The Ultimate Survival System is the only survival kit platform that allows you to have complete control over the design, quality and cost of your Bug-Out Bag. Our proprietary survival systems are designed by Survivalists for Survivalists and have been tested and proven in the harshest of terrains.
When you buy a Ultimate Survival System you are not only buying quality, you are buying experience. We tap into a collective of survival experience when designing and testing each system to ensure they do exactly what they are supposed to do, keep you alive.
All of our Bug-Out Bag Systems are built with double and triple redundancy on "mission critical" items like water, fire and shelter. Redundancy and scalability is just one of the many thought processes that go into each and every Ultimate Survival Systems; which is why they are the renowned favorite survival kit of military operators and police officers across America.
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Pro Series Bugout Bags are America’s best selling and top rated bugout bag system. Our proprietary survival systems are designed by Survivalists for Survivalists and have been tested and proven in the harshest of terrains, which is why they are the renowned favorite survival kit of military operators and police officers across America.
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Pro-Light Bugout Bags are the tighter and lighter versions of our Pro Series Bugout bags. All Pro-Light Bugout Bags weigh less than 21lbs. The biggest difference between the two being the absence of potable water and the backpack (Condor Convoy 169) which is about half the weight and size as the packs in our Pro Series 125 bags.
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Our two person bug out solutions are based on our Pro Series Bug out Bags, and are available in six different levels as well. Our bug out bags for two People are the perfect bug out solution that offers everything 2 people need when getting out of dodge without item duplication.
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Our four person bug out solutions, called "Expedition Kits" are specifically designed for a Family of 4. These kits have fixed equipment levels and differ by the amount food storage that is included in each kit. Expedition Kits offer everything that a family of 4 needs to safely bug out contained in 4 MOLLE backpacks.
The 5 Golden Rules of Buying Food Storage:
Having been in the survival business since 2008 we have seen a lot of food storage companies come and go; as well as a lot of different marketing techniques.
These strategies can leave the consumer guessing on which way to turn when considering food storage for their family. So, being self proclaimed food storage experts, we decided to put together a short tutorial to help shed some light on the subject.
If your new to this, depending on how much food storage you intend to buy, this tutorial can save you a lot of money. We pull no punches, everything is laid on the table. First read the Five Golden Rules, this will give you the broad strokes, after that you can continue reading the full tutorial to become a Survival Food Ninja!
Survival Food Buying Guide – Click Here to Read
5 Golden Rules of Buying Food Storage
1. Food Storage really is an Investment.
How much was a loaf of bread twenty five years ago? How much is a loaf of bread today? How much will a loaf of bread cost in twenty five years? Your grandparents could not have imagined spending $2.50 – $3.50 on a loaf of bread like we do today. We, like our grandparents, also have a hard time imagining paying $6.50 – $7.50 a loaf twenty five years from today, but it is a reality.
If you spend $500 today on food storage today, how much will the caloric value of that food be worth in twenty five years? Easily twice its value. Is your 401k performing that well?
For this reason I always tell people, who ask me about which food storage company they should buy, to buy the food that looks and tastes the best to you, regardless of the price. Well of course I am going to say that, right? I’m in the business of selling food storage! Fair enough, but follow my reasoning for just a minute.
This is a fact: You will eat your food storage before you die, or you will die before you eat your food storage. Kind of blunt huh? This is the foremost thing that should be on your mind when buying food storage. Just imagine investing hundreds, or thousands of dollars into food storage today; are you going to simply chunk it into the garbage on year 25? Of course not, you will eat it. That is unless you open it and it’s inedible, or you’re dead.
The vast majority of people buy food storage with the mind-set that it may never be used, which simply isn’t true. This thought process has the tendency to have them to gravitate towards the cheapest lesser known off-brands. If you taste the food of these off-brands, right now as soon as you buy it, the taste is bland to barely palatable. Think about what this food will taste like in 25 years. I’ll give you a hint …. "not good."
So if you are alive in 25 years, the $300 that you spent on cheap off-brand food will most likely go into the garbage. Alternatively, had you spent $400 on quality food that tastes good, you will have saved over $500. This is because your food storage is now worth an estimated $800, PLUS you can actually eat it as part of your regular diet! I wish car insurance worked this way!
2. Be Skeptical of Time Estimates and Servings.
Other than quality, serving sizes are probably the biggest problem, that you will encounter. Serving sizes are subjective and differ greatly from company to company. Food producers have been playing hard & fast with portion sizes and servings since they figured out how to package and market food products; long-term food producers are no different.
Smaller portions equal lower costs, which means that they can sell their “xxx serving bucket” for less money than their competitors can. Then, all they have to do is market their product by the servings (i.e.1500 Servings for $999) instead the actual contents of the package because the lower priced packages always win in this scenario.
If you buy food storage packages that are advertised by the “serving” you will most likely get too little food and spend too much money. Each food supplier and retailer has a totally different idea about how long their food storage should last the “average person.”
