Emergency food: it’s not something we think about often enough, but we should be. Whether you live in a storm-intensive area, you’re prepping for a worst-case scenario, or you simply enjoy being prepared for everything (and putting that anxiety to rest), you should have a source of survival food. We’ve reviewed the top ten best survival food kits to beef up that bug-out bag, and supply you and your family with ample nutrition and sustainable calories in an emergency situation. Let’s go over the best kits, and further explain what you should be looking for in a survival food kit, as well as break down your questions and concerns.
The Best Survival Food Kit
If you’re serious about this, there’s nowhere better to turn to than Sustain Supply Co. and their stellar solutions. Sustain Supply Co. Premium Emergency Survival Bag comes with everything you could need, and we mean everything. There’s a durable camping stove that comes alongside a set of bowls and utensils, and enough light sources to actually see what you’re doing in adverse conditions. There’s an LED lantern, four Cyalume SnapLights, and a flashlight for when you need to venture off on your own away from your impromptu campsite. There’s so much to this kit, and part of the reason that it stole our hearts is the pack that it comes in. We’re all sick and tired of easy-to-break plastic bins, which is why Sustain Supply Co. put this in a premium survival pack, which perfectly sustains you and another party member for 72 hours.
Designed to sustain two people for 72 hours
Includes light source and fire starter
One step up from standard first-aid kits, including gauze, medical gloves and guide
Comes with portable stove, lantern, utensils, and whistles
- BrandSustain Supply Co.
- Model 9-08400
- Weight21.4 pounds
Our top kit is nice, but if you’re not looking to dive deep into the world of prepping, you can start your precarious journey with Mountain House Essential Bucket. Just like you’d imagine, you get only the essentials: 32 servings of food mix that has a shelf life of approximately 30 years (more on shelf lives in our guide below). The thing about Mountain House is that they also guarantee the flavor for a 30-year duration, so if you’re prepping and a couple decades pass, this should still sustain you with a relatively good flavor. One issue that you commonly see with survival food kits is that they aren’t allergy-friendly, but Mountain House uses a very short list of allergens to allow nearly everyone in the house to eat from the Essential Bucket.
10-minute preparation time
Long-lasting flavor guarantee
Short list of allergens
32 servings (average 10 days for a solo user)
- BrandMountain House
- Weight3.92 pounds
You’ve seen tons of survival food kit ingredient lists at this point, and you must be wondering where all the “good” ingredients are. NorthWest uses an insane amount of care and caution when sourcing their products, ensuring that everything is vegan-friendly, kosher, non-GMO, and gluten-free. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a list of exclusions like this in other brands. They also don’t charge you an arm and a leg for this, so you can get this container of individual packages, with NorthWest Fork 30-Day Emergency Food Supply offering 90 servings and a 30-day supply of food, for the same price as many competitors who use filler products. NorthWest also guarantees a 10-year shelf life on this kit, and the flavor is set to last for just as long without changing. Make sure you also check our guide to the best emergency radio.
A full 30 days of sustainability (90 servings)
10+ year flavor and shelf life
Completely gluten-free recipes
Vegan, kosher, non-GMO sourced food from small farmers
- BrandNorthWest Fork
- Weight16 pounds
It doesn’t have to solely be about survival: you can also enjoy the meals in your survival kit. Augason Farms designed excellent dishes, such as creamy potato soup, mac and cheese, and cheesy broccoli rice (just to name a few) to actually entice your palette when you finally break into this 20-year shelf life container. There’s over 50,000 calories in this bucket to sustain you for a total of thirty days, 307 servings, and enough options to keep you excited about your next meal, even in adverse situations. Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply is also competitively priced against other top brand survival kits, while offering greater sustainability, and a 45-day meal plan if you really need to stretch your rations.
- BrandAugason Farms
You’re not just planning for a blackout or a small emergency: you’re planning to bug-out when you need to, and in those last-ditch effort situations, you can’t be expected to pop open a camping stove at every stop. That’s where Survival Tabs 8-Day Food Supply come into play, offering a ton of nutrition in small, ready-to-eat containers. Tear open a tab, and continuously eat without stopping on your trail. Survival Tabs include zero GMOs, no gluten in any of the8ir recipes, and focus on core nutrients that keep you moving without having to lug around an enormous container. The best part about Survival Tabs is that you can store the pouches in different bags or backpacking backpacks, so if you’re travelling with a party, you don’t have one designated walking food bank.
