The Calories vs Servings Controversy
When Buying Food Storage Products

Calories vs Servings Controversy

Are you as confused as I am over the calories vs servings controversy?

"Don't buy this 30-day food storage bucket because it has too many sugary drinks and starches."

"Don't buy this 30-day bucket because it only has 150 calories for some meals."

"Don't buy this one because you're getting plenty of servings but not even close to 2000 calories per day (the average needed by adults per day)."

I know you've read articles about this issue. Some say you shouldn't buy this or that because the calorie to serving ratio means not enough calories. Others say servings don't count — ONLY calories count.

Let's Talk About Calories

Not all calories are created equal. 

We all know that there are more calories in sugary drinks, desserts, starches (like potatoes, pasta, and rice), fats and oils, and full-fat dairy. We also know that there are fewer calories in vegetables, lean meats, and some fruits.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't measure every meal I prepare by how many calories are included. Yes, I like to cook meals with no, or fewer carbs, but that's just my preference. I'm not scared off by full-fat dairy either. (Please don't make me eat fat-free dairy! How is it even possible to make dairy fat-free anyway?)

The most important criterion for meals for me is:

How does it taste?

When preparing my own meals from scratch, I can flavor or spice them any way I want. But what about the emergency meal foods available to us (both freeze dried and dehydrated)? They come with the spices, flavorings, and ingredients already in them and you get whatever you buy.

If you're choosey about what goes into your every day or long term meals, then it pays to read the labels. (Don't buy emergency foods from a website or store that does not provide a look at the labels.) When you can read the labels, you can choose whether you want those particular ingredients, or not. Some companies will send you free samples (usually pay just the shipping) so you can really decide if you like it. If free samples are not available, buy the small pouches to try before buying large supplies. (I know that free samples are available from Food Insurance and Valley Food Storage.)

So what about servings?

Servings are important when purchasing survival foods, but the reason is not what everyone thinks. I'll come back to that in a moment.

But here are the controversial questions:

What size is each serving?

  • Some say 1/2 cup; some say 1 cup or 1/3 cup.
  • It depends on the product.

And, how many calories in each serving size?

  • 150? 250? 375?
  • Again, it depends on the product.

Can you see how difficult it is to argue serving sizes versus calories? It's impossible. So don't fall for that argument.

The Solutions that End the Controversy

The #1 solution is to do your own research and define your own criteria as to ingredients, taste, calories, and serving sizes.

Here's the solution that works for my family:

  1. The majority of my freeze dried and dehydrated foods for long term storage are NOT full meal products. Yes, I have some — maybe about 1/4 of my inventory. These are helpful when time is short or we're in the middle of a crisis.
  2. Most of my long term food purchases are one ingredient cans or buckets, such as only vegetables, fruits, meats, pastas, rice, and potatoes. Then I stock up on spices, dehydrated sauces (or make my own), canned sauces (my own or store bought), and round it out with grains, powdered milk, sugar, beans, fats and oils — you know, the basics.
  3. With all the ingredients mentioned in #2, I have the makings of any meal I want, minus the fillers, preservatives, or other undesired ingredients. I will know what goes into my recipes when I prepare a meal.

The REAL reason Serving Sizes are important:

We know that serving sizes are variable by brand, product, company, as well as person size (a big man will want bigger serving sizes than a small woman or a child). In that regard, whatever serving size the product has listed in not very important.

The Cost

I told you I would come back to the REAL reason serving sizes are important: it's to have a basis, a measurement, to find the best prices once you have decided what kinds of products you want and what your family will like.

For instance: If a #10 of Pasta Primavera from company A has 10 servings and costs $30, that's $3/per serving. Company B has pouches that contain 5 servings. The cost is $11.95 per pouch, divided by 5 servings = $2.39/per serving. So you can compare prices of any size container by dividing the cost by the servings and decide which price you would rather pay.

This is especially helpful when there are sales. Sometimes a sale isn't really a "sale" — they just "say" it is. Do the math and find out if it's really a good deal. I have found that sometimes a bucket of a variety of meals, on sale, is not as low a price as buying the individual meals separately. (Oh yes — they do that at the grocery store too where the buying the individual items is cheaper than the bulk.)

Using serving sizes as your measurement, you can compare similar foods across different brands to find the best prices, because we all know that buying extra food for the future can strain our budgets.

So to summarize:

  • Decide what criteria is most important to you — taste, ingredients, calories, etc.
  • Check several websites or stores to find the products you want.
  • Do the math: take the cost and divide it by the serving sizes to find the best price.
  • Calories? You control the amount of calories in each meal — not the store.

And that, for me, ends the controversy of calories versus serving sizes. It's like comparing apples to oranges, beef to vegetables, carrots to chicken . . . you get the idea.

This is why I like to inform my newsletter readers, as well as all who visit my website, of the sales that are happening in the emergency preparedness stores that I love and recommend — so you can do the math and find the products your family will love at a price you like.

Related Content:

Do you "do the math" when purchasing survival food?

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