Wise Food Storage is a favorite among preppers for their long-term emergency kits.
But how do they stack up on quality, taste and price against their competitors and would you really want to eat these meals when SHTF?
Let’s find out…
Wise Food Storage – Our Ratings
Overall rating: 70/100
What we think
Reasonably priced long-term emergency food with excellent packaging and shelf life. Meals can be bland.
- Good value if you can buy the kits on sale
- Reasonable range of meals
- Gluten-free and organic options
- Easy to cook without requiring much fuel
- Individual pouches contain a small number of servings
- Widely available (though bigger pack sizes may only be available from Wise)
- Produced in America
- Misleading serving sizes
- Meals are mostly quite bland
- Food is low in protein and high in sodium
- Information can be difficult to find on the website
- No dairy-free meal options
What Types of Survival Food Does Wise Food Company Offer?
Wise specializes in long-term food kits for preppers who are looking to stock up for months at a time. They have gluten-free and organic options and offer bulk supplies of products such as meat, milk and vegetables.
Long-Term Food Kits
This is the core of what Wise offers – freeze-dried meals packs with a long shelf life that are designed to be bought in bulk.
Meal packs come in two categories:
- Long-term food kits. Meals are packaged into 4-serving pouches which are packed into sturdy buckets for easy storage. There are three sizes you can order: 1080 servings, 2160 servings and 4320 servings (see more on serving sizes below).
- Starter kits. Single buckets containing between 52 and 120 servings. These can be breakfast only, entree only or a mix of both. They also offer a gluten-free meals bucket and an organic meals bucket (more on these below).
Before we go any further, we need to talk about serving size. As with many other emergency food suppliers, the serving sizes are smaller than you might expect.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Wise’s serving sizes are dangerously misleading if you take them at face value.
According to dietary guidelines, men are recommended to eat around 2,500 calories per day and women around 2,000 calories. Your requirements will vary depending on age, health conditions and how much exercise you’re doing, but let’s take this as a starting point.
Wise’s breakfasts provide between 240 and 270 calories per serving. Their entrees range from 150 to 280 calories per servings.
If you’re eating one breakfast serving and two entree servings per day, this gives you a total of between 540 and 830 calories per day – less than a third of the recommended amount. To take in a “normal” amount of calories eating these meals with no supplementary snacks, an average adult would need to eat about 10 servings a day!
While in extreme survival situations, you can survive on less than the recommended number of calories, even emergency ration bars (which are marketed as a last resort option in sedentary situations) allow for 1,200 calories per day.
Always calculate your own nutritional requirements and plan accordingly. Do not rely on any manufacturer’s definition of serving size when planning your supplies.
To work out how long one of Wise’s food kits will last you, figure out how many calories each person in your household will need (small kids need less than adults but older teenagers need more), work out how many servings per day that equates to, then divide the total servings advertised by this number.
Calculating your emergency food supplies based on your normal calorie intake means you won’t go hungry and gives you the flexibility to ration supplies to make them last longer.
Bulk Freeze-Dried Food
In addition to their meal kits, Wise also offers the following freeze-dried ingredients:
- Meat (flavored chicken and beef)
- Fruit (strawberries, bananas, peaches, apples, mango, and blueberry and yogurt)
- Vegetables (corn, peas, broccoli and green beans)
- Powdered whey milk
- Powdered eggs
You can buy the fruit in smaller pouches but all the other options are only available as buckets.
Buying individual ingredients gives you more flexibility with meals and allows you to create healthier meals with a higher protein and vegetable content. If you have specific dietary requirements or allergies then this may be a good emergency food option for you.
The downside is that you’ll need extra supplies, including herbs and spices, in addition to the core ingredients to create a tasty meal.
As with the meal packs, Wise indicates the number of servings each bucket provides, but you should do your own calculations to see how well this will meet your family’s requirements.
At first glance, you may think these packs are the same meals as you get in the long-term food kits but in smaller cases.
This isn’t the case and to be honest, you need a bit of an eagle eye to spot the differences.
Here they are:
- These meals actually contain meat (as opposed to soy protein): This means the names are subtly different. In the long-term food kits, you have chili macaroni and teriyaki and rice. In the outdoor food selection, you have chili mac with beef and teriyaki chicken and rice. Get it?
- The serving sizes are more generous: Contain a lot more protein (which will make you feel fuller). For example, one serving of chili mac in the long-term packs gives you 240 calories and 11g of protein. The chili mac with beef gives you 320 calories and 17g of protein. Personally, this still isn’t enough calories per serving for me, but it’s reasonable to assume that when you’re camping or hiking, you’ll be supplementing meals with other snacks.
