SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — You’ve just gotta love the taste of those 1-NSNs.
They make your mouth water just thinking about them. The imaginary aroma is delectable, be it that of chicken breasts in mushroom gravy, Salisbury steak, spinach lasagna or the rib-sticking mainstay, meatloaf.
These 1-NSNs, or 1 National Stock Numbered ready-made edibles, are served on Navy ships at sea where food storage space is critical, and quick food preparation is often necessary, explained Chief Petty Officer Angel Canias, food service director at Sasebo Naval Base’s galley, the Shogun Café.
If this food is good enough for sailors at sea, then maybe it’s good enough for sailors on shore duty, too. So reasoned Navy officials who supervised testing of the frozen ready-made dishes at the Shogun last week.
“Most people that tried them said they liked them, but it wasn’t all completely positive,” Canias said. “The only negative I heard was that some people thought some of the food was a little salty.”
The 1-NSN meals should not be confused with Meals, Ready-To-Eat (MREs), those bagged meals consumed by servicemembers eating in the field. The 1-NSN items are more akin to Swanson TV dinners than MRE concoctions.
“They aren’t cheap, but they are a way to offer certain foods at certain times and actually save money. If you know how many people you have to serve meatloaf to, and you need exactly 48 servings, then you don’t risk losing by making too much of it with all the different ingredients you have to use,” Canias added.
Each 1-NSN package comes frozen containing exactly 48 adult portions, be it the appetite-whetting meatloaf, or chicken breasts, or even one of a variety of vegetables, rice, noodles or other available dishes.
Regular customers at the Shogun Café include the Seabees of Naval Construction Battalion Three, Sasebo Detachment, and had good things to say about the 1-NSN items they tasted.
“I tried some of it last week, and I thought the Salisbury steak was very good, and so was the spinach lasagna,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Carr. “Was there anything I didn’t like at all? That’s a negative on that one.”
The dishes were also a hit with Constructionman Michael Pizano, who particularly enjoyed the chicken breasts with mushroom gravy, as well as the meatloaf.
“It was just right … not overcooked, or undercooked. Really good,” he said. “And if this can be a way for them to save money, that’s fine with me. I say go for it.”
Canias said the Shogun Café would start using the 1-NSNs to supplement the homemade menu items they serve on a day-to-day basis. In addition, he said using 1-NSN meals could dramatically cut down on food preparation time.
“OK, think about something like the meatloaf example,” he said. “Think about all the ingredients you have to use to follow the recipe card … hamburger, the bread, onions and eggs, the seasoning.
“Well, this way it is much easier. You just pull it out, slide it in and cook it.”
Carr is pleased with the hungry-guy-sized portions, and jokingly said there’s another very important benefit to the galley serving 1-NSNs.
“I don’t mean to be picking on the cooks in the galley or anything, but with these kind of meals, they can’t really mess it up,” he said.