Emergency food buckets, also called "survival food buckets" or "totes", are the current rage these days with food storage companies and resellers. Learn why we do not recommend these offerings as a replacement for real food storage. This is a companion article to "Why We Do NOT Recommend MRE's".
The storable food industry is plagued with new resellers and manufacturers who have sought to cash in on the food storage craze. In the past few years, the "Survival Food Bucket" and "Emergency Food Bucket" and "Totes" method of food storage has become quite popular with these companies. We thought that these were good too - until we discovered otherwise, then we dropped them. What we have learned is the following facts:
1) Bad Taste - Storable food should be a direct replacement for what you already eat. Nobody wants to discover that their "food storage" supply is filled with strange, unhealthy and bad tasting food. Quite a lot of the survival buckets and totes being sold today are pretty terrible when it comes to something you'd be willing to eat every day. Cheap dehydrated products and sometimes, some bits of freeze dried food are mixed together with heavy seasoning and salt to create simple "meals" which are usually comprised of just a single-serving. The taste can be "ok" to "pretty bad" depending on the manufacturer and menu.
2) Cheap Food - Manufacturers cut corners here on purpose by taking the following steps: Meals are created from the cheapest foods possible to cut costs. Examine any of the menu offerings and you will see what we mean. The ingredients are largely carbohydrates and cheap filler products. Repetitive ingredients are also very common (no variety and poor nutrition). Several manufacturers ONLY sell survival food buckets or totes, they don't even offer real food choices, we do not consider any of these to be real food storage companies.
3) Small Servings - Very small serving sizes are used to inflate the "total servings" count for the bucket, tote, kit or food plan. This tactic is extremely common. Supposedly, one serving is supposed to be sufficient for a "meal" - which it isn't, not even close. 2 or 3 of these servings daily are supposed to sufficient for your daily calorie intake, which we have found to be 1/4 to 1/2 of the required nutritional calories needed for sedentary activity, with some daily calories as low as only 400. If you are active - then these small servings do not even meet 1/6th of your required nutrition levels.
4) Low Calories - Actual calories per meal are extremely low (insufficient) for proper health and nutrition. Combined with cheap filler products, excessive salt and sugar and you've got a perfect recipe for poor health and low energy. A few meals like this won't kill you, but the survival bucket kits and totes are being advertised to last a month, or six months or even a year or more. They will not last anywhere near this long because as your body starves for proper calories and nutrition - you will eat it MUCH faster then advertised, and still suffer from poor nutrition because of the highly limited food choices.
5) Survival food buckets are a very poor replacement for real food. These buckets are often being sold as "complete food kits", but they're not. They contain very few real food items in limited quantities and small serving sizes with low calories. Cheap fillers, salt and sugar with heavy seasoning is added to disguise what you're really eating. Due to their low nutrition and variety, eating this food every day will be woefully inadequate. Much of this food is literally "powdered" with a heavy reliance upon soups. You can't change the menu either - or mix and match items to make a real meal from the ingredients. You're stuck with whatever the manufacturer has created. This makes the food extremely repetitious. After a week - you're going to wish you had real food.
6) Advertised Time Versus Reality. Most of these kits will not last 1/4 of the time specified. You will need far, far more of these survival buckets or totes to meet their advertised survival time. You will be forced to eat them far faster then they have advertised due to their extremely low calories. We've seen this problem virtually EVERYWHERE we looked. Survival buckets and totes are actually a poor idea designed to liberate you from your money - a "shortcut" food storage that will not work as planned. Nothing replaces REAL FOOD in sufficient quantities and nutrition. There are no short-cuts. Just marketing hype and propaganda to take advantage of people.
7) Extremely Expensive - Because they are only 1/4 to 1/2 of the actual food storage required for the advertised time lengths - you'll need to purchase 2, 3 or even 4 times as many of these survival food buckets to meet the required time lengths for sufficient food amounts. This makes these survival buckets and totes incredibly expensive (multiply the cost by 2, 3 or 4 times). See our "Tired Of Storable Food Scams" page for many examples of this. An enormous amount of money is now being wasted on truly poor food storage planning with almost all of this waste being spent on survival food buckets and totes.
8) Poor Packaging - Survival food buckets and totes are bulky due to the sheer amount of packaging involved and utilize a poor packaging concept and materials. The square buckets and containers are not air-tight and the food is divided up into pouches inside. The pouches can leak oxygen (osmosis) and the food will become stale in a matter of months. Several manufacturers do not even use oxygen absorbers here either. This excessive packaging is "stackable" but it also wastes a lot of space in each bucket. The amount of floor space required for a 1 year unit is up to 5 times larger than the #10 hard sided cans.
9) None of the reputable food storage manufactures produce survival food buckets or totes. The food storage industry leaders like Mountain House and Rainy Day Foods know what we know - for long term food storage, you need real food, in sufficient variety, quantities (servings sizes), calories and amounts to endure real food emegencies. These companies have DECADES of experience in food storage and know what works - and what doesn't.
10) Real Food will weigh a LOT more then what you find in survival buckets or totes. Even when dehydrated, real food supplies weigh a lot more. The actual volume of food is also significantly higher, and so are the calories, serving sizes and number of servings per container. This is why nobody offers free shipping with real food, the actual food weights are substantially higher then what you receive in a survival bucket or tote, because there is a LOT more food you're receiving. There are NO SHORTCUTS when it comes to survival supplies and proper food storage and nutrition. If you want to stay healthy, eat right and have a sufficient food supply, do it right the first time and stop wasting money on phony "quick fix" scams.
REAL food storage, done right, does not have any of these problems. This is our 23rd year in business and we've seen all kinds of fads and ideas come and go. None have replaced real food storage in sufficient quantities. In a food shortage emergency - you need real food. Don't fall for Hollywood hype or a poor substitute. We've spent decades educating people on what actually works - and what really doesn't.
We highly recommend to buy what you eat. Are you eating out of a survival bucket now? Of course not. Nobody is. Don't drastically limit yourself to what you aren't familiar with. Eat regular food from your food storage. We do - every day. The foods we carry can be eaten every single day. They are familiar, common and will last. It's real food - for every day use or emergencies, with a nearly endless variety of choices.