Whether through natural disasters or other means, your access to food could be turned upside down in an instant. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to stock up on emergency food or survival food kits.
Two key features of most things considered emergency food are lengthy shelf life and ready-to-eat capability.
Depending on the kind of emergency food, it can last for multiple weeks, a few years or even 25 years. On the shorter shelf-life side, you’ve got things like the MRE, or Meal, Ready-to-Eat, which is a self-contained, heatable meal used by the U.S. military. In the middle range, you’ve got things like standard canned food and emergency food ration bars. Then you have food that’s freeze-dried and specially packaged to remain edible for years and years, and all you have to do to eat is add water. Plus the kind of emergency food can vary too, so there’s a pretty good chance you can find something to suit your preference.
Ultimately, these kinds of foods are useful in any emergency situation where food could be scarce whether in the long or short term. In the long term, you can buy a supply, store it in a dry place and forget it until you need it. In the short term, you could take some with you pre-emptively if you were going camping for instance, where a high-calorie bar or a heatable, ready-to-eat meal could be useful. You should also consider what your access to water might be because some emergency food needs water.
So in the interest of preparedness, we’ve rounded up some great emergency food options and survival food kits below. Whatever your anticipated emergency situation, you’ll find something that will last a long time and feed you for at least a few days or as many as 30.
Will you ever need emergency food? Nobody knows for sure, but it’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
1. Wise Company Emergency Food Supply
If you’re just looking to stow away some emergency food, just in case, then you’re going to want something like the Wise Company Emergency Food Supply.
In one bucket, you’ve got 104 servings (about a week’s worth) of a variety of ready-to-eat foods, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, fruit, vegetables, snacks and milk, all with a shelf life of 25 years. That includes things like savory stroganoff, pasta alfredo, corn, peas, brown sugar and maple cereal, bananas, yogurt, vanilla pudding and more.
Just pull a serving of food out of the bucket, open it up, add water and wait 12 to 15 minutes, and you’ve got the meal or snack of your choice.
We like the variety pack for its, you know, variety, but if you can also pick up specialty buckets of food from Wise Company, including things like freeze-dried meat, freeze-dried vegetables and powdered eggs.
The only downside is each serving isn’t individually wrapped, so if you make the pasta with vegetables, you’ll have to make the whole thing because it’s a pain to separate out individual ingredients to make fewer servings.
2. Mountain House Rice & Chicken
We read a lot of reviews about emergency food for this round-up and one emergency food clearly emerged as one of the best-reviewed and best-tasting. And that was true for just about anything from the variety of emergency foods from Mountain House, but in particular, the Mountain House Rice & Chicken.
Users loved Mountain House not just for its flavor — you get seasoned rice and chicken in a pimento-accented sauce — but for the flexibility of the servings. For something that will last 30 years, it’s really convenient that you can just scoop however much food you want out of the can, instead of having to deal with packages that could leak or serving sizes you can’t control.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many servings in this can, but at its price, you can pick up five or six cans for weeks of food.
3. Augason Farms Emergency Food Supply
If you like the setup of Wise Company’s survival food kit, the Augsaon Farms Emergency Food Supply is an excellent alternative. It’s one of the best-reviewed and best-selling emergency food supplies on Amazon, offering a variety of foods and a 25-year shelf life. You get maple brown sugar oatmeal, homestyle mashed potatoes, cheesy broccoli rice, vegetable soup, banana chips, a milk alternative and more. Just add water like usual and you’ll be good to go. In a nice touch to the emergency survival aspect, Augason also included a 30- and 45-day meal planner, which could be a lifesaver in a disaster.
Overall, the Augason bucket is a great survival food kit with plenty of calories and food options to keep you going when you need it most.
If you like Augason’s kit, you can also pick up Augason kits in a lunch and dinner variety pack or a breakfast variety pack. They do say breakfast is great at any time of day.
4. XMRE 1300XT Military-Grade MREs
For camping or an emergency meal shortage, nothing can beat an MRE, or Meal, Ready-to-Eat. The XMRE 1300XT Military-Grade MREs pack contains 12 full-calorie meals and can be eaten right out of the pouch, without any hydration or refrigeration needed. They’re guaranteed to last for three years, and every MRE contains everything you need to eat, including utensils. Plus, reviewers praised the flavors and, dare we say, actually enjoyed eating the MREs, a significant accomplishment for something designed to stay fresh for years.
