Best Rated Survival Food Essentials

published on 13 January 2024

When building an emergency food supply, most preppers would agree that taste and nutrition are as critical as shelf life.

The top-rated survival foods balance all three factors, providing reliable sustenance to feed a family during a crisis, without sacrificing quality or palatability.

In this roundup, we'll explore the fundamentals of survival food and compare the highest-rated options across key criteria - from Mountain House's 25-year bucket to Survive2Thrive's vegetarian preparedness pail - to help you select the ideal emergency food supply for your needs.

Introduction to Survival Food Essentials

Survival food essentials refer to non-perishable food items that can sustain a person or family during an emergency situation. Having a reliable stock of survival food is an integral part of emergency preparation and self-reliance. This introduction will define key aspects of survival foods and outline the benefits of maintaining your own emergency food supply.

What Constitutes Survival Food Essentials?

Survival food essentials are non-perishable foods that meet certain criteria:

  • Long shelf life - Survival foods must remain edible and nutritious for extended periods of time, from 5 years up to 25+ years. Foods like freeze-dried meals, MREs, and #1 rated canned goods are designed for long-term storage.
  • Portability - Since survival situations may require evacuation or mobility, the best emergency foods are lightweight and packable. Items like protein bars, pouched tuna, and vacuum-sealed meals can be easily transported.
  • Preparation - Survival foods should require minimal preparation like simply adding hot water. Foods that need refrigeration, cooking equipment, or special preparation have less utility in emergency contexts.
  • Nutritional value - The best rated survival foods provide calories, macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to maintain health. Though taste is important, nutrition is the top priority.

Having at least a 3-day supply of survival food essentials is recommended by FEMA and other preparedness organizations for every household.

Advantages of a Reliable Emergency Food Supply

Maintaining your own stockpile of survival food brings major advantages, including:

  • Preparation for the unexpected - Natural disasters, grid failures, pandemics, and other emergencies can disrupt food access. Survival food mitigates this risk.
  • Food security - Stockpiled survival foods prevent hunger if you cannot leave your home or if stores run out of supplies during a crisis.
  • Peace of mind - Knowing you have reliable access to nutritious food relieves stress and anxiety should an emergency occur.
  • Mobility - Portable survival foods allow you to evacuate easily or shelter-in-place as needed.

Evaluating Best Rated Survival Food: Nutrition, Shelf Life, and Taste

The top-rated survival foods balance key criteria:

  • Nutrition - High protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and calorie density for health.
  • Shelf life - Long expiration dates, with 5-25+ year shelf lives.
  • Taste - As good as possible flavor and texture for morale.
  • Value - Reasonable cost per meal considering nutrition and shelf life.
  • Ease of preparation - Just add water in most cases.

This article will showcase the survival food staples that rate highly across all these criteria.

What is the absolute best survival food?

When building an emergency food supply, it's important to focus on nutritious and filling foods that have a long shelf life. Some top options to keep in your pantry include:

  • Peanut butter - High in protein, healthy fats, and calories. Stays fresh up to 3 months after opening.
  • Whole-wheat crackers - Provide carbs and fiber. Store well in airtight containers.
  • Nuts and trail mixes - Great sources of protein, fats, and nutrients. Last for months when properly stored.
  • Cereal - Choose whole grain cereals and store in airtight containers. Adds carbs and vitamins.
  • Granola and power bars - Packed with carbs for energy. Look for soft varieties to prevent crumbling.
  • Dried fruits - Offer vitamins and antioxidants. Raisins, apricots and apples keep best.
  • Canned proteins - Tuna, salmon, chicken and turkey supply protein. Get pop-top cans.
  • Canned vegetables - Go for low sodium versions. Green beans, carrots and peas store well.

When building your emergency food supply, focus on nutrient-dense foods with a long shelf life. Test items for freshness and rotate as needed. Store foods properly to maximize longevity.

What is the best food to stockpile?

When building your emergency food supply, focus on nutrient-dense foods with a long shelf life. Here are some of the best options to stockpile:

Canned and Dried Goods

  • Canned meats like chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon provide protein. Choose ones packed in water rather than oil.
  • Canned beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber. Kidney, black, pinto, and chickpeas are versatile options.
  • Canned vegetables and fruits provide vitamins and minerals. Go for ones without added sugar or sodium.
  • Dried grains like rice, quinoa, pasta, and oats are carb sources that store well. Opt for whole grains when possible.
  • Shelf-stable milk like powdered or canned milk provides calcium. Useful for cooking and baking.

