Don’t get Ripped off by Crazy Prepper Food “Deals”

The spam on the right actually has more calories than the Omeals 32-meal pack on the left. Don't let sales claims fool you.
The spam on the right actually has more calories than the Omeals 32-meal pack on the left. Don't let sales claims fool you.

I’ve written previously about why I think it is foolish to buy buckets of pre-packed prepper meals. (Buckets of wheat, rice, beans, and other ingredients are fine.) These pre-packaged foods are very expensive, provide a limited number of calories, and often skimp on important nutrients.

While I was browsing prior to visiting a Costco store in another state, I found a bucket of 32 Omeals Self-Heating Emergency/Portable Meals for $229.99. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with pre-packed pouches and buckets of so-called “emergency meals.”

The bucket contains 7100 calories of food. Divide that by 32, and you’ll find an average of 222 calories per meal. I don’t know about you, but my average meal is well over 222 calories. If you have three meals per day, that’s only 666 calories, well below the amount you will need to sustain yourself.

Of course, calling these pouches a “meal” is a stretch. What you are really buying is 32 servings of food. An average meal should have 3 servings. Of course, if you ate three servings three times per day, this bucket of “emergency meals” would last only 3-1/2 days. But at least you’d get 1998 calories per day, which is more appropriate than 666.

It’s bad enough that these folks are misleading you about the number of meals you are getting, but the high cost per calorie is even worse. At a cost of $7.19 per pouch, if you were to eat 9 pouches per day, you’d spend about $65 for a day’s worth of food. What a ripoff!

The Sad Part

Here’s what bothers me the most. Imagine some young, inexperienced prepper seeing this and buying 3 buckets for $690 and thinking they have enough food for a month. Now granted, they should do some due diligence and read the fine print, but will they? Or when the chips are down, will they run out of food three times faster than they expect to?

Many of the menu items offered in the Omeals package sound like MREs, including cheese tortellini, vegetable stew with beef, and chicken pasta parmesan. I found 12 MRE entrees on for $39.99. So you could buy MRE entrees for about half the cost of the Omeals and get more calories.

While cheaper than these Omeals, MREs and MRE entrees are also an expensive way to set aside long-term storage food. If you look at our recommendations for building your food storage plan, you will see that MRE entrees and freeze-dried foods should be the last thing you invest in, and only after you have stocked your prepper pantry with grocery store items and dehydrated foods in #10 can and 5-gallon buckets.

The Ironic Part

Just two products to the right or the Omeals, on the same page on the Costco website, was an 8-pack of Spam for $26.99. I did the same math, and eight cans of Spam have 8640 calories. If you cut each can of spam into quarters, you would have 32 servings of 270 calories. So for one-eighth the price, you could buy Spam instead of the bucket and get more calories. Plus, no one would by and 8-pack of Spam and mistakenly believe they had 32 meals on their pantry shelf.

(FYI, while Costco is one of my favorite stores because of their Kirkland brand, we usually shop at Sam’s Club because it is closer and cheaper. For example, Spam at Sam’s is $22.58 for an 8-pack, a savings of more than $4 vs Costco.)

Wherever you shop, if you took the $229.99 and spent it on canned goods like Spam, chili, tuna, and chicken, then purchased some dried goods like pasta, flour, rice and beans, and topped the whole thing off with some peanut butter and crackers you could get a month’s worth of shelf-stable food that provides many more meals and many more calories than buckets of “emergency meals.”

In fact, we have a one-stop shopping list for a 30 day supply of food for two people that outlines simple shelf-stable foods you can buy at a club store, Walmart, or any grocery store. Our list not only includes recommendations of what to buy but gives you menu plans that include breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks. This will give you a good start on your prepper pantry and it’s far more cost effective than buying specialized prepper foods.