Best Emergency Food Kits: The Recipe for Resilience

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After tasting and testing dozens of emergency food kits on the market, I can safely say that the Heaven’s Harvest Entree Kit is the best emergency food kit.

This kit includes over 15,000 calories in 12 different meals. All of these meals are real food—not drink mixes and pudding. In my opinion, it’s one of the tastiest emergency food kits that won’t break the bank.

I tried dozens of emergency food kits after I did weeks of research to determine which option tasted the best and is the best value. In fact, my family practically lived on them for two weeks during testing. I learned a lot about why having tasty food is important.

Best Emergency Food Kit
The Kits that Kristin tested - 10 different kits from 10 different companies
Just some of the kits that I have tested

These kits are the easy button when preparing for emergencies. They require minimal preparation and you don’t have to know how to cook. Just follow the simple instructions.

That said, I do not just recommend relying on pre-made emergency food kits. Even if you don’t know how to cook, these kits are just one piece of the puzzle.

Let’s dive into my favorite pre-made emergency food kits. These are great as a foundation for your food pantry. Then, I’ll dive into what I have in my survival pantry and what I suggest you have in yours.


Quick Comparison of Our Favorite Emergency Food Kits

BEST OVERALL
Heaven's Harvest Entree Kit

Heaven’s Harvest Entree Kit

Quality Meals

15,270 Calories

25 Year Shelf Life

MSRP: $205.99

CHECK SALE PRICE AT HEAVEN’S HARVEST

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BEST BUDGET KIT
Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Kit

Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Kit

Affordable

21,170 Calories

10-30 Year Shelf Life

MSRP: $99.99

CHECK SALE PRICE AT AUGASON FARMS

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BEST TASTING KIT
Mountain House Classic Meal Kit

Mountain House Classic Meal Kit

Great Taste

6,120 Calories

30 Year Shelf Life

MSRP: $126.00

BEST MRE KIT
MRE Entree & Sides Case

Ameriqual MRE Entree/Side Kit

6000 Cal (approx)

18 MRE Entrees

6 MRE Sides

MSRP: $49.95


Best Emergency Food Kit

Heaven’s Harvest Entree Kit

Heaven's Harvest Entree Kit

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  • Total Calories: 15,720
  • Variety: 12 different meals
  • Shelf Life: 25 years
  • Preparation Needed: Hot Water

The Heaven’s Harvest 72-Serving Entree kit is one of the most comprehensive emergency food kits on the market. While this kit isn’t very expensive, it is one of the tastier options my family tried (even the kids asked for seconds). Their alfredo recipe is one of the best emergency meals I’ve eaten – and I’ve eaten a lot.

With a 25-year shelf life, I feel confident storing this food for a long time. It’s an easy set-and-forget option.

Kristin showing the heavens harvest emergency food that she tried
The Heavens Harvest Emergency Food Kit that we tried

Heaven’s Harvest shines with its diverse meal selection. Unlike some emergency food kits that offer repetitive options, this kit boasts a variety of lunch and dinner entrees—and no drink mixes!

All the calories are real food, a vital component of developing resilience for an emergency. Many other kits are loaded with just oatmeal and rice, not this one.

This variety can significantly boost morale during stressful times, as familiar and tasty meals provide a comforting sense of normalcy. The freeze-dried pouches are lightweight, compact for easy storage, and require only hot water for preparation.

For a full run down on this kit and how the meals taste, see our full Heaven’s Harvest Emergency Food Review.

Recommended For:

I highly recommend the Heaven’s Harvest 72-serving Entree kit if you want something already done for you! It’s tasty enough for families, and many of the meals are kid-friendly.

PROS

Tasty

Extensive variety

Long shelf life

Inexpensive

CONS

Not the most nutritious


Best Budget Emergency Food Kit

Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Pail

Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Kit

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  • Total Calories: 21,170
  • Variety: 11 different meals
  • Shelf Life: 10 to 30 years
  • Preparation Needed: Hot Water

I love the Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Pail because it is so inexpensive! It is one of the cheapest options on the market, and its recipes are tasty. While it doesn’t offer the taste of some freeze-dried backpacking meals, it provides a well-rounded selection of lunch and dinner entrees at a significantly lower price point.

