• Comments (50)

    • 7

      Amazing article! Hats off to the tasters and writers who condensed all this information down to something palatable. 🙂 Excellent work making it an interesting read, Ms. Balthaser.

      • 4

        Thanks, Kiki! I worked really hard on this for a long time, and I’m so happy you got a lot out of the article. And I like your food pun. 🙂

    • 12

      I loved this informative article on food, its taste, its function, its worth, etc. The whole article is the best I have ever read. Now my problem is that I want to print out about 15 copies of this entire remarkable ‘report’. Do I have your permission to do so? Do you already have printouts available? My large family is starting in January 2018 of getting all of us prepared for emergency preparedness. We live in Washington State and our state has asked us all to get prepared as we are expecting a very intense and devastating earthquake any time. We live in the central part of the state and the earthquake is expected to wipe out Seattle and the West Coast. We may get flooding in our ‘basin’. We have been working on food storage for a number of years when our children were young, but now they are all married, have children and most are grandparents themselves. We want to meet monthly or bi-monthly and do it the right way. Your article here will help us tremendously. We have about 40 in our family and we need help in the way of advice of foods, shelter, water, etc. Thank you again for this tremendous article.

      • 5

        Thank you Deanna! We’re a new site, so if you loved our work, please share it with some friends and sign up for the free email newsletter 🙂

        You’re more than welcome to print it out. We’re focused on publishing lots of great content for now, but we will probably have an easy download / print service in the future when there’s more of a complete library.

        Keep in mind that this article was about off-the-shelf food products you can buy to quickly cover two week emergencies. They’re great as a first step for the most likely 80-20 needs, like surviving the crazy few weeks after the earthquake hits.

        There will be another article in the future about longer term food stores — if you need to cover a large family for a long time, there are different products that will make sense for >1 year stores for many people.

        Washington State has done a fantastic job relative to other state/local governments. We quote from the Cascadia Rising test drill report quite often.

        So good for you for getting started. Check out our beginners guide, linked from the top and sidebar, which has the 80-20 checklist to get started.

      • 3

        Deanna: Hello from another central WA resident! I was curious also as to printing or a copy of this article for a group setting, plus knowing other ‘near-by’ like minded people! P.S. Best way to get in touch with you??

    • 5

      Are all the above products mentioned in this review from various companies other than Emergency Essentials?

      • 5

        Yes. Everything other than the EE branded buckets are from other companies like Legacy, Wise, Augason, Patriot Pantry, etc. The EE branded buckets (Premier, etc) are the only EE products.

        Mountain House doesn’t sell directly to consumers, so we linked to EE’s store (and Amazon) for the MH products, since EE is a reputable merchant for MH food for preppers.

    • 7

      This info is so valuable! When we started prepping, it took hundreds od hours to try to grasp the differences in companies and the products. Even with intense work, I spent about $2,000 in for that NO individual in our house and family found palatable. Wasted money. I went to a prepping seminar and the vendors were offering samples ( I refused as I was certain all were inedible). One vendor cajoled hubby into trying a sample of soup (broccoli- cheese) that is a family favorite and thought it was good. I tried it and became immediate suspect that she had done something to improve flavor. This was from a company not included in EE panel.
      When we started we didn’t know any who prepped so we turned to the warm Morman community. They gave me an EE catalogue and marked items that they enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised with much of items I ordered. Again I turned to the Morman community and found a LV chef who had recently relacates to my area, who graciously spent hours teacing me how to make items MUCH more flavorful.

      Issue with OMITTED info–you ignored a large group of indivuals whose needs are NOT served! In your nutritional labels, you usually ignore to include potassium and phospherous. To include this info who not only help you customers, but would surely increase the company’s bottom line–profit! Calories, sodium, protein, and sugars are, or will be included this year, but if the company decides to be proactive, the could attract diabetics, pre-diabetics, transplant patients. (Remember when clothing companies ignored full sized women? Today, the companies that saw this undersized market are among the most profitable.
      Just thoughts that likely will never be read.
      Respectfully.
      Keri V
      Georgia

      • 4

        Hey Keri! Thanks for the kind words and feedback. We read everything that someone takes the time to share 🙂

        Yeah, many survival food products are difficult to consider edible food, and it’s a perfect example of ‘you get what you pay for’. I’m glad you got your supplies figured out.

