How to Compare Food Storage Apples to Apples

Written by Brandon Garrett

There are lots of different food storage companies out there. How do you compare the food storage options apples to apples?

I recently overheard a friend say that it didn’t matter where you got your food storage – it was all the same. Wow! I didn’t say anything at the time but I have to respectively disagree. We’ve collected a few tips that you can use but also collected some tips that food storage companies use to try and trick people when comparing food storage supply kits.

Calories per day
One of the best ways to compare food storage is by comparing how nutritious your food storage is. After all, that’s the whole point of food storage – keeping you healthy and running in a stitch. The average person needs between 1,300 and 2,400 calories per day to maintain health. Children usually need between 1,000 – 2,000 calories per day.

How many calories do I need?

Children (ages 2 – 13)

Female Adult (ages 14 +)

Male Adult (ages 14 +)

1,000 – 2,200

1,800 – 2,400

2,200 – 3,000

If a company doesn’t advertise how many calories are in their food storage items, it’s probably because it’s not very flattering. You’ll also see companies make it very difficulty to find nutritional information about products on their websites. We have seen a variety of companies that sell kits with calorie counts as low as 500 calories per day! That’s the equivalent of eating a single Big Mac from McDonalds for your one meal a day!

Other companies will try and stuff their long-term kits with filler calories like sugary drink mixes or crackers in order to bump up the calorie count. Be sure that you get a variety of foods in your kit so it will be worth eating when the time comes. Some products on the market only come with 10 meals. Imagine eating just those 10 meals over the course of a year – that would get old pretty quickly.

Dehydrated vs Freeze-dried
Many times, companies will compare a kit of dehydrated foods with a kit full of freeze-dried items. This is a little misleading.

Dehydrated items typically have a shelf-life of 10 – 20 years and they typically require some a longer cooking time (increased fuel requirements too).

Freeze-dried foods typically have a longer shelf-life of 20 – 30 years and require less cooking and fuel. Some are great straight from the can like our fruits and veggies.

Don’t be fooled when a company claims a better price when they’re really comparing apples and oranges.

The Ready Store offers dehydrated kits, freeze-dried kits, or mixes of both.

Food sources
Most companies are hesitant to share where their food is grown. Be sure that your food is coming from a reputable place and that the company isn’t cutting corners by purchasing food from cut-rate growers from locations of the world with bad track records of safety and quality.

Mylar bagsFood packaging
Your food storage will typically come in three different types of packaging:  pouches, #10 cans, or buckets.

Mylar pouches. Most meals inside of a mylar bag pouch will last 15 – 25 years.

#10 cans. Food inside of #10 cans will typically have a shelf-life of 10 – 30 years depending on whether the food is dehydrated or freeze-dried. Make sure that your cans are sealed correctly. Read our post about what to look for with #10 can sealings.

Buckets. When purchasing a bucket of food storage, your best option is to have the food come inside of an air-tight bucket with a Mylar bag inside that bucket.

Oxygen absorbers. It’s important to have an oxygen absorber inside of your bag or can. Make sure that the absorber is high quality and will help preserve your food. Some companies advertise that they will flush the food with nitrogen before they package it. An oxygen absorber will work better.

What the nitrogen flushing companies aren’t telling you is that they include an oxygen absorber because in the end that is what works best. Companies, like Oregon Freeze Dry – parent company of Mountain House, that have been in the business for almost ½ a century, have dropped nitrogen flushing altogether for 02 absorbers because they get the job done.

Shipping & additional costs
While many companies have comparable prices, don’t forget about the shipping costs. They need to be added into your overall purchase price. Some companies require tax to be paid on all orders. With The Ready Store, only customers from the Beehive State are required to pay sales tax.

Bad Apples: What NOT to look for when comparing food storage

While there are many things that you should look for in a food storage supply, there are also many things you don’t need to worry yourself about. Here are a few examples:

Number of cansNumber of cans
The number of cans in a food storage kit can be misleading. How much do they fill each can? What are the cans full of?

If you’re getting as much nutrition and food out of less cans, then you’re not losing anything besides storage space.

Saratoga Farms fills their cans and buckets, on average, 20-30 percent more than other competitor’s brands. This saves you precious storage space.

A lot of companies that skimp on the amount of food in their kits will typically highlight their serving count instead (like we mentioned above). Even when you’re comparing serving counts, be careful. Some servings vary by size (1 cup vs ⅓ cup) or preparation (dry serving vs prepared serving).

Weight of the kit
Freeze-dried foods weigh considerably less than dehydrated foods. A kit that has a lot of dehydrated foods will weigh more but have a shorter shelf-life.

More than anything, supply kit weight should only be considered when determining shipping costs. However, not all companies charge by weight.

What questions do you  have?
We try really hard to provide you with a quality product that you and your family will enjoy. We also want to help you understand your purchase and be as transparent as possible. If you have any questions, please let us know and we’ll try and answer it!

We also want to know your tips! Share below what things you have found helpful when comparing food storage supply kits.

Updated November 7, 2012


  1. Shirley Stone wrote:

    Those are all excellent points, but I think you missed one: I found one company that called products by meat and poultry names, but when i checked the ingredients list, there was not a speck of meat or poultry in the product – just textured vegetable protein. They were NOT advertising vegetarian products, they were leading potential customers to believe they were selling hearty meat and poultry entrees.

    The other thing that customers need to be very mindful of is the amount of salt in the prepared foods. It probably adds to the shelf life, but all of the prepared entrees that I’ve tried so far are much too salty. Please consider at least offering some entrees that are low salt, even if you have to lower the shelf life on them.

    July 18th, 2011 at 11:06 am
  2. Paul Stanton wrote:

    I prefer Mountain house because you can get pouches of food to try out. It is important for me to do this to see if I would really like eating a specific entrie. I would like to see Saratoga farms offer small sample pouches. This would go a long way to making it easier to buy this brand because I could try it out!!