With the extra money left over, I highly recommend purchasing some of their #10 cans to add extra veggies and protein to the meals. The meals are complete by themselves, but these extras can add some variety and flavor. This mix-and-match strategy allows you to customize the meals to fit your family’s preferences and save money.

Their foods vary in shelf life, and many ingredients are packaged separately. For instance, the macaroni noodles are separate from the cheese powder, allowing you to know exactly how much you want. The noodles last for 30 years, but the powder only lasts for 10.

Kristin Showing the Augason Farms Breakfast and Dinner meal Kit
We also tried the Breakfast and Dinner Kit

This variance makes it difficult to keep everything fresh, as you’ll need to pay attention to all the different expiration dates. This process makes maintaining resilience a bit more challenging. I can’t just set it and forget it.

See our full Augason Farms Emergency Food Review for more on their kits and what our favorite meals are. Also, see why they are our favorite emergency food company in our full comparison of the Best Emergency Food Companies.

Recommended for:

The Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner Pail is ideal for budget-conscious individuals or families who want to establish a foundation for emergency preparedness. It’s also great if you want to purchase ingredients separately to personalize your kit.

PROS

Completely palatable

Budget-Friendly

Long shelf life

Good meal variety

CONS

Food quality isn’t the Best

Requires hot water


Best Tasting Emergency Food Kit

Mountain House Classic Meal Kit

Mountain House Classic Meal Kit
  • Total Calories: 6,120
  • Variety: 5 different meals
  • Shelf Life: 30 years
  • Preparation Needed: Hot Water

I’ll be completely honest: Mountain House is easily the tastiest emergency food brand I’ve eaten. My family often chooses to eat their meals, even when there are home-cooked options.

However, their kits are also exceptionally expensive. I’m talking 4x the price of other kits, easily. Their foods prioritize taste, but you’re going to pay for it. Better tasting food may be worth it in some emergencies, especially to maintain morale.

Kristin showing the Mountain House meals she tested
The variety of meals in the mountain house kit

There are other benefits to Mountain House, too. I like that you can prepare them directly in the bag, eliminating the need for a pot. You do need hot water, though, which can be challenging in some emergency situations.

Kristin showing how the mountain house meals are prepared in the bag
Preparing in the bag means no separate container to clean

This company also advertises a 30-year shelf life on all their kit – a bit longer than the competition. I like that it comes in a sealed bucket that I can just store away and forget.

I personally keep this kit on hand for camping and hiking trips, and I just resupply periodically. In an emergency, I will use it to supplement my other emergency food kits when I want a better tasing meal.

Recommended for:

If money is not a concern, Mountain House meals are fantastic. They’re very tasty, and everyone I’ve ever talked to loves them. However, they’re likely out of budget if you want to use them for a long term supply. Keep some on hand to supplement your other food.

PROS

Exceptionally tasty

Prepares directly in the bag

Very long shelf life

CONS

Not Affordable

Requires hot water


Best MRE Emergency Food Kit

MRE Entree and Sides Case

MRE Entree & Sides Case
  • Calories: Around 6,000 Total
  • Variety: 18 Entrees and 6 Sides
  • Shelf Life: It’s complicated (5-10 years)
  • Preparation Needed: None

MREs are traditional prepper foods. They’re the emergency food kit. Finding MREs can be challenging. Luckily, I found Army Navy Outdoors, which has truckloads of MREs available (literally). They have many options from full cases of MREs to just individual entrees. Plus, they have this MRE entrees and side case that is the best value.

I always recommend purchasing entrees separately, not full MREs. MREs often contain less-than-tasty crackers, napkins, utensils, and other unnecessary items. You can save money (and space) by purchasing tons of entrees instead.

MREs do not require heat or water to prepare. I can just open them and start eating (and that’s what most people in the military do). This advantage is huge in emergencies, as it eliminates the need to prepare anything.

Kristin showing some MRE Entrees
Four MRE Entrees and two sides

MREs also have a leg up from ration bars because they taste like real food. If you really want to improve your mental outlook, purchase a variety of food, not just one type.

I’ve used these MRE entrees several times while camping, and everyone always enjoys them. Even the younger kids can typically find something they like, especially if I have multiple choices.

