Prepping 101: Survival Food by the Numbers – It’s About Calories Silly!

A $1.68 five pound bag of flour has 7500 calories. That is a whopping 4,464 calories per dollar, far and away the highest of any food here. In the Bible, what did the Egyptians store when Joseph warned them about the coming 7 year famine? Grains!

A $1.68 five pound bag of flour has 7500 calories. That is a whopping 4,464 calories per dollar, far and away the highest of any food here. In the Bible, what did the Egyptians store when Joseph warned them about the coming 7 year famine? Grains!


A few weeks ago I was interviewed on a radio show about this prepping column, and during the commercials I heard an ad for a specific survival food company that claimed to offer more “calories per dollar” than everyone else. On checking their website, that number is 250 calories per dollar. I have been buying and storing food for over a year now, since my original food article, and all this time I have had a really hard time explaining to people the importance of making the most out of their prepping dollars, and focusing on supermarket food, not survival food. The company itself didn’t impress me, especially after they bailed on sending review food when I explained this article. But then I realized, that’s it! It really is all about calories per dollar! And that claim of 250 calories per dollar may be high when compared to other brands of survival food, but compared to the foods below, all from Walmart, they are embarrassing for the actual food you get. Even expensive name brand Dinty Moore beef stew is 238 calories per dollar. Which would you rather eat? Other foods here are well over 1,000 calories per dollar, and one is over 4,000 calories per dollar.
Pinto Beans have 23,310 calories per 20 lb. bag. It costs $13.97 at Walmart.  That equals 1669 calories per dollar.  You should always soak and cook beans well, because it will make them easier to digest. Mixing them with oils also helps.

Pinto Beans have 23,310 calories per 20 lb. bag. It costs $13.97 at Walmart. That equals 1669 calories per dollar. You should always soak and cook beans well, because it will make them easier to digest. Mixing them with oils also helps.


We of course do need to discuss expiration dates. I don’t know how the survival food companies are allowed to advertise as much as 25 years of shelf life, but there is really no mystery to what foods can be stored long term without spoilage or significant loss. Some non-refrigerated foods expiration dates really matter. Anything with oil in it that is in a plastic bag or plastic bottle will eventually oxidize and will not be fun to eat. That would include actual bottles of oil, except for the olive oil that comes in tin gallon cans. Of all the oils, olive oil and Crisco type hydrogenated oils are the most stable, but if you are storing oils, you should put then in either Mylar bags or plastic buckets with oxygen absorbers, and that will prolong its useable life dramatically. Oxygen absorbers will extend the life of anything packaged in plastic, because oxygen eats plastic too. People joke about the shelf life of a Twinkie, but my guess is that if you put Twinkies in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers, they’d be fine ten years later. My recent article on Mylar backs vs. plastic buckets is a must read for basic food storage costs, so please read it.
The 1,080 calories in a can of Walmart brand SPAM isn't great if you are on a weight loss diet, but in a survival situation, it's $1.98 pricetag works out to 545 calories per dollar. That is still double the best survival food cost, and it isn't the most painful food for most people to eat.

The 1,080 calories in a can of Walmart brand SPAM isn’t great if you are on a weight loss diet, but in a survival situation, it’s $1.98 pricetag works out to 545 calories per dollar. That is still double the best survival food cost, and it isn’t the most painful food for most people to eat.


Canned foods have an almost indefinite shelf life. Many years ago a science lab opened cans of meat from the Civil War that had been soldered closed, and the food was still edible and nutritious. If you visit Key West, which used to be the center of the Sea Turtle Soup industry, there are a number of stores and museums that still have cans of soup from the turn of the last century that have never gone bad and expanded. That isn’t to say that if you open a can of beef ravioli ten years from now it is going to look like ravioli. It won’t, because eventually the liquid will dissolve the pasta into a paste, but it’ll still be edible, and it’ll still taste fine and it will keep you alive. The nice thing about cans is that rodents generally won’t bother them, whereas rats can easily chew through plastic buckets.

There are a number of preserved foods in newer styles of packaging that carry expiration dates of anywhere from six months to two years. I suspect most of these also have fairly indefinite shelf life. Usually you’ll see “best by” instead of “expires on” with these foods, and they include things like blocks of Velveeta cheese, pickled sausage, Mylar bags of soup mix (which are similar to the survival foods), and even some vacuum packed food. As with all plastic, I strongly suggest putting these foods inside a Mylar bag or bucket with oxygen absorbers. All regular plastic leaks air, and eventually the fat in it, if any, will oxidize. The proteins may also break down from light exposure, and overall, it is better to be safe than sorry.

This 20lb bag of white rice is only $10.97. It has 30,880 calories, which works out to 2,815 calories per dollar.

This 20lb bag of white rice is only $10.97. It has 30,880 calories, which works out to 2,815 calories per dollar.


I would also like to talk about just plain old bad advice. Opposite the survival food companies trying to get more than 5 times actual food costs are the old guard survival “experts” trying to convince you that you should learn to eat your survival food now, and rotate it. I don’t know where these people dreamed up the idea that your diet should consist of even partly storable food. We are living in prosperity now. Yes, it is a false prosperity built on debt that we are stealing from the future, but nonetheless, if you don’t live the good days now, you will never live the good days. Dried beans and flour are great long term survival foods, but in my daily life I rarely if ever eat either of them. Their argument is that the shock of sudden off grid living will be so intense that you won’t want to have to adapt to new foods. I think most people will be just fine with a couple weeks of Dinty Moore, Spagettios and Trail Mix, all at a fraction of the price of “survival food” And as they figure out how to get their cooking and preparing rolling, things like rice, pasta, flour, beans and dried milk will become part of the food cycle. Survival food is like term life insurance. Your goal is to not use it and let it go to waste.

