When disaster strikes, not many things are more important than making sure your family has enough food and water to sustain themselves during the crisis. While most Americans never think twice about their food security, take one look at your local grocery store the next time a storm hits, and it will tell you everything you need to know about your ability to procure food during a long-term disaster.
The fact is, we live in a very fragile system; one storm is all it takes to throw the balance out of whack. Multiply that and drag it out over an extended period and our food delivery systems are not going to be able to keep up.
The system simply isn’t designed to handle a long-term crisis. Between panic buying and the fact that grocery stores no longer warehouse inventory, you have yourself a perfect shit storm that is going to multiply the effects of the crisis tenfold.
We’ve written multiple articles about the importance of all sorts of survival gear and supplies, including food and even liquor, but one of the things we haven’t talked about too much is commercial survival food. I’ve avoided the subject for a number of reasons; first, we’ve tested a lot of it, and quite frankly most of it tastes like crap. Second, I still believe you are far better off finding quality long-term, long shelf-life food that fits your families current dietary needs and tastes. That being said, we do know most Americans have a set it and forget it attitude when it comes to preparedness – that is if they prepare at all.
So for that reason, and because when it comes to food having something is better than nothing, we are going to take a look at commercial survival meals and how to stockpile emergency provisions and build up a pantry for a long-term crisis.
Emergency Food Considerations: How to Stock up the Right Way
Before rushing out and buying pallets of supplies that you may never use, you need to take stock of your current situation and put together an inventory of what you use and need on a monthly basis. This will give you a good place to start and will help you understand your true needs and nutritional requirements.
While things like preferences and taste matters, it’s essential to really take stock of your nutritional needs and caloric intake
Here are some things that you need to consider when buying survival food.
Individual Needs within your Group or Family: If you have a family or group that you are responsible for, the task of stockpiling emergency food will require some extra effort since you’ll have to consider the specific needs of each member of your family. Put together an outline of individual needs, calorie counts and if there’s anyone who is allergic to certain types of food.
Timeline: How Long should you Plan for? Another important thing that deserves some serious thought is your food stock duration. What types of disasters are you planning for, and how long do you think those disasters will last?
During Hurricane Sandy, many communities were affected for weeks; some even went without power for months – so even during a somewhat routine disaster scenario it’s not unrealistic to imagine that you could be without supplies for quite some time. At a minimum you should be planning to go without access to food and water for two weeks; if your planning for a long-term collapse or crisis then 3-6 months is probably a more likely figure.
Water: While this article is about food, you really can’t discuss nutrition and sustainability without mentioning water. Besides the obvious fact that you need a certain amount to live, most emergency foods are going to require water for preparation. So on top of your normal daily water requirements, you need to understand exactly how much water you are going to need to cook during an extended disaster.
Testing and Tasting: I’ve tested a lot of different survival foods, and I’m not going to lie, most of them are not that good – some are just plain gross. So before you spend hundreds, or thousands of dollars building out a long-term supply of food, you want to do some testing to make sure it tastes good and agrees with your system.
At the end of the day it’s about survival, so even the gross stuff has value; that being said, you are going to have one less thing to worry about if you do your testing now.
Nutrition and Calorie intake: During a disaster, your life is going to change drastically and your activity level could be significantly higher than it is today. That means you need to look at your current nutritional/caloric intake and factor in external circumstances and extra work that might be required during a disaster.
In general, we recommend taking your current daily calorie intake and increase that by 25%. That is the number that you should be planning for when trying to figure out how many calories you will need during a long-term crisis.
A couple more food storage considerations
- Do you have a place to store it? Before you start purchasing emergency food, you better make sure you have a dedicated place to store it.
- Can you Carry it? In case of a bug out situation, you need to make sure that some of your stockpiles is easy to transport.
- Is it easy to Prepare? Make sure you fully understand what is required to cook and prepare a meal with the provided packets.
