This post is a guest article written by Jim Banaski.
I love food, I love cooking it and I enjoy eating it and sharing it. Therefore, when I got the chance to do a review of Emergency Essentials Lasagna with Pork Sauce, I jumped at the chance. As an avid prepper, I am always looking at new foods for long-term storage options. You can only bag and seal so many pounds of rice, bean, and noodles before you start to think about putting some variety in your food stores!
One of the first thoughts I had when I opened the box that came in the mail was, “Is this for bugging in, or bugging out?” The can is a #10 sized can, which is not too big, but if I was to have to leave my location with a can that size I would have to reduce the size and weight in order for it to be worth the effort. Immediately I thought I could break down the contents into smaller, more manageable containers if I needed to take it with me while bugging out.
Opening the can required a can opener. While this is not normally a problem in our kitchen, I could not help but think of what I would do without one. There are plenty of videos out there about how to open a can without a can opener, but for our purposes I would suggest ensuring there is a can opener stored with any canned extended shelf life foods. One of the things I noticed while handling the can and opening it, was the label was not glued to the can very well. It was practically falling off when I took it out of the box. I am not sure if it was due to shipping, or not properly glued to the can. Losing the label would then require you to write the contents and instructions on the can itself.
When I opened it, I was a little surprised at what I found. The instructions said that we would be combining the sauce mix and the noodles in boiling water, so I expected to find two separate packages of contents in the can. What I found was I had to pour all of the noodles out of the can so I could get to the sauce mix.
I poured the noodles into a one-gallon re-sealable bag, thinking it would be used for storing any leftover noodles. The sauce mix bag ended up being re-sealable, which was a nice.
For the first batch, I used my standard gas range, a small saucepan, and a whisk. The small amount of water (1 cup) came to a boil quickly, so I stirred in the noodle and sauce mix as per the instructions. The instructions said to set a timer for 15-20 minutes, but knowing my range I set the timer for 15 minutes. I stirred the contents at 10 minutes and 5 minutes. With 2:19 left on the timer, I shut the gas off as I noticed that the contents were beginning to stick to the saucepan. I poured the contents into a bowl and let it sit for three minutes to cool per the instructions.
Here come the info you really want to know… How did it taste?
I have to say, it was great! It was a little unexpected since I have tried MANY different types of survival foods as well as ate my fair share of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and C-Rations while I was in the Army, and they do not all taste good. Therefore, I was impressed by the lasagna. A good amount of spices gave the lasagna a good taste, eliminating the possibility that it would be another bland, extended shelf life food.
Here is what I see as the only downfall.
According to the label, one serving has 230 calories. That is not a lot of calories. When thinking about meal planning for an extended scenario that requires you to bug in/bug out in the first place, you will need more than 230 calories in one sitting. Therefore, you may have to either eat more than one serving, or combine this meal with something else
While cooking with a gas range in my kitchen, I wondered how this would work if I separated the contents into single serve bags and was took it with me while bugging out. So down to the basement I went to retrieve my trusty Coleman camping burner, a propane canister, and my camping cookware bag. I went outside and set up a cooking area on my deck.
Here is what I found.
The cooking time in the instructions is listed as 15-20 minutes. Following the instructions was not possible as far as time was concerned. After adding the sauce mix and noodles, I turned the burner to its lowest setting and set the timer for 15 minutes. With 11:02 remaining, I noticed that there was almost no liquid left. I ended up turning off the burner with 9:26 left on the timer.
The contents were sticking to the bottom and would have burned if I let them go any further. I let it cool for 3 minutes and then tasted it. Everything tasted the same, but the noodles could have used a little more time to cook.
Overall, the lasagna was easy to cook, tasted great, and all of the unused contents fit back into the can. If you are bugging out, you will want to repackage the contents to make it easier to travel with; and if you use a propane stove or burner, you need to adjust the amount of water or the cook time so you will not burn your meal.