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30 Day Diet

(this page encompasses all of my blog entries for the 30 day dehydrated / freeze dried food diet)

December 2, 2006

Yesterday's blog post, "Hungry for A Month" by Evan, has inspired me to shamelessly promote my own philosophies and products based on Evan's idea.

I think this is a novel idea, actually, and am grateful for the inspiration. Why not? I have a huge selection of foods available to me, and most of them have been stockpiled for my use right here at home. I have been eating them off and on for many years now, but not exclusively, mixing them in with my regular diet. I'm still addicted to the supermarket and dollar store for other food products like most people, but only because I "can". One day soon, this will all stop, for everyone.

So what I propose is to stop all "outside buying" from the corporate-owned stores, documenting my daily consumption of my own product lines and reporting the results.

I won't have to starve myself and have no plans to even limit my calorie intake, or budgetary expenses, but to simply stop eating "store bought food". I'll document the costs too and see how this affects my economic expenditures and how I feel and react health wise.

This will be interesting too, because of the level of packaging and waste that comes with store bought foods. My products have zero waste if prepared to exact portions (and if not, I can refrigerate the rest for later consumption) and the packaging is reusable for many other purposes. Many foods on hand are in the #10 gallon sized cans, which can be reused for my garden next year, or out in my shop to hold "stuff". I never throw these out.

It will also be interesting to record how I feel like Evan did. Store bought foods contain a lot of junk, additives and preservatives if you're not careful (and I'm not, not particularly), usually buying what I like to eat, out of habit or craving.

As for cost, I've no doubt I'll save a ton of money. My products are much cheaper then the supermarket variety and in this case, they've already been paid for. Keeping a journal will help record what they would have cost me.

I've also decided that I'll venture outside more, now that hunting season is over. This year, there have been a lot of hunters around and I tend to avoid my usual walks for this reason. But the season is over, the snow is falling and it should be enjoyable once again.

I just spotted this Thoreau quotation:

Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.

Okay, so I start this today, December 2nd. I'm posting this first thing in the morning, so won't have an update until I've eaten something. I haven't made any special preparations at all, I've not stocked up on anything new or different, nothing I don't already have on hand. But there's plenty around here to keep me going for months and months on end.

Finally, what a great month to pick! December is usually a time of even more feasting, followed by New Years. I don't mind, whatever I could have eaten can wait!

Day 1

Yesterday was Day One, first on the dehydrated / freeze dried food diet. I didn't load up before starting this little experiment. I simply had a few leftovers and some nuts.

Today (yesterday, actually), I had 1 1/2 cups Scrambled Eggs & Bacon (Mountain House) for breakfast. This is pretty good. From Mountain House, I have always been impressed on how good this taste. Just add water, wait about 10 minutes for good rehydration and it's ready to eat.

I had a very dented can of this lying around, it was literally crushed, but dry pack foods aren't usually damaged. The can had already been opened about six months ago, so I don't have much of this can left to eat. The manufacturer says you are supposed to eat the food in the can within two weeks, but I've never found this to be the case. Some of my food has been opened over five years ago and is still plenty good. My plan is to eat most of this up in the next month as a means of rotating my food stores.

1 cup Almond Chicken (Alpine Aire) for lunch. This was pretty good too, but I'm amazed at how much food is in a "2 person" foil pouch. I only made up 1/2 of the contents, and couldn't eat all of that! I think I'll get four servings out of this package. The rest was left in the foil pouch and will be prepared later this month.

One of my chickens died today, but I'm not sure why. I decided to take her carcass on my daily walk and donate her to the coyotes around here. I saw lots and lots of tracks, mostly deer, but came across some coyote tracks and even two sets of moose tracks and a lone elk. The only living thing I saw was a grouse. It's pretty hard to walk quietly in the snow and critters can usually hear you from several hundred yards away as you crunch along.

Dinner was the leftover Almond Chicken (why not?) and some spaghetti (Rainy Day). This was from a bucket of whole wheat spaghetti I've had opened for the last five years. I still haven't manage to eat the whole thing in all that time.

