Wise Food vs Mountain House: Selections Compared

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: September 5, 2020
Wise Food vs Mountain House: Selections Compared

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Editors Note: This is an updated and revised edition for 2018.

Two of the largest names in Emergency Preparedness Food are Wise Company and Mountain House. How do you shop for emergency food when you have two or more quality brands from which to choose products?

In my house, we always start with the label whether we are buying MRE’s for the next disaster or groceries for dinner tonight. In this blog, we take a closer look at the labels of similar standard emergency food staples from both Wise Company and Mountain House. Let’s dig in.

Oddities and Similarities

What you buy – Wise has a larger selection of product types per product family. For example, if you buy meat from them you have a choice between freeze-dried meat and meat that is seasoned (MREs – beef stroganoff) Also, with Wise, I did not find just meat.

beef prepper meal wise

It was always sold with additional servings or rice (mostly.) With Mountain House, you had just the opposite. You can buy MREs from them such as beef stroganoff or you can buy a #10 can of diced beef that is just 100 percent beef. So, as you compare the two be conscious of those oddities

Quantities –

Mountain House has smaller quantities per sale’s price. For example, their diced beef comes in #10 cans only, but you are free to buy as many of those as you need. Each holds 15 servings. Over at Wise, you can buy meat (almost always an assortment) in buckets with products filled in Mylar bags broken down by meat type or servings size.

These differences do not impact the quality of what you buy, but they do provide options for those of you who want more control over what you buy and how products fit into your emergency food strategy.

So, as you prepare your list of must-haves remember that there are options the provide strengths and weakness for each of these brands. In short, look past the marketing and make

Mountain House vs Wise Comparison Criteria

The comparisons that I make here are based on nutritional value and price per servings. I will try to note the shelf life of the product and serving size in comparison to a 2,000 calorie per day diet. What you will need to do is to look at your own caloric goals as you fit this information into your emergency food strategy and buying plans.

Beef Selection Comparison

Data Wise Foods Mountain House
Meat Freeze-dried beef and Binder Diced Beef
Serving Size 32g dry 32 g dry
Price per serving $1.75 $5.13
Shelf Life 15 years 30-years guaranteed
Package Type 4 serving Mylar bags 15 serving $10 can
Calories per serving 200 100
Sodium per serving 550mg 880 mg
Protein per serving 14g 25 g
Total Carbs per serving 1 0
Total Fat per serving 16 2 g
Notes Available in a variety pack of chicken, beef, and rice. The Lower price per serving is likely due to the mix of chicken and the addition of rice in the bucket. Contains only cooked beef and salt.


As a consumer, I’d give this to Mountain House even though the price per serving is higher. As noted, I am pretty sure that is because the overall price of the Wise product includes chicken and rice, both of which are less expensive.

What I liked about the label data on the Mountain House Product were the higher levels of protein and the lower fat rating. The wise product had much less sodium so from the perspective of long-term food consumption their product could be healthier.

mountain house beef stew prepper

Overall, I felt that beyond the protein and the salt comparisons that the rest was a wash. Yes, the Wise product has more fat, but that is beneficial in a high-energy survival situation as fat converts to energy. For my own preferences, I would likely buy the Mountain House Beef over the variety pack from Wise mostly because I prefer the added control over how I plan meals.

What I did like about the Wise Product is that their bucket is filled with Mylar pouches so once opened you are not dealing with an entire #10 can of freeze-dried beef but smaller packets which, IMO, gives you better food safety.

Chicken Comparison

Data Wise Foods Mountain House
Freeze-dried Chicken
Serving Size 26 g Dry 34 g dry
Price per serving $1.75 $3.79
Shelf Life 15-years 30-years guaranteed
Package Type 12-serving Mylar Pouch #10 Can
Calories per serving 120 170
Sodium per serving 30 mg 470 mg
Protein per serving 24 25 g
Total Carbs per serving 0 0
Total Fat per serving 1 g 7 g
Outcome Available in a variety pack with beef, chicken, and rice. The Lower price per serving is due to the mix of beef and the addition of rice in the bucket.


