UPDATED LIST: How to Build a 30-Day Emergency Food Supply…Fast

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you may be feeling on edge.  You may feel as though time is running out for you to get your preparedness supplies and emergency food in order. You may be new to prepping, and feeling like there’s too much to accomplish.  It seems like everything, everywhere, is sold out.

This feeling of urgency can make you feel hopeless and panicked, and that’s not productive. If you’re in a hurry, there’s no time for a lack of productivity. It’s time to focus and create your food supply immediately. If an event like a quarantine occurs during which you are unable to leave your home, you’ll want to make certain that you can keep food on the table without waiting for a handout to be doled out at the whim of some government agency.

Generally, I write about healthy food. I write about focusing on whole foods without additives, and I firmly believe that is the very best way to build your food supply.  I believe strongly in the value of a pantry that you will use day to day to nourish your family.  You can learn how to build a pantry like that in my book Prepper’s Pantry.

However, if you do not have a food supply waiting in your pantry, or your supply isn’t big enough, you might be focusing on speed.  You can then add healthier options at your leisure.

This list has been updated multiple times with items that are in stock at the time of publication. However, I can’t guarantee they’ll be in stock when you decide to place an order. Many brands of emergency food have been back-ordered since February.

Create a stockpile with emergency food buckets

Let me be clear that I think purchasing healthy whole foods is the very best way to build a food supply. Grabbing shelf-stable options from the store or a supplier is a great way to put back a nutritious stockpile. However, it may not be the fastest way.

If you’re trying to build a food supply quickly, consider ordering buckets with a month’s supply of meals.

Here’s why every prepper should have some emergency food buckets stashed away:

  1. A lot of calories can be condensed into a very small amount of space.
  2. If you have the capacity to boil water during an emergency, a filling meal can be yours.
  3. They add variety and speed to an emergency food supply.
  4. Calorie for calorie, they’re lightweight and easily portable in the event of a bug-out scenario.
  5. They’re professionally packaged to have a 25-year shelf life, so you can get it, stick it in the back of your closet, and forget about it until you need it.

Now, the downside.

If you’re looking for ready-made meals, none of them are going to be completely free of additives. This is impossible because they’re made to last for 25 years, to take up minimal space,  to cook up quickly and efficiently, and to taste reasonably good.

If you’re going this route, some compromises must be made. Yes, emergency food buckets contain processed food, but you don’t have to let go of all of your focus on healthful choices.

You may look at the prices of these items and say, “Oh, I can’t afford this.” But you have to remember, this is enough food for an ENTIRE MONTH.  At $300, that means you’re spending $10 per day on food that only requires the ability to boil water.

You’ll notice on the list of extras that I recommended a gentle laxative. Some people, when dependent solely upon MREs or dehydrated foods, become constipated.  I also recommended a high-quality multivitamin to help ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need.

Remember: these buckets are a one month supply PER PERSON. You will need one bucket for each member of your household for a complete one month supply.

Here are the products I normally recommend.

I  love Legacy Foods for the vast variety they offer. Legacy has standard buckets of survival food, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and protein. The quality is very good and the meals are tasty when prepared.

Here are some of my very favorite items from Legacy.

You can get powdered milk, packaged for the long-term.

They have some awesome protein sources, too. (Something that is missing in many prepper pantries.)

And of course, COFFEE.

When ordering, be certain to look at the dates when the products are expected to be available.  Some could be on indefinite backorder, while others could be months away.

Check out these emergency food buckets

In times of crisis, you may find that it is difficult to find emergency food that isn’t already sold out. Pickings may be slim. At the time of update, 2/29/2020, these products were available within one week.

Be warned that some of these buckets claim to be a 30 day supply of food, but you may find a lot of instant oatmeal, mac and cheese, and dry milk, plus a very limited variety. You’ll want to add some supplemental foods, too.

Some things to add on to your emergency food supply

By adding some extras to your supply you can make it healthier and better balanced, and you can also make it fit your needs. I have added a huge amount of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and milk to my supply because we tend to eat a lot of that right now. If you generally eat low-carb, you may want to skip the pre-made buckets, and create your own kits from some of the options below.

