Most people resist the idea of creating an emergency food supply for their family and so have I. If my fridge is full and I got few bags of rice, some pasta, and some tuna in my cupboards I should be ok for 2-3 weeks or even a month. Seems like more than enough, right?
I just want to make it clear that I'm not a bunker-in-a-my-backyard, stockpiling-for-the-apocalypse, prepper type. Not that I'm knocking it if that's what camp you're in, but I'm just your typical mother of 2 with a loving husband, stable business (touch wood), and barely enough free time to get everyone's laundry done.
Needless to say, with recent world events unfolding as they have, I've begun to think about ways that my family can be more disaster-ready. The last thing I want is for some unforeseen catastrophe, natural disaster, pandemic, or otherwise calamitous event to strike without having some kind of reasonable back-up plan.
I've already got a little closet together with some of the healthy foods with long shelf life and some other essentials like batteries, flashlights, blankets, a small gas-powered generator, and a drinking water storage container on hand just in case.
The way I see it, you don't wait to buy a fire extinguisher only once you're kitchen is already ablaze, although it seems I have been ignoring my own advice here.
So, if you are also thinking about basic, yet essential emergency food planning then feel free to check out my idea of super easy, and edible 6-month food supply for a family of 4.
You can easily modify it for your own family needs and you don't have to plan for the whole six months and can get a 3-months supply instead.
Check it out and see if you like the idea?
Getting Started With Emergency Food Planning
So, what I've been researching lately is how I can make sure my family is adequately fed if the need arises.
The recent stockpiling statistics have really opened my eyes to the reality of what panic-buying looks like – and yes I have a little surplus of toilet paper in that closet in case you were wondering.
I would hate for something to happen to the supply chain and have my loved ones go hungry as a result of that almost unthinkable scenario. The one thing I've learned through recent happenings is that just because something seems unthinkable, doesn't mean it won't be tomorrow's “new normal”.
Because feeding my family is my number one priority, I decided to compile a modest 6-month supply of food with as long of a shelf life as possible. My first thought was beans and rice. These staples have been apart of the human diet for millennia after all, and from my research, they can have a shelf life of three or more years if stored correctly.
My next thought was one of dread. As much as I enjoy both of these ingredients, they are in my mind, just that – ingredients. I wouldn't want to sustain myself or my family on such bland cuisine for extended periods of time if we didn't absolutely have to.
So, I was thinking if there is another way?
What Survival Food to Stockpile?
I did the math, and a 5-gallon bucket of rice or about 24 lbs (10 kg) will cost me about 45 bucks. Another 5-gallon bucket of beans would cost about $80. So that would give one person a 70 to 80-day food reserve - factoring in a 2000 calorie a day diet. That would mean for my family of four to have a 6 month supply of beans and rice alone it would cost us about $1000.
Since I have no Intention to feed my family a steady diet of only beans and rice even in a worst-case scenario, I started to look at canned and freeze-dried veggies, proteins, egg substitutes, peanut butter, and other such long shelf life food sources, because after all, even though beans and rice will sustain life, it won't prevent you from becoming malnourished.
You have to also consider the fact that grains and legumes require a great deal of cooking and clean water to prepare – a commodity that could easily run in short supply if a disaster were to strike.
Although I always strive to feed my family a balanced diet, It's actually quite a bit of work to try to plan everyone's diet for a full six months, sometimes I even struggle to plan the meals for a week.
That being said, I put together a list of some of the features I wanted to prioritize for our family emergency food supply.
- Long-shelf life
- Decent Flavor
- Balanced Nutrition
- Ease of Preparation
What About Freeze-Dried Emergency Food Kits?
When I was a child, my father used to bring these Extended Shelf MREs (meals ready to eat) with us on camping trips. Those are the full meals that are part of a deployed soldier's daily rations to make sure that they get adequate nutrition while they are on active duty.
My dad would always keep a bunch of them that he'd purchase at the military surplus store and kept them in the cellar for emergencies and taken along on backpacking, hiking, and camping trips.
So, that got me thinking. There has to be something similar on the market that could provide my family with the nourishment they need for extended periods of time. With that notion in mind, I did what anyone would do and turned to the internet for advice.
Not to my surprise, there are dozens of survival and disaster prepping food companies that offer long shelf life meal kits, Essential Survival Tabs, and emergency ration meals that can sustain people for weeks on end.
After doing a lot of research and looking at all the reviews, I honed in on one product in particular that I kept seeing positive reviews for. (Yes, I did also try them out, check out my taste test below).
Augason Farms Emergency Food Supply Pail
The first thing that stood out to me about this preparedness meal bucket was its price. It's rather affordable at only around $100 a person for a whole month supply. Granted, price isn't everything.
We already determined that you can get a 50 day supply of beans and rice for roughly the same price, but what I liked most about this kit was the good variety of ready-to-eat, or rater easy to prepare entrees and dishes.
The kit comes with 11 easy-to-prepare, tasty, and nutritionally rounded meal options.
It is important to me that it covers all the basic nutritional needs and includes; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and even comes with whey-based long-life milk that looks like real fresh milk but in my opinion, it does not really taste like real milk, but close enough.
