10 Dehydrator Meals for Your Prepper Pantry

by Tess Pennington

In an effort to have some “just-add-water” meals planned for those emergencies that leave us with little to no warning, I have been using my dehydrator like a mad woman and have been dehydrating some of my families favorite meals.

Since many consider dehydration to be the most affordable preservation method, and the best way to preserve the flavors of foods, I thought that I would have some homemade meals stored away for a rainy day. Not to mention these are the easiest to prepare when you’re in a pinch.

Here are some tips for dehydrating your meals:

  1. To rehydrate my meals, I pour my dehydrated food into my pot and pour in enough water to cover the top most part of my food. Better to go with less, and as it rehydrates, you can additional water as needed.
  2. It usually takes 30-45 minutes for my meals to rehydrate, so give it some time. Simmer the food slowly and be careful not to burn the food. Remember to add additional water as needed.
  3. Make sure you purchase meat with low amounts of fat. This will help to ensure the food does not go rancid from the oils present.
  4. Zip-loc measuring: 1 quart = 2 servings and 1 gallon = 6-8 servings.
  5. The weight of the food also changes as a result of the moisture being removed. For instance, 1 lb. of ground beef comes 3/4 cup of dehydrated beef and a 12.5 ounce can of chicken breasts yields a little less than a cup and will weigh 1.5 to 2 ounces.
  6. When dehydrating meat, follow these tips.

Here are some of my favorites that I have found so far.

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1. Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 box spaghetti noodles, cooked


  1. Combine ground beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper in a large saucepan. Cook and stir until meat is brown, and vegetables are tender. Drain grease.
  2. Stir diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste into the pan. Season with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer spaghetti sauce for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta and drain when sauce is almost ready.
  4. Allow all food to cool to room temperature and spread evenly on fruit roll dehydrator sheets.
  5. Dehydrate on highest setting until spaghetti is completely dry. Usually this is around 12-24 hours.
  6. Store in a labeled zip-loc bag.

2. Ham and Potatoes

  • 2 tbls. flour
  • 2 tbls. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 c. cheese powder
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/3 c. non fat dry milk
  • 3 c. dehydrated potatoes (about 5-6 large potatoes)
  • 1/2 ham, cut into 1/4 inch strips, dehydrated


  1. Add all ingredients together and store in a labeled zip- loc bag.
  2. When ready to prepare, add 3 tbls. butter to 2 ¾ c boiling water.
  3. Pour potatoes in med size ungreased casserole, sprinkle sauce mix and stir in boiling water. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 min or until tender; or you can bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min.

3. Chili

  • 1 lb. beef round, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks or use 1 lb. ground beef
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, whole
  • 2 tbls. ground cumin
  • 2 tbls. chili powder
  • 1 tbls. paprika
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 c. diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 c. dark kidney beans, rinsed


  1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add half the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining beef.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add onions and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Add garlic, jalapenos, cumin, chili powder, paprika and oregano. Stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves and reserved beef. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Add beans; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
  5. To dehydrate, place cooled chili on fruit roll tray and set on highest setting for up to 12 hours.
  6. Store in a labeled container for up to 6 months.

For a variation of this recipe: once the chili is dehydrated add 2 cups of dehydrated macaroni noodles for chili mac.

4. Beef Stew

This is my favorite stew recipe. I’ve omitted the oil and the wine in the original recipe.

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 table spoon tomato paste
  • 1 boneless beef chuck-eye roast (about 2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved and cut from pole to pole into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 brown gravy packet
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Table salt and ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, combine minced garlic and tomato paste and set aside.
  2. In a dutch oven, add half of beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, reducing heat if oil begins to smoke or fond begins to burn. Transfer beef to a large plate. Repeat with remaining beef and 1 table spoon vegetable oil, leaving second batch of meat in pot after browning.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and return first batch of beef to pot. Add onion and carrots to Dutch oven and stir to combine with beef. Cook, scraping bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits, until onion is softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic/tomato mixture and brown gravy packet and cook, stirring constantly, until gravy is mixed in about 45 seconds.
  4. Stir in potatoes, pearl onions, broth, bay leaves, mushrooms and thyme. Bring to simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Discard bay leaves.
  6. Allow all food to cool to room temperature and spread evenly on fruit roll dehydrator sheets.
  7. Dehydrate on highest setting until stew is completely dry. Usually this is around 12-24 hours. Halfway through the dehydrating process, move the stew around the ensure all the moisture will be removed.
  8. Store in a labeled zip-loc bag.