And for the love of all things cute and fluffy….get one of these bucket openers and make your life easier!!!!

While waiting for your buckets, head to the grocery store and grab some of the following:

  • Canned fruits and veggies
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Apple sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers
  • 100% Juice
  • Coffee and/or tea
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Canned beans
  • Canned meats like tuna, chicken, and ham
  • Some of your family’s favorite snack foods to squirrel away and bring out when food fatigue sets in

However you opt to build your food supply, please don’t hesitate. If a worst-case scenario occurred, the minimum goal is to be able to feed your family for at least a month.

How much do emergency food do you need?

There are a few different ways to calculate food storage, but I find breaking it down by serving size to be the most practical. Don’t rely on what a package calls a serving size – consider the appetites of your family. You might have a couple of big eaters and a couple of people with birdlike appetites. The lists below are based on serving sizes for an average adult.

Be sure to get a variety of different foods:

  • 3 protein servings
  • 5-8 fruits and vegetables
  • 5 starchy carbohydrates

On a 2000 calorie per day diet, strictly based on long-term storage food, the LDS (Church of the Latter Day Saints) says the average adult would need the following amounts for 30 days:

  • 5 pounds of beans
  • 25 pounds of grains
  • 5 pounds of sugars
  • 2 pounds of fats
  • 8 pounds of dairy

These are purely subjective numbers, however.  For example, if your family is gluten-free, you might eat more protein and produce than starchy carbs.  You must take into account your family’s health concerns, special needs, allergies, intolerances, likes, and dislikes.   These are simply guidelines. Try to stick as close to your normal eating habits as possible, to lessen the stress of an already highly-wrought situation. You’d be asking for trouble if you took someone who generally eats paleo and started feeding them nothing but oatmeal and vegetarian pasta dishes.

It’s also important to consider cooking times. If you never ever cook from scratch, will you suddenly want to make pots of beans and homemade bread? If the power goes out, will you have a way that you’ll be able to cook these foods? (This little stove can be used anywhere, indoors or outdoors. Be sure to stock up on extra fuel for it.)

You don’t have to be a prepper to build a 30-day food supply.

Up until recently, preppers have had something of a bad name in the media. However, as disasters strike America over and over, people are beginning to see the value in the way we do things. It’s been proven time and time again that when issues occur, you’re completely on your own. To learn more about basic preparedness, go HERE to learn how to get started.

Finally, if you want to learn more, here are some resources that can help you on your journey.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I have also noticed the legacy buckets and a soft spot for them in many prepper’s hearts. But I would have one recommendation.


    I know this sounds uninformed and silly, as dehydrating it makes it take up less space. But consider this: honey has an unlimited shelf life. You could leave it for a millennia and it wouldn’t go off, just go ‘chunky’. To fix honey that has seemingingly dried up, just leave it in a bath of boiling or hot water for 5-15 minutes (don’t add water to the container). Another benefit is that it has antibacterial properties in wounds and dressings, and it could be hard to mix dehydrated honey to the right consistency, especially if you’re in the dark.

    But that’s just my two cents worth. Otherwise, keep the good articles coming ????

    • Anonymous –

      I think the main reason for the dehydrated version is that it takes up less space, which is important for folks in small homes or apartments. But aside from the space issue, I agree – real honey is the perfect prep. 🙂

    • Another benefit to (non dehydrated) honey (specifically buckwheat) is as a cough suppressant. There was study done by Penn State in 2007 that showed that it “provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications.”

      I tried this with my two boys and it did seem to work better than the cold medicine I was giving them.

      I do have a few cans of the dehydrated honey. Its great for baking and sprinkling on stuff. I also have plenty of the liquid version.

      Reference: https://news.psu.edu/story/192001/2007/12/03/honey-proves-better-option-childhood-cough-otcs

  • the, “LDS (Church of the Latter Day Saints)”….The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints is the full name of the church in order to distinguish it from The Church of Jesus Christ as established during Christ’s time. The Church of Jesus Christ was lost due to apostasy and murder of Jesus Christ and His apostles and many saints and then fully restored to it’s original status in April 1830.

