The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why

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The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why via The Survival Mom

Over the years I’ve purchased “survival” food from a dozen or so different companies, and believe me, not all companies that sell that type of food are the same. In a couple of instances, the food was so bad that even I, a pretty damn good cook, couldn’t salvage the end result.

If you’re going to invest money in freeze-dried and dehydrated food, then it’s worth the time to research and try sample-sizes of a company’s product before stocking up.

Some of the brands I’ve used and purchased are Thrive Life, Legacy Foods, Honeyville, Emergency Essentials, and the one widely-marketed brand that was the worst and which will remain nameless. (Wise consumers will be well-advised to steer clear of that particular brand.)

Currently, the company I use most often is Thrive Life.  Over the years and hundreds of cans of their food, I’ve found their quality, taste, and variety to be the best. Disclaimer: I like their food so much that I am an “independent consultant” for their company and earn a commission for any sales generated from my link.

Thrive Life foods

Thrive Life has an outstanding, user-friendly website, and a huge array of mostly freeze-dried foods that can be incorporated in thousands of recipes. This is my recommended form of food storage — individual ingredients that give you unlimited recipe options.

Just-add-water meals come in handy for events like power outages and quick evacuations but they do limit your meal choices to just the varieties you have on hand. Thrive Life offers the opportunity to earn money and have foods auto-shipped, which has helped me stay on track with food storage goals and build a supply of freeze-dried food. In short, they have some unique features similar companies do not offer. I’ve been a Thrive Life consultant for 8 years and most of my own food storage comes from this company.

The Best Food Storage Company?

So what about other companies such as Emergency Essentials, Walton Feed, Augason Farms, and Honeyville?The 3 food storage companies used most often by #Survival Mom. #PrepperTalk Click To Tweet

None of these companies are inferior, they just don’t rise to the top in the various categories that I personally find to be most important — most helpful website and resources, an auto-ship option, consistently high quality, and the largest variety of products.

Years ago, I’ve visited the main Emergency Essentials store in Salt Lake City and found the manager there to be friendly and helpful. Their site offers survival products that are priced well along with freeze-dried food, and I’ve purchased MREs there as well.Which is the best food storage company? Click To Tweet

For a year or so I taught classes at the Honeyville Farms retail store in Phoenix and bought quite a few food items each time. One thing I noticed was that the food purchased in the store was very nicely priced but the price increased dramatically online. They advertise a low shipping cost, but obviously, the price of shipping has to be made up elsewhere, thus the increase in their online prices. This made it difficult for me to determine which of their products were priced well and which might be more expensive than other brands, whose shipping charges were higher.

A couple of years ago I priced a 50-pound bag of hard white wheat at the Honeyville Farms retail store and back then it cost $19.99, but was $43.99 online. That’s quite a difference and is typical of all their food products. The $8.99 shipping charge becomes meaningless, and it also makes it very difficult to truly compare Honeyville’s cost and value with other companies. One thing I do like about Honeyville are their baking mixes for things like cornbread and brownies.

Augason Farms is very well-known in the food storage community. It’s family-run and offers generally lower prices. However, what I’ve found is the quality of food is a mixed bag. In some cases, it’s as good in terms of appearance and flavor as Thrive Life, but too often, the quality is lower. I sampled some of their soup mixes, and they aren’t something I would feed to my family without major improvements on my part.

Rainy Day Foods/Walton Feed was the very first food storage company I encountered, and the ordering process, at least back then, was quite confusing and complicated to a newbie. It really helps to know what you want and will use before perusing the site. Eleven years ago when I first began my food storage project, I had no idea what adzuki beans were or whether we would ever eat a #10 can of ABC soup mix! Their website is functional but offers little additional help or support, unlike Thrive Life.

Rainy Day products are good quality, we used the cocoa powder I bought years ago. If you want to take a look at their products and pricing, it’s best to place a huge order with other people, if possible, in order to save on shipping. When I did this, an 18-wheeler delivered the order to my friend’s house (she was the coordinator), and she divided up the orders for each person.

