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As we’ve all learned this past year, emergencies do happen. Some of us also had a rude awakening that we need to be better prepared in case of emergency — be it (another) epidemic, a natural disaster or a local conflict. One of the best ways to stay prepared is by stocking up on emergency food supplies.
The best emergency food supplies take the legwork out of stocking your own supply of canned or dried food. The best emergency food supply kits usually take the form of a bucket filled with individually-packaged meals that can be cooked easily and quickly. That means no researching individual items, better-tasting emergency food and less work if you need to prepare anything during an emergency. Plus, the streamlined packaging of survival rations lets you easily stash them in a car, closet or garage.
However, picking up an emergency food supply doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. Because they offer high-calorie meals in a compact, easy-to-cook package, emergency food supplies also make great choices for long camping trips, backpacking and other such adventures.
Emergency Food Supply Buying Guide
No matter how you plan to use your emergency rations, we’ve got you covered. Below is a quick guide to finding the best emergency food supply, as well as six of our top picks to stock right now.
Shelf Life: Ideally, emergency food supplies sit on the shelf until they go bad. But, depending on which supply you choose, they might need replacing sooner than later. Shelf life differs quite a bit, with emergency food lasting anywhere from five to 30 years. Some brands also guarantee a certain shelf life while others give a range. The latter is obviously preferred.
Servings: The amount of servings in an emergency food supply is especially important if you’re feeding a whole family. Of course, more is usually better, but that also means the food will take up more space while in storage.
Prep: The best emergency food supplies have meals that can be prepared quickly and easily. Be sure to check how each meal is prepared and what other gear is needed (usually this is just hot water).
Nutrition: Calories are what’s needed in emergency scenarios. Look at how many total calories are in the food kit, as well as how many calories are in each individual meal (this should be around 200 to 300 calories a meal). Also, check nutrition facts for each meal in the kit; some skimp on nutrients such as protein or vitamins.
Taste: Even though nutrition is the main concern in an emergency, food should still taste good. Emergency food supplies have come a long way over the past several years with better-tasting meals, so kits with good flavors are worth seeking out.
What’s the Best Emergency Food Supply?
You don’t need to actually be experiencing an emergency to stock up on emergency food supplies. Pick up these items online now and stash them in your pantry, closet or car to stay prepared just in case the unthinkable occurs.
1. Mountain House Classic Bucket
Mountain House is one of the best emergency food supply brands on the market, delivering nutritious freeze-dried foods in easy-to-store buckets. One of the brand’s major draws is a guaranteed 30-year shelf life, letting you set aside the bucket for decades without a worry. This Classic Bucket, weighing just 5.7 pounds, includes 24 servings and five meal varieties such as chicken fried rice and beef stroganoff. These meals are also packed with nutrients including protein, iron and potassium. To prepare a meal, fill the bowl-like package with hot water and wait ten minutes — that’s it.
2. ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply
If you’re stocking an emergency supply for a large family (or just want to be extra prepared), check out this bucket from ReadyWise. It contains 120 servings of freeze-dried meals and packs it all into a bucket that weighs just under 20 pounds. With a 25-year shelf life, you won’t need to restock any time soon. ReadyWise also includes a plentiful range of 13 meals from lasagna to tortilla soup to teriyaki and rice. These all offer fairly well-balanced nutrients without any trans fats. To prepare the meals, just add hot water and wait 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Mountain House Essential Bucket (Gluten-Free)
Whether you’re celiac or gluten-free by choice, there’s no need to break your diet in an emergency situation. This gluten-free Essential bucket from Mountain House includes four meal varieties such as rice and chicken and scrambled eggs with bacon — all made without any wheat, barley or rye ingredients. You get a total of 22 servings, which is roughly enough to feed one person (heartily) for four days. Like all of Mountain House’s survival food supplies, the gluten-free bucket has a guaranteed shelf life of 30 years.
4. Augason Farms Variety Pail Emergency Food Supply
Augason Farms has been family-owned and operated out of Salt Lake City since 1972, and their products are still some of the best emergency food supply kits on the market. This four-gallon pail packs 92 servings and 21,170 calories into a transportable, easily-stashable package. Inside, you’ll find 11 meal varieties including entrées, soups and even a chocolate pudding dessert. Shelf life for the Augason Farms pail is 10 to 25 years depending on how well it’s stored: ideal conditions are 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 15% humidity.
5. 4Patriots Emergency Food Supply
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller (say, just for one person), this 4Patriots emergency food supply is a great pick. The compact 2.2 pounds bag contains 16 servings totaling 3,760 calories, which is roughly enough for one person to survive on for three days. Although it’s small, you still get three meal options: mac and cheese, oatmeal and a creamy rice and vegetable dinner. Each meal contains over 200 calories and a solid serving of nutrients. The bag has a shelf life of 25 years, so you can stash it in the pantry or closet for decades without worrying.
6. S.O.S. Rations Emergency Food Bar
These emergency bars from S.O.S. Rations are a great utilitarian pick. The package contains nine fortified food bars for a total of 3,600 calories. They don’t require any preparation and deliver fast, easy-to-transport energy. This makes the S.O.S. bars ideal for taking on hikes, supplementing a larger emergency food supply or stashing in your car or boat. The shelf life is five years, but, unlike the options above, that rating is for “climatic conditions.” This means the bars will survive for five years in harsh weather and possibly quite a bit longer in ideal storage conditions.