One of the most difficult things about tying together my passion for real food with my need for preparedness is finding emergency food that tastes reasonably good, has fewer additives, and isn’t loaded with genetically modified ingredients from a country with low food standards.
I have buckets of emergency food from several different companies, but there was nothing I felt I could really get behind. There were always things like MSG (instant headache), GMO corn syrup (just no), 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 a vital place in your pantry. You just have to make the best choices available to ensure that you’re nourishing yourself instead of poisoning yourself.
Here’s why you should store emergency food buckets
Now, the first thing you must keep in mind is that I’m not recommending that emergency food buckets be the basis of your food storage or your everyday diet. They are only part of the picture of a perfect pantry, but they’re a pretty necessary part for most people. Here’s why:
- 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.
- They’re lightweight and easily portable in the event of a bug-out scenario.
- They’re packed 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.
If you’re looking for ready-made meals, you have to understand that none of them are going to be completely without additives. They’re made to last (as mentioned above, for 25 years), to cook up quickly and efficiently, and to taste reasonably good.
A better choice
Finally, I’ve found a product line that I can get behind. I recently got a gluten-free family pack made by Numanna Food Storage to test it out and I’ve been very impressed with the company, the mission, and the food.
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, so I was eager to try it out. Last week, we made a batch of the Gluten Free Pasta Primavera.
Pasta Primavera Review
The food came to us sealed into bags containing 6 servings. There were only two of us having dinner, but since food storage companies usually have birdlike appetites, we expected that the 6 servings would be more like 3 or 4.
Here’s the package:
While this is not organic, remember that it IS certified non-GMO.
As I brought the water to a boil, I dumped the contents of the package into a bowl for a better look.
Almost immediately after I stirred it into the boiling water, the creamy sauce began to thicken up.
I cooked it for the full 18 minutes on the package instructions.
After it was cooked, I divided it into 6 equal servings to see if their idea of what a serving of food was, corresponded with ours. This is one serving of prepared Pasta Primavera.
I’ll be honest – I was expecting something along the lines of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Much to my surprise, this was delicious.
You read that right – not just okay – DELICIOUS.
The sauce was creamy and had a little bit of bite from the black pepper. The pasta and peas weren’t mushy. After 18 minutes of cooking time, they were al dente with a pleasant bite to them.
I forgot to add the butter called for in the instructions, but in an emergency you might not have butter on hand anyway. It was still very tasty, rich, and creamy.
We enjoyed the leftovers with some sauteed chicken and added a little basil and fresh Parmesan. It tasted like a restaurant meal. My kiddo had seconds both times we ate it.
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.
Here’s what you’ll find in the Numanna Gluten-Free pack.
- Pasta Primavera (3 x 6 servings)
- Classic Chili (2 x 10 servings)
- Enchilada, Beans & Rice (2 x 6 servings)
- Sweet Habanero Chili (2 x 6 servings)
- Italian Pasta (2 x 6 servings)
- Potato Casserole (2 x 6 servings)
- Cheesy Broccoli Soup (1 x 10 servings)
- Black Bean Soup (1 x 10 servings)
- Cheesy Potato Soup (1 x 10 servings)
- Oatmeal (1 x 10 servings)
As you can see, Numanna does include some packets of oatmeal, but they don’t add it to the meal count. It doesn’t figure in to the calculations of cost per 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. I have my eye on the Defender Nutritive Pack next. It’s a family pack of non-GMO food that includes a bonus of organic high-quality grains and superfoods, like quinoa, chia seeds, spelt, and sprouting seeds.
It’s such a relief to find an emergency food line that I can recommend without hesitation. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding our reviews of the other meals in my bucket of gluten free goodies.
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.