Two other well-known brands I’ve tried are Mountain House Foods (Read my Mountain House review.) Legacy Foods. I tried several of their freeze-dried entrees — very good!

All that food is surprisingly similar. Here’s why.

One factor many don’t realize is that all this food, whether it be wheat, strawberries, corn, and everything else comes from only so many farms! Just as food processing plants package food and then place different labels on them for different brands, these farms and packing plants do the same thing. So wheat purchased from Emergency Essentials just might come from the exact same farm as Augason Farms wheat or vice versa.

There are very few plants that freeze-dry massive amounts of produce, so it’s just logical that the food itself is the same from one company to the next, and only the label and, possibly, the packaging process is different. Exactly where the food comes from is highly confidential, and you will probably only find out the country from which it originated.

Food storage mistakes abound!

Before making a large purchase of this food, even if you’re in a huge panic and think that time is running out, please don’t buy anything you aren’t familiar with and may not actually use. I have about a dozen cans of germade — a hot cereal I have never eaten in my life. One of these days I’ll crack open a can and serve it to them. If they like it, great! If not, I’ll be looking on Pinterest for other recipes that call for germade!

One mistake I’ve made is to buy far more wheat and less rice, which in many ways is more versatile. It’s also advantageous for families dealing with gluten issues. On the upside, I have loads of wheat to barter with, and now I’ve started to look for 50-pound bags of rice that I can repackage.

TIP: If you buy food in large quantities, you’ll probably have to repackage it for the longest shelf life.

Another mistake I made early on was buying all my food in gallon-size #10 cans. Once opened, the food inside will be affected by humidity, oxygen, and light and its flavor and color will deteriorate. I wised up after a while and now buy mostly the smaller, #2.5 cans. This tutorial will help you decide which can size is best for you and your family.

Whichever companies you choose, start with buying small quantities. Thrive Life sells small, #2.5 size cans, which are more budget-friendly. This is a very, very good way to check the quality, taste, and versatility of a food.

This food is for more than just storage

One reader asked me if I ever actually eat this food right now! Well, currently in my kitchen, I have opened cans of freeze dried blueberries (used them in a baked oatmeal this morning), freeze dried strawberries (we use them in smoothies), freeze-dried cheese (ran out of fresh cheddar one day…), oats, parboiled rice, cocoa powder, bell pepper slices, and instant milk. Although most of my food is specifically for long-term storage, rotating these foods is pretty important to maintain maximum freshness.

After a while, you figure out which of these foods you should probably stock up on more than others. For me:

  1. Berries
  2. Freeze dried corn (We use it a lot in chowders.)
  3. Freeze dried sausage crumbles. These are amazing and such a great way to have sausage for pasta meals and pizza. Learn more about using sausage crumbles here.
  4. Instant milk. Good to have on hand when we don’t have any fresh.
  5. Freeze dried bell peppers. Fresh from the store can be pretty expensive, and this is a good way to have peppers when I need them.

The bottom line

Whichever company you purchase from, try to compare prices and quantities. Also pay attention to serving sizes, especially when buying just-add-water meals. Those can be deceiving and are a topic for a separate article!

Resources to help you stock up

Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios  (I include 2 very full chapters on getting started with food storage, which foods to buy first, and how to keep your pantry organized.)

Food Saver Vacuum Sealer – this removes oxygen, which will extend the shelf life of your food.

Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett

Check out these tutorials for using this type of food

 

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 9 years.

66 thoughts on “The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why”

  1. Thrive is my favorite by far, mainly because the vast majority of their freeze-dried foods do not have MSG nor trans-fats. The others do. I will not pollute my body with those health-killing additives.

      1. The shelf life will vary from food to food and company to company. The best thing to do is go to the product description for specific foods and check the shelf life both for the unopened cans and then the shelf life once they’re open.

