Stock Up And Stay Prepared With The Best Emergency Food Supplies

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Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, the number of natural disasters that occur each year has steadily increased over time. From flash floods and wildfires to heat waves and hurricanes, major events are plaguing the planet more consistently, which puts us at risk when help is hours, days or even weeks away. To prepare for such events, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends we put together an emergency supply kit that contains batteries, first aid supplies, water and food. But a kit filled with perishable foods won’t do you good—any kit worth its salt should contain the best emergency food supplies.

The best emergency food supplies provide long-lasting nourishment for days or weeks at a time.

Illustration: Forbes / Photo: Retailers

Thanks to their astoundingly long shelf life—up to 30 years in some cases—emergency food supplies are perfectly suited for your preparedness kit. They’re typically offered in larger quantities with individually packaged meals that take minutes to prepare. And while some kits require hot water (in which case, you’ll need to add a camp stove to your kit), others can be rehydrated with nothing more than cold, bottled water (though you should still have a water filter handy just in case).

Non-perishable food kits have long been associated with campers and travelers, but for many of us, keeping long-lasting food on hand just makes good sense. These emergency food supplies tend to be affordable, convenient, easy to use and they last forever, which is why you should keep some in your pantry, garage or basement should you need it.

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best emergency food supplies for your basement stockpile, backcountry survival kit or dedicated bug out bag. This list includes options for people with dietary restrictions or specific preferences, and it includes kits that actually taste good, which makes it easier to literally weather the storm.

  • Best Emergency Food Supplies For Families: ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply
  • Best Emergency Food Supplies For Vegetarians: Survive2Thrive Vegetarian Preparedness Pail
  • Best Gluten-Free Emergency Food Supplies: Mountain House Essential Bucket
  • Best Emergency Food Supplies For Appetizing Fare: Good To-Go Emergency Food Kit
  • Best For Variety: Augason Farms Emergency Supply Food Kit
  • Best Emergency Food Bars: S.O.S. Rations Emergency Food Bars
  • Best Splurge-Worthy Emergency Food Supplies: Momofuku Noodle Variety Pack
  • Best Emergency Canned Food Supplies: Scout Smoked Wild Pink Salmon
  • Best emergency Hydration Supplements: Protekt Hydration Supplements

How We Chose The Best Emergency Food Supplies

As backpackers, homeowners and family members, we understand the unique challenges that come with sourcing food in the midst of unpredictable circumstances. We’ve camped in the backcountry for weeks at a time, just as we’ve endured long-term periods without power, and were it not for emergency survival foods and other dehydrated meal kits, we likely would have found ourselves in tough situations. As such, we know what to look for when testing, reviewing and researching emergency food supply options, and we know how to source credible options that speak to quality and extended shelf life.

When assembling this review, we considered each meal kit’s serving size, shelf life, total weight and nutritional value before weighing these factors against their respective reviews. We scoured the web for options, spoke with experts, poured over hundreds of reviews and tested many of these products ourselves. Only the best survived our rigorous testing.

Why Trust Forbes Vetted

At Forbes Vetted, we know how frustrating and time consuming it can be to spend hours sifting through a seemingly endless list of survival products and online reviews. That’s why we took the headache out of the process by testing and reviewing many of these products ourselves. And because the emergency food landscape is changing in accordance with the times, we update this list regularly to reflect the best options and up-to-date information. This list was last updated September 2024.

What To Consider When Shopping For Emergency Food Supplies

Investing in emergency food supplies is a crucial step in ensuring you and your family are prepared for unexpected scenarios. To find the right emergency food for your needs, consider these essential variables:

Nutritional Content

Look for foods that offer a balanced nutritional profile, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and check for allergen information, especially if anyone in your household has dietary restrictions.

Shelf Life

Longer shelf life ensures that your supplies remain edible for an extended period, so be sure to evaluate both freeze-dried and canned options, as they often have different shelf lives.

Storage Requirements

Determine whether the food requires special storage conditions, such as cool, dry places, and consider space limitations when storing bulk supplies. If live in a home with a garage or basement, storage won’t likely be an issue, but if you live in a smaller apartment you may need to take kit size into consideration.

Caloric Value

Calculate the daily caloric needs of your household members to ensure you have enough food to sustain everyone—some emergency food supply kits are designed to provide a specific number of calories per day.

Food Variety

Aim for variety to prevent flavor fatigue during extended emergencies, and to do this, look for kits that offer a mix of entrees, sides, snacks and beverages.

Special Dietary Needs

Consider any dietary restrictions, allergies or preferences within your household when selecting supplies. Be sure to seek out options that cater to specific diets, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or kosher, as these dietary restrictions will limit which foods you can store.

Ease Of Preparation

Examine the simplicity of cooking or rehydrating the food, especially if you don’t have access to elaborate cooking equipment. Some emergency meals only require hot water, while others may need additional ingredients or equipment.

Taste And Quality

Emergency food supplies don’t generally taste all that good, but you can still read reviews (or sample products if possible) to assess the taste and quality of the emergency food supplies. If it tastes good, there’s a better chance you’ll be willing to eat it, even in the midst of an emergency.

Are Survival Food Kits Worth It?

Survival food kits represent a low-cost, risk-free means of preparing for the unpredictable, which makes them a worthwhile investment. While we can’t recommend replacing your normal diet with survival food options (these kits don’t offer a number of essential nutrients, despite claims that suggest otherwise), we can recommend keeping a kit in your basement on the off-chance that you need it.

Should I Stock Up On Emergency Food?

According to the FEMA, your emergency kit should contain at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food. The agency also recommends choosing foods your family will eat and paying attention to special dietary needs. Common non-perishable foods include protein or fruit bars, dry cereal, ready-to-eat canned options and high-energy foods.

What Is The Best Survival Food Supply?

The answer to this question depends on your personal situation and what sort of emergency, natural disaster or food shortage you’re preparing for. If you live in a part of the country that isn’t prone to natural disasters, you may be able to get by with a stockpile of peanut butter, granola bars, water and canned beans and vegetables. But if you live in an area that tends to experience hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes or wildfires, you may need to invest in larger quantities of emergency foods that can be prepared with only water and are highly portable should you have to leave your home.

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