11 Questions Food Storage Companies Don’t Want You to Ask!
Contributed by Rob Hanus
Regardless of what your preparedness plan looks like, it undoubtedly includes some form of food storage. Whether you’re planning for a week-long power outage or the worst case scenario, food and water will be at the top of your list of items to store.
When it comes time to buying storage food, do you know what you’re getting? Will the food on your shelf see you through to the end of the disaster? The time to make sure you have the right storage food is before you buy it, not when the horde is pounding on your door. But, what questions should you be asking? How do you know what to look for?
On the surface, it seems as though all food storage companies are alike. They sell the same kind of foods, so they must all be the same, right? That’s a mistake many people make; they assume food companies are looking out for them and have their best interests in mind. Like most things, you need to do your own research to ensure you’re getting the highest quality product and package for your money.
If you have been to any of the food storage company websites, you know it’s not easy to figure out how they differ. However, there are very clear differences between each company. From how they package their food to the ingredients they use, it’s important to know what the differences are and which will be best for you and your family. All family units are different, and what works for one, might not be the best choice for the other.
Here are 11 important questions to ask food storage companies. The answers to which can’t always be found on their website. All companies should be able to answer these, which will make the differences more apparent. If they cannot answer them, be wary, some companies will substitute lower-quality foods while charging you a premium price.
1. What is the serving size portion of your meals?
This is an area with the biggest differences. Some companies may seem less expensive, or another may have more servings for less money. How is this possible? As there is no standard serving size, companies are free to make them as large or small as they’d like. This makes it very difficult to compare one company’s offering to another company’s. The serving size for some companies might be as small as 1/4-1/2 cup!
Companies do this so they can increase the number of servings in a pouch to make it sound as if there’s more food than their competitors. That awesome deal you found doesn’t look as good when you realize you need to double or triple the amount of food you need to buy, in order to have a decent amount of food on your plate.
2. What is the average calorie per meal?
This is extremely important. While companies can determine how big a serving size is, they cannot change the number of calories per meal. If this is the food you will rely on in an emergency, you need to know your calorie intake. Let’s face it, the serving size listed on the bag will probably never be the same as what you consider a decent portion of food. However, knowing you need 2000 - 3000 calories per day, per person, makes it easier to know how much food you need overall. The more calories per meal, the less meals you will need to buy.
3. Are your products Non-GMO?
Are your products made Gluten-Free or with Non-GMO food? If this is important to you, ask for the certification to back it up. You might be wondering why this is important for some people. One of the main rules of preparedness is to store what you eat and eat what you store. This means, at some point, you will need to start rotating out your storage food and start using it up before it expires. Pulling them into your daily meals is not only a great way to rotate your food storage, but to also get your family accustomed to eating this type of food.
4. Where can I see the nutritional ingredients?
While this seems simple, not all companies will provide you with this information. If a company can’t post important information such as nutrition on the site and requires you to call them for it, consider this a red flag.
5. Do you need gluten free options?
If you or someone you love has gluten intolerance, you know how difficult it can be finding foods that are gluten free. It becomes even more of a challenge when looking for storage food. If you or your family needs or chooses to eat gluten free, make sure you have some options available in your food storage that won’t upset their digestive system.
6. What will my shipping cost?
Food is heavy and if you have to pay for shipping costs on top of the cost of the food, you’re likely to go over your budget. Some companies will offer free shipping, but if they don’t, make sure to find out how much it will cost to ship their food to you and add that into your comparison shopping.
7. Am I able to select meals I want and don’t want?
Some companies offer this as a courtesy on larger orders to ensure you can have more of your favorites and less of those you would rather not. Sometimes, it’s not available, but it’s good to know all your options before you make the final decision.
8. If you have protein in the meals, is it real meat or textured vegetable protein (TVP)?
If you are vegetarian, it’ll be good to know your storage food doesn’t compromise your values. Textured vegetable protein, or TVP, with its long shelf life and similar taste to real meat, does have its place in food storage. Being less expensive, it can be a cost-effective way to get more protein in your meals. However, real meat can be hard to beat, as TVP cannot replace it for taste or texture.
9. How do I prepare your meals?
You were sold by the nice looking images and marketing text on the website, but when you open the box, you find you a lot of nice package with fruits, vegetables, gravies, milk, noodles soup bases, flour and sugar - how do I make meals from these?
Storage food comes in many different forms. For some, all you need to do is add boiling water. For others, you need to “assemble” the meal, like you would from scratch. It’s important to know how the food needs to be prepared. You don’t want any surprises when it comes time to use it.
10. Are sugar drinks & desserts included in my package?
Set aside all the servings with these items and then recalculate your package. Empty calorie foods are food of a lower quality, such as sugary drinks, condiments, desserts, and those foods having calories, but very little nutrition. These might be nice as extras, but if they are counted in your servings, you are getting less quality food than you think. How many servings do the desserts, drinks, and rice make up this package? One trick some companies do is to pad their meals with cheaper foods to increase the overall serving and calorie count.
11. What’s the shelf life of your food?
This is a tricky question, because the shelf life of food is not all the same. For example, milk and meat, even when freeze-dried, only has a 5 to 10 year shelf life. While other foods can have a 20-25 year shelf life. In general, you’ll want to get the longest shelf life you can for your storage foods, but realize it won’t all be the same, and that a longer shelf life may mean less variety. You’ll also want to ask the best storing conditions and the shelf life for each of your stored foods, so you can properly rotate them and maintain the longevity of your investment.
Though not a question to ask, there’s one final important point to keep in mind. Don’t fall for the scaremongering or fear buying tactics. If you receive an email urging you to buy because stock is low, to act now before the government buys up all the food, or if the representative is pressuring you into purchasing immediately - consider walking away. Take the time to ensure the package you’re buying meets all your needs, before spending your hard earned income.
Not all storage food is the same. It’s up to you to do the research and make sure you’re getting the best value for your money. Food storage is an investment in your future. Make sure you’re planning ahead properly and get the foods that will serve you best.