If you buy food storage based on the time recommendation (we actually offer this option) you will most likely burn through your supply much sooner than their recommendations unless that company lists calorie counts to prove their claims. If you are looking at food storage that does not list the total calorie count, you are paying too much.
3. Who is This Company?
If you haven’t heard of the brand, it’s probably for a reason. There are only a handful of true-blue freeze dried food producers. The rest are simply companies that “white label” their chosen brand names through mass dehydrated food producers.
These companies are marketing companies masquerading as a food company. If you read our blog you will see that we are no fan of these types of companies. They buy their ingredients from the cheapest sources, who use overseas suppliers and then have their products assembled in a thin mylar bag and throw in an oxygen absorber.
These companies could care less about the quality of their product or your satisfaction. 98% of all companies selling food storage have been in business for less than 10 years, 95% less than 5 years. So, how do they really know that their product will be edible in 25 years? Will they be in business in 25 years?
If you pick one of these companies, do your homework on who produces their food for them. Seriously, this is a HUGE problem in the industry. Many brands open to sell “cheap food storage” then simply change their name when bad reviews and customer complaints mount.
How often do you eat the recommended servings on the food that you prepare right now? If you’re like me, not very often. So, it goes to reason, if you buy your emergency food storage by the serving, should you ever need it, someone is going on a diet, or you are going to burn through your food preps much quicker than you had anticipated.
Think about this, when you buy groceries, do you buy food based on how many servings each product has, or do you buy the amount of food that your family actually eats?
Calories do not lie, marketers do. If you compare the total amount of calories that you are buying in each package you will be able to accurately judge how long your food storage will last and better compare the true cost of the food. Do not buy a food storage package that does not list the total calories for that package! We get into this in detail below.
Once you've established that there are enough calories for your family in an emergency food, the next step is to make sure that the calories are good calories and not just fillers. Some readymade food storage packages are advertised as having 400 calories per serving, but then the majority of the calories come from things like drinks and desserts packed with sugar, or filler foods like shortening and butter.
Cheap fillers like these will not sustain a person or family in an emergency situation. It's better to look for calories that are made from real food that is nutritious and calorie-dense all on its own.
5. TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is Not the Same as Meat
A lot, I would say most, long-term food storage suppliers purposely create all of their main entrees to be vegetarian in order to appeal to a larger audience. They then offer freeze dried meats sold separately as add-on packages to supplement the vegetarian food entrees.
In order to give these vegetarian entrees the texture of real meat they use a meat substitute, TVPs (textured vegetable proteins.) I actually don’t have a problem with TVP’s except, when comparing products. TVP’s cost a lot less than using real meat which means products, like Mountain House, that use real meat in their products will appear to be more expensive than the ones using the meat substitute.
When in fact, If you were to include the cost of adding the meat package add-on to the vegetarian entrees you would see the prices line up to be much closer than it appears. Also, it is important to note: that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) only inspects food storage companies that use real meat in their meals.
Emergencies are real It’s easy to forget what a fragile way of life we live and how dependent we are on the technological conveniences of modern life. Most of us have free-flowing water at our fingertips, electricity and power that feed directly into our homes, and grocery stores around the corner with shelves filled with row after row of fresh food to be had 24 hours a day.
But take one look at the news–the natural disasters that are occurring with increasing frequency and severity, the political unrest that constantly rages in countries across the globe, the economies failing all around us–and we are reminded that our system is not infallible. Indeed, it is a fragile system on which we rely, a little like an elaborate structure made out of dominoes–one single domino’s shift will send the whole thing crashing down.
It’s no surprise, then, that more and more people are getting educated on emergency preparedness. These people know that in an emergency situation, we cannot rely on governments or other people to provide for the needs of our families.
The only way to be sure that we and our loved ones will be taken care of in an emergency is to get prepared on our own. If we want to be able to meet our own and our families’ needs in a crisis, having a sufficient store of emergency food is a crucial first step.
But anyone who has begun to store emergency food knows that there is an overwhelming amount of conflicting and confusing information on the web about what to store, how much to store, and how to store it. In this book, we hope to provide some basic knowledge that will allow you to make the best choices for you and your family when building up a storage of emergency food.
Specifically, we will discuss common questions about how much food to store, the importance of storing healthy and tasty food, the benefits and risks of different types of food storage, and how best to store what you’ve bought.
Survival Food Packaging
Most food storage providers offer two different types of long term food storage packaging, the shorter shelf-life “cook in pouch” meals and the longer term variety that is stored in larger mylar bags or #10 cans.
All long-term food storage is packed in Mylar bags or #10 cans with oxygen absorbers added. The larger, more reputable providers use a nitrogen flushing system when packing their product to ensure all of the oxygen is gone before sealing.
The biggest difference between the 25 year food storage and cook in pouch meals is the thickness of the mylar bag that is used in the packaging process, unless they are canned. One package you pour water into the pouch, and the other longer life packages you pull your food from the pouch or can and cook it in a separate container.
There is no difference in how the food tastes. In fact, the only real difference is that you will usually see slightly larger serving sizes in the cook in pouch meals, which I assume is due to their extensive use by campers and hikers.