Other Essentials

  • Water and water filtration - Stockpile a gallon per person per day. Consider water filtration methods like portable filters.
  • Oils and fats - Olive, coconut, and vegetable oils store well. Peanut butter is also a good option.
  • Seasonings and spices - Salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder can make bland food more palatable.

Focus on versatility, nutrition, and reasonable taste. Well-rounded foods that can be used in many recipes are best for emergency supply. Integrate some comfort foods for morale.

What is the best food for long term preppers?

When it comes to stockpiling food for emergency preparedness, having items with a long shelf life is crucial. Some of the best options for long term storage include:

Hard Grains

  • Wheat, corn, buckwheat, and other hardy grains can last 12-30+ years when properly stored. These staples provide carbohydrates and fiber.
  • Consider storing whole grains and grinding as needed for maximum freshness.
  • Ensure grains are kept cool, dark, and dry in sealed containers. Oxygen absorbers can help remove moisture.

Dried Beans and Legumes

  • Beans, peas, lentils can last 8-10 years when stored properly. They are packed with plant-based protein.
  • As with grains, the key is keeping them cool and sealing out excess moisture to prevent spoilage.

Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Fruits/Vegetables

  • With the water content removed, these foods can last upwards of 25 years.
  • Great way to add essential vitamins and nutrients to your stockpile.
  • Look for high-quality brands tested for long term storage.

Fats and Oils

  • Vegetable oils, shortening, lard can keep for 2-5 years or more.
  • Ensure they are sealed in opaque, airtight containers and stored in cool places.

No matter what survival food you choose, proper storage methods are vital for extending shelf life. Consider investing in products specifically designed for long term emergency preparedness.

What is the best brand of emergency food supply?

When it comes to emergency food supplies, there are a few top brands that stand out for their quality, taste, and nutrition. Here are some of the best options to consider:

Famine Fighter

Famine Fighter offers a fortress of nutritional security with their emergency food kits. Their food comes in easy-to-prepare pouches that have a 25+ year shelf life. The meals provide balanced nutrition with complex carbs, protein, and vegetables in each serving.

Roundhouse Provisions

Trusted by Chuck Norris himself, Roundhouse Provisions creates tasty emergency food buckets to keep you fueled in any situation. Their ingredients are non-GMO, gluten-free, and made in the USA. Plus, their meals can last up to 25 years when stored properly.


4Patriots creates full 4-week emergency food kits to feed a family of 4. Their meals feature delicious flavors like savory stroganoff and creamy potato soup. With over 200 total servings packed with nutrition, their food kits have everything you need to survive an extended crisis.

My Patriot Supply

Customize your very own emergency food vault with My Patriot Supply. Their meals feature hearty comfort foods like cheesy lasagna and chicken noodle soup. With up to a 25 year shelf life, their food kits are designed to provide reliable nutrition when you need it most.

When choosing an emergency food brand, be sure to evaluate taste, nutritional balance, ingredients, and shelf life. Having food you enjoy and that keeps you nourished is key for any survival situation. The brands above offer quality options purpose-built for emergencies.


Top-Rated Survival Food Brands and Kits

As preppers, having a reliable stock of survival food is essential. When considering the best options, key factors include nutritional value, shelf life, taste, and convenience. After researching expert recommendations and consumer reviews, several brands stand out.

Mountain House Essential Bucket: A 25-Year Emergency Food Supply

The Mountain House Essential Bucket provides a robust 25-year supply of freeze-dried food pouches, earning high marks for extreme shelf life. With dishes like beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki, and scrambled eggs, Mountain House aims to make long-term food storage appetizing. While some find the sodium content high, the food quality and simple preparation make this a go-to for long-haul prepping. Pairing the bucket with a water filter and camp stove builds out a survivalist kitchen.

ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply: Feeding a Family of 4

For feeding a family, ReadyWise offers bulk buckets with a wide variety of entrees, sides, breakfasts, fruits, and vegetables. With a shelf life of 25 years, their food tastes relatively fresh thanks to a careful freeze-drying process. ReadyWise also sells smaller starter kits with around 100 servings to test out their products. Their "Grab and Go" kits provide lightweight, portable food bars for 72 hours of survival. These options make ReadyWise a flexible choice for households prepping for disasters.

Augason Farms Emergency Supply Food Kit: A Comprehensive Review

With over 20 vegetarian and meat-based options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Augason Farms provides tasty variety. Their emergency food kits include a can opener, water pitcher, and heating fuel to cook the dehydrated ingredients. With up to a 30-year shelf life, the Augason Farms pails bring excellent bang for buck. Some consumers add salt or spices to enhance the flavor. But overall, Augason Farms earns consistent praise as a nutritious emergency food supply.