Remember the Bible story of Joseph’s dreams? He warned the Egyptians to store up grains for 7 years, because his dreams had prophesied that there would be 7 years of famine. What did the Egyptians store when they were warned? Grains, beans, preserved meat. Expiration dates are a product of our modern and fake society. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to be overwhelmed with $3,000 and up “One Year Supply” scams. You can survive on 1,000 calories a day if you have to, kids even less. How much flour, oil, and SPAM is that? Not a lot, and a fraction of those ready made “One Year Supply” packages. Go do it today. I’m thankfully no prophet, but I don’t think you have to be a prophet to see that the world is melting down around us, and the house of cards is going to come down, probably soon.

Instant mashed potatoes keep forever with oxygen absorbers. This box has 2,720 calories, which works out to 1,014 calories per dollar.

Instant mashed potatoes keep forever with oxygen absorbers. This box has 2,720 calories, which works out to 1,014 calories per dollar.

This 4,500 calorie package of Instant Oats is $3.18.  That is 1,415 calories per dollar.

This 4,500 calorie package of Instant Oats is $3.18. That is 1,415 calories per dollar.

One of the few survival foods that is a decent buy are these MayDay bars. A 20 bar case of 3600 calorie MayDay bars is $115 shipped on Amazon right now.  It isn't a terrible deal at 626 calories per dollar, and these things will probably outlive the dust of the earth lol.

One of the few survival foods that is a decent buy are these MayDay bars. A 20 bar case of 3600 calorie MayDay bars is $115 shipped on Amazon right now. It isn’t a terrible deal at 626 calories per dollar, and these things will probably outlive the dust of the earth lol.

The other specialty food that I don't think there is a viable replacement for are these whole powdered eggs from Honeyville. They are currently sold out, but when you can get them, they are 6,240 calories per can, which is $22.29 ($20 each in a case of 6), which is 280 calories per dollar.

The other specialty food that I don’t think there is a viable replacement for are these whole powdered eggs from Honeyville. They are currently sold out, but when you can get them, they are 6,240 calories per can, which is $22.29 ($20 each in a case of 6), which is 280 calories per dollar.

This summer sausage is 1,520 calories for $4.94.  That equals 308 calories per dollar, for solid beef.

This summer sausage is 1,520 calories for $4.94. That equals 308 calories per dollar, for solid beef.

Most Walmarts have this jar of pickled sausage. It is a total of 4,760 calories,  This is still double the "high calorie per dollar" survival food at 497 calories per dollar.

Most Walmarts have this jar of pickled sausage. It is a total of 4,760 calories, This is still double the “high calorie per dollar” survival food at 497 calories per dollar.

These $5.32 packages of Walmart brand Velveeta have 1,600 calories per package.  That is 301 calories per dollar.

These $5.32 packages of Walmart brand Velveeta have 1,600 calories per package. That is 301 calories per dollar.

Regular cheap oil has 30,720 calories per $5.94 gallon. That is 5,171 calories per dollar. These jugs you have to seal in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, or they will oxidize and get nasty tasting.

Regular cheap oil has 30,720 calories per $5.94 gallon. That is 5,171 calories per dollar. These jugs you have to seal in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, or they will oxidize and get nasty tasting.

Like the other oils, Crisco isn't something you'd eat straight, but it will bring up the calories of other foods and balance your diet. There are 12,430 calories in one of these packages for $3.64.  That is 3,414 calories per dollar.

Like the other oils, Crisco isn’t something you’d eat straight, but it will bring up the calories of other foods and balance your diet. There are 12,430 calories in one of these packages for $3.64. That is 3,414 calories per dollar.

Dinty Moore beef stew? 900 calories per $3.82 can. That is 235 calories per dollar.

Dinty Moore beef stew? 900 calories per $3.82 can. That is 235 calories per dollar.

These big cans of beef ravioli have 990 calories. That works out to 500 calories per dollar.

These big cans of beef ravioli have 990 calories. That works out to 500 calories per dollar.

Name brand mini-ravioli has 1,125 calories per $2.50 can.  That is 450 calories per dollar.

Name brand mini-ravioli has 1,125 calories per $2.50 can. That is 450 calories per dollar.

Even a regular can of Chunky soup is 280 calories for $1.98.  That's 141 calories per dollar.

Even a regular can of Chunky soup is 280 calories for $1.98. That’s 141 calories per dollar.

This 5lb bag of sugar has 17,010 calories. That works out to 3,127 calories per dollar.

This 5lb bag of sugar has 17,010 calories. That works out to 3,127 calories per dollar.

There are 6,400 calories in this $16.98 Instant Dry Milk package.  That is 377 calories per dollar.

There are 6,400 calories in this $16.98 Instant Dry Milk package. That is 377 calories per dollar.

I have mentioned this $2.92 3lb box of pasta from Walmart a few times in these articles. One box has 4,800 calories, which is 1,644 calories per dollar.

I have mentioned this $2.92 3lb box of pasta from Walmart a few times in these articles. One box has 4,800 calories, which is 1,644 calories per dollar.

These large packages of Tuna at Walmart have 1,320 calories each. That works out to 110 calories per dollar, which is comparable to some high priced survival food.

These large packages of Tuna at Walmart have 1,320 calories each. That works out to 110 calories per dollar, which is comparable to some high priced survival food.

If you want to talk about prime survival food, these cans of Chunk Chicken Breast are 2 for $398. Each can has 540 calories, which works out to 271 calories per dollar.

If you want to talk about prime survival food, these cans of Chunk Chicken Breast are 2 for $398. Each can has 540 calories, which works out to 271 calories per dollar.

Even Olive Oil, which has a much longer shelf life than other oils, has 16,080 calories per $7.52 container. That is 2,138 calories per dollar.