For this comparison, I would choose the Wise Freeze-dried chicken over the Mountain house from the nutritional aspect. The reasons being is that the Wise product has less fat and a lot less salt.

The biggest problem I have with the Wise Chicken is that you cannot buy just chicken, it only comes in a variety pack. That is, again, why the price per serving is so low. This product has 80 servings of rice. So, while I like this product over the Mountain House product, I would still likely buy the Mountain House Chicken because I like the added control in just buying the chicken.

wise chicken food prepper

If I were just starting out and stocking up, I would consider the Wise product because it does offer a variety and you can add chicken, beef, and rice to your emergency food supply. While I would be more inclined to buy the Mountain House product, I am not thrilled with the added sodium or the extra fat. I would prefer to add both of those while the meal is cooking. However, that level of control is not always an asset in an emergency.

Fruit –

Mountain House does not sell dried fruit. They sell desserts. Wise Company sells dried fruit which (IMO) is a staple of emergency food stores. Fruit is both a short and long-term energy supply and it is packed full of nutrients.

wise food prepper dried fruit

If you are looking to add carbs to your meals, dried fruit is a great choice. You can find it Wise Company for about $1.33 a serving. As I try to focus on building healthy meals, I would not likely buy a dessert product for an MRE. That, however, is dependent on how you build your emergency food strategy


Data Wise Foods Mountain House
Food Type Powdered Eggs Precooked Scrambled eggs with Bacon
Serving Size 13 g dry
Price per serving $1.20 $3.15
Shelf Life 25 years 30-years guaranteed
Package Type Mylar pouches #10 can
Calories per serving 80 230
Sodium per serving 225 mg 690 mg
Protein per serving 6 g 16 g
Total Carbs per serving 1 g 7 g
Total Fat per serving 5 g 14 g
Notes 405 mg of Cholesterol

Mountain House does not sell just eggs. They sell a variety of egg products, such as a country scramble, eggs with bacon, eggs with ham and peppers, but not just eggs. In comparing these two products, which are not apples vs. apples, I would go with the Wise Company’s powdered eggs over the Mountain House Precooked Scrambled Eggs with Bacon for a couple of reasons.

wide food powdered eggs prepper

Most importantly, my choice is based on healthy foods and the premade MRE’s often have extra sodium, fat, and in the case of the mountain house product 405 mg of cholesterol. If you are looking for extra calories, then the Mountain House product might be a better choice.

The benefit is that these meals are fast and if you are working hard to survive then your body will burn up the cholesterol and fat. If you are not physically challenged it is another story.

It is difficult to choose one company over the other and the outcome of this adventure shows that big brands in emergency food do not always have everything that you need. A good example of this is the Mountain house egg selection or the Wise freeze-dried meat selections.

Both are great brands but in both cases, you cannot just get a staple product, but a meal. That can be okay if what you are shopping for is MRE’s. It also demonstrates the importance of strategizing long-term emergency food preparedness.

Another lesson from this comparison is the importance of reading labels to make sure you understand what you are buying. A good example of this is Wise’s Gluten Free Emergency Freeze Dried Meat & Rice bucket with 104 servings.

wisie food container prepper powder food

Without reading the label, you would not know that out of those 104 servings 80 of them were rice and only 24 of them were meat. As you go forward with your own emergency food strategy consider health, nutrition, and value.

Feel free to make your own comparisons by visiting either Wise Company or Mountain House. Both have products that match up nicely with long-term emergency food strategies and they both offer more than just food to the prepping community.

If calories are what you are looking for, Mountain House typically offers more per serving. They also sell to the outdoor /camping/hiking community, so this makes sense.

Bottom Line: With this in mind, Mountain House is a great “on the go” bug-out supply when you anticipate needing and burning significant calories. Otherwise, Wise Company is ideal for a shelter in place scenario (particularly their jumbo buckets where calorie efficiency is key.)