    July 18th, 2011 at 12:23 pm
  3. Terry wrote:

    I agree with Paul on the need for smaller sample sizes. If not single serve pouches then at least make all your main stuff available in the smaller number 2.5 size can. My wife and I are older and on fixed income. We can’t afford to open some of the big cans just to try it out to see if we like it. The small cans would give us this opportunity. We could then order only what we like and could learn to use the food in recipes.


    From The Ready Store:

    We are in the process of bringing the Saratoga Farms line to pouches, so your wait won’t be too long :-)


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:09 pm
  4. Paul Sanchez wrote:

    I was wondering how many calories a working person would need to Farm, Mine, real hard work. Do the delux kits have enough to sustain them? and not go to bed hungry?

    From The Ready Store:

    Paul, our kits range from 1,900 to 3,300+ calories per day so I am sure you can find something that will keep an active body going. When you are viewing a product there is a green tab labelled Feature and Specifications that will for sure have the calorie per day number, most product pages have that number in the description. Hope that helps!


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
  5. AutumnGal wrote:

    My #1 greatest frustration with the majority of survival food companies is the difficulty in finding out exactly how the product is preserved. For me it’s literally a matter of life and death after getting a toxic dose of sulfite from a salad bar. With just one serving of a food preserved with sulfites and all their kissing cousins, depending on the amount, I have to take 1 to 3 Benadryl type OTC’s to counteract the side effects. However the damage is done and will require a month or so to heal. Salt is the same just not as bad.
    My # 2 frustration is small print instructions or “pale” they’re virtually impossible to read. This would be horrible under difficult or dire situations.
    One company offering textured vegetable protein even made light of a customer’s concerns regarding the fact that their TVP was not meat! They said something like; “in a survival situation any food is better than nothing”! Deliberate and obvious deceptions plus the attitude of indifference… I can live without!
    Thank you for addressing this subject and please know it is not denagrading of another company to make people aware of these practices. You are to be commended.

    July 18th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
  6. John wrote:

    Add my vote to those who want the smaller cans or pouches to try out. My wife would rather not have the #10 cans for most things until we know for sure we’l eat the contents.

    July 18th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
  7. Tressa wrote:

    The first poster mentioned the salt content of prepared foods. I am just starting to build up a food supply and wanted a few ready to use dehydrated or freeze dried foods. But the excessive salt content of everything I’ve looked at prevents me from using these products. I’d be dead from a stroke before starvation.

    July 18th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
  8. Hans Bertelsen wrote:

    MRE;s do the trick..All the nutrition and plenty of choice…If they are good enough for our G.I.’s they’re good enough for me.

    July 18th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
  9. joanne wrote:

    I think of .my food storage differently.I buy grocery productsfor 6-8 months and rotate through. then i bought super pails( lg amount) and several good kits and baking basics and milk fats etc. after i did that i read on some national survival site that this is now recommended. to storewhat would last many years for real emergencies and rotate a larger supply of grocery foods? shelflife of the emergency food of 20-3o-years makes this possible.of course buying the excellent foods and using them all the time is a great idea as well i just have not been quite that organized and wanted safety of food supply quick. to the lady with blood pressure problems new eresearch in alternative medicine may solve your problem and allow you to eat more salt.

    July 18th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
  10. Dennis Watts wrote:

    The key is variety. Long term food storage should reflect what you typically eat as much as possible. Freeze dried is what I use primarily but supplement with MREs, dehydrated and off the shelf items, plus some home canned items. Calorie intake- Very important- need to know you base metabolic rate to know what your body burns normally. The higher the activity the more calories you need. Unfortunately alot of pre-prepared food does have a high salt content, so that is a concern.
    Also need to be concerned about adequate nutrition (vitamins, minerals, etc). I have found that most “standard serving sizes” you find on packaging, is inadequate for what I normally eat.
    Also, long term nutrition and calorie intake is just that long term. Most of us can survive on much less for (uncomfortably maybe) days or weeks if needed. That is why on most emergency food kits ( the kind with energy bars or nutrition bars), the typical calorie intake is 800-1200 calories per day. That also assumes minamal physical activity.
    Do not forget about a source for safe water.

    July 18th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
  11. Marie wrote:

    Another problem is the “MSG not added” claims. Nearly ALL (even Alpine Aire) has MSG derivatives (autolyzed or hydrolyzed anything, gums, some soy proteins, etc.). If you are MSG-sensitive, then you will probably be sick as a dog eating these foods in any survivable quantities.

    Also, it’s my understanding these products are not meant to be consumed for long periods of time. Unless you eat them NOW, your body will not adapt easily to them during a crisis. Just imagine…high stress AND food your body rejects. Not the makings of a good situation. That’s why they say, Eat what you store and store what you eat!! There are other long-term canned foods out there that can easily be added into your meals now so that you and your kids will be used to them (yoders meat, etc.). You can use these AND dehydrated vegs, etc. to keep diet as familiar as you can.

    July 18th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
  12. admin wrote:

    @ Marie

    We have had quite a few customers call us and tell us their positive experiences about living off of our different kits for extended periods of time. In each case they lost their job and lived off of their food storage kits.

    In one case the gentleman had lost some weight since he was no longer getting fast food every day for lunch (he admitted to having some extra storage around the waist if you know what I mean).


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
  13. Jack wrote:

    Any more information on how much longer before Mountain House resumes consumer sales?

    From The Ready Store:

    Jack, they have begun limited sales through us and about 3-4 other companies. Their stock levels are still nowhere as good as normal and the variety is still down a little.


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 11:50 am
  14. Scrummy wrote:

    I am concerned about the food sources for all of these survival companies. What countries grow the food? Is any coming from China, Japan, etc.? Is the food labeled with the country from which the food came?
    I don’t know what to do. We are also on an income that will not allow my family and me to buy too much extra.

    From The Ready Store:

    Scrummy, there are two brands we carry: Saratoga Farms (in house brand) and Mountain House. Saratoga Farms does not source any food grown in China, Japan, or the orient for that matter. As for Mountain House they state on their website that their asian meals do have some ingredients that are from China.