Even Olive Oil, which has a much longer shelf life than other oils, has 16,080 calories per $7.52 container. That is 2,138 calories per dollar.

These bags of Trail Mix are 3500 calories, which are similar to the 3600 calorie MayDay bars. At $4.98 per bag, that works out to 703 calories per dollar.

These bags of Trail Mix are 3500 calories, which are similar to the 3600 calorie MayDay bars. At $4.98 per bag, that works out to 703 calories per dollar.

For an apples to apples comparison. This name brand bag of thick survival soup has 1,440 calories in the package.  That works out to 414 calories per package.

For an apples to apples comparison. This name brand bag of thick survival soup has 1,440 calories in the package. That works out to 414 calories per dollar.

A 5 lb. bag of corn grits is 7,930 calories. That is 2,853 calories per dollar.

A 5 lb. bag of corn grits is 7,930 calories. That is 2,853 calories per dollar.

{ 53 comments… add one }
  • John March 6, 2017, 11:02 am

    Paul,
    Thx for the work on this. This and other stuff you have written has really ratcheted up my prep timetable. One thing that’s worth noting here, particularly if there is an LDS store near where you can just pick up supplies, their NF powdered milk comes in at 644 calories per dollar, twice what the Walmart stuff is.
    Regards,
    John

  • Will Drider July 13, 2016, 11:32 pm

    Hacking at Humans – Broadsword vs. Katana – Prepping 101. Comments were turned off on the topic. Hope you catch this question. I think you state that you made a few direct purchases from Swordsmiths in China. How did you complete the financial part of the transaction? How was the currency exchange rate handled? Did you use a prepaid card (limited to amount in acct)? Thanks for your time.
    Warm regards,
    Will Drider

  • Diamondtail December 28, 2015, 10:48 pm

    A wise man said, “Free advise is worth all that is paid for it.” Honestly, this forum should be for a free exchange of recommendations and valuable experiences gained from expensive trial and error. Everyone has something to contribute. We are all guided by the same objectives. Demeaning a contributor’s intelligence is not useful even if the post seems nonsensical or controversial. I enjoy reading the useful posts, so let’s all hang in there. Illegitimi non carborundum.

  • roger mason December 24, 2015, 8:18 am

    paul,
    you know NOTHING at all about food prepping or nutrition, and have a lot of hubris to write articles on subjects
    you aren’t competent to do. BROWN RICE AND DRIED BEANS. that’s what you need to put away. add barley,
    whole oats and other whole grains. flour oxidizes and white flour has no nutrition. we’re talking survivial here. people in central and south america live on rice and beans their entire lives. forget the meat, poultry,milk, eggs, sugar, cheese, Crisco(!), May Day bars, oil (it oxidizes, too), canned stew, trail mix (nuts oxidize), and the rest of that garbage are not prep foods. stop writing
    about subjects you know nothing about. WHOLE GRAINS AND DRIED BEANS.

    • Paul Helinski December 24, 2015, 1:26 pm

      Things don’t oxidize without oxygen dufus. That’s the point lol. Whole grains have the germ, which has oil, which, duh duh duh, will also oxidize if left in the presence of oxygen. Oh did you miss the part about oxidize not being a mysterious word that means something you don’t understand? Oxi-dize stands for oxygen. Oils react with oxygen, and oxidize. If you take away the oxygen, even if you live in central and south america, things don’t oxidize. Hmm. I wonder if that is true on other continents too? Maybe we’ll send Roger to Africa to test it out. I bet you need a job am I right?

      • robert February 16, 2016, 7:47 pm

        Whole grains will last a long time given that you keep sunlight, moisture, vermin, rodents, mildew, mold. and thieves away from it. Rice that came out of Egyptian pyramids, that was thousands of years old was still able to germinate.
        Now food that is able to germinate can be planted or sprouted and thus giving a fresh and living source of vitamins and a new source for food. When food has been denatured, such as white rice, it will keep you alive minus all the vitamins that the original rice had. So if you are going to consume a product why not choose the best.
        Now when Joseph was second in charge of all of Egypt and he knew of the famine, he probably stored up whole grains, beans, and legumes. I really like this site and I learn a lot of new info. about various ways of surviving this man made economic collapse. So remember you can store your whole grains in food grade 5 gallon buckets with mylar bag liners and oxygen absorb. and it will probably out last you. It is also good to have many of those foods that will not keep for years if you know you will consume relatively fast.
        Whole grains take longer to cook thus more fuel consumed in the preparation, so good quality packaged food and the long term is what I am trying to acquire and rotating my stock so that this is not throw away food.

    • Michael February 29, 2016, 9:27 pm

      Mason,
      I think you are being brash. Rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans …the diet lacks appeal. If you don’ t know about how important morale and mental disposition are to survival then you should not be posting criticism of anyone. Every account of survival requires a positive mental outlook and food as a morale boost is critical. Paul is doing extensive research and investing time in a persuit that neither you or I had to pay a penny for reaping the benefit of. He clearly has put thought into the preps, if you have no use for it then don’t read. Good on him for making the effort to educate others and caring about the continuity of species.

    • Michael February 29, 2016, 9:27 pm

      Mason,
      I think you are being brash. Rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans …the diet lacks appeal. If you don’ t know about how important morale and mental disposition are to survival then you should not be posting criticism of anyone. Every account of survival requires a positive mental outlook and food as a morale boost is critical. Paul is doing extensive research and investing time in a persuit that neither you or I had to pay a penny for reaping the benefit of. He clearly has put thought into the preps, if you have no use for it then don’t read. Good on him for making the effort to educate others and caring about the continuity of species.