        I didn’t quite follow your point about what we omitted. We of course can’t cover every angle — this post was already a monster, and covering every dietary need is difficult. However we have started doing separate articles, like this one for those with food allergies: https://theprepared.com/gui…

    • 5

      Hello, as a first time prepper, would I be able to store mountain house dehydrated food in cardboard containers in a empty Emergency Essentials food bucket? Will it go bad? Thank you.

      • 9

        The key is whether the food is in air-sealed bags. The cardboard MH boxes come with meals in mylar sealed pouches, with each pouch holding 1-3 meals. You could easily move those sealed mylar meal pouches into anything else you wanted, include plastic buckets. So you have two goals: the food itself is blocked from outside air, and the pouches/food are protected from being crushed/flooded/etc.

    • 2

      Question about the Emergency Essential food: are the pouches resealable? Does the food rehydrate and heat based on a ratio of water? For comparison, the pouches Legacy offer are 4 serving pouches. I have found plenty of video on Legacy pouches and I have a good sense of how much goes into each and how to prepared them. I’m having a hard time finding similar reviews for the EE pouches.

      I’m storing food for family of three. Will half an EE 8 serving pouch be enough for 3 people? Should I storage zip-lock bags to seal 8 serving pouches that still have 4 servings remaining?

      I’m also finding the serving sizes for EE and Legacy are different. Legacy uses 1-1/2 – 2 cup servings sizes while EE uses 1/2 – 3/4 cup serving sizes. Does this mean an EE 8 serving pouch is the equivalent to a Legacy 4 serving pouch?

      Also, has anyone tried to simmer a dish using a sterno like heat source? I’m assuming that I won’t have gas in one of my emergency scenarios. I find it frustrating that these foods are marketed as emergency food but then all the demos are done using a full sink. I’m won’t be using these with running water and with no gas. With EE and Legacy I’m going to be simmering food for a long time and then using stored water to clean and rinse pots and dishes. Can I use 2-3 fuel cells to get the water to a boil and then 1 to keep a simmer?

      Thank you for this site, by the way. It’s the only prep site that doesn’t make me feel paranoid or irrational.

      • 6

        I just counted the calories in the EE Deluxe 3 bucket package. I used the nutritional labels. The number I got was 40,980 but what they state is 76,260. Did anyone else notice that?

      • 7

        Thanks for the kind words! My goal is to make prepper rational and paranoia/propaganda-free.

        Serving sizes are a worthless gimmick measure, both internally and between competitors, which is why we call that out and disregard them in the review.

        If you are trying to compare two brands, and you have the “x servings = y cups” conversions, then yes you could back them out to equate the two brands.

        I suggest sticking with calories to consider questions like “will this be enough for three people?”

        EE pouches: I don’t have one on hand at the moment, but if I remember correctly, they are not resealable. We didn’t think this was a big deal because a non-airtight bag will be fine in the short term after opening (which covers >95% of all uses) + you can just use a ziploc if storing it longer-term / need portability in between meals.

        EE calories: If I remember correctly, those kinds of caloric label differences were due to the supplemental packs of cheese, drink mixes, etc. We did all the calculations at the time and verified everything in this article, but focused on the Premier buckets instead of the Deluxe.

        Heat source: We frequently use these foods with a variety of off-grid heat sources, including sterno-types, and it works. Yes, you can reduce the fuel use after it comes to a boil and bring it down to a simmer.

        Even further, you can use lukewarm or even cold water, since the bulk of what matters is rehydrating the food. The heat is often a (really)-nice-to-have for creature comfort.

