Augason Farms 48-hour emergency food supply review – the beginning

Okay, so this morning we opened the tub.

And immediately encountered our first snag. The tub bills itself as 48 hours of food for four people, and that’s the way it’s packaged. Not 192 hours of food for one person.

Tub contents are sealed packages of dried food-like substance, quantities as follows:

1 Cheese Powder
2 Elbow Macaroni
1 Creamy Potato Soup
2 Creamy Chicken Rice
1 Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal
1 Buttermilk Pancakes

The instructions on each packet aren’t conducive to my original plan. Each packet is expected to produce at most a single meal – for four people. So there are two meals of chicken rice, one meal of potato soup, one of pancakes, one of oatmeal, and one of macaroni and cheese. Three group meals a day for two days. Makes sense, unless you live alone and without refrigeration. Not convinced I’ll be able to comfortably eke this out for eight days.

Fortunately I have plastic snack bags. Let’s see what happens if I divide one of these packets into four portions. Since it’s morning, we’ll start with the oatmeal…

Heh. Given that Best By dates tend to be chosen for legal CYA rather than unrealistic optimism, I like the way this package thinks. 🙂

Again, the package is supposed to provide one oatmeal portion for four people. So I’m dividing it into four…

…then cooking one of those portions. Wow, this is not the instant oatmeal I expected. It takes quite a while to fully hydrate (not complete in this picture) but once it does it’s heavily sweetened and flavored and quite tasty … for the five or six spoonfuls it provides.

I’m normally a big breakfast eater. This was not a big breakfast. I’ll really be looking forward to lunch by the time noon finally rolls around.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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22 Responses to Augason Farms 48-hour emergency food supply review – the beginning

  1. Ben says:

    Well yes, but since you are making the rules you could supplement things that a desert hermit might logically have on hand. You know, perhaps a suitably dressed out rat carcass… Or better yet, a nice fresh egg.

  2. Kentucky says:

    A site well worth perusing . . .

    I note that its #1 choice has 1.5-cup average servings while Augason’s are only .75 cup servings . . . half as much.

    Its suggestions mention that the way to compare such foods is by calories and weight/dollar, not number of servings, which do vary.

  3. jabrwok says:

    a suitably dressed out rat carcass

    Hmm, now I’m thinking about the movie _Cry Wolf_.

  4. Kentucky says:

    . . . or King Rat.


  5. Mark Matis says:

    Looks like it’s time to repeat my annual question:

    Now that you have roughly an entire year on the first floor of Mos Eisley, have you gotten through this year’s hot spell? And would a window air conditioner for your bedroom be worthwhile? Or has it been reasonable enough that there were only a few days where it would have been useful?

    And if the air conditioner is not worth the expense, is a refrigerator a consideration:
    which uses about 750 watt hours per day
    which uses about 600 watt hours per day

    Both seem to have good reviews:

  6. Joel says:

    It’s true, there are several days in your average summer when an air conditioner in the bedroom window would be soooo nice. Even this very mild summer had a few such afternoons. I’m not at all sure my little inverter could run one, but sometimes I have thought that I’d like to do one even if I had to run it with the generator.

    Of course for the whole rest of the year it would just be one more thing needing mouse-proof storage.

    As for a refrigerator: I’m pretty sure I can run one, even if I had to put it on a 12/12 timer, and I’d be more enthusiastic if there were anywhere indoors to put it. I’d pretty much have to rig an outlet and make a place for it in the powershed – right next to the stored air conditioner.

  7. Ben says:

    I note that those refrigerators are Energy Star so perhaps things have changed for the better in recent years, but my experience is that compact refrigerators are remarkably inefficient.

  8. Mark Matis says:

    The Danby links show the energy usage, Ben. 268 kWh Estimated Yearly Electricity Use for the 4.4 cu ft. 218 kWh Estimated Yearly Electricity Use for the 3.2 cu ft. That’s roughly 750 watt hours per day for the larger one, or 600 watt hours per day for the smaller. Think of it as leaving a 100 watt light on for 7.5 hours, or for 6 hours.