  • Herm December 21, 2015, 5:05 pm

    My theory (which I haven’t tested long term yet) is that grain (wheat, barley, rice, etc) or dry beans (and probably other things) could be kept long term in steel gallon cans, like paint cans. Put a piece of dry ice in the can, lay the lid on top, wait till the dry ice evaporates and the can is room temperature and pound the lid down with a rubber mallet so it seals. The CO2 being heavier than oxygen will sink to the bottom, fill the can, thus eliminating most of the oxygen. Throwing in an oxygen absorber wouldn’t hurt. Also, as long as you keep these from rusting they are relatively unbreakable, tear resistant and rodent and bug resistant. You can buy them at many places that sell paint. I’m trying it. Will let you know in 10 years if it works.

    • Paul Helinski December 21, 2015, 6:37 pm

      I have a $10 can sealer article coming shortly, but the machines are not as available as they used to be. The paint cans are a decent option, and you don’t need the dry ice. The Mormon food storage experts just use an O2 absorber and they last decades. Freund container is good for both #10 and paint cans, but the paint cans are too expensive.

  • wRecKaGe September 26, 2015, 11:13 am

    This is the most reasonable article I’ve ever come across when it comes to the idea of long term food storage in preparation for an unstable future. My favorite line in the entire article is “Survival food is like term life insurance. Your goal is to not use it and let it go to waste.” I think that idea can be applied to damn near everything pertaining to the idea of “prepping.” For most reasonable people, the entire idea of a time where there is no more rule of law, where our governmental agencies have failed and we’re left to fend for ourselves (regardless of whatever it is that causes that failure) is a nightmare scenario that we pray never occurs. But be it a total financial meltdown (which has happened before and likely will again) or another world war (again, something we seem to keep repeating throughout history), a plague of epidemic proportions (once more, not something at all out the realm of possibility), no matter what the reason there may come a day when those who haven’t will wish they had been better prepared.
    Even the environment itself is predicted by a great number of scientists to be turning against us, whether or not that is exactly our fault or not, the oceans are experiencing record levels of die offs and huge literal dead zones now exist where there were once thriving multitudes of lifeforms. We have one right on our south lawn so to speak. Go take a look at the overall state of the Gulf of Mexico today and compare that to how it looked just thirty years ago or so. Weather patterns have altered radically from their previous norms and we are experiencing an enormously large number of other “natural” disasters as compared to what the historic patterns once held. Wildfires are now an unfortunately common occurrence, especially out west though we have had more in the central and southern states than we have ever been accustomed to here. Earthquakes are on the rise due to deep well injection fracking, the wrong one, in the wrong place, could cause the Yellowstone caldera to erupt which would alter the balance of life on this entire planet, not to mention the devastation that it wreak upon the United States.
    World politics are more volatile than they have been since the Cuban missile crisis. While that fact might not be as evident to those who aren’t closely following the developments in the Middle East, Europe, Russia, and even Korea, it is none the less the truth. We have new, and ever increasing, methods of waging war at a distance. A fact that is, in the minds of many, desensitizing us as a people to the true horrors of warfare. The policy of our own government is moving more and more, faster and faster, towards an unmanned military. Utilizing our fantastic technological leaps to create new and better ways to wage war by remote control. Some even wish to remove the control all together and allow autonomous drones to select and destroy targets by their own will. While I would love to believe that basic human decency will prevent this from coming about, history seems to indicate that my faith in that decency has no real basis in reality. Unfortunately for the rest of us, some people seem to be bent on rushing our extinction.
    Here at home, where we believe that we have the corner on the market on social consciousness, things aren’t particularly rosy either. We have racial tensions coming to a boiling point within our own country, and some even seem to be fanning those flames as opposed to trying to extinguish them. Distrust of the motives of both sides is creating a situation that seems far more likely to result in more rioting than it is any sort of national altruism. We are divided almost as much as we can be without actual civil war. Conservatives believe that any change is a mistake. Progressives believe that everything needs to be changed. Neither is correct. Belief in the fundamental freedoms upon which our nation was created is eroding. Some parties have even called for a total abandonment of the Constitution and it’s being rewritten from the ground up to suit the agendas of those pushing for that change. If we do not hold fast to that which made us into a strong successful country that was once the envy of the planet, we will dissolve into one of only a few options, all of them bad.
    So despite the fact that I am a firearm aficionado, I’m not even close to the sort of folks you might see on the sites selling “prepper” supplies or espousing “bugging out.” I am however very concerned that our future is no longer as secure as it once seemed. As a result I am rethinking certain elements of my beliefs along those lines. I am becoming far more open to at least the idea of having certain preparations in place should the worst ever actually occur. Right now I am at the level of what might be considered the sort of preparations that were suggested by FEMA after 9/11 or what is suggested for those who live in hurricane zones. However I will, and I hope most of us will, continue to pray that such a nightmare world is never a reality, that all of my preparation is completely in vain. I say so because I believe that line I mentioned earlier. The best case scenario would be that it has all been a total waste of time. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that the best case scenario rarely comes to pass…

    • Bill Johnson September 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

      Well said. Seems to me that today most people believe history began with their parents… part of our “new and improved” education system I think. For people who don’t know, they are either stupid or ignorant. If they are ignorant they can learn, if they are stupid they are also usually stubborn and will not learn even when the truth is there. In reality there have been periods of time when the temperature whas warmer than it has ever been since man has walked upright, there have been periods of time when the earth was an ice covered ball, and everything in between. Our earth is a living organism that is under constant change and in reality there is really nothing man can do to change it one way or the other very much. Left alone the earth will recover and some other species, hopefully wiser than homo sapiens will be the next to rent the real estate. My question to the global warmers is, “Fourteen thousand years ago Seattle was under a mile of ice. How many SUVs did it take to melt the ice?” And to think that what pittance of CO2 we put in the air does anything is folly. The current active volcanoes on earth put more CO2 in the air in 4 days that every car that has ever turned a wheel on this planet. What does CO2 do? Without it there would be NO plant growth except for some algae. There would be no trees, no crops, no nothing. Higher CO2 has allowed more food production world wide so again in the quest to lower it to some unknown and unknowable amount who is going to decide which billion people on earth will have to die because of starvation.

