Food Packages

Here is summary data compiled for some selected commercially available packages. As you can see, most of these packages have at least adequate or better numbers for protein, fiber, and total fat, and they are all quite good with the cholesterol numbers (probably because most of them are vegetarian, and cholesterol comes only from animal foods).

Pay attention to the trans-fat and sodium numbers though, because some of those are pretty high. For example, Food for Health International has triple the recommended maximum sodium content, and the Chef's Banquet ARK loads you up with four times the suggested maximum for trans-fat.

"Days" and "Servings" are meaningless.

Here's something really important: You should completely ignore the the number of "servings" in a package or the number of "days" it is supposed to last. Those numbers are often pure marketing hype that means absolutely nothing. You can verify this yourself by comparing to the "person-days" number listed in the table, which may bear little resemblance to the name of the package. That's because the manufacturers can pick any numbers they like for both serving size and daily calories, so those numbers have no significance.

These tables normalize everything to uniform 2000-calorie "person-day" units to let you make fair comparisons and get a much more accurate idea of how much food is actually in a package. Chef's Banquet is a notable exception here, as their ARK supply is advertised as a 1-month supply and it actually contains enough calories to do that. In comparison, the "GoFoods 1 Month Supply" will only last 10 days if you eat 2000 cal/day.

It's very hard to compare prices based on advertising and the vendors' web sites, but once you do the normalization by computing price/person-day, you can see there are some very significant differences. However, please notice that the least expensive brands tend to have the most limited selection and the highest trans-fat and sodium content, so you need to decide what is important to you and what fits your budget. I hope my tables arm you with the knowledge to do that thoughtfully.

