Emergency Meals: The family of four testing the food has determined the finest emergency meal after consuming just items from survival packs for a week. The Mountain House – Just in Case 3-day non-perishable kit tops the list for shelf life while still providing exceptional convenience and taste. It includes easy-to-prepare dinner and breakfast dishes. Military surplus meal ready-to-eat (“MRE”) pouches from vendors like Western Frontier and Ozark Outdoorz are highly practical and last for up to five years if you have additional room and are willing to monitor the age of your supplies. Check out the Datrex – DX2400F three-day supply for additional storage-friendly food you may carry in a car or boat.
Important aspects to think about
Our project’s researcher and the tester have undergone outdoor education courses in the Canadian wilderness, so he is familiar with the fundamentals of emergency-food requirements and survival-situation priorities. We also looked at recommendations from the Red Cross and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for civil emergency scenarios in metropolitan settings.
It’s worth thinking about the possibility of making your own preserved food from home-grown produce. We’ve evaluated crucial food-preservation equipment in the past, including the finest multipurpose food slicers and the best food dehydrators. Many families will decide that it is not worthwhile to test and replace dry food supplies every year when there are so many easily available commercial alternatives.
In order to create our list of requirements for a home or auto survival kit, we carefully matched the most popular options with official recommendations after looking through various guides and conversations on Reddit’s r/preppers, The Prepper Journal, and mysurvivalforum.com. The main issues you should be aware of when purchasing are listed below:
Water: You must have a strategy for keeping drinking water if you are ready for an emergency. Without food, you can possibly survive for weeks, but without water, you’ll perish after three days. FEMA gives good instructions for setting up water reserves for emergencies. Keep in mind that cooking with dried food requires additional water, roughly 24 ounces per person per day. Some of our top recommendations for the finest filtering water bottles are portable water filters.
Calorie counts: You should always strive to keep three days’ worth of food on hand, but how much food is that for your household? If you’re packing your car, keep in mind that each person has to consume around 4,000 calories per day whether building a shelter or making the long trip to safety. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you might only need half of that amount, but in any event, you should be aware of how much food is in your kit and make plans for how long it will last.
High heat may shorten the stable shelf life of anything that contains water, so keep this in mind if you’re storing emergency food in your car or attic. Wheat will not survive five years at temperatures over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, everything will last a lot longer if you can store your gear in a dark, cool location.
Predictable shelf life: You must be aware of the amount of time that your emergency supply will remain fresh before it needs to be used up and replaced. For instance, professionally produced freeze-dried meals are often guaranteed for decades but depending on how hot your storage area gets, MREs and canned food may need to be replenished every few years.
Effective preparation: In an emergency, boiling your dinner for 20 minutes to achieve the optimum texture can be a waste of valuable fuel. In order to test meal kits, we assumed that we would have the means to boil water in an emergency. However, we also tested samples made with only cold water to evaluate how they would perform in a no power, no fuel scenario.
Heat packs: MRE pouches frequently, but not always, include water-activated chemical warmers so that processed meat or rehydrated beverages can be consumed hot rather than at room temperature. If you have a plan to keep a fuel supply and stove with your emergency cache, you can save money by purchasing civilian-oriented packages that do not include heaters. These heaters raise the cost of a military surplus MRE.
Variation: While a balanced diet is vital for long-term health, a little variety also helps ward off fear and despair in a short-term emergency pack.
Don’t forget to have a strategy for replacing stale food: An yearly emergency exercise is a smart approach to ensure that you don’t forget to have your emergency kit on hand. The goal of emergency food storage is to reduce risk when the odds are already stacked against you, even if your food supply has a decent probability of remaining edible for ten years after its expiration date
We chose three dry food kits, six MRE alternatives, and three emergency ration kits after evaluating the diversity of ingredients and the cost-per-calorie of three-day survival meal kits provided by the best-rated providers. After consuming meals from these kits for a week, our test family selected the best emergency food,
1. Just in Case: Mountain House
Our top option for an emergency food supply kit is the Mountain House – Just in Case. If you need your food to be ready to eat immediately but don’t want to bother with rotating out expired food every few years, this is the package for you. This package is guaranteed to taste fine for at least 30 years after being stored, and freeze-dried supplies are simple to use.
The most well-known brand of freeze-dried food we could find is Mountain House, which makes meal pouches that are well-liked by both trekkers and preppers. Even if all you have is cold water, you can rapidly prepare the food in this box because it has already been cooked before being freeze-dried.
It would be a tad salty and too rich for a sedentary existence if you had to eat out of these pouches every day. Additionally, there isn’t much fiber available. However, the ratio of high-calorie core components and flavor-enhancing sauces and seasonings is the best we could come up with if you’re simply planning to get through a few days of hardship.
- Simple to make, even in cold
- 30 years from now, it will still taste excellent.
- Good flavor
- If you just want to prepare a tiny amount, you can reseal the pouches.
- The most expensive choice
- finest flavor requires boiling water.
- Still, each meal only contains 1-2 grams of fiber.
