Armour's "Beef Stew" and "Chili with Beans" retort pouches

Reviews of Civilian MREs (Sure-Pak, aPack, etc.) as well as other civilian ready-to-eat food
TurtleNomad
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:49 pm
Location: USA, northern MidWest

Armour's "Beef Stew" and "Chili with Beans" retort pouches

Postby TurtleNomad » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:31 am

A while ago, Kman posted some info about civilian retorts made by "Castleberry's", and fdsman kindly reposted them in the recent FSR hacking thread, which inspired me to check Amazon.

Didn't find any available by that company, but did find three entrees by Armour, including beef stew and two chilis. Since MRE beef stew is my 2nd most favorite MRE entree, I was really excited, but a little hesitant to order the 12-packs that are the only size Amazon carries.

A quick search of good ole' MreInfo led me to a contents list with pics kindly posted by Big Galloot of one version of "Wornick Eversafe Emergency Meal Kits". He didn't post an Armour taste test, probably because those were complete, prep oriented kits.

That gave me enough confidence to order a 12-pack each of beef stew and chili with beans. :)


General:
Both were pretty standard retort pouch food.

Side-by-side pic of an Armour vs MRE pouch:
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Taste was equivalent to Dinty Moore canned food and Hormel Completes.

Price was very attractive - about half of MRE entrees (e.g. LongLifeFood and TheEpiCenter).
Currently, the beef stew is $1.64/pouch, and both chilis are $1.54/pouch, with free shipping.

Best before date was just over 2 1/2 years, which is much better than Completes, though not as good as canned/MRE. I will try to keep some beyond the claimed expiry, and see how they taste. :)


Beef Stew:
I tried this first, and had high expectations.

The Pouch, front & back:
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Opened pouch:
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I had a partial spoonful uncooked, and it was ok.

I prepared it in a pyrex bowl, nuked:
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My first impression was... "where's the beef?!?"
I stirred it a bit, and it was still much less than I remembered from the excellent MRE beef stew (which I hadn't had in a couple of years, so maybe my memory was wrong).

When I started eating it, the taste was much beefier. It's hard to see in that picture, however there's lots of beef fibers, and it was generally ok. Definitely not as good as the MRE entree, but roughly equal to an Hormel/DintyMoore Complete.

Next time I had one, it was heated in boiled water, and eaten from the pouch:
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As Kman has speculated, without the visual cues, it seemed to taste better. ;)

Sometime relatively soon, I'm going to do a back-to-back taste test of all three main types of beef stew, and report back.


Chili with Beans:
Soon after the Armour arrivals, I left on a work trip, which included a long stressful day that ended in a two hour drive thru a challenging snowstorm. By the time I checked into the hotel, it was late, and I was tired and hungry. I had been mentally planning to try the chili, but the room didn't have a microwave. Fortunately, I had thrown a "SE Lightweight Portable Camping Cooking Bag" into my road food kit, and used it for the very first time.

The Pouch, front & back:
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Opened pouch:
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My first impression was disappointment that it was not piping hot (fault of the Cooking Bag and/or Operator Error).

Second impression was growing heat... from the spices. I hadn't clued in that it was supposed to be spicy - I had expected something very similar to the MRE entree. I ate it slowly, with some nice bread, and my final conclusion was that it was very good. I had another one (fully heated via boiling water) a few days later, then had a 2009 MRE chili with beans the very next day, and IMO, the Armour is definitely better, if one likes spicy food.

It's definitely not as hot as MRE Buffalo Chicken.
It's just somewhat hotter than mild, sort of medium.
Hot enough that this would be great uncooked (i.e. in an emergency), but also rocks heated.

I definitely plan to order another batch of these, soon. :)


Compared to Hormel Completes:
Ever since I first found out about Hormel Completes here, I've had some in my car, including one up front in a cardboard "snack" box. Recently, I was repacking that, and it occurred to me to compare the size against the Armour pouches:
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I ended up replacing the one Complete with two Armours. :)

The only downside is the lack of variety.
If demand grows, maybe they'll make more types. Hint-hint! :)

I'd also like to see them put out a variety pack, maybe aimed at Amazon customers, with six of each, which would put it just above the Free Shipping threshold.
The important thing is the spices.
A man can live on packaged food from here til Judgement Day if he's got enough Marjoram.

- Shephard Book, "Serenity" (the pilot), Firefly

Image

TurtleNomad
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:49 pm
Location: USA, northern MidWest

Re: Armour's "Beef Stew" and "Chili with Beans" retort pouch

Postby TurtleNomad » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:23 am

Amazon recently dropped the price of the "Chili with Beans" to $12.77 (i.e. $1.06 each, yes a mere buck per entree!).

I immediately ordered one 12-pack, and it arrived today.
The "best by" date is 25-Sep-2013, which is less than my last order (2 1/2 years before printed expiry), but pretty dang good deal for those of us who eat these things semi-regularly. :)

As I mentioned above, think of these as one alternative to Hormel Compleats, with a smaller footprint, and better price.
The important thing is the spices.
A man can live on packaged food from here til Judgement Day if he's got enough Marjoram.

- Shephard Book, "Serenity" (the pilot), Firefly

Image

User avatar
BigMark
Posts: 601
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 6:23 pm
Location: Gulf Coast, TX

Re: Armour's "Beef Stew" and "Chili with Beans" retort pouch

Postby BigMark » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:08 pm

Thanks for the review, and I like the price, but real chili doesn't have beans. :wink:

pikkuhukka
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:15 pm

Re: Armour's "Beef Stew" and "Chili with Beans" retort pouch

Postby pikkuhukka » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:05 pm

goddamnit, everything nice i find on amazon, no shipping to finland, fu :(

any place to get these, shipped to europe? :< derp


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