The Top Emergency Food Brands and Survival Meals
I know a lot of you just want to know what’s out there, so here are some of the top emergency food supplies on the market. The supplies below are segmented based on how long the stock will last for a single adult.
Three Day Survival Food Kits
Augason Farms is one of the leading emergency food suppliers; you can find their products at almost any of the big box stores now including Walmart, Associated Foods, WinCo, Sam’s Club and Costco.
72 Hour Bucket Details:
- It provides a total of 7680 calories which translates to 2560 calories per day.
- It has meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a fruit snack. It has a total of 42 servings.
- Meals require water for preparation.
- It has a 25 years shelf life.
We like this kit because everything comes in one easy to store bucket, making it a great option for single adults or those living in apartments that don’t have a lot of storage space. Wise is one of the top brands and is well-known throughout the prepper community. In my opinion, they have some of the better tasting kits.
The 72-hour Kit Details:
- It has a total of 72 servings and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.
- It has a shelf life of 25 years.
- Preparation of meals requires pouring of boiling water into the meal packages
Mountain House is really known for making rock-solid camp and backpacking meals. That being said, they are starting to make some major headway in the survival meals market.
Mountain House 72 Hour Meal Kit Details:
- It has a total of 20 servings which provides 1650 calories per day.
- It has a longer shelf life of 30 years.
- You can also get 2, 4, 5 or 14 days emergency food with the same content.
- Some of the items inside the bag contain scrambled eggs, beef, pasta, rice, and chicken.
Thirty Day Emergency Food Packs
NuManna is not a well-known brand, but what they excel at is providing organic and chemical free meals. NuManna started out as a small, home-based business in 2011 and has really made a name for themselves by providing nutritious survival foods for those who care about what they put in their body.
NuManna Bucket Details:
- It contains a total of 126 servings.
- It is free of chemicals, soy, MSG aspartame & high fructose corn.
- The shelf life is 25 years.
- The package weighs 20 pounds.
This is another one of those Big Box store-style food storage kits. I have no personal knowledge on the taste of quality, but they are one of the more popular options on the market.
- Packed inside a 6-gallon weather proof pail with sealed lid.
- 330 Total Servings providing you 2,100 calories a day
- No high-fructose corn syrup or MSG.
- Shelf life is up to 20 years if stored in a dry, cool environment.
Augason Farms is a family run survival food company with a stellar reputation. They started the company back in 1972 and have grown to become one of the leaders in the industry.
The Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Supply Details
- It comes in a 7-gallon watertight pail.
- It includes a whopping 200 servings with 1,220 calories per day.
- Preparation of the meals requires water.
- It has a 20 years shelf life.
One-year emergency food supply
- It has a total of 5227 servings providing 1064 calories per day.
- Thirty varieties in 86 #10 cans with lids.
- You will also find desserts, drinks, and snacks in the package.
- The preparation of the meal requires water.
- The shelf life is 30 years.
Best emergency food kits for a family or group of four people
Buying single buckets for a family of four or more is probably not the most cost-effective way to buy emergency food, so if you are looking for supplies for a family or group of four people here is one of the best options out there.
- It can provide 1377 calories per person per day.
- The product has a shelf life of 30 years.
- There are 20,729 servings, 394 total cans with 66 different varieties
- You can get whole meals which include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts. Drinks and entrees are also included.
- The product has a shelf life of 30 years.
Best emergency food for Bugout/Evacuation Situations
Food bars are a quick and easy alternative for those looking for a way to supplement their nutritional needs during a bugout situation. They are not the best-tasting things in the world, but they pack a ton of calories into a small easy to carry package.
- They have over 3600 Calories Per Package.
- They have a five-year shelf life
- They can easily be thrown into a bugout bag or tossed into your truck.
- Each packet contains nine individual, ready-to-eat 410 calorie bars
- Nut Allergy Friendly
- Fortified with vitamins & minerals.
- They are certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to remain fresh for up to 5-years.