2. MREs using military surplus
A military surplus meal, ready to eat, sometimes known as an “MRE,” is your best option if you want an emergency meal that you can carry with you and consume any place. We purchased a few carefully chosen (and package-date assured) meals from Ozark Outdoorz and a random assortment from Western Frontier. Two pouches per person per day will be more than enough food if you’re only waiting out a storm because these pouches contain an average of 1250 calories each.
Ready-to-eat food has the drawbacks of being heavy and having a shorter shelf life. With dry food making up the remainder of your emergency supplies, these meals make the most sense as only one day’s worth of food. In this way, you won’t be carrying unnecessary weight while yet having something available in case you are truly stuck.
MREs are significantly more expensive than canned soup or pasta, but they provide a better-balanced meal and are simple to open. The drawback is that it might be challenging to locate a trustworthy store to buy them: There are lots of dealers on Amazon and eBay who provide cases of surplus military cases, but if you want date assurances or the flexibility to choose the menu options you want, you’ll have to spend more from sellers like Ozark Outdoorz. We investigated “civilian label” MRE vendors, but the vast majority of them are selling less-than-full MREs for more money than we spent for hand-selected excess.
An MRE has a decent shelf life, but you should still consume them and replace them every five years to reduce the chance of something going bad. If it is hot where you store them, you should do this every three years.
- really ready to eat
- A few MREs come with warming packs.
- Good selection of ingredients for a full supper
- Availability might vary at times.
- Unless you pay a fee, the menu selection is random.
- Not as long of a shelf life as dry food
3. DX2400F from Datrex
Ration bars are an easy solution if you want the most portable, filling food available. The Datrex – DX2400F multi-purpose ration bars are particularly convenient to store in a car, boat, or cabin and last for five years (or longer). They are the most palatable ration bars for young children, somewhat powdered but otherwise similar to shortbread.
This is essentially the best ratio you can have if you’re in a position where you don’t know how long it will be until you locate food again and you need to move or remain warm. With 200 calories of fat and carbs in each individually wrapped bar inside the box, a person should be able to survive on the complete 12-bar package for three days.
Rations are simply meant to provide you with the energy you need to locate shelter, water, and eventually a more sustainable food source; you wouldn’t want to live on this for more than those three days. Even if you had a box of somewhat more appetizing rations on hand, every protein bar we tested for our study would need to be changed every year.
- the incredibly small and light source of energy
- Guaranteed shelf life of five years
- affordable in comparison to other bars
- It’s not enjoyable to consume dry cookies for days.
- Not a nutritious meal
- A better way to utilize the limited storage capacity is using water.
4. Variety Pail from Augason Farms
The Augason Farms – Breakfast and Dinner Variety Pail, which costs roughly $1 per 400-calorie dish, is our top recommendation for ready-to-use meal kits. The menu items in this package are well-balanced, and you even receive some goodies like milk and chocolate pudding to lift your spirits.
The drawback of a kit this affordable is that the meals consist solely of uncooked pasta and parboiled rice with a sauce mix added in. After soaking in scalding water, you might consume this material; nevertheless, simmering is required for the greatest texture. The ready-to-cook side dish packages you would get at the grocery store for a comparable price are about as delicious as this.
You could add a unique variety of foods if you wanted to DIY-assemble a kit similar to this, but you definitely won’t save money unless you stock up on cheap macaroni and cheese boxes and plain cereals. These pouches aren’t resealable, like the majority of grocery-store alternatives, so you’ll either need to plan on consuming your supplies one pouch at a time or figure out a means to clip the pouches shut and keep any moisture out of the pail.
- fantastic shelf life
- There were several menu choices available.
- The cost of dry food that may be purchased separately is significant.
- most meals need to be simmered
- The 4-serving pouches don’t close back up.
5. Food Lab S.O.S. – Emergency Ration
The S.O.S. Food Lab – Emergency Ration bars, like the Datrex bars, is a dependable supply of portable calories for circumstances requiring constant movement. The S.O.S. rations arrive squished together in one large chunk that you need to split with a knife, unlike the individually-wrapped Datrex bars. These should be packed within a sealable bag to prevent contamination once the foil-lined pouch has been opened.
The S.O.S. rations are available in cinnamon or coconut flavors and resemble shortbread more than the powdered Datrex rations. However, our test-toddler was unable to grasp how to consume them; instead, he simply sucked on the portions we offered him.
6. Emergency food supply from Wise Company Freeze Dried
The Wise Company – Emergency Food Supply pail claims you don’t need to cook these entrees, and the sauces are comparable to brand-name side-dish pouches you’d buy at the grocery store (at a similar price — about $2.50 per 400 calories). It is positioned halfway between the basic uncooked food from Augason Farms and the tasty freeze-dried options from Mountain House.
Compared to a DIY collection of sides, buying dry food this way doesn’t save you any money, and you don’t have access to breakfast or dessert alternatives like you have with Augason Farms. Nevertheless, the meals from The Wise Company taste a little bit better when you can only add water and cannot cook the food since the sauces are richer.
Although the cuisine from Mountain House is still more delectable and simpler to cook, it’s wonderful to have a medium ground that you could use to enhance other emergency supplies. This type of kit is appropriate for a family or party that intends to have four servings at once because the pouches do not re-seal.
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