Cook in pouch containers are most commonly found in the 3 – 7 day emergency kits and typically have about half the shelf life (usually 7 -10 yrs.) than the foods packaged in the thicker Mylar bags and cans.
Most 25 year food storage is packed in 10 – 12 serving size Mylar pouches or cans. One disadvantage to these larger serving containers is that you may find yourself only needing to cook a portion of the food in each container.
Therefore, you need to reseal the rest in a zip-lock bag or other airtight container. The newest marketing trick is the promotion of the re-sealable mylar bags, which is pretty handy, however useless in the inference that it allows you to extend the life of the food storage, once air hits any food storage you are on a 10 – 15 day clock for spoilage.
I have to admit that I like the cook in pouch meals better based on their ease of use. However, they are also much more expensive and should be just a small fraction of the overall picture when long term food storage planning.
You can always pick up and add some “emergency cook in pouch kits” to your long term food storage preps from time to time. You can find these small kits on sale everywhere, online retailers use them as loss leaders to attract larger purchasing buyers.
This way, you have the ease and comfort of the “cook in pouch” bags for short term emergencies and the larger Mylar bags to use for extended emergency situations.
Note: If you are preparing a bug-out strategy, I highly advise that you consider the “cook in pouch” solution for bugging out, unless your bug-out location has a fairly easy place to prepare meals.
#10 Cans vs. Mylar Bags
The biggest brouhaha in packaging revolves around #10 Cans vs. Mylar bags inside of Buckets. Two of the three companies we carry use Mylar bags inside of buckets (Legacy and Wise) and Mountain House uses #10 cans inside of boxes.
The world’s largest freeze dried food producer, Mountain House, packages all of their long-term food in #10 cans (coffee cans) with re-sealable plastic lids. The world’s largest survival food company, Wise Company Foods, packages all of their products inside of re-sealable Mylar bags, this has become the industry norm.
The physical difference between the buckets and cans is obvious; however, in study after study after study after study …. (a lot of studies) at least one study per year, Mountain Houses’ canning process proves itself to be superior in the amount of oxygen that is allowed to seep into the food over time. In fact, they have never lost in this comparison test verses mylar bags.
With that being said, I wouldn’t let that influence my decision. If you are buying from a reputable company that nitrogen flushes their products prior to packaging, the difference is minimal. The real difference will be on year 30 after the mylar bags are out of date by 5 years. If you decide to eat some expired stock … this is where you would rather have the cans.
Mountain House regularly opens 30 – 40 year old cans of food to prove that they are still edible. In fact, they are the ONLY food storage company that can open a 25 year old sample to prove that their food is still good to eat after 25 years. Every other company is still measuring 5 – 10 year old samples and doing the math to back up their claims.
But, the math s pretty solid. Basically they measure the amount of oxygen that is allowed to seep into a mylar bag over a measured time frame. Once they get these readings they can usually accurately predict how long the food will remain edible.
Other things to consider is the container’s practicality and after-life usefulness.
For instance, if you are in a bug-out situation you may want to lean towards the buckets due to the fact that they are easily carried and stacked. Buckets stack vertically as opposed to horizontally, so they take up more ceiling space than real estate. It’s also VERY nice to have 4 gallon buckets left for other valuables or for water or sanitary uses.
However, if you are “bugging in” and you don’t plan to bug-out, you may want to consider the #10 cans sold by Mountain House. All of MH’s long-term food comes in stackable #10 cans with re-sealable plastic lids stacked into boxes.
Bottom line, stock Corvettes are faster than stock Mustangs … both are pretty dang fast … take your pick.
How Much Food Do I Need?
This is usually the first hurdle you have to conquer, and it’s really a gut call. The short answer is: as long as your food supply has a long shelf life, and you are rotating and eating your rotated food, you can never have too much stored food.
Well of course I’m going to say that, I’m in the business of selling long term food storage, right?
When choosing an emergency food to store, the most important rule to remember is to go by calories, not by “serving.” Emergency food companies have different definitions for what constitutes a serving, and emergency food kits are not one-size-fits-all, even though they may be advertised that way. The first step in establishing a good food storage supply is to figure out how many calories you and your family need to survive for the length of time you would like to be supplied for.
Each person’s body has a base amount of calories it requires just to perform basic functions, like pumping blood, breathing, and performing cellular work. Nutrition experts call the amount of calories a body needs to maintain its current condition the basal metabolic rate.
Even if you are not performing any physical activity, your body requires this amount of calories to maintain its current state. There are many different factors that affect a person’s basal metabolic rate, so it would require a lot of time and testing to determine an exact amount of calories that an individual person would need to survive.
The American Council on Exercise gives a simple formula to calculate roughly how much an average person needs to survive: Adult males should multiply their weight by 12; Adult females should multiply their weight by 11(1).
So if you are an adult female and weigh 140 pounds, your bmr would be roughly 1540 calories per day. Keep in mind that this formula calculates the amount of calories a person would need just to survive in his/her current state while performing no physical labor.