Vendor Package Contents Variety2 Totals for entire Package1
Water3
(gal)
Calories
(person-days)
Protein4
(%)
Fiber4
(%)
Fat5
(%)
Sat. fat5
(%)
Trans-fat5,6
(%)
Cholesterol5
(%)
Sodium5
(%)
Allergens7 Price Price per person-day
AlpineAire assorted cans (1) #10 can Apple Almond Crisp
(1) #10 can Beef Rotini
(1) #10 can Black Bart Chili with Beans
(1) #10 can Blueberry Honey Granola w/ Milk
(1) #10 can Chicken Primavera
(1) #10 can Chicken Rotelle
(1) #10 can Forever Young Mac & Cheese
(1) #10 can Kung Fu Chicken
(1) #10 can Leonardo da Fettuccine
(1) #10 can Mushroom Pilaf with Vegetables
(1) #10 can Pasta Alfredo w/ Shrimp & Sundried Tomato
(1) #10 can Potatoes & Cheddar with Chives
(1) #10 can Santa Fe Black Beans & Rice
(1) #10 can Scrambled Eggs, F/D
(1) #10 can Spaghetti Marinara w/ Mushroom
(1) #10 can Stroganoff Beef & Noodles
(1) #10 can Sweet Rice Pudding
(1) #10 can Teriyaki Turkey
(1) #10 can Texas BBQ Chicken
(1) #10 can Western Style Tamale Pie w/ Beef
(1) #10 can Wild Tyme Turkey
21 54.2 38.5 206 101 62 92 0 109 124 DEMSTW $764.70 $19.86
Chef's Banquet ARK 1 month (1) Rolled Oats
(1) Chicken Vegetable
(1) Cheddar Broccoli Rice
(1) Hearty Potato
(1) Instant Potato
(1) Mixed Vegetables
(1) Vegetable Beef
(1) Macaroni and Cheese
8 52.7 32.1 84 82 70 61 397 22 192 DMSW $99.99 $3.12
eFoodsDirect 1-Month Supply (1) Almond Coconut Granola
(1) Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
(1) Creamy Potato Soup
(2) Potato Cheddar Soup
(1) Cheddar Broccoli Soup
(1) Tortilla Soup
(1) Pasta Fagioli Soup
(1) Italian Chicken Soup
(1) Minestrone Soup
(1) Corn Chowder
(1) Chicken Noodle Soup
(1) White Cheddar Sauce Pasta
(2) Cheesy Chicken Rice
(1) Au Gratin Potatoes with Ham
(1) Chili with Cornmeal Dumplings
(1) Vegetable Beef Stew with Instant Potatoes
(1) Chicken Alfredo Pasta
(1) Beef Stroganoff
(2) Whey Milk
(2) Grape Drink
(2) Orange Drink
(2) White Rice
(2) Chocolate Pudding
(2) Vanilla Pudding
24 24.9 14.4 94 82 58 89 87 12 157 DSW $149.95 $10.42
1-Week Supply (1) Almond Coconut Granola
(1) Creamy Potato Soup
(1) Tortilla Soup
(1) White Cheddar Sauce Pasta
(1) Vegetable Beef Stew with Instant Potatoes
(1) Whey Milk
(1) Chocolate Pudding
7 5.2 3.2 110 113 74 107 78 11 145 DSW $49.95 $15.66
2-Week Supply (1) Almond Coconut Granola
(1) Cheddar Broccoli Soup
(2) Tortilla Soup
(1) Italian Chicken Soup
(1) White Cheddar Sauce Pasta
(1) Cheesy Chicken Rice
(1) Vegetable Beef Stew with Instant Potatoes
(2) Chicken Alfredo Pasta
(1) Whey Milk
(1) Chocolate Pudding
(1) Orange Drink
(1) White Rice
12 11.5 6.7 111 95 64 95 37 15 162 DSW $79.95 $11.98
Food for Health International 1 Week Supply Kit (2) Honey Almond Granola
(4) 100% Real Milk
(3) Chocolate Milk
(4) Refreshing Orange
(3) Refreshing Grape
(2) Instant White Rice
(1) Black Beans
(1) Pinto Beans
(2) Southwest White Bean Chili
(1) Wild Mushroom Risotto
(2) Creamy Stroganoff
(2) Rotini รก la Marinara
(2) Wisconsin Cheddar & Pasta
(1) Rio Grande Beans & Rice
(2) Tomato Florentine Soup
(2) Nantucket Potato Soup
(2) Harvest 6 Grain Cereal
(1) Artisan Oatmeal
(2) Texas Sunrise Skillet
19 30.3 17.8 144 129 34 23 0 1 140 DSTW $249.95 $14.08
275 Serving Package (5) Tuscan Butter Noodles
(5) Cheesy Broccoli Rice
(7) Creamy Potato Soup
(5) Italian Tomato Pasta
(7) Vegetable Barley
(6) Creamy Vegetable Rice
(10) Whey Milk
(10) Brown Sugar Oatmeal
8 35.0 17.8 146 87 59 25 211 2 340 DSW $99.99 $5.62
GoFoods Global GO Food 100 Pack (1) Almond Granola
(1) Cheddar Broccoli Soup
(1) Chicken Noodle Soup
(1) Southwest Tortilla Soup
(2) Sweet Corn Chowder
(1) Potato Cheddar Soup
(2) Western Potato Chowder
(1) Au Gratin Potatoes
(2) Chicken Cheddar Rice
(1) Hearty Chili with Cornbread Dumplings
(2) Creamy Tuscan Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes
(1) Beefy Stroganoff with Mushrooms
(1) Santa Fe Fiesta Rice
(1) Thai Coconut Noodles
(1) Seasoned Mashed Potatoes
(1) Vegetable Beef Stew
(1) Wisconsin White Cheddar with Pasta Shells
17 14.7 9.1 106 110 87 122 0 15 246 DSTW $169.00 $18.51
GO Variety Entree Pack (2) Vegetable Beef Stew
(2) Seasoned Mashed Potatoes
(2) Chicken Cheddar Rice
(2) 3 Cheese Alfredo Pasta
(2) Creamy Tuscan Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes
