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Emergency Food Supplies

of October 2023

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A Guide to Buying an Emergency Food Supply Kit

Yehudah Posnick

When the COVID-19 crisis first started in late 2019/early 2020, people started stocking up on all sorts of non-perishable foods, fearing that there would be a shortage! But, depending on where you live, there are other situations besides a pandemic where you’ll need emergency rations. You may experience a hurricane, tornado, flood, or snowstorm that knocks out the electricity. There are emergency food supply kits that include dehydrated meals. You just add hot or cold water, and you have a meal within 30 minutes! And you can also take them along with you when camping, or in an RV!

There is some variety among these emergency meals. You can find meat-based meals that are gluten-free. On the other hand, if you’re a vegetarian, you can find vegan meals that are meat-free! There are also packs of meals that supply you with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for as much as a month! And there’s so much variety among the types of meals, you can even satisfy finicky eaters!

We’ll go through some of the emergency meal options available in the Best Reviews Guide list. Besides being able to save your life in an emergency, you’ll see that they can be a great convenience as well!


What kinds of emergency food supplies are there?

There are several types of emergency food supplies that are commonly used to ensure individuals and communities have access to sustenance during emergencies or disaster situations. They’re also convenient if you’re going camping and don’t want the hassle of preparing meals. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Canned Foods: Canned goods are a popular choice for emergency food supplies due to their long shelf life and ability to withstand varying environmental conditions. Canned fruits, vegetables, soups, meats, and fish can provide a source of essential nutrients.

  • Dried and Dehydrated Foods: These foods have had their moisture content removed, significantly extending their shelf life. Examples include dried fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, pasta, rice, and powdered milk. Dehydrated meals, such as freeze-dried or vacuum-sealed meals, are also available.

  • MREs (Meals Ready to Eat): MREs are self-contained, individual ration packs used by the military and emergency response organizations. They typically contain a main course, side dishes, snacks, beverages, and a heat source for warming the food.

  • Energy Bars and Snack Packs: Energy bars, protein bars, granola bars, and snack packs are convenient options that provide a quick source of energy during emergencies. They often have a long shelf life and are lightweight and portable.

  • Emergency Food Kits: These kits come in various sizes and contain a variety of food items designed to sustain individuals or families for a specified period. They often include a combination of canned goods, dried foods, and other non-perishable items. Some emergency food kits also come with cooking utensils, water purification tablets, or other supplies.

  • Bulk Staple Foods: Stocking up on bulk staple foods like rice, pasta, beans, oats, flour, and sugar can be an economical way to prepare for emergencies. These items have a long shelf life if stored properly and can be used as a base for creating meals.

Types of Emergency Food Supplies

You’ll notice that there is a nice assortment of emergency food supplies:

  • Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner: Some of these emergency food supply kits give you three meals a day for two weeks! You can buy the ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply with 120 servings, with 18 different dishes, including different types of pasta, soups, rice dishes, and more!

ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply

  • Organic food supply: The SURVIVE2THRIVE Food Supply is a bucket with enough food for 40 days and 40 nights! It includes all sorts of beans, as well as oats, lentils, quinoa, chia seeds, brown rice, and more.


Mountain House Rice & Chicken Survival & Emergency Food Kit

What reviewers say

We went over some customers’ impressions of the emergency meals that they bought:

  • Remember to store water: You will need to rehydrate these portions by adding water. You can either try to store large amounts of water for an emergency situation, or use water filters to make water drinkable. There are also dehydrated foods that don’t require you to add water. But these will typically have a shorter shelf life, of around 5 years.

  • Stackable: One customer who bought the Mountain House Classic Bucket Adventure Meal Kit said that you can buy several such buckets and stack them. This is good to conserve space. The bucket also has a convenient carrying handle.

Mountain House Classic Bucket Adventure Meal Kit

Important Features

Here are some tips and features to help you decide on which emergency food supply kit to purchase:

  • Nutritional value: Remember that these are intended just to provide enough calories to keep you going in an emergency situation, or when roughing it while camping. Don’t expect them to provide all the nutrients and caloric intake that your body requires.

  • Shelf life: It's important to regularly check the expiration dates on emergency food supplies, rotate stock, and ensure proper storage conditions to maintain their quality and nutritional value. Many of these pouches of dehydrated meals can stay fresh for 25-30 years, if kept under the proper conditions! For example, protect them from temperatures over 75 degrees, and keep them away from air or moisture.

  • Add water: The instructions for these meals are very simple: For example, for the Mountain House Rice & Chicken, you add boiling water, and wait for around 5 minutes. Stir the food, wait around 4 minutes, and the food is ready! If you choose to use cold water, for the foods where it is appropriate, it will typically take around 30 minutes for the food to be edible.

  • Freeze-dried vs. dehydrated foods: Dehydrated meals and freeze-dried meals are both types of food preservation methods used in emergency food supplies. While they share similarities, there are key differences between the two processes:

    • Dehydrated Meals: Dehydration involves removing the moisture from food items to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that cause spoilage. Dehydrated meals are made by drying the food at low temperatures for an extended period until most of the moisture content is removed. The dehydrated food typically retains its original shape and size but becomes lightweight and compact.

    • Freeze-Dried Meals: Freeze-drying is a more complex and advanced method of food preservation. It involves freezing the food and then subjecting it to a vacuum environment where the frozen water content undergoes sublimation, directly transitioning from ice to vapor without passing through the liquid phase. This process preserves the structure, flavor, and nutritional content of the food. Freeze-dried meals are often considered to have superior taste and texture compared to dehydrated meals. But, freeze-dried foods will also be more expensive.

Here are some key differences between dehydrated and freeze-dried meals:

    • Rehydration: Dehydrated meals require rehydration with water before consumption. The food needs to be soaked or cooked in water for a certain period to restore its texture and make it ready to eat. Freeze-dried meals, on the other hand, rehydrate quickly and easily with water. They often regain their original texture and appearance after adding water, requiring less time for preparation.

    • Retention of Nutrients: Freeze-drying generally preserves more nutrients compared to dehydration. The rapid freezing and low-temperature environment used in freeze-drying help retain the nutritional content of the food, including vitamins and minerals. Dehydrated meals may experience more nutrient loss due to the higher temperatures involved in the drying process.

    • Texture and Taste: Freeze-dried meals are known for their superior texture, as the freeze-drying process allows the food to maintain its original form and structure. The rehydrated food tends to have a more natural texture and appearance. Freeze-dried meals also often retain their original taste and flavor, making them more enjoyable to eat. Dehydrated meals can be more prone to texture changes, and the taste may differ slightly from the original due to the dehydration process.

    • Shelf Life: Both dehydrated and freeze-dried meals have extended shelf lives compared to fresh food. However, freeze-dried meals generally have a longer shelf life. The low moisture content achieved through freeze-drying helps to inhibit bacterial growth and enzymatic reactions that can cause spoilage. Dehydrated meals can also have a significant shelf life but may be slightly shorter compared to freeze-dried counterparts.

Final Verdict

We went through some of the different options that you have among emergency food supplies. Besides canned food, there are dehydrated and freeze-dried foods in a wide assortment. You can find breakfast, lunch, and dinner combos, or just purchase a single type of meal. Even though you won’t want to have to use them, emergency food supply packets are a great idea to have on hand!

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