25-year average shelf life
Ready-to-eat food with no prep required
Non-GMO, gluten-free formulas
96 tabs for an 8-day supply of food
- BrandThe Survival Tabs
- Weight13.6 ounces
So the first Mountain House 72-hour pack isn’t your forte or in your price range: that’s okay, because they have an alternative, food-only solution. You get excellent meals designed by Mountain House, such as biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, chicken teriyaki and more, giving you a diverse palette throughout the day. With a short list of allergens and a whopping 30-year taste guarantee, you’re getting one of the longest-lasting emergency food kits that you can buy. Mountain House is a premium brand, so while the prices are comparable to other 3-day kits, the flavor and fulfillment of Mountain House 3-Day Emergency Food Supply is immeasurable next to competitors.
30-year taste guarantee
Short list of allergens while still packing a ton of protein
1,650 calories per day
Includes meals like biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese and more
- BrandMountain House
- Weight2.9 pounds
Emergency Zone created the perfect pack at a median price point that offers sustainability for all situations. With Emergency Zone Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug-Out Bag you’ll get 72 hours worth of food, while also receiving tools and sanitary products that last for much longer. There’s a Swiss Army Knife in the package, alongside a needle and thread, emergency whistle, compass, glow sticks, and even a deck of playing cards to help pass the time. With enough first-aid essentials for two-person use, you’ll be fully equipped to handle everything that life throws at you. There’s also a four-person kit option, and a two-person kit with an added dog emergency kit as well.
Full survival kit includes food and first-aid
Comes in a sturdy backpack with mesh lining for breathability
Comes with tools such as a Swiss Army Knife and personal water filter straw
Additional sanitation products like a razor and travel toothbrush
- BrandEmergency Zone
- Weight14.5 pounds
Wise Company Emergency Food Supply Kit offers an option of survival food for the carnivore in you, because many of their recipes include freeze dried meats. In this durable, light-blocking black pale, you get sixty servings of high-end meals, and nothing else. While some kits in this price range also include utensils and other items, the quality of food is the primary focus of this kit. There’s a 15-year shelf life on everything in the pale, each of which takes about fifteen minutes to prepare. You’ll also get a bonus twenty servings of white rice to accompany any dishes that you feel might be lacking.
15-year shelf life on all products
Total of 60 servings
20 bonus servings of white rice
Average 15-minute preparation time
- BrandWise Company
- Weight12 pounds
NutriStore Freeze Dried Ground Beef is more like an additive to other dishes, but works well in a pinch to deliver a high amount of protein with minimal effort required. NutriStore ensures that you’re only getting 100% USDA inspected (and microbe tested) ground meat, with a real flavor that doesn’t sink into the dish. One of the most common issues with adding freeze dried meat to any survival dish is that it often adds an odd flavor based on the freeze drying method and associated chemicals, but NutriStore simply adds the natural flavor of ground beef back into the dish without any distaste.
Excellent source of protein to bulk up other dishes
20 servings per container
Average 25-year shelf life
- Weight2.4 pounds
Last but not least, we have another all-in-one kit, this time from the Wise Company. You get a fairly durable backpack with a bit of protection against punctures (loose tools in the bag, for instance). This 5-Day Survival Kit gives you five days’ worth of sustainability in a SHTF situation, including first-aid essentials, food, and enough hygiene items to continue looking fresh. We don’t want that savage look, now do we? In this kit, you’ll also get a total of 32 different meals, six pouches of water, and a camping stove to tie everything together.
Complete survival solution for five days
Includes hygiene kit, Mylar blanket, poncho and other essentials
Highly durable backpack designed to withstand punctures
First-aid kit designed for minor use with room for expansion
- BrandWise Company
- Weight7.9 pounds
Survival Food Kit Buying Guide And FAQ
We’ve covered the best survival food kits, but now it’s time to talk about what makes them tick. You’re investing in survival and emergency equipment here, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. We’ve delved into your questions, and provided actionable answers you need to have the right peace of mind, and maintain an emergency stockade to protect you and your family with. Let’s talk about what you should be looking for.
