How to Choose a Food Storage Service
The top performers in our review are Wise Company, the Gold Award winner; Nitro-Pak, the Silver Award winner; and Emergency Essentials, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a food storage service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 services.
Virtually any corner of the globe is susceptible to one type of natural disaster or another, whether it is earthquakes, hurricanes, floods or fires, or some terrible combination. There are also plenty of manmade disasters that can temporarily interrupt your way of life, including power outages or problems with municipal water. Even a job loss can make your regular trip to the grocery store impossible for a time. If you have adequate food storage, it's easier to stay relatively calm in any of those situations knowing there is enough food for you and your loved ones.
Modern food storage is far from the chalky and flavor-free meals of the past, or the stacks and stacks of small cans, which can be difficult to organize, transport and store. The most popular modern food storage options are freeze-dried and only require the addition of hot water to get main dishes, sides and even desserts. They are not exactly like fresh food but they are definitely palatable and easy to make, and in an emergency situation they will likely seem gourmet.
Food is only one part of survival in a bad situation, of course. You may need to think about shelter, communication and warmth, depending on the emergency. Crank radios and emergency cell phones can become very important for finding out what is going on. Overall emergency preparedness includes a plan for meeting all potential needs of your family. For our long-term food storage reviews we just focused on getting the proper nutrition in a crisis, though. We looked for good quality food with an exceptionally long shelf life, and for the best place to buy it. For more information, read our articles about food storage services.
How to Choose a Food Storage Service
There are lots of ways to build up a decent amount of food storage. Many people just add a few extra cans of dried goods to their normal grocery shopping and slowly build up a safety net. You can sometimes buy the same freeze-dried foods you would find in a specialty retailer at less expensive stores, whether online or brick and mortar. There are good reasons to buy from a retailer that specializes in survival food, though. One reason is the level of expertise. A random stash of extra food is not the same as the carefully curated collections you will find with the best food storage companies. These providers have taken the time to calculate the number of calories you will need to survive a catastrophe. They then create assortments based on balanced nutrition and decent flavor, even in the worst of circumstances.
Food Storage Services: What We Evaluated, What We Found
There are food storage companies that make and sell their own brand of food and nothing else, and the food quality is quite good from many of them. That is a fine option but we found the all-around emergency preparedness stores offer good alternatives, too. They sell a range of high-quality emergency food brands in addition to a lot of other supplies you might need. That way you can buy the foods that you like best from several different brands in one place as well as tents, stoves and other preparedness musts.
Whether you opt to buy your food storage directly from the manufacturer or from an all-around preparedness retailer, the best ones make it easy to get what you really need. They take a lot of the guesswork out of the process by creating collections that make sense – three-month, six-month and one-year supplies, for example. Many also offer pay-as-you-go plans so you can spread out the cost of appropriate food storage for your household.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We judged the services by comparing the support services, food choices and product information. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available by reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Food & Water
During our research of food storage services, we looked at what kinds of food and nutrition options each service offered. Basic food groups like meat, fruits and vegetables are valuable, as are all-inclusive entrees for the less cooking-oriented user. You should be able to expect at least 20 years of shelf life from these products, and many last even longer. The initial investment is generally significant so we like getting at least two decades of the peace of mind that comes with having your food storage in order.
We looked for the services that offer a mixture of food types so you can plan for different types of emergencies. High-caloric bars and MREs are going to be great for short-term catastrophes while grains and beans can get you through a longer period of unemployment, for example, or an evacuation due to natural disaster. We prefer the services that offer not just filters and chemicals for purifying water but actual water, in cans or pouches. You may or may not be near a water source of any kind in an emergency so it is important to have some drinking water on hand, to stay hydrated and to prepare your food.
The best companies have food and dietary options that cater to meat eaters, vegetarians and people with special health requirements in their diets. Some services stick to more common foods and meat-based entrees with high caloric content. Knowing what kind of food you need for an emergency is crucial in choosing the right food storage service for you.
In case you have specific dietary needs, including those due to allergies, many of these services offer alternative foods. Vegetarian meals are common, and services like Thrive Life and Food Insurance offer gluten-free options. The best services make it easy to find specific food types.
Equipment & Extras
No one likes to think about devastating events that could force you to live without modern conveniences for long periods of time. It is always a possibility, though, and it makes sense to set aside some tools and supplies for being more self-sufficient. To that end, many of these stores offer seeds to start your own garden and canning or dehydrating supplies to preserve more of the food you grow.
If you buy it all at once, or even most of it at once, food storage requires a significant financial investment, and an emergency food estimator, found on the best sites, can help you determine how much food you will need to feed yourself or your family, along with the cost of everything you want to purchase. The estimator can calculate by days, months and the number of people for whom you are obtaining food.
Help & Support
Some services offer emergency education, similar to brick and mortar emergency preparedness stores. This information can offer survival tips about food and other topics. Each service should also offer phone and email for customers. Live chat is a less common but still useful way to communicate directly with companies.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
Wise Company, Nitro-Pak and Emergency Essentials are all good food storage services that will help you have the food you need in case of unexpected events such as power outages and hurricanes. Wise Company stands out especially for its delicious food and impressive selection. This company has organized its food into logical collections, packaged in a smart, stackable way, that will keep you well supplied in any emergency.
Nitro-Pak and Emergency Essentials might be good options if you are looking for more than just food. They both offer more than Wise Company in terms of camping gear that will keep you sheltered and warm in case of an evacuation. Both also have a nice assortment of food with long shelf life.
All of the food storage services on our lineup are solid choices if you need to prepare for a disaster made by people or the elements. Choosing one that helps you determine the necessary amount of food and the tools to make it through will get easier when you look at the services on our lineup.