Emergency food suppliers were hit hard in 2020, and many aren’t the same in 2021. Find out which emergency food companies still provide high-quality long-term storage food at a great price, and which ones are cutting corners in this seller’s market.
Emergency food suppliers sold out in 2020 as people quickly filled their panties with shelf-stable food stores. In 2021, many of them reacted by changing their recipes, package sizes, and offerings, some for the better and some not.
Beyond that, new emergency food suppliers joined the market to meet the ever-increasing demand.
Some of the best emergency food suppliers really stepped up to the plate, increased production, and even added new high-quality products. Others cut corners, reduced package sizes, and doubled down on starch heavy low nutrient foods that are inexpensive to produce (but still sell for high prices).
I’ve tried food from each and every emergency food company, both before and after the big shakeup that happened in 2020, and I’ll help you stock up with companies still consistently producing the highest quality food for a reasonable price.
I cover them all individually in detail, but if you’re looking for the quick version:
- Best Emergency Food Company: Valley Food Storage
- Best Nutrient Dense Emergency Food: Nutrient Survival
- Best Budget Emergency Food Kits: My Patriot Supply
- Best Emergency Pantry Ingredient Supplier: Emergency Essentials
- Best Easy to Prepare (Single Serving) Emergency Food: Mountain House
Best Emergency Food Company
In my opinion, and based on trying food from just about every company out there, the absolute best emergency food supplier is Valley Food Storage. Their products are high quality, taste great, and have convenient packaging.
Throughout 2020 and into 2021 they’ve maintained high quality, and even increased product offerings (like freeze-dried blackberries).
For a short time in spring 2020, they experienced backorders but they quickly increased production, and now most orders ship the same day.
I’ve done blind taste tests with friends and family, comparing their freeze-dried fruit head to head with other competitors and the flavor of their products stands out every time.
For prepared meals, I especially like their unique options, which will help break up the monotony of eating freeze-dried emergency meals. Flavors like Sweet and Sour Asian Rice keep things interesting.
Their Mango Habenero Chili is a favorite of mine, not too spicy, but just enough sweet heat to bring you back for more.
At this point, their buckets make up the bulk of my freeze-dried emergency food storage. The buckets stack beautifully, and since they’re square they store more compactly than regular round 5-gallon buckets.
If you’re looking to order something today for peace of mind, I’d suggest picking up one of their pre-packed emergency food kits.
It includes everything you’ll need to stay well-fed in the next emergency, be that next week, or 25 years from now.
Best Nutrient Dense Emergency Food
Nutrient Survival came on the market early in 2020 as a new emergency food supplier, and their food was specifically designed to be both nutrient-dense and delicious. Their website makes direct comparisons between their food and other popular emergency food suppliers (like Mountain House), comparing things like vitamins and protein content.
Their food is high in protein and nutrient fortified, and their meals include added Omega 3 fatty acids which are hard to come by in emergency food. Omega fats help the body fight inflammation and deal with stress, and I couldn’t imagine a better time to stock up on nutrients than in an emergency.
Looking at the nutrition label, I was impressed. Somewhere between 25 and 70% of the daily value of most nutrients in a single serving, plus more than 1400 mg of Omega fatty acids. My doctor recommended I take a pricey Fish Oil supplement that costs 50 cents a capsule, and it only delivers 1280 mg.
Not a bad bonus from your emergency food supply…
The downside is, they only offer a few different meals since they’re such a new company.
That said, I’ve tried every single one, and they’re all delicious.
I’d especially recommend:
- Emergency Cookie Meals ~ More like a protein bar, shaped and flavored like a cookie, each of these is a meal in itself. My kids love them, and they actually prefer them to regular cookies and ask for them at dessert time.
- Homestyle Scramble ~ A hearty mixture of scrambled eggs, hash browns, peppers, and seasonings, their homestyle scramble is one of my very favorite foods. Not favorite emergency foods…favorite foods. I keep a can in the pantry and use it as a quick meal when I’m on the run, and I’ve got a fully balanced protein-packed meal in minutes.
In 2021 they released single-serve packets of their foods, instead of just the bulk no. 10 cans. Single servings are more convenient but a bit more expensive.