      The suns radiation has the most to do with our little blue planet. High solar activity more heat, less solar activity less heat. The tilt of the earth, which is always slowly changing has the same effect. Continental drift has changed ocean currents changing the climate system and we can do nothing about any of these things. And of course the flip of the magnetic poles (which we are due for soon – natures soon not man’s soon meaning the next 2 hours.

      Due to scientific progress we have increased life spans, we have improved food production until now we have become 7+ billion people. We have no checks and balances like nature used to have that keeps each species in check. So we continue down the slippery slope to the pending train wreck spending much of the world’s wealth tilting windmills.

  • Soren September 22, 2015, 9:33 pm

    I had a bad experience with beans stored for too long. They can get so dry as to be uncookable even after days of simmering. Edible, maybe if you are starving, but expect a sore stomach and some gas. I have no idea how long my beans had been stored before I got them, but I had them for two years by the time I tried to cook them.
    I have no idea about the longevity of other dry items, like rice, which we cycle through regularly enough to not be storing it long-term.

    • Berferd September 23, 2015, 2:59 pm

      The way to salvage beans which have been stored a long time is to cook them in a pressure cooker. Even fresh beans can be cooked with less fuel under pressure. Seasonings they are cooked with penetrate better, as well. Just be careful to not cook too many at once. Cook only the amount that will fill the pot less than 1/6 the depth of the pan. Beans foam and froth a lot while cooking and the bubbles will make a mess in the regulator vent.

  • Berferd September 22, 2015, 7:58 pm

    “I would also like to talk about just plain old bad advice. Opposite the survival food companies trying to get more than 5 times actual food costs are the old guard survival “experts” trying to convince you that you should learn to eat your survival food now, and rotate it. I don’t know where these people dreamed up the idea that your diet should consist of even partly storable food.”
    Your part of this implies we should not store what we like to eat, and eat what we like to store. THAT sound like bad advice in an effort to give vent to your opinion – not fact.
    That needed to be stated. I do appreciate your desire to be prepared and help others also be prepared. Food is at the root of our needs and there is much to be shared, with a certain degree of caution, on all parts.
    I’ve been at the survival food game for more years than you have been alive. My Momma taught us what she learned before and through the depression and I can prove that you can be prepped with your normal diet. If that isn’t McBoogers every day. The non-scientific parts you share as fact would be better replaced with real truths. Why this, or that, based on science not just opinion. Real science, not the stuff that gets you a Nobel Peace Prize for your movie. That’s just opinion.
    One example would be; the suggestion that the dry-ice storage method you questioned is actually approved by most State Extension offices – common knowledge to many, both handy and economical. Do we automatically trust the Ag agents? Why?
    Like almost all plastics, simple polyethylene is oxygen permeable. If it is cross-linked the right way, it loses most of the permeability. It can also be flashed with a metal film or lined with metal to stop the oxygen, then coated with another layer of plastic to protect the metal. The hydronic lines used for radiant heating are thus constructed to keep oxygen, which will damage the boiler, from getting into the lines. Oxygen exclusion is why the good mylar bags have a metal film sandwiched in them. If you put an oxygen absorber in a poly bucket, the absorber will bind the free oxygen in time. The absence of bound oxygen will, using the bucket as a diffusion membrane, will balance the outside air. Won’t take that long, either. Fill it with dry nitrogen, CO2, argon, or any positive-pressure gas without free oxygen and the transfer is minimized. The sublimating dry ice will positively pressurize the bucket, if the lid is sealed before the contents reach ambient temp..
    If the absorbers you seem to favor are the answer to anything oxidizing, put on in the top of a half-filled plastic bottle of vegetable oil and see how long it keeps the oil fresh. They are not always the best, or even a good, solution.
    Again I acknowledge you have put a lot into your work on this subject and thank you for sharing it, but it’s not black and white, there isn’t just one answer. Some like soy-meat. some don’t. Doesn’t matter your preferences, you will be both right and wrong if you say don’t buy soy-meat. Teach correct principles based on true science, and be confident that those smart enough to survive, will.

    • Jasper September 30, 2015, 8:07 pm

      Careful you might offend Paul, as it appears I have also done.
      You are correct though about your observations concerning O2 packets and CO2. Too many people think O2 packets are a magic bullet, but sadly they are not! Too often an article will have forgotten the problems associated with plastics, even the metal coated mylars, or they just do not do the research and become offended when called on it.
      It is all about Brownian Motion and permeability, nothing is going to change that!
      I do use O2 packets, but only inside of glass or metal containers, containers which will keep the O2 out for centuries once removed, never any of the plastics. No matter how good they look or people think they work. I am certain DuPont knows the most about them. 🙂

  • BRASS September 21, 2015, 8:22 pm

    Fortunately everyone in the family likes rice. Rice can be served so many ways, can take the place of potatoes, bread and much more. Any meal of the day, rice can provide a staple main ingredient as a base for everything else. It’s easy to cook with or without a stove, keep an extremely long time in it’s raw form, is easy to store, not as susceptible to hot and cold as most foods and due to its small granular size will fill any size and shape container.
    Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s or warehouse grocery stores sell up to 50 lb. sacks for little money. I’ve even seen it in barrels. Even gourmet rice (wife likes Three Ladies) is cheap when compared to other foods. As long as electricity is available the easiest and best way to cook it is with an automatic rice cooker, worth their weight in gold if you east rice frequently as it’s so easy, relatively fast and if you follow the simple instructions, you can’t screw it up. The rice will never stick, be over or undercooked and the removable pot cleans up easy and fast. If you don’t have electric power, any direct heating source will work; gas, open fire, heat tabs, etc., as long as it creates enough heat to boil water.
    All that’s needed to cook is water and a pot to put it in. I’ve used empty coffee cans when camping for pots and stoves. Rinse the rice a couple times, add enough water to cover it uncooked and cook over medium high heat. Don’t let it boil over. A little experimentation will teach you what works best.
    Mushroom gravy over rice is great. I like precooked or left over rice fried in the bacon grease left over from bacon covered with over easy eggs for breakfast.

