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SALT LAKE CITY — Getting started on your food storage can be daunting. Which brands are best? Which packaging method lasts the longest? How much food will you need?
Each family has unique needs and there’s no magic solution that will work for everyone. For this reason, it’s strongly recommended that you do your research before making any major purchases.
One thing to note is that while pre-made meals are incredibly convenient, you need to keep an eye on the labels because they can be extremely high in sodium. And speaking of labels, don’t simply go by the “serving size” advertised by a food storage company. There’s no standard definition for what that means, so one man’s serving could be another man’s snack. In fact, some companies intentionally make their serving sizes small so they can advertise higher numbers on their packages.
Looking at the food’s nutritional information is the best way to gauge its value. “Buy calories” is a common refrain. But even that’s not foolproof, because some companies will inflate the calories on their packages by including a high number of sugary items. So the rule of thumb should really be to focus on buying “good” calories.
To get a better idea of what options are currently on the market, I sampled food options from some of the top companies in the country. For the most part, the quality of the food surpassed my expectations. Several of the meals were tasty enough that I’d happily eat them any day of the week, not just during an emergency. Here are some of the options currently available.
The team at Deseret Food Store is knowledgeable about the industry and is passionate about what they do. Their meals come in resealable Mylar bags and are affordable and easy to prepare. According to the company, they use high-quality ingredients and packaging so that each meal tastes great, whether it’s eaten today or 25 years down the road.
I thought their spicy corn chowder was amazing. It has a lot of seasonings that give it a wonderful flavor. It’s also very filling, which you can’t often say about soups. The pasta alfredo was also a winner. The sauce was creamy and delicious. It’s one of those meals that’s good enough to eat any time, not just in an emergency.
As I began learning about the food storage industry, I took a lot of my questions to Josh Baum, president of Family Storehouse. He was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. One good thing about the Family Storehouse is that they’re innovative and always seeking out new products. When they find a promising preparedness product, they try it at home and make sure it’s reliable. Then you’ll find it on their shelves.
Among my favorite meals from Family Storehouse was their loaded baked potato soup. It tasted high-quality and didn’t have the overpowering saltiness that you can get with some other meals. I also loved the multi-grain cereal (wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, millet, buckwheat, flax). It had no sweeteners and was just hearty, healthy food.
If you’re new in the process of building your food storage, a program like Lindon Farms' monthly auto-ship might be helpful. They’ll send you new products each month so you can slowly grow your supply and not get overwhelmed all at once. Lindon Farms provides both freeze-dried and dehydrated options and strive to create recipes that even picky eaters will like.
The western chili is great. It’s perfect for a campout in the mountains or even in the backyard. Basically, it’s delicious when eaten around a fire. The cheddar broccoli soup from Lindon Farms is also really good. It’s quick and easy to make, and it is really satisfying on a cold day.
There’s a lot to like about The Wise Company. For one thing, their food labels are extremely clear and legible. This may sound inconsequential, but it makes it a lot easier to read the preparation instructions and make your meal. The Wise Company offers both freeze-dried and dehydrated options, and because the meals are so user-friendly, they’re great for hunting and camping as well as emergency storage. The company also takes great pride in the packaging it uses, which employees say is some of the best in the industry.
Among the meals from The Wise Company, the cheesy lasagna is a total winner. It may be a food storage meal, but you can actually taste the spices and different cheeses. The apple cinnamon cereal is also top-notch. It’s easy to prepare and is really satisfying.
The National Geographic collection from Live Prepared includes some of the easiest-to-prepare meals I’ve seen. The food is high-quality and versatile. The company’s goal was to create a line of products that would be accessible for people new to the industry while also being substantial enough to please those who are picky about their products.
First off, the honey-coated banana slices from Live Prepared are delicious. You can add them to granola, pudding, pie and more. Same goes for the dehydrated apple slices. The oatmeal with strawberries is also a treat. It’s also super convenient — just add one cup of hot water to the pouch and once it’s ready, you can eat it right out of the pouch.
I’ve used Mountain House products in the past because they’re great for backpacking. They’re reasonably priced, and most that I’ve tried have been delicious. It seems that a lot of other customers agree with my assessment, because they’re a big seller nationwide. One other thing to like about the company is that they often donate a food to the Utah Food Bank and other charities.
One of my favorite meals from Mountain House was the breakfast skillet. It includes eggs, hash browns, sausage and more. All you have to do is add boiling water to the pouch, wait several minutes and you’ve got a meal that’s filling and delicious. Another of my favorites was the granola with milk and blueberries. I took it to the office with me and once I added water, I could eat my breakfast right out of the pouch.
This company is known for making meals that provide ample serving sizes. They also strive to use recipes that preserve the flavor of the food even after months or years of storage. In addition to entrees, they have yummy breakfast options. Their meals are 100 percent vegetarian so that they’ll last longer (apparently meat goes bad faster than other ingredients). But they do sell freeze-dried meat separately, if you’re interested.
I really enjoyed the pasta alfredo from My Food Storage. It had simple ingredients but still delivered great flavor. Easy to make and a pleasure to eat — just what you want in your food storage.
Honeyville has been around since the ‘50s and they make some really tasty products. Their cans of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are great to have around for both everyday use and emergency storage. Because they use a special freeze-drying process, the food retains its nutrition.
The freeze-dried strawberries were my favorite. They made a perfect snack and my daughter loves them. The freeze-dried sweet corn is also amazing. It’s like softer, healthier Corn Nuts. You can add them to recipes like soups, stews and casseroles and they’re delicious. In fact, once they’re rehydrated you can’t even tell they were freeze-dried in the first place.
Legacy Premium emphasizes the shelf life of their food storage products. Their benchmark is up to 25 years, which they achieve with good ingredients and low levels of oxygen in the high-quality Mylar pouches they use. They also offer gluten-free options, which is important to many families.
The pasta primavera from Legacy Premium is definitely one of the best of the bunch. It has lots of delicious flavors and makes a great dinner any time.
Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. You can contact him at email@example.com.