    Hope that helps,

    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 11:50 am
  15. Sherry wrote:

    I have to be on a low salt diet and noticed that Alpine Air’s products offer lower salt content in their foods. I wished all brands would offer lower salt contents because this is very important to many of us. Thanks

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:12 pm
  16. gecko wrote:

    Sherry are you sure?

    I just went and checked them out and their Black Bart Chili has 71% of your daily sodium in one serving. Doesn’t sound low sodium to me. As a matter of fact Saratoga Farm’s Mtn Man Chili is quite a bit lower and Mountain House’s Chili Mac (chili with macaroni noodles) is even lower than the Mtn Man Chili.

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:19 pm
  17. Carmelita wrote:

    FYI, Healthy Harvest said that NONE of their ingredients come from China either…..

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
  18. michael wrote:

    Is there or will there be kits that will have a mix of freeze-dried and mre type food combined to save on the overall purchase. Now I am buying GI mres and seperately buying #10 cans plus whole grains.

    From The Ready Store:

    Michael, at this time we don’t foresee mixing those food types in a kit. We find that most people prefer one over the other so it makes sense to have kits for each as well as a la carte.


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:35 pm
  19. michael wrote:

    Also wanted to ask if there is some sort of auto ship that would send x amount of freeze-dried food once a month for persons that are on a fixed income.

    From The Ready Store:

    Michael, at this time we do not have a program/system in place to do this and I have not heard that is one of the projects that are being worked on.


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:46 pm
  20. Melody wrote:

    Will you have the option where we, the customer, can pick and choose what goes in the kits? I use the #10 cans. Thanks.

    From The Ready Store:

    There has been talk of building that functionality into the site but with product shortages over the past 9 months that is something that definitely is not going to happen soon. Having the flexibility to substitute an equal or more expensive item allows us to get shipments out the door much quicker during times like this.


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:14 pm
  21. Jess wrote:

    My biggest frustration is with the inability to get information on toxicity.
    – What are the BPA levels in the cans ? (MH states only : withing FDA standards)
    – Is the Corn, and other products GMO? (90% of all US corn)
    – How much BGH – Steroids – Hormones – in the dairy ?
    I do not eat these chemicals in my daily diet – but for “shtf” use – I guess it’s that of nothing. But I still like to know.

    I would LOVE organic #10 cans, and am willing to pay for non-toxic food !!!!!

    From The Ready Store:

    Jess, a lot of our suppliers (and Mountain Houses’ as well) are very very large food companies, most of the same companies that are already selling food into grocery stores. The easiest way to answer all of these questions is that what you are finding in your local grocery store is going to be similar to what you find here in the #10 cans (though we do not bring in food grown in the Far East). We are not bringing in specialty foods (certified organic, ect) as the data has shown that the vast majority of the people would prefer to pay less for their food than to have an organic product.

    As for our food/cans, they pass all Federal regulations. For those that feel the federal regulations are not good enough for them they are probably going to be best off growing it themselves if they want to make sure something is 100% organic, heck even the term “organic” is thrown around loosely these days in the grocery store from what I have read.


    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:34 pm
  22. Tom wrote:

    I agree with Paul I we could have a sampler of Saratoga farms products it would be great,I call it buy and try.


    July 18th, 2011 at 1:34 pm
  23. Kim wrote:

    Jess has a great concern I share. My wife has celiac disease and we must be careful of all products. Organic food is one criteria we always look for. Why bother eating stored food and not surviving due to lack of critical information from the suppliers?

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:56 pm
  24. Joe Calabrese wrote:

    Very informative post – thanks for the detail and keep up the great work!

    July 18th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
  25. Gaye wrote:

    I too am Celiac. That means I am allergic to soy, gluten grains, and very sensitive to dairy. GMO corn, MSG besides other chemicals are huge NO NO’s for me. Any idea what I could order? Thank you!

    From The Ready Store:

    Our website does have Specialty and Allergen sections, go to the Home Page and click on the Food Storage tab at the top left of the site. From there scroll down until you see the Ask the Expert graphic on the left side of the page. Above that you will see a ALLERGEN & SPECIALTY section with sub headings under that.

    Also if you get to a product that you are questioning click on the tab: Features & Specifications and/or the Ingredient tab to see allergen information. Hopefully this will get you pointed in the right direction!

    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
  26. Chris wrote:

    If GMO is a health issue for you – you need to watch the documentary “The World According to Monsanto”; the full length film is avail on youtube for free.
    It goes into the vast amount of product that are contaminated. A shocking 86% of all Corn, 93% of Soy, in the US is GMO! as well as many other plant, and now animal products. Don’t forget about the indirectly affect: Cows are fed GMO corn – thus Beef and Milk are affected. If it it not Spacificly marked “Non GMO” ,…. it probably is!

    July 18th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
  27. buck hamelund wrote:

    i agree with most of the posts on this subject, however, i am confused as to the actual servings of, lets say the saratoga farms creamy beef and pasta. click on the benefits and description and it states 22 servings, click on what’s in the box. and it’s down to 17 servings. click next to features and specifications, and we are down to 14 servings. fianally, click on recipes and nutrition, and we have 14 3/4cup servings, compared to 10 1cup servings of the mountain house. i also find it hard to believe that the mountain house beef stroganoff with noodles only has a shelf life of 15 to 30 days after it is opened, unless you mean that it is going to be eaten that quickly. now this is not a slam at saratoga farms, i have bought a lot of their product, and what i have tried, was good. i am just stating that this site is confusing when it comes to the actual number of servings per can…

    July 18th, 2011 at 7:38 pm
  28. John D. wrote:

    I live in the deep south and am worried about how the heat effects the shelf life of the products I’m storing. What about the heat from shipping and warehosing. It’s real hot in those trucks and if the food spends three or four days in that intense heat, what does it do to the shelf life?

