While survival food kits have been a staple for serious campers and outdoor adventurers for years, there’s now an increasing interest across the general population, thanks to concerns over potential food shortages. Unlike canned foods that tend to stay at peak quality for around 2-5 years, survival food is designed to last up to 30 years when stored properly, and kits make it easy to keep everything you need for yourself and your family in one place for emergencies or any other occasion.
You should factor in how many servings are in a kit as well as any dietary restrictions you may have—there are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available—and make sure you are storing the kits according to their instructions. Whether you want to prep for a potential emergency or you are looking to go on an outdoor adventure, we found and taste-tested several survival food companies with a kit to feed your needs. Here are our recommendations.
ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply, Freeze-Dried Entree Variety
25-year shelf life
Unique food varieties
Gluten-free version available
Pouches are hard to rip
ReadyWise is one of the top names in survival food kits and offers a gluten-free version and a breakfast-only option of this kit that contains foods ranging from granola to pasta alfredo to vanilla pudding. It comes with 124 servings, but you can choose from different quantities ranging from 52 to 298 servings, depending on your needs and family size. Each meal contains a few servings, is freeze-dried, and individually wrapped. There is one instruction card included in the kit that tells you how to make every variety of the included meals.
We bought this kit and tested some of its offerings. We found the red, gold, or silver pouches a bit difficult to open and had to use scissors, but the cooking process was quick and easy. The flavors are pretty light but each pouch makes a lot of each dish, including the drinks, so you never have to worry about running out of food. While none of the meals we tried taste like they come from a Michelin-star restaurant, in an emergency situation or while out hiking or camping they certainly hit the spot.
Price at time of publish: $95
Size: 11 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 124 servings, for about 31 meals | Shelf Life: 25 years
Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Emergency Food Supply
11 different meal options
No breakfast meals
Because of the sheer volume of food they provide, most survival food kits can get pretty pricey, but this option from Augason Farms is a great value for the money. This kit offers a lot more variety than other options on the list, with 11 different meal types, including dessert. In total there are 92 large servings, allowing you to divvy up the number of meals based on your needs, in white easy-to-open pouches with the nutritional information for one serving, ingredients, and instructions listed.
We put the value to the test to find out if it is worth the budget price and were very pleasantly surprised. Both the sweet and savory meals we prepared took a bit more time than others, but were super fragrant and flavorful, and made a bunch of food. This kit doesn't come with any breakfast options, but it is still a winner in our eyes.
Price at time of publish: $75
Size: 11.63 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 92 servings | Shelf Life: 25 years
Best 3-Day Food Supply
Mountain House 3-Day Emergency Food Supply
Can be made with room-temperature water
Good for one person
Doesn’t come in a weather-proof bucket
Most experts recommend having a three-day survival food kit on hand for potential evacuation situations, and this option from Mountain House fits that bill. Smaller than most of the other options on this list, this kit contains 18 servings in a total of nine meals, making it a great option for one person. Each day you’ll get around 1,700 calories. One of the major benefits of these meals is that they can be made with room-temperature water, which is a necessity when you lose power and don’t have the means to boil water. This kit also has one of the longest shelf lives of any of the options out there.
We tried two of the offerings in the kit and found them to be easy to make. Because the pouches are resealable, it is easy to pour boiling or cool water inside and let it sit if necessary. It also makes this kit great for on-the-go while hiking or camping, because you can save leftovers. Each pouch and its serving size is smaller than other survival food kits', but the food is flavorful and filling.
Price at time of publish: $85
Size: 3.6 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 18 servings, about 9 meals | Shelf Life: 30 years
Best for Families
Wise Company 1 Month Emergency Food Supply
25-year shelf life
Enough for a family of four to six
Includes breakfast options
Packed in servings of four
The Wise Company 1 Month Emergency Food Supply makes disaster prepping for your family effortless. It has everything you need to feed two adults and four children or four adults for an entire month. There are 240 servings total, with breakfast options like Apple Cinnamon Cereal and heartier dinners, like Loaded Baked Potato Casserole, in the mix. All of the foods are freeze-dried and divided into four-serving Mylar pouches to reduce potential waste and keep them fresh for as long as possible. This kit, which comes neatly packaged in a stackable bucket, has a 25-year shelf life and can feed up to four adults or two adults and four children.