(2) Hearty Chili with Cornbread Dumplings
(2) Beefy Stroganoff with Mushrooms
(2) Wisconsin White Cheddar with Pasta Shells
(2) Santa Fe Fiesta Rice
(2) Thai Coconut Noodles
(2) Au Gratin Potatoes
11 17.4 10.9 122 109 70 90 0 18 227 DSW $193.00 $17.72
GO Variety Soup Pack (2) Cheddar Broccoli Soup
(2) Chicken Noodle Soup
(2) Southwest Tortilla Soup
(2) Sweet Corn Chowder
(2) Potato Cheddar Soup
(2) Western Potato Chowder
6 6.8 3.5 101 110 107 195 0 19 366 DSW $83.00 $23.74
GoFoods 1 Month Supply (2) Whey Good Milk
(2) Almond Granola
(1) Cheddar Broccoli Soup
(2) Chicken Noodle Soup
(1) Southwest Tortilla Soup
(1) Sweet Corn Chowder
(1) Potato Cheddar Soup
(2) Western Potato Chowder
(2) Chicken Cheddar Rice
(2) Creamy Tuscan Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes
(1) Beefy Stroganoff with Mushrooms
(2) Seasoned Mashed Potatoes
(2) Vegetable Beef Stew
(1) Wisconsin White Cheddar with Pasta Shells
(1) Tropical Fruit Mix
15 16.3 10.0 104 110 85 135 0 17 219 DFSTW $199.00 $19.85
Legacy Premium 180 Serving Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Bucket (3) Multi-Grain Cereal
(4) Oatmeal with Brown Sugar
(3) Strawberry Creamy Wheat
(2) Pasta Alfredo
(2) Pasta Primavera
(2) Cheese and Broccoli Bake
(2) Chicken A La King
(2) Lasagna
(2) Stroganoff
(2) Teriyaki and Pasta
(2) Cheesy Potato Soup Mix
(2) Enchilada, Beans, and Rice
(2) Classic Chili Mix
13 28.9 18.3 122 120 57 82 0 10 276 DSW $235.00 $12.82
Mountain House assorted cans (1) #10 can Beef Stew
(1) #10 can Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
(1) #10 can Blueberry Cheesecake
(1) #10 can Breakfast Skillet
(1) #10 can Chicken a la King and Noodles
(1) #10 can Chicken Stew
(1) #10 can Chili Mac with Beef
(1) #10 can Granola with Milk and Blueberries
(1) #10 can Lasagna with Meat Sauce
(1) #10 can Long Grain & Wild Rice Pilaf
(1) #10 can Macaroni & Cheese
(1) #10 can Noodles & Chicken
(1) #10 can Pasta Primavera
(1) #10 can Raspberry Crumble
(1) #10 can Rice & Chicken
(1) #10 can Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
(1) #10 can Sliced Bananas
(1) #10 can Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
(1) #10 can Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice
(1) #10 can Turkey Tetrazzini
(1) #10 can Vegetable Stew with Beef
21 40.5 27.3 172 72 104 115 22 148 226 DEMSW $645.60 $23.68
Wise Foods 252 Serving Package (3) 84 Serving Package
10 38.5 26.3 105 93 63 34 182 1 223 DSW $509.00 $19.32
84 Serving Package (2) Savory Stroganoff
(2) Chili Macaroni
(2) Pasta Alfredo
(2) Creamy Pasta and Vegetable Rotini
(2) Teriyaki and Rice
(2) Cheesy Lasagna
(2) Hearty Tortilla Soup
(2) Apple Cinnamon Cereal
(3) Brown Sugar and Maple Multi-Grain Cereal
(2) Crunchy Granola
10 12.8 8.8 105 93 63 34 182 1 223 DSW $179.00 $20.39

1  All percentages for plans and packages are relative to the normal minimum or maximum appropriate for the total number of calories supplied.
2  Variety is the number of different items included in a package. The bigger the number, the less of a problem you will have with taste fatigue or boredom.
3  Includes the water required to reconstitute or cook the items, plus 1 gallon/person-day for drinking.
4  Values for protein and fiber are recommended minimums, so the percentages should be at least 100.
5  Values for fat, cholesterol, and sodium are recommended maximums, so the percentages should be at most 100.
6  The trans-fat numbers are quite unreliable because the government allows manufacturers to count anything less than 0.5g/serving as zero, although there seems to be a consensus of only 2g/day as a maximum. Yes, you read that right: you can exceed your daily maximum by eating 5 servings of food that all officially contain zero trans-fat. And even the 2g limit is a compromise, as we really should be aiming at zero g/day.
In an attempt to compensate for this mathematical anomaly, I've listed an estimated value of 0.5 for anything which claims to have zero but whose ingredient list includes vegetable shortening or hydrogenated oils (which is where the trans-fat typically comes from).
7  Allergen codes are:
D = dairy (milk, cheese)
E = eggs
F = sulfites
M = meat, poultry, fish, or seafood
P = peanuts
S = soy
T = tree nuts
W = wheat