    • 3

      Thank you very much for the article. I wound up getting two Emergency Essentials buckets. One for actual emergencies and another to “practice” and get to know the food. I’ve been making my way through the first of the buckets and I have to say that my general impression is decidedly meh. There are a lot of variations on a so so theme and the food never tastes anything like fresh. Some things are downright nasty. The worst was the marinara pasta which I note that your tasters liked. But mine was a large congealed sheet of sauce with some pasta on the bottom, which made it totally impractical and kind of disgusting when you make less than the whole package. You get a bunch of sauce with some undisolved clumps and a little pasta.

      Overall, maybe my expectations are off base. And maybe also I’m not very good at cooking freeze dried food. It never seems to fully hydrate when I cook it. No regrets about buying it. I’m glad to have emergency food at the ready, but I do dread a little having to eat this stuff day in and day out for two weeks straight.

      • 5

        Thanks for the feedback, and good on ya for practicing with it before an emergency! It does sound like your expectations were too high — freeze-dried food in general is not going to be great.

        If you haven’t, get some single pouches of Mountain House to compare against their (top-shelf) quality. Many people think they’re the best tasting.

        Some of it may be personal pref, but I think under-hydrating / cooking al dente will definitely make it worse. That food needs the hot water back to make it palatable. Try increasing your water quantity a little, and stir throughout cooking to get all of the clumps broken up and soaked.

    • 2

      An interesting development here in Northern California. In areas where electricity has been shut off due to fire danger, people are also asked not to use camp stoves outside to avoid creating sparks that might start a fire. So, in that situation, these food buckets suddenly become not very useful unless you have a gas stove at home (and the gas stays on, which it has been). What’s plan B in a situation like that?

      • 5

        Great question. Many of these products are edible with cold water, if need be. But even when gov is asking people to reduce outdoor sparks, which makes sense, you can still use your head and get crafty, such as running the camp stove inside your garage (with the door open for gases).

        Also, the kinds of field stoves we recommend for go-bags, like the Jetboil https://www.jetboil.com/, aren’t going to kick around embers and cause a wildfire risk — as long as you’re not being dumb and using it on top of a pile of dry timber in high winds that could knock it over. Since you’d have your go-bag at home, you could take it out and use that indoors/wherever.

      • 4

        Good ideas. But, actually, the fire services apparently warned people strenuously NOT to use their camp stoves, so my friend, who was in the affected area, didn’t feel comfortable using the workaround of doing it in the garage with the door open. If you guys ever do any kind of testing of the food buckets again, it would be good to know which items can be prepared with just cold water (wow, not looking forward to eating THAT).

      • 2

        What do you guys think of alcohol stoves? I understand that they’re safe to use inside…

      • 1

        For the Jetboil, do y’all have 2-week’s worth of fuel stockpiled for this purpose? 

    • 3

      Brilliant article, but lots of these companies only ship within the US. Any chance you’d consider doing a similar review based on products available in the EU?

      • 6

        Sincerely wish we could. But 95% of readers are in US/Canada, so we focus our limited resources there. We try to explain what we look for / how we evaluate so that folks in your situation can at least replicate the intelligent shopping in their region.

        If you find anything great within the EU, feel free to share here with the community!

    • 2

      Not being a vegetarian and having no desire to focus on vegetables, i can concur that Mountain House products are delicious!  While pricey, they are the MOST LIKELY to be eaten in a dangerous situation.  I frequently teach people to only keep foods on hand that they like–disasters are tough enough, why eat something you don’t like?  You can buy pails with special easy to seal lids at Home Depot and Lowes that have a unique rubber seal (often referred to as a gamma seal).  Buy MH products, put them in the better buckets, and store them some place safe.  They last for a long, long time…!

    • 10

      This review is excellent, however if I may suggest a better and cheaper way….these emergency pails, while satisfying the main nutritional basics, are hardly health food. You can’t expect maximum performance on macaroni cheese. (although it is psychologically comforting.)