In a true emergency situation, you may have a much greater need for calories because of the extreme physical exertion and high stress that may be involved. The bmr is only a starting point. It is a good idea to gather at least that many calories for the people in your family and then work up from there.
A good goal is to shoot for 2000-2500 calories per person. Once you figure out how many calories your family will need in a day, you then need to decide how many months’ worth of food you will stock up on.
To some extent this time period is dictated by personal preference. Obviously, the longer period of time you are supplied for, the better, but most people can’t afford to go out and buy a year’s worth of food right now.
The best recommendation is to start where you can. Build up a three- month supply first. Once you have this, work up to a six-month supply, then a year. Keep your food storage supply as big as you want it to be to feel safe and able to provide for your own in a disaster.
We recommend that you break your food preps up into three different categories:
Short Term Food Storage – Regular grocery store food. We suggest that you increase your food budget for the next 6 – 12 months in order to build your usual pantry items (primarily dry and canned goods) up so that they last for at least seven to fourteen days.
Try to store these extra preps in a separate pantry if possible, and then rotate your groceries between the two pantry areas. This way, in short term emergencies your family can continue to eat the same types of foods that they are accustomed to eating.
Medium Term Food Storage – Self Canned food, purchased canned food, and other long shelf life dried goods like pasta, rice, beans etc. We feel that you should have at least 6 months of these types of food preps stored. Medium term food storage should include the same types of foods that your short term food storage has.
Each month you should rotate food from your Medium Term Food Storage pantry to your Short Term Food Storage and replenish those food items that you rotated to your Short Term Food Storage pantry.
Long-Term Food Storage – Freeze dried foods, this is where we come in. The amount of food that you purchase here is directly related to how well you have completed the first two categories. Meaning, if you haven’t put a short and medium term food plan into place yet, then the Long Term Food Storage will have to serve for all three until you can afford the time and money to set your pantries up.
If this is the case, we suggest that you buy as much as your budget allows of long term food storage for each member of your family. This is because you will most likely be depleting your food supply during short term emergencies.
If you do have short and medium term food provisions, we believe that you should have 3 – 6 months of Long Term Food Storage available for long term disasters and bug-out situations. (A bug out situation is when you need to move yourself or your family to a different place due to security or environmental reasons.)
If you and your family are “bugging out,” having the ability to carry a 6 month food supply with you is priceless!
We realize that most people who are considering buying Long Term Food Storage are doing so on a budget. This being said, we feel that you should begin by purchasing a small amount of long-term food storage (20 Yr. shelf life or more) for each member of your family.
Calories vs. Servings
How often do you eat the recommended servings on the food that you prepare right now? If you’re like me, not very often. So, it goes to reason, if you buy your emergency food storage by the serving, should you ever need it, someone is going on a diet, or you are going to burn through your food preps much quicker than you had anticipated.
Think about this; when you buy groceries, do you buy food based on how many servings each product has, or do you buy the amount of food that your family actually eats?
How many calories do you eat each day? The USDA bases all studies and statistics on a 2000 calorie per day diet. And by a vast majority, we all eat around 2000 calories a day.. So why do the Survival Food Producers and our competitors offer their pre-packaged food packages based on an average of 1300 calories a day?
Simple, it makes the food packages seem less expensive and helps them sell more food packages. If they sell 30,000 calorie package as a one month package they can sell their packages for a lower price. (30,000 calories is a two week supply at 2000 calories a day)
When you are choosing an emergency food supplier, it is vital to look at how many calories are in what the supplier calls a serving. One of the big marketing ploys that some food storage companies use is to advertise that they have the cheapest prices on a cost-per-serving basis without mentioning what their serving sizes are. When you take a look at their serving sizes, they are not enough to live on.
For example, a company might advertise that it only charges $1.25 per serving, but the serving sizes are only 220 calories. There aren’t too many people who would consider 220 calories a complete serving. Similarly, a food storage company might offer what they label a six-month food supply that supposedly offers three servings a day.
If you look closer, though, these servings are, again, often only 200 calories or so apiece, making that somewhere around 600 calories a day that you are supposed to be able to live on for six months.
This is not even enough caloric intake for a child, so basically you and your family would be starving for six months. This is not how you want to be living in an emergency situation. Check the amount of calories in a serving size and buy according to your caloric needs. Make sure the calories are good calories Once you’ve established that there are enough calories for your family in an emergency food, the next step is to make sure that the calories are good calories and not just fillers.
Some readymade food storage packages are advertised as having 400 calories per serving, but then the majority of the calories come from things like drinks and desserts packed with sugar, or filler foods like shortening and butter. Cheap fillers like these will not sustain a person or family in an emergency situation. It’s better to look for calories that are made from real food that is nutritious and calorie-dense all on its own.
Some retailers like to advertise the servings when selling food packages i.e. “3 servings per day” for 30 days.” Sounds like a good deal right? But what if those servings are only one cup, or less? And they most likely are. This means you and your family have to live on three skimpy servings per day. For example: 1 cup of eggs, 1 cup of soup and a half of a cup of any side dish. That’s what three servings a day will get you.
