I’m certainly no stranger to dehydrated and freeze-dried foods as field rations. As a United States Marine, I lived on Meals Ready To Eat (MRE) for weeks at a time. So I understand the need for wise food storage.
These MRE’s provided a heavy dose of calories with very little if any, preparation time required. When time allowed, we would use heat tabs to warm up our meals in order to make them more comforting. But regardless of how much tabasco sauce or salt and pepper that we added to these MRE’s, the outcome was usually the same… the taste was horrible and our digestive system paid the price!
What You Need to Know About Wise Food Storage for Survival
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More on MRE’s
The fact that these meals could be stored almost indefinitely made them ideal for us Grunts (Infantry Marines). However, the ingredients and preservatives that these MRE’s contained were less than desirable, to say the least.
MSG, super high sodium content, and unpronounceable ingredients used as preservatives were all contained in this dark brown MRE plastic bag. I thought of these meals as more of a chemistry experiment than actual food. The appearance and texture of these MRE’s would make you think twice about feeding them to your pet. But it’s what we had, so it was what we ate.
If you are interested in making your own, healthy MRE’s, check out article.
I finished my tour as an active duty Marine and realized that certain events in the world just didn’t make sense to me, so I decided to step-up my preparedness game in order to ready if disaster struck. I was able to address my water, security and other key needs. But when it came to food storage, I was seriously lacking.
I had enough experience to realize that nutrition is key to any crisis. If I wanted to perform at my best during an emergency, I needed to maintain my health and energy levels with proper nutrition. I was also aware of how a tasty meal can raise the morale levels of myself and my family. When SHTF, we need all the help that we can get to stay motivated.
I knew that I had to find a real solution for my long-term food storage needs, so I decided to investigate the available options for wise food storage. To my surprise and delight, things had drastically changed since my days in the Marines.
Due to the increased number of people focusing on preparedness and emergency management, many companies decided to enter the market with their emergency food rations. I began purchasing samples from multiple companies and was extremely pleased with what I was reading and tasting. Now I want to share with you my finds on the best long-term storage meals for you and your family during a crisis.
So Let’s Get Started…
Long Shelf Life
Most of the long-term food storage meals have a shelf life of at least 25 years! Stocking up on emergency food rations is a no-brainer. Budget survival preparedness into your budget, purchase a bit each month, store it away, and you will be right as rain.
There is no need to rotate your goods like other perishables. With this type of long-term food storage capability, you can even store extra food that can be used as currency and bartering during emergency scenarios.
Can be Used for On-the-Go Meals
My primary purpose for long-term food storage is certainly geared towards emergency situations. But with the options available these days, prepackaged meals have become a great source of on-the-go nourishment. I enjoy spending time on the trail and in the field, and I keep a few servings of my favorite dehydrated and freeze-dried meals in my pack.
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If I’m out in the field for a couple of days training clients or reviewing new gear, I don’t need to worry about addressing food needs. I may bring along some vegetables, nuts, and fruits to complement the dehydrated meals, but I do not need to focus on a menu, which allows me to concentrate on the mission at hand.
Convenient to Prepare
The majority of these long-term food storage meals are dehydrated or freeze-dried. So all that I need to do is to boil water, add in my meal, stir, and eat.
Yes, it really is that simple!
Many of these meals do not require boiling water. You can just add room temperature water to various fruits, cereals, and other snacks, and you’re good to go. This makes long-term storage of these meals extremely convenient.
When we are in the middle of an emergency scenario, there will be so many things that need to be addressed, and our stress level will be through the roof! It is comforting to know that preparing a meal for me and my loved ones will, most likely, be the easiest part of my day.
In a crisis, we need to keep things as easy as possible. The simple process of preparing these stored meals make them a truly viable option for your emergency food needs.
These Meals Taste Great
Going back to my U.S. Marine days, our MRE’s tasted horrible! They all had different names but the general taste and consistency were the same. BLAND became a 4-letter word to us while we were in the field. Most of our meals consisted of hot sauce, ketchup, mustard or any other condiment that we could get our hands on. This certainly helped to mask the taste of these awful meals.
Fortunately, the long-term storage meals available today are actually tasty; some are even outright delicious! I look forward to my chow break while I am on the trail or even at basecamp.
I mentioned earlier how group meals correlate with morale. With the choices available today, you and your group can look forward to a few daily positives with each meal that is served. Never underestimate the value of a tasty meal in an emergency situation. It may be the only thing that you and your family have to bring a bit of comfort and normalcy an otherwise horrible day.
These Meals are Nutritious
We are now aware that these meals are convenient and tasty, but can they provide the right amount of nutrition required in an SHTF scenario?
