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.)
After all my taste tests, the company I recommend most highly 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 into thousands of recipes. This is my recommended form of food storage — individual ingredients that give you unlimited recipe options. Thrive Life produce is picked at the peak of its ripeness, quickly freeze-dried and packaged. It retains all of the original nutrients.
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 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 10 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. As well, during the shortages of freeze-dried foods in 2021, Thrive Life was the one company that was able to continue fulfilling their orders while other companies had to temporarily halt new orders.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.
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:
- Berries: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries
- Freeze-dried corn: (We use it a lot in chowders.)
- 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.
- Instant milk. Good to have on hand when we don’t have any fresh.
- Freeze dried cheese — I can’t say enough about freeze-dried cheese! Take one cup of the cheese and mix in 3 T. water. Stir, let sit for a few minutes to rehydrate, and you have fresh looking and tasting cheese ready to go!
- Ground beef: Super versatile!
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!
Check out these tutorials for using this type of food
- Dried milk
- Butter powder
- Freeze-dried cheese
- Freeze-dried chicken
- Dried eggs
- Dehydrated potatoes
- Survival meals (just add hot water)
- Freeze-dried yogurt
- Sausage crumbles
Updated April 16, 2021.
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