Keep in mind this case comes with different meals, but you get what you get. If you want to choose the flavor of the entrees you can also purchase individual MRE entrees.

The only downside to MREs is the shelf life. It can range between 5-10 years and really depends on how they are stored. See our guide on the Best MREs to Buy to learn more about the shelf life.

Recommended for:

I’d recommend pairing the MRE entrees and side case with Grizzly Gear Ration Bars for a practical and inexpensive emergency food kit. You won’t be eating gourmet food, but you’ll be better off than most.

PROS

Meets military nutritional standards

Inexpensive

Good Variety

No water or heat needed

CONS

Unpredictable Variety

Shorter Shelf Life


Nutrient Survival 14-Day Emergency Food Supply

Nutrient Survival 14-Day Emergency Food Supply

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  • Total Calories: 18,060
  • Variety: 6 Different Meals
  • Shelf Life: 15 Years
  • Preparation Needed: Hot Water

If you’ve been keeping up with our content, you’ll know that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Nutrient Survival. Their food is exceptionally nutritious. This 14-day kit includes 1,047 grams of protein. That’s a ton! The kit may be a bit low in calories, but it has nutrient-dense calories, not a bunch of carbs like other kits.

All of their food is fortified with vitamins and minerals. You’ll get all the nutrients you need if you consume four meals a day. I’d even bet that this food is more nutritious than what you usually eat.

Kristin showing the Nutrient Survival Oatmeal
The Nutrient Survival oatmeal was tasty

However, it is far from the tastiest. My kids don’t like it, and several of their recipes are verging on inedible. (I don’t like their shakes, for instance.) I don’t want to be too dramatic, though, as I like some recipes. Their eggs are great, for instance. My egg-loving son absolutely adores their eggs, and their oatmeal tastes just like instant oatmeal.

See our full Nutrient Survival Review for the meals we prefer.

I would not want to live on this food for long (or solely). However, Nutrient Survival is great to fill out your survival pantry. Nutrient Survival entrees can be a great way to add some extra nutrition and protein to your stores if you purchased canned food and ration bars.

Recommended for:

I recommend Nutrient Survival’s 14-Day Emergency Food Supply for those mostly concerned about nutrition. The protein content is astronomical.

PROS

Nutritionally complete

Very high in protein

Heavy-duty bucket

Straightforward preparation

CONS

Requires hot water

Not the tastiest

Lower variety


Valley Food Storage 175 Serving Long-Term Food Kit

Valley Food Storage 175 Serving Long-Term Food Kit
  • Total Calories: 28,340
  • Variety: 18 different meals
  • Shelf Life: 25 Years
  • Preparation Needed: Hot Water

Valley Food Storage is one of my favorites among all the food companies. Their long-term food kit includes 18 different meals, and these aren’t just your average entrees. For instance, shredded mozzarella cheese, powdered eggs, and fortified milk are also included alongside the entrees.

Regarding kits designed specifically for a long term supply, Valley Food Storage’s Long-Term Food Kit is one of my favorites. It doesn’t include drink mixes or other cheap calories; it’s all food.

Kristin showing the valley food storage meals that she tried
Some of my Valley Food Storage meals

Making the food in this kit is pretty straightforward, too. All you have to do is heat water and add the contents of the package. Each pouch contains several servings; one was enough for a whole meal for my family of four (though our family includes two kids).

In my opinion, this kit offers a good balance of price and quality. The meals taste good, and enough variety keeps you sane in an emergency.

Recommended for:

I recommend the Valley Food 175 Serving Emergency Food kit for those who want a good balance of variety, taste, nutrition, and price. It’s one of the few kits designed for a long term supply that I’d recommend.

PROS

Affordable option

Non-GMO

Large variety of meals

Includes several pantry staples

CONS

Requires hot water


ReadyWise Entree 120 Serving Emergency Food Bucket

ReadyWise Entree 120 Serving Emergency Food Bucket
  • Total Calories: 24,360
  • Variety: 13 different meals
  • Shelf Life: 25 Years
  • Preparation Needed: Hot Water

I like the Readywise Entree bucket for its sheer practicality. I recommend this kit for those building their own emergency food supplies from scratch. It’s not my absolute favorite kit, but it’s much better than other options I’ve tried.