    Those are both refrigerators only, so you wouldn’t get ice.

    And it’s either/or, Joel. You might get one or the other around the first of the new year if it’s worthwhile. Not both.

    And one option would be to just “store” the air conditioner in the window permanently. When you might be using it, you wouldn’t want that window open anyway, and when it’s cold enough to not use it, you also wouldn’t want that window open.

  9. Empirically, these “XX Days Of Food For YY People” buckets tend to be on the ‘marginally better than nothing’ side. Almost universally, none of them hit the 2000 calorie/day mark. They also tend to be deficient on meats and heavy on starches and carbs. I suspect you’re going to find out in VERY short order that these kits leave you hungry and unenthused about eating…two seemingly contradictory attitudes.

  10. Norman says:

    As Commander Zero points out, you have stumbled upon the huge
    s̶c̶a̶m̶ fallacy with so-called “survival” foods: portions get reduced, with the attendant loss of calories, to provide a label showing “X number of servings” as if “servings” were the be-all – end-all to the deal and calories didn’t matter. Which, to most people, they don’t – I doubt very many people have any understanding of how many calories they need, much less what they’re now consuming daily, as 30 minutes in any shopping mall will confirm, to accomplish the task of “work.” Zero mentions 2,000 calories/day, but in reality in a survival situation 2K would be a bare minimum, actual need for an adult male would be closer to 2700, and living and working mostly outdoors in cold weather >4K (during construction of the Alaskan pipeline workers consumed about 6K/day). Most of the “survival foods” are heavy on carbs, salt and sugars, and light on protein; ensuring adequate protein intake to maintain, and develop, muscle mass to perform “work” will be a challenge.

    A good rule of thumb is halve the servings to double the calories and add 20% for a start and see what happens to your weight and energy level.

    @Mark Matis: RE: refrigerator – how do those small efficient fridges compare to propane powered units, and would something like a SunDanzer chest unit, which is designed for off-grid solar installations be a better bet? Their 5.6 cu ft unit consumes 14 amp hrs/day at 12V (much more spendy than what you’re referencing, though).

    Assuming, of course, Joel could build a new shed to house it….and had a more robust propane supply for a propane-powered unit.

  11. Joel says:


    No argument about portions/calories – you and CZ are certainly right.

    But my experience with propane refrigerators has left me completely sour on propane refrigerators. Maybe it’s the altitude, certainly it’s the dust, but I’ve never seen one work very well or for very long without professional service.

  12. Mark Matis says:

    I’m too cheap to do SunDanzer. Especially when TUAK has “free” electricity.

    Note that the estimated power usage assumes the fridge is installed in a normal interior, and that they’re probably expecting ~75-80 during summer and ~70-75 in the winter. I realize Mos Eisley runs hotter in the summer, but that’s when the power is “cheapest”. And I suspect the interior there is “cooler” during the winter when power is “more expensive”.

  13. Ben says:

    On the subject of small ‘fridge efficiency, allow me to make a comparison: I pulled the “Yellow Sheet” on the big ‘fridge in my kitchen. That ‘fridge is 25 cubic feet, which is 6 to 8 X the size of the ones we are considering. But not only is it BIGGER, it is more capable in many ways. It has a big freezer, it’s frost-free (that costs energy), it has an ice maker (costs more energy) it has three doors (even more energy). So how much more power does my big fancy refrigerator take than one of these mini-refrigerators? Not 6 or 8 X like you might guess but only about 2X! Yes, that’s right, it takes only 550 kWh per year!

    So on the basis of kWh per year per cubic foot, those mini-fridges look pretty bad compared to my LG refrigerator (and it’s not even the “latest and greatest”}!

    There must be a better answer. I believe a propane unit might get expensive to run. There must be some reason why they aren’t popular.