Day 2

Breakfast was Gourmet Waffle Mix from Rainy Day Foods and coffee. I have a 25 lb sack of this mix, actually called Belgium Waffles. I got to try out my new waffle iron, which worked great. I was only able to eat most of one waffle, which were very good. The chickens were fed the leftovers.

Lunch was Beef Fricassee from Rainy Day Foods. I also added a pouch of freeze-dried beef from Alpine Aire. This was really easy to prepare, boil water, add ingredients and cook for about 15 minutes. I again made too much, but the leftovers were scarfed up by everyone else.

Dinner was 10 Bean Mix from Rainy Day Foods. This is actually 17 different beans, I don't know why they call it 10 bean. These were soaked the night before, and slow cooked in a pressure cooker, this only took about two hours to prepare. I've got quite a few leftovers, which were also shared with the everyone else.

I also had a Blueberry Muffin from Rainy Day Foods. I like these a lot, they don't last too long around here.

So far, I've generated only a single pouch of trash in two days. This is definitely an added benefit to bulk foods, far less garbage.

Day 3

Breakfast was coffee and a blueberry muffin from Rainy Day Foods. While good and all I wanted, I should have eaten more.

By noon, I was hungry and prepared Alpine Aire's Roast Beef Hash. Breakfast at lunchtime! This was good, but too spicy for my tastes. I like spicy food, but this was just a little too much, it would have been better with some scrambled eggs mixed in. I ate most of the two-person serving and refrigerated the rest.

Dinner was the rest of the Almond Chicken I had. Dessert was another blueberry muffin and a homemade chocolate chip cookies. These were made from scratch, using fresh ground wheat, sugar from Rainy Day foods. Mmmm!

Day 4

Breakfast: I finished up Alpine Aire's Roast Beef Hash, but I added in scrambled eggs from Mountain House. This was good and not too spicy this way.

Lunch: Beef Teriyaki with Rice from Mountain House. This was very good.

Dinner: Shrimp Alfredo from Alpine Aire. This was too something for me, but I couldn't put my finger on it. It didn't taste that good. I'll try it again though and see if maybe it was something I did wrong.

I should note, that all #10 cans should be shaken before removing ingredients (unless they are single ingredient products). The reason for this is the lighter products like seasoning settle to the bottom of the can. It's best to shake things up before you take out what you need.

Day 5

Breakfast: Quick Oats from Rainy Day Foods, coffee and some homemade bread using fresh ground wheat from Rainy Day Foods. Good stuff. I like oats and love homemade bread. Bread is easy to make, but I made it even easier using a bread machine. I have bread pans too, but with a bread machine, you toss in the ingredients and turn it on and forget about it.

Lunch: Shrimp Newberg from Alpine Aire. This was okay, but a little fishy to me. I'll try this again.

Dinner: Beef Noodle Soup from Rainy Day Foods. I added some diced beef from Alpine Aire into this too. I also had some more homemade bread. Rasberry Crumble from Mountain House for dessert. This was good. The first time I'd made it some months back, I used too much water. This time, I followed the instructions and it really was quite food. I even licked the bag!

Day 6

Breakfast was my usual coffee and more Quick Oats from Rainy Day Foods.Lunch was Forever Young Mac & Cheese from Alpine Aire. I'd never had this before and like it. This contains the usual noodles and cheese, but it also had a white cream sauce and freeze-dried peas. I liked it. I made the whole pouch and there was easily enough in there for three people. The rest got eaten up by everyone else. That keeps happening, everyone has caught on to my little experiment, so guess who's making lunch and dinner around here? At least it's easy...

Dinner was 10 bean mix from Rainy Day Foods and Indian Scone Bread and Whipped Creamy Honey from Rainy Day Foods. This is almost like eating dessert, it goes great with beans.

I'm feeling pretty good, actually. I've lost only 1 lbs so far, but I've been slacking off on my daily walks. I went for a short walk today, while I mulled over the results of the Living Planet report. I've got a few more things I'll mention about that report, probably tomorrow.

Day 7

I keep forgetting to publish this stuff, lots of other things to write about right now. But here it is:

Breakfast - Belgium Waffles from Rainy Day Foods. I got this "down" now, make a lighter batter by adding more water, and let it cook extra long to get a crispy waffle, just the way I like them.

