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Best Survival Food for Bugging Out

So, you’ve got yourself a bug out bag and you’ve packed it according to all the items on a standard B.O.B list and you’re feeling pretty prepared and confident. But let’s take a step back and analyze the type of survival food you have in there.

What types do you have? What’s the shelf life of it and will it still be edible if you need to use it in the future? And just much space and weight is it all taking up? These are really the questions you want to be asking yourself.

Bottom line, do you have the best survival food appropriate to you and your family in your bug out bag? If you’re unsure, then this article will put you on the right path to do so.

The Best Survival Food You Must Have In Your Bug Out Bag

There are a lot of different kinds of food that you can have in your bug out bag and here’s a list to explain them all.

dried apple slices

Dry Fruits & Nuts

Almonds, peanuts, raisins and other dried fruits are the most popular foods that are used during hiking and other similar adventurous trips. The raisins are rich in iron, the dried fruit contains concentrated sugar hits, all giving you lots of calories on the go.

These foods don’t require any kind of preparation and can be very easily eaten on the go. There are a lot of chocolates that contain peanuts and other dry fruits, these chocolates can be an instant energy provider. The peanuts and raisins provide up to 700 calories, giving you a big energy boost.

These foods will hardly take up any space at all in your bug out bag and weigh very little. Best of all, the shelf life is from 6-12 months for unopened packets which have to be stored in a dry and dark place.

A One-Pack Meal

These are dried frozen meals that only require hot water to be poured over them. A warm meal will help you feel comforted and full. Sometimes these meals are enough for a person alone, in some cases the meal can be much more than a person can consume at one go (depending on how long you’ve been on reduced calories) and can be shared around the group. These have a long and guaranteed shelf life which depends on how they have been stored. It’s recommended to be in dark, dry place where the temperature doesn’t go above 80 degrees.

peanut butter

Peanut Butter

There are a lot of calories and energy in peanut butter. A tablespoon of peanut butter has around 190 calories. Therefore, having an occasional bite of peanut butter can help you have the energy boosts that you may require on your trip.

You should also avoid carrying the peanut butter in jars, carrying in small sachets and pouches can help you consume them easily. Its said that peanut butter will only last a year, I’m a bit skeptic on this, however I have no proof since a peanut butter jar in my household may only last a fortnight at best before it’s all gone.

Protein Bars

They are a must-have when you are going on trips that are long and tiring. They will give you the energy you need when you are out in the wilderness and will usually taste quite nice. The shelf life for these will vary depending on the brand of bar you buy, but typically these bars are made with a specific type of whey protein that enables the bar to stay soft. As an example, the Millennium Bars have a shelf life of 5 years but these are specific for survival as opposed to a workout protein bar. So ensure you buy the correct bar for the right purpose.

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Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky has high sodium content and may cause dehydration in case of over-consumption. Other than that it’s a great option to carry as a part of your bug out bag. It’s also notorious for its longevity and can last for up to 1-2 years in the pantry if unopened and stored correctly.

Emergency Meal Bars

These bars are quite interesting, packing a whopping 2500 calories per bar, they will pretty much deliver your nutritional needs for one day. However, unfortunately they may not taste the best, but it would be better to a have a few of these babies stashed in your bug out bag then not. When you’re starving, I think taste may take a back seat and their expiry is the same as mentioned for the Millennium Bars, 5 years.


Granola Bars

Heck, I eat these things everyday and so do my kids, why? Because they taste awesome, have a great texture and are a super easy snack on the go.

There are lot of options and choices available from among which you can select the one that you would like to have. They contain quite a good amount of dry fruits and raisins in them and are the perfect choice for an energy-providing meal. Their shelf life is between 6-8 months, again depending on how you store them and this shortened life is due how they are packaged.

The individually wrapped bars are generally not vacuum sealed like the Emergency Meal Bars and the air does shorten their life. I know I’ve cracked open a pretty crust granola bar in my day and just about lost a molar trying to bite into it.

Tuna & Salmon Pouches

Meat is a good option to opt for when you are looking for protein for your body. Tuna and salmon comes both in cans and pouches, and while canned fish takes up less space it could add more weight to your pack.

A single serve of tuna in a can weighs 6 ounces compared to same amount in a pouch at only 2.6 ounces. Therefore, the pouches are best and can be easily carried around without much complication (unless one bursts in your bag, eww).

The stores also have flavored tuna and salmon and can be consumed straight out of the pouches and fit easily in your packs side pockets. Now the expiry on these is three years (insert eye brow raise here), but I’m not sure I entirely trust that assessment.

Sure, it’ll have been air sealed tight, however eating a mushy pouch of salmon or tuna that was caught three years ago will turn me straight off. Therefore, if you do decide to buy a few of these, my advice is to rotate them through your bug out bag to your pantry after a year.