Survive2Thrive Vegetarian Preparedness Pail: A Plant-Based Option

For vegetarians seeking meatless and dairy-free survival food, Survive2Thrive offers a 100% plant-based preparedness pail. With dishes like black bean burgers, pasta marinara, and apple cinnamon oatmeal, it provides familiar, hearty comfort foods. Although expensive upfront, the four-gallon pail contains a robust, long-lasting supply of food. As a vegan emergency kit made in the USA, Survive2Thrive stands out as a specialty choice for restricted diets.

Selecting the Right Emergency Food Supply for Your Needs

When building an emergency food supply, it's important to select options that align with your family's unique needs and situation. Having the right amount of food, catering to dietary restrictions, and choosing palatable options can make all the difference in an crisis.

Emergency Food Supply for a Family of 4: Quantity and Quality

When preparing an emergency food supply for a family of four, focus first on having enough food to provide 2,000-2,500 calories per person for at least 3 days. High-quality options like Mountain House or Augason Farms emergency buckets allow you to store a variety of entrées tailored to your family's tastes. Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods have long shelf lives, providing reliable nutrition when you need it most.

Consider supplementing your main food supply with bars, drink mixes, and snacks to provide additional calories and variety.

Nutritional Balance and Dietary Considerations

It's essential to build an emergency food supply that meets any dietary restrictions in your family. Many companies now offer gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan, and allergen-free survival food options.

Seeking out food with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats provides the energy you need to remain active in an emergency situation. Prioritize options with minimal sugars, sodium, and preservatives as well.

Taste Testing: Ensuring Palatability in Survival Situations

While nutrition is critical, taste is also a significant factor for morale in stressful situations. Before stocking up on a specific brand, buy a few single-serving pouches to try out.

Focus on foods you already enjoy eating like pastas, chili, rice dishes, etc. Having familiar and palatable foods can provide comfort during emergencies. If taste is a barrier for you, stick to milder flavors or items that can be seasoned to suit your preferences.

Preparation Ease: The Role of Camp Stoves and No-Cook Options

Look for a mix of both "cook" and "no-cook" items in your emergency food supply based on your situation. Camp stoves allow you to heat foods while conserving fuel, but require propane or other off-grid cooking fuels.

No-cook, just-add-water options provide flexibility if cooking resources are limited. Food bars, jerky, and nuts can also sustain you without preparation. Having both instant and cook-type survival foods provides the most versatility in an emergency.

Maximizing Shelf Life and Maintaining Quality of Survival Foods

Offer strategies for preserving the integrity and extending the shelf life of survival food products.

Ideal Storage Conditions for a 25-Year Emergency Food Supply

When stockpiling a long-term 25-year emergency food supply, proper storage is key to maintaining quality and extending shelf life. The ideal conditions are:

  • Cool and dry place - Store food in a basement, root cellar, or temperature controlled pantry around 60-70°F. Avoid temperature fluctuations.
  • Low humidity - Excess moisture can lead to mold growth and degradation. Use moisture absorbers if humidity is an issue.
  • No sunlight - UV rays will accelerate breakdown of nutrients, fats, proteins. Store in opaque containers out of any light.
  • Airtight containers - Oxygen causes oxidation. Use oxygen absorber packets and vacuum seal mylar bags.
  • Off the floor - Store food supply up on shelves or pallets to prevent water damage, pest access.

Following these guidelines will keep your 25-year stockpile intact, nutritious and safe to eat when needed. Monitor and replace oxygen absorbers every 5 years.

Protecting Your Supply: Airtight Containers and Pest Control

To protect your survival food investment from pests and environmental factors:

  • Use food-grade plastic buckets with gasket seals or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
  • Inspect containers periodically for holes, cracks or evidence of insects. Discard compromised food.
  • Implement preventative measures - keep storage area clean, set traps and use natural repellents. Diatomaceous earth on shelves helps.
  • If infestation occurs, isolate and freeze treatment is best option to kill eggs and larvae.

Keeping supplies in airtight containers inside a secure, controlled space is optimal for maintaining integrity. Monitoring for pests and acting quickly is key.

Keeping Track: Inventory Management and Rotation Practices

As survival food has a defined shelf life, organization and rotation practices are essential:

  • Catalog supply by content, quantity, expiration date. Update inventory every 6 months.
  • Establish reminder system to check stock and rotate items, consuming oldest first.
  • Place new purchases behind existing supply to facilitate first-in, first-out system.
  • Note any changes in taste, texture, appearance that may indicate spoilage.

Closely tracking the survival food inventory ensures you know exactly what comprises your stockpile and when items need to be consumed or replaced.