      I order freeze dried vegetable powders, which are highly nutritious and tasty. They are also cheaper than buying fresh (and higher nutritional value as they have been snap frozen just after picking.) Combined with rice or buckwheat and tinned beans, you can whip up some really tasty vegetable curries, etc very quickly.

      I use these powders and staples in normal life such as adding to smoothies, omelettes, etc, so keeping fresh stock on hand is not a problem.

      Keeping some supplies in a airtight pail would be an option for those that need a handy “grab and go” 2 week supply option. This is a MUCH cheaper and healthier option,  and very space and weight efficient, when compared to the commercial options.

      • 2

        Can you share a good source for these vegetable powders? Thanks.

      • 6

        My favorite freeze-dried veggies—that I add to Mountain House packets—come from NorthBay Trading.
        Barry Farm Foods has a good range of dehydrated and powdered vegetables.

      • 8

        Thanks A2. I’ve been recommended BioSchwartz Super Greens Powder as well.

    • 9

      As for Mountain House, I’m having trouble justifying their expense. The current “24 serving” bucket on Amazon is just under $100. When you do the math on the total calorie content, it’s only 6,120 calories! Not even enough for a family of 4 for one day! The #10 cans are no better, currently around $4-7 per serving.

      I did get an Emergency Essentials bucket instead and had planned to gradually add some Mountain House options as “first tier” per the flavor reports. Looks like I will need to keep searching and researching for the most efficient grab and go food for our vehicle kits, etc.

      • 6

        I agree on the price point.  However, when it comes to taste I think I’m worth it.  I don’t mind the price for 14-day supply once it becomes available again…

      • 6

        I agree with Lee. In an emergency that’s dire enough to warrant using these types of meals, I’m choosing the one with the best nutritional profile and taste. I’ve learned from the current pandemic that good-tasting meals go a long way in calming anxiety during an emergency…especially a lengthy emergency.

    • 8

      Do you know if any brands that offer decent kits with allergies in mind? My wife has a dairy allergy and I have yet to see a kit that wasn’t loaded with milk and cheese powder. We did purchase 3 days worth of individual meals to at least have something, but it was quite expensive to continue for multiple weeks.

    • 4

      Your Emergency Essentials links are broken again. All the links in your article lead to 404 errors on the EE website. It is fairly easy once there to find the buckets, though…click on Food & Survival Kits in their menu bar, then choose QSS Certified Food Kits.

      • 7

        Isn’t EE now beprepared.com?

    • 7

      Great article… explainiong and emphasixzing the trade-offs and providing options that will make a tough time a little better… 

      One note – I ordered the Patriot Supply veggies and fruits, and it came in a bucket… everything took 2-3 months to arrive during the COVID, so maybe they are simplifying their supply chain…  

    • 6

      I have only taste-tested Wise (crazy salty & ‘processed’, their rice dishes had the texture of mushy cooked oatmeal, yuck!) & Patriot Pantry (edible but nothing special).

      I have tried some of the Mountain House stuff when out backpack camping with a friend many years ago. I recall them being okay but my friend tweaked them because like me she knows how to cook reasonably well. I would consider MH depending on what the pre-made meals are like.

      I’ve not tried the other brands because most of the other makers don’t have sample packs available to try. I think if I’m going to spend $100+++ on stored emergency food, surely I should be able to try a 2-3 day sample (ie 48 – 72 hours) for $20.00 or less.

      The Wise stuff I got from one of their many affiliate reps for free (I hated to give him the bad review but what I tried was terrible), the Patriot Pantry has a 2/3 day pack you can get for the shipping cost (~$10.00). Neither came in super durable packaging like plastic buckets (just non-reusable mylar foil pouches) but that’s the point of the sample food: to prepare & taste it before making a substantial investment in weeks, months or years worth of food.