  • I am 60 years old and on keto diet, which has totally mitigated arthritis and other inflammatory issues.

    my wife found this list online, I am going to costco today to see what we can forage.

    Will probably forego tuna since it is full of mercury and aggravates my tinnitus.

    Bottled water, one gallon of water per person for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation.
    Sugar-free electrolyte drinks , Powerade Zero
    Bai Drinks
    Protein shakes
    Instant coffee
    Instant sugar-free tea
    Coconut milk
    Almond Milk
    Exogenous ketones
    Sparking Water

    Pork rinds
    Atkin Bars
    Macadamia Nut Butter
    Meat sticks
    Cheese Chips
    Sugar-free gelatin cups
    Moon Cheese
    Freeze dried strawberries
    Almond Butter
    Peanut Butter
    Quest Bars

    Canned/Jar Keto-Friendly Foods:
    Carne Seca
    Green beans

    Single serve packs of mayonnaise
    Single serve packs of mustard
    Single serve packs of hot sauce

    Can opener
    Chafing Dish Fuel Cans
    Paper plates
    Paper cups
    Disposable silverware

    • Costco has wild caught salmon and sardines. We make “tuna” salad with the salmon just like you would tuna. Even my kid that hates fish loves it 🙂

  • Head for your local asian grocery store and buy 50 pound bags of rice. That will go a long way, much further than pasta pound for pound. 50lbs will cost you around $25.00.

  • thank you to tess, once again! here’s MY list of what’s in my pantry. and i aint gonna edit out what she already said, so apologies for that. stuff with lots of water content, and preferably that doesn’t HAVE to be cooked.

    pinto beans
    canned fruit like peaches, fruit cocktail, pears, apricots
    peanut butter
    tomatoes and tomato sauce
    sugar, brown sugar
    tabasco sauce
    BBQ sauce
    popcorn and seasoning
    olives, black
    canned chilli
    canned soups…my favorite, cream of mushroom
    milk, dried, evaporated, and condensed
    cake mix, 7up or sprite, and canned fruit…to make cobbler, apple or cherry is MY faves(google that) pie filling will be GREAT shtf food…..NObody has enough canned fruit stored.
    canned veggies
    shortening/corn oil
    soy sauce…teriyake
    beef/chicken bullion
    baking soda, baking powder, yeast
    pepper, garlic salt, chilli powder, italian seasoning, cinnamon, ketchup, mustard, mayo.
    instant coffee, tea..creamer
    hard candy, chocolate
    tuna, spam(don’t stack it very high)
    powdered eggs
    well, that’s enough for now….u guys add to it and i will see if i want to add anything to MY stores…remember, this list is like a thousand lawyers chained to eachother at the bottom of the ocean……a place to START….

  • I bet you hear this a lot. ” We never thought we would see the day but It’s time to get busy stocking up on essentials “.
    We are 66. We have been buying 10-15 canned goods every day ,over the past week or so. Yesterday we got serious,
    $250 at Walmart and don’t forget the toilet paper !
    Going back today with your list to buy another $250 and the same thing this week.
    keep your receipts, you can always return it.
    Thank you for what you do !

  • Buying these buckets and thinking you are prepared is like owning a gun and feeling safe even though you’ve never shot it and its unloaded – it’s a half measure that will fail when you need it most.

    How do I know? Because I once fell victim to the Wise advertising campaign and made the mistake of buying a couple buckets to add to our food storage program. That’s a mistake I won’t repeat; I’m sticking with #10 cans and super pails with a good supply of grocery items and canned meats that have decent shelf lives.

    The bucket menus are not very diverse, the food is all carbs and little better than Lipton rice or noodle packet you can get at the grocer, their Mylar packs are not very thick or robust, and they do not provide a full day’s calories or sufficient servings. We kept it on hand to feed to kids who might be happy eating macaroni and cheese every other day but it would be an insult to feed that food to adults unless they had absolutely nothing else available.