5. SOS Food Labs Emergency Ration
BEST EMERGENCY FOOD BAR
Emergency food bars are likely the most convenient of all the emergency foods. They’re dense with calories, portable and last for years. The SOS Food Labs Emergency Ration packs 3,600 calories into a small, tasty brick of food that’s ready to eat right out of the package. It’s good for five years, and it’s broken up into nine smaller bars so you can have one bar for every meal, totaling three days’ worth of food on just one pack.
The only thing to be aware of is some reviewers complained about broken seals on their food. If that happens to you, you just have to get in contact with the manufacturer ASAP to get them replaced. But for those reviewers who received intact rations, they were highly satisfied with the taste of what could’ve been a dreadful emergency food.
6. The Survival Tabs Emergency Survival Food
SMALLEST EMERGENCY FOOD
While long-term storage and variability are key for survival food kits, sometimes portability can be even more important. That’s what you get with The Survival Tabs Emergency Survival Food. Each chocolate-flavored tab combines all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to survive, and Survival Tabs suggest they last for years and years with negligible degradation. (The company has a pack from the ’70s it continues to periodically test to confirm this.)
But, these tabs will not be adequate meal replacers over time. Though this pack of five, with 24 tablets per pack, could last you 10 days if you ate 12 of the 20-calorie tabs each day, that’s if you’re using them as emergency food as opposed to full meals. In reality, they would only last a few days if you didn’t want to feel like you were starving most of the time. So we wouldn’t recommend relying on these for a long-term disaster scenario, but they are a great solution where you anticipate needing additional nutrition, such as far-out camping or hiking, or if you want to store some emergency food in a useful place like a car or a backpack.
7. NorthWest Fork Emergency Food Supply
BEST DIETARY EMERGENCY FOOD
People with dietary restrictions need survival food kits too, and we think the NorthWest Fork Emergency Food Supply is the best emergency food for most dietary needs. Gluten-free? Check. Vegan? Check. Kosher, non-GMO and all-natural? Check.
With things like strawberry banana oatmeal, black bean soup and pinto bean stew, you’ll be able to stay alive for 30 days without worrying about aggravating your gluten allergy or consuming any animal byproducts, and the food is rated to last for 10 years.
Plus, if this kind of survival food kit is up your dietary alley, you can upgrade to a six-month supply or even a one-year supply if you really want to be prepared to hunker down.
The only downside is the lack of individual serving packs. But as long as you properly seal the Mylar bags after opening, you should still get plenty of shelf life out of the food.
8. Campbell’s Condensed Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup
BEST CANNED SOUP
When it comes to canned food for the long haul, you just can’t go wrong with canned soups, especially Campbell’s. We think your safest bet is to go with a classic, such as Campbell’s Condensed Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup. While the soup is better with additional water and a microwave for heating (the soup is condensed after all) you could easily eat the soup straight out of the can for a pretty filling meal. Plus, these have soda-can-styled tops, so you don’t even need a can opener, which is one less thing to worry about in an emergency.
9. Green Giant Vegetable Blend Can
BEST CANNED VEGETABLES
Ideally, you should know what vegetables you or your family would want to eat in an emergency, but for an all-around solid choice, there’s the Green Giant Vegetable Blend can. It’s carrots, green beans, sweet peas, corn and lima beans. They’re a great side and you can safely eat them straight up for a meal if you can’t cook them or have nothing else.
10. Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
BEST WATER STORAGE
While you’re here, it’s never a bad thing to think about water storage. In a disaster situation, you’ll need to have clean water to eat some emergency food and to drink, of course. The Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7-Gallon Rigid Water Container has a grip for carrying, a hideaway spigot at the bottom for quick water access and a screw-on vent to help control the water dispensing.
On the downsides, this plastic is strong enough to hold the water, but it’s too heavy to stack on another container when filled. Also, the container will bulge a bit when full and some reviewers complained that the spigot leaked. But if you can manage those issues, The Reliance Products container is a cheap water storage solution for an emergency.