They’re a good choice for single people, or those just trying to keep a few packets in their car, purse, or backpack as an emergency food supply.
A sampler pack with all their popular meals will allow you to try each one before committing to a large stockpile. Each one is just add boiling water and stir, so they’re especially easy to prepare.
Best Budget Emergency Supplies
Let’s face it, emergency food supplies can be expensive. It’s an investment in future food security, but sometimes all you want is a bit of peace of mind without breaking the bank.
The best budget emergency food supply is My Patriot Supply, which costs considerably less than most of the emergency food suppliers on the market.
Why? Their food needs to be cooked for 15 to 20 minutes to prepare, rather than the “instant” just add water options from more expensive suppliers.
The food still tastes great and lasts 25+ years in storage, and contains more than 2,000 calories per person per day. The offerings contain plenty of protein and they do not include sugary drinks to bulk out the calorie numbers.
- A One Month Emergency Food Supply (2,000+ Calories a day)
- Large Capacity Stainless Steel Water Filtration System
- Portable Solar Panel for Charging Devices
- Solo Stove (Rocket stove type, fueled by sticks & twigs)
- Portable Stainless Steel Dishes
I’ve tried each and every one of their meals and they’re all tasty. If anything, a bit heavy on the salt for my tastes, but I generally eat a low sodium diet. If you’re eating a regular diet I imagine you’d find them just right.
Best Emergency Pantry Ingredient Supplier
The most economical emergency food supply is one that is just regular food items such as beans, flour, and rice. Keeping a deep pantry will ensure you’re ready for any emergency, provided you have cooking skills (since the meals aren’t pre-packed for you).
Problem is, many of our favorite meals include perishable ingredients that just won’t last inside an emergency food supply. Things like eggs, milk, butter, meat, and cheese will not keep on the pantry shelf in the same way as dry beans and flour.
There are, however, emergency pantry supplies you can purchase that are shelf stable for extended periods and will allow you to mostly use your own stored food. They simply supplement in place of the perishable ingredients.
This includes things like powdered butter, powdered eggs, and powdered milk. Using those ingredients, I created my own just add water pancake mix that I keep in my pantry, along with just add water biscuit mix.
Since few people cook meals from scratch these days, most emergency food suppliers just focus on prepared meals. If you do have cooking skills, the best supplier for filling in the gaps in your home pantry is Emergency Essentials. They have the largest variety of freeze-dried ingredients, and they carry options that you just can’t get at any other provider.
- Cooking and Baking Essentials including butter powder, powdered whole eggs, dry milk powder, and even simple pantry staples like flour and sugar ready packed in pre-sealed no. 10 cans. While it’s definitely more cost-effective to buy and seal those yourself, it’s more convenient to purchase them ready to store in rodent-proof cans.
- Freeze Dried Vegetables make for quick just add water soup, casseroles, or simple side dishes that are shelf-stable for 25+ years and ready to go at a moment’s notice. They’re the only place that has freeze-dried tomato, which is perfect for a quick pantry pizza (topped with freeze-dried mozzarella).
- Ingredient Kits are perfect for people who know how to cook, and they bundle all the shelf-stable freeze-dried emergency food you’d need to create all manner of meals. For example, the Super Stew kit contains beef, tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes, corn, and tomato in individual no. 10 cans so you can create a meal using your favorite recipe.
They also carry prepared food from other suppliers. Including meals from My Patriot Supply, the best budget emergency food in my opinion, as well as Mountain House Meals, which are the best easy to prepare single-serving emergency food (discussed below).
Add in the fact that they also carry high-quality emergency supplies, and you have just about everything you could need in one spot.
Best Easy To Prepare Emergency Food
Mountain House has been providing freeze-dried emergency food and camping food for decades, but in 2019 and early 2020, they started shifting their focus towards convenience meals. They released a line of instant just add water smoothies and other single-serve lunch foods targeted at lunch meals in an office setting.
Long-term food supplies were removed from their website, and they stopped pushing no. 10 cans of food in favor of single-serve just add water convenience foods.
