During all of the time I’ve been involved in preparedness, I’ve had difficulty combining my love for whole food with my need for long-term storable food to consume in the event of an emergency. For years, I sought an emergency food that tasted reasonably good, had fewer additives, contained no MSG (that’s an instant migraine for me) and wasn’t loaded with genetically modified ingredients from a country with low food standards. (Cough, China.)
In my pantry, you can find buckets of emergency food from several different companies, but until recently, there was not a product line that I felt I could really get behind and endorse. There were always things like MSG, aspartame, GMO corn syrup (just no), unpronounceable ingredients, or a label that announced “Made in China.” Don’t even get me started on the copious amounts of gluten and sugary drinks that seem to be the backbone of many emergency kits.
Readers frequently ask me how they can immediately build a supply, and hands down, emergency buckets are the easiest, fastest way if you have the need for speed. At the same time, it’s difficult for me to recommend products that completely go against everything I believe in as a real food activist.
Despite all of the drawbacks, emergency food buckets have an essential place in your pantry. You just have to make the best choices available to ensure that you’re nourishing yourself instead of poisoning yourself.
Why emergency food buckets are essential
Please understand that emergency food buckets, while vital, should not be the basis of your food storage or your everyday diet. They are only part of the picture of a perfect pantry.
Here’s why every prepper should have some emergency food buckets stashed away:
- A lot of calories can be condensed into a very small amount of space.
- If you have the capacity to boil water during an emergency, a filling meal can be yours.
- They add variety and speed to an emergency food supply.
- Calorie for calorie, they’re lightweight and easily portable in the event of a bug-out scenario.
- 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 without 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.
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.
I recommend NuManna Foods.
Finally, I’ve found a product line that I can get behind. I recently got the NuManna Defender Nutritive Pack to test it out and I’ve been very impressed with the company, the mission, and the food. (I also have the gluten-free family pack.)
Here’s the company’s vision statement:
NuManna believes that emergency food should be as healthy if not healthier than the food we eat on a daily basis. The effects of food on our overall health have never been a bigger concern. Chemical preservatives, food allergies, gluten intolerance, MSG, and certainly Genetically Modified (GMO) foods are all challenging our well-being.
NuManna Foods is well aware of these problems. The founders of NuManna have their own special dietary needs and were seeking storable foods with no Aspartame, or High Fructose Corn Syrup before NuManna began. GMO-free ingredients and gluten restricted options were also a high priority. They didn’t find storable food meals quite up to the standards set for their own family. So, they decided to create them and became one of the first storable food makers of its kind to offer such selective and chemically free products.
We understand customers with exacting standards. We understand how food intolerance can be overwhelming. We also realize the human body cannot eat preserved foods for an extended period of time without getting sick. Your food storage and emergency supplies should not be a health crisis. We work to meet and exceed your expectations and make it easy to find the high-quality storable foods you want and need without sacrificing flavor or value.
Allow our pursuit of quality preparedness food to overcome the frustration you may have felt in seeking out healthy food storage. Our standard packages are Certified 100% GMO-Free with no preservatives, no soy, or other controversial ingredients. We also offer complete Gluten Restricted buckets with the same chemical and preservative-free standard. Our foods are even free of Autolyzed Yeast Extract. NuManna is a true innovator in healthy and chemically free storable foods.
I haven’t found anything else in the storable industry with these standards, and I believe that this could raise the bar to the point that the industry is changed completely.
The Defender Nutritive Pack
The NuManna Defender pack is a 3 month supply of NuManna meals with a wonderful twist: it contains an additional supply of high-quality superfoods.
These can be combined with the standard dehydrated meals to increase both calories and nutritional value. The extra goodies are all organic except for the parboiled rice:
- Organic Quinoa
- Organic Black Chia Seeds
- Organic Sprouting Seeds
- Organic Brown Jasmine Rice
- Parboiled Rice
- Organic Spelt
The other food in this particular package is a mix of gluten-free choices and five containing gluten. (I’d be really excited to be able to get this in a gluten-free offering, but it was still a worthwhile package for us, since not all members of our group have an issue with wheat products.)