Lunch: Strawberries from Alpine Aire, and Creamy Potato Soup from Rainy Day Foods.

Dinner: Orange Style Spicy Chicken from Mountain House. This is one of my favorites.

Day 8

I'm playing catch-up with the diet postings, but here they are:

Breakfast - Blueberry Muffin and Quick Oats from Rainy Day Foods. Two cups of coffee today, I'm tired.
Lunch was Black Bart Chili with Beans from Alpine Aire. This is good, I'm a bean fan and like spicy foods too.

Dinner - White Rice, mixed with Vegetable Stew from Rainy Day Foods. Also had some Blueberries from Alpine Aire as a snack.

Day 9

Breakfast: I cheated, and enjoyed Beef Teriyaki for breakfast!

Lunch: I finished of the Black Bart Chili with Beans from Alpine Aire. This was an opened package I had lying around for a several years. I didn't use all the spice that was left on purpose and it turned out just right. Good!

Dinner: White Rice, Beef Stroganoff Gravy from Rainy Day Foods. Freeze-dried beef from Alpine Aire was added. Also enjoyed Western Tamale Beef Pie from Alpine Aire.

Day 10

Breakfast: Coffee and donuts. I wish (just had to throw that in there). No, I really had hashbrowns and scrambled eggs from Rainy Day Foods (and some coffee).

Lunch: Shrimp Alfredo from Alpine Aire. I also nibbled on some strawberries from Alpine Aire.

Dinner: Seafood Chowder from Alpine Aire, Buttermilk Biscuits from Rainy Day Foods.

Day 11

Breakfast: Buttermilk biscuits, white cream sauce and sausauge TVP, from Rainy Day Foods. My version of "SOS". Every bread product I've had from Rainy Day Foods is excellent, the biscuits, pancakes, waffles and their bread mixes.

Lunch: White rice, freeze dried chicken, and chicken gravy from Rainy Day Foods.

Dinner: Forever young, mac-n-cheese from Alpine Aire, and another biscuit!

Day 12

Breakfast: Germade from Rainy Day Foods. I eat mine plain, no sugar, no milk.Lunch: Potato flakes (mashed potatoes), beef gravy and beef tvp, buttermilk biscuit and some peach flavored apple drink from Rainy Day Foods. This was good, the peach drink is one of my favorites. I was hungry too, I got out of for a walk and the cold air was actually enjoyable.

Dinner: Vegetable stew from Rainy Day Foods. I added a handful of sweet corn, peas and some potato chunks from Rainy Day Foods. This makes a pretty good stew and it's very filling. I finished off the last of the biscuits too.

Day 13

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs from Alpine Aire and hashbrowns from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: Forever young mac-n-cheese from Alpine Aire. This finished off that "two person" packet. I'm finding that I'm not eating a full serving and getting 3 or even 4 servings from these pouches. That's plenty for me, but I'm not exerting a lot of energy right now either.

Dinner: Creamy potato soup and honeywheat fresh baked bread from Rainy Day Foods. Their honeywheat bread mix is great, I've eaten something like 400 lbs of this stuff over the years. I also had Almond Chicken from Alpine Aire, this is good, but I've got plenty of leftovers again.

Day 14

Breakfast: We didn't lose power, but about a million other people did. I was still able to make breakfast, having buttermilk pancakes and coffee. I've cut down on the coffee lately, don't know why.

Lunch: More vegetable stew from Rainy Day foods. I usually make up a batch that can accomdate at least 4 - 5 servings, but you wouldn't have to. The advantage of dehydrated foods is you can make up single servings and have absolutely no leftovers if you don't want to.

Dinner: Sweet & sour pork with Rice from Mountain House. For dessert I had the chocolate bavarian hazelnut cream from Alpine Aire. Being a chocolate lover, I ate the whole two person serving!

Day 15

Halfway there. I'm down only 1.5 lbs, but I suspect this has to do with the exercise more then anything else. I feel pretty good too, this diet is low-fat and no preservatives.

