Your Introduction to Meals in a Bag

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Preparing your own "ready to go" meals can help you lower your sodium intake.

Quick and Easy Dehydrated Meals in a Bag (Stackpole Books, 2018) by Tammy Gangloff, Steven Gangloff, and September Ferguson gives families handy recipes to whip up quick meals, offers hikers meals to take on their adventures, and survivalists who are looking to dehydrate their meals to store for emergencies. The following is their introduction into preparing your meals in a bag.

We’ve all done it: paid for the easy accessibility of store-bought meals in a box. You know what we’re talking about! Walk down any grocery aisle and you will find boxes of easy meals or side dishes. The main work has been done, all the seasonings and spices are there; just add a few ingredients and you’re ready in minutes.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, a working parent, or a caregiver of any kind, life is crazy busy. We get it! We spend much of our lives running around between jobs, hobbies, and errands, shuttling the kids from place to place, all the while harboring that nagging question in the backs of our minds: “What am I making for dinner tonight?”

Often, we make what is fast and easy. But for this, we have to compromise. We pay extra money to purchase the pre-boxed meal, and we pay the health cost on these often over-processed and sodium-­saturated items.

It’s about time we share with you our secret to making easy, healthy, and cost-effective meals in a snap, using your own ingredients, ready at your fingertips. Don’t fall out of your chair yet—we’re just getting to the good part!

Our first book, The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook, showed you the art of food dehydration, preparation, and rehydration. We got you started with instructions on dehydrating foods from A to Z, and introduced you to rehydrating and making meals, desserts, and treats. In this book we will take you into a new realm of ingenuity as we tackle making “meals in a bag” with your dehydrated fruits and veggies.

Now, what exactly is a meal in a bag? It’s the convenience of store-bought pre-prepared meals, without the compromise to your bank account and your health. It’s the freedom to go beyond “Turkey Pieces and Gravy” and to create your own family-loved recipes; delicious, healthy, pre-prepared, pre-packaged, and ready to enjoy.

Why make meals in a bag? As hinted above, there are many benefits. A single-serving boxed meal will cost you a few dollars, or even close to ten dollars for a quality “lean” or “fit” version. Extrapolate that for your entire family, and you can see how much you are paying for convenience. With dehydrated foods you can purchase fresh items in bulk and in larger quantities, and store for years without the use of the electricity or the fear of freezer burn, and with less food waste. You can make a single bag meal containing the serving size needed for your whole family, saving on packaging cost and environmental impact. You will find your weekly grocery bill shrinking like a carrot in your dehydrator.

Important, too, are the health benefits of this venture. Try the “flip game” with your family next time you walk down your local grocer’s frozen meal aisle. Try to guess the amount of preservatives in a meal, flip it over, and see if you were close. You will be shocked. A single one-cup serving of a popular brand of frozen lasagna contains 810 mg of sodium. Depending on your appetite, it is not hard to imagine consuming 1,620 to 2,430 mg of sodium in a single meal—even if you drink water and skip dessert. The FDA recommends that adults limit their sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per entire day. A high-sodium diet is well recognized in the medical community as having a direct impact on blood pressure, a consequence that causes many long-term health problems.

This is just sodium. Imagine the other preservatives, calories, and saturated fats in these highly processed and flash-frozen items. Dehydration itself preserves the food, so any salt used in the recipes in this book is for taste and not preservation. Too, flash freezing is recognized by the Department of Agriculture to deplete vitamins and nutrients from food to a degree twenty to forty times that of dehydrating. When you make your meals yourself, you choose your own fresh ingredients. You know exactly what goes into what you feed your family. No more worrying about your family’s allergies and dietary restrictions. No difficult-to-pronounce chemicals or additives. By doing it yourself, you have the ability to create a meal that is specific to your family’s needs.

Custom-made meals in a bag are like having a whole grocery store at the tips of your fingers, and the best part is, it won’t go bad! With our help, making meals in a bag is as simple as . . . well . . . apple pie in a bag!

More from: Quick and Easy Dehydrated Meals in a Bag

Easy Crab Chowder Recipe
Hearty Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe
Sausage-Potato Bake Recipe


Reprinted with permission from Quick and Easy Dehydrated Meals in a Bag (2018), by Tammy Gangloff, Steven Gangloff, and September Ferguson and published by Stackpole Books.