Food storage kits are tough to compare due to complexity but also because the different ways companies market their features. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the time to do your homework. When done right you can sometimes save A LOT of money when you break down the details and level the playing field between two products.
For this Face Off Review, Julie and I are pitting the Emergency Essentials Gourmet 1600 Year Supply of Food against the Food Insurance 1264 Entrée Meal Plan. Both kits have a lot of similarities, but they are also very different. At the conclusion of this Face Off Review we will provide a link to download the food kit comparison worksheet we used for this Face Off as well as a template checklist for you to use. Here is the criteria we look at when evaluating food kits.
As of today’s date, the Emergency Essentials Gourmet 1600 Year Supply of Food sells for $3,500 while the Food Insurance 1264 Entrée Meal Plan comes in $50 cheaper at $3,450. These kits are VERY similar from an advertised price standpoint but it is important to also look for hidden costs not shown up front like tax, shipping, and handling. In this case Emergency Essentials charges $10 and Food Insurance charges nothing.
WINNER: Tie, the difference of $60 on a $3,500 order is so small. To get the true story on value, you need to keep digging and crunching numbers as we describe below!
Some companies will advertise total servings and others will advertise calories but because total kit servings can be manipulated (add a can of salt to a kit and increase servings by 2,300 servings!) you are going to want to use calories to level the playing field. In the case of the Gourmet 1600 the page it states 1,600 calories per day for 365 days or a total of 584,000 calories. You can either trust their claim or add up the calorie count by yourself (yes a long and painful task).
We had to do this math with the Food Insurance kit since they only advertise servings. To do this you start out by listing the names of the items in the kit. Then you find out how many calories are in each serving of the different items. Next you find out how many servings of each item come in the kit and multiply those two numbers to come up with the total calories per item in the kit. From there you just add all of those numbers up. We totaled 455,640 total calories for the Food Insurance kit. To get the daily calorie intake when eaten by one person over the course of a year you divide that number by 365 days. When done the kit comes out to 1,248 calories per day (352 less calories per day)!
While this takes a little time to do it is well worth it, these two kits are nearly identical in price but one comes with 22% more calories! But that is not all, there are other factors you want to look at besides just calories.
WINNER: Emergency Essentials Gourmet 1600 Year Supply by a landslide.
3. TYPES OF FOOD
Many different foods are put in food storage reserves. Some is freeze-dried while others are dehydrated or dried goods. Some foods will be just-add-water while others require cooking and much larger cleanup. We won’t cover everything in extreme detail here but check out our COMPARE FOOD STORAGE KIT CHECKLIST to get more background to help look at all of the details.
With regards to these two kits, the Gourmet 1600 Year Supply and the 1264 Entree Meal Plan, you will want to note the types of food that come in the kits. In this case as you look down the list of cans included in the kits you will see that 100% of each kit is just-add-water meals, drinks, and sides. Sometimes you will comes across a kit that is 100% freeze-dried like these kits and compare them to much less expensive kits that are maybe 70% dehydrated which is going to take much more time to cook and won’t have as high nutrition (freeze-drying does a better job keeping the original nutrition).
Another area of interest is seeing what type of meat comes in the kits. Is it the more expensive and better tasting freeze-dried meat of the imitation meat (textured vegetable protein)? In this case both kits comes with real meat entrees. You will be able to tell that by looking at the nutritional panels and looking for the terms diced chicken versus chicken flavored textured vegetable protein.
Lastly you will want to look at the brands of food. Some brands are simply not as good tasting as others. Both of these kits are mainly Mountain House products (Food Insurance has a contract with Oregon Freeze Dry to slap their label on Mountain House cans) mixed in with some of their in house brands so that is a wash but often you will find a kit that is 90% Mountain House vs a competitor that is 100% Wise Foods and when you taste them both you will be quickly seeing that not all food storage is created equal!
WINNER: Tie, both have real meat meals that are just-add-water.
Just because a kit has a lot of calories doesn’t mean it is healthy calories. The food storage industry is getting better at this but not too long ago you would find year supply food storage kits that derived 50% of the calories from the Tang like drink mixes in the kits! In this case we took a look at what would be considered “filler” calories in the two kits and came to this tally:
Food Insurance: 16 cans of Kool Aid type drink mixes and 8 cans of instant rice
Emergency Essentials: 11 cans of Kool Aid type drink mixes and 6 cans of crackers.
We also liked how Emergency Essentials shared the nutrition data of their kit as seen in the red graphic to the left. We would have loved to seen the same from Food Insurance but will probably call customer service to ask about that as it will take too much time to get the nutrition data. We spent enough time calculating calories!
WINNER: Emergency Essentials Gourmet 1600 Year Supply, it had less filler calories and had much more nutrition information. Usually companies that are more transparent with such information are also more likely to have better overall products, again not always the case but over the years of buying that is our experience.
Another important aspect that will make using the food one day much more enjoyable is if there is good variety. You don’t want to be eating the same thing every other day. That will get old quick. In the case of these two food storage supplies the Emergency Essentials kit has 46 different items while the Food Insurance kit has 22. As seen in the image to the left (click to expand) you are going to get much more variety from the Gourmet 1600.
WINNER: Emergency Essentials Gourmet 1600 Year Supply, 2X the variety!
Most food storage items come in a #10 can or a metalized bag (Mylar is a common brand name). Over the years the #10 can has been better known as being the leader in shelf life. It is also more durable but it does come with one big drawback, when you have smaller pouches you can open up less food at one time. There are some small things you can do to minimize the issue, like put the food from the can in a ziplock bag and remove the air then stick the bag back in the can.
TIP#1: Number of cans is sometimes not a very good indicator of food as some brands fill their cans 60% full while others fill them 90%.
Tip#2: Weight of kits are also not worth comparing most of the time. For one, kits with a similar calorie total might not weigh close to each other if one is freeze dried (lighter product) and the other is dehydrated kit (heavier by nature).
With these two kits the foods come in #10 cans so they come in as a TIE in our books when being compared head to head.
The final evaluation is a culmination of the previous 6 points. Take a look at the final data points and see which food storage kit is the better overall purchase. In the case between these two kits we see that they are nearly identical in total price but that doesn’t factor in the caorie difference to do this we calculate the cost per 2,000 calories. This is useful so you better see the overall price differences.
To do this you divide the total calories in the kit (we gathered that in the calorie section above) by the number 2,000. You take resulting number and divide it by the price of the kit. In this case the Gourmet 1600 is $11.98 per 2,000 calories and the 1264 Entree Meal Plan is $15.13. Pretty useful numbers to compare and see which one is the better value huh?
In the end you could skip that math and just make some simple observations. The Gourmet 16oo kit has 22% more calories while having fewer filler calories but it also comes with 2 times the variety. It is clearly the better value and the kit we would buy if we narrowed our search down to these two.
OVERALL WINNER: Emergency Essentials Gourmet 1600 Year Supply! Doing the math and comparing true details will help you pick the true winner every time and when you are looking at kits in the thousands of dollars a little homework and due diligence can save you A LOT of money or in this case get you 22% more food for the same price!
Click to see the the Food Supply Kit Comparison Checklist we used for this Face Off Review
Click here to download your own Food Supply Kit Comparison Checklist (printable PDF)