The best survival food kits to satisfy your post-apocalyptic munchies

Can’t enter the Thunderdome on an empty stomach.

Best Overall

Mountain House Classic Assortment Bucket

Mountain House Classic Assortment Bucket

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Best Value

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Variety Pack

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Variety Pack

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Editor’s Choice

Genuine Military Surplus MRE 12-Pack

Genuine Military Surplus MRE 12-Pack

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Survival food kits are essential to ward off the munchies so you can press onward in your adventures. Whether you’re a doomsday prepper waiting to live out your Fallout: New Vegas fantasies or are just looking to keep your home prepared for those occasional emergencies, it never hurts to stockpile such kits. But there’s a lot to sift through, and it can be hard to determine which food kits are right for you. Craving a box of MREs for excursions into the wild or assortments of homestyle dishes for the whole family? Allow us to help.

Enter our guide for the best survival food kits on the market today with options for every palate. We’ve worked to combine strenuous research and real-life experiences to provide this collection of nearly every food kit for just about every need. Scroll on through and happy shopping.

Methodology

Whereas all these items can be purchased online either through retail giants or company websites, a few of them were available in-person for me to sample. As a current U.S. service members, I’m no stranger to MREs, and I’m sure everyone here is no stranger to instant good old reliable noodles either. However, brands like Peak Refuel and Mountain House were available for purchase in-store at my local REI. I bought four individual pouches featured in their bulk kits, one entree and one breakfast from each brand, to sample each one’s taste, texture, and ease of preparation. Items I couldn’t source in a timely manner or haven’t personally tried at all were reviewed through our usual research-based methods of digging through expert data and real-life consumer feedback.

It’s in our best interests as journalists and fellow adventurers to provide the most informative yet honest reviews we can on every buyer’s guide. Who knows if it could be close friends or even the writers themselves who will have to consult these some day? While it’s not always feasible to sample every item in every survival food kit imaginable, that doesn’t stop us from delivering the concise takes you need. We combine our real-world experiences with lengthy, tedious research, diving deep into expert and colleague opinions and, arguably the most important bit, consumer feedback. The best food kits will be the most readily available — meaning not currently sold out — easy to prepare, and best-tasting batches around with the trust of real consumers to boot.

While commonly citing a single, central source like an encyclopedia, the vast scope of products in this specific niche, calls for a broad range of input from retailers such as Amazon, Valley Food Storage, and My Patriot Supply. I myself have even purchased a handful of individual food packets available in stores like REI and included in survival food kits to better understand subtle differences between brands. I’ll make note of which ones I’ve personally tried in the product blurbs. For more information on how T&P curates its buyer’s guides and more, check out the link here.

Best Overall

Mountain House Classic Assortment Bucket

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Best Value

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Variety Pack

See It

Editor’s Choice

Genuine Military Surplus MRE 12-Pack

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Best Three-Day Supply

Valley Food Storage 72-Hour Emergency Food Kit

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Best Gluten-Free

My Patriot Supply Gluten-Free Food Kit

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Best for Families

My Patriot Supply 2-Week Emergency Food Supply

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Best Vegetarian

My Patriot Supply Fruit, Veggie, u0026 Snack Mix

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Best High-Calorie

MayDay 1200 Calorie Food Bars

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Best High-Protein

Peak Refuel Basecamp Bucket

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Our verdict on survival food kits

Mountain House’s Classic Assortment Bucket takes the cake for Best Overall for its stellar value and quality paired with the longest shelf life. Maruchan’s Ramen Noodle Soup Variety Pack wins at being our Best Value for reasons any bargain hunter can see right off the bat. And good old military MREs make the cut for offering complete, hearty prepper food. But what do you think? What are your choices for the best survival food kits money can buy? We’d love to hear back and further grow our knowledge with you.

What to consider when buying a survival food kit

Many survival food kits and emergency supplies will be done in a very similar manner, but there are some outliers with their own nuances that are available for sale and worth mentioning. Are they your typical freeze-dried food or is it a ready–to-eat bag of goodies? How are these specific foods prepared? How long are these foods intended to last? These are some important tid bits to know, so here are a few ways survival food kits can differentiate themselves.

Types of survival food kits

MRE

A personal favorite, military-style MREs are the quick, grab-and-go-type foods you can tear into with little to no prep at all. Emphasis on every single word in the abbreviation: Meal Ready-to-Eat. These are complete, multi-course meals bundled up in an air-tight bag. Drink mixes, a side or two, and some sort of dessert is the usual arrangement, and entrees are almost never freeze-dried. Being intended for servicemembers to use on battlefields and long journeys, the foods can be eaten cold or hot using a water-activated heater bag.

These aren’t as common as the simpler kinds of survival food kits, and their pricing reflects that as a dozen surplus MREs can cost nearly $200 to order. On top of that, their methods of preservation mean that they’re far more sensitive to conditions than some bag of freeze-dried goods. Keep them somewhere dry and cool, preferably below 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to maximize their relatively short shelf life.

Freeze-dried

This is the method by which most — but not all — survival food kits are made, and for good reason. It’s simply the easiest, most reliable way to store a bounty of foods while keeping it easy to prepare and without sapping all the flavor and nutrients out of it. The process dehydrates the food to keep moisture and the microorganisms it attracts from spoiling it.

Some foods like fruits can be eaten as-is, and just about all freeze-dried foods can be rehydrated with some time in water. Hot foods only need to be soaked in boiling water for about nine to 10 minutes before being ready for consumption, and the texture of meats and noodles afterwards is comparable to home-cooked versions of the same dishes.