    July 18th, 2011 at 8:59 pm
  29. Admin wrote:

    @ buck hamelund

    The servings is 14 for that particular product. The 22 servings on the graphic is like what it says, an average of Saratoga Farms entrees to show that on average you are getting much more food than other brands.

    The reason Saratoga Farms can get more food in each can is due to the production process. Mountain House, another great choice, cooks all of the items together and then freeze-dries the food. This method results in a fluffy/voluminousness yield or in other words a good amount of air space in the can. Saratoga Farms on the other hand cooks their meats separately then puts their freeze-dried components in the can with the sauces and noodles/rice. They are able to fill the can to the top (some settling will occur in transit as the cans move around the US on semi trucks for a couple days).

    An experiment you can perform to see the difference is get a serving of Mountain House Spaghetti (1 cup dry) and a serving of Saratoga Farms Hearty Beef Rotini (1/2 cup dry) and add the recommended amounts of water. After 5-10 minutes you will see each serving is 1 cup prepared. The difference is Saratoga Farms will expand whereas the Mountain House product will stay the same.

    I think Mountain House has seen the value in this process as I opened can of their Beef Stronganoff the 2 weeks ago (we have dented cans in our break room thanks to FedEx) and the food inside was prepared the way that Saratoga Farms is doing it. They didn’t necessarily add any more food (that can still yields 10 servings as same as always) to the can but I think they see the value in the more efficient production process. We all know they have been struggling to meet demand and it seems like they are making changes to their production process so they can produce food faster and the Saratoga Farms process is just that, a more efficient process which is why it is a better cost per serving.

    The Ready Store

    July 18th, 2011 at 10:02 pm
  30. connie wrote:

    Add my vote to the smaller try can also…Low to no Sodium…..That would make me buy lots!!!!

    July 18th, 2011 at 10:58 pm
  31. Gloria wrote:

    Many concerns regarding the BPA, salt, aired here.

    I am on a special diet for kidney problems.I am totally vegetarian, so I just bought some cans of the basic food that I eat…zucchini, green beans, carrots, various fruits, broccoli, tomato powder, etc. I was looking at the prepared meals for my mother and was appalled at the salt content, too.

    I’ve laid in a couple of years worth of my basic carbos…no protein rice and bean “threads” imported from the East (probably full of radiation) as well as amino acid supplements (U.S. lab.). I keep stacking these items as I rotate them through.

    I’ve also joined a local CSA so I can have fresh organic veggies and also am a member of the co-op. It’s almost impossible for me to garden here in the desert, although I can grown greens during the winter.

    Big concern is olive oil. I eat a higher fat diet than most people (although perfectly OK, even by Am. Heart Assoc. standards…they have a little computation to help ascertain your % fat, even more allowed if you don’t have weight issues). I’ve got about 15 liters stored, which I rotate out. I rely mostly on Sam’s Club 1st cold press oil, although I dislike the plastic. Have some in glass and tins as well…

    I’m not going to be eating the veggies I just bought….I will try the samples though to be forewarned.
    However, I do have experience with dehydrated foods that I give to the DOGS! Honest Kitchen dehydrated foods…veggies that I add to their food. It’s really worked wonders on their digestion and coats!!!

    July 19th, 2011 at 7:13 am
  32. admin wrote:

    From The Ready Store:

    @ John D.

    That short of a period (a few days) should not have any adverse affect on the food. As for the overall storage conditions you will want as cool of a location as possible with as little light as possible. We have not seen research on temperature affects on those foods like we have seen with MREs (

    The Ready Store

    July 19th, 2011 at 9:17 am
  33. looneytunes wrote:

    I would like to see products for those with food allergies that are actually safe.

    I have serious concerns about your “Allergen and Specialty” selection of foods. I used the chat feature on your site to contact your customer service and check a few things on your peanut free items. I wanted to know if these items were processed in a peanut/tree nut free facility. UNFORTUNATELY, I was told that all of your foods are processed in the same facility. How can you claim that your products are safe for those with food allergies??? Your labels don’t seem to state any sort of warning that the items are processed in a facility with the allergens. You are specifically targeting people with allergies and making it seem as if these products are safe for them and they are not. Even if you are following GMP (good manufacturing practices) policies you should still be listing that these items are all processed in the same facility. You are putting people at risk. It would be bad enough to have a potentially life threatening reaction to your food products, but to have a reaction during an emergency or disaster would be even worse.

    From The Ready Store:

    We do not process foods with peanuts or tree nuts in our facilities (did over a year ago but won’t be bringing peanut flour back) but the raw goods we purchase may come from facilities that do and since the suppliers can change it is something that is hard to pin down and communicate over the website with up-to-the-minute accuracy. To get the latest and most accurate information on a product of interest please call in and we will gladly perform the due diligence for you. Part of the process would be checking our current inventory and calling the specific manufacturer and seeing if that batch was processed in a facility that was peanut/tree free nut free.

    We do not make any claims on our website that our foods are safe for people with food allergies. Any and all relevant information pertaining to food allergen contents that would consist of a claim for safe consumption are printed on the cans in compliance with Federal regulations and industry standards.

    The Peanut Free category on our site is for products that do not contain peanuts, for some people that is all they need to know – my neice for example has a peanut allergy that is not as severe and could use that category to shop with safety. For others that have a more severe food allergy they would need to call in for us to get them more specific information since it changes from time to time and this is not something you ever want to get wrong.

    Hope that helps,

    The Ready Store

    July 19th, 2011 at 10:06 am
  34. looneytunes wrote:

    Correction to my comment: GMP (good manufacturing practices) NOT GMO.

    From The Ready Store

    I went ahead and fixed it for you, I will respond here shortly to your blog post.

    The Ready Store

    July 19th, 2011 at 10:12 am
  35. Brandon wrote:

    So are you telling me that the value buckets I bought from you don’t really last 20 30yrs like the description states?

    From The Ready Store:

    No, not at all Brandon. The foods (wheat, flour, oats) in the ValueBuckets do not need to be stored in #10 cans to get 20-30 years. A mylar bag and oxygen absorber are all they need. Ready-to-eat meals on the other hand DO need a can for them to last that long. There are many more ingredients/components in these meals that require the environment only a can will provide.