  • Perry September 21, 2015, 6:19 pm

    Beware the canned goods that have pull tab tops. There are plenty of varieties that are better sealed.

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 6:33 pm

      Do you have a specific example of where they failed? The can suppliers for home canning have just come out with a pop top for home canning with #3 cans and I was thinking about trying some for an article.

  • Matt September 21, 2015, 5:57 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement! I too am a Walmart prepper but I always felt second class about it because I couldn’t drop 3K on a year’s supply of “real” prepping food. Your article has freed me from that false way of thinking. Glad I have spent my money wisely. It really is about the calories!

  • Liberty97045 September 21, 2015, 4:32 pm

    For you folks using plastic pails. Have you had a problem with mice chewing through the buckets? I have been considering the more expensive metal buckets or metal paint cans.

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 6:47 pm

      Mice will eventually eat through buckets if you leave them where rodents end up. Long term storage food is very temperature sensitive as well, so beware that you can’t leave them in hot barns. If they have water, letting them freeze is also an issue. The best cheap solution for rodents is to use Mylar bags and stack them in 55 gallon metal drums. The paint cans from Freund are very expensive. I am going to do an article at some point (if we even make it through this week) on dry canning in #10 cans. The canner can be found on Ebay sometimes as cheap as $75, but the cans are expensive to ship because they don’t stack.

    • FallingRoc September 21, 2015, 7:56 pm

      I have had problems with mice chewing through the plastic 5 gal buckets in the past… so since then, I have been spreading the mice pellets around the storage area floor… any mice will eat these first, then all you need to do is clean-up the bodies!!!! The food in the buckets are left perfectly fine. Must also watch the temperature of where you are storing these items…cooler is better.

    • FallingRoc September 21, 2015, 7:57 pm

      I have had problems with mice chewing through the plastic 5 gal buckets in the past… so since then, I have been spreading the mice pellets around the storage area floor… any mice will eat these first, then all you need to do is clean-up the bodies!!!! The food in the buckets are left perfectly fine. Must also watch the temperature of where you are storing these items…cooler is better.

  • BillJ September 21, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Iowaenthusiast was asking about CO2 food packing. I take the food grade 5 gal buckets. In the bottom of each I put a walnut size piece of dry ice, then fill the bucket with rice, beans, etc. Put the lid on ALMOST closed. I then put the 5 gal bucket in an empty trash can. The next day close the lid completely. As I said in a previous post I am now eating foods put up using this method in 1980.

    What happens is that as the CO2 slowly sublimates it displaces the air with CO2 gas. This also will kill any bugs, bug eggs, etc. that you find in field wheat, oats, etc.

    It might be better to use mylar bags but using the above method I have yet to have a failure and it is an inexpensive way to use for long term food storage.

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 6:52 pm

      It sounds great, but why would it be better than an O2 absorber?

      • Aaron L September 21, 2015, 9:44 pm

        CO2 doesn’t absorb the oxygen it excludes it. It’s heavier and it pushes it out as the dry ice turns to CO2

      • Jasper September 30, 2015, 7:51 pm

        One other point about CO2 is the size of the molecule.Because it is larger, it tends to not migrate through the plastic. As long as the CO2 is in the container, it will help exclude O2 molecules from entering the container. One problem is the Brownian motion will eventually mix the O2 in the container, but very little will be able to cross into the container because of the properties of CO2 not liking to cross the surface barrier of the container, so the Brownian Motion is largely reduced to the surface of the barrier container.
        One way to further enhance the CO2 shelf life is by closing the container before all of the Dry Ice has sublimed, creating a slight positive pressure inside the container.
        This is just the opposite of the effect of an O2 packet, they create a slight negative pressure in the container! Not what one really wants, as it enhances O2 migration into the container. While mylar is much more resistant than plastic, it is not completely impervious to gaseous migration. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAAahUKEwi70L7f95_IAhVFiQ0KHf5lAKg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fusa.dupontteijinfilms.com%2Finformationcenter%2Fdownloads%2FChemical_Properties.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHpysul0ZeKDRZE6Ji7F572_uAFiA&sig2=ogn8e3SSEmkAfLBsJFuG-g&cad=rja
        As you can see in DuPont’s chart, mylar has its own problems when it comes to O2 permeability. It is after all just a polyester film.
        There a lot of reason to use CO2 and if you notice you can see why those companies selling products in mylar bags are using N2 to fill the bags. Exactly the same idea as using the CO2.
        It is not the freeze drying that enables the 25 year claim, it is the combination of mylar and Nitrogen, along with cool temperatures that gives the 25 years. Just look at the chart. 🙂

        • PSlinger October 7, 2015, 10:26 am

          Hmm, well I looked at Figure 2 in Dupont’s PDF, and it would be more meaningful if I know what the left axis meant. I mean, I get that less permeability is better, and that it increases with storage temperature, so yeah, nitrogen is better than oxygen. But the amounts just aren’t meaningful to me. For all I know, they’re both so low that I wouldn’t notice any decrease in quality over my storage life.

          Also, and maybe the data is there in Table 4 and I’m just not scientific enough to grasp it, but if nitrogen is the end-all be-all for inert gases, how does CO2 stack up against it?

