The Best Survival Food Kits Of 2023

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It used to be that the idea of emergency preparedness was considered somewhat of a niche hobby, carried out by those who were readying themselves for something along the lines of a zombie apocalypse. Well, as recent events such as the great grocery shortages of 2020 have demonstrated quite clearly, the old Boy Scout motto to "Be Prepared" is one we'd all do well to follow.

One of the ways to make sure you are ready for any emergency, ranging from the acts of a wrathful deity (or extreme weather patterns, if you prefer a secular POV) to political unrest or hitches in the supermarket supply chain — and yes, even a rising of the undead — is to stock up on shelf-stable foods. The American Red Cross recommends that you keep a two-week supply of food on hand in case you'll be sheltering in place, along with a three-day supply if you're forced to evacuate. 

Keep in mind as you peruse the following list, that any product designated as a 30-day food supply, for example, will usually mean that it's enough to supply a single person for the specified amount of time. If you're sharing the provisions among four people, then your 30-day supply will only last one week. You will also need to stock up on plenty of bottled water. Not only will you need it for drinking, but many of these foods require water to prepare.

How we chose these survival food kits

While you can certainly put your own survival kit together using shelf-stable groceries like canned tuna, dried beans, and rice, this is the type of activity that many of us are likely to keep pushing down to the bottom of our to-do lists until it's too late. It's but the work of a moment, however, to go online and order a survival food kit to have on hand in case of need. We looked for emergency food supplies that could easily be ordered via Amazon (with free shipping), as opposed to dealing with less familiar individual vendors. We also wanted to cover a wide range of different situations and dietary needs.

Our list has kits that range in size from a three-day supply for one to a whopping 876-serving selection that could feed one person for three months or three people for one month. We also have lightweight selections for backpackers as well as foods for people keeping kosher or halal. Need gluten-free or vegan food? We've got you covered. We've even got options for the vegetable-averse. One category you won't find, however, is survival food for weight watchers. Calories provide sustenance and it's only when they're consumed in excess that they cause problems. In an emergency situation where you may not know how long you will have to stretch your food supplies, you'll want every last calorie you can get.

Best overall

If you don't have dietary restrictions and aren't feeding a crowd, then the Augason Farms lunch & dinner variety pail is a good all-around survival preparedness tool. The items that come in this handy plastic pail are sufficient to provide 92 servings, although it's to be noted that they are packaged in multi-serving sizes so solo survivors must resign themselves to eating the same thing for several meals in a row.

What you get in the lunch and dinner pail are 10 different entrees, including pasta with marinara sauce, fettuccine Alfredo, cheesy broccoli rice, macaroni and cheese, corn chowder, potato soup, chicken noodle soup, vegetable chicken soup, chicken-flavored rice (we're beginning to get the feeling there's not a lot of actual chicken in these meals), and stroganoff (of what type it doesn't say, other than "creamy"). You'll also get chocolate pudding for dessert. 

Not gourmet fare by any means, but reviewers who've tried the meals say they're pretty decent for freeze-dried food. While the items in the pail have shelf lives ranging from 10 to 30 years, you should probably open up the meal kit just to check that none of the packets have torn open or spilled. After doing so, simply stick the bucket in the basement and forget about it for the next decade as you go about your hopefully emergency-free life.

Purchase the Augason Farms lunch & dinner variety pail from Amazon for $75.07 as of May 2023.

Best on a budget

While the Augason Farms pail is budget-friendly as far as pre-packaged emergency foods go, the ReadyWise ultimate preparedness pack is an even better value on a per-meal basis. Each serving of the Augason kit comes to about 82 cents, whereas the 124 ReadyWise servings are just 77 cents apiece. Items in the ReadyWise meal pail are said to have a shelf life of 25 years across the board, but again, you're advised to check the package before stashing it.

The ultimate preparedness pack comes with seven different entrees: pasta with vegetables, pasta Alfredo, Southwest rice and beans, stroganoff (again of unspecified type), macaroni and cheese, tomato-basil pasta soup, and chicken-flavored noodle soup (come the apocalypse, it seems real chicken may be scarcer than hen's teeth). You'll also get two breakfast cereals: apple cinnamon and brown sugar maple. To drink, you'll have your choice of orange drink or a whey milk alternative (just add water), while for dessert you can enjoy (relatively speaking) vanilla pudding, freeze-dried peaches, and a "creamy yogurt-style" dessert. 

As to the flavor, those Amazon customers brave enough to dig in had mixed reviews. Some found the taste to be a pleasant surprise, while others were a little less enthused. Still, it's all about context. As your mom always told you, it's better to eat dried peaches than have zombies chow down on your braaaaaiiiiiinssss.

Purchase the ReadyWise 124 serving ultimate preparedness pack from Amazon for $96.90 as of May 2023.

Best for feeding the whole bunker

If you're preparing for a long siege and/or bunking in with a crowd, you'll need a substantial quantity of survival food. The Patriot Pantry 3-month emergency food supply provides 876 servings which, as the product's name implies, are meant to sustain one person for three months. For a two-week period though, the kit could feed six people. The meals included are said to last up to 25 years, although the wording suggests that some items may have a shorter shelf life and need to be eaten within a decade or less.