I’ve marked the items that are gluten-free with a star. (*)
Last night, we combined two goodies together to make one tasty meal.
Sweet Habanero Chili with Quinoa
I love chili in just about every version that exists and this one was not a disappointment. However…if you have a family member who doesn’t like spicy food, opt for the Classic Chili instead of the Sweet Habanero. One of my daughters said that it was too spicy. Keep in mind, this is also the daughter who finds cinnamon gum spicy enough to make her eyes water, so take that opinion with a grain of salt. (Or spice.)
Here are the packages for the chili and the quinoa. Initially I had put these into a snazzy collage, but then I realised you couldn’t read the information on the back. So, this isn’t as snazzy, but you can read it.
The quinoa is simply organic quinoa, the kind you’d get at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. This means that it has to be rinsed, which could be a problem if you are in a situation in which water is at a premium. If you have running water, this is, of course, no big deal at all. For the absolute best flavor, if you saute it in a pan with a little butter or cooking oil, it will be restaurant quality delicious. For the purpose of an emergency food review I didn’t get all crazy gourmet. I simply washed it and boiled it.
There is an enormous benefit to having grains like quinoa packaged up in 16 servings apiece. This way, if you were relying on your food storage for the long term, you wouldn’t have to worry about the product becoming rancid or getting buggy before you could consume it all.
Back to the food. Once cooked, the quinoa was fluffy and perfect. The quality of this product was excellent.
Next, the chili. Here’s what it looked like when I took it out of the package and dumped it in a bowl.
The food came to us sealed into bags containing 6 servings. I’ve found that the servings from NuManna are very generous, so since there were just two of us eating, I mixed the contents of the bag well, then scooped half back in to have at a different time. The bags have a heavy duty zipper seal, so they close right back up.
Every time I’ve cooked emergency food, I’ve found it requires a little more water than the instructions recommend to get the items completely rehydrated and tender, and this was no exception. I ended up adding two extra cups of water to our half bag of chili. Now, in case it’s just me and there’s some weird, sci-fi, water-draining bubble around my kitchen, follow the package instructions, but be prepared to add extra water if needed. As well, I simmered the chili for 30 minutes instead of 20-25.
This chili had tender beans and tasty, sweet bits of real pineapple. As far as emergency food goes, this was a foodie’s delight. It was delicious. I served mine in a bowl over my quinoa, and it was a filling, satisfying meal.
In the smallest packages (single buckets) the meals cost anywhere (including shipping costs) from $2.40 for the gluten-containing food to $2.52 for the gluten-free food. If you get a ginormous supply that would last your family for a year, it drops to less than $1.50 per serving.
Now, if you compare this to some of the other buckets on the market, you might feel like that’s too high of a price. But, you have to keep in mind, this is for real food.
One other popular company charges an equivalent amount per meal, but the “meals” are ridiculous items like instant rice (just plain – nothing but white rice), oatmeal, cream of wheat, pudding, sugary energy drinks, and powdered milk. If I was in an emergency situation and had been working hard all day, I wouldn’t be too happy to open my food bucket and find and orange energy drink or a bag of plain rice for that night’s dinner.
If you want to add things like oatmeal or drink powders to your stockpile, you can do it for FAR less money than $2.40 per serving. Any time you’re shopping for food buckets, check to see what you get and decide if these items should really be considered a meal.
I’m very impressed!
While I wouldn’t serve processed food on a daily basis, in an emergency or for a rushed meal when I don’t have time to cook, I’m absolutely thrilled with Numanna Food Storage products.
The company’s commitment to making a better quality storable food is admirable, and I’ll definitely be stocking up on more of their food. It’s like insurance in my pantry against a year when gardens fail, farm animals die, and the store is unavailable. As well, in a tight financial situation, I know that I could feed my family for minimal additional output with a pantry full of these items.
It’s such a relief to find an emergency food line that I can recommend without hesitation. I wholeheartedly endorse NuManna Foods.
If you give it a try, let me know what you think of it. I’m planning to do some experimenting to combine this with some of my other stored foods to boost the protein intake and add some variety.