The appeal of an emergency food stash is clear: if you suddenly can’t leave your house for a few weeks, how will you eat? Now, with COVID-19 lockdowns in our present and future, emergency food appeals more and more. But how do you know if the food tub you’ve purchased will work out when you need it? We bought a $197 four-week supply from 4Patriots to see if it’s worth the expense.
Our final verdict: maybe, if you have the cash.
To learn more about why you should keep a stash of food for emergencies, read our review of the best two-week emergency survival food for preppers. We also have reviews of the best meals ready to eat.
Who needs these sorts of products?
I’ve always been skeptical about prepared food storage products. Those food tubs are expensive and storing dry goods isn’t hard. But after two months of lockdown (I’d thankfully over-prepared for two weeks of lockdown), when I saw that Nashville-based 4Patriots had four-week emergency food tubs in stock for $197, I decided to buy one as insurance. Sure, you can store plenty of dry goods yourself. But for a premium, these kits offer both convenience and flavor.
4Patriots claims that their foods have a 25-year shelf life. They say the four-week tub can feed one person for a month. I have a family of four, so I doubt it’d last us anywhere close to that time. I’m also a bit skeptical that the kit could even keep one person fed for a full month. However, it was available and shipped quickly, unlike most food providers that are back-ordered for weeks right now because of COVID-19, so that’s a big win for 4Patriots.
The kit itself comes in a flat Sterilite container like you’d buy at Walmart. It’s about two feet long, 18 inches wide, and 7.5 inches tall. It’s flat enough to store conveniently and should be sufficient for most homes. That said, it’s not a hardened, sturdy bucket like some other food kits come in. The foods themselves come in white vacuum-sealed bags with cutesy names like Grammy’s Sweet Oatmeal, Fireside Stew, and America’s Finest Mac & Cheese.
What’s inside the 4Patriots tub?
Let’s take a look at what was in my kit. If you order the same kit as I did, however, you might not get these same things. The company says “We may substitute recipes of similar quality and caloric value in order to expedite your kit.” Compare that to Emergency Essentials, which clearly lists everything that comes in its one-month bucket, which provides 41 food packets for about the same price as the 4Patriots four-week kit at about $4.85 per packet.
But if you do happen to get the same things as I did, here’s what you can expect:
- White rice x 4
- Strawberry energy drink
- Dinner bell broccoli bake
- Mac and cheese x 4
- Grammy’s sweet oatmeal x 4
- Rice and vegetable dinner x 3
- Fireside stew x 2
- Buttermilk pancakes x 3
- Powdered whey milk x 2
- Vanilla pudding x 2
That’s 24 meals in total. If you ate three meals a day, that’d last you eight days at about $8.21 per meal. If you only ate one per day, the 4Patriots kit would still only last you 24 days, and one of those days, all you’d be able to eat is a smoothie.
The biggest disappointment is the four packs of plain white rice, which isn’t much of a meal. White rice isn’t exactly hard to stockpile, either. We have literally dozens of pounds of it in our house.
One of the selling points of these kits that they offer long-lasting, somewhat flavorful, easy to prepare meals. Anyone who can get their hands on rice can throw it in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. So I don’t exactly think plain rice packets are worth the money.
The 4Patriots Experience
One thing I do like about the 4Patriots kit: each package is self-contained. I also have a 48-hour Augason Farms food kit where the mac and cheese comes in separate noodle and cheese powder packets. Unfortunately, in the Augason kit, there’s one cheese powder packet for both noodle packs. If you decide you’re having mac and cheese, you’re committed to at least two meals worth. Not so for the 4Patriots kit. Each meal is packaged separately.
I decided to try a couple of the packs as a side dish to accompany a pork roast we were having for dinner. I chose the mac and cheese and rice and vegetable dinner.
Overall, the meals are easy enough to cook. For most, you just throw them in a pot of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes. However, the mixes are very thick—you’ll want to stir frequently to prevent sticking.
The food smelled good when cooking, and when it was finished, it looked and tasted good enough. Both the mac and cheese and the vegetable and rice dinner were a bit on the bland side, which I don’t think is a bad choice considering how sensitive many people, like children, are to strong flavors.
My oldest child barely touched his, but the baby seemed to enjoy it.
All in all, it was a pleasant enough, but expensive dinner.
So, should you buy?
In terms of flavor and ease of preparation, the 4Patriots kit seems like a winner.
But it’s a poor value when compared to the competition. It’s significantly more expensive than the Emergency Essentials kit. However, 4Patriots can ship within 5-7 days while Emergency Essentials is back-ordered by up to two months. The equivalent kit from Infowars is about $70 more expensive, is vague about servings, and won’t ship for 10-12 weeks. Augason Farms is out of one-month kits entirely, as is Mountain House.
Whether a 4Patriots food kit is worth it is up to you. The foods are easy to prepare and taste good enough. In my opinion, though, they’re overpriced. However, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you’re anxious about our food supply, it’s cheap insurance in the long run.