Where to Buy for the Best Price? 

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18 Responses to “Wise Food vs Mountain House: Selections Compared”

  1. Saratoga Farms has pouches in buckets and IMO their food is substantially better than Wise. Also, Valley Food Storage has only pouches (some in buckets) and claims their food is non-gmo, no fillers, and no msg. They also have some gluten free foods.

  2. We have not tried any Wise products, so I can’t weigh in on them. We have never been disappointed with Mountain House. Yes, there are some products we like better than others. That is why we bought pouches to sample before investing in #10 cans. We have also purchased from Auguson Farms and Honeyville. We enjoy Honeyville’s sausage and ground beef crumbles. They are used in our every day cooking. My best advice is to try smaller packages of products before you commit to larger purchases, regardless of the supplier. Note that you can get MH and others in pouch form at Wallyworld. They also carry #10 cans from various suppliers. Sometimes their prices are better than the manufacturer, so do your shopping carefully.

  3. I am not a fan of Wise products. I have yet to find one I could actually eat. The taste was awful. I have tried most of the Mountain House products and have not found any that I did not love. As for the price, you get what you pay for when comparing the two products. I will always choose Mountain House over Wise. I also love Augason Farms , Saratoga Farms and Thrive.

  4. One more thing, be aware that many, even a majority of Backpackers Pantry and Alpine Aire meals are dehydrated and NOT freeze dried which in turns, lessens their shelf life considerably. They do have excellent menus and taste if you’re using for the immediate future (less than 2 years?) but don’t expect a 10, 20 year or more shelf life out of their line of products. Buy’em for your backpacking trips and enjoy them now.

  5. You did an excellent job of comparing but you need to clarify a couple of things… 1) Mountain House (MH) products are not MRE’s! (Meals Ready to Eat) they are freeze dried (FD) meals that require preparation by adding hot water (or cold when in a tactical situation or no hot water is available) and letting them re-hydrate (taking between 10-30 minutes). MRE’s are fully cooked foods, packaged in a retort pouch’s and ready to eat just after opening, hot or cold. No cooking or re-hydrating required, although heating does improve the taste and consistency considerably. Also, and maybe the menu has changed but without going down into the basement and checking my storage pantry, I know I have MH straight FD fruit, both strawberries and mixed berries (not desserts) and also I have plain scrambled eggs, no meat or veggies added. My food(s) are several years old and maybe the MH menu has changed considerably but having eaten both C-Rations (canned foods) and LRRP rations (FD lightweight meals mfg. by MH for the military form the 60’s to recent times and also lots of MRE’s when they became the main issue field ration for the military, I can tell you… there is a difference! I also have some Wise brand foods but have never compared as you have done here so for that… THANK YOU!

  6. When we moved to Central America we took with us a few buckets of WISE freeze dried foods. Since we would not be able to import it back to the states, we tried eating it in the month before we came back. Some things were palatable. Not really tasty, but edible if we were hungry.

    There were some things, like their tortilla soup — that even the STARVING STRAY DOGS WOULD NOT EAT! Yes, you heard me right! Panama is filled with hungry street dogs that roam around. We had set the food out that we would not eat, thinking that at least it would not be wasted. Nope. They would not eat it! It was so disgusting.

    I probably wouldn’t even eat it in a survival situation.

    But nonetheless I have a freeze dryer to use to make my own foods. I also have Mountain House meals and other brands.

    If you are going to buy WISE foods, then stick with their breakfasts!

  7. Mountain House is ideal for emergencies and survival scenarios because it is a no-cook food. Add hot water, mix well, and wait. Typically 10 minutes is good enough, but for the best flavor you want to wait 30 minutes. Mountain House comes in #10 cans and in resealable pouches. Wise does not. Mountain House provides real meat. Beef, chicken, turkey, whatever- it’s freeze dried, but it’s real meat. I know of no other company that does that. Everyone else is into “textured vegetable protein” which may be fine for a vegan, but not me.