Today for breakfast I had a "chicken scramble". This is something I've made before, using freeze-dried chicken, scrambled eggs and seasoning.

Lunch was ABC Soup from Rainy Day Foods. You can do anything with this soup by the way, it's a good foundation for making a simple or complex meal. I added some carrots, corn and peas to the mix. I don't measure, I just toss in what I want and cook.

Dinner was brown rice, freeze-dried beef, beef gravy, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, sweet corn and a blueberry muffin for dessert.

Day 16

I accidentally stumbled across two things. One, I had fried some corn by accident, but went ahead and ate a few of the kernals that were left in the frying pan. I liked it! And then I came across this from the Frugal Cuisine, Onion Fried Rice with Peas, so I decided to combine both discoveries.

This is really easy to make, so that's what I did. I took steamed brown rice (not cold, but fresh from the steamer), added to cooked dehydrated onions (rehydrate well first), a dash of salt, and rehydrated peas. I also added rehyrdated corn to the frying pan and cooked it all up. This was very good! I liked the crunchiness too, the texture depends on how long you cook it in the frying pan.

I'm somewhat amazed at all the varieties of dishes you can make from individual dehydrated ingredients, you're really only limited by your imagination and ingenuity. But you can take existing recipes for fresh foods and substitute ingredients from your dehydrated foods stock pretty easy.

Lunch (I know, I'm going backwards today) was simple, honeywheat baked bread and Leanardo de Fetticune from Alpine Aire.

Breakfast was Germade (cream of wheat) and coffee.

Day 17

I'm posting these updates in arrears because it's simply easier. This experiment has received little comment anyway, so I don't suppose anybody really cares.

Today I had blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and hashbrowns for breakfast. These were all from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch was hectic, but fun. I used the rest of the vegetable stew I had and tossed in some freeze dried chicken and macaroni. I almost burned it because I got busy doing something else, which was why it was hectic. When I finally ate it, the pot was almost dry.

Dinner Chicken Gumbo from Alpine Aire, and Applesauce from Rainy Day Foods. This was good.

Day 18

Breakfast: Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs and a blueberry muffin from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: White rice, chicken tvp, chicken gravy, peas and buttermilk biscuit from Rainy Day Foods. I prefer a hot lunch and it's kind of cool when you can either have left overs or make up something like this for lunch.

Dinner: Hearty Stew w/Beef. This was great, what can I say? Everything Mountain House makes is very good.

Day 19

Breakfast: Quick Rolled Oats from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: Seafood Chowder from Mountain House, and a buttermilk biscuit from Rainy Day Foods. Their biscuit mix is good and very easy to prepare, just add water and bake.

Dinner: Lasagna from Mountain House. I'm a lasagna lover, one of my favorite foods and this was good. Imagine eating this on your next backpacking trip!

Day 20

Breakfast: Buttermilk pancakes from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: Creamy Potato Soup from Rainy Day foods and some fresh bread. Part of this bread mix was rolled out to make dinner.

Dinner: Pizza! You can make your own pizza dough from scratch, or from a bread mix. I used Rainy Day Foods honeywheat bread mix and their Pasta Pizza Sauce mix for the sauce. Added cheddar cheese, sausage tvp, rehydrated onions, mushroom slices (for everyone else) from Rainy Day foods, and freeze dried chicken from Mountain House. This could have been better, the cheese was too runny, fresh cheese would have worked better and some pepperoni would have been nice! This was my first pizza attempt and I could just as easily have made tacos from this mixture.

Day 21

Breakfast: I repeated yesterdays experiment, but used freeze-dried blueberrys and buttermilk pancake mix. This is probably my favorite!

Lunch: Spicy Orange Chicke from Mountain House. Always goof!

Dinner: Leftowver Friendship Soup. I had plenty of this and it was even better the second time around.

Day 22

Breakfast: I'm a hot breakfast person, but tried the Blueberry Honey Granola from Alpine Aire. Even with the milk, I liked it. It also seemed to stick with me longer then the other breakfast foods I've tried.

Lunch: Bandito Scramble from Alpine Aire. Breakfast at lunchtime!

