Having a survival food kit stashed away in your apartment, basement, or maybe even your car might come in handy sooner than you think. Whether you’re worried about a big snowstorm this winter, ever-increasing forest fires, or maybe you’re prepping for the end times, having a good food kit on hand will ensure you don’t go hungry. Thankfully, dehydrated food has come a long way over the years. Think vegan Pad Thai with spicy Sriracha lime sauce, not that astronaut ice cream you had as a kid (though you’re totally welcome to include some astronaut ice cream in your kit). Since food is only one part of the equation, here’s what you should pack in a car emergency kit to cover all your bases in case of an emergency.
We’ve compiled a list of food kits that run the gamut from no-cook to practically gourmet, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Some of the big considerations in choosing a food kit is how long you’d like it to last (how many servings), how many calories you need per day, and the variety of different meals included. But maybe most important is taste. You’re not going to get any energy from a food kit you can’t stand to eat. If you’ve got time on your hands you may just want to check out our article on How to Freeze-Dry Food Using 4 Simple Methods and make a custom food kit of your own.
Valley Food Storage features simple, non-GMO meals without artificial ingredients while still having an impressive 25-year shelf life. Their food kits come in waterproof, resealable buckets and range from 175 servings to an apocalypse-worthy 4,200 servings. Because Valley Food Storage uses real, clean ingredients you won’t find anything on their labels that you can’t pronounce. They offer soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian options that aren’t packed with sugar and sodium. Their 175 serving kit contains 23,600 calories which would last around two weeks if you ate roughly 2,000 calories a day.
If you’ve ever gone backpacking or camping you’re probably familiar with Mountain House. These dehydrated meals are easy to make (just add hot water) and come with a 30-year taste guarantee, so you can pack them away and feel comfortable knowing they’re there when emergency strikes. The Classic Bucket includes 24 servings (around 6,000 calories), which should be enough to get you through a weekend. They have no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, and five different meals to lend some variety to your dining experience. This kit is great to have on hand for short-term survival or if you simply don’t have time to swing by REI before this weekend’s camping trip.
ReadyWise food kits also come in a resealable bucket and are ready just by adding hot water. They have a 25-year shelf life and are made in the USA. What I love about ReadyWise is the variety of different meals included in their kit. Their Emergency Foot Kit contains 13 different types of meals including cheesy lasagna, Southwest beans and rice, and hearty tortilla soup. They also offer fruit and vegetable buckets to make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet.
Nutrient Survival is designed to meet the nutritional standards of the U.S. Armed Forces and delivers “Special Ops grade nutrition.” Unlike the previous kits, Nutrient Survival does not come prepackaged with an assortment of different meals. Instead, they come in large cans with 10 servings per can. They have a 25-year shelf life, are made in the USA, and are ready in minutes by adding water. Best of all they offer chocolate chip cookies. I mean who doesn’t want a chocolate chip cookie in a disaster scenario?
For the survivalist on the go who wants to keep weight light and gear to a minimum, check out the S.O.S. rations. These calorically dense food and energy bars require no cooking, no additional water, and actually have pretty good reviews for taste. Better than you might imagine for a calorically dense food bar. This kit also contains water and a survival guide, both super handy in an emergency situation. Because this kit offers less variety than some of the others on our list, I’m not sure how great it would be for long-term survival, but it would be perfect for a go-bag or car kit.
Beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki; one thing about food kits is they’re not the friendliest to vegetarians. That’s why I’ve included the Harmony House Dehydrated Vegetable Sample. This is a great option for those who don’t eat meat or for those looking to add some more vegetables to their diet. They come in resealable zip pouches, which is perfect for adjusting the serving size to your liking and saving the rest for later. They’re also non-GMO, gluten-free and kosher. For only $55, this sampler would be great to pair with one of the other kits on the list for added variety and nutrients.
If you’ve never had an MRE you should get this pack just to check them out. I first had them when I was in the Boy Scouts as a kid. What struck me then was how much you got in each pack. You get an entre, a starch, a snack, and a dessert. You also get their accessory pack which includes salt and pepper, instant coffee, a wet napkin, red pepper flakes, and a toothpick. These meals also cook in a special pouch that heats up when water is added, meaning you can have hot meals on the go without a stove. The downside of this is more packaging and added cost. They’re worth trying at least once, though, and they have the highest calories per meal of any of the kits on the list.
If you’re looking for the best cost-per-pound ratio check out Legacy Food Storage. Like other kits on our list they’re made in the USA, have a 25-year shelf life, are free of GMO’s, and offer options for those with dietary restrictions. They also have a wide variety of meals, perfect for someone getting a kit for the longer term and they are well-reviewed when it comes to taste.
Augason Farms is another resealable bucket meal kit that offers a decent amount of calories and protein per day. They have a variety of meal choices and a long shelf life. Where they score well is on price, coming in far below some of the other options. That said, you get what you pay for, and the taste of this kit ranks lower than the others. College students and others on a budget, this could be the kit for you.
Okay, this isn’t a ready-to-buy food kit but for those that are serious about prepping for an emergency putting together your own foot kit will likely be the the most satisfying option. Food dehydrators aren’t that expensive and you can totally customize the options in your kit. Include only the foods you like, foods that fit within your dietary needs, even dial in the macros to fit your current nutrition plan. Whether you’re putting together a kit for the car or prepping for the long haul, having your favorite meals on hand will be a huge comfort and keep you going longer.
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