While we doubt Patriot Pantry's claim that the food is as "good as homemade," the variety is not bad. There's mac and cheese, of course, along with our old pal unspecified stroganoff. There's something called traveler's stew, too, plus chili mac, pasta Alfredo, spaghetti, mushroom rice pilaf, potato soup, broccoli cheese soup with rice, black bean soup, Southwest rice, and, yes, our favorite chicken-flavored rice. You also get plain white rice and mashed potatoes for sides, plus a breakfast choice of maple-flavored oatmeal, strawberry cream of wheat, and buttermilk pancakes. Powdered beverage mixes include milk and an orange energy drink, while banana chips and chocolate pudding make up the snacks. In keeping with the company's name, all of these items are said to be both grown and packaged in the U.S.

Purchase the Patriot Pantry 3-month emergency food supply from Amazon for $799 as of May 2023.

Best to keep in your car

The survival kits we've discussed so far are meant to be kept in your house, but what if you're on the road when disaster strikes? Let's hope that you won't need to hole up in your car for months at a time, but it could take a few days for emergency workers to clear the snow off the roadway or divert traffic onto a safer route. Just in case the excrement makes contact with the rotating cooling device while you're en route from here to there, it's wise to keep a small stash of emergency foods in your vehicle. And no, we don't mean a spare Snickers in the glove compartment, since you know you'll gobble that up next time you get stuck in traffic for more than five minutes.

The emergency rations in the Life Gear Life Essentials car kit aren't likely to tempt a bored driver. They consist of three energy bars securely wrapped in foil packaging that is designed to keep them fresh(ish) for five years. Reviews describe the bars as gritty, yet sweet, so possibly similar to what you'd get if you crossed a sugar cookie with a brick. The best aspect about this car kit is that you'll not only get three days' worth of sustenance but also six pouches of drinking water and a thermal blanket.

Purchase the Life Gear Life Essentials box from Amazon for $22.32 as of May 2023.

Best for backpackers

Bad stuff can happen anywhere you go, even if you're at home hiding under your bed. If you're the adventurous type who's always out exploring, however, then you're not quite courting danger, but you are putting yourself in a position where extra precautions are highly recommended. Even if you're out on a day hike, you really should carry more than a snack in your pack in case that three-hour wilderness tour turns out to take much longer than originally planned.

If you're carrying your food supply on your back, then weight — or rather a lack thereof — is of paramount importance. Pity the poor soldiers who had to schlep around their meals back in the days of tin-can rations! Currently, even the military makes use of freeze-dried foods, but the Mountain House line has been specially engineered to pack as light as possible. 

The 13-pouch, 3.3-pound adventure meal kit also offers a pretty good selection: chili mac, lasagna, chicken teriyaki, and beef stroganoff (finally identified!), in addition to granola and biscuits with gravy for breakfast. Reviewers say these meals are all quite tasty and they praise Mountain House's inclusion of real meat. What's more, all items are guaranteed to be edible for a full 30 years just in case your hike turns into a whole Rip Van Winkle ordeal.

Purchase the HM Mountain House adventure meal kit from Amazon for $99.99 as of May 2023.

Best option for minimalists

If you've watched a lot of old science fiction movies or TV shows, you've undoubtedly seen future food where an entire day's needs are compressed into pill form. Who would want that? No one, if we're talking about everyday meals. For a true emergency, however, nutrients in any form are better than none at all. To give The Survival Tabs its due, that's exactly how it's marketing this item. If you're looking to add to your bug-out bag or just trying to disaster-proof your tiny house or trailer, these food pills sound like something you might want to have on hand.

While The Survival Tabs currently has a 5-star rating (admittedly from a very small number of customers), no-one has written a review about how they taste so we'll just have to take the manufacturer's word for it that these chewable chunks are meant to be vanilla-flavored. While the claim is that 12 of them will provide an entire day's worth of nutrients, you should be aware that 12 tabs only have 240 calories. It seems unlikely that you could really thrive on that amount alone for the 60 days this supply is said to last. If you consume even a bare minimum of 1200 calories per day, the 720 tabs here would only last for 12 days.

Purchase The Survival Tabs from Amazon for $158.95 as of May 2023.

Best gluten-free

In the kind of emergency where you can't get to the grocery store, think of how difficult it will be to get medical attention. It's all the more crucial for those with allergies or food intolerances to stock up on the types of food they are able to consume. While gluten-free survival kits aren't all that easy to find, there are a few of them out there, including this 126-serving family pack from NuManna.The NuManna survival rations are not only made without gluten, but they also don't contain soy, GMOs, MSG, aspartame, or high fructose corn syrup. The reason we like it, though, is for the variety of meals it contains.