      Personally since I can cook, I went with a lot of freeze dried & dehydrated/dried components which I can make up into meals myself (many lightweight backpack campers do this). Yes that isn’t the same as ‘just adding boiled water & waiting up to 20 minutes’ then voila! a ‘meal’!, but I wouldn’t store more than a few weeks of the pre-made just add boiled water meals even if I was deathly ill.

      I also have more local sources that don’t pack things to last for 10, 20 or 30 years, but they do sell freeze dried & dehydrated fruits & vegetables more akin to the add-on fruit bucket of Patriot Pantry (Augason Farms also had one of those multi variety fruit buckets as well as a veggie bucket). The nice thing about them is getting free or cheap samples to try which led me to order big time from them & in quantities I know I would like (For example, I ordered heavy on freeze-dried mushrooms because I love them, though others might not, but I skipped freeze-dried corn because it doesn’t agree with me)

      This small local company is aware their customers can & sometimes do repackage their food (it comes shipped in either mylar ziploc bags or in small plastic screw top containers, bulk sizes are often available if you request them, it stores fine for 1-2 years as packaged & shipped) for even longer term storage (for this purpose you can buy little oxygen adsorber packets, buckets with Gamma seal lids etc, vacuum packing into either mylar foil bags and or the seal a meal type plastic bags, using a heat sealer to close either type of bag, etc).

      The thing is since I regularly use these (& have for a few years now), I get my fruits & veggies in a long life form (most are freeze-dried I prefer this to dehydrated, but some things only come dehydrated & that’s usually workable) & I’m not tossing out or composting rotting fresh produce as much or feeling the dire need to go to the grocery store when I run low or out.

      And it’s easy to repackage for longer storage grains like rice or oats or flour from the supermarket or big box discounter, as well as spices, cooking oils, etc. Meat can be tricky, but there are options out there. I’m currently experimenting around with dried / powdered dairy & eggs, like all this some are great, some okay, some awful.

      For the future I’m budgeting for my own freeze-dryer so I can preserve my own garden produce or stuff bought locally (I live in a rural food-growing area, from spring to fall we have farmers markets, CSAs, pick your own places, bulk produce auctions, etc). I already have both a water bath canner & a pressure canner &  several shelves of jars & lids etc, but the freeze dryer looks like a great way to put more home grown foods by in less space & with less weight, etc. Food grade plastic buckets are cheap & less breakable than glass canning jars, Gamma seal lids make them convenient to use.

      My way is a bit more DIY, but I appreciate that someone went to the trouble to review the less DIY less work ’emergency’ meal options out there. But my take-home is try before you buy if you can, then only store what you will eat & actually eat what you store.

    • 6

      Does anybody have a recommendation for one person two-week supply of emergency food? I bought mine from Emergency Essentials two years ago for around $100. It was the 4 person 72 hour bucket, which used to be the recommended choice from TP, but now it no longer seems to be offered. The 21 day supply from Emergency Essentials is in the $260 range now. I was hoping to get something cheaper for my mom.

      • 6

        I won’t stock anything but Mountain House. If life is going to hell I’d like the food I’m eating to actually be good tasting so that I have one thing that’s enjoyable. Also, it’s the only emergency food that doesn’t give me indigestion…which is the last thing I need during hard times.

      • 5

        While I haven’t tried taste testing any food buckets, I do have an Augason Farms bucket. But if you go on their website today, the only thing they have in stock is a bucket of pinto beans. 

        These food bucket companies sold out so quickly this year and many are struggling to keep up with the demand. 

        I have seen a few buckets at my local Costco, so actually going to a physical store might be your best bet for a while. I’d bring your mom with you if you could so she can pick one out that has meals that she would enjoy eating, and ingredients that would agree with her.

    • 7

      The link for the Emergency Essentials 21 Day Kit says 21 day, but the product itself is actually for only 2 weeks. They come in 2wk, 4wk/1mo, 3mo, 6mo, and 12mo. There are also no longer Basic, Economy, Deluxe, or Premier; it’s all Survival.