          • Jasper October 26, 2015, 11:29 am

            I understand your somewhat confusion, sorry when talking about the meat of the subject of permeability, I know of no way to make it simple. Having worked with the information for decades makes it easy for me to find and make available, but it is a technical skill to understand all of the information, sorry.
            It boils down to several factors, not just one. Most of the commercial people use N2 because they have the equipment and skill to use it, but it has limitations and some drawbacks still. The reason they make limitations on their claims of how long the product will last. Put those Mylar, Nitrogen filled packs in too high of a tempertures and you are looking at a serious degradation of time the product will keep and be good tasting or even usable. Instead of 25 years, the chart shows it goes down to maybe 5 years, maybe less as the higher temps does some other undesirable things to the food too.

            With CO2 one needs no special equipment or costly tanks of N2 to store foods for extended periods of time, it is done correctly and then stored correctly. One of the biggest keys to long term storage is the choice of the food you are storing.
            Prime example flour! Never attempt to store flour long term. It quickly goes bad. 🙁
            Instead store the whole grain and have a hand mill to grind it. The whole grain stored in CO2 and thereby killing the insects in the grain, will last for centuries under the right conditions. Honey, sugar, the same.
            Want to really learn about food storage? Then look to the Mormons! They have a wealth of great information and share it freely.

  • BillJ September 21, 2015, 1:35 pm

    Been storing food for years. Now eating beans, rice, wheat that I first stored in 1980. Packed them in 5 gal buckets with CO2. (Eating the old and restocking with new)

    But what I wanted to say was that a few years ago I found THRIVE food products. Most products will store for 25 years, meats etc 5 years. We use them daily and they are tasty. We also find that the THRIVE products are actually cheaper per serving that grocery store prices. So if the food is good and has long storage times and is cheaper than grocery prices then why not stock it and use and replace as you use it.

    We try to have at least 3 to 5 years of food on had at all times.

    One other thing. Sawyer water filters have two models that filter down to .1-micron and .01-microns. This basically means that you can drink out of a mud puddle if needs be. The .1-micron is rated at 1,000,000 gallons of water and the .01-micron rated at 100,000 gallons.

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 6:59 pm

      We generally don’t allow shilling here. I just checked Thrive and calories per dollar of their food prices are about 200. BFD. Just Water filters are also the best buy in water filters. You seem to have some helpful advice but apparently you are just another fool hocking scam products.

  • JtothaK September 21, 2015, 12:43 pm

    Great article! I’ve been buying “survival” foods based on calories per dollar for a while now. Lots of pasta, canned foods, beans and rice. Glad to see the word getting out! On the flip side, I also have several months supply of dehydrated survival food buckets ready for a quick grab/bug out scenario as, IMO, one is paying the premium for portability when going that route. Just better have a plan for water regardless of which way you will bug as each bucket requires 18 gallons to hydrate which is also the benefit: I won’t need to haul 144 gallons of water (for 8 buckets) at a weight of 1,152 lbs. With canned goods, you will be hauling the water not to mention the additional volume.

    Planning on going all “Alamo” with a 1 yr supply of canned goods and not having a bug-out plan? You can quit reading, just remember (what happened at) the Alamo.

    With that said, I could have “built” my own food buckets using mylar bags and sealable 5 gallon buckets with food contents 100% purchased at a grocery store. I would also have had to purchase the buckets, Mylar bags, oxygen absorbent packets and of course the food. With that said, which one would be the most cost efficient?

    The buckets I purchased are Augason Farms 30 day Food Storage Emergency Pail @ $90 shipped per 5 gallon bucket. Total calories are 55,710 which equals 619 calories per dollar. Not too bad. Here’s the break-down of the contents:

    Pail Contains:
    Instant Potatoes (30 servings)
    Macaroni and Cheese (30 servings)
    Creamy Potato Soup (30 servings)
    Cheesy Broccoli Rice (30 servings)
    Creamy Chicken Rice (30 servings)
    Hearty Vegetable Blend (30 servings)
    Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal (40 servings)
    Morning Moo’s Low Fat Milk Alternative (80 servings)

    Now all I need to do is compare the price of each item to what I can buy at the store PLUS the cost of the storage materials as listed above and then see where we’re at.

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 7:03 pm

      If you had bothered to click through to my last article you would find that Mylar bags that will easily hold a 50 lb. bag of beans are about a buck and a half each. O2 absorbers are less than a buck each, and the bag sealer is $30. It isn’t even close, even if you choose plastic buckets, which my first and original article gave the best source to acquire.

  • Iowaenthusiast September 21, 2015, 12:20 pm

    Well I am now hooked. I have been so overwhelmed with all the “Survival” companies out there and all of their hyperbole that I had no idea where to begin. I will now start at WalMart. now, where do I find the mylar bags and the oxygen absorbers and other containers that I can safely store my stuff in? No doubt you listed them in previous articles but I would appreciate link or two.

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 12:56 pm

      There is a link in this article to the last one.

  • Utahn with head out of sand September 21, 2015, 10:34 am

    This is a great article!! I think we should all have food stored away for a rainy day (powder & bullets doesn’t taste very good! 🙂

  • DavidG September 21, 2015, 10:15 am

    That is the best article I have read yet on survival food needs.

    Thanks

  • cc September 21, 2015, 9:21 am

    great article

    Thanks

  • wolfpack-bravo September 21, 2015, 9:14 am

    Great article! Thank you.
    Most Americans want their food hot, right now, and with minimal effort. Hence the success of processed foods and these survival food companies. I say good for them and more power to them. If people are willing to spend the money then more power to them. You can stock up on “survival” food much cheaper with a little effort. Buy staples that you can’t produce yourself like grains and sugars. Canned meat is another great idea. Look to our great grand parents and in some cases our grand parents. They were great survivalists. Thy canned everything in sight. Start cooking with whole foods now and eating won’t be such a shock when all the drive throughs are closed.
    Thanks again for a great article.

