Emergency meal replacement “food”: what’s your experience?


Commander Zero published an article yesterday about Soylent, which is apparently a meal replacement “milkshake”, and a protein powder supplement.  He linked to an article by someone who lived almost exclusively on the stuff for a month, and had no problems.  (Yes, I wish they’d chosen a better name for it, but what can you do?)

Some of his readers chimed in with comments about their experiences.  There’s another, similar product called Huel that some recommended.  There were a few warnings about powders that didn’t dissolve completely, or possible digestive effects, but overall people seemed to think that these products are reasonably effective at what they do – replace a meal, or several meals.

I’m interested in them as an emergency food item for vehicle and “bug-out” packs.  If one can take a few sachets of a powder like Soylent or Huel, plus a mixing vessel, and toss it in the back of one’s car or into a backpack, it would be much less bulky and heavy than trying to load a packet or a can for every meal for three days or so.  That might be very convenient.  Another alternative for that are Coast Guard-approved so-called “lifeboat rations“, which I already have.  However, they have a limited shelf life, and their flavor isn’t to everyone’s taste (you should pardon the expression).

Have any of my readers used Soylent, or Huel, or lifeboat rations, or anything equivalent?  What can you tell us about them?  I’m sure many of us would find the information useful.



  1. A few years ago, I would buy cases of the pre-made vanilla (I think) Soylent, with the idea that I could skip breakfast, take one to work, and not break for lunch (and maybe lose some weight). It was an acquired taste, and it did fill me up, but the cramping and resultant gas were…uncmmfortable.

  2. Soylent tastes fine, fills you up and is very palatable. Incredible gas and GI distress at first. Also, it's relatively high carb and my personal guess is anyone with blood sugar issues/pre-diabetic would have massive spikes.

  3. Meal replacement powders can bring about stomach upset, no matter the brand.

    Beans, canned food and Ramen are better options. Oh, and buy a gun to safeguard it.

  4. I have been using soylent to replace breakfast for a while. They now have pre-mixed bottles that you can buy cases of that you just shake and drink, I think they only last a year or so though so you would need to rotate the older ones out and drink them. I would say that they can easily replace a meal or two but I don't know that I would want to drink it alone long-term. My longer term emergency food of choice is pouches and cans of Mountainhouse food.

  5. While onboard my destroyer (c. 1974), we were given the option of consuming some lifeboat rations which – they said – were nearing their life expectancy.

    We discovered the manufacture date of the included C-rations was 1953, e.g., Korean War supplies. But being young & stupid, we consumed what we could. The C-rats weren't bad; they just weren't really good, either. The crackers were stale but palatable.

  6. Hurl, I mean Huel, is oatmeal and peas, with flavoring. It will also cause stomach trouble.
    I used to go with fruitcake for e-rats. Concentrated food, non perishable, no preparation needed, and family 'donations' made it free.

    To keep my type 2 diabetes at bay, I've switched to peanut butter. Same advantages as fruitcake, only cheap versus free. Put the jar in a ziplock bag in case the oil leaks, add a plastic spoon, done.
    Supplement with a multivitamin and fiber pills (in another baggie) otherwise this will stop you up, peanut butter especially.

  7. Yeah, no. Better would be Ensure or it's diabetic version. Best yet would be some tasty rations like beef jerky and a granola bar or something similar.

    One thing you don't want, during times of stress, is to put something into you that causes gut cramps. It's okay to fart in morning traffic knowing that you're 15 minutes away from blowing up the office commode, but during bug-outs or disaster situations? Nay willy way.

    Same goes for most of the freeze-dried 'survival meals' which rely a lot on plant proteins. Those things will also rip one a new one, depending on one's tolerance for barely acceptable soy-based meals.

    Better yet would be to make one's own using hamburger helper type dinners and dehydrated meat chunks. Or mac-n-cheese and meat chunks. Or rice and canned or dehydrated meats (favorite of mine is canned chicken and yellow rice, using the canned chicken liquid as part of the rice water.) This, of course, only works when you have time to cook, hence the chew-bar and jerky for when on the move or heating isn't reasonable.