It has an impressive variety of food items packed away in its water-tight heavy-duty pail including:
- Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal
- Strawberry Creamy Wheat
- Cheesy Broccoli Rice
- Creamy Chicken Rice
- Spanish Rice Trio Rice
- Hearty Vegetable Chicken Flavored Soup
- Creamy Potato Soup
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Buttermilk Pancake Mix
- Morning Moo’s Low Fat Milk Alternative
- Banana Chips
What I also liked was that it comes with a 30-day daily meal planner. So that in an emergency situation all your meals can be carefully planned and prepared to ensure you have the necessary calories and nutrients each day for an extended period of time.
Unfortunately, unlike my father's MREs on those camping trips as a kid, these meals aren't immediately ready to be eaten. They do require some preparation, but as I said, everything is really easy-to-prepare.
The only thing that you'll need is a small amount of water per serving (think 6 to 8 ounces). It's recommended that you use hot water if available but if you are lacking a heat source, you could even use cool water – although the prep time would be longer as the noodles and rice would take a bit longer to soften.
I recommend keeping a small camp stove, like the one below, and some fuel canisters on hand. You can pick one up fairly cheap on Amazon or at your local sporting goods store. In my humble opinion, It's a small price to pay for the added peace of mind.
Costs Of Building a 6 Month Supply of Emergency Food for a Family
I've always been good at keeping up with our family's finances, paying our bills on time, and maintaining a sensible budget. I'd like to think that I'm fiscally responsible. So, one of my biggest concerns when getting our emergency food supply stash together was affordability, after all, we might never actually need to use that stuff.
Remember how I did the math with the beans and rice just a minute ago? Well, I got the old trusty calculator out again and ran the numbers.
For a six months supply of Augason Farm's meal pails for my family of four, the total price came out to be $2,520, which is quite reasonable if you ask me. We are talking about half a year's worth of meals here for a family of 4.
I know, that it certainly doesn't seem like a small chunk of change, but when's the last time you calculated how much your family spends on food for an equal length of time?
The total spent on food and groceries for the average American household ranges from $314 - $516 a month. That is not incusing eating out. That means a family of 4 is likely to spend anywhere between $1900 - $3100 on food in a six month period. 
With that in mind, $2,520 is quite a reasonable price for a six-month food budget, for the whole family. Factoring in convenience and peace of mind, I'd say that this is well worth the price tag.
What Does Freeze-Dried Food Taste Like?
One thing that most of you are probably wondering now is the taste of these survival meals.
Considering it's all freeze-dried and dehydrated, some might be a little skeptical that it will meet your expectations, I certainly was.
I of course bought a test pail before I decided it was worth stocking up on and I tried several of the dishes out. (To try it out, get this small one-person meal kit first here on Amazon ).
My first piece of advice is to realize that this stuff isn't intended to be gourmet 5-star cuisine. If you're looking for that kind of thing, then you're probably going to have to take your search elsewhere and have more hands-on and personalized survival food prep plan as this ready-made meal bucket is probably as good as it gets as far as the taste goes.
But if you have relatively reasonable expectations, then I imagine you'll be satisfied with the flavor.
You may actually even enjoy some of these meals for the first week but I am sure it will get old quite fast, let alone eating it for 6 months. But then again, choosing between this or starving... anyway, let's hope it won't come to that.
Read Also: Can You Eat Canned Sardines Every Day?
Augason Farms Survival Food Taste Test
I tried Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal, Creamy Chicken Flavored Rice, Creamy Potato Soup, Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Flavored Soup, and Banana Chips and was pleasantly surprised by both the portion sizes, flavor, and textures.
Watch the video below to see how I prepared these meals, how do they look like once prepared, and my full taste verdict for each meal.
Although, I want to point out that when I tested these dishes out, as you can see in the video above, I discovered what many other Amazon reviewers found out when they opened their pails. Each serving isn't individually packaged. Rather, several servings of each entree are included in each package.
This could pose a problem for a single individual that is trying to ration each portion out for daily use unless they have the means to refrigerate the items after they cook them – which might be difficult in a disaster situation.
This packaging issue is probably my biggest qualm with the product, but it affects me less as I have a whole family to feed. I could cook a package at a time and not have to refrigerate or store anything.
One other point I should make is that you will need a steady source of clean drinking water to prepare these meals.
I have a water filter and a natural source of running water on my property, but if you live in an urban area or are otherwise reliant on public utilities for your water, you might want to consider stocking up on some drinking water to cook these meals with.
I have made a list of some of the best food-grade water storage containers you can check out.
My Final Thoughts
Although Augason Farm's emergency food kit might not be perfect, it does fit my family's needs and fits all the criteria I set out to fulfill in my search for survival food. I would especially recommend this product for people with families like myself.
One Amazon reviewer referred to it as '” security in a bucket” and I'd have to say that I completely agree with that sentiment. As long as you store these pails in a cool, dry, and dark place they can have a shelf-life of up to 25 years.
And there are actually a few more quite decent emergency food supply kits to choose from. Check out companies like Readywise, Legacy Mountain House Meals, and Patriot Pantry. You can buy these here on Amazon also. Just get one of these and have a peace of mind that your family will be prepared for come-what-may for decades to come.