Our immune system is going to be taxed to the max in an emergency. Our stress and cortisol levels will be high and we probably won’t be sleeping too well. In order to help our chances of remaining fit to perform and work, we need to intake as much quality nutrition as possible.
Keeping that in mind, I teach my NTC Members to follow certain principles when it comes to food and nutrition. One of those principles is “Read The Ingredients.”
On each food item in the U.S., there is a USDA nutrition label. That label lists the ingredients contained in the package in order (most of to least of.) If there is an ingredient that you need a Master’s Degree in Chemistry in order to decipher and pronounce then I would bet that it probably won’t do your body much good.
Luckily, there are a few good nutritional choices when it comes to long-term food storage options. Now, I’m aware that we won’t be as picky when the SHTF situation is upon us. But just like everything else that we focus on, preparing now is the key. By adding as much clean food to your storage as possible, you will be well equipped once the emergency actually occurs.
Stay away from fillers, preservatives, GMO, MSG and other far from All-Natural ingredients. Make sure that your long-term storage food is grown and prepared in the U.S.A. The cleaner the food that you consume, the easier that your body can utilize and assimilate the nutrition.
The fact that most of these long-term food storage meals are dehydrated, makes them relatively lightweight. This works well for me if I encounter a Bugging-Out On Foot scenario. This also adds to my reasoning for utilizing these meals while I’m in the field and on the trail. As long as I have access to water, I am good to go.
In the past, I would lug heavy canned goods and other foods that would add a great deal of weight to my survival kit. In addition, I would also need extra mess gear to prepare these meals. With the new food options available to us, I can carry multiple servings of tasty and nutritious meals without, literally, breaking my back.
Easy to Store
Long Term Food Storage meals do not need any refrigeration. You can basically place them in a watertight container and just forget about them. You want to keep them away from extreme temperatures but other than that, there is not much concern when it comes to storage.
Since the meals are mainly dehydrated, they pack really well and take up much less shelf space. If you are limited on space the same way that I am, then this is certainly a great plus! I have stored gear and goods all over my home. My wife is all in favor of preparedness as long as I stop taking up living space.
The best long-term food storage providers pay close attention to detail. Besides addressing all of the points that I brought up in this article, they also contain their meals in high quality, resealable mylar bags. This allows you to use the servings multiple times without the fear of losing your food to the elements.
As people focused on preparedness, we look for gear that is multi-purpose. The beauty of these mylar bags is that they can be repurposed once the food inside has been used up. These mylar bags can be used in a pinch to gather water and keep other items away from weather and critters. They can also serve countless purposes that are only limited by your imagination.
Something for Everyone
Regardless of your eating lifestyle, long-term food storage offers something for everyone. Whether you are a vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free or vegan, there are long-term food storage meals that will fill your needs.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
I am well aware that in an emergency when we are STARVING, we won’t be anywhere near as “selective” as we may be in our current situation. But as I stated earlier, I also use these meals while I’m camping, trekking and hiking. Having the varied options allows me, my NTC Members and family to incorporate these meals into our current lifestyle.
Meals are Affordable
Due to the competition in the long term food storage sector, prices have become quite affordable. As a matter of fact, my food storage meals cost me much less than what I would spend on standard quality food. Since these meals are manufactured in bulk, there is a great deal of savings passed onto consumers like me and you.
There are even options to subscribe to monthly deliveries of your meals at considerable discounts. This allows you to devote a bit of your budget each month to food storage when bulk purchasing may not be an option for you.
One of my go-to companies for this option is Valley Food Storage. They offer various subscription plans and excel at all of the points that I brought up in this article. They also offer meals containing multiple servings, starting at under $10. This allows you to sample and see if this type of long-term food storage is something that would be an option for you and your family.
Prepping your own food is the preferred way to go. However, if that is not an option for you then take a close look at long-term food storage options.
My reaction was one of surprise once I learned about and tested various long-term food options. I have to admit, I was a bit jaded because of my MRE experience in the Marines. Luckily, the current options have far exceeded my expectations.
My best advice would be to experiment with what works best for you. But at the very least, be sure to actually address your emergency food storage issue! If you wait for an emergency to happen, before you have your food requirements addressed, you could be facing disaster.
Many of the companies that prepare these convenient meals tend to offer free samples, which tells you something about the quality and taste of these newer products. These companies are obviously proud of what they have developed and are eager to gain your business.
Watch this video from Coach Helder about prepared meals for long-term food storage:
Along with water, food ranks top on the list of survival essentials and emergency supplies. Making them as enjoyable or at least tolerable as possible is a challenge when planning for long-term food storage. Knowing about wise food storage should help!
Have you tried any of these long-term food storage options? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
If you’re looking for useful survival gear that you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 5, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.