Price at time of publish: $579
Size: 44.3 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 240 servings (enough for 2 meals a day for 4 adults, or 2 adults and 4 children) | Shelf Life: 25 years
Store items that can help with cooking the food in a survival kit to make sure you have what you need when the time comes to eat. If you are camping and have a portable grill or small propane stove, make sure you have matches. Prep candles and matches for emergency survival kits stored at home. And for any situation, aluminum foil is small and can be great for cooking food in.
Best for Large Families
Mountain House Freeze-Dried Ground Beef
Easy to prepare
Ideal for large families or quickly serving a crowd
30-year shelf life
Have to mix and match ingredients for a complete meal
Have to cook larger quantities at once
If you’re looking for a backstock of single ingredients, Mountain House has you covered. This particular kit contains 22 servings of freeze-dried beef, but you can also opt for cooked chicken or basic mixed meals, like chicken and rice, among other options. Rather than pouches, this food is packaged in #10 cans, and each can contains anywhere from 14 to over 20 servings, which makes it easy to feed a large family or a crowd. You simply add water directly into the can, wait 10 minutes, and then eat or serve without the need for individually mixing smaller pouches. These cans are also easy to store and stack, and they have a 30-year shelf life guarantee.
Price at time of publish: $56
Size: 1.8 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 22 servings | Shelf Life: 30 years
Augason Farms 30-Day 1-Person Emergency Food Supply
Meals can be stretched through 45 days
Variety of meals
46 grams of protein per day
Bags are not resealable
What we like about this survival food kit is its versatility. It includes 307 servings of foods like maple brown sugar oatmeal, mashed potatoes, cheese broccoli rice, creamy potato soup, macaroni and cheese, creamy chicken-flavored rice, hearty vegetable chicken-flavored soup, banana chips, and milk. Each pouch contains a couple of servings, and with the help of handy food supply meal calendars, you can plan to spread them out within 30 days or 45. Of course, you also can make a schedule of your own. However, be sure to note that the bags are not resealable and will need to be properly stored if only a serving or two is used and some is left inside.
Price at time of publish: $146
Size: 29.8 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 307 servings for 30 through 45 days | Shelf Life: 25 years
Best for the Car
Life Gear Emergency 3-Day Food, Water & Thermal Blanket Supply
Includes water and a blanket
Stores in a small box
Only one type of food
Many survival food kits are made either for storage or to take while camping or hiking, but this one stores in a box that fits perfectly in your car, can be used in case of an emergency, and doesn't cost a lot. It not only comes with food, but a 3-day US Coast Guard-approved supply of drinking water and a thermal blanket to keep you warm and hydrated. There is enough for 9 "meals"—but keep in mind that the food is divided up into 9 400-calorie bars with a slightly sweet taste. In the end, this kit isn't one to get for the taste but for the practicality and affordability.
Price at time of publish: $23
Size: 3.2 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 9 | Shelf Life: 5 years
Best Freeze Dried Fruit
Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Fruit Bucket
Only ingredient is fruit
Not a ton of calories
Valley Food Storage is a long-term food supply company that prides itself on clean, non-GMO ingredients and "high-quality calories." It offers larger food kits as well as this fruit-only option, which contains 12 bags of the most popular freeze-dried fruit, like bananas, blueberries, pineapple, and apples, for a total of 96 servings per bucket. The only ingredient is the fruit itself and all you have to do is add water—you can even eat it right out of the pouch.
While this dried fruit bucket isn't going to completely satisfy calorie requirements, we think it's a great complement to other meal kits that might not contain as many calories as you'd like. It's also good for camping and other outdoor adventures.
