By Jason Wagner
Freeze dried chicken? I think I’ll pass…Well, I should actually try to be more open minded about it, and so, I was.
Taste – 9.7/10: Whoa, this tastes like grilled chicken breast, I mean, it even has the lines and everything! The mashed potatoes were, without a doubt the best instant mash I’ve ever consumed. Hehe, the mashed potatoes don’t taste that much different from my homemade mashed potatoes, amazing. Before going back to the chicken, I should mention that while the mashed potatoes have some chives, or something that’s green in them, there isn’t an obscene amount of it; I only mention this because I know some people who take great offense to an overabundance of green things in their food. Back to the chicken, like I said, it has lines, but I don’t think I mentioned the grill marks, definitely an admirable touch. The fat content of the chicken was at a minimum, so, certainly another plus for the chicken. Finally, the chicken and mashed potatoes aren’t combined – as in, you remove the pouch containing the potato flakes, cook the chicken, remove the chicken, add the potato flakes to the water and that’s it. The fact that they weren’t mixed was a considerate touch from Mountain House.
Texture – 10/10: For all intents and purposes, a perfect score is 100% deserved, why? Because the chicken has a real texture, and so do the potatoes. Honest to God, what more could you ask of a survival food? Nothing, I say!
Nutrition – 9.6/10: On face value, the caloric culmination of 420 calories per pouch doesn’t really seem that great, nor do the decent levels of iron, vitamin C or calcium seem too remarkable, on the other hand the sheer volume of protein is a massive asset. In each pouch you get two decent sized chicken breasts, and in those bird breasts you have a number of protein that is very close to 100% of an adults needed protein for the entirety of the day. If you’re someone who moves around a lot in an apocalypse, then that kind of nutrition is essential, and if you’re an apocalyptic sloth, then you’ll still benefit. Having so much protein gives you the option of rationing and/or triaging protein more effectively; which only serves to make this all the more valuable.
Convenience – 8.4/10: So, like any other Mountain House product I’ve reviewed (except the ice cream sandwich), you do need to boil water, you do need to stir the contents, you do indeed need to let it sit for a few minutes before you can eat. Not the easiest emergency food prep, but very far from inconvenient. Right, with this one, there are two extra steps, you need to remove the chicken from the bag before adding the mashed potatoes, so you’ll need a clean area to place them, you know, like a plate and then you’ll need to add the mashed potatoes, so, technically there are two extra steps, but the two extra steps are fairly trivial in nature.
Weight/Bulk – 9.7/10: If this weren’t freeze dried, this would be a very heavyweight meal; given that it is freeze, it’s very light and takes up such little space that, while there are more compact choices out there, virtually none of them significantly outscore this one.
Resource Efficiency – 9.0/10: One and a half cups of boiled water, and as is always the case, a means to bring it to a boil. It isn’t exactly as efficient in the department of resources as an MRE, but it’s plenty efficient in its own right, hence the score.
Operational Security (Stealth) – 9.0/10: Okay, it’s very stealthy, you should be safe. If you want to be very technical, I suppose you having to cook the chicken, and then having to remove it before adding the potatoes could pose a slight security risk, but then again, they’d probably have to have a dog on your trail for that to ever really become a concern. I’d be more worried about boiling the water, whether it be the steam or the fuel giving you position away, but that’s a concern inherent to any similar product, unless you were to use a chemical heater, and when all is said and done, nothing is perfect in every single respect.
Shelf Life – 9.0/10: Roughly seven years is what can be reasonably expected out of such a product. I’d call that pretty great, for chicken! Keep in mind that the canned version of this lasts for an almost indefinite amount of time, but, then again that’s always the case with these sorts of freeze dried things.
Filling Factor – 9.6/10: What you’ve got here are the meat and potatoes, and as such – what you’ve really got here is hearty chicken, dense potatoes – and more importantly – a full stomach. If you were to eat this on its own, you’d feel like a real survivor; pair this with a dessert and you’d feel like the king of the salted earth!
Final Review – 9.5/10: My first foray into freeze dried chicken was a heroic success. I cannot believe such good tasting chicken breasts, and not the mention the potatoes, could come out of a non-perishable, long lasting bag. I’m definitely pleased, and, as with almost any product I give high marks too, but this one in particular, I highly suggest you try to keep at least a few pouches on hand, or at the very least – that you sample some of this.
Kind of besides the point, but I cannot help but laugh a little when I imagine myself, scouting out the forests, and coming up to an untouched cabin, so given that the sunlight is fading fast, I hold my Ka-Bar in one hand, while clutching an uneaten chicken breast in the other; all the while closing in fast on the cabin, heart racing, satisfied appetite. I can totally see how that could happen in an Apocalypse, or long-term crisis, too!
Having good taste is all well and good, but having attributes that make it very applicable to carrying on the move makes it better, and as you’ve just read, in the respects of nutrition, weight, bulk, operational security and resource efficiency, this one has got it all covered pretty well. Ultimately, when you combine every single aspect of this one and consider everything, you realize that its got some minor problems, yet, its also got a large number of overwhelmingly positive aspects to it, so, all and all – I heartily recommend the Mountain House Freeze Dried Chicken Breasts with Mashed Potatoes as a part of your emergency armory.
Note: Because this dish is extremely high in protein, it may be advisable to carry some extra water on hand to stave off dehydration.