Some of the entrees are pretty standard stuff: pasta Alfredo, pasta with marinara sauce, pasta primavera, cheesy potato and broccoli soups, mac and cheese, black bean soup, and classic chili. There are a few offerings we haven't seen elsewhere though, including enchiladas with beans and rice, Hawaiian sweet and sour something (unspecified), and sweet habanero chili. There are also a few sides, like rice pilaf, cream of rice, and potato casserole, along with a breakfast selection of oatmeal, granola, and pancakes. The shelf life is the standard 25 years, and Amazon reviews are mostly positive with regards to the overall flavor and quality of the items included.

Purchase the NuManna family pack from Amazon for $293.75 as of May 2023.

Best for vegetarians and vegans

As we've seen so far, the contents of most survival meal kits don't seem to lean too heavily on meat or dairy products, but neither are the meals plant-based by any stretch of the imagination. Vegan preppers seem to be a somewhat under-served consumer group at present, and some of the few vegan survival kits out there consist of nothing more than dried beans or rice. So much for the convenience factor! With the NorthWest Fork 30-day food supply, however, you're getting ready-made entrees that are not only vegan but also non-GMO and even kosher. 

What you get in this kit is a choice of six different meals, each with 15 servings, for a total of 90 servings. Two of these meals are oatmeal: strawberry banana and tropical flavor. There are also two different soups for lunch, either green pea or black bean. For dinner, you get your choice of pinto bean or black bean chipotle stew. The meals have mixed reviews on Amazon, and one person points out that the stews are made with oatmeal which means that two-thirds of the kit is oatmeal based. Still, as far as vegan survival kits go, this is the front-runner in a race with very few entrants.

Purchase the NorthWest Fork 30 Day emergency food supply from Amazon for $174.99 as of May 2023.

Best for hardcore carnivores

If you're not into eating low on the food chain, you may be feeling horrified at the thought of having to survive for a few weeks or even a few days on nothing but "chicken-flavored" this and "cheesy veggie" that. Is there no way to make meat shelf-stable? Why yes, of course there is — freeze-drying works just as well for meats as it does for produce. Valley Food Storage claims that all of the freeze-dried meats in this bucket should last for a quarter-century or so.

What you're getting in this kit are 12 bags of assorted meats: four each of beef, chicken, and sausage. Valley Food Storage says this comes out to 92 servings, although this equates to 7 ⅔ servings per bag which is kind of weird. If you leave that partial portion out of your calculations, that would mean there are 84 servings in all. To cook the meat you need to boil some water, then pour in the dried chunks and wait until they warm up and rehydrate. While that doesn't sound like much of a meal on its own, even if you keep the water and call it soup, this big bucket of protein could also be a great way to supplement one of those less-meaty meal kits.

Purchase the Valley Food Storage freeze dried meat bucket from Amazon for $499.95 as of May 2023.

Best kosher meals

Must you keep kosher in an emergency? If starvation is imminent, Forward tells us that a guiding principle of Judaism — pikuach nefesh — means that preservation of human life supersedes all dietary laws. Stocking up on kosher emergency meals, however, will allow you to delay the outcome for as long as possible. Unfortunately, long-lasting kosher rations aren't easy to come by. While the vegan kit mentioned above is also kosher, the XMRE kosher XT MREs are an option for those who want more complete and varied meals on hand.

MREs, an acronym that stands for meals, ready to eat, come in individual pouches that contain a multi-course meal complete with entree, snack, dessert, bread, and a spread, plus salt, pepper, a spoon, and a chemical heating device. XMRE doesn't list the exact meal components for each 12-pouch box other than to specify in the Amazon listing that the entrees include a "variety of beef, chicken, or vegetarian options." You'll have six different menus from the selection too. The main downside of these military-style rations is that they have a shelf life of just three years, plus they're pretty expensive. They are, however, one of the more convenient types of emergency meal options since none of the foods need to be reconstituted with water. 

Purchase XMRE kosher XT MRE meals from Amazon for $239.99 as of May 2023.

Best Halal

If you think it's tough to find kosher emergency foods, try looking for halal ones. We found exactly one meal kit meant to satisfy sharia dietary laws and it's also manufactured by XMRE. Like the company's kosher MREs, these halal meals also come with an entree, snack, dessert, seasonings, spoon, and heater in each pouch. While the meals you get in any given box may vary, they'll include a selection of six different types and none of the food items will need to be reconstituted with water.

Though some of the entrees contain meat, the manufacturer says all meat is zabihah and of course, no pork products are used in any of the meals. One Amazon purchaser reports receiving one beef meal, two chicken dishes, and three vegetarian options (two pouches of each), while another notes that the sides include items such as nuts, tortillas, and powdered drink mixes. If the drinks are in fact included (they're not shown in the photos), they would need to be reconstituted, of course. While XMRE's halal meals have a shelf life of just three years and a price tag that comes out to more than $15 per pouch, those who have tried them say they are surprisingly flavorful. As one reviewer enthuses, "The taste of the items was not just 'good,' but actually delicious (and that is rare indeed for a MRE)!"

Purchase XMRE halal 1000 MRE meals from Amazon for $249.99 as of May 2023.