    The Ready Store

    July 19th, 2011 at 11:49 am
  36. Brandon wrote:

    Oh I see, my fault I’m still learning. I am not even close to where I want to be on food storage levels and the buckets are going to take me there. The long shelf life is great because in ten years I can decide whether I should eat it or hold it for another 10. Thanks for the reply.

    From The Ready Store:

    No problem Brandon, completely understand the question.

    The Ready Store

    July 19th, 2011 at 1:51 pm
  37. Sherry Churchill wrote:

    Like John D, I live near Tampa, Florida and worry about the heat, particularly if we lose our A/C during the summer. For shipping purposes, I try to order my MRE’s during the winter, but I am still concerned about all of my food in case of long-term power outage, no A/C, during the hot season. Any ideas of what to do with our food should this happen? We are in a gated community and our lot is the size of a postage stamp.

    May 29th, 2012 at 6:26 am
  38. Salli wrote:

    I sure would love to see some low carb meals.

    October 16th, 2012 at 3:55 am
  39. Passerby wrote:

    I guess I’m one of the fortunate in that I can eat just about anything; yet I sympathize with those who can’t for whatever reason. Even so, could you come out with a smaller can for some things like fruits, gravy mixes, etc. Would also like to see a line of herbs and seasonings, especially in smaller cans. Yeah, I’ve been getting these things from a competitor (more affordable, good tryout size). For those of us who are preparing for several people, how about a complete meal-in-a-can for 4? Could you freeze dry Triscuit crackers? Avacados? Tuna? Pecan Pie?

    How about an article on the uses of a used #10 can?

    November 8th, 2012 at 5:57 am
  40. Rebecca wrote:

    One thing I have noticed is that all companies seem to do it by “serving size”. and they will say “365 servings of dinner entree” for one year. That is only like a size as big as your fist, for example, and doesn’t mean a whole meal (a serving is NOT a whole meal). One would hope that you would be able to grow some food and can it to preserve over winter… so one serving of an entree, plus a baked potato you grew and cooked in your solar oven, along with maybe corn on the cob, and an apple, would make more of a meal vs. just that one serving. Maybe even add some bread that you made as well.

    That is why it is important to know how to garden, and know how to make your own bread, use a solar oven, and even have chickens or a goat for eggs and milk. If you believe you will have access to milk if the need ever arises (your local dairy farmer is a close friend of yours) then do you actually KNOW how to make butter? Do you know how to skim the cream? Do you know how to make yogurt or kefir (for probiotics) or even culture your vegetables?

    These are things that I have started learning and practicing. I now can ferment vegetables, I am pretty good at gardening, and I can make kefir, yogurt, cheese, and even butter! I make a lot of mistakes, but thankfully I am making them now. I am cooking with my solar oven (Even in the winter) and have finally perfected the art of sourdough bread (no leavening agent needed!).

    I am not saying these things to brag… only that your food storage does need supplementation. I have a ton of food that I purchased from the Ready Store, but I still feel it necessary to supplement with what I can do on my own. If not only to get it to stretch further, but to have a more well rounded healthy diet.

    And on the days when I am not feeling up to cooking for one reason or another? The ready meals where you just add water, and an apple, will be lifesavers.

    So practice those skills NOW, while you have time :) Good luck!

    November 8th, 2012 at 9:20 am
  41. The Ready Store wrote:

    As you wish @Passerby: (Part 1 of a 2 part series)

    November 8th, 2012 at 9:50 am
  42. Ctwalter wrote:

    I agree with Rebecca’s post whole-heartedly! I started ‘prepping’ about 3 years ago with an incredibly tight budget. The first things I did was to get a bunch of canned food. Some of that we have since eaten an donated alot to homeless shelters. I then started to read. You mut read, read, read, and learn from those who have already traveled this road. So now near the end of the second ‘phase’ we have established at least a year’s supply of simple long term storage items, grains, sugar, milk, and items for grinding, mixing baking etc. We also rotate through the things we use every day like olive oil, spices nd such. We have learned not to buy things we don’t like to eat. Now we are working on creating a sustainable mini-farm and try to prepare our own food. It is hard work and time consuming, and takes a real commitment. But the joy and freedom of depending on our selves more than makes up for it. Learn all the ‘old’ skills of living that you can while you don’t have to depend on them for survival and your mistakes can be entertaining not life threatening. Also, research everything about preserving food and verify sorces, and results. Preserving food incorrectly can kill.

    For those who have heat/humidity storage problems, learn about dry canning and dehydrating your own foods. You can use a seal a meal with a mason jar attachment to vacum pack foods in canning jars, and focus more of your purchases on freez dried meals and food. The items can be stored in a room on the north side of the house. If you have any room at all in a back yard, you can dig a small ‘root cellar’ out of sight of neighbos. There are several good books on Amazon about root cellaring. ONce yo ulearn what is needed, you can adapt it to fit your needs.

    You can’t plow a field by turning it over in your mind (An old Irish proverb) Start now!

    November 8th, 2012 at 10:24 am
  43. Forever Man wrote:

    Let me add my voice to those who have already asked for low or no sodium food products. It’s way easier to add it later than to take it out. Maybe if they hear the same message often enough they will see that there is a considerable market for low-sodium and sodium-free food products.

    November 8th, 2012 at 12:41 pm
  44. ccc wrote:

    It seems to me that everybody here has a supply of water available these foods won’t be mutch good without water

    November 8th, 2012 at 5:19 pm
  45. Dan wrote:

    I have issues with cans in the fact that they take up more storage space and are hard to move in large amounts if you have to bug out. Also once a can is open you have to use the contents in a fairly short time. I prefer the pouches in a bucket where I can carry a months worth of 3 meals per day in one lightweight bucket. You make good points but I can not go with cans for the above reasons.