Long-term emergency supply

These will be your supplies specifically sized to feed a household for months and even years. Shipped in large buckets, multiple buckets, or even entire boxes, these emergency food supplies won’t quite be the choice for buyers looking for camp grub or the “I’m too lazy to cook tonight” solution. These are for genuine preppers and are strongly preferred to be kept in storage for the next food shortage or world crisis. Containers may hold thousands of servings and tens of thousands of calories depending on the time it’s intended to last.

As expected, these will often be the most expensive and cumbersome to store. Expect kits for months to ring in at a few hundred dollars, where supplies for years can stretch into the thousands. Have a good place for all this grub set aside, preferably somewhere cool and dry to prolong the shelf life.

Key features of survival food kits 

Calorie count

Survival foods come in a wide range of calories to suit different purposes and lifestyles. Many freeze-dried foods intended for casual camping and hiking trips may offer less than 600 calories per pouch, or roughly 300 calories per serving — enough to get you through the afternoon of leisurely walking or sitting around the house, but not so much if there’s work to be done. 

Military MREs and some premium survival foods are intended for more active consumers in need of a serious energy boost, so it makes sense that they would be more calorie-dense at over a thousand calories. Most MREs sit between 1,200 and 1,300 calories, and some specialized energy bars can far exceed that. What’s best for you depends on your lifestyle and nutritional goals with such foods. For anything you intend to bring on serious adventures, we recommend leaning on the heavier side.

Preservation method

Think about how this food is preserved and made to last. Is it simply dehydrated? Or does it go through the more complex and quality-preserving method of freeze-drying? Maybe the food is simply soaking in some high-sodium sauce and locked up in a vacuum-sealed bag. Nearly all these methods will prolong food for some time, but some methods do it better than others.

Freeze-drying brings food to a low temperature before extracting the ice from it. This removes moisture without damaging the food and makes it easier to rehydrate versus dehydrating which uses heat to evaporate the moisture. Cheap foods like instant ramen will rely on sodium and artificial preservatives, which may lead to cardiovascular issues when consumed in excess. MREs, while moist in most cases, are stored in air-tight, vacuum-sealed bags, but their shelf life still pales in comparison to freeze-drying and requires optimal conditions to stave off spoilage.

Preparation method

How is this food prepared for consumption? In the case of nearly everything on this list, plus their related products, the most they ask for is to rehydrate in boiling water for roughly 10 minutes. Some breakfast items like granola just need a splash of cold water to mix with the powdered milk before being ready to rock. Fruits can be eaten as-is or rehydrated in water if so desired.

Due to their requirement to be a versatile, any-time meal, MREs can be eaten hot or cold. Heater bags can be used to warm entrees and some sides and only require a few minutes to reach scalding temperatures. The common theme here is that nearly everything is quick and easy. All you need to do is find some water.

Survival food kits pricing 

Most survival food kits and emergency supplies will hover between $100 and $150 for a Home Depot bucket-sized container of a dozen pouches of freeze-dried goods. Mountain House undercuts many other high-quality options at around $117 on their website. MREs, being rarer and more complex, will ring in at over $180 for the same amount of pouches, but you’re still getting more calories and variety. Our Best Value Maruchan pack rings in at a penny-pinching $26. If your needs are more or less, weekend-long or week-long supplies will hover between $60 to $80 while months-long and years-long kits can easily exceed thousands.

Tips and tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and survival and emergency food kits. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Feeling lazy or on a time crunch? Military MREs can be eaten both hot and cold. No need for the heater if you don’t want to use it. They just taste a little better warm.
  • The individual food packets of these kits can be stored in more places than just some basement, especially the freeze-dried and MRE-style grab-and-go types. Pack some in your car or in a camper.
  • You’re rarely limited to the specific items on this list if you need more or less food. Companies may offer the same food but in a variety of sizes from two-day supplies to years-long.

FAQs about survival food kits

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: What food should I stockpile for survival?

A: It’s safest to always brace for the worst and stock everything you need to meet your nutritional requirements. Focus on essentials to provide carbs, vitamins, and proteins, and look at high-variety packs which include rice, meats, vegetables, and fruits. They’ll likely be freeze-dried for a long shelf life.

Q: How do you store survival food?

A: Some companies advertise that their freeze-dried foods can be taken anywhere including in cars, offices, and campers for whenever you might need them. A good rule of thumb to follow for any type is to simply keep them somewhere dry and cool — at or below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q: What foods have the longest shelf life?

A: Anything freeze-dried will greatly exceed other methods of preservation by leaps and bounds. Most survival food kits sold in bulk will be freeze-dried and capable of lasting for as long as three decades. Compare that to MREs with shelf lives of approximately several years depending on conditions. 

Q: Are survival food kits worth it?

A: About $100 to over $200 dollars buys you food for a variety of occasions from emergency prep to outdoor adventures that tastes just as fresh in a few years as it did when new. So, yes. I’d say food supplies are money well-spent. You’ll never know when you might need them.

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Jeric Jaleco Avatar

Jeric Jaleco

Contributing Writer

Jeric Jaleco is an AGE mechanic (2A6X2) in the Nevada Air National Guard as well as a contributor to The Drive and Car Bibles. Born in SoCal and raised in Las Vegas, he’s a diehard car enthusiast and aspiring purveyor of firearms. He’s journeyed far from his first deployment in East Africa to pursue a career in writing.