    I found Wise to have a nasty flavor. No amount of spices can help that.

    You also missed Auguson Farms and American Family Supply.

    I will say that in an emergency, you not only don’t have the capability of cooking, but also nutrition is not a huge factor. If you are in a bug-in situation, you shouldn’t even need Wise food. Treat eggs (for example) with sodium silicate and store them. Find alternative methods of food storage. You will save money and resources immensely, that way.

    P.S. I just reviewed Mountain House’s website and found they no longer have products they had a few years ago. Back then they did provided vegetables and fruits, and “just” scrambled eggs. I guess there wasn’t that much of a call for them in their market area.

    • This comment is spot on. Wise tastes absolutely terrible, harder to prepare, and does not store as long. There is absolutely no comparison. Also I opened several Wise and MH meals manufactured in 2011 (now 2020). The Wise was horrific, I threw all of it away, the MH was still good and tasted good.

  8. Merry Christmas Gaye,

    I’ve been buying and using Mountain House freeze dried meals since I was a backpacker more than 40 years ago. I think the higher calorie count is a distinct plus in a survival situation. That said, flavor is important too and, while I get that taste is subjective, I wish you would have included info on which item tasted best to you. I like some Wise meals and can’t abide others–same for Mountain House, though I do like their meats.

    I tend to favor Augason Farms, Saratoga Farms. or Thrive for fruits and veggies and Honeyville for dairy and grain products. Thrive sells individual ingredients you can combine to make into meals, giving them the edge in flexibility. From a flavor standpoint, Augason Farms Broccoli and their corn are my favorites–the corn makes a semi-sweet snack right out of the can without rehydrating. I also love thier Cheesy Broccoli Soup–to which I add more cheese. But I’m also a sucker for Mountain House Strawberries. Chicken a la King, Creamed Beef and Chili Mac.

    Another thing to beware of when buying freeze dried products that supposedly contain meat is that some outfits use TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein–typically soy) as a meat substitute. Not that their is anything wrong, nutritionally, with TVP. Carnivore that I am, I just prefer the taste and texture of real meat. Other freeze dried food suppliers like Backpacker’s Pantry and AlpineAire also have some very tasty meals. Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry fromBackpacker’s Pantry and Hawaiian Style Teriyaki Chicken from AlpinaAire are also among my personal favorites.

    Backpacker’s Pantry is the ONLY manufacturer that provides a realistic “serving size.” Everyone else calls 200 or 300 calories a meal, which equates to you eating ten or more of them per day to get the number of calories required to survive without starving.

    Folks should also understand that storage claims and serving sizes made by virtually ALL manufacturers are inflated. In fact, Wise Foods was called on the carpet by Oregon Freeze Dried Foods (parent company of Mountain House) for quality concerns relating to the oxygen content of their products. A quick summary of their claim is that Wise Foods were found to have an oxygen content on average 110% higher than Mountain House products. The Wise Foods products tested were dated 2012 and were found to have 18% oxygen–which is near normal atmospheric levels of 21%. That is NOT conducive to long term shelf life. Here’s a link: //learntoprepare.com/2012/07/fraud-exposed-regarding-preparedness-food-company-wise-foods-by-oregon-freeze-dry/

    Water, heat, light and oxygen are the main things contributing to food going bad or spoiling. Freeze drying removes about 98% of all water. But oxygen content is a result of the manufacturing process and is critical to long term storability. Storing your food in a cool, dark place will add to its shelf life and edibility, and that, at least, is in your control.

    Like you, one of the things I like about Wise Foods was their individual mylar bagged servings they put inside their buckets. If they get their oxygen content quality control problem fixed I’ll go back to them because I do like some of their products. Until then I’ll use up my Wise Foods supply and replace them with foods from the other manufacturers I mentioned.

    • I went to backpackers pantry web site and checked some meals. Except for 1 breakfast I checked which had 620 calories all the rest were in that 200-300 range just like everyone else

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