Price at time of publish: $170
Size: 3 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 96 servings | Shelf Life: 25 years
Augason Farms 72-Hour 1-Person Emergency Food Supply Kit
2,667 calories daily
Designed for one person
Enough for 9 meals
Not as much variety as other kits
While most survival food kits are designed to supply around 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day, the meals in this kit offer 2,667 calories daily. This is an excellent option for anyone with higher calorie needs, or in a situation where you may be injured and require more energy and strength for regaining your health. There are a total of 42 servings split up into nine meals, and five different types of entrees—enough for one person to eat over the course of three days. All meals are freeze-dried and only require the addition of water.
Price at time of publish: $21
Size: 4 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 42 servings, enough for 9 meals | Shelf Life: 25 years
Survive2Thrive Organic Preparedness Pail
100 percent organic
High-protein vegetarian meals
Almost 300 servings
If you’re looking for a survival kit with high-quality vegetarian food, the Survive2Thrive food kit has everything you need to feed one adult for 40 days and nights. There are 298 total servings of high-protein foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas. There are also sources of slow-acting carbohydrates, like oats and brown rice, that can provide much-needed energy during emergency situations. One thing to note: Unlike other food kits that have complete meals, this one comes with each ingredient individually vacuum sealed, so you’d have to mix and match to create a complete, balanced meal.
Price at time of publish: $300
Size: 36 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 298 servings, enough for 40 days and nights | Shelf Life: 15 years
Legacy Premium Gluten-Free 72-Hour Emergency Food Kit
Made in the U.S.A
You can’t make meals in the pouch
Specialized diets can become even more essential during disaster situations, so if you can’t have gluten, this option from Legacy Premium is an excellent choice. It contains 32 oversized servings of six different types of gluten-free meals, like Potato Soup and Enchilada, Beans and Rice. In addition to being gluten-free, all meals are non-GMO and made in the USA. This kit is enough to feed one person for three days, but there’s also a larger, 60-serving option for longer-term disaster prep or feeding additional people.
The only downside with this kit is that since the servings are so large—1.5 to two times larger than other kits—you can’t make the meals in the pouches they come in; you have to transfer the food to a pot or separate container before mixing it with water.
Price at time of publish: $120
Size: 9 pounds | Number of Meals Included: 32 servings, enough for about 8 meals | Shelf Life: 25 years
The ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply is a survival food kit that checks all the boxes—and you can choose from different serving sizes and meal options, like entrees or breakfast-only. If you have a lot of mouths to feed, the Wise Company 1 Month Emergency Food Supply or the Mountain House Ground Beef Cans have you covered.
What to Look for in a Survival Food Kit
One of the most important things to look for in a survival food kit is the size, since you need to make sure you have enough food for yourself and anyone else you’re trying to feed. Elizabeth Andress, Ph.D. and Judy Harrison, Ph.D., professors and extension food safety specialists at The University of Georgia, say that a three-day survival kit will be sufficient for most disasters, but if you’re in an area where you know power gets cut off for an extended period of time, a two-week supply is more reasonable. Whichever you choose, "plan food supplies so at least one well-balanced meal could be eaten each day," they say.
More literally, it is also crucial you pay attention to how heavy the kit is. Our list has options ranging from a little over 1.5 pounds to nearly 45 pounds, and those are drastically different weights. Survival kits on the smaller side can fit easily into cars or small spaces and can be lifted with ease by many, while ones on the heavier side may be more difficult to maneuver and may require a bit more muscle to carry as well as space when storing—they also may not be okay to put on top shelves and other higher areas.
No matter how much the actual survival kit weighs, it is also important to assess the serving size of the food. Keep in mind that the serving size is not always equivalent to the number of meals in the kit. For example, a three-day kit that’s meant for one person may have 18 servings, but only nine meals. This is intentional, as you often have higher calorie and protein needs in survival situations.