    • TPP – as I noted in my article, this isn’t the “best” way to prep. It’s the fastest way. You may also note that I recommended additions such as freeze-dried meat and veggies. It’s definitely better to build a pantry of whole foods, but for many people, time is short.

  • My only place to shop is a Wal-Mart about 20 minutes away. I live that far from town. Its 90 miles West, 70 more East to get to another store. The isle of bans and rice is emptying faster than they can stock it. Masks, vit c, Zink, 91% alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and elderberry products stay sold from the day they arrive.
    I just shake my head. I grew up with parents and a grandmother who all grew up on farms and went through the depression. I still keep a well stocked panty even with the kids grown and gone.
    We moved into what for me is the perfect grandma and grandpa home. 1 bedroom, 1bath, under 900 sq ft. Only no pantry so I have carved out an entry way with a false wall of beadboard behind a storage bench I built for my office years ago. Behid that is a 3.5 ft wide space 7 ft long with three 1ft deep cabinets and an open space the just perfectly fits 2, 4gal bakery buckets wide. On the back of the beadboard wall is a row of clips that holds my mops and broom st. Beside that is a clear plastic shoe bag of 36 pockets. It has excess vitamins, essential oils, multiple fingernail clipped sets, every boards, cupcake papers et. All the little things that get lost on shelves. And I can see them all. $3 at a secondhand store but was new with store wrapping still on it. The shelves are full and I made a shelf over the space for the buckets so the entire top is filled as well. That was backed on the living room side with 2 thin sheets of 4×8 material found on the side of the road and cut to 7 ft tall the same as the beadboard wall. Facing into the living g room is a line of bookcases hiding the most of that ugly material the was stapled onto the back of two sets of shelves. It made a 3.5×7 pantry. I bought a heavy y metal cart at Harbor Freight for $39. You can’t touch a kitchen cart for that! Bottom shelf holds my bags of flour and sugar. Top perfectly holds my 2 pressure canners. Inside one canner are several jar lifters, canning funnels, extra lids et. That cart slides into the open space in the pantry with 1/4 th inch on both sides. Along the length of the beadboard wall in the pantry side the 2×4 bottom of the frame hold a row of oil bottles, round oatmeal containers stacked 2 high and several coconut oil jars topped with jars of peanut butter. Good use of otherwise waster space. I seldom but instant oatmeal. Regular rolled oats cook in either 1 minute, or 3 minutes when added to boiling water and are much cheaper. You can add what you want to them. My husband favorite is a bit of real butter and brown sugar. I just stir those into the boiling water and add the measured oats. Stir a couple of times and its ready to eat. The top shelf above everything in the pantry is filled mostly with big Packs of TP. I buy a bit extra whenever I can. I watch for sales. And its now filled to overflowing. In the kitchen I have 24 gallons of water and one big pack of bottled water. We have 2 wells here. If power were gone I have a winch and small container that could be used in an emergency.
    Its just a way of life. But I find peppers now stocking up like families always used to. I did but 4 big bags of powdered milk more than the usual for baking. I need to find a place to tuck them in. Also a few bags of dried fruits. Mostly to add variety to the oatmeal.
    In the isle where beans and rice are there is a small section of number 10 cans and a few other large items. The sticker I’d stopped to talk to showed me 3 lb cans of regular roast coffee selling for less than $8 each. I bought three. That will keep us in coffee for a long time. I picked up extra coffee filters to go with that and for the water filter I’m making. If our wells were polluted but not too bad sand and activated charcoal take care of a lot of things. I gave a 5 gallon clear container with the serving spigot near the bottom. I figure play sand over activated charcoal with cheese cloth to cover the spigot inside and a coffee filter at the top. I could even use water from a rain puddle if necessary. Just a backup if needed.
    The storage bench holds our bug out bags. Most likely problem here would be wild fire. I need to get important papers copied and put in a water proof bag inside a BOB. My butchering kit for doing the rabbits gets washed up and stored in a backpack. Its just a handy place for it but it could go with me in a vehicle.
    I never thought of it as prepping but I guess It is prepping for life.
    I see where the new taskforce set in place for covid 19 is now reminding everyone to have everything you need for a minimum of 2 weeks. That’s a pathetic minimum since some folks have tested positive at periods longer than 14 days and folks recovering from covid 19 are still testing positive for a while and might be still contagious. There seems to be a lot yet to be learned and the virus is already mutating. There now are 2 strains. One milder than the other. And one of those at times is coming back after recovery. Wow! This one is a mess! That’s worth some prepping if you haven’t already done it.
    By the way I checked with Augesson on delivery times and they like the rest are running weeks behind the normal deliver times because of demand and stocking times. I ordered a few items and will wait. Things I’d want anyway.
    We eat a lot of rice and beans. I keep 100 lbs of rice and 80 lb of dry pinto beans on hand normally per year. I did add extra variety of beans and other legumes. We enjoy those but usually I just buy a lb now and then.
    I canned the leftover turkey and bone broth became a meaty vegetable soup in quart jars. A Christmas time I canned the rest of the ham. I have another ham picked up on sale for $.50 lb. I’ll be canning that. The bone and skin side piece will flavor pots of beans. I may can the skin for later. I’ll use the bone right away. Canned ham can be drained and slide for sandwiches or diced for omlets or soups. Same with the canned turkey. Broths become soup stock or gravey. Folks act like real cooking and canning is hard. It isn’t. But it does take time. I can do a lot of other things while I have a timer going on the canning.
    Today I’m still filling plantable pots with seed starter and seeds for the garden. Have a movie on while doing that in the house since most of the pots will be in front of the windows. Greenhouse still in planning stage so my house is the greenhouse for now.
    No time to be board but always time to enjoy life. Nice change to watch a recorded movie while I’m working.
    Great grandma here. But I’m always busy. I read the articles on this site and most of the replies.