Dinner: Beef Stroganoff from Mountain House. This is one of Mountain House top sellers, and it's easy to see why. Tasty and filling, I managed to eat more then I usually do. The two person serving was huge, but I made a big dent.

Day 23

Breakfast: Blueberry muffin, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and some sausage TVP from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: ABC Soup with some freeze-dried chicken, and a buttermilk biscuit.

Dinner: Albacore Tuna with noodles and Apple Almond Crisp for dessert, both from Alpine Aire.

Day 24

Breakfast: Strawberry Honey Granola w/milk from Alpine Aire.

Lunch: Hot chocolate from Alpine Aire (it's cold outside), fresh bread, and Creamy Potato Cheddar Soup from Alpine Aire.

Dinner: Garden Vegetables from Alpine Aire and Chicken Polynesian from Mountain House.
I just noticed that my coffee drinking has really dropped. Not sure why.

Day 25

Breakfast: Buttermilk pancakes and freeze-dried blueberries, and a cup of coffee.

Lunch: Vegetable Lasagna from Mountain House. I really liked this, first time I tried it. I also had some peach drink from Rainy Day foods.

Dinner: Beef Stew from Mountain House. Easy to see why this is one of their top sellers, very good. Also had a buttermilk biscuit and Chocolate Bavarian Hazelnut Cream from Alpine Aire for dessert. Yep, I ate the whole thing too!

Day 26

Breakfast: Apple drink, hashbrowns from Rainy Day Foods, and scrambled eggs w/ham from Mountain House.

Lunch: Mountain Chili from Alpine Aire and a buttermilk biscuit.

Dinner: Sierra Chicken and Apple Blueberry Fruit Cobbler from Alpine Aire for dessert.

Day 27

Breakfast: Belgium waffles and freeze-dried blueberries, hot chocolate from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: I made aFresh baked bread with freeze-dried grilled chicken breast from Mountain House. This was great! Also had Orange Drink from Rainy Day foods.

Dinner: Sweet & Sour Pork w/Rice from Mountain House, and chocolate pie (made from chocolate pudding from Rainy Day foods and fresh baked pie crust).

Day 28

Breakfast: Apple Cinammon Muffin, Quick Rolled Oats from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: Mountain House Hamburger Patty with Cheezy Mashed Potatoes.

Dinner: Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese, Sweet Corn, Fudge Brownie, from Rainy Day Foods.

Day 29

Breakfast: Germade and scrambled eggs from Rainy Day Foods.

Lunch: Cornbread from Rainy Day foods, and Chili Mac from Mountain House.

Dinner: Stogranoff w/Beef & Noodles from Alpine Aire, and Applesauce from Rainy Day foods.

Day 30

Breakfast: Buttermilk pancakes from Rainy Day Foods, Scrambled Eggs w/bacon from Mountain House.

Lunch: Creamy Potato Soup and Indian Scone Bread from Rainy Day Foods.

Dinner: Texas BBQ Chicken w/beans from Alpine Aire and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from Rainy Day Foods. This was pretty darned good!

Day 31

This is the 'final' day of the month-long day freeze dried, dehydrated diet.

Today I had my favorite, blueberry waffles made from Belgium Waffle Mix from Rainy Day Foods, and freeze dried Blueberries from Alpine Aire. And a cup of coffee!

Lunch was Sweet & Sour Pork from Mountain House, and a Apple Cinammon Muffin.

Dinner was Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Mountain Stew Blend from Rainy Day Foods (in that order!).

Eating for a Month Review

This 'experiment' was both interesting and revealing, all at the same time. It wasn't that hard, but I do admit to having some cravings for some comfort foods. For me, chocolate and something with 'texture'. I don't eat much meat these days, but am fond of chicken, which I had to do without. I survived - quite well, and you could too.

I lost only 2 lbs, but can't tell if this was related to the exercise and / or diet. Today, I bought an Airdyne that I spotted in the paper, the roads and trails around here are water covered ice and very dangerous to walk on right now. When the weather improves, I'll go back to walking or mountain biking, but for now, this grounded cycle will have to do.