    November 8th, 2012 at 7:13 pm
  46. Kathy Ellenberger wrote:

    I bought a year’s supply online through Costco I think. It had TVP, beans and WHITE rice! I didn’t know it was vegetarian. I am allergic to soy. I don’t eat grains for the 50 pounds of wheat doesn’t help but I may have it for trade or give it to my family. It was lots of money wasted I felt. Very frustrating and I kind of felt like a fool who had been tricked.

    November 8th, 2012 at 10:54 pm
  47. Stan wrote:

    What’s the comparison in nutrition between freeze dried and dehydrated?

    November 8th, 2012 at 11:17 pm
  48. Vince Kirchner wrote:

    Harder yet, try and get all the information from each company to make an apple to apple comparison.

    June 17th, 2013 at 12:35 pm
  49. Ruby wrote:

    I agree with the low or no sodium food products. It’s way easier to add it later than to take it out. Maybe if they hear the same message often enough they will see that there is a considerable market for low-sodium and sodium-free food products.

    Would love a nice sell on items we can mix and match.

    Can items be switched in some of the can/pouch sets, like fruits? My husband can not eat blackberries/raspberries because of the seeds because of health problems.

    June 21st, 2013 at 10:58 pm
  50. Vic wrote:

    After some research – Saratoga Farms uses a lot of preservatives, compared to the Thrive products. They are much cleaner, No additives, No GMO, and No fillers. Thrives only products that have some additives are their pre-mixed meals. And it Tastes great.

    August 13th, 2013 at 5:56 pm
  51. The Ready Store wrote:

    @Vic We go to great lengths to ensure that no unnecessary additives and preservatives are in our products. The great thing about freeze-drying is that no additives or preservatives are required in the preservation process. Freeze-dried pre-mixed meals obviously have to have some additives – just like Thrive’s. But for example, take a look at the ingredients for our freeze-dried bananas. “Ingredients: Bananas. No Additives or Preservatives.” Take a look at Thrive’s freeze-dried bananas. “Ingredients: Bananas, citric acid, ascorbic acid.” Citric acid and Ascorbic acid are defined as food additives by the FDA. If you have a question or a concern about a specific product, let us know.

    August 14th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
  52. delta wrote:

    I eat almost no processed food, and Never eat GMO food Nitrates or MSG. If SHTF – I’m sure my food store will make me sick. I can (my own organic)as much as possible, but do need freeze dried to round out my long term stores. I too, wish it was more natural.

    August 17th, 2013 at 5:40 am
  53. Ralph Krueger wrote:

    My wife was skeptical. But, now she is sold on the taste, convenience of storage, ease of preparation, but not the cost. How can I get a comparison of the difference in costs for regular grocery costs and freeze dried/storage type food? Due to numerous allergies, illness and chemical sensitivities she is very concerned about the origin of the food! How can I get that information. Too much food is imported from areas that threaten our health!

    August 17th, 2013 at 8:50 am
  54. TADPrepper wrote:

    And my vote to the low (or no) sodium and MSG crowd. If I want it, I can add it in. I can’t take it out once someone else has put it in. Seems like a no-brainer to me.Put a notice on the can that says “Season to taste” and we’re good to go.

    August 17th, 2013 at 9:25 am
  55. Daddy Mac wrote:

    Which are best for temps lower than 10 below?

    August 17th, 2013 at 10:22 am
  56. Doris wrote:

    I’m concerned about sodium content being high

    August 17th, 2013 at 6:15 pm
  57. Kathy wrote:

    My biggest concern is carbs. My husband is diabetic and controls it with diet instead of meds. I have ordered combos of veggies and had extra potatoes substituted for some other veggies. I will have to give them away because he cannot eat white potatoes, white rice, or white pasta. All the meals have those as ingredients also. Where can I find brown rice or whole wheat pasta for storage? I have been looking for about a year. Will you offer something in your special diet section that diabetics can eat?

    August 17th, 2013 at 8:34 pm
  58. Ann wrote:

    What about protein content? Calories by themselves should not be your only measure. In addition to salt and carbohydrates, you must know how much protein you’re getting. Muscles need protein to function properly.

    August 19th, 2013 at 7:16 am
  59. Diana wrote:

    I notice several people asking about the effect of storage temp on shelf life and not getting answered.

    The answer is, yes, storage conditions greatly affect shelf life. That’s one reason to eat what you store so you regularly rotate your stock. It’s also a good reason to get food packaged for long storage, so you still get a reasonable storage life if your conditions are less than the ideal (50 degrees and very dry).

    Here’s a rough table to figure shelf life in your conditions: 
    Temp F Years
    38 40
    50 30
    60 20
    70 10
    81 5
    92 2.5
    102 1.25
    Note that if your climate is very humid, you need to reduce shelf life a bit more.

    Will your freeze-dried food store 30 years? Only if you have an uninsulated cool, dry basement to keep it in. Kept at an average house temperature of 70 degrees, you should consider the shelf life to be only 10 years. That will, of course, still give you plenty of time to go through a year’s supply of storage food as part of your regular diet and meal planning. Since I live where summers regularly go into the 80s and occasionally the 90s and I don’t run air conditioning, even though my house temp is a bit under 70 in the winter, I consider storage life for my freeze-dried/dehydrated food to be only 5 years, and that’s the schedule I try to rotate most of it on. For whole milk, nuts, and other high-fat items, I figure 2 to 3 years should be the max storage time.

    If you put your storage food in a hot garage or shed in the south, don’t be surprised to find it has badly deteriorated within just a year or so. If you keep it indoors in the coolest area you have, it should last 3 to 5 years in very good shape, though. If you have a climate-controlled house year round, you can probably figure on 7 to 10 years, depending on where you set your thermostat. That theoretical 30 years only applies, though, if you have theoretically perfect storage conditions. My brother lives in the high Sierras where a damp day is when humidity gets up to 20%, runs a winter temperature in most of his house of no more than 55 in the day, down to 45 at night, and is in the middle of a very rare heat wave when it reaches 80 during the day in the summer. He could probably plan on getting a 20- to 25-year food storage life, but I certainly can’t.