  2. Most of the Thrive food to my knowledge is organic but not certified We have about 6 – 12 products that are organics that are certified. Check out the product descriptions and they will tell all about each one. Right now we have amaranth, quinoa, hard white wheat, spelt, raspberries, and peas that are certified. Let me know if you would like to order something.

  3. Agree with your article except not ALL companies use the same sources. I know for a fact that Thrive Life doesn’t repackage their foods with their own label. They have their own growers and work very closely with them to ensure the highest quality possible. Yes, I am also a consultant for them. But I have compared their foods with other brands and there is no question they are superior. I would never buy from anyone else, even if I wasn’t a consultant.

    1. Not sure if it was mentioned but my Chinese friend goes to the local Asian market and gets like 100 lbs of rice at a time. The cost savings between a western store and an Asian market can be huge. Just an fyi.

  4. Our family only eats organics and vegetarian so I end up buying a lot of bulk organic foods and using mylar bags, 5 gallon buckets and oxygen absorbers to store things myself. But I love the idea of storing food that you just add water to, that will make a tasty ready to eat meal.

    I found this company: http://shop.maryjanesfarm.org/Food

    I ordered a large sample pack and I am loving it. It is really tasty and easy to make. I found a website that has these products really cheap in bulk so I can store them in my buckets with the mylar and oxygen absorbers, but here is where I need an experts help. If these foods have spices in them and things like raisins in them are they going to last 20 to 30 years (even if I store them correctly)? I want to rotate and eat some of our food storage, but I want some that is just stored that I don’t mess with. But my worst nightmare is opening food in an emergency years down the road only to find out that it is rotten.

    You are my favorite food storage expert so I am hoping to get your opinion.

  5. I have a few things from other sources but my main stock is Augason Farms. I can order it from Amazon or Walmart.com, (both offer free shipping) the quality and selection is good, and it seems to be less expensive than most others…. which is important if you are trying to be prepared on the cheap.
    Much of the stuff is cheap enough to use in everyday meals.

  6. Really surprised you didnt talk more about Legacy. As you say, there is a good chance most of the food actually comes from the same place, and a majority is likely packaged the same with different labels.. With that in mind, wouldn’t it make sense to go with the company that provides the best calories per dollar? As you mentioned, the Legacy food is VERY tasty, and when you look at the calories/$ Legacy is heads and shoulders above the others when purchasing online. here is a quick comparison page: http://www.preparewise.com/best-value-food-storage.html/

    just sayin’

    1. Nothing for or against, Legacy, Wayne. I much prefer individual ingredients to the just-add-water meals, which is what Legacy sells. Those meals are okay for emergencies but long-term, ingredients are much, much better for stocking up.

      1. Rick Christensen

        Quite a few of us have had much experience over the years with the “basic four” and subsequent more varied storage-for-putting-together-meals-from-ingredients approach. Unfortunately, it really becomes a bother and a drag after awhile. Storage, for many, is specifically for emergencies anyway, so what is wrong with just-add-water stuff? Besides, in an emergency, not having to fool around with extensive meal preparation would reduce stress. So of the just-add-water producers, who has good serving sizes, adequate calories, and decent nutritional coverage?

        1. Yeah, the basic 4 gets to be tiresome, to say the least. I don’t have anything against hot water meals and, in fact, have a video series in which I include them as a category. Over a long period of time, eating the same meals week after week isn’t ideal and the ingredients necessary for these meals to come together quickly in hot water and have a long shelf life aren’t the best. Truly long-term survival, months or longer, will be more pleasant with better nutrition by making more meals from scratch but the hot water meals are okay for those times when it’s either that or starve. 🙂

        2. Why not have both. Most people don’t prepare food from scratch at home everyday they use some mixes and some just add water items plus ingredients that they can be inventive with.
          I am biased towards Augason Farms, but they offer both and have a good selection of Grab and Go kits and #10 Cans that are just add water.
          Also keep in mind that one of the challenges in an emergency is stress management and for many people preparing a meal is just that a form of distraction, relaxation or even a stress reducer.
          I just read an article about Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, both of them wash the dishes each day at there home. It is a time of relaxation and a way for them to clear there thoughts by doing a mundane task.
          I hope this helps.