To my point, isn’t the whole point of buying food storage to protect yourself and your loved ones? When, and if, you EVER need to use your food storage, having the amount of food that everyone typically eats. or at least a good three meals is much preferred to blowing through a 240 serving bargain-bucket in half the time you had expected.
Why are you looking at food storage and reading my boring article right now? Because it is your job to make sure you adequately protect your family and you are a good provider. Don’t rely on a food company executive to do that for you.
Easy Math …
If Dad eats 2000 calories a day, Mom eats 1800 and little Susie eats 1400, your family has a daily caloric intake of 5200 calories. If you want to protect them for 30 days it’s:
Be prepared for sticker shock though. Once you begin to look at the actual calorie counts, food storage packages will start to seem more expensive. This is because you are buying the food that you need, as opposed to their extra large box of corn flakes that is only filled half way to the top. A word of warning: if you are looking at food storage packages that do not list the total calorie counts, there is a 95% chance you are being duped.
Let’s review. First, decide how many calories you and your family need per day at the very least to survive. Then do some research and find out how many calories come in a serving or in a package of different brands of emergency food.
Find the best prices you can on a per-calorie basis, rather than a per-serving basis. Last, make sure the calories you are storing come from nutritious, real food rather than filler ingredients that do not provide real sustenance.
Food Storage: The Hard Way or Easy Way?
The cheapest way (some argue it’s the best) to build your food preps is by YOU PACKAGING your own staples like rice, beans and other dried items like veggies and fruit. You would need to purchase and use Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and 5 gallon food grade buckets.
After that, you simply buy these items in bulk and seal them into the desired proportions. If you want to ensure their longevity, you should use nitrogen to flush the oxygen out of the Mylar bags before you seal them. Then to bolster your preps, you should do some home canning of your family’s favorite veggies, meats, meals, sauces or recipes.
You can also build your preps from an A La Carte perspective where you buy in bulk items like dried beans, rice, flour and dairy. Storing the basic building blocks to all types of dishes so you can make what you want when you need.
The problem with this strategy is storing large amounts of beans, rice and flour will have to be done in relatively small to medium containers so that when you open them in the future you have time to use it all before it spoils.
Food stored over time in an oxygen free environment spoils in 10 – 15 days after opening. So if you store all of you flour in a four gallon container and open it up 5 years from now …. you will have to bake a lot of cakes before it all goes bad.
Here’s the Rub
This conundrum eats away at every man or woman who buys long term food storage: We all know that we can and should build our food storage from scratch so that we can save money and build a custom and inexpensive food storage system for us and our family, and in our mind’s eye, one day we will. However, for right now, we’d just rather buy it, and this makes us feel guilty.
If you think about it, BUYING your food preps as opposed to BUILDING them you are basically paying someone else to package and preplan your food storage for you. This the perfect solution for the person who is too busy or too lazy to build their own food plans.
My editor told me to remove the “too lazy” reference above because it may offend someone or turn them off to buying our products.
However, I stand by it, basically because I fall into the too “lazy” category. I work long days, and I really do not want to spend my days off, weekends and evenings packing Mylar bags and canning tomatoes. I could, but, I really don’t want to be the dude on doomsday preppers who wakes in the morning and lives to turn a termite farm into an edible food food solution.
And that my friends, is laziness. Justified laziness, but lazy all the same. So what’s wrong with protecting my family with the stroke of a check? Nothing, the crime is doing nothing. I rest my case.
What to Store … Ingredients Matter.
Some “experts” in emergency preparedness will tell you that the quality of the food you store doesn’t matter, as long as you have food stored and it is food that will last for a long time without spoiling. The logic is something along the lines of you’ll eat anything if you’re hungry enough.
It is probably true that it’s better to have something stored than to have nothing; however, in an emergency more than any other time, it’s crucial to be filling your body with nourishing ingredients that will keep you in top form rather than ingredients that could leave you susceptible to sickness and less-than-ideal mental and physical health.
If your motive in building up food storage is to protect your family, then truly protect your family–from starvation and also from sickness and disease that can be caused by harmful ingredients in food.
With that said, emergency food is made to last a long time. In order to make their foods last, some emergency food companies cut corners and add a variety of artificial preservatives, dyes, and flavors to their emergency foods.
This is an important thing to watch out for when selecting your food storage. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you look around.
Avoid hydrolyzed yeast extract and similar flavorings Hydrolysed yeast extract is a controversial ingredient found in many packaged foods and very commonly in food storage items. It is primarily used as a flavor-enhancer and is created by breaking down yeast cells.
The FDA classifies yeast extract as a natural ingredient, but according to many health experts, yeast extract is a cheaper alternative to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and actually does contain some MSG.(2) Some health and consumer advocates go so far as to say that labeling something as containing yeast extract is just an underhand way food companies can get around saying that a product contains MSG.(3) Most people have heard the negative press about MSG.
