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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just Add Water: Potato and Beef

I've mentioned that I have this near-obsession with Just Add Water meals for my preps.  I just like the idea of being able to have a meal that only requires the addition of boiling water.  I keep a number of these meals in our BOBs/GHBs so that we can get a quick, tasty, nutritious meal if need be.

One of my absolute favorites is Mashed Potatoes and Beef.

I start with potato flakes (the Idahoan brand in this case).  The standard, off-the-box instructions are as follows (for 4, one-half cup servings):

1 1/3 C water
1/2 t salt
2 T butter
2/3 C milk
1 1/3 C potato flakes

I must say, I have not found a decent shelf-stable substitute for real butter.  For this receipe, it would need to be the powdered butter, and it is just horrible (IMO, of course).

To help offset this lost flavor component, and to add some more moisture to help rehydrate some of the other ingredients that follow, I increase the milk component from 2/3C to 1 C.

Here's the recipe.

2 1/3 C boiling water
1 1/3C potato flakes
1/3 C instant milk
1 C freeze-dried beef (more on that later)
1 T dehydrated chopped onion
1T dehydrated minced garlic
2 t dry parsley flakes
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Vacuum seal it in an over-sized bag.

Why an oversized bag?  Because that's where you're going to be doing your cooking.  As per the instructions:

Be sure you cut the bag open just below the seal line.  Boil up your water and pour it into the bag (yep, they're boil-able).  Stir it up to make sure everything is well mixed, fold over the lip of the bag and secure it closed.

In this picture I have a large paper clip holding the bag closed.  In every BOB/GHB we include a dozen or so large paper clips.  They are flexible, yet sturdy pieces of wire that can be used for a number of things other than holding paper together, and they take up virtually no space.

After letting it steep for the 5 minutes, you have a fantastic meal.

It really tastes great.  My wife was out when I whipped up this batch.  When she got home, she smelled it and asked what I had cooked.  I told her.

As the faithful spouse of a prepper who uses his family as guinea pigs for his "experiments", she gave it a quick taste.  That was followed by a, "Hmmmm, pretty good.  Mind if I grab a bowl of this?"  Victory.

The nutritional stats (from the potatoes, beef and milk only):

620 calories
54g protein
112g carbs
8g fat

I consider this a meal for 2, but decide how many people will be eating it, and divide accordingly.

The freeze dried beef is a great product.  I got mine from  I've always had great success with them in the past.

The beef, though, is pretty expensive.  A can weighing 15oz will set you back about $44.  You get about 17 portions out of a can, with each dry portion being 1/2 cup.

The last time I bought a can, I mentioned to them that their labeling said you got 24 dry half-cup portions.  When I broke down the can into Just Add Water packs, I only got 17 portions.  They said they contacted the manufacturer and the label SHOULD say it makes 24 REHYDRATED portions.  Just understand that you'll only be getting 17 dry half-cup portions.

Accept The Challenge

Consider experimenting with meals that require a minimum of preparation.  You never know when an emergency will hit, or where you'll be when it happens.

Having easy-to-make, calorie-rich foods can make a miserable situation a bit more bearable.  I've got some more potato, rice, soup and pasta meals I share in later posts.

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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