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Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test 2437

Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« on: October 14, 2013, 12:05:16 AM »
I've been working off-and-on on finding foods for emergencies. That would mostly mean during loss of power.

This afternoon, we tested 3 varieties of shelf-stable Macaroni and Cheese side-by-side. This is mostly for my husband, so my opinion is a bit secondary.

1) Mountain House Macaroni and Cheese (Equivalent to 22oz., about $7.50)
2) Chef Boyardi Mac and Cheese (15oz., about $1)
3) Hormel Compleats Macaroni and Cheese (10oz., about $2.50)

Price per oz. of food:
Mountain House: 34 cents
Hormel: 25 cents
Chef Boyardi: 6 cents

Mountain House is 'backpacker food'. It's dehydrated just-add-hot-water stuff, which makes it great if you're packing it. But because of the price, it's not exactly the best for home supplies. The package itself is more like 6oz. but takes 16oz. of water to reconstitute. In addition, while I followed the directions exactly, we ended up with a lot of the noodles that were not fully rehydrated. I set a portion of it aside in the fridge overnight, and after 24 hours, there were STILL a few crunchy bits. Setting that aside, it tasted pretty good. Preparation required is bringing 2 cups of water to a boil. Not a huge deal, but more effort than the next two options.

Both the Chef Boyardi and Hormel Mac and Cheese are fully ready to be eaten as-is. The shelf life on both are pretty good.

The Hormel was pretty good. Particularly compared to the other two. I liked it more than cheap boxed mac and cheese. My husband prefers the boxed stuff slightly.

The Chef Boyardi is about what I expected, as in mostly flavorless, and just this side of gross in its squishy texture. I imagine if I had to eat it cold it'd be worse. But I ALSO know if I was REALLY hungry, it'd be perfectly acceptable.

So, as gross as it sounds (to me), my husband is probably going to stick with Chef Boyardi.

I think he has the taste of a 9-year-old.  :facepalm:
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,918
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 12:21:36 AM »
I think it is wise to have a little of both short and long term shorage foods for emergencys. But get what you like and taste good to you. As going through an emergency with food you dont like will make a bad situation even worse. Of course any food will be better than no food. Plan wisely.    :)

What? Enablers! Are you serrrrious? Where? I dont see any.
Hold Fast
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2013, 02:36:50 AM »
We get rice in 15-20lb bags (from an international market), and I usually have several varieties of dried beans in rotation, so we can, more-or-less by accident, have several months of food on-hand. But it's all rather time intensive to make. I've gotten pretty good at making rice in a thermos, so it only requires boiling water for a very short amount of time. Beans, depending on the type, can be done similarly. So, absolute worst case, we could make food with some effort.

There are a lot of food storage things I'd like to try, but we're still in testing stage at the minute.
No Life Club Posts: 3,334 All Lurkers Please Join :D
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2013, 03:13:22 AM »
There's Chef Boyardee mac n' cheese? ???

Leatherman
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 9,733 You're amongst friends.
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2013, 03:25:46 AM »
Try Augason Farms food storage. They sell some awesome 25 year shelf life kits with very tasty foods. Note that some of it requires boiling in water. We have these kits and eat from them often.

It's the best money can buy  :tu:

SAW
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2013, 03:38:33 AM »
There's Chef Boyardee mac n' cheese? ???

Yes. It's not very good.

Sawman, I've been getting stuff from Emergency Essentials, and so far have been happy with everything I've tried from them, but I'll keep Augason Farms in mind, and compare prices. Thanks. :tu:
No Life Club Posts: 3,334 All Lurkers Please Join :D
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2013, 03:03:48 PM »
There's Chef Boyardee mac n' cheese? ???

Yes. It's not very good.


Yes, now I don't have to buy some! :salute:

Leatherman
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 18,701 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 06:40:20 PM »
I kinda like it. but I think pb&j still rules.

sent from my mobile


Nate

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No Life Club Posts: 3,435
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2013, 07:24:42 PM »
Price per unit of mass is one thing, but for emergency rations I think you might want to check price per kJ (or kcal) as well. Just my two centicredits.
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 08:48:04 PM »
Mountain House 930 kcal per container. (.8 cents per kcal)
Hormel 440 kcal per container. (.5 cents per kcal)
Chef Boyardee 420 kcal per container. (.2 cents per kcal)

Interesting way to look at it.

Admin Team Point Of No Return Posts: 32,160
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2013, 01:53:04 AM »
Price per unit of mass is one thing, but for emergency rations I think you might want to check price per kJ (or kcal) as well. Just my two centicredits.

Yeah, when picking food for backpacking trips I tend to look a lot at the kcal/weight ratio. :D

couscous makes for a good emergency option IMO, due to the fact that the tiny granules can actually be eaten without cooking.  Not a tasty option, but easier than eating dry pasta. ;)

Try not to be the person who blunders around and causes everyone else to get out the way.  Everyone else thinks you're a utter...
No Life Club Posts: 3,516 Benner fan club #003
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2013, 06:07:11 PM »
I like the Kraft Deluxe Mac n Cheese dinner because it requires no additional ingredients...like milk and butter. To make cleanup easy, I put the cooked macaroni in gallon size Ziploc before adding the cheese sauce.
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2013, 06:36:28 PM »
The problem with that is cook time on boiling the noodles. That's a lot of extra fuel required.

Maybe I could try cooking the pasta in my thermos. If that could be done, then the fuel requirement is the same as making Mountain House. Although, admittedly, it would take a lot longer to make than the Mountain House.
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 18,701 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2013, 07:27:43 PM »
Make a wood gas stove. Ton of fuel everywhere and it is free.

sent from my mobile


Nate

SEND IT!
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2013, 07:37:38 PM »
I have about 4 of them sitting around. And an oak tree littering our yard with 'free fuel'. :D

And, just for the record, I have a bag of wood pellets set aside as fuel for these little stoves. They are my backup cooking contingency. There's just really nothing that can go wrong with them, I think, and even if it DID go wrong, I have others as backups-to-backups.