    September 19th, 2013 at 9:50 am
  60. NameCharlotte wrote:

    Very good and informative article. Thank you. The comments bring up many thoughtful and valid points showing how different we are and how varied our needs are. When reading the comments I kept thinking, this person needs to create their own packaged emergency foods. I especially thought that for the people who expressed health problems and/or severe allergies. It’s really easy to store basic foods such as beans, rice, flour, dehydrated/freezedried veggies and fruits, etc. Of course you will need to store seasonings and food prep things like fuel and water. You can also easily prepare meals in a bag for 1 or more people. There are many YouTube videos instructing how to do this. Now is the time to prepare these meals and taste test them. Also, practice living off your preps to see if you really have what you need. Make an adventure out of it. Keep a running list of what you missed so you can add to your preps. Making your own will insure the foods meet your health needs and pass the taste test.

    October 4th, 2013 at 1:42 pm
  61. Late bloomer wrote:

    Still being in the early stages of prepping, I appreciate all the additional info I pick up here. Helps me decide what to get next and what I still need. Thanks everyone for sharing!

    October 12th, 2013 at 7:11 am
  62. Vickie wrote:

    Hello everyone and best regards!
    For the people like myself who are interested in paying more for foods that are organic, I have a suggestion for you to think about. I have been experimenting with dehydrating meals for camping and it worked great with the spaghetti recipe. Any meal that you cook can be spread out on a dehydrator tray and dried. After it’s dry, crumble it up and store it in one of the Mylar bags or a mason jar and seal it up properly. You can make your own meals with exactly what you want in them. When it’s time to eat, just add water, bring to a boil and simmer until done. It’s basically just heat and eat because the meal is already cooked to begin with. Sure the dehydrated foods may take a little more water or time to reconstitute than the freeze dried but it would be worth it knowing you’re getting exactly what you want and enjoy! Experiment with dehydrating a meal and see if it works for you. If it does, great! You have a better solution!

    October 30th, 2013 at 10:24 am
  63. Vickie wrote:

    Here is a follow up to my comments about.
    Go to Dinner Is In the Jar dot com and you will have the recipes that you can use the dehydrated and freeze dried food to make your own survival meals! Best regards to everyone!

    October 30th, 2013 at 12:52 pm
  64. Vickie wrote:

    So sorry. It seems the above book did not get very good ratings on Amazon. The idea of meals in jars is a great one but this book may not be, so “buyer beware!”
    I still suggest that people cook a meal and try dehydrating it and then reconstitute it with water for a quick meal, camping or survival prepping.

    October 30th, 2013 at 1:19 pm
  65. Diana wrote:

    First, I would like to say that you do need to analyze what is in ANY food storage package as well as contents of every single can or pouch. For an honest comparison of prices, check whether you are getting dehydrated (cheaper process) or freeze-dried (more expensive process) product. Then look only at the weight of each item and the market cost of each item in conventional form to see what kind of a deal you are really getting. If you look up the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference online, you will find it will tell you how many grams of water there are per 100 grams of any food. Subtract grams of water from 100 for how many grams of solids there are in 100 grams of the food, add at least 1 for freeze-dried and 2 for conventionally dehydrated foods for percent residual water to the answer, and divide by 100. This is the fractional weight of your supermarket fresh or frozen produce that is left after dehydrating or freeze drying. Look at how many grams of freeze-dried apples are in whatever container you are looking at, divide by the fractional dry weight number for fresh apples calculated as above, and you will have how many pounds of frozen or fresh prepared (sliced/peeled) apples that would equal. If you can’t find frozen prepared/drained canned apple slices to compare price to, or more likely, don’t ordinarily buy your apples that way, then look up online what the edible percentage of apples is by weight. There’s another USDA reference for that, and the answer for apples is 75%, so divide your weight of fresh apple slices by 0.75 to find out what weight of fresh, whole apples they are equal to. Now you can compare cost per ounce/pound of your freeze-dried apples to cost per ounce/pound for fresh apples. If you want to compare one company’s freeze-dried apples to another company’s freeze-dried apples, you just need cost per freeze-dried ounce and how many ounces are in the respective cans, but if you want to figure out how much buying some storage food will or won’t cost you versus buying it the usual way, you will need to also calculate fresh equivalence as above. Note, dehydrated food shrinks to half the volume or less of freeze-dried food, but the weight change from both processes is almost exactly the same, since both remove almost all water and leave virtually everything else (a few volatiles may be lost in either process, but their weight is truly negligible.) You want to shop by ounce, not by “servings” or volume anyway. Getting the info for real comparison shopping is a bit of work, but you only have to look things up once for each item you would like to have in your storage and write it down so you have it for future reference.

    Second, calories per day are important, of course, but they are also only one small factor in getting adequate nutrition per day. Use the government tables for My Plate to figure out how many ounces/cups of grains, legumes/nuts, milk/dairy, meat, vegetables, fruits, and added fats and sugar you really ought to store for yourself/your family for a year, and pay attention to the whole-grain recommendation, the dark orange/green vegetable recommendation, etc. No one in the food storage industry works from the modern diet recommendations in figuring out their packages, and the LDS recommendations are wildly different. If you eat a vegetarian or ethnic diet, then consult an alternate recommended food table for the diet you actually eat. Once you total up your real needs for a good diet, you will be in position to intelligently analyze everyone’s offered packages.

    Sadly, no one is going to sell you a food storage package that contains everything a person should really eat in a balanced, healthy diet for a year. Prepared meals will be laden with trans fats, MSG, salt, and various additives and will use only white flour, HFCS (or occasionally white sugar), and white rice. Basic year-supply packages will have only white flour and white rice and will go heavy on the cheap carbs and very skimpy on the expensive fruits and vegetables. I would love to see some company give total-year-supply volume discount on purchases of basic cans that exceed a certain number of cases and/or dollars rather than trying to foist so-many-month package deals full of suboptimal products/combos on all of us, but I suspect it will never happen.

