Emergency food supplies for the lazy skinflint

Anyone who's read Linsey’s great article on freezer emergencies will already have a great head start on saving your food, should the worst happen. But what about another solution altogether, for emergencies, that doesn't involve your freezer? A solution for those of us who just aren’t all that, well, organized and together? The answer lies in a big bucket at Costco.

This is not a bucket in the KFC sense of the word. No, this is a 23lb monster called “Emergency Food Supply," and it contains 275 servings in one container. And even better, it’s got a 20 year shelf life and is good for vegetarians, too.

Emergency Food Supply close

Here’s the menu:

  • 30 Servings - Potato Ba-kon
  • 25 Servings - Corn Chowder
  • 25 Servings - Ala King
  • 25 Servings - Cacciatore
  • 25 Servings - Western Stew
  • 45 Servings - Whey Milk
  • 25 Servings - Blueberry Pancakes
  • 25 Servings - Barley Vegetable
  • Total Weight: 23 lbs.0

And the write up:

Basic preparation will impact the probability of your family’s survival in an emergency. Delicious and Easy to Prepare. Each bucket contains 275 servings of Pre-mixed and Pre-seasoned 100 % Vegetarian and Vitamin Fortified food for you and your family. With a 20-year long shelf life, this kit is perfect for the preparation of natural disasters such as hurricane, tornado, earthquakes or even a camping/hunting trip.

Now, while this certainly isn’t as tasy and nutritious as Linsey’s option (this is mainly soup, stew and pancakes), it does have several benefits of its own.

1: No freezer or fridge space required. Just a cool, dry storage area, like a pantry or basement.

2: It’s easy to prepare all of the food. Just add boiling water.

3: No microwave’s or appliances need. Use a campfire if you want to.

4: Fortified with all the vitamins and minerals you need.

By my calculations, 275 servings would keep a family of four sustained for almost a month. Not a pleasant month, that’s for sure. But for just $79.99 inc. shipping (around 30 cents per serving) , it’s a small price to pay as insurance against the worst happening.

Want something just as easy, but a little more gourmet?
For the same price, Costco offers the "7-day gourmet instant meal kit" and this is a collection of freeze-dried food for just one person. That's 4 times more expensive than the basic kit, and probably only twice as tasty, but still worth checking out. The shelf life is less, only 3-5 years, but it's just as easy to prepare. Simply add boiling water and serve. And for those of you counting calories, you get a whopping 2000 per day.

7-day gourmet instant meal kit

These foods are all natural and retain over 98% of the nutritional content, 100% of the fiber, and have an extendable shelf life. AlpineAire foods are the lightest, tastiest, and easiest to prepare food for any occasion, whether it be camping, backpacking, hunting, and long-term food storage.

Included in the 7-Day Gourmet Instant Meal Kit is enough great tasting food to last an adult seven days with an average caloric intake of over 2000 calories. The 7-Day Gourmet Instant Meal Kit is the perfect solution for any circumstance that might leave you with an unreliable food source. The 7-Day Gourmet Instant Meal Kit has a shelf life of up to 5 years and is 100% no cook options although some will require boiling water for best results.

  • For sample meal plan Click Here
  • Enough nutrition for 1 adult for 7 days
  • Shelf life: up to 3-5 years from purchase
  • Contains: 7 entrees, 7 lunches, 7 breakfasts, 7 desserts
  • Just add boiling water, seal, & eat in storage pouch
  • All natural: No added artificial flavors, preservatives, colors or MSG
  • Ideally suited for backpacking, camping, fishing, emergencies, etc.
  • Pouches designed for preparation & consumption
  • Net weight: 7.25 lbs.

So there you have it. Two options, one price. One for basic survival and another a higher class of basic survival. Either way, you'll at least have a back-up plan for anything from a flood, a tornado or a really cheap camping trip. Stay safe folks.

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Guest's picture

If you live in an urban area during a serious emergency that leads to a power outage, how could I possibly boil water to prepare the food? Just sayin...

Guest's picture

If you live in an urban area without power, you may also lose water service so having water supplies laid by may be important. After some time it may be possible that water delivery stations or trucks could restore access to water even without electrical power, but it would be a good idea to have a big supply in your house.

Of course I do not have a big supply of water stored up in my house, however!

As far as how to heat food for cooking, a multi-fuel camping stove like the XGK-II (I forget the main brand name) comes with jets for everything from "white gas" to gasoline, kerosene and AV fuel. You should have a fire extinguisher nearby and preferably only cook outdoors when using it due to various factors which I won't get into and which you should fully understand before using the thing. Used properly it is perfectly safe, like most things, you have to understand its nature to use it safely though.

Guest's picture

Those kits look really great. My friend and I run a food storage and emergency preparedness blog, and these are definitely some things we should look into. Thanks for the information!

Guest's picture

By my calculations, 275 servings would
keep a family of four sustained for
almost a month.

You have to look at the nutritional information for each serving -- your "family of four for almost a month" would be living on about 1,100 Calories a day, and if you are in SHTF mode (say, cleaning/rebuilding after a natural disaster) you are going to need a lot more than that.

The frugal shopper can find a better path for medium- to long-term storage of inexpensive food (think bulk beans, rice, canned tuna; all purchased with coupons or when on sale).

Guest's picture

Remember fire?