Another thing to consider is shelf life. Most food kits that are designated for survival have a 20- to 30-year shelf life, but make sure you’re double-checking. Freeze-dried food has the longest shelf life, while canned and vacuum-sealed foods won’t last as long. You can still stock up on these items separately, but you’ll have to monitor expiration dates and swap them out with new food when appropriate.
The preparation method is of utmost importance, as well, since you need to be able to actually eat the food if you have no power or water supply. Most food kits call only for the addition of water to freeze-dried meals, but some kits require boiling water, while others work with room-temperature water. If you have a camping stove and plenty of gas, you can get away with boiling water if your power is out, but if you don’t, you’ll have to opt for the easiest preparation methods instead.
In any case, Ready, a National public service campaign dedicated to disaster, says you can use alternative cooking sources, like candles, chafing dishes, fondue pots, and/or a fireplace to heat water in times of emergency. So, at the very least, make sure you have a lot of extra water on hand.
How much food do you need?
The American Red Cross recommends that you have a three-day supply for potential evacuation situations and a two-week supply for home use. In other words, for situations where you might be stuck at home with no power or other similar emergency situations, you should have enough food to feed everyone in your household three meals per day for two weeks. If you have to evacuate due to a natural disaster or something similar, you should have enough food to take with you on the road to feed each person three meals a day for three days.
What foods have the longest shelf life?
Most survival food kits are made with dehydrated foods and/or freeze-dried foods, which have the longest shelf life. These types of foods can last 20 to 30 years if sealed and stored properly. According to the USDA, not all canned foods are considered shelf-stable. These typically have a shelf life of one to two years, so while the canned foods you have in your pantry can certainly help in an emergency situation, you shouldn’t store them in a food survival kit.
How do you store survival food?
Most survival food kits come in sealed pouches that have oxygen absorbers to increase their shelf life, but it’s still important to protect them from the elements: excess heat, moisture, air, and light. The exact storage instructions may differ based on which kit you purchase (make sure to read storage directions carefully), but Augason Farms, one of the top survival food kit companies, recommends storing your survival food kit in a cool, dry, dark place that stays between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That means keeping your kit out of the basement and/or the attic, unless these areas are temperature- and humidity-regulated.
What else do you need?
In addition to food, Andress and Harrison recommend including water, personal hygiene items, flashlights, blankets, pet food, candles, and other essentials, like a first aid kit and backup medications, in any survival kit.
It’s also important to make sure you have everything you need to prepare and eat your food, like scissors or a knife for cutting open pouches, a can opener for any cans, disposable utensils, and a grill or camping stove if the food you have requires cooking. Most food survival kits include dehydrated food that you need to add boiling water to. Because of this, it’s wise to have extra water and a pot for boiling on hand, as well.
The CDC recommends storing at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days in your household. A two-week supply is even better, if possible, and keep in mind that sick or pregnant people will require more, as will those in hotter climates.
It's best to organize these items not only to keep things like medications and batteries away from the water supply but also to help in a situation when something is needed quickly. Knowing where everything is can save time in a pinch.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best survival food kits on the market, evaluating their key features—like the number of meals included, size, and shelf life—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list. We also tested some included meals for several survival food kits on this list, taking note of the flavor and ease of preparation.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified functional nutritionist with an extensive background in nutrition science and recipe development. With more than 12 years of experience in research, including deciphering research, she’s able to provide qualified recommendations for various products, from survival food kits to gluten-free pastas.
Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days. She updated this article to include the most up-to-date information and taste-tested meals from several of the survival food kits listed.
- Elizabeth Andress, Ph.D. and Judy Harrison, Ph.D., professors and extension food safety specialists at The University of Georgia
United States Department of Agriculture. How long can you keep canned goods?
Whitbread, D. Top 10 beans and legumes highest in protein. My Food Data.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Carbohydrates and blood sugar. The Nutrition Source.
Andress, E and Harrison, J. Preparing an emergency food supply, short term food storage. College of Family and Consumer Sciences, The University of Georgia.
American Red Cross. Survival Kit Supplies.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Creating and storing an emergency water supply.