I have bought the big 60-serving food buckets of dehydrated food with a 25-year shelf life and felt that all-in-all it’s a good deal. The buckets cost you a little over $100 and honestly the food tastes great. The disadvantages are that they are very high in salt and are not food allergy friendly. The additional salt is welcome if you are on the move and or working hard, but still it’s a lot of sodium (think canned soup). While there are some companies that try to provide options for people with food allergies, the choices are very limited and usually target only one allergy at a time (we couldn’t find a dairy-free/gluten-free option, just gluten-free).
As an alternative I started building my own buckets. I picked up a bunch of Food Grade 2 gallon buckets on Ebay. This gives you a smaller foot print for storage and smaller bucket to handle. I then hit the dollar store and pick up 5 one pound bags of rice and 5 one pound bags of dried beans. I add a few cans of chicken, spam or another meat in a can. I still have room for a 1 lb bag of ground coffee, a small salt shaker and some packets of seasoning.
This costs me about $15 and has about 60 servings of beans and 60 of rice. The salt and seasoning, along with the canned meat, will help the taste. I am also counting on the fact that I will be able to hunt and/or trap some meat protein. The coffee is another important item, and if you read any of the books I have recommended here you will see that it runs out fast and is dearly missed.
I then label and date the buckets, add a 10 gram packet of Silica Gel Desiccant and seal them up. I know that this will not win Chopped as far as creativity but it will keep you alive and give you the energy to fight another day.
I also stock up on other foods in addition to the buckets (canned goods etc.), but this gives a good base for your spare food supply.