Consumption of MSG has been linked to a variety of scary conditions, including headaches, numbness in the face and neck, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, weakness, appetite control problems, and a host of other negative symptoms.(2) It’s not an ingredient to mess around with, especially not in food that is supposed to sustain you in an emergency.
Even if you don’t believe all the negative press about yeast extract and MSG, added flavorings like yeast extract are simply unnecessary in food packaging, and consuming emergency foods that contain added flavorings and preservatives would only expose you to more risks in what would presumably already be a risky situation.
To be safe, look for emergency foods that are free of hydrolysed yeast extract and other artificial additives. For a good list of other additives that are linked to MSG, check out the following articles: Look for GMO-free foods An equally important consideration to make when looking for emergency food is to be sure it is free of genetically modified ingredients.
Genetically modified foods are another controversial topic in the world of food and nutrition. Genetically modified organisms are created by taking the genetic material of one organism and inserting it into the genetic code of another organism. This bold practice is becoming more and more widespread but is widely acknowledged as a risky and understudied process.
Many experts opposed to genetically modified foods argue that despite the increasing insertion of GMO ingredients into mainstream foods, there has not been adequate testing on human subjects and there are still too many unknowns about the health effects these human-engineered foods could have.
Some health groups, like the Center for Food Safety, have gone so far as to claim that genetically modified foods can increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression, and even cancer.(4) Why put your family at risk with ingredients that are untested when you will have an abundance of other worries in a survival situation?
Because the use of genetically modified food is becoming such a widespread practice in manufactured foods, very few emergency foods are free of GMO ingredients.
However, there are a few companies that produce emergency foods that are GMO-free. If this is an issue that is important to you, when choosing food, check to be sure that the emergency food is CERTIFIED GMO-free.
Some companies may claim to be free of genetically- modified ingredients, but without the certification, there is no proof. Other ingredients to be wary of Other health considerations you may want to make are to check for amounts of cholesterol, trans fat, and sodium.
Packaged foods often have high amounts of these three things, and emergency foods are no exception. Some high-quality emergency food brands are conscientious about their amounts of cholesterol, trans fat, and sodium, but you have to read the labels to be sure. Make sure your food storage ingredients will stand the test of time
While still being healthy, emergency food, of course, needs to be able to last. As you look for the right emergency food for you, be aware that some food storage companies haven’t done their research when it comes to ingredients that keep.
As a result, they incorporate ingredients into their emergency food that go bad after a relatively short period of time. Canola oil, for example, will only last a year before it goes rancid, thus spoiling whatever food storage it is used in. Amateur food companies who don’t know better will use canola oil in their granola to make the clusters stick together. Uneducated food buyers end up with a worthless product after just a year.
Consider preparation requirements Another important aspect of emergency food to take into consideration is the preparation of different types of food storage. Many food storage options are based on the assumption that when you use them you will have power and a method of cooking. Some examples of these options are bulk dry items like grains and legumes. It is possible that power will be available in an emergency situation, but often natural disasters involve the loss of power for periods of time.
Think through what conditions might be like if you are forced to live off of your food storage and have no power or electricity. Baking bread and using your wheat may be difficult to do. Unless you have alternative cooking methods, heating water and boiling anything will be impossible. For these reasons, you may want to consider starting with easy-to-prepare meals as a foundation for your food storage.
Meals that are ready to eat or meals that only require water to be ready are some examples. These options might be much more feasible in a crisis situation. The bottom line is that it’s important to know what goes into your food storage food. You are taking the time to buy emergency food; why not also take the time to do some research on the food you are buying to be sure it will contribute to the health and well- being of you and your family in a disaster.
Emergency-preparedness gurus often publish lists of specific items you need to store for an emergency. One popular guideline goes something like this: For a year’s worth of food storage, each person needs 350 pounds of grain, 75 lbs of milk, 65 lbs of sugar, and so on. These types of specific food guidelines can be a helpful starting point; however, if these are not the kinds of foods you eat regularly, these are not what you should store.
Store food you regularly eat.
This principle cannot be overstated. Store food that your family enjoys together often. In times of disaster, when so many other adjustments in daily life are required, having food routines that carry over from life before will make hard situations easier to adjust to.
When you were a kid, do you remember ever going over to a friend’s house to eat dinner? Even if it was a close friend, everything about the dinner seemed alien to you–the way they folded their napkins, the saltiness of their gravy, the smells of the food cooking that were so different from the smells in your own kitchen at home at dinnertime. Little differences like this mattered and affected your comfort level in the home. Eating food from different cultures can sometimes put us in this situation too.
Routine, especially where food is concerned, can be powerful in an emergency situation. Food affects the way we feel, and if it is unfamiliar, it can be hard to stomach and make an unfamiliar, scary situation that much worse.
Many food storage suppliers offer entree options that are familiar favorites in most families, like macaroni and cheese, enchiladas, chili, and the like. Look around at what options are available to you and make selections based on what you know your family already eats on a regular basis.
Store food that tastes good.
