Valley Food advertises their emergency food kits as being “simple food you can trust”. With no artificial ingredients, GMOs or fillers, this almost sounds too good to be true.
We look at how Valley Food’s meals stack up against the competition and whether they should be your first choice for long-term emergency food kits.
Let’s get started!
Valley Food Storage – Our Ratings
Overall rating: 91/100
What We Think
Tasty, low-cost meals with good options for those with dietary requirements. Great value for money.
- Excellent value for money
- Good, varied choice of meals
- Reasonable selection of vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free meals
- Fruit, vegetables and added protein included in all long-term food kits
- Good range of bulk food items
- 25-year shelf life for all food products
- Made in USA
- Don’t offer solely gluten-free or dairy-free buckets
- No savory breakfast options
- No dried egg
- Take longer to cook than other meals
What Types of Survival Food Does Valley Food Storage Offer?
Long-Term Food Kits
You can buy Valley Food’s meals individually but it’s more cost-effective to get one of their long-term food kits.
There are four sizes, designed to last an individual:
You can opt for either the “basic” or “premium” kit. It’s a slightly odd advertising maneuver as the only difference between the two seems to be that you get twice as much food with the premium kit. The basic kit states it provides the minimum calories needed and the premium kit the “recommended” calories.
Each kit contains bags of entrees, breakfasts, protein, fruit and vegetables.
I love that you get some fruit and veggies in addition to what’s in the meals and the added protein is a definite bonus (though as you only get one protein pack per bucket, it’s not clear whether you’ll get meat, dairy or peanut butter).
Bearing in mind that emergency food serving sizes tend to be on the low side, let’s see how effective Valley Food’s premium kit will be at filling our empty stomachs.
Your two buckets per month claim to contain more than 300 servings with a total calorie count of over 50,000 calories. This sounds a lot but divide by 30 and you’re only getting around 1,667 calories a day.
If you’re sitting around at home, that may be enough but if you’re an active adult or older teen, you’ll need to supplement these rations to reach your recommended daily calorie intake – 2,500 for men, 2,000 for women.
Valley Food does say that kits should be supplemented with their fruit and vegetable buckets for added nutrients and I applaud them for this transparency. I just wish they were a little bit clearer with their messaging on the basic and premium buckets as I’m not sure you could survive a month, let alone a year, on the 833 calories a day the basic kit gives you without severe consequences.
Looking at individual serving sizes, here’s the calorie range for breakfasts and entrees:
- Breakfasts – 140-290 calories
- Lunches and Dinners – 150-340 calories (mostly 200-300 calories)
Bulk Freeze-Dried Food
Valley Foods offer a more interesting selection of bulk freeze-dried ingredients than other food companies, including:
- Meat – beef, chicken and sausage pieces
- Dairy – milk, shredded cheese and pomegranate and yogurt bites
- Peanut butter
- Fruit – apples, bananas, blueberries, peaches, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries
- Vegetables – asparagus, green beans, peas, potato, red bell peppers, sweetcorn
I don’t know about you, but I suspect an 8-serving pack of pomegranate and yogurt bites would last about five minutes in my house…
I love the fact that you can get peanut butter, but there is one glaring exception to their range – powdered egg. It’s one of the most common freeze-dried ingredients, so it seems a little odd they don’t sell it.
Key Criteria and Our Ratings
Let’s see if Valley Food’s meals are everything they claim them to be.
Range of Meals
Valley Food Storage’s full range consists of 7 breakfast options and 12 lunch or dinner options. As each bucket contains 6 breakfast bags and 10 entrée bags, there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up with all these options or your favorite meals. You can make requests for order modifications by emailing them before ordering or by adding information to the notes section of your order, but at times of peak demand, you may just get what you’re given.
There are the usual staples that you’re used to seeing if you’ve tested freeze-dried food – pasta primavera, mac and cheese, tomato soup and various types of oatmeal and cereal – but there are also unique dishes that you may not find elsewhere. Irish cheddar potato soup and mango habanero chili were two of the mains that caught my eye and I love the thought of being able to have buttermilk pancakes for breakfast or dessert.
The only thing that feels missing is a savory breakfast option.