5. Individual Rice Pudding

  • ½ c. dried rice
  • ¼ c. raisins
  • ½ tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. dried milk powder
  • 1 c. water to rehydrate

To dry rice:

  1. Spread cooked rice out on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets, parchment paper or the liners that came with your unit. Dry the rice at 125° for approximately five hours. Dehydrating rice times vary with dehydrator models and humidity. Once or twice through the drying process, break up any rice that is stuck together. Rice will be hard when properly dried.
  2. Yield: One cup rice = 3½ cups cooked = approximately 1¾ to 2 cups dried.
  3. To make individual servings: Pack raisins in a separate small bag and enclose with rice, sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Combine all ingredients with water in pot and soak five minutes. Allow to boil and remove from stove and wait ten minutes before eating.

I found these on a prepping forum, and they look delicious!

6. Split Pea Soup

  • 1 (2.75 ounce) package country gravy mix (regular or no-fat)
  • 1 tbls. chicken bouillon granules
  • 2 tbls. imitation bacon bits
  • 2 tsp. dried celery flakes
  • 2 tsp. dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1-1/4 c. dried split green peas
  • 1 bay leaf

Prior to Trip:

Mix all the ingredients into a bag.


  1. Empty 1 cup of contents for each serving into large saucepan or Dutch oven.
  2. Add 1 cups water for each serving; heat to boiling, stirring often.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until peas are tender, stirring frequently to prevent peas from sticking.
  4. Remove bay leaf.
  5. Serve soup.

7. Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 pkg Knorr Cream of Vegetable Soup
  • 1 pkg chicken gravy mix
  • 1/2 c. milk powder
  • 3/4 c. mixed dried veggies (potatoes, carrots, peas, onions)
  • 1/2 c. or more instant mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 c. beef jerky, venison jerky, chicken jerky or freeze dried meat

Prior to Trip:

Mix everything but the potatoes in a bag.

Place potatoes in a second bag.


  1. Bring four cups of water to boil.
  2. Add everything but instant mashed potatoes.
  3. Simmer 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add instant mashed potatoes, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat, let sit for minute.

8. Turkey Dinner

  • 1 c. turkey jerky
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c. instant potatoes
  • 1/2 pkg. stove top dressing

Prior to Trip:

Mix turkey and cranberries in one bag

Place instant potatoes into second bag.

Place stove top dressing into a third bag.


  1. In 3/4 cup of water add turkey and cranberries and let set until they are re hydrated.
  2. Heat water and add stove top stuffing.
  3. Cover and steam for a bit.
  4. Heat 1/2 cup of water and add potatoes to the water once it warms up.
  5. Once the potatoes are finished pile turkey stuffing mix on top.

9. Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

  • 5 tbls. dried egg substitute (commercially bought or home made)
  • 3 tbls. imitation bacon bits or dried bacon pieces
  • 1/8 c. dried parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • choice of dried herbs (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prior to Trip:

Mix bacon bits, eggs, and salt and pepper (and herbs) in one bag

Place cheese into second bag.


  1. Add 8 oz boiling water to the egg mixture. Let set.
  2. Drain off excess water.
  3. Fluff and top with cheese.

10. Instant Oatmeal Mix

Makes 14 – half cup servings

  • 6 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup dry powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit or nuts
  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the above ingredients. Then store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 month.
  2. To prepare oatmeal: Place 1/2 cup of mix and add 1/2 cup boiling water or milk to the mix and stir until oats are softened, about 2-3 minutes.

Contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition.Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years.

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