Anyone who likes to think ahead knows that it’s important to have an emergency preparedness plan in place in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. This might include mapping out alternative meeting places for your loved ones to locate one another, keeping tools and supplies on hand to assist in building shelter, and educating yourself on what it takes for you and your family to survive in an emergency. Nothing is more important, however, than having your stash of food and water ready to go – and this means ensuring you have emergency food bars stashed away in your survival kits.
Emergency food bars aren’t just created from a single standard, in fact, there are probably more varieties and more choices than you might think. What it boils down to, however, is whether you are focusing on calories, shelf-life, taste, or nutrients… and whether or not you will actually be able to eat them. It may seem strange to think that you should try to find your preference ahead of time, but many people have trouble with textures and flavors, plus some forms of ready-to-eat meals require water to make them work for you. Think about it. If you can’t swallow it, what good will it do as a means of providing sustenance? That’s why everyone should plan ahead, and the following are a few things to consider when looking to purchase food to help you survive in a crisis.
The first thing you have to understand is that emergency food bars are not the same as ready-to-eat meals (MRE’s, or meals ready to eat), nor are they anything like dehydrated options. For one thing, dehydrated meals are packaged emergency rations that require water to make them edible, so they may not be the best option in the event of a natural disaster when potable drinking water is scarce. As far as MRE’s go, they aren’t that bad of a choice (they have a very long shelf life and are pre-cooked), but they are terribly expensive, and packing up an emergency food kit with MRE’s can get really pricey when trying to feed and entire family for an extended period (it may not be just three days… a natural disaster may require up to 2-3 weeks’ worth of food).
Emergency food bars, on the other hand, are non-thirst provoking nutrition that provide the daily nourishment you require. They are cost-effective, comparatively, to other options and they come in a variety of choices. For instance, if calorie count is important to you, you can choose bars that provide up to 3600 calories a piece. On the other hand, if nutrients are more important and you are looking for a specific kind of bar that tastes better than average, you can find them, too. You can even find completely vegan bars to suit your lifestyle, and although you may want to supplement your survival packs with granola bars and dried fruits, they just don’t have the kind of shelf life that food manufactured specifically for emergencies does.
The premium bars designed for emergency situations will always contain an optimum combination of moisture, salt, protein, carbohydrates and fat. Some bars will even allow you to feed off them for days, with pre-portioned rations clearly designated within each packaged unit. Additionally, it is important to choose ration bars that don’t make you thirsty, because you will likely be restricting your water intake with the assumption that help may not come for you as soon as expected.
The actual bars, well they are available in a number of different varieties and calorie counts, but for some it’s the flavors and textures that make a huge difference. This leaves you with an extremely broad variety to choose from. There are those that purport to have a pleasant lemon-vanilla flavor (and it actually has it), and there are others that say they taste great, but it’s hard for the average person to get it down. Frankly, some taste more like chewing on a vitamin than actual food – and that’s not what most people are looking for. When looking for the right sustenance to tide you over, and for the right price, it really is worth purchasing some in advance to try them out.
As far as shelf life, most last about five years, but that’s because these pre-packaged nutrients come in the form of compressed food, so it’s not like it’s going to the same texture as a bowl of fresh pasta or a prime rib. However, there are differences in the way the composition of different brands hold up during their purported shelf life. Some bars, though still technically edible, end up fusing their portions together into one big rock solid hunk of food-stuff that’s really hard to chew, not to mention the fact that you can’t distinguish between the designated portions. That’s a big deal for those who aren’t familiar with survival foods and the rationing that is required in emergencies – which that means it’s important to think about packaging.
You will find some Emergency Food Bars are put together in a single package with nine individual portions to break off. This is fine, except that they often don’t break off evenly. This leads to a disproportionate calorie distribution throughout the day, and not only that but it gets back into the problem of the pre-etched portions fusing together toward the end of its shelf life. Unless you specifically prefer this type of flavor and sustenance, you may want to choose other versions which either come wrapped in individual 200 calorie portions, or those which limit the distribution to around three-meal portions per package. Of course, you have to consider price and convenience, too, because the more individually wrapped portions are required, the higher the price tag generally is.
Whichever brand or type of bar you choose, emergency food bars aren’t an option, they are a necessity. In fact, not only should everyone have them in their survival kits, but it wouldn’t hurt to have them in the trunk of your car, too. You never know when you might get stranded, and it always helps to be prepared.