The food kits also include one pack of protein (meat, dairy or peanut butter), a pack of fruit and a pack of vegetables per bucket, making them more of a complete kit than companies who only provide meals.
Quality and Taste
The main meals and breakfasts are some of the tastiest on the market. They’re not high-end cuisine and may not live up to your home cooking standards, but for food that’s designed to last 25 years, they do a good job.
Some companies deliberately keep their meals fairly bland in an attempt to cater to all tastes. Fortunately, Valley Food Storage doesn’t do this. Their chilis have a bit of spice, without being overly hot, and the cheese and cream dishes have a good taste and texture. Special mention goes to the Irish cheddar potato soup which is a firm favorite with testers.
Overall, they’re not quite as good as Mountain House when it comes to taste, but they’re a decent (and cheaper) runner up.
Valley Food Storage’s big selling point is its use of “real” quality ingredients, with no MSGs, artificial flavors, or hydrogenated oils. When you look at the back of the packets, the meals live up to these claims, proving that you can have long-life food without adding lots of chemicals!
The “meat” meals contain chicken or beef broth rather than actual lumps of meat, but you could top these up with beef, sausage or chicken from your protein pack. It would have been nice to see more vegetables in some of the meals, such as the wild risotto.
I’d recommend getting their fruit and vegetable bucket to supplement the meals and give you some sweet snacks.
Ease of Cooking
To cook the meals, you need to add the contents of the pack to boiling water and simmer. For most breakfasts and entrees, Valley Foods suggest simmering for 3-5 minutes, however, there are a couple of exceptions to this.
The Wild Risotto and Enchilada Beans and Rice both require 20-23 minutes of cooking – far longer than other freeze-dried meals. This might prove an issue if you’re low on fuel.
To cook the pancakes, you need a frying pan and oil or butter. This might put you off if you want instant, cook-in-the-bag type meals. I’m willing to trade a bit of inconvenience for a breakfast that gives some semblance of normal life, but I am a pancake fiend!
Gluten-free and Vegetarian Options?
Valley Food Storage is pretty good if you have allergies or dietary requirements. Their standard meals include soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options with at least 3 breakfast choices and 3 entrée choices listed under each of these.
Dairy-free is the most restrictive diet for entrée choices – there’s a much wider choice of gluten-free and soy-free meals – but compared to many other companies, it’s not a bad selection.
Freeze-dried meat can sometimes contain wheat products in the seasoning, so it’s good that the protein bites are minimally processed and gluten-free.
One quirk that’s worth noting is when you filter on the website for vegetarian meals, it brings up meals which include chicken or beef broth as an ingredient. Looking closely at the detailed ingredients list reveals that these broths may not contain any meat product, which is a bit odd. While they may technically be vegetarian, if you prefer not to eat meals that taste like meat, you’ll have a more restricted choice.
Valley Food doesn’t offer specific gluten-free or vegetarian buckets, but it may be possible to tailor your order to meet dietary requirements.
How Healthy Are They?
Valley Food Storage gets a big thumbs up for having minimally processed food with few additives. It’s always reassuring when you can understand every ingredient in your meal.
One minor complaint about their website is that the nutritional information for the products included in the long-term kits isn’t included on the kit page, only the individual product pages. However, hidden in the footer is a nutrition page that collates the information for the meals and bulk food which makes it easier to compare different products.
Let’s get into the detail of what these meals contain.
Carbohydrates and Sugar
Most of the main meals have a carbohydrate base – rice, pasta or potato – as is typical for these types of meals.
Sugar sneaks its way onto the ingredients list of half the main meals but some of the higher-sugar dishes such as the mango habanero chili and sweet and sour rice also contain natural sugars from the fruit. Despite some of the meals having high sugar levels, these are easy to spot as the ingredients list is so simple. No high-fructose corn syrup here!
All the meals are low in protein due to the absence of meat or meat substitutes. You do get a protein pack in each bucket of supplies, but as these only contain around 7-10 servings, there isn’t enough to eat every day.
Of the protein options, the diced chicken comes in top with almost 80g of protein per serving. The vegetarian protein options have significantly less protein – just 5g per serving for the peanut butter and 7g per serving for the cheese.