For condiments, I used the following: salt, pepper, garlic salt, olive oil, ketchup and maybe another seasoning or two, I forget. Most dehydrated foods are unseasoned, and except for the prepared meals, a little seasoning is necessary for taste. I'd recommend keeping on hand the seasonings you like most, and would include other 'essentials' such as olive oil, olives, garlic, etc.

Cooking was a snap. Hot water was all it 'took' for most meals, except for bread, which was even easier. Dump all ingredients into the bread machine and turn it on. Most foods cook with boiling water, or very hot water in the case of freeze dried foods. I just heated this up on the stove, or even easier and recommended, used a pressure cooker for those foods that require cooking. These are great inventions and dramatically shorten your cooking time.

Cleanup and leftovers was even easier. I seemed to always make too much, because I don't read directions and just add stuff together, eyeballing the amount of water I 'needed' and cooked it. I would eat what I wanted and either feed the leftovers to someone else or in a few cases, I saved these in the fridge. But you could easily create no leftovers by measuring your ingredients and water quantities and have zero waste.

Cleanup was a breeze. Open can. Scoop out product. Dump quantity into boiling pot. Close can. That was it. For the food pouches I tried, I could have cooked right in the pouch by dumping hot water inside, but didn't. I saved the leftover unused portions and cooked this another day, or somebody else ate it (which happened often).

As for trash and garbage, it was almost negligble. The only trash I generated was a handful of food pouches and a couple of empty #10 cans. But note that none of these cans was entirely consumed, most went back onto the shelf half-empty. The ones I did finish off had already been opened before the experiment. I didn't even make a dent in several of the bag products I had used, these are going to last me a long, long time.

My environmental impact was probably pretty low, as far as my 'consumption' was concerned, although I don't know how to calculate out the impact of the packaged bulk food itself. Buying food in bulk however, has got to be far less of an impact then zipping to the store everyday for a few servings of packaged air and cardboard.

And I feel better, in ways that aren't entirely easy to describe. Healthier? Cleaner? My cravings have lessoned, but of course, I satisfied them at the end of the experiment... but I didn't want very much to be honest. It's said that if you can practice a habit for 30 days, you can create a habit for life. I hope so, because I like feeling better. I intend to keep up a rotating diet of bulk foods since it's better for me, cheaper and less of an environmental impact. There's no preservatives or junk in most of these foods, that can't be a bad thing...

What else did I learn? Well, we're all spoiled rotten... we eat too much, we eat too often and we place food over a lot of other things in life. Food becomes our 'comfort zone' and we turn to food in times of stress, anxiety and discomfort. Or we just eat to be eating. I noticed this right away when I started this experiment. It's better now, I've been pretty busy and food has taken a lesser importance now that my diet was being 'restricted'.

Food smells are more acute, something else I noticed. And I could have taken more time to make more elaborate meals then I did, but I'm not a cook and didn't have a keen interest in becoming one either. December was a busy month for me, all in all and I didn't spend much time trying to improve my culinary skills, although I certainly could have if I had wanted to.

Everyone (critters, rug rats, etc.) ate the leftovers with no complaints. I also noticed that they'd wait around to see if there were leftovers...

The next thing I need to do is figure out what this actually cost. Not much I'd bet. Bulk food is cheap and I barely made a dent in my pantry. In fact, there was no noticable holes created at all. This was much different then the stuff I'd been buying at the store. Not only was I throwing away a lot of packaging (or burning it everyday in the wood stove), but I was constantly having to get resupplied from the supermarket and stock the refrigerator / pantry every week with more food. It was easy to tell when something ran out.

Could you do it? Absolutely. Easily. I think anybody could if they wanted to. This is how people used to eat, before we got accustomed to fast-food and supermarket shopping. Before the advent of common refrigeration, dehydration and drying were very commonly used throughout the world. Nowadays, these techniques are even better, with very low moisture contents, air-tight containers and decades long shelf lives. It's also a healthier way to live, because you're not eating a lot of other junk. Over 90% of the food found in the supermarket is actually toxic to the human body, containing pesticides, herbicides and dangerous chemicals. These accumulate over a lifetime of eating and are the source of many illnesses and disease.