The 120 servings provide plenty of calories for a short-term emergency. It’s firmly in the middle of the pack regarding price-per-calorie.

Unlike some emergency food kits that focus on bland, repetitive meals, ReadyWise offers a decent variety of entrees, helping to prevent mealtime monotony during extended emergencies. I love that many recipes are included, and there are no drink mixes to “fill out” the kit.

Kristin showing the ready wise meals she tried
Some of the Readywise meals that we tried

That said, this kit is primarily based on entrees. While I prefer to purchase entrees instead of kits (as they don’t include pudding and drink mixes), you may prefer sides and extras. In this case, you’ll need to purchase them separately.

Compared to other emergency food kits, I like the balance that the ReadyWise Entree bucket strikes between affordability and variety.

Recommended for:

If you’re looking for a solid foundation for your survival pantry, the ReadyWise Entree Bucket is a solid emergency food solution. It’s not the most expensive option, but it isn’t the cheapest, either.

PROS

Diverse entree selection

Stable bucket for storage

Long shelf life

Easy to Prepare

CONS

Entrees are a bit high in sodium


Why a Delicious and Nutritious Emergency Food Kit Matters

Emergencies are more than just physical challenges. Yes, staying alive is the top priority, but an often-overlooked aspect is the toll emergencies take on our mental and emotional well-being. Stress and hunger can cloud judgment, making it harder to make clear decisions or maintain a positive outlook.

Imagine this: You’re facing a power outage or a natural disaster. The initial shock has passed, but the adrenaline is fading. You’re hungry, tired, and worried. Reaching for a bland, unappetizing emergency meal can further dampen your spirits.

On the other hand, a familiar, delicious meal can provide a much-needed boost even in a difficult situation. Food does a lot more for morale than many people believe!

The comfort of familiar flavors can be a powerful tool. It can create a sense of normalcy when everything else feels chaotic. A hot bowl of your favorite soup, a childhood favorite snack – these small things can bring back positive memories and a sense of control, even in uncertain times.

Anyone who’s been in an emergency situation (including me) knows that the little things count!

That’s why I’m equally concerned with taste as I am with nutrition. Sure, something may be nutritious, but it isn’t pulling its weight unless it’s also tasty. Food should fuel your mind and body.

Building Your Recipe for Resilience

As you may have guessed by now, I do not recommend buying the cheapest emergency food—even if that means filling up your pantry slower.

You should also avoid relying on solely pre-packaged emergency meals. Yes, they can be a great way to quickly stock your pantry. In many cases, I recommend using them as the base for your pantry. However, they shouldn’t be the only food you have (and it can be very expensive to rely on them solely).

A well-stocked emergency food supply should function like a well-rounded pantry. Here are the basics I recommend:

  • High-calorie, non-perishable staples: Canned goods like beans and tuna can provide a good foundation. Dried beans, rice, and pasta are very versatile and can be stored for a long time.
  • Protein sources: Protein can be hard to store long-term. However, many companies provide tons of protein in their freeze-dried meals. Augason Farms also has #10 cans of protein-rich items, and you can find canned meat at Survival Frog.
  • Healthy fats: People often forget just how important omega-3 fatty acids are. Once again, fats are hard to store, as they will likely go rancid. It’s often best to rely on freeze-dried meal options in this case. (I also love Survival Tabs, which are high in fat and very inexpensive.)
  • Fruits and vegetables: Dried fruits like raisins and cranberries provide concentrated bursts of vitamins and sweetness. Canned vegetables ensure you get your daily dose of essential nutrients. I recommend Augason Farms’ #10 cans.

These are the absolute basics. However, if you want to thrive and survive, you’ll need a bit more. After all, your mental health is just as important as your physical health! (That’s kinda what our company is based on!)

After testing and rearranging, here are some things I learned about making my survival pantry enjoyable to eat, too.