At first glance, taste might not seem a very important consideration as you are collecting emergency food. It’s easy to justify buying food storage that is not palatable and saying to ourselves, “It will be an emergency. Whether I like the food I’m eating or not will be the least of my worries.” However, making sure your food storage is appealing to you and your family is more important than it initially seems.
There is something to be said for having food that tastes good and makes you feel comfortable, especially in an emergency situation. Again, if you have kids, buying good-tasting food is even more important. Kids are picky eaters. If you are desperate to get your child to eat his dinner on a regular night at the dinner table, think of the multiplied desperation you are going to feel in an emergency situation trying to get your child to eat.
It’s not just about preferences, either. In emergency situations, kids in particular have a hard time forcing themselves to eat something, especially if the food does not taste good. On the other hand, if the food is something your child loves, it can be a real help when times are bad. Food that is familiar and tastes good to us has the power to make us feel comfortable and relaxed and cared for, even in stressful situations.
Don’t Forget the Treats.
A commonly-overlooked aspect of food storage is the idea of storing a few luxury items, things that you are used to having and would not like to do without. These items might be things like coffee or chocolate or other specialty foods that are part of your routine. Having luxury items may not seem to matter much, but don’t underestimate the power of a simple treat in a survival situation.
It might simply be good for morale, but it could also be a valuable bartering item should things come to that. Mostly, having little treats stored can make life in an emergency more liveable. Food storage can be a big purchase. Take the time to figure out what food you and your family will eat comfortably. An emergency is not the time to try new foods, and it’s also not the time to force your family to eat food they do not like. Food should be a comfort in bad situations, not a negative factor adding to the stress.
Food Storage Packages (Not Packaging)
If purchasing long-term food storage is part of your food prepping plan, you should understand how the packages break down. Even though I preach “buy the calories” food storage producer’s package their products by the serving.
The most common thing you will notice is how they are sold, by the serving. Almost all food companies, except Mountain House, offer packages in the following serving sizes: 120, 240, 360, 720, 1440, 2160, 2880 and 4320 serving packages.
Why do they all use these serving sizes? Besides the easy math, I can only speculate. My guess is that it has something to do with saving money on packaging and shipping.
120 = (1) 4 gallon bucket
Meal Plans, Packages & Kits
Wise, Survival Cave and Legacy are sold in the denominations stated above, as well as most of the other food storage companies out there. The 120 serving bucket is the base for all of the other packages. Meaning, all of the larger packages are merely duplicates of the 120 serving bucket, i.e. 120 x 2 = 240.
These types of food packages are most often sold in denominations of time, or by the serving; for example, “12 month supply” or “720 serving meal package.” These buckets are almost always comprised of entrees and breakfasts.
If you’ve read our “Buy Calories not Serving” section you know that we are no fan of selling emergency food storage packages by the serving. It’s confusing at best, and downright dishonest in some cases. If you didn’t read it, please go back and do so.
Single Item Staples & A La Carte Items
Each of our companies offer “sides” to compliment these packages, and they are usually sold in the same type of buckets that the meal packages are sold, 120, 240, 360, etc. They range from staple rice and bean buckets to extravagant freeze dried fruits and sauces.
It’s important to note that freeze dried staples, meats, fruits and veggies are all sold by the serving. This is because these items are classified as “add-on packages” to the complete meal packages. When compiling an “A La Carte” food storage plan, you still want to be paying attention to the calorie counts so that you reach the desired count for your chosen time period.
However, if you have already purchased your long-term food storage, you may want to use the serving counts as a quick reference on how to best enhance your current food preps.
For example, if you are a family of four and you already have a month’s supply of food stored, you may want to add two servings of veggies a day for each family member, i.e. 2 servings x 4 people x 30 days = 240 servings.
There is a lot of confusion about what exactly “shelf life” means when it comes to long-term food storage. Basically, the shelf life of a product is the amount of time that it can be stored and safely consumed. Once the product is past its shelf life, it may be diminished in taste and quality.
All long-term storage food is processed to remove the water in the food, and then sealed by removing the air and adding an oxygen absorber. Once sealed in a Mylar pouch, the food is considered to be free of bacteria, moisture, and safe from pests.
The shelf life of each product varies, with ration bars and MREs having the shortest life of 3-5 years, followed by “cook in pouch” freeze dried meals which have a 7 – 10 year shelf life. Just about everything else has a 20 – 25 year shelf life. Of course, when in doubt, read the package.
All products must be stored properly in a dry, cool area to minimize exposure to moisture and pests. Your long term food storage supplies should also be rotated so that the food that is nearing the end of its shelf life is eaten first.
An ideal store of emergency food would be made up largely of foods that have a shelf life of 25 years or more. The shorter the shelf life, the more often rotation and replacement are required. Rotation can become an expensive practice and requires a lot of organization to keep on top of.
If your food is made up of mostly long-term foods, you can buy it and only have to worry about it a few times in your life. Keep in mind that most food storage companies will claim a 25-year shelf life, but sometimes this is just a number made up for marketing.
