knowledgeable and professional the only thing is that the cans sort of look like baby food. Another great source too is Camping Survival and I say this cause I get some of my gear here and its easier to keep shopping in one place. My final suggestion if you want stuff that's off the beaten track is MRE Depot. Talk about another label that's different, it looks like it came from the 70's, but nonetheless its not whats on the outside its whats on the in that counts! I wish Thrive or Mountain House would do freeze dried steaks, hamburger patties, or whole chicken breast but until then I've been happy with MRE Depot. Great service.

    Once again great article! Keep it up.