Best Emergency Food – How to Prepare Your Pantry

If you took a peek in your pantry right now, would you have enough food to sustain your family through a natural disaster? I'm not talking about Oreos and baked beans. I'm talking about real quality emergency food to feed everyone in your house for 72 hours. 

One day after school, my first grader asked me what we would do if a big storm hit our area. What would we eat if we lost power to our house? What if all the roads were flooded and we couldn't go to the grocery store?

I figured if I was so totally unprepared for a natural disaster, you might be too.

In the spirit of transparency, you should know that some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means when you click on a link and then purchase a service or product, I may receive a commission. Rest assured that commission doesn't cost you anything to but it does help me keep the Pantry full of great, honest, information just for you.

Best Emergency Food Kits

Truth bomb...I really thought that I was going to go all in on Emergency Food Kits, figuring they are already well balanced in terms of nutritional value and course variety. I was wrong. 

As usual, convenience comes with a price and in this instance I don't think the trade-off is worth it.


Total Calories/
Calories per Day


What's so Special

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Contains: Milk, Soy, Wheat

Only kit to include real fruit


Contains: Milk, Soy, Wheat, Egg

Only kit to include real meat


Contains: Milk, Soy, Wheat

Only kit to include drinks

* Mountain House reports providing approximately 1,650 calories per day in the 3-Day kit. I checked the numbers numerous times and even outsourced the math  to my trusty banker husband and still found a discrepancy with the calories per day.      The chart shows my calculations for total calories and calories per day based on the nutrition information provided. 

While researching the available 72 hour kits I wasn't able to find one that was a fit for my family but that doesn't mean you should ignore them altogether. The whole point of being particular is finding the right fit for you.

As usual, convenience comes with a price and in this instance I don't think the trade-off is worth it.

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If you decide to start wading through the options for the best emergency food kits (and the water gets pretty deep) you'll see three companies showing up on just about every prepper's best emergency food kits list. 

But unlike most of the reviews, I'm not overly concerned about the weight and portability of the kits. I care more about the quality of the ingredients and taste of the food.

With that in mind, Augason Farms, Mountain House, and Wise Company all offer complete 72 hour kits that will work for most families. Don't forget to consider the size and ingredient needs of your family, and as always make sure to check the labels. 

Augason Farms Review

When looking for emergency food kits, Augason Farms is always on the list. Their 72 hour kit offers an excellent 2,560 cal/day, which goes above and beyond the recommended daily amount for an active adult. Not so surprisingly, this figure is well above the average 3-day kit calorie counts.

Where Augason Farms is lacking though is their range of included meals. With only one breakfast choice, a snack, and a combined three choices for lunch and dinner, they don't offer as varied of a selection as some of the other companies.

While not included in the 72 hour kits, they do offer a variety of other meals and products that offer a bit more range in flavor. 

The best part of the Augason Farms 72 hour kit is the durable, stackable plastic container which is perfect for easy organization in your pantry. 

Mountain House Review

With a price double that of the other two companies, I figured Mountain House must be offering some serious quality. 

Turns out, they are the only kit on our list to include real meat (bacon, beef, pork sausage, and chicken!) as compared to the chicken broth or chicken flavor included in other kits.

The meals in their 72 hour kit are extremely well thought out and it's obvious they've put a lot of effort into providing a great taste experience.

My concern with Mountain House is the calorie count per day. The product description states that it provides 1,650 calories/day which is significantly lower than your optimal intake. 

What's worse is that when I started adding up the calories included in each pouch it equaled about 1,167 calories/day which is much too low for most adults, even if the protein source is higher quality.

Wise Company​​​Wise Company Review

To be honest, I'm not sure why the Wise Company 72 Hour Kit is included in so many best emergency food kit lists. The only thing I can come up with is that there is a lot of blind copy and pasting going on by some over enthusiastic affiliate members. 

That said, one thing the Wise Company kit has going for it, that the other's lack, is a drink mix. Their kit comes with 14 servings of whey milk powder. 

Unfortunately, this kit also comes with partially hydrogenated ingredients and up to 4g of Trans Fat in each pouch of the breakfast choices. 

trans fat inforgraphic
Thanks to Naturally Savvy for this awesome infographic about trans fats.

The Wise Company 72 hour kit comes with a price-tag and selection similar to the Augason Food kit but comes with significantly less calories/day (less than 1,500 after you take out the calories from the whey milk).

Best Emergency Food - A La Carte

So what do you do if you decide the emergency food kits aren't quite right for you but you still want to be prepared? Well, I was faced with exactly that problem when I couldn't find the right kit to fit my family's needs. 

