Emergency Preparedness: Check Serving Sizes of Emergency Food Kits

By , dealnews contributor

With Hurricane Sandy battering the Eastern Seaboard, an expected mix of high winds, torrential rain, and heavy snow threatens some 60 million people from Massachusetts to North Carolina. This perfect storm has translated into packed stores as folks stock up on groceries, generators, and emergency food kits. But amidst the fretting over this superstorm, shoppers should pause to study the labels of those emergency food kits, as serving sizes don't always translate to the portions we're used to eating.

Consider this Chef's Banquet Macaroni Pasta Emergency Food Bucket available at Costco. For $39.99 the bucket boasts 270 total servings of pasta. But at 25 lbs., that's only 1.48 oz. per serving and less than the 2 oz. generally considered a full serving of grains. Perhaps that's a small price to pay for longevity, though: this food bucket has a shelf life of 20 years.

Also at Costco, this Tropical Fruit Variety Emergency Food Bucket By Chef's Banquet has 300 total servings of freeze dried fruit, including pineapples, cherries, and mangoes. But those servings, when divided by the total weight of 3 lb. 12 oz., come to only 0.2 oz. per serving — a size that might not correspond to the expectations of hungry family members with cabin fever.

Serving Sizes to Last

When stocking up on emergency food supplies, don't judge quantity by sizes alone. If you do, you might not be able to make emergency food stocks go as far as you'd expect. Americans are used to larger portions, and while this may not be a time for a super sized meal, you'll be better off breaking down how much to buy based on calorie consumption, for example.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers advice on how to prepare rations that are both filling and nutritious. Among its tips, FEMA recommends stocking up on a mix of foods that are enjoyable and high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, water, special preparation, or cooking are best, FEMA says. Don't forget that pure water is a must for hydration and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person per day, to total enough for at least two weeks.

If you're a survialist a heart, then consider this Augason Farms Emergency Food Storage Kit from Sam's Club. It has enough food to feed four people for a year, and contains goodies such as dehydrated apple slices, six-grain pancake mix, dried whole eggs, and more. Many of the items have a shelf life of 10 to 25 years, though the freeze-dried strawberries will last you at least 30 years if you keep them in a cool, dry place.

But this brand of survival prep, as it turns out, doesn't come cheap: The Augason Farms Emergency Food Storage Kit is a whopping $2,774. But at least it comes with free shipping? Though, no matter how you can it, it's wise to have stocked up for emergencies ... before they happen. No one likes to wander in the rain and wind (or worse!) for a gallon of milk and some cereal.

Lou Carlozo is a dealnews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the managing editor of WalletPop.com, and a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.

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DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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I don't think this is a very well researched article.  I dabble in "prepping" and the fruit doesn't seem like a well researched conclusion.  Remember that these are freeze dried foods (ie most moisture removed).  When they are reconstituted, they probably ARE a serving size.  However, the general premise of the article is true...compare servings, calories, etc. Also, watch salt content.   If prices seem cheap compared to a competitor, there's probably a reason why!  One trick I have found is that companies advertize a large amount of servings, but when you look at ingredients, a large portion of servings are drink mixes (ie. inexpensive powders) so that they can claim a high # of servings at a low "per serving cost".  Personally, I just buy buckets of "entrees only".
Dan de Grandpre (DealNews)
A fifth of an ounce is a "serving"? 

I wanted to find out how much food is 0.2 oz. We happen to have a postal scale in our office, so I took a pile of Atomic Fireballs (yum) from my desk and measured how many Atomic Fireballs equals 0.2 ounces.

Two. A "serving" of dried fruit from Costco = two Atomic Fireballs in weight. Shame on you, Costco.