Today guest article “What Is The Break Even Point For Buying A Freeze Dryer?” was kindly provided by Vey who is the founder of Prepperlytics.com.
What Is The Break Even Point For Buying A Freeze Dryer?
I Don’t Know About You, But I’ve Really Struggled With Food Storage
Buying a few extra bags of rice and cans of tuna was not significantly adding to my long-term food stocks, and keeping track of which foods I needed to eat before they went bad was driving me nuts.
I started looking into freeze-dried foods. They seemed like the answer to my long-term storage problem, but they were expensive. Then I discovered you can buy your own freeze dryer. It’s not cheap, but after crunching the numbers I found my break even point – the point in time where buying my own unit made more sense than buying freeze-dried food. Here’s the analysis.
My first step is to figure out how much freeze-dried food I actually needed. Of course, more is always better, but the budget pain is real, so my first priority was to store up 1 year worth of food for the family. The thing is, I didn’t realize just how much food a family consumes in a year.
For example, a family with 4 members; say mom and dad are 40 yrs old, and they’ve got two teens. Their yearly calorie needs are just over 3,500,000. Now, most of these calories should come from staples like stored grain and rice, fresh garden vegetables and livestock production. There’s not much diversity in your diet when producing your own food, so let’s use freeze-dried food to add nutrition and variety. We’ll set a goal of 20% of their calories comes from freeze-dried food.
THAT LEAVES US WITH A GOAL OF 700,000 CALORIES TO FREEZE DRY
Now you can freeze dry almost anything, from dairy to fruit to meat. But in general, you’ll want to freeze dry items that don’t generally store well and aren’t easy to produce yourself.
For example, cheddar cheese, salmon, and avocados are great items to focus on. They’re difficult to produce on a homestead, but man, would they help take a boring SHTF meal to the next level.
Let’s average these freeze-dry friendly items to come up with about 1,000 calories a pound.
That means we’ll need to freeze dry roughly 700 lbs of food to contribute to 20% of our total diet.
HOW MANY CALORIES DOES YOUR FAMILY NEED?
Interested in seeing exactly how many calories your family or group will need to survive SHTF?
There are not a lot of freeze dryers on the market for consumers yet. After a few weeks of serious research, I discovered that the only real option is a company called Harvest Right.
They’re a company in Salt Lake City, Utah that engineers and manufactures consumer and scientific freeze dryers. Recently they’ve expanded their product line to greenhouses and survival shelters.
I ordered a small unit last year for their Black Friday sale. Overall I’ve been very happy with my unit and would recommend it to other preppers.
Harvest Right makes three different sized freeze dryers; small, medium and large.
They range from $1,795 to $2,995 with pricier options for different color schemes. Shipping cost $200 (at least that’s how much it cost when I ordered my small unit), and there are some ongoing maintenance costs with electricity to run the unit, oil for the pump and oxygen absorbers for the food.
There are additional items that you’ll need, like mylar bags and labels, but those were included with my unit purchase a part of last year’s Black Friday deal.
$2,786 is a lot of money for a device that sucks water out of food, but buying freeze-dried food is expensive as well. At what point does it make sense to invest in your own unit, as opposed to just freeze-dried food directly from the manufacturer?
I’m freeze-drying a bunch of different foods, but it’s mostly dairy, fruits, and meats.
It’s hard to figure out the average costs of all the different foods I’ve freeze dried, but what I can do is take a single food, like Cheddar Cheese, and use that as a comparison between home freeze dried and store bought freeze dried cheese.
How This Works
1 lb of cheddar cheese from Walmart cost $2.19/lb.
1 lb of cheddar cheese from Valley Food Storage cost $14.92/lb.
Clearly there is a huge price markup on freeze-dried food, but will the costs even out when you add in the price of the unit and maintenance?
If I needed 700lbs of cheese, would it be better to buy the unit and freeze dry it at home, or order it online from Valley Food Storage?
You can see that the cost of home freeze drying 700 lbs of cheddar cheese is significantly cheaper than buying 700 lbs of cheddar cheese online. Even in the first year, where the cost of the unit is factored in.
YOU MAY BE WONDERING…
How can the cost to produce 700lbs of cheese be just $2,359.27 when the cost of the large unit is $4,296?
We took all the costs (unit, shipping, food, and maintenance) and divided it by the maximum amount of food the unit can produce; in the case of the large unit, it was 3,640 lbs. This is how we achieve the lowest cost for a single pound of home freeze dried food.
The catch is that you need to fully utilize the freeze dryer at home. If you take some time off or don’t run it at full capacity, you won’t produce the 3,640 lbs of food, and your cost per pound of food will increase, which means your savings vs. store bought freeze dried food will decrease accordingly.
So What’s The Break Even Point?
If you only need a few pounds of freeze-dried food, then it doesn’t make sense to buy your own unit. But if you’re trying to stock up hundreds of pounds for your family, at some point it’s going to be cheaper to buy your own freeze dryer.
Where is that cross-over point?
For the small unit, it’s between 150 and 200 lbs
For the medium unit, it’s between 200 and 250 lbs
For the large unit, it’s between 250 and 300 lbs
Those are the quantities you’ll need to hit in order to justify buying your own freeze drying unit from Harvest Right.
Should You Buy A Freeze Dryer?
If you need more than 150 lbs of freeze dried food for your family, then yes, you should probably invest in a freeze dryer.
Harvest Right pretty much dominates the consumer market right now, so they are your best bet. Keep an eye out for Black Friday sales, and you’ll generally save a few hundred on the unit and you’ll also get several hundred worth of accessories for free.
The units aren’t perfect. Something will probably break at some point during the first year, but their customer support is very good, and they’re happy to send you replacement parts. I’ve had good success with my unit, but it does require a fair amount of time to prepare the food and maintain the unit.
If you’re serious about long-term food storage, I recommend going in with a few family members or prepper group members to share the cost effort. It is a “next level” prep for “next level” preppers.
Note: Since we’re recommending Harvest Right freeze dryers to fellow preppers anyway, it just made sense to sign up for their affiliate program. Links in the post to Harvest Right use our affiliate id, and we get a small commission. It didn’t influence our decision to write the post, but if the post was helpful and you’re ready to buy, we appreciate using one of the links in this post to support Prepperlytics.
The article above was kindly contributed by Vey from Prepperlytics, and the original title, What Is The Break Even Point For Buying A Freeze Dryer? can be found on the Prepperlytics.com blog.
Prepperlytics is an online website that helps preppers calculate the number of calories needed in a SHTF scenario.