      Is this 2-week Survival kit what you now recommend for most preppers, at least as a starting point???

      • 5

        Hi Beth, sorry for the wrong link – Emergency Essentials has been changing their offerings quite often and it’s been difficult to keep up. I’ll try to fix it asap.

        But in short, yes, their buckets are still a great starting point and the 2 weeks kit will cover either one person for two weeks, or two people for 1 week at a very healthy 2,388 calories per person per day. Or, depending how many people you are preparing for, the 30 day 4-Week Balanced & Hearty Food Kit also seems a very good deal offering a generous 2,397 calories per day.

        Edited to add: keep in mind that it seems that the 2-weeks kit does not come in a bucket, but rather as separate cans and pouches! It might make a difference in how you store it (also, a bucket is easier to grab and throw in a car if in need to evacuate quickly, etc).

    • 2

      What’s the deal with the “updated version” of the MH 14 day. Is seems to have the same 42 pouches as the older one, although they claim it has 1,718 calories per day, which is much lower than your calculations. Also is 332 the new standard price or should I wait till it shifts down some? 

      • 4

        Great eye on seeing that there is an updated version. Personally though, I would try and find the older version as it comes with more versatility and variety of meals.

        The older version that was out when we wrote this article is the Mountain House Just In Case 14-Day Emergency Food Supply. One of the nice features of this box is that it comes in four smaller boxes of meals. A 2, 3, 4, and 5 day box. So if you needed to bug out for 3 days and only wanted to carry 3 days worth of food, you could easily just grab the 3 day box.

        81MQ3kAt7eL._AC_SL1391_

        Another good thing about this older version also known as the Just In Case set is that it has much more variety in meals. There are 18 different meals in this set.

        Now compare that to the updated version. This new version doesn’t seem to be split up into smaller boxes of different numbers of meals (not really a big deal). But you go from 18 different meals in the Just In Case set down to just 8 in this one. Now if you don’t care about variety and can eat similar things every other day, then this isn’t a big deal as well. 

        Why did they cut down from 18 different meals to just 8? Covid is my guess. If you go onto Camelcamelcamel.com and look at the price history of these two products, you will see some interesting things.

        Lets start by looking at the original Just In Case set.

        Screenshot from 2021-06-23 15-36-29

        You can see the price generally hovered around the $280-$300 mark until Covid hit and people were buying these up like crazy and production was affected for many companies, then it jumped up to over $400. It looks like it might be in a slight decline right now, but will probably be some time before it reaches the $280 mark that we are used to seeing.

        Now if you look at the updated set:

        Screenshot from 2021-06-23 15-37-27

        You can see that the updated set only was created this year back in March. They probably cut down on the variety of meals that they were offering to keep up with demand. It is easier and cheaper to produce 8 of the same meals than switching out the machines more often and producing 18. 

        To answer your question if you should wait for prices to go down, it looks like the current updated box is pretty steady and won’t be dropping soon according to previous price history. 

      • 1

        Is it comparable in cost to just buy individual pouches instead of getting them ready assembled?

      • 1

        That updated set that you shared contains the following with the individual prices of each item next to it according to mountainhouse.com:

        Breakfast skillet X5 $10/each

        Biscuits and gravy X4 $8/each

        Granola and milk with blueberries X5 $6/each

        Beef Stroganoff with Noodles X5 $9.50/each

        Chicken Fried Rice X5 $9.50/each

        Creamy Macaroni and Cheese X8 $8.50/each

        Chicken and Dumplings X5 $8.50/each

        Mexican Style Adobo Rice and Chicken X5 9.50/each

        If the pouches in the bulk box are the same ones you would buy individually on their website, the total for buying all individually is: $365

        You are saving $29 buying them in bulk than you would buying each individually from their website.

        It might be nice to buy individually so you can vary the different ones you get. I don’t know if I can each mac and cheese eight times in two weeks. The human body isn’t meant to endure that kind of abuse…