They did continue to produce (and promote) camping food but obviously envisioned their future as easy to prepare shelf-stable food to keep in your office drawer when you didn’t have time to pop out for lunch.
It makes sense, there are far more people stuck in desk jobs than there are out through hiking the Appalachian Trail or prepping for the next emergency, and they shifted focus to a larger market.
Then then the Kerfuffle of early 2020 happened, instead of shifting back towards emergency supplies they doubled down on camping food, trying to keep backpackers supplied (even though most people were shopping for emergency meals at that point).
Now in 2021, they again have some larger packs of emergency food available, but the ingredients lists have changed, portions have been cut and prices have gone up dramatically.
That said…They are still by far the most convenient emergency food. All their meals are made by just adding hot water directly to the packet and serving. Literally, all you need is boiling water and a spoon, and cold water will work in a pinch too.
I keep a small number of mountain house meals on hand for short-term emergencies (and backyard camping), but it’s just not economical to plan to eat mountain house food for more than a few days.
Good choices include:
- Mountain House Classic Bucket which includes some of their tastiest lunch and dinner meals.
- Mountain House Breakfast Bucket has a selection of breakfast items like scrambled eggs and sausage.
- Mountain House Emergency Meal Kits come in a variety of sizes from 3-day to 14-day kits.
- Mountain House #10 Cans are a good option for larger families, or if you have particular favorites. We love their Granola with Milk and Blueberries, so we keep a few large cans of it on hand.
Other Emergency Food Suppliers
So if those are the best, which are the worst?
I always warn against anything from Ready Wise, and will not support them because of their misleading advertising. In 2019 I when I wrote an article on the best survival food kits, and at that point in time, here’s what I had to say about wise food storage:
“While they do sell long-term emergency kits, but if you read the fine print, most only contain about 600 calories per person per day. A “one-month emergency food supply” doesn’t list total calories per day, just that you get 3 servings of food. The problem is, when you look at the individual nutrition labels, a single serving has about 200 calories. Saying 600 calories per day amounts to a 30-day kit is just a balled face lie, and I want nothing to do with a company that would lie to people that blatantly when it comes to their survival.
Their website is intentionally misleading, trying to hide the fact that their kits are short on calories, and they even insinuate that in a real emergency you should be eating 2 servings (ie. 400 calories) a day because who can expect 3 full meals in a crisis.
I don’t expect to be eating like a king, but for the amount of money these kits cost, 400 calories is pretty pathetic.”
They’ve recently rebranded and used to be called Wise Food Storage. They’ve also changed their advertising and labeling, and what used to be a “one-month food supply” is now called a “120 serving bucket,” and they increased the total calories slightly.
I’d call that a slight improvement in that at least they’ve removed the false claims, but their kits still cost 2 to 3 times as much per calorie as emergency food from other reputable companies. They’re still a high-cost, low-value option.
If you assumed that “120 servings” is portioned for a month, then you’d be at roughly 800 calories a day, and the kit costs around $250. A 30 day kit from My Patriot Supply also costs around $250, and includes over 2,000 calories per day. Ready-wise is still a horrible choice in my opinion.
I used to recommend Augason Farms as the true bargain-basement last resort option for emergency food. At that point, they sold a 30-day emergency food bucket with around 1,700 calories per day for about $100. You can’t put a month’s worth of calories in your body for any cheaper than that!
The thing is, the food is pretty horrible, and it’ll keep you alive…but you won’t be happy about it. If you’re just hoping to put something in your back closet for peace of mind, with the thought that you’re never going to have to eat this stuff short of an actual zombie apocalypse, then maybe.
Now in 2021 though, the price has doubled and they sell for a bit over $200 a bucket.
My Patriot Supply sells their 30-day bucket (with over 2,000 calories per day) for right around $250.
The bonus? Their stuff actually tastes good!
If you’re looking for the best budget emergency food, go with My Patriot Supply instead.
(Augason farms also sells pantry ingredients like freeze-dried vegetables and butter powder, and the quality is fine on those. Still, I’d recommend Emergency Essentials for pantry ingredients as their quality is top-notch and the price is better.)
Looking for more emergency supplies beyond just stocking your pantry?