    Second, if you, like me, are not happy eating a highly-processed, additive-laden, high fat/salt/refined carb diet from your neighborhood supermarket’s convenience food shelves, then none of the complete food packages for storage are going to suit you, and neither will many of the individual storage foods. It’s that simple. All the usual companies agree with what the Ready Store rep admitted in one of the posts above–what we sell is essentially what you find in your supermarket convenience foods, your average American is happy to eat the junk, and we don’t think there is any market for better quality food at a better price, so we won’t be selling it. I applaud him for at least being honest about it instead of trying to dodge around the question.

    For those who are not happy with the average modern American diet and will and do pay more for better, the best option is to buy only basics and make them into your own meals. In addition, there *are* some sources out there for whole-grains and organic produce in cans/mylar pouches, but you will probably also want to invest in some canning jars and mylar bags and buckets and a vacuum pump plus some O2 absorber and desiccant packs for putting up long-storage foods yourself. Sorbent Systems is one of a number of companies that will sell you the necessary supplies, and you can easily find instructions online. One note–many powdered products packaged with only an O2 absorber rather than being nitrogen flushed will be turned into a really solid brick from the resulting partial vacuum. Put an O2 absorber in an air-tight jar or mylar bag of powdered sugar, ordinary brown sugar, or tomato powder and open it in a month or two if you don’t believe that. Most items you would want can be successfully packaged with just a desiccant and/or O2 absorber, though. Those that can’t can often be purchased, or you can rent a tank of nitrogen with a valve or substitute CO2 flushing with evaporating dry ice to reduce the vacuum effect from the added O2 absorber.

    For those who want to get what they can packaged, you can find whole-wheat flour and brown rice at a number of places, just not in their X-month packages. RainyDayFoods has some whole grains plus whole-wheat spaghetti and macaroni and a number of places resell their products and other supplier’s similar products. MREDepot occasionally has whole wheat couscous or whole wheat noodles, although both are very expensive. You can find plain beans and whole grains, although not organic, and fruits and vegetables, although not organic, at many storage companies. For whole-grain and/or organic in bags/cans try JustTomatoes, NorthBayTrading, WildernessFamilyNaturals, NaturalNews (for Health Ranger Select), StorableOrganics, TropicalTraditions, WheatGrassKits, and HandyPantry, all with com domains. I hope the above is of help to Kathy and others who have had little luck finding anything at any price. Do-it-yourself for most of it is still the best bet for anybody on a tight budget, though.

    There is (or at least was) one recent offering in a bucket for organic storage food, but it is very poorly packaged in just heavy plastic rather than mylar bags. For any real storage life, you would need to repackage it all, so it really makes no sense to pay the premium for their bucket and bags.

    November 13th, 2013 at 6:40 am
  66. Diana wrote:

    One final note about storing whole-grain foods: the oil in the germ/bran of many grains reduces their keeping quality no matter how well packaged. This is one reason the storage industry just loves white flour, white rice, hydrogenated fats, and all kinds of other synthetics and chemical preservatives, and military rations contain the same (what the government feeds to our troops is really a crime, not a gold standard to use for your own storage).

    You should be aware that you cannot put brown rice in storage for 30 years, and the same goes for stone-ground cornmeal with the germ; it simply won’t keep that long. You can, however, store a year of them if you rotate through your supply every year or two, and rotation is what you really ought to do with any food storage plan. If you want healthy food storage, you can have it, but for optimum health you need to set up a 2-year to 5-year rotation on it all, 10 at the outside for the longest-keeping items. It’s not that hard to do, and if you buy as much as you can in bulk/on sale, it can even be quite affordable. Mylar bags can generally be re-used several times and buckets can be re-used indefinitely. On a really tight budget, the best investments you can make might be a dehydrator and a canning kettle in addition to mylar bags and buckets and O2 absorber and desiccant packs. For my money, canned meats taste better than freeze-dried, and doing it yourself with bulk buys on sale will cost less than buying it canned by the Amish. Some things like carrots, potatoes, and beets are mostly only sold dehydrated for food storage, and dehydrated veggies work as well in soups and stews as freeze-dried, so you can also save yourself some money in the long run by dehydrating such products yourself.

    November 13th, 2013 at 6:58 am
  67. Linda wrote:

    I package brown rice in glass bottles using a high vacuum pump and it lasts much longer than a year.
    The Lundberg brand rice stores much longer than other brands I have tried due to their processing and storage methods. I rotate the rice but have kept a few bottles to test how long they store. I’m at 10 years on some of the rice.

    December 11th, 2013 at 1:27 pm
  68. ga lisa wrote:

    I disagree with people “do not want to spend the money on organic”. I think from the comments alone, your customers are concerned with high sodium content, msg, etc. Personally, I do buy my Saratoga Farms fruits and veggies from The Ready Store because they have nothing added. I do not buy any ready to serve meals because of their ingredients. We do not eat meat daily because of the cost of locally grown, grass fed, free range meat – but I do not want to feed our family extra steroids and antibiotics that come with CFO meats, so local farmers get my $.
    I would be happy to buy FD meats sans the hormones and antibiotics, costs vs. health of the animal and the health of our family = worth it!

    April 23rd, 2014 at 12:26 pm
  69. M wrote:

    In re Gloria:
    All the olive oil producers I know/have read/seen agree: Plastic is the WORST way to store olive oil. Rancidity is a huge concern. Metal is best, followed by opaque or dark glass. Plastic is dead last, every time. Even decanting into other metal containers will improve the life of olive oil.

    April 24th, 2014 at 12:26 pm
  70. Robert wrote:

    I have looked up several list for top 10 food storage companies. I haven’t found Saratoga Foods to be on any of them. Why not? Biased lists?

    June 13th, 2014 at 3:10 pm
  71. Robert wrote:

    Well I have kept looking and I found a list that shows The Ready store as number one. That was good to know, Thanks

    June 13th, 2014 at 3:25 pm

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