Soups & Bouillon

These are instant mixes that can be made into soups by adding hot water. These can then be consumed easily and help provide warm comfort and ease in times of distress or weariness. These bouillons are generally tiny cubes and if anything, get lost in your bag, therefore it’s recommended to store in a canteen that you would eat it out of. Best of all, you have a fair bit of variety with soups and bouillon and their shelf life is 3 years.


All you require for preparing oatmeal is a tin cup that can be easily heated. Oatmeal provides you with a big dose of carbohydrates and also ensures that you have a healthy start to your day. They don’t require too much space and can be easily placed anywhere in the bag. Oatmeal is a food with a proven shelf life of 3 years.

Protein Powder

This may not be your preferred choice of survival food, but it sure is one of the best and most compact food that you can have and carry in your bug out bag. They can be very easily used by simply adding them to the water. Also, adding electrolytes to the water that you are drinking can help you stay hydrated for long periods of time. Standard shelf life is 1-2 years.

instant noodles

Instant Noodles

Who doesn’t like a hot bowl of instant noodles? These are a power-packed survival food because they are rich in carbohydrates and generally taste great. They are also considered as one of the most comforting food that you can have. You just need to have hot water to prepare them and you are all good to go. And being a dehydrated food, noodles can surpass their stamped best before date, however typically 6-12 months is the standard.

Sardine Tins

This is another survival food that is a must-have. It contains proteins, calories and fats. They can be eaten on the go without much effort and have lots of extra hidden nutrients. If they have been correctly stored in a cool and dry place you will get a 3-5 year shelf life out of it.

Rice Pouches

These are already prepared rice meals that only need hot water added to them, straight into the pouch. Shelf life of 4-5 years.

Mashed Potatoes

This is another comfort food that you can have on the go. You just need hot water to prepare a meal for yourself and coupling it with soup can be an instant energy boost. The shelf life on these can be a bit tricky and it all depends on what type of mashed potatoes you have brought. If the ingredient list has anything dairy related in it, then the shelf life will be no more than a year, otherwise you’re looking at a 2-3 year shelf life.

freeze dried food

Freeze Dried Foods

A popular choice for many, these easily prepared, compact and lightweight ready meals are a great option to carry. With a great choice of popular brands, such as the well-known “Mountain House”, these meals boast a great variety that will satisfy every taste. And as an added bonus, they have an amazing 30-year shelf life.

trail mix

Trail Mix

This is a great option for everyone who likes to take long hikes. Trail mix is easy to carry, and is packed with plenty of nutritious foods such as almonds, peanuts, dried fruits, cereal and chocolate chips. These ingredients make it a fantastic source of vitamins and calories, replenishing your energy as you hike. However, the shelf life is exactly the same as the granola bars and even less if you have chocolate or yoghurt chips mixed within it.

Survival Food Factors

Having to go without food for a few days is not at all a pleasant experience and therefore it is mandatory to have survival food that is compact, lightweight and high in calories.

A can of soup might seem like an interesting idea, but that is quite heavy. If you are carrying this for three days, you are going to tire yourself out and probably eat more than you should because you are burning more calories lugging it around.

Therefore, it is suggested that the food that you are carrying should be lightweight and contained in small packaging so that they can be carried in pockets for use as well.

Another viable option are military MRE packs. These lightweight, compact packages are specifically designed to offer the perfect mix of calories and needed proteins, while also being easy to carry.

And remember, apart from knowing how to defend yourself properly, being prepared and ensuring your bug out bag is ready to go is of crucial importance.

The calories count! This is why carrying food that is rich in calories is more important than carrying food that is as per your tastes. The foods should be able to last you for three days and provide you with the required number of calories that can help sustain your energy levels. Factors to consider are:

  • The food that you store in your pack should have the number of nutrients and calories that you may require to survive for at least three days.
  • The survival food should have a good and long shelf life so that it doesn’t spoil easily and is easy to prepare.
  • Keeping food that does not require much or any cooking is the best survival food type you can have.
  • Keeping food that is similar to your tastes and meets all the above criteria will be a win, win for you. Don’t pack food that you just won’t eat.
  • The food should be able to withstand rubbing against other things in your backpack.


There are a lot of important things that need to be considered when preparing a bug out bag and choosing your list of best survival foods for you and your family. Some of these will be extremely essential for survival and some will be foods of comfort to maintain morale in such devastating occasions.

Also, remember to always rotate your bug out bag food to ensure it remains edible and within its expiry date.

Likewise, be sure to pack those things that you and your companions already like to eat. That way you’ll always be in for a tasty and nourishing meal to maintain morale in such devastating occasions.

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