Regular Inspection and Replenishment of Your Emergency Supply Kit

In addition to long-term food reserves, inspect emergency supply kits quarterly:

  • Check condition and expiration dates of water, MREs, bars, freeze-dried meals.
  • Replace batteries, fuel canisters, water filters as needed.
  • Replenish medical supplies, flashlights, radios used during drills or actual events.
  • Take inventory and order items that need to be restocked.

Conducting inspections and replenishing as needed guarantees your emergency preparedness supplies are ready when disaster strikes.

Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness: Beyond the Food

When building an emergency supply kit, food is only one component. To be truly prepared for any situation, you need to consider additional essential items that will allow you to purify water, cook food, store supplies efficiently, and maintain access to power sources. This section explores those supplemental preparedness solutions.

Securing Safe Drinking Water: Filters and Purification Methods

Having an ample supply of water is critical in an emergency. An average person needs 1 gallon of water per day minimum to survive. Beyond storing bottled water, you should invest in water filtration and purification methods. These allow you to render found water from lakes, streams, rainwater, etc. safe to drink.

Popular options include:

  • Water filtration straws - These straws contain filters that remove bacteria, protozoa, and solids as you sip. They are portable, reusable, and ideal for single-person use.
  • Pump water filters - Pump filters force water through filtration media to remove contaminants. They have faster flow rates than straws and can fill up containers.
  • Water purification tablets - Tablets like potassium iodide or sodium chlorite kill microorganisms in water. Simply add a tablet to your water container, wait 30 minutes, and drink.
  • UV water purifiers - These battery-powered wands kill pathogens with UV light. They offer rapid water purification without chemicals.

Portable Cooking Solutions: Selecting the Right Camp Stove

You need a way to cook your emergency food supplies. Packable camp stoves run on various fuel sources and provide cooking capability anywhere. Choose one tailored to your intended duration of use.

  • Canister stoves - These compact stoves connect to proprietary fuel canisters. Fuel is expensive but burns cleanly. Best for short 1-3 day emergencies.
  • Liquid fuel stoves - Larger and more powerful stoves good for longer-term use. They connect to refillable fuel bottles filled with white gas, diesel, kerosene, etc.
  • Wood burning stoves - As the name suggests, these stoves burn renewable wood fuel in the form of sticks, pinecones, etc. Reliable option for extended emergencies.
  • Alternative fuel stoves - Some stoves can burn alternative fuels like alcohol, propane, or even natural gas from your home. Provides flexibility.

Essential Utensils and Storage Options for Food Preparation

To efficiently prep and serve your survival food, pack utensils like pots, pans, cups, plates, cutlery, knives, cutting board, can opener, mess kit, etc. Prioritize lightweight, packable options.

Sturdy, sealable plastic bins or bags help organize cooking gear and prevent crushing. 5-7 gallon bins fit under beds. Label all containers so you know what's inside.

Alternative Power Sources: Ensuring Functionality of Your Kit

Your devices like flashlights, camp stoves, and communication gear need power. While you may have spare batteries, also consider:

  • Solar chargers - These portable panels charge devices via sunlight. They ensure indefinite off-grid power.
  • Crank chargers - Human-powered chargers generate power as you crank a handle. Provides backup charging.
  • Generators - Gas-powered generators offer heavy-duty 110/220V AC power for larger devices. Solar generators provide similar capability from stored solar energy.

Include an assortment of charging cables so you can power most devices from your alternative power sources. Prioritize any medical devices and communications equipment that rely on electricity.

Conclusion: Synthesizing the Best Rated Survival Food Essentials

When building your emergency food supply, focus on shelf-stable foods that provide balanced nutrition, have a long shelf life, and still taste good. The best rated survival foods check all these boxes while remaining affordable and easy to store.

Here are the key takeaways when selecting the best emergency food:

  • Nutrition - Choose foods that provide calories, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid heavily processed items with low nutritional value.
  • Shelf Life - Look for at least 5+ years of shelf life unopened. The best foods last 20-30 years when stored properly.
  • Taste - Sample different brands to find tasty options you'll actually enjoy eating. Favorites include Mountain House, Good To-Go, and Backpacker's Pantry.
  • Budget - Consider the cost per meal or day when comparing products. Build your supply over time by steadily adding items.
  • Storage - Store in a cool, dark place like a basement or closet. Use oxygen absorbers and mylar bags for best shelf life. Rotate and replace items as you use them.

Building a well-rounded food supply takes research and planning, but is one of the most important steps in emergency preparedness. Invest in quality survival food now so your family will be nourished if disaster strikes.

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