- Cook in bag: You can prepare these meals in the pouches rather than having to decant the contents into a pan.
- Shelf life: They have a shelf-life of 7 years (as opposed to 25 years for the long-term food buckets).
These food packs are designed for campers and backpackers, not preppers. Which is fine – I just wish Wise made this a bit clearer, as your first instinct might be to buy a bunch of these meals to test out what you’d get in your emergency food buckets.
Key Criteria and Our Ratings
Now you’ve got an overview of what Wise offers, let’s dive down into the details and see how good their meals are.
Range of meals
Wise offers 13 different entrees in the long-term food packs with a good variety of options ranging from soups (tomato and basil, chicken noodle and hearty tortilla) to dishes such as chili macaroni, chicken-flavored potato pie, teriyaki and rice, and pasta alfredo.
There’s less of a selection for breakfast, with just 4 options, which are all variations on cereal and granola. It would be nice to see a savory option, such as omelets, as not everyone is a fan of sugary breakfasts. Personally, I wouldn’t say no to pancakes either!
Unfortunately, the food buckets don’t include any desserts, drinks or snacks. These may be considered a luxury for emergency food supplies but it would be nice to have the option.
If I was relying solely on Wise food, I’d probably include some buckets of their bulk foods and powdered milk for extra variety and nutrients.
Quality and taste
Like most food designed to last decades, the meals in the long-term food packs don’t contain any actual meat. Cheese, soy protein and beans are used as the main sources of protein, but most of the calories come from bulk carbs.
Main meals include a token vegetable or two, but these are booted down to the bottom of the ingredients list in favor of cheaper ingredients. You definitely won’t get your 5-a-day from these meals.
If you prefer organic food, Wise is one of the few companies that offers a certified organic meals bucket (25-year shelf-life). While there’s less variety – you only get 3 choices of entree and one breakfast – the meals contain more vegetables and protein and have a much shorter and more transparent ingredients list than the main meal packs.
So, how do they taste?
Middle-of-the-road is a good way of describing them. As with many brands, some meals are better than others and clearly, individual tastes and preferences vary!
If you enjoy eating fairly bland comfort food then you might get on very well with them – and there is definitely a place for comfort food in a survival situation! In particular, the chicken noodle soup and cheesy macaroni compare well to other brands. The apple cinnamon cereal is also a tasty option.
At the other end of the scale, the chili mac gets the thumbs down from most taste testers.
Aside from the lack of spice and flavor, the other downside (depending on your palate) is that a lot of the meals taste very salty. It’s worth playing around with the cooking times and the amount of water you add so you don’t end up with soggy pasta.
Ease of Cooking
To prepare the emergency meals simply boil water, add the number of servings you need to the pan, cover and wait. On average, you’ll need one cup of water per serving, but it’s worth experimenting with this a bit. You can always add more water, but a soupy lasagne isn’t that appealing.
Wise do say you can reconstitute the meals with cold water, though I don’t imagine they’re particularly palatable when eaten this way!
Overall, the meals are quick and easy to cook without requiring much fuel or water, but you will need to use a pan for preparation as they’re not a cook-in-the-bag solution. If you’re using the bulk freeze-dried ingredients, then cooking time will vary depending on what other ingredients you’re adding.
Gluten-free or Vegetarian Options?
All of Wise’s regular meals contain wheat, but the good news for those that follow a gluten-free diet is that they have a special gluten-free bucket. This contains five different entrees (three of which are also vegetarian) and a “creamy yogurt style” dessert which could double as breakfast (though note this only has 50 calories per serving).
The bulk fruit, vegetables, powdered milk and powdered eggs are all gluten-free, though the freeze-dried meat is not. Check out our article on gluten-free emergency food for more long-term food options.
Vegetarians are reasonably well catered for with the regular meals. 10 of the 13 entrees are vegetarian and all the breakfast options.
Vegans and those with other allergies are going to struggle. All the meals contain milk and although none specifically contain nuts, they’re produced in a factory that handles tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish and fish, so there’s a risk of cross-contamination.
Realistically, this is likely to be the case with most emergency meals so if you have a complex diet, you’re better off sourcing individual ingredients and making your own meals.
How Healthy Are They?
The main thing that strikes me about the ingredients list of Wise’s emergency meals is that I don’t know what half the ingredients actually are. I appreciate that certain preservatives are necessary in food with extremely long use-by dates, but trying to figure out what’s actually in the food you’re eating feels a bit like struggling with a high school chemistry class.
It also doesn’t reassure me about how healthy this food is. What it does tell me is that these meals are highly processed with cheap additives such as maltodextrin and corn syrup to act as thickeners and sweeteners.
