When disaster strikes, whether natural or manmade, securing safe shelter should be the top priority. For many people, the next focus is securing food and water. A good rule of thumb is to keep 72 hours’ worth of supplies on hand, as it often takes that long before utilities and emergency crews can restore services.
Maintaining a stockpile of these goods can be a daunting undertaking, especially when considering the shelf life of food and water and the cooking conditions you can face during an emergency situation. There are a number of options for long shelf life food and water, many of which don’t require any prep time. Added bonus: the following products are also suitable to include in your survival kit or bug-out bag.
Key Features: One-person kit; three meals per day
Description: The Just in Case 72-hour Kit contains a three-day supply of three complete meals per day for a single person. It features Mountain House’s own freezedried foods consisting of a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees such as scrambled eggs with bacon, beef stroganoff with noodles and pasta primavera. Carefully stored, Mountain House pouches taste best if they are consumed within 10 years of manufacture.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “What sets our kit apart from others is truly the shelf life of our food. They will not only be safe to eat, but tasty for years—if not decades—after the official ‘shelf life,’ although you may notice a slight change in flavor or texture. We’ve personally sampled 30year old pouches and 40-year old cans and found them to be quite good.” —Molly Ishkanian, PR Spokesperson With Mountain House
Description: The perfect choice for anyone making jerky for the first time or for an experienced jerky-maker who likes variety, this seasoning assortment kit gives you enough seasoning to make five pounds of each of our five favorite jerky flavors. Also includes enough Insta Cure No. 1 to prepare 25 pounds of jerky. Kit contains: Uncle Abe’s Jerky Seasoning, Cajun Jerky Seasoning, Barbeque Jerky Seasoning, Mesquite Jerky Seasoning, Teriyaki Jerky Seasoning and Insta Cure No. 1.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “From one kit, you can make 25 pounds of jerky. That’s a lot of value for the money.”
Description: Major Surplus & Survival’s Retort Emergency Water kit features 100 pouches of drinkable water, making it ideal for any emergency situation. The long-lasting, easy-tocarry water supply is even U.S. Coast Guard approved, as it meets the Guard’s exacting packaging requirements necessary for survival and lifeboat use. Each tough triple layered retort pouch holds 4.227 fluid ounces (125 mil.) of water and will store for a minimum of five years.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “While our Retort Emergency Water pouches will reportedly store for a minimum of five years, we think they’ll actually store for 15-20 years.”
Key Features: Meets Red Cross and FEMA preparedness recommendations, heater pouches
Description: Long Life Food Depot’s 72-Hour MRE Emergency Supply Kits contains at least a three-day supply of familiar, non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods for one person. The kit comes with a mix of nine entrees, available with or without meat, as well as sides, baked goods, condiments, desserts and drink mixes. New to the kit are heater pouches to warm the food items.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “Real food for real emergencies. Contains 33 food items that are ready to eat (entrees, sides, spreads, bakery items, desserts and beverages), along with accessory packets full of comfort items and flameless heater pouches for safe heating. A great value with free and fast shipping.” —The Friendly Staff At Long Life Food Depot
Description: You may be eating dinner in the wild, but you can still keep some of your kitchen items on hand. This set includes two bowls, two insulated mugs, two Sip-It lids, a two-liter pot with lid, a frypan, a pot gripper, a welded sink basin that doubles as a carry bag and a stuff sack. It weighs in at just one pound 12.8 ounces and measures 8.2×5.4 inches.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “GSI Outdoors prides itself on manufacturing top-quality products at affordable prices. The Backpacker Cookset is just one example.” —Don Scott, Co-owner Of GSI Outdoors
Description: The 72-Hour Food Supply Kit is designed to feed two adults for 72 hours. These 17 meal pouches produce 80 servings and provide 2,350 calories per day. They are similar to military-issued MREs, cook in eight to ten minutes with just water, have a shelf life up to 20 years and are easily transported. Entrees include Southwest white bean chili, Texan sunrise skillet and Nantucket potato soup, as well as a number of side dishes and 16 milk servings.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “Emergencies happen when you least expect them, so make sure you have a food supply at the ready with these vegetarian dry mix meals.”
Key Features: Supply your own meat, includes everything else
Description: Whether you’ve snared a deer or you’ve simply bought meat from the local store, you can make your own summer sausage to round out your survival pantry, thanks to this kit that includes everything you need. Bring it along on your travels, and you won’t have to mess with recipe cards and jars of seasonings because everything is packaged for you. Add your desired cut of meat to the kit’s ingredients, and you could be churning out up to 30 pounds of summer sausage— surely enough to keep your family energized on the trail.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “This is the perfect way to spice up any game you catch or meat you have onhand!”
Key Features: USB-rechargeable, quickly sterilizes water
Description: Making your water safe to drink is one of the primary requirements of being out on the trail, since we can’t live without H2O. The SteriPEN Freedom is a handy way to treat your water and make it safe to drink, and it takes up very little space in your pack. Weighing just 2.6 ounces, the Freedom can sterilize 8,000 water treatments of 16 ounces each, and its UV light destroys germs in 48 seconds. What we loved about it during our test was that it includes rechargeable batteries that you can juice using either AC power or USB charger—which is helpful since many solar chargers accept USB cords.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “The SteriPEN provides sterilized water when you’re off the grid so you don’t have to worry about this essential survival item.”
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Winter 2013 print issue of American Survival Guide.