Features To Look For In Survival Food Kits
Ease of Preparation – It’s about sustainability, and your rations are designed to help you keep fed on-the-go. If they’re difficult to prepare, then it’s not the best for a survival situation. In the event of a worst-case scenario, you have to be able to move often and only stop or rest when necessary. Ease of preparation also comes into play when you’re trying to pack light, and not bring too many tools or containers along with you.
Quality – Surviving doesn’t have to be hellish. Thirty years ago, you had plenty of highly processed-tasting dishes, but the quality of almost every survival food has come up thanks to recent food technology. That’s quality of taste, but the actual quality of the ingredients matters as well. The last thing you want in an emergency situation, is to find out you’re eating low-quality, bad-tasting dishes that just don’t cut it. It’s not going to increase morale, so keep a lookout for high quality ingredients and tastes.
Packed Size & Weight – Emergencies are never convenient, and neither is lugging a ton of weight on your back. If you’re travelling with a party, you’re especially at a disadvantage because you’ll be slowing the group down. Pay attention to how much space the packages are going to take up in your bag, and what amount of weight it’ll be adding to your carry load. Avoid packs that seem to overdo it on your plans, but also keep in mind that if you find a large kit that you really enjoy, you can customize it to fit your needs and reduce the carry weight in the process.
Storage – Quite simply put, this is just how much stuff you can stash in it. Some kits come with bags and containers, while others will simply come in a case that isn’t going to last you for very long. Storage isn’t a major issue here since you should have your own bag already set with additional items, but if you’re relying on the inclusive case to store everything, plan ahead accordingly.
Shelf Life – Higher quality meals can still have excellent shelf lives. There’s a difference between food being safe, and food being edible. Some kits will talk about twenty to thirty years of life expectancy, but in reality, they only last about five before the flavor disappears entirely and the food tastes horrible. This is where we use user reviews and personal experience to say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a majority of all kits purchased state longer shelf lives than they’re actually good for. If the food can be eaten in thirty years, then they’ll include it, but don’t count on these long shelf lives to taste good if you bust them out in a decade or two.
Nutritional Benefit & Calories – Nutrition is everything in these situations. You need to stay alert, energized, and at full vigor to brace for come what may. You’ll also have to intake a certain number of calories each day to sustain your energy and stave-off fatigue, while accounting for additional calories if your emergency plan includes a decent amount of movement on foot. It’s not about feeling full; it’s about having what you need to survive.
Number of Meals/Days Provided – These kits have to offer a lot of nutritional value, as we stated before. That means that you might not see quite as many meals per day as you’d like, because the focus is on what’s in the food over the quantity. Most kits can last you from three days up to seven, but of course you can expect a drastic price hike. The more days your kit sustains, the higher the cost. That being said, if you have a large party in your emergency plans, you’ll run out of food quickly if you don’t stock up on larger kits.
Variety of Meal Options – Nobody wants to eat the same stuff every day. You will if you need to, but you don’t have to do it. The kits we’ve provided come with excellent flavors that have you looking forward to your next ration instead of dreading it. You can expect high sodium contents in a lot of these kits as they mask high volumes of vitamins and minerals.
Survival Food Kit FAQ
Q: When is a survival food kit necessary?
A: Emergency food kits come in handy more often than people think. Hindsight is 20/20, so having a survival food kit at-the-ready is never going to be a bad thing, but these scenarios come to mind more than others:
- Blackouts: With a growing population, blackouts are becoming harsher and lasting for longer. Keep your fridge and freezer closed to try and preserve that hard-earned food, but in the meantime, bust open one of these kits and wait it out until the power companies restore everything.
- Stranded While Camping: This is one of the more likely scenarios. If you keep an emergency survival food kit in your pack, even a small one, it could be the difference between life and death if you get stranded or go missing. Search parties can take up to a week to find someone who’s stuck in a dangerous situation or has broken a bone and can’t move; no need to be hungry if this were to happen to you.
- Wildfires and Natural Disasters: We’ve seen more wildfires in the last decade than in the four preceding it. They’re bigger, badder, and they’re not the only problems. Hurricanes, Nor’easters, any highly catatonic weather conditions. If you think about it, you hear about another natural disaster or dangerous situation every other day.
- State of Emergency: Food shortages, contamination at local water processing plants, or matters of national security. We need to be prepared for everything that may happen.
- Terrorist Attack: While this isn’t on everyone’s radar, there’s been a ton of thwarted attack attempts on the United States power grids, as well as major areas surrounding cities. While Homeland Security does a pretty good job at keeping things in check, there’s always the possibility that we’ll fall under attack and be left to our own devices and emergency provisions.