Let’s get onto the nutritional labels. We’ve already covered calories per serving, so I’m not going to go into that again.
Carbohydrates and Sugar
As you might expect, the meals are fairly carbohydrate heavy but the amount of sugar varies considerably. All the breakfast options are high in sugar (having around 24g of sugar per 100g), but a few of the entrees – the Loaded Baked Potato Casserole, Cheesy Lasagne, and Teriyaki and Rice – also contain a surprisingly high amount of sugar.
The meals really fall down when it comes to protein. Even assuming you were eating enough servings to make up a normal daily calorie intake, you’d only be getting around 64g of protein per day. For a healthy, sedentary 175-pound adult, the recommended amount is 95-143g, more if you’re exercising.
The other negative to pick up on is the amount of sodium. If you were eating 3 servings a day, the amount of sodium wouldn’t look too bad. However, if you’re eating enough servings to reach a reasonable calorie count, you’d be consuming three times the recommended daily amount which isn’t going to do you much good over the long term.
That said, salt is a preservative and it’s common for emergency meals to have high levels of sodium, so Wise is probably no worse than other brands in this regard.
Vitamins and Minerals
Wise also gives data for how much Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron are in each meal. The amounts are variable, but you’d be better off stocking up on some multi-vitamin pills if you’re planning to use these meals as a long-term food source.
Wise’s emergency meals are packaged in 4-serving Metallyte™ pouches, a high quality high barrier film that provides exceptional oxygen and moisture protection.
The pouches have been independently tested by Silliker Labs which gives us some confidence in the claimed 25 year shelf life.
Each bucket contains 30 pouches. As the serving sizes are so small, you’ll likely use up at least one pouch per meal, so you won’t have to worry about having to eat the same meal multiple times in a row.
The buckets are pretty sturdy and light enough to easily grab and move in an emergency. As with all emergency foods, they’re best stored in a cool, dry place.
All the long-term meal packs have a 25-year shelf-life. The shelf-life for the bulk freeze-dried food is variable. The meat pouches are rated for 15 years, the milk and fruit buckets for 20 years, and the vegetable and egg buckets for 25 years.
Even though the freeze-dried fruit buckets have a shelf-life of 20 years, the smaller packs of individual fruits only have a 3-year shelf-life. It’s always worth double-checking the details before you buy!
Although the outdoor food meals have a higher protein and calorie count compared to the long-term meals, the shelf-life is significantly shorter at just 7 years.
Cost and Value for Money
It’s no secret that freeze-dried emergency meals don’t come cheap. Here’s how much Wise meals cost per serving:
- 84 serving sample bucket = $2.38 per serving
- 1080 serving kit = $2.59 per serving
- 2160 serving kit = $2.31 per serving
- 4320 serving kit = $2.20 per serving
These prices are based on Wise’s serving size. For a realistic cost comparison with other brands or types of emergency food, calculate your actual calorie requirements and cost per meal or per day.
The outdoor food packs (which have a much shorter shelf-life) are more expensive, costing between $3.50 and $4.67 per serving.
Compared to other brands, Wise comes out in the middle cost-wise per serving (see our full comparison here). They are known to have good sales occasionally, so if you’re willing to wait a bit to stock up, they could end up cheaper than most other brands.
You can buy Wise food directly from their website, though there’s no information on cost or delivery timescales on their website. It’s also possible to source smaller buckets and sample packs from places like Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot, though if you want the larger cases, you’ll probably need to go direct.
Bear in mind that during hurricane season or other disasters, emergency food sells out quickly. Buying at a quiet time of year means you’ll get your food quicker and may be able to take advantage of sale prices.
Customer Service and Incentives
Wise Company has more than 4,000 reviews on Trustpilot with 85% of reviewers rating them Excellent or Great. The negative reviews are mostly due to delayed shipping times and poor communication during exceptionally busy periods. If you’re prepped and are buying your supplies ahead of time, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Wise has a loyalty scheme where you can earn points by buying products, setting up an account or referring a friend, and trade them in to get money-off vouchers. You can also get a free sample pack, though you do have to call them and put up with a bit of sales pressure.
Wise emergency food is a mid-budget option (based on cost per calorie not their claimed serving size). Their bulk food kits are good value, especially if you get them during a sale, but we’d have liked to have seen more options for add ons, such as high-protein snacks or drinks.
The meals aren’t the best when it comes to taste or nutrition, but with emergency food, there is always a trade-off between price and quality.
Wise offers a decent compromise between the two, particularly if you supplement the meals with their bulk protein and vegetable offerings.
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