Guest's picture

What they mean by servings here is one cup, which is the standard way of measuring a lot of foods like soup, pasta, etc. so that you can compare them in the U.S. Really for a meal you're going to eat at least 2 cups of whatever, making this at most 40 person-days of food if you figure the milk doesn't count, and that's something like 1000 Calories. This amount is barely maintenance for me, and would be dieting for a lot of people. WhyTanFox is right, you're going to want more than that if you're doing anything more than cooling your heels in a shelter.

As far as ready-to-eat, I should grab our stash of "lazy food" if it comes to that--we always keep some Tasty Bite packets around for when we're stressed out.

Guest's picture

I wrote a post for today about hurricane preparedness, so I'm going to link to this. Thanks and perfect timing!!!

Guest's picture

"Remember fire?" Right, because all of us apartment and condo dwellers have lots of handy places to start a fire without strangling ourselves with smoke inhalation. Oh and good luck trying to start a fire in your backyard during a flood!

I'd be more likely to try boiling water using some kind of solar-powered hot plate. Does such a thing exist?

Linsey Knerl's picture

When I was apartment-bound, I used my hibachi for everything! And if you can't store charcoal (or it gets wet due to weather), you can get one with a small portable propane tank. I've used mine plenty during times when I needed to cook out on my tiny patio. I bet you could heat up some water pretty quickly on one, too! Or you could just go with a nice gas camping stove.

Guest's picture

We used a small coleman camp stove w/ the small propane tanks to boil water, make coffee, cook, etc. when Hurricane Isabel hit and we were without power for about a week. We had also filled up the bathtub so we could flush the toilets when necessary (something people on city water who don't have to worry about their well pump not working when the power is out do not have to do).

Guest's picture

I am surprised Costco is still carrying this product. About two years ago someone from the Church of LDS sued Costco because his religion demanded that he be prepared for emergencies - and this kit would provide only about 400-500 calories per day, which is not sufficient for 3 months. Amazing, no? I don't remember if he won his case.

The way I see it, if you really and truly are in a situation where you would need this product for sustenance, just eat triple what they say and you should be fine. Hopefully you can get to more food in one month!

Personally, I just stockpile canned food in my house. When it is near expiration I can just use it.


Guest's picture

either on the Costco site or on the Nutristorage site, so I guess they changed the packaging. The suit was dismissed anyway, I think I saw online.

My understanding is that LDS members are supposed to have enough food in the house to feed their families for a year, and I've seen the advice to do it by buying a little extra each trip and rotating the goods.

Guest's picture

Buy a cheap sterno camping stove, a can of sterno (or a 36hr canned survival candle) and a cheap lightweight pot or camping cup and you can boil water anywhere for around $15 total. You might want to think about storing fresh water too.

Paul Michael's picture

basic survival skills. I enjoy watching Les Stroud, Survivorman, and he always seems to find a way to boil water in the most severe conditions. He also did a special on surviving a flood, after Katrina. Well worth a watch.

Guest's picture

Emergency Relief organizations should cut a deal with the bucket company - this makes much more sense than dealing out huge soup kitchens in ravaged areas... espceially when transportation can be limited.


Guest's picture

As far as toilets go, I would skip using them and urinate into a closed bottle (women can use a funnel) and do #2 into a 5 gallon bucket. Excrement without urine really doesn't smell much at all, and if you sequester the urine in a bottle that is capped it won't smell bad.

Once you've got a lot of the stuff stored up you have various options for disposal. But if it's really an emergency and there's no water, you don't want to be using water for flushing toilets. YOu could maybe use used wash water that you saved up to flush a large amount of what is in the bucket down, topped off with bottles of urine.

If you live in an area where there's outdoor space, you could just make a bed of leaves or sawdust and make a compost type pile for the #1 and #2, emptying the buckets and bottles every few days. If you cover it with leaves, grass, and other such dry organic matter it is actually fairly safe from the public health standpoint to do that, in fact much safer than many other options.

Guest's picture

If you really want to do the bucket and compost thing or to know more about it, The Humanure Bible by Jenkins explains all. And in fact is available both in purchasable book form and free by the author on the web.

There is a little more to using a bucket and carry toilet system than I indicated in my above post, but not that much more. Jenkins's book tells all though. He is truly the GOD of Humanure and I say that with all due respect.

Guest's picture

wow some of you complaining about 1200 calories a day are in for a rude awakining. that is pretty much average what you should be eating. the 2000 is for pretty active people. Just look at the number of overweight people we have walking around EVERYWHERE.

I work a 8-10 hour job powerwashing and painting everyday and running and lifting weights in the evening and take in 900 to 1300 calories a day. Depends on if I forget to eat dinner or not.

Guest's picture

Having been in an unfortunate situation where I was lucky to have food a couple of times a week for a couple of months...I can state for a fact than when there is a significant food shortage, 1000 cal/day is a *feast*. Most people in the US only *think* they know what hungry is...and how much food they need. Perception & reality can be very different things.

Guest's picture

If you have more details about other emergency food supply than please post here i would like to know more about these.

Guest's picture
Wild Bill

water is such pertanant item. Plastic water bottles have a shelf life and there are water purifiers and small filters out there that do well.The emergency food kit is also a good item, as well as other stored food items pinto beans pasta etc.We all need to keep in mind, that alot of elderly folks need care in a time of disater.First aid supplies are inexpensie to keep stocked up on.God be with us all.