  • I am surprised that Wise and Auguson fatms are the listed “go to brands”, well more disappointed than anything really. Their reviews, and personal experience, are awful.

    People please take a bit of time and research things (for actual nutritional values), and by all means do your own checking by getting a bit from every source to check for taste.

    In a last ditch effort, sure I might buy/barter for those. But probably never will.

    But I am really surprised Mountain House brand was not a suggestion.

    Nutrionally they surpass both Wise and Auguson Farms, and as far as taste/pallet goes they… really fall behind in that are in comparison.

    About 6 years ago I got a wide sample of each for use as camping/hunting food.

    After reviewing the nutrition levels, and especially the taste/texture, I went and bought Mountain House in a 6 month supply to use for camping/hiking/hunting/just in case trips.

    Unlike Wise and Auguson Farms, you can find Mountain House not only online but in retail stores like Walmart and a few others.

    • Dear RJ –

      At this point we’re working with what is left. These products were chosen because at the time I published that article, they were still in stock. Previously there were other recommendations but we have a lot of people who are looking for something – anything – to fill their pantries. I made the best choices out of what is currently available. 🙂

  • Wow the auto delete of my post just made this a site I will never visit again.

    Kudos to you for blocking someone showing favtually how your opinion is wrong.

    I can only guess this reply will be deleted minutes later like my previous one that disputed the brands and proved it.

    • Hi, RJ – I can’t find your post anywhere. I checked the trash and the spam folder. We don’t have any kind of autodelete, so I think there must have been a glitch. Sorry about that.

  • Short version of my deleted reply.

    The brand’s mentioned are inferior in nutrition, and seriously inferior in taste and texture, to Mountain House.

    Mountain house is easily bought in line and unlike those plugged can even be found in box stores.

    And best of all?!? Mountain house brand is actually a better buy, before you take nutrition and taste into the scale.

  • I like the taste & variety of My Patriot Supply dehydrated foods. And survival cave food fit com for delicious canned meats. Between these and stocked pantry of what we normally eat, as well as 2 months ahead on cat & chicken food, should tide us over if needed. Great article to help people get their pantries stocked. Start where you can, get what you can find and just do what you can.

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