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  • Emergency Food Supplies: What to Buy and How to Store It

    Stocking up on a supply of emergency food isn’t just a fascination of the prepping community. Even as society evolves, the demand for emergency food remains. From power outages to those nights you simply just don’t have the energy to cook, a supply of instant meals can help give you peace of mind no matter what. Of course, everyone’s needs are different. In order to determine what kind of food you need to include in your emergency food supply, you’ll need to ask yourself a few basic questions. Determining the answers to these questions will make shopping and planning a whole lot easier in the long run.

    How Much Food Do You Need?

    In order to determine how much food you need, you first need to figure out what exactly you’re planning for. Are you planning for a heavy storm? Unexpected overnight guests? The great unknown? Once you determine what purpose your emergency food will serve, ask yourself the following questions in order to calculate how much food you’ll need:
    • How many people am I feeding?
    • Do I need to consider special nutrition or health concerns such as diabetes or food allergies?
    • How long should my food supply last?
    • Do I need any special equipment for preparation of food?
    • Do I have access to water and electricity? If so, is that access limited?
    These are only a few of the questions you'll need to ask yourself to ensure a successful emergency preparedness plan. For instance, it doesn't do any good to have a 25-pound bag of dry beans without access to water, heat, or a container in which to cook them. You’ll want to buy food that makes sense for your specific situation.

    Plan Your Calories

    Another main factor to consider is calories, also known as your energy intake. How many calories you need is dependent on your metabolism and how long you plan on needing a food supply. When planning your daily calorie intake, a good place to start is by using a calorie calculator. The results give you a range that is based on age, height, weight, and activity level. Go with the most calories, and then add an extra 500-700 calories to your daily calorie intake goal. It may seem unnecessary, however in cases where you'd have to do extra work or exercise (like manual labor, additional walking, etc.), you'll need more calories to meet your needs. Also, if you need to ration supplies, having extra calories makes rationing a lot easier.

    Planning For Your Family Size

    Use the following formulas to determine how much food your family needs:
    • One person = calories per day X number of days food supply should last
    • Family = total calories per day X number of days food supplies should last
    Mountain House offers food kits in 2- to 14-day supplies. In fact, kits are broken down in 2-day, 3-day, 4-day and 5-day supplies to cater to a variety of needs. By purchasing the correct amount of food for your specific needs, you can rest assured you’ll be prepared no matter what.

    Planning For the Long Term

    The same rules apply when it comes to long-term emergency preparedness. Simply multiply the calorie needs per day into week-long segments and then determine how long you want your food supply to extend. People actively plan for three months, six months, or even for an entire year. Planning for long-term needs requires a little more planning than planning food for a 14-day period. One consideration is shelf life, which may be shorter than you think for certain emergency foods. Home-packaged foods such as dried fruit, for example, typically must be used within six months of dehydrating. Most store-bought canned meat and uncooked instant cereals typically expire after about a year on the shelf. The nice thing about these products is that they have an expiration date on their packaging, so you’ll always be aware of how long you have left to use your supply. Conversely, Mountain House products are designed specifically for emergencies that may not arise until well into the future. An emergency food kit and all our products have a Taste Guarantee of 30 years. If you're planning for the long term, use quality foods that are made to go the distance. Food storage and shelf life are dependent on the type of food you'd buy and how it's stored. A Note On Water The only thing that’s more essential than nutrient-rich food is water. Not only do you need water for hydration, but it’s also essential for making most of our delicious, ready-to-eat meals. The general rule is to keep a supply of one gallon of water on hand per person per day. Like food, bottled water has a use-by date — therefore it needs to be rotated with your food supply. For long-term solutions, a water purification kit can be helpful, especially in cases where clean water is not always readily available.

    Cost of Emergency Food

    At first glance, emergency food can seem expensive. What you're paying for is safety, nutrition, and value — all of which will deliver when you need it most. Despite the cost, your food supply can be affordable. It's a good idea to buy in bulk because the cost per meal is less than if you were to buy one meal at a time. You can also mix cheaper foods with premium options to extend your food supply without breaking the bank. Another way to make buying emergency food a bit easier is to add its cost into your budget. Setting aside windfalls such as your tax return for buying more food is also a great way to ensure you’re always prepared without feeling like you have to shell out too much cash.

    Types of Food

    There are various types of emergency food available from Mountain House. From meaty choices like Beef Stew to vegetarian options like Pasta Primavera, you’ll find a wide assortment of products that not only provide you the necessary energy to get through anything, but taste great as well. To kickstart your day, our Just in Case...® Breakfast Bucket provides favorites like Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, Breakfast Skillet, and Granola with Milk & Blueberries. Each meal is balanced for nutrition, calories, carbs, and flavor. Lunch and dinner kits are also available and include meals such as Chili Mac with Beef or Beef Stroganoff with Noodles. After a long day, there’s nothing more rewarding than indulging in something sweet. Our desserts and treats include delicious options like Raspberry Crumble and New York Style Cheesecake Bites to satisfy your sweet tooth.

    Reliable Food, Any Time

    The benefit of buying emergency food from Mountain House is that it’s designed specifically for long-term storage. This means all of our products are packaged to help you save space and reduce the chance of spoilage, thanks to a tightly sealed and waterproof design. Pouches offer waterproof packaging that fits easily into daily meal planning. For longer rationing or when feeding more people, our #10 Cans provide a 30-year shelf life and the convenience of individual food items in a larger portion size. Kits or multi-day kits are perfect for planning meals for a specific number of days and people. A bucket kit provides a lot of food in an environmentally safe container to ensure you’re always ready to eat.

    Food Storage Best Practices

    There are several methods that work well to extend the shelf life of your supply. The best way is to use each meal and replace as you go. Set a rotation schedule that matches the shelf life of your food. That may be every six months for home packaged dried fruit or every two years, 12 years, or 30 years for specially packaged emergency foods. The rotation depends on the food and its container type. Here are some other things to keep in mind when storing food for the long term:
    • Emergency food should be stored in a dry, dark, and cool area.
    • Many food storage systems use a right-to-left method of storage. Food that expires quickly goes on the right, while foods that have a longer shelf life go on the far left. This method is even more effective if food is also arranged front to back — in other worse, foods that expire first sit front and right, while foods that expire last sit back and left.


    Emergency food doesn’t merely exist to tantalize your tastebuds. It's also designed to meet your daily dietary requirements both for nutrition and caloric intake. High-quality food supplies should be packaged by calorie-load, not by serving size. Because you’ll typically burn more calories than usual, it’s more important that during emergency situations you meet your caloric intake goals rather than eating the correct portion size.

    Before You Buy

    We suggest that before you go ahead and purchase a bunch of product from us, order a single serving of emergency food to try out first. You’ll want to make sure that it's delicious and that you’ll be able to stand eating it for days on end.

    Other Food Items You Should Buy

    In addition to emergency meals, you should keep the rest of your food supply well-stocked. Include the things that you need to make meals easy, nutritious, and delicious.
    • Coffee, cocoa, and tea
    • Rice
    • Spices
    • Condiments
    • Sugar
    • Vitamins and supplements
    • Water (bottled or purified)
    As you plan for emergencies, consider the benefit of Mountain House's freeze-dried meals. We offer nutritionally balanced food that you’d actually want to eat that can be readily made no matter the situation.

    Inspired for an Adventure? Check out Beef Stroganoff - Pouch and Beef Stew - Pouch