  7. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Emergency Essentials fan. I discovered them some years back, and like my favorite grocery store, I’m not interested in changing. Like you, I prefer ingredients over pre-made meals. Whatever supplier someone chooses, I recommend that new buyers opt for the smaller cans that most of them sell now. Like was said in the article, it’s terrible when you wind up with massive cans of something that you’re not sure you’ll ever use. The smaller cans cost more per ounce, but if you hate it, you haven’t lost much.

  8. Great column, just a couple of quick clarifications:

    * Mountain House is made by Oregon Freeze Dry, and AlpineAire is made by Katadyn (the water filter folks). MH is fully cooked before freeze drying, while AA is a mixture of predominantly dehydrated ingredients with some freeze dried ingredients included. Two different companies with two different processes, and some would say two different levels of results.

    * When oxygen absorbers are used correctly, they are more effective than nitrogen flushing. MH moved from nitrogen flushing to O2 absorbers a number of years ago for this reason. That said, it’s easy to make mistakes with both methods if you don’t have your process control down cold (something that 3rd party testing has shown on a couple of occasions, most recently last week)

    Thanks for your blog and your work in helping people to prepare!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave these comments! My information about the relationship between Mountain House and Alpine Aire was from a couple of individuals who owned a food storage company, and I will have to tell them it’s incorrect!

  9. Yes, I was just going to mention maryjanesfarm! I bought a few packets of their ready made meals, and found them to be really good, but the key for me is ORGANIC with NO toxic ingredients like MSG, soy, TSP, HFCS, or a list of hundreds of other ingredients that are NOT healthy and are found in almost EVERY other food storage company, including those mentioned here.

  10. After Reading everybody’s comments I’m really confused on what kind of food storage to buy. I have never tasted these types of foods before, and don’t know the first thing on how you are to prepare the food. So how do I know what to buy and from whom should I buy From, should I try smalls amounts of food from different companies? I don’t know how to get started, can you help me with more info? Thank You!

    1. Marsha, I recommend starting with any of the 3 companies that I discuss in this article. If you live near Sam’s Club or Winco, stop by and see what foods they have from Augason Farms. You won’t have to order those online, although Augason Farms has an extensive website with lots of products and monthly sales. If you don’t mind ordering online, also check out Thrive Life. Some of their products come in small pouches, which is perfect for sampling. Ready Reserve Foods are all dehydrated, packaged very plainly with no fancy frills. Their prices on some products might be better than the other two companies. As far as what foods to buy, try some vegetables and fruit first and choose the varieties that you and your family eat often. If you buy freeze dried corn, you can use it in soups, stews, chili in place of frozen or canned corn. If your family loves strawberries, you can use freeze dried strawberries in smoothies, desserts, on ice cream, etc. Always start with the foods you already use, so you can be assured that you aren’t wasting money.

    2. I do. Not buy the freeze dried meals. I catch my individual ingredients on sale. I started with things I KNEW we would eat. Fruit, peanut butter, rice, spices etc. I use them in my everyday cooking too. Then I expanded to meats and more expensive luxuries like deserts. Doing this and packaging items from the store in mylar …it doesn’t really take long before you have a decent pantry going. Our forefathers had pantry/ larders for lean times. It only seems smart to do.

      1. I’m not a fan of the just-add-water meals myself. You can easily make your own versions, if you want, by combining dry ingredients for specific recipes and storing them in canning jars or other airtight containers.

  11. Brenda in Minnesota

    Germade is Farina, or cream of wheat or Coco wheats. Whatever you grew up with. Your germade might not be exactly the same, but it’s close. One cup of water to 3 tablespoons germade zapped in the microwave or cooked on the stove. Stir frequently and don’t let it boil over. When it’s done, or thick, throw in a handful of chocolate chips and stir to melt. Dash of salt optional. Yum! It’s actually high in iron. Make it with milk instead of water if you want to eat it non chocolatey.