As well as being essential for muscle retention and other bodily functions, protein also helps you feel fuller for longer. We’d definitely recommend investing in some bags of protein to supplement what’s in the long-term food kits.
Most of the entrees are fairly high in salt, but a couple stand out above the rest. One serving of the enchilada beans and rice contains a whopping 1210mg of sodium – 53% of your recommended daily allowance. If you were just having one serving, this wouldn’t be an issue, but for most people, two servings will make up a decent meal.
That said, several of the meals are less salty, so you could balance this out over the day by combining the beans and rice with the sweet and sour Asian rice or wild risotto which contain much less sodium.
Vitamins and Minerals
The meals contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals (relevant ones are included on ingredient labels) but generally not in sufficient quantities to meet your recommended daily allowance. In particular, the breakfasts don’t have as much calcium or other nutrients as I’d expect, given these are often fortified.
Adding servings of milk and freeze-dried meat to your meals will significantly boost your calcium, iron, potassium and vitamin D intake.
All Valley Food’s emergency food has a 25-year shelf life, regardless of pack size. While you may be tempted to look at cheaper options for freeze-dried fruit, vegetables or milk, bear in mind that most packs you buy in the grocery store will only have a shelf life of a year or two.
Food is packaged in heavy-duty Mylar bags along with a food-safe oxygen absorber. This absorbs any oxygen trapped in the bag and is worth replacing in the bag if you’re having to open and reseal it over a few days. Just make sure it doesn’t end up in your mac and cheese!
The bags are packed into sturdy 5.3-gallon rectangular buckets to give extra protection from water, chemicals and pests.
One downside is that some of the pack sizes are quite large for a single person. Most of the entrees come in 5-serving packs, but the breakfasts are 10-serving packs, so you’ll be eating the same meal for several days. However, the Mylar bags are resealable and if you reuse the oxygen absorber, your food should stay good to eat for a while.
Cost and Value for Money
As the long-term food kits contain a mix of meals and snacks, it’s hard to accurately cost the meals themselves. However, here’s the breakdown per serving and day for the premium kits (around 1,667 calories per day):
- One-month premium kit – $1.33 per serving ($13.30 per day)
- Three-month premium kit – $1.25 per serving ($12.50 per day)
- Six-month premium kit – $1.17 per serving ($11.66 per day)
- One-year premium kit – $1.11 per serving ($11.11 per day)
Valley Food Storage is one of the cheapest emergency food suppliers and arguably the best supplier if you want to optimize taste, quality and price. Unless you’re on a very strict budget, we’d recommend you spend a bit extra to add fruit and vegetable buckets and protein packs to your supplies.
Valley Food meals are available on a couple of specialist survival food websites and you may occasionally come across their products in more mainstream stores such as Amazon.
If you buy direct, shipping is free within the continental United States and there’s a 30-day return policy (shorter than many other companies), though you’ll have to cover your own shipping costs for returned items.
Most orders ship within five business days, but at periods of peak-demand delivery understandably takes a lot longer.
Unlike some other companies, Valley Farm usually has clear information on these timescales and what they’re doing to expedite shipping front and center on their website.
Customer Service and Incentives
Valley Food offers free samples (you may have to pay postage) and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Their Family Table Rewards scheme offers discounts on purchases when you collect points. 500 points (which you’ll get for signing up and spending $450) will get you a 10% discount on your next order.
They also have a referral scheme that you can use to get $25 off an order when someone you refer orders more than $100 of food.
Reviews of their customer service are mixed. While there are plenty of happy customers, they also seem to have some issues with delivering orders on time (though this can sometimes be the fault of the shipping agent rather than the supplier).
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to order.
Valley Food Storage came top overall in our comparison of the best emergency food suppliers and with good reason. They offer great tasting food at a reasonable price with the option to add on bulk ingredients.
You’ll need to do your own calculations as to how many calories you want to budget for per day, but rather than just increasing the number of meal packs you buy boost calories, look at investing in some of the protein, fruit and vegetable buckets instead. These can be added to your meals or eaten as snacks and will give you a more balanced diet.