    The Ensure and it's Diabetic version – Gluteno – mixtures aren't bad. Better than Soylent and one will tide you over while two are filling, and I haven't had any issues with either. Better when cold, but then, when on the run or hunkered down fighting brain dead zombies or actual zombies (because bdzs are actually demon-rat voters…) a warm one can be choked down.

    But… In a real survival situation, nothing beats a nice hot filling thick meal. So if you can, fix something hot. Even if it's Dinty Moore or equivalent. Though, as I said, I prefer rice with or mac-n-cheese with or hamburg help with.

  8. Soylent is not a good idea if you are concerned about your blood sugar.

    Also rumors say that in the past Soylent was trying to operate their food handling as if they were a nutritional supplement, not a food handler. The rules on sanitation and storage are different between the 2 classifications.

  9. A great comment thread Peter, thanks. Only two points to add to the discussion.
    One. If you aren't eating from stored preps, you're doing it wrong. The stress of a survival situation is not the time to be adapting your gut to a new diet. Beans n rice is fine IF you're used to it. GORP–good ol' raisins n peanuts. If you want a survival food you won't be tempted to raid in less than desperate times, pack a jar with GORP and drizzle a hot oil over it to fill the airspace of the jar. Lard, coconut oil, or palm oil, all are nutritious, are solid at room temp or below, and keep without refrigeration for a reasonably long time.
    Two. For a few emergency meals, I'll eat almost anything, including soy based products. But if you don't know about phytoestrogens, you need to educate yourself. Soy-boy is not just a pejorative, it's a real problem.
    A friend once asked me what I'd be willing to eat in desperate times. I just said that I hoped I had enough garlic and cayenne to choke down that possum with.

  10. Greg Don't DISS that Possum! Like Racoon they taste a lot like the last thing they ate. Live trap them, feed them water and water soaked corn for a couple of days, butcher them, remove the scent glands and they are not that bad.

    Oh and grow some garlic and peppers friend. We are ALL going to need them when plain rice and beans arrives.

    AND your correct you need to be eating your storage foods TODAY. That way you can Learn the weaknesses of your plans and FIX them while the stores are still open.

  11. Peter, the truth is that most people below a certain age have ZERO clue about the name "Soylent". So, kind of moot. Like SCOTUS' anti-Constitutioal decision not to hear the case regarding PA (actually, among other state as well) fraudulent election results. The name will not affect their possible purchase of these Emergency Rations. I know you know it.

  12. I'm in my mid 40s… and I'm an oddball in that I know what Soylent is… and yes, steer clear of the green.

    If by lifeboat rations, Peter, you are referring to the high density food bars, i have some limited experience with them.

    I purchased a couple of the SOS brand food bars for my emergency vehicle kits. Five years later during my annual inspection I saw they were expiring. Replacements had been acquired, so may as well eat them. They weren't bad… rather like a very dense peanut butter cookie. Yes, I got the peanut butter ones instead if the more usual coconut.

    What I noticed, they will keep you going, are not thirst provoking, which was a pleasant surprise. But they are messy, and being an all in one package, you can't close them back up. The ones in my kits are now inside quart freezer bags. As an emergency food, they're not bad, there's a lot of calories in a small space, are not difficult to eat,and they keep well, just add a zipper freezer bag for after the pack is open.

  13. When I was a kid my Dad was in the Air Force and would sometimes bring us those Arctic and Lifeboat survival bars. Some were OK like the Cornflake bar and the Chocolate Fudge bar but most were bland like the Chicken bar and the cheese and potato bar which were dry crackers flavored with a bullion type powder. Seemed best to boil some water and drop those in.

    They came in a tin you opened with attached key like Spam not a cardboard box like C rations.

    I actually liked C rations in my Army ROTC days and have modeled my emergency rations on the cans found there. I don't like the modern freeze dried MREs much. You have to be creative to make them taste good.

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