  12. I enjoyed reading your articles. I have used Thrive Life for a number of years, and have made many “almost” MREs with the products as well. I like the quality of their foods as well as their growing practices. Looking forward to more good info….

  13. Elizabeth Peterson

    I’m confused about the Legacy foods comment concerning them not having single ingredient food. I also prefer single ingredient foods to cook with as opposed to the just-add-water meals, which is just one of the reasons I went with Legacy. ALL of what I bought from them are single-ingredient foods. They are also the least expensive per calorie, GMO free, have gluten-free options etc. They were also voted best-tasting on a number of reviews I read.

    1. Elizabeth, the Legacy foods I was provided for a review a couple of years ago were the just-add-water meals and when I did my research, those were the only types of foods that came up. I dug a little deeper and found a few other bulk foods, but in comparison with the other companies, they really have a limited choice. I’m glad you are liking the Legacy brand and that it’s of good quality.

  14. We mill our own grains so I searched for the best prices on grains because they are expensive to ship due to buying in 40 lb buckets. I found that lds.org food storage store, has the best prices on Hard Red Wheat and Hard White Wheat, Oats and other foods and Free shipping in the continental United States. Emergency Essentials has the Soft White Wheat. The free shipping is a huge savings when you are buying cases of wheat.

    1. The Cookin' Mom

      Actually, I just called them yesterday. I ordered from them a while back and the shipping was $3 per order regardless of the size of the order. No change. Still $3 for shipping. Small selection but a great place to start out preppin’.

  15. You mentioned dehydrated foods when you were talking about Ready Reserve. I always thought that freeze dried was superior. Are there advantages to dehydrated that I don’t know about?

    1. Commercially dehydrated foods are dried at low temperatures, which preserve most of their nutrients. Ultimately, both freeze dried and dehydrated contain the same percentage of nutrients.

      1. After you answered my question, I looked at Ready Reserve’s website and read their comparison of the two methods. Are there some foods you prefer dehydrated and others you prefer freeze dried?

  16. Which company would be best for both long term storage and used for long distant also called thru hiking requiring a high calorie intake and short and easy prep? Thank you for your answers, Jim

  17. Thrive are good people. In one instance I bought among other things one of the blue stackable water squares and I left it in the shipping box in the storeroom for about 6 months or more. Finally I opened the box to do some organizing and found it had no cap screwed on, I called and explained what I found asking for a cap to be shipped to me and they sent a whole replacement square with a cap. This was above and beyond the call of duty, and for this reason I trust thier food, and beleive they are a honorable rightous people deserving of my patronage as a customer. Not an overwhelming story but it speaks volumes about them.

  18. Lisa,
    I thought you might like to see this. One of the only truly GMO ( I have the NON-GMO certificates) Free food storage companies. No partially hydrogenated oils or MSG. Sodium level is always below 30%. You might like to read my blog post “The truth about food storage”. http://familystorehouse.com/blogs/news/19189999-the-truth-about-food-storage
    Let me know if you have any questions. Our retail store is open 10AM to 6PM. I would love to talk to you sometime. Jbaum

  19. I found your blog (and some more links to some freeze dried food companies I might be able to buy from in the comments section, so thanks ya’ll!). As for food storage foods, I eat the food as well as store it. The fact is that, being homebound, sometimes those who go shopping for me run into difficulties with weather or sick kids or whatever, and having freeze dried food on hand (that is SUPER easy to make) comes in really handy.