It's just that under bad weather conditions, sitting outside long enough to boil pasta doesn't sound like loads of fun, so I'd like to cut cooking time to bare minimum.
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 9,733 You're amongst friends.
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2013, 07:56:30 PM »
I like this thread, very informative  :popcorn:

SAW
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 18,701 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2013, 05:53:02 PM »
I have 2 skids of wood pellets and a smurf ton of trees. So I'm good on fuel too. As far as cooking outside in bad weather, a bad day cooking outside is better than a good day at work. :))
Do you have a shed or something like that? You could cook in that. It will keep you out of the weather and will plenty of air moving.

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Nate

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Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,909 Any tool is better than nothing. Some not by much
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2013, 07:28:10 PM »
Nope. No shed, and no cover on our deck.  >:(

I've considered building a shed. It's one of those 'some day' projects, when finances look a little better.

EDIT: Oh, also, those little wood-gas stoves burn a good bit longer on wood pellets than on just twigs found in the yard. 2 cups of wood pellets gives enough burn time to boil 4 cups of water, at least.

If I recall correctly, I got about 35 minutes from twigs, and over 45 minutes from wood pellets. And it took almost 20 minutes to boil 2 cups of water. I should mess around more with wind shields and such, to see if I could bring that time down, but I prefer waiting for colder weather to do this stuff.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 07:32:12 PM by Lynn LeFey »
No Life Club Posts: 3,070 American Clandestine Materials Executive (ACME)
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2013, 05:18:40 AM »
There is another kind of mac and cheese, although I blush to admit to having made it. Ramen noodles, without the powder, and shelf stable cheese dip. If you've got the fuel to boil water, then you've got everything you need. Two packs of noodles, one tub of frito lay brand cheese dip, and a spam single or a pouch of tuna, maybe some crushed up cheesie poofs or corn chips.

College did odd things to my taste buds.

If you want real pasta, remember the smaller the noodle the faster it cooks. Couscous you just pour a little boiling water in, stir, give it a minute, and then add that cheese sauce- I've never done it, but I'm thinking the texture would like oatmeal. But it wouldn't taste that far off from something like the Craft deluxe with the pouch of orange "cheese"/spackle.  :P

Of course, I sometimes think good eats can be a can of beef or chicken soup, with enough couscous to make it something you can eat with a fork. That's real cheap survival food for two.

"Even if it is only the handful of people I meet on the street, or in my home, I can still protect them with this one sword" Kenshin Himura

Necessity is the mother of invention. If you're not ready, it's "a mother". If you are, it's "mom".

"I love democracy" Sheev Palpatine, upon his election to Chancellor.
No Life Club Posts: 1,902
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2020, 04:34:06 PM »
Blue box Mac and Cheese... it's readily available and cheap.

On the face of it, not ideal for backwoods cuisine, because it has two additional ingredients (butter and milk)

Over the years I've tried a few variations.... just to see

My first trial was without milk.... so I used extra butter, and left some of the starchy pasta water in the pot.  This worked out well, no complaints... though it was done over a campfire, so there is nothing that can be complained about there.

I've tried dry milk powder with water .... that works out fine too, But I added a lot of black pepper to mask the slight change in taste.

Recently, inspired by Backpackers Pantry mac and cheese which is flavered with bacon... I decided to substitute the butter with bacon grease left over from breakfast.  It seemed about the same as what you end up with from the boxed directions, but there is a very slight bacon flavor.  Perhaps because I didn't make a 1:1 substitution for the butter.... used maybe a teaspoon.  The consistency was fine and the hint of bacon was a nice touch.  The Backpackers Pantry version is certainly more bacony. 

Bonus review - Backpackers Pantry: using the directions on the package...  This is a comforting meal on the trail as one would expect.  I didn't expect the bacon flavor so that was initially odd until I recognized it as such.  You do need to stir it several times during the re-constituting process, somehow stiring it once, and occasionally turning and rolling the bag around isnt enough to distribute the water.

I've always been a minimalist when it comes to Mac and Cheese.  I'll add black pepper, or a dash of hot sauce.  I have had my fair share of artisanal M&C, with various European cheeses, meats, seafood, crispy toppings and the works.  Boring as it may be, stovetop mac and cheese (home made, to be sure)... before it goes in the oven to crisp up... is one of my top 5 favorite foods of all time. 
Admin Team Point Of No Return Posts: 32,160
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2020, 01:01:18 AM »
I hate to admit it but these are actually pretty good.  Easy to make too. https://www.mugshot.co.uk/product/macaroni-cheese-pasta/ 

Try not to be the person who blunders around and causes everyone else to get out the way.  Everyone else thinks you're a utter...
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 5,001 Smurf it!
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2020, 02:30:19 AM »
I hate to admit it but these are actually pretty good.  Easy to make too. https://www.mugshot.co.uk/product/macaroni-cheese-pasta/

They are, but I didn't say that :whistle:

“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” - Socrates
"I'm not feeling very talky today, off you smurf". - Smashie
Complaining is mental preparation for failure.
Si vis pacem, para bellum
No Life Club Posts: 4,047
Re: Emergency Foods: Mac and Cheese test
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2020, 11:59:28 AM »
If you're expecting some real emergencies, keep a jar of honey, or malt syrup, or similar handy.

No preparation, won't go off, and plenty of kj to keep you going until you find something better.
(Certain chocolates can also be handy emergency rations, but I never seemed to master the art of saving them for when I need them)

 

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