Be aware of this, and make sure you know the properties of a food storage food that will likely last a long time. How will you know how long food storage food should really last? Studies(5) done recently by the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science at Brigham Young University looked at various foods that had been stored for 30 years and examined them for edibility and nutrition after 30 years of storage.
Here are a few of their findings: Salt, baking soda, baking powder, and granulated sugar, when stored in their original containers and stored properly, have no known shelf life. Wheat and rice, when stored in cans, foil pouches, or buckets, can last 30+ years. Powdered milk, oats, instant potatoes, dried apples, macaroni pasta, and pinto beans, when stored in a can or foil pouch with oxygen absorber, can last 15-30 years.
Wet-pack canned foods can last a few years, but acidic foods like tomatoes can cause the cans to corrode if stored too long. Foods like yeast and cooking oil will last for a year and a half, and powdered eggs will last one year.
For more helpful information on the shelf life of different foods and ways of packaging, check out BYU’s College of Life Sciences website, which lists all their current research on the subject:
Oxygen is the enemy of shelf life
In order to achieve optimal shelf life, emergency food must have extremely low oxygen levels. Oxygen destroys food storage shelf life because even small amounts can grow bacteria and spoil food. In general, the residual oxygen level once a food has been packaged should be well below 2 percent. If a food storage company will not disclose the levels of oxygen in their food, or if they simply admit that they do not test for oxygen levels, steer clear of that food.
If it is not tested for extremely low oxygen, it simply cannot last for the amount of time most companies advertise. A good thing to watch for is that suppliers use oxygen absorbers in their packaging. Oxygen absorbers can extend shelf life and prevent the growth of aerobic pathogens. Nitrogen flushes are another plus in packaging. Both of these practices used together can eliminate virtually all oxygen. When you are looking for a food storage supplier, make sure they use both of these practices in packaging.
Food storage types compared.
In the wide world of food storage options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Are cans better, or buckets of bulk grains? Are MREs really a feasible food storage option? What’s all the hype about freeze-dried foods? How do you know which is right for you? As you navigate your options, there are many factors that should weigh in your decision, including the nutritional content maintained by the different types of food storage, the ease of storage and transport, the cost, the shelf-life, the taste, and the ease of preparation.
Bulk grains are another very familiar way to store food. Many people like bulk grains because they are a do-it-yourself method of storage. Most bulk grains last a long time (with the exception of brown rice). However, bulk grains can also be inconvenient to store because they typically come in five-gallon buckets and are heavy to lift and move.
They also present a very difficult problem if the emergency situation you find yourself in is one without power (which is fairly common). Without a stove or oven, it is difficult to make bread from your wheat or boil your oats. In this type of situation, you would have food but no way to eat it.
Meals ready to eat (MREs) are just what they sound like. They are full- course meals that have everything in one–entree, side dish, dessert, drink, condiments, and often a small heating device. MREs do not require water and are easily the most convenient of the food storage options. Downsides of MREs are that they are often made up of high-fat and high-sodium foods, and they are rumored to have a worse taste than other types of food storage. The biggest disadvantage of MREs is that they have a relatively short shelf-life, usually somewhere around three years.
As far as storage goes, they are bulky and heavy. They are also typically more expensive than other food storage types. Dehydrated or freeze-dried meals. Another emergency food option is meals that are a combination of dehydrated and freeze-dried food. One of the benefits of these types of foods is that all you have to do is add water (a smaller amount than would be needed to cook them), and the meal is done. In addition, they generally make for good- tasting meals because the freeze-drying process retains all the original flavor and smells of the food in its original state.
The freeze-drying process also allows the food to retain its nutrients and thereby makes it one of the most nutritious options as well. Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are lightweight and very easy to store because they take up so little space. They are also easy to move and transport in a possible evacuation. Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are often stored in mylar pouches. It’s a good idea if they are then packaged in buckets to increase air-tightness.
Stackable buckets are nice as opposed to cardboard boxes, which are useless in a flood. The main disadvantage of these types of meals is that you do need to have water to add to them. However, water should be a big part of your emergency preparation anyway, so this is not a big setback. Check out your options on food storage packaging and decide which is right for you. Many people like to do a combination of the different types of food storage, starting with their staples and then filling in the rest as they go. Whichever option you decide to go with, make sure you consider all the factors and make an informed decision.
How to store your food for best results
Once you have gathered your food storage, the next step is to know how to store it properly. In order for food storage to last as long as it can, it must be kept away from moisture, oxygen, light, and heat. If you have made the right choices when selecting your food storage products, the first three of these requirements will already be met–your containers will be airtight and will not let in moisture or light.
The last requirement– keeping it away from heat–is up to you. Store your food storage in the coolest place you have. Some possible places might be root cellars, basements, under-the-stairs storage areas, or pantries and closets that are away from heating vents and refrigerators/freezers. What you are going for is a consistently cool and dry place.
If you simply have no other options, you might also consider storing your food in a garage or outdoor shed as long as you remember to move the food to a cooler place during the summer months as these places can get very hot. Also be sure that your food storage supply is away from rodents, insects, and other intruders. Usually, keeping it off the ground is a good way to avoid these pests.
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