    As for companies, I adore Mountain House’s Pasta Primavera (the only vegetarian entree they offer and one that doesn’t contain beans, which I don’t tolerate well). Thrive has nice fruits and veggies, but they offer nothing of worth to a vegetarian in the protien department. All of their TVP is “gluten free”, which many vegetarians avoid like the death plague of ultimate doom, since gluten is a much easier-on-your-system protein substitute than soy, except for the measely 2% of the human population who have a Celiac’s (gluten sensitivity). “Gluten Free” was just a stupid fad bandwagon that Thrive unfortunately jumped on, and that means I have to search elsewhere for meat substitutes. (For those, like myself, who have issues with soy, try Loma Linda / Worthington. Their canned meat substitutes are a bit hit-or-miss but use at least a 50%/50% gluten/soy and some are even ONLY gluten, which is rarely matched in the vegetarian “prepper” world. The Choplets are really good and a staple of my pantry.)

    That said, the Mountain House Pasta Primavera is awesome (especially with the previously mentioned Choplets and some Thrive FD asparagus)! I haven’t tried any of the other companies mentioned in this post, but I will have to check them out some time. It’s pretty hard to find tasty vegetarian entrees with as little soy/beans as possible, preferably in easy-to-make packs like Mountain House uses. Nevertheless, special dietary needs have to be considered with food storage, and there simply is no one-stop shop for all your food storage needs if you aren’t 100% normal (and who is?). You have to order samples and try them and make sure you like them and will use them periodically. If you aren’t used to the food, imagine what eating it in a disaster would be like? That’s extra stress no one needs.

    Anyway, thanks for the links and info. 🙂

    1. Eleanor B Mason

      Pamela, you need to be VERY careful in making blanket statements about “gluten-free” being a fad, etc. A person doesn’t have to have Celiac to be gluten intolerant. I’ve had 5 ft. of gut removed because of gluten, and my digestion will never be the same. For you to make such comments is the same as me doubting your soy problems and making fun of you because of it.

  20. I am now very confused. I was watching some videos online from Honeyville which says to use their product within 24-48 hours after opening if left on the counter or within 30 days if refrigerated. Otherwise they say you have to repackage either using a Foodsaver and jars or oxygen absorbers in jars,bags etc.
    I have been using Thrive dehydrated foods, including meats, for quite a while now and I thought Thrive said you had a year or two of shelf life after opening.
    Can you give me some clarity on this? I seriously don’t want to poison my family.
    Thanks so much!

    1. I used to teach food storage classes at Honeyville and asked about that. Those instructions are true, and I’m not sure why they are different from other brands. I use Thrive Life almost exclusively now.

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  26. Dear survival mom!

    Thank you for this article. I am just starting the long term thing. I appreciate your insight and experience! My family has many many food allergies so it has been next to impossible to find complete RME’s that my family can actually ingest. I have been reading hiking articles and feel that it would be best to purchase the individual ingredients that we can eat for pantry AND LONGTERM storage and create meals ahead from those to store in mylar pouches for quick emergencies.

  27. Hi Lisa,as a former backpacker, my favorite of just add water is Mountain House. AND at home, I add more meat or whatever I want to it. My very favorite is THRIVE that i discovered at a Trade Show. Those ladies are my reps now. I love being prepared with food for our allergies, tasty food, healthy food, and food with many purposes. It is more expensive coming over the Border – and totally worth it.
    I also supplement with a pantry of frozen foods that we eat daily and store up on. We still have not hit the bottom of that with this 2020 Pandemic – although, I did go and get ALL the chocolate by the 3rd month. 🙂 THANK YOU for all the work you have done and sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us.

  28. This is an eye-opener. I had no idea there were so many options for “survival food”. I absolutely agree with you on not buying a large quantity of something until you know you can use it often. I definitely made that mistake before and now we are still trying to use them up.

    1. Some companies are definitely pyramid sales. However, in a company this large, there’s no way they can provide personal help with things like placing orders, deciding which products to buy, helping plan ahead for food storage, tell you which products are best and which aren’t, etc. That’s where independent consultants come in. Base your purchases on things like product quality instead and don’t worry that some lady out there is getting a 10% commission. That’s small-minded.

  29. I am surprised you do not mention the LDS Family Home Storage. They are the original long-term food storage people. I am not LDS but buy all of my food storage from them and rotate use. It was affordable and I know packaged safely.

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