  • Robert McCallum September 21, 2015, 9:01 am

    Great article. I didn’t know that Vegetable oil went bad. I guess I will look at replacing what I have and sealing it. Certain Walmarts also have caned roast beef, Barbeque pulled pork and meatballs. They are all about $4 a can. The only one I have tried was the roast beef. Added some sour cream heated and served over egg noodles and it was really good. Certainly not restaurant quality, but not typical survival food either. I have also found that canned fruit does just fine if it’s stored in pear juice and water, however the ones in heavy syrup have a tendency to expand and leak after a couple years. I also like storing pasta and sauce. I prefer the sauce in glass. More fragile obviously, but pasta sauce in the can starts to taste like metal after a year of sitting. Also I saw you have chunky soups. They also taste awful (like metal) after a year or two of sitting (chicken noodle was the worst). Obviously poor tasting food is better than no food in a survival situation. As for the freeze dried, I have also eaten that , just make sure the water is boiling and let it set 3-5 minutes longer then it says for absorption or it’s rather crunchy.

    • Laura Baldwin September 22, 2015, 8:35 am

      Robert, I have first hand knowledge of oil going bad experience. I wanted to make doughnuts for the family and had some vegetable oil under the counter-didn’t think about looking at the expiration date because I didn’t know it could expire. Poured it into the pan and while cooking the doughnuts my eyes started burning and I didn’t know why. The doughnuts tasted fine but after airing the house out and my eyes had stopped burning some I sniffed the oil now cooling in the pan. Immediately my eyes started burning again so I poured the oil back in the container from whense it came and threw the whole thing away. Won’t forget that lesson EVER!

      • Dan M. November 4, 2015, 11:33 pm

        Would the Crisco containers last longer? The containers are foil lined and sealed to be air and light proof. I know UV is the spoiler of most oil, that’s why olive oil comes in green bottles. If these containers last longer then no mylar repacking is need, also the shortning can be melted into oil.

  • Jasper September 21, 2015, 8:51 am

    One of the better articles on food I have seen. Think it still has a few flaws, but then I have been involved in how long foods last and how good they taste for a long time now. 🙂

    While I think some of the “survival” foods are good for portability, due to their packaging and weight, most are horrible to eat. How many people actually read what the crap is in the package they are buying??? It seldom has anything approaching quality ingredients, either on a calorie level or real nutritional levels! Which would you think is better to eat, meat of soy? If you answer soy, you will be in for a huge shock if you need to really survive on that!

    While the government has decreed expiration dates on food stuffs, modern canned foods will last a very long time indeed and taste decent when consumed, at least some canned foods that I have eaten after 10-12 years have been good tasting and did not kill anyone. 🙂
    I am not too much of a fan of other packaging for long term other than metal, as metal has the fewest drawbacks compared to all other packaging types.
    While it is not particularly portable compared to some packaging styles, if you are going to attempt to move out of your habitat, with food, protection and etc… few to none will survive for very long. 🙁
    So portability is really not much of an issue. Taste, nutrition and calories, they are the only thing that counts when the chips are down!!!

    • Administrator September 21, 2015, 8:57 am

      By all means please share with us what is incorrect. Also, if it is “one of the better,” please share some resources that are better or at least as good.

      • Jasper September 30, 2015, 7:26 pm

        As I said, it is one of the better articles I have seen in recent time. Too many push the idea of 25 year packaged food that has almost not nutrition for the dollar and much of it taste like crap.

        One problem is the comment about olive oil. As a blanket statement it is very incorrect! https://www.oliveoilsource.com/asktheexpert/what-shelf-life-olive-oil
        The particular oil shown from WalMart has an extremely short shelf life! For olive oil to have anything approaching a decent shelf life it needs to be in a tin, as all oils for long term storage and of a particular pressing.
        Oils are the single hardest product to store for any length of time, yet one of the most important to have for survival. Just as the trail mix shown, will not last for very long for a number of reasons. Too many of the items and the packaging will not survive past 6-12 months. Granted the life can be greatly extended by proper repackaging in mylar or metal containers. As is mentioned in the article. However showing examples of poorly packaged oils is a disservice to people. Show food in proper packaging, it is easy enough to do.
        So the article is combination of somewhat misleading and right on.
        In conclusion don’t get your panties in such a bunch! As I stated earlier, one of the better articles on survival foods. As for the comment about the canned food from the 1860’s being nutritious, if you do not mind or count lead poisoning, then yes, it is fine to eat. They used a lead/tin mixture to solder the cans, not a very good idea!
        So with the omissions and somewhat misleading pictures, I stand by what I wrote. 🙂

  • Porkckophampotatoandbacon September 21, 2015, 7:45 am

    I remember when I worked for Wonder Bread my boss was chit chattin’ with me some and told me that Wonder just got turned down by FDA for their new preservative invention that would allow bread expiration date be good for over 2 weeks(I can’t remember exactly but was a week or so longer than marked today). Just saying that the preservatives are more than likely already out there, just not passed by the FDA for human consumption…yet.

  • Mick Dodge September 21, 2015, 7:02 am

    Chunk chicken breast at two for $398.00 what a deal, forget about mining gold ….

    • Mickey September 27, 2015, 4:18 pm

      Dumb ass, it was a typo $3.98. If you’re looking for an argument go speak to a politician or democrat!

      • Matt October 4, 2015, 5:41 am

        Youre an idiot, he was being sarcastic. Clearly any person who isnt a dumbass is going to know it was a typo. Lay off him when you couldnt even tell he was joking.

  • Earl September 21, 2015, 6:59 am

    Great info on calories for the dollar comparisons…appreciate the info

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