Luckily, almost all of the survival food companies, including the three above, provide a variety of a la carte food options. However, there are two companies that stand out above all the other choices.

In this table you'll see a few of my family's favorite choices. 

Particular Picks



What's so Special

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Backpacker's Pantry

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

A Louisiana classic, red beans and rice in a spicy Cajun sauce

Produced in a facility that processes peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, gluten, egg, and tree nut ingredients

100% vegetarian,  lots of flavor, simple ingredients

Backpacker's Pantry

Pesto Pasta with Salmon

Line-caught Alaskan salmon on a bed of pasta with basil pesto, almonds, and sun-dried tomatoes

Contains: Milk, Wheat, Almond, Salmon

Gourmet meal, high protein, great source of calcium

Valley Food Storage

Freeze-dried Fruit Bucket

7 delicious varieties of freeze-dried fruit

Contains: No common allergens


Apples, Bananas, Blueberries, Peaches, Pineapples, Raspberries, Strawberries

Valley Food Storage - Freeze-dried fruit bucket

Valley Food Storage

Mac and Cheese

Comfort food at its finest with classic mac and cheese

Contains: Milk, Wheat

Simple ingredients, no preservatives, kid friendly favorite

Valley Food Storage - Mac and Cheese

Valley Food Storage

Freeze-dried Chicken

100% freeze-dried, cooked chicken

Contains: No common allergens

100% chicken, no preservatives, easy to add to any meal

Valley Food Storage - Freeze-dried Chicken

Valley Food Storage and Backpackers Pantry both offer a wide array of individual items (think freeze-dried beef and freeze-dried asparagus) along with prepared meals (like Pad Thai with chicken). 

Related - The difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated food.

Backpacker's Pantry Review

If you want to keep to a particular way of eating, even in an emergency case, rest assured, it’s possible. In fact, Backpacker's Pantry really nails it when it comes to offering options for special diets. They offer freeze-dried meals catering to vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free lifestyles.

I like to think of Backpacker's Pantry as the gourmet survival food option. They are committed to providing clean, well-balanced, and preservative-free nutrition in all of their meals. They also offer an “organic” option for omnivores, which is going a step further in the quality of ingredients segment.

Backpacker's Pantry was even asked to provide food for the 2017 US Ski Team during their overseas travels!

From "Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Beef" to "Pesto Pasta with Salmon" to "Kathmandu Curry" you can be sure to find meals to satisfy your particular tastes. But of course, with quality comes higher cost, so this probably won't be the best option for larger families or those on a budget.

Valley Food Storage Review

My favorite emergency food company is Valley Food Storage. When you take all things into account - quantity, quality, variety, and cost, Valley Food Storage is the one brand to rule them all. 

When looking for the right fit for my family, I had trouble finding meal kits with enough servings. That's why I love Valley Food Storage, I can still buy emergency food at bulk prices while also being particular about the food I want for my family. 

Grab a Special 10% off just for Particular Pantry Readers

Like Backpacker's Pantry, Valley Food Storage prides themselves on providing real food with real ingredients even in emergency situations. Their foods have no artificial preservatives and chemicals, no MSG, and no hydrogenated oils. 

In fact, they are so sure you will like their food they offer FREE SAMPLES, you just pay for the shipping. Done and done!

Valley Food Storage also has the most comprehensive offering of individual ingredients so you can make your own meals as if there was no emergency at all.

While their meal selection is not quite as eclectic as Backpacker's Pantry you can still tempt your taste-buds with Irish Pub Cheddar Potato Soup or Mango Habanero Chili. They also offer options for special diets including gluten-free and dairy-free. 

From individual items to bulk meals, and even a food kit and course combo, Valley Food Storage has enough choices to satisfy even the most particular shopper. 

Best Emergency Food - The Verdict

No matter what kit or combo you choose, being prepared for nature's worst is always a good idea. With all of these choices you can rest easy knowing that the companies have taken great care to ensure nutrition and versatility. Where they differentiate the most is in their price range, calories provided, and quality of ingredients.

In the end, buying emergency food a la carte was the best solution for my family. I really didn't want to waste money buying a kit with a bunch of meals my kiddos weren't going to eat. Not to mention I would need to buy multiple kits in order to have enough stockpiled for our crew.

If you peek inside my pantry now you'd see a nice, neat stockpile of Valley Food Storage containers filled with a variety of individual ingredients and pre-made meals...everyone loves a good mac and cheese after all.