Food Supply Kits
Food & Water
Equipment & Extras
Help & Support
Best Food Storage Services
Finding the Best Food Storage Service for You
Since 2013, we have been researching and testing food storage services. We have spent more than 120 hours doing online research, consulting with companies and talking to industry insiders to find and review the best food storage services and help you choose the best for your family’s food storage needs.
Food is only one part of survival in a bad situation, so we have also reviewed emergency preparedness stores. However, for our long-term food storage reviews we just focused on getting the proper nutrition in a crisis. We looked for the best place to buy good quality food with an exceptionally long shelf life.
Best Overall – Wise Company
Wise Company makes all its own food, which consists of an impressive variety of high-quality survival food that can last for decades. This company is dedicated to creating good-tasting food that caters to a wide population. Its food options include specialty items like gluten-free foods, and all of its food is soy- and nut-free. You can purchase food a la cart or in bulk and use it for long-term storage, camping or food rotation as your needs dictate.
Food Insurance has nice buying options, such as a pay-as-you-go service that makes food storage more affordable up front. It has a variety of tasty freeze-dried and dehydrated food that you can buy in bulk or a la carte. While it has gluten-free options, it doesn’t have many items for specialty diets like organic or soy-free. It does have a good selection of tasty food for both storage and daily eating, but you’ll have to buy them in food kits, not as separate ingredients.
Best for Food Rotation
Thrive Life packages its own food and offers a wide selection of tasty ingredients that you can buy to create your own meals. It has a shelving option that makes food rotation easy, and you can seamlessly incorporate the food into your daily menus. This service is also great for storing and keeping food on hand in case of an emergency. The shelf life, while still great at 20 years, is somewhat shorter than average, but there is a tendency to use the food more with this service.
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
While we didn’t actually taste-test foods from each company, we judged the services by comparing the support services, food choices and product information.
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 many 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.
Most food storage companies offer a range of one-person kits with enough food to last from only a few days to a few years. We looked at each service and noted the prices for both three-month kits and one-year kits to determine an average price range. We found that individual three-month kits start around $600 and usually go as high as $850. However, there are still some companies out there that will charge over $2,500 for the same amount of food. As expected, year-long kits are much more expensive, starting around $2,100 and going as high as $4,000. The amount and types of foods vary from service to service, but you will find that a lot of the food options are similar. When deciding which service to go with, make sure you choose your kits based on the foods that you are most comfortable with and likely to want to eat.
Food & Water
During our research of food storage services, we looked at what kinds of food and nutrition options each service offer. 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-calorie bars and MREs are 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.
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.
The Best Food Storage Methods
There are several ways to prepare food for survival storage, and the best method depends on what you're preserving. Consider using several of these methods in your food storage plan so you have a variety of food when disaster strikes. Below, we’ve listed the most common food storage methods as well as how long they can preserve food.
Freezing - The FDA’s Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart helps you determine if you can freeze a food and how long it can be kept in the freezer before spoiling. For example, steak and roasts keep in the freezer for up to 12 months, making them some of the longest lasting freezer foods. That isn’t long compared to other food storage methods, but it can be helpful if you’re in a short-term pinch. You might want to consider getting a dedicated food storage freezer. Just keep in mind that should your electricity go out, frozen food will go bad rather quickly.
Drying - According to the Food Safety Hotline, drying is the oldest method of food preservation. Fruit and meat preserve really well with the help of a food dehydrator. According to Dehydrator Living, dehydrated fruit can last five to 10 years if properly stored. This is longer than canned food, which only lasts up to five years.
Smoking - Meat and fish are most often preserved using this slow cooking method. Some grills, including Char-Broil The Big Easy, double as smokers. Follow the USDA’s Smoking Meat and Poultry guidelines to ensure your food is safely prepared. The USDA states that smoked food should be used within four days if refrigerated, but it can be frozen for longer.
Canning & Bottling - You can preserve vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, poultry and more by cooking it and sealing it in sterile bottles. As part of the canning process, you boil the food, which kills or weakens bacteria. Because of this, canned food lasts for a long time – up to five years. Once you open the bottles, the food is once again susceptible to going bad. Follow the National Center of Home Food Preservation's canning guidelines to safely can food.
Salting & Pickling - These two preparation methods are very similar. Salting removes moisture from foods and is commonly used to cure meats. Pickled food has been marinated in a saltwater solution, also called brine. You can salt or pickle a variety of foods, including seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits and eggs. According to Food Republic, pickled vegetables and fruits keep for about five to six months. Remember to refrigerate anything you pickle.
Vacuum-packing - When you remove oxygen from food, bacteria weakens and dies. VacMaster tells us that vacuum sealing preserves food three to five times longer than storing it in plastic containers and bags. Frozen vacuum-packed food lasts six to 12 months, while refrigerated food lasts one to two weeks. To learn more, check out our favorite vacuum sealers.
To learn about other food preservation methods, check out the Food Safety Hotline.
Storage: There’s More to Preparedness Than Just Food
Stocking up on food is a smart move to protect you and your family if there is a catastrophic event. However, being prepared for an emergency – especially one with an aftermath that might last a while – requires more than just food to sustain life.
If you are confronted by a tornado or earthquake, for example, you could find yourself in dire need of water purification options, good-quality first aid kits, sanitation supplies, flashlights, temporary shelter options like tents or tarps, and much more, so you and your loved ones stay safe.
If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters or if you simply want to be prepared for an emergency, take a look at such companies as SOS Survival Products, The 7 Store, Quake Kare and SurvivorMall.com. All these provide a wide array of supplies, and you can choose what you expect you would need if a catastrophe occurred where you live.
Contributing Reviewer: Noel Case, Rebecca Spear