Emergency food supplies are a necessity in any bug-out bag or home preparation kit. Whether you’re heading out or hunkering down, having a stockade is a must. As a bonus tip, if you’re truly planning for the worst and expecting to stay at home during it, you can grab multiple kits to create a longer lasting supply.
Q: What do i need to know about the ingredients?
A: Survival meals tend to have an abundance of protein to maintain muscle mass during strenuous activity. You’d be hard pressed to find a fully vegan ingredients list, though there are some that attempt to cater towards this diet type.
Ingredients (and meals) are freeze dried to maintain their shelf life. It’s very easy to underestimate just how much water you should be bringing along. All ingredients need to be activated with hot water, but using cold or room temperature water on them will usually result in a slightly off taste.
Survival food storage is the key to ensuring the ingredients last, as well. Since you’re looking at a lot of freeze-dried meat, you’ll find typical items like jerky and pork. Getting protein from alternate sources proves to be difficult, especially if you have allergies.
Protein can sometimes come from peanuts and tree nuts, which is a fairly common allergy in the United States. This is where you want to find kits that have certified nut-free or allergen-free facilities, so you can rest assured that you’re supplying the best nutrition and emergency food for your family.
Q: What are the different ways of cooking survival food?
A: There are an absolute ton of ways to cook emergency survival food. For a lot of the dishes you encounter in these kits, you’re going to need a way to boil water and place it in the pack, like you would with a cup of ramen noodles. Some other ways include makeshift grill, makeshift griddle, a spit and Earth ovens.
Q: What is the ideal calorie count?
A: It depends on your gender and current weight. To maintain body weight, women will need to eat between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day, whereas men require 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Reducing your daily calorie consumption by 25% can result in weight loss, and while the best survival food is designed to give you what you need, there’s a little trick that comes into play when you don’t consume the recommended daily number of calories.
You start metabolizing better, at least for a short amount of time. You can skip breakfast to endure a long fast, and eat your lunch and dinner at the appropriate times to stay on your feet. The best emergency food kits are going to have enough provisions for three square meals a day, but the myth of breakfast “jumpstarting your day” is just that: a myth. So long as you’re intaking the necessary nutrients to maintain proper brain and muscle function, you can skip breakfast (and as a result intake less calories) to feel better in the morning.
Q: What is the shelf life of a high-quality survival food kit?
A: There are differences between being edible, and being desirable. Some foods may last for five years, but generally speaking, should be consumed at the three-year mark. Always try to undercut the expiration date by 40% so you don’t have odd-tasting food. That being said, each individual food is different, so it’s important to go through your emergency meals and make a priority checklist of what will need to be replaced first. For example, dried corn lasts for ten or more years, but dried peas or lentils will only last for about four.
Some of the best survival food kits contain legumes, including different types of nuts and most types of beans. Those all sit at about a four-year shelf life as well. On average, your survival food kit should be good for about five or more years, given all the different foods that you can find within. Individual food items like dried oats, freeze-dried cheeses and meats, and powdered milk can last for fifteen to twenty years, so long as they aren’t mixed into an all-in-one meal packet with other items.
Q: Once the bag is open, how long will the food last?
A: Emergency food packs don’t have a lot of time once you’ve opened them. They’re preserved in intentional emergency food storage packets and methods, such as freeze drying and canning. Oxygen kills food, as will moisture. If you open a can of something that has a high moisture content, it’s going to expire faster than freeze-dried food.
On average, a bag of dried survival food has about a three month to one-year life cycle if stored properly when not being eaten. If you add dehydrated or freeze-dried food into a dish that includes moisture or needs to be cooked, treat it like you would barbeque leftovers. A few days tops, then it’s in the garbage can.
Q: Where should i store survival food?
A: Survival food packs need to be stored in a cool, dry area. We always hear the same line there, but nobody ever tells us where to store it. If you have a mostly concrete garage, build some shelves and put them in the corner, provided that their air conditioning runs into the garage as well. If not, find a corner in your basement, and whenever you touch the thermostat, always keep that survival food in mind. We want to avoid building moisture on the outside of the container, as it can sometimes seep in and spoil the food. If possible, put survival food packs in large, air tight plastic containers as well.