  • Spice it Up: You must have salt and pepper saved up, too. Dehydrated herbs and shelf-stable sauces are absolutely required for your mental health. Don’t underestimate how far a jar of hot sauce goes.
  • Dietary Restrictions: Your family may have specific dietary needs, even if they aren’t serious. Consider who’s in your family and what they refuse to eat (especially if they’re children!).
  • Comfort Food Fix: Don’t underestimate the power of comfort food during stressful times. Include a few non-perishable treats you enjoy, like dark chocolate bars or shelf-stable cookies. I highly recommend getting some Grizzly Gear Ration Bars. They taste like cookies, and my children love them. They’re a great comfort food fix and fortified with nutrients.
Kristin showing her Grizzly Gear Ration Bars
My kids keep raiding my stash of Grizzly Gear Ration Bars

Beyond the Basics: The Extras for a Complete Meal

If you stocked up on everything above, your recipe for resilience would almost be complete – but not quite. There are a few other extras you need to turn your stored food into food you can eat.

Water is essential for survival, and all the foods above require water. While you can plan to filter water (and you should), you should also store some water. Storing and filtering are the two easiest ways to ensure you have enough water to survive. After all, you can live longer without food than you can without water.

You also have to cook most of the recipes above. Heaven’s Harvest is one of the few that doesn’t necessarily always require cooking, though I’d still recommend it for the morale boost of a good recipe alone.

During a food shortage or another emergency, you may or may not have access to electricity. Luckily, there are many ways to boil water without electricity. Make sure you have a few of these options available.

Keeping Your Food Supply Fresh and Functional

Your emergency food supply is a vital part of your preparedness plan, but it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. I will admit, trying to keep everything fresh can be a challenge. It’s important to follow some basic guidelines to make things as straightforward as possible.

  • FIFO – First In, First Out: Implement a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system. Use the oldest items in your supply first, and place newer items towards the back. This helps prevent expired food from lingering in your supply. Write dates on everything. I didn’t write dates on several things because I thought I’d remember. I didn’t.
  • Review and Refresh: Despite following a FIFO plan, several things sat in my pantry too long. I recommend scheduling regular checks at least every six months. That way, you can catch stuff you forgot about before it goes bad and use it.

When you have an emergency food supply, you must plan on using some of your supply regularly in your meals. Otherwise, stuff will go bad. See our guide on how to build a three month food supply for more tips as well.

Don’t wait for an emergency to try out your emergency food, either. While keeping it stocked is important, using it is also important. One morning, I ran out of milk. My toddler was not pleased, so a pulled some powdered milk out of my emergency supply and used it.

Kristin showing emergency food variety
Variety is Key

I’d recommend planning at least one “emergency meal” a month – if not more. This process allows you to test and taste your meals and familiarize yourself with the preparation methods. Plan to regularly restock your pantry as you do this.

I restock canned foods as I visit the store weekly. However, I restock emergency freeze-dried foods every six months when I perform my pantry review.

The first emergency food kit you buy won’t be perfect. Eating it and adjusting what you restock helps you ensure it’s as good as possible for when emergencies actually occur. In the beginning, I bought a lot of freeze-dried kits. However, I now buy more of Augason Farms’ #10 cans and have experimented with making home-cooked meals using only shelf-stable products. (And, I have those survival recipes available if you want to take a look at them.)

See our guide on how to build a three month food supply for more tips as well.


The Best Emergency Food Kit for You?

I highly recommend the Heaven’s Harvest Entree Kit for most families who want to be a bit more prepared. It’s in the middle-of-the-pack in terms of price, but it tastes good and isn’t full of empty calories.

If you want something a bit cheaper, Augason Farms’ Lunch and Dinner Bucket is a great option. It’s much less expensive, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. I also highly recommend their #10 cans no matter what emergency food kit you buy. They’re a great option for rounding out your pantry with extra protein, fruits, and veggies.

That said, any of the kits above will help you prepare for a food shortage and are an essential part of a complete prepper’s checklist. Don’t just buy a kit and forget about it, though. It’s important to use and rotate your meals regularly.

For more on emergency preparation in general, be sure to check out our full prepping guide for everything you need to know!

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Kristin is a fulltime writer with an obsession for being prepared. She spends much of her time working towards making her family self-sufficient, including homeschooling her children. When she isn’t writing, she’s shooting with her husband or homesteading.