DIY Meal Vs. Commercial Freeze Dried Meal

Often we are asked if one can actually save money by making meals at home versus running down to the local outdoor store for a commercial freeze dried meal. The answer is always “Yes,” but I hadn’t really ever run how much one could save.  I decided to see if it was more than just money that one could save. Could you also eat healthier, and save money?

The test:

1 brand name freeze-dried meal of Spaghetti with Meat Sauce versus Made at home and dehydrated spaghetti with meat sauce, featuring organic/whole foods.

Ingredient Show Down:

Brand name bag –

Serves 2, but as well-known, this is 1 serving. Makes roughly 20 ounces of food after rehydrating. Cost $5.99 plus sales tax for 1 serving. (And there is a irritation….it is food which should be tax free in our state!)


Spaghetti with Meat and Sauce
INGREDIENTS: Enriched Spaghetti (durum semolina, niacin, iron [ferrous sulfate], thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Tomato Paste, Beef, and contains 1.5% or less of the following: Textured Soy Flour, Salt, Sugar, Dehydrated Cheese (cheddar cheese [milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes], cream, salt, sodium phosphate, lactic acid), Hydrolyzed Corn Torula and Brewers Yeast Wheat Gluten Soy Protein, Spices, Onion Powder, Flavoring, Garlic Powder, Soybean Oil, and Caramel Color.

Made at home meal:
Serves 4 full portions of 16 ounces rehydrated. Cost is roughly $2.25 for 1 serving. None of the items used were on sale.


Whole wheat organic pasta:
Organic whole durum wheat flour
Lean all natural hamburger (1/2 lb) (low-fat is important for dehydrating)
Organic Mushroom Pasta Sauce:
Diced tomatoes, water, tomato paste, mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, cane juice sugar, sea salt, onions, vinegar, garlic powder, spices.

I prepared the pasta at home, breaking the spaghetti into thirds. I cooked up the beef with the mushrooms (chopping them up). When cooked, I added the sauce. I cooked the pasta till barely al dente. I drained the pasta and tossed with the sauce.


The weight was 4 lbs of tasty pasta.

I split it into 4 servings of 1 lb each, on 4 parchment lined trays, at 135° till dry:


The name brand spaghetti with meat sauce after being prepared (2 cups boiling water and 9 minutes sit time):


Final Results?

Here are the nutritional run downs:

Brand Name Spaghetti (20 ounce serving):

560 Calories
1,440 mg Sodium
4 G Fiber
32 G Protein

Made at home Spaghetti (16 ounce serving):

600 calories
700 mg Sodium
13 g Fiber
29 g Protein

As you can easily see, you can save a lot in cost, sodium and you will get a LOT more fiber if you make your own. You will also know exactly what is in your meal.  At a savings of about $4 per serving and half the sodium, that alone makes it worthwhile to make your own. You are also avoiding potential hidden MSG, and fillers.

As for the home dried spaghetti? It is quite simple to prepare! A simple 1:1 ratio of dried food to water works well normally. Add boiling water and let sit in a cozy for 10 minutes or so, and top liberally with Parmesan cheese!

Want more meal ideas?

Ski’s Pork Stew


Ski’s Spaghetti


Drying Shelf Stable Indian Meals


Lower Sodium You-Know-A-Roni