    So what about other ideas?

    How about a cheap/small chest freezer turned down so far that it becomes a refrigerator rather than a freezer? This 5 cubic foot GE freezer takes only 218 kWh/year, but that’s when you operate it as a freezer. Turn it way down and you would expect it to run far less. (Can it actually be set that low? I don’t know)

  14. Mark Matis says:

    THAT, Ben, is why I am suggesting the Danbys. As well as size. Mos Eisley is not the Taj Mahal. I figure Joel might be able to find space for a 3.2 or 4.4 cubic foot fridge. I doubt he has room for anything significantly larger.

  15. Joel says:

    (Can it actually be set that low? I don’t know)

    Ben, that is the one factor that has made me hesitate about getting a small chest freezer, which are indeed as efficient as I’ve ever seen. A neighbor had one and ran it quite happily on a tiny battery bank with a little automotive inverter. I wondered aloud at the time if one couldn’t be cranked down to maintain above freezing temps. His couldn’t, though it didn’t miss it by much. Maybe others could.

  16. Jim Price says:

    Joel, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to hack the thermostat on a freezer to raise the temp. It would likely take nothing more than a screwdriver.

  17. Just to put a finer point on something…

    A ‘propane’ refrigerator is an ammonia cycle refrigerator – and they’re often powered via propane.

    I own a ‘tri-mode’ ammonia refrigerator – runs on propane, A/C, or D/C electric. It’s installed in a 5th wheel and I’ve had it running for several years wired directly to the A/C heating element – bypassing all the fancy circuitry and t-stat. It’s simple – I have to regulate it in the winter (unplug at night) or it’ll freeze up – and in the summer it should stay around 45′ depending on how often one opens it. It has a dedicated freezer and is about 2/3 to 1/3 the size of a standard refrigerator/freezer.

    In comments on a related post some time ago I offered to send you the manual (PDF) for the unit so you could reference the A/C or D/C draw and see if something like it would meet your requirements. Never heard back from you after sending it and later learned in another related post that you’d not rec’d it.

    If you’re interested and want to give it another go I’d resend the manual.

    I know a man who services and rebuilds ammonia units in the city where LL lives and he could probably track down a used unit at a good price – so it’s not something that’s entirely out of reach.

  18. Ben says:

    Getting back to the food tub, there looks to be plenty of empty room inside that tub to add sufficient staples to make it comfortably do what it advertises. Rice packets come quickly to mind, perhaps with some gravy mix envelopes.

  19. Mark Matis says:

    If someone wants to get Joel a different type of refrigerator, I’ll be glad to step out of the way. But if I’m gonna plunk down the cash, I’ll get him a refrigerator that works within the limits of his “power grid” and has good reviews for its intended use. If he wants it, that is. And it would be after the New Year, in case anyone wants to get him one for Christmas. Or he could decide to put up a a “Reefer for Mos Eisley” request, in which case he would get to pick what he wanted.

  20. Jean says:

    The contents of the food bucket seem to be almost all starches and simple sugars. Doesn’t sound like something to keep you going throughout the day. Then again, we’ll see how this goes with further testing.

  21. Eric says:

    What most people are missing is that this and all such buckets are emergency food. They will not (and cannot) be used as everyday food. Emergency food is by it’s design supposed to keep you alive, not happy, not full, but alive. If you want a balanced diet with protein as well as carbs then you simply must make your own buckets (as CZ has said). I could go on and on but I think most of “us” already know this. “beans, rice, peanut butter, wheat, oil, salt, spices,” Theses things are a good foundation to begin with. With luck perhaps Joel’s test will open a few more eye’s.

  22. Kentucky says:

    “I believe a propane unit might get expensive to run. There must be some reason why they aren’t popular.”

    They are intended for use where other power supplies are non-existent or not preferred. They are quite popular with such situations as the Amish communities and some backwoods applications.

To the stake with the heretic!