When people hear the word ‘survival gear’ their minds probably go first to things like utility knives and space blankets.
Without food, we’re running on an empty tank, and we’ll be no good in an emergency if we don’t have the right nutrition. Bug out bag food is an essential part of packing these survival kits and to ensure you and your family’s safety in any situation, the food needs to be addressed.
What bug out bag food is best, though?
The best types of food for your bug out bag need to have a long shelf, provide you with enough calories to fuel your body, and have a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
You might choose to have ready meals that can be eaten from the pouch or those that need a little prep work, and there are lots of options out there in the survival gear market.
If you’ve been preparing your own bug out bag recently and feel unsure about the best foods to pack, we’re here to assist.
With our help and this bug out bag food guide, you’ll be able to source foods that will fuel you, are easy enough to carry, and will last for years without having to give them a second thought.
How Much Food Do I Need?
Before you can start weighing up your options for food rations, it’s good to have an idea of exactly how much you’ll need.
First, you’ll need to calculate how many people are relying on the contents of this bug out bag, whether it’s something you’re making for yourself or if it’s intended to cover your whole family.
A standard bug out bag has three days or 72 hours of supplies in it, which means you’ll need three days’ worth of food per person. There should be two main meals per day and snacks, so you can make this up however you choose.
The average male needs between 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day to function, so make sure you have at least that for each adult covered in your bag.
The snacks and meals you choose will depend entirely on your preferences, and things like whether you want larger meals for breakfast and dinner, and when you want to eat the snacks. It’s always best to plan for an extra day just in case, so add another ration of main meals and snacks into the bag.
There might be times when you’re in a survival scenario and you’re able to catch your own food, which can be helpful with preserving rations.
However, you should never assume this is a possibility, as there are many things which might make it hard for you to hunt, fish or forage. Therefore, be prepared with planned food rations to last at least a few days, and make sure you’ve accounted for everyone you’re traveling with.
Nutrition vs Shelf Life
Foods designed for survival kits and rationing have been persevered, which allows them to have a longer shelf life that regular supermarket food.
For a bug out bag specifically, you should choose something that has at least five years shelf life, but make an effort to update the kit regularly and replace anything close to going off.
The nutritional content of a meal is usually decreased in these longer-lasting types of food.
Therefore, you need to decide whether you want something high in nutrients but without a long shelf life, or something that you know will last for years without replacement, that might not taste as good when you’re in an emergency situation.
Another thing to note with these types of foods is their weight. When you’re carrying a bug out bag, you’ll want to limit the weight that goes inside and leave room for other essentials. Choose a good balance that won’t weigh down the bag, but will also give you the nutrition you need for survival.
Whichever options you decide on, it’s always smart to have a trial with the foods you’ve chosen.
Some people have an adverse reaction to this type of preserved food, and it’s not something you want to leave to chance when you’re already doing your best to survive during a disaster scenario. If you update the bug out bag with new foods, have a sample as well, just to be sure it’s okay for you to eat.
Prep Time vs Ready Meals
The next thing you’ll have to decide when choosing your bug out bag food is how much effort you want to put into preparing the meals. There are two main options with these types of survival rations, so think about which one would suit you and your party best.
A ready meal is one that’s packaged and ready to be eaten without any effort. These include things like energy bars and emergency bars, pouch meals, granola, peanut butter, and dried fruit and nuts.
It’s good to have at least some of these options in case you’re forced to eat on the run and don’t have anywhere safe to sit down and prepare a meal.
Prep Required Meals
The better tasting rationed food usually requires some preparation, but it’s all possible in a survival situation. There are tinned and sealed options like powdered eggs, dry pasta, meat, and rice, all easily prepared with a bit of hot water.
These are more filling options that generally offer more nutrition, but take more effort to prepare so they might not be ideal for every setting.
Types of Bug Out Bag Food
To get a better understanding of the food options for your survival kit, we’ve listed some of the most popular choices. These are some of the categories that you’ll find food in, each with their pros and cons when it comes to being packed in a bug out bag.
Food drying is a process that removes the moisture from the ingredients so that it lasts longer. By inhibiting the growth of bacteria and mold, they have a long shelf life that makes them ideal for survival kits and can be restored by adding water.
It’s essential to have a water filtration system in your bug out bag for this reason, so you’re not using all of your drinking water making food.
A food pouch contains preserved ingredients like vegetables and meat, and they can be heated up by placing them in boiling water. These pouches come in many varieties to suit dietary and taste requirements and offer a full meal of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Dry pasta and rice
Taking along some long life pasta and rice is an easy food choice for your bug out bag. These ingredients only require boiling water to cook them, and although they are lacking in flavor, they offer a good boost of carbohydrates that can fuel you through whatever you’re doing.
Emergency food rations are things like food bars and energy bars that are designed to supplement the other food you have in your bug out bag. They’re quick and easy ways to get an intake of calories and usually have added nutrients and vitamins to make them healthier to eat.
The Top 5 Bug Out Bag Food Choices
If you’re ready to start packing your bug out and bag and want to a quick list of the best food choices for it, we’re here to help. These are five of our favorite foods that we think every bug out bag should have, providing the perfect balance of nutrition and convenience.
- Peanut butter: Peanut butter is full of protein and fat, and it’ll stop even the emptiest stomach from rumbling. You can purchase individual servings of peanut butter to put in your bug out bag, in case you need a quick and filling snack on the go.
- Powdered milk: Powdered milk is a good choice for people who drink tea and coffee, or just to have a comforting drink at the end of the day that fills you up. This is a lightweight option that won’t take up any space at all in your bag.
- Instant mashed potato: Mashed potato is a staple in most households and when you’re in a survival situation, it can be a comforting and filling food choice. Instant mashed potato cooks with just a bit of hot water and it weighs virtually nothing so won’t hold you down.
- Freeze-dried pouches: Freeze-dried food is the best lightweight option that expands to a full meal, and it’s a must have for a bug out bag. Have a few options for taste variety so that everyone will get something they like.
- MRE: Meals Ready to Eat are ideal for bug out bags because they provide complete nutrition without any effort. These packs are bulky but contain enough food for the whole family, and won’t leave anyone feeling hungry.
Food is one of the biggest parts when packing a bug out bag, and there’s so much to learn about what’s needed and what will serve you best in a survival situation.
If you’re brand new to prepping and are ready to add the food portion to your survival kit, check out these FAQs about bug out bag food that can point you in the right direction.
What Foods Never Expire?
There are some foods to pack in a bug out bag that will never need to be replaced, so it’s handy to have a few of them in there.
Powdered milk, maple syrup, white rice, dried beans, and sugar are just some items you might want to consider for a bug out bag that can be used to create a whole range of meals.
How Heavy Should a Bug Out Bag Be?
When you’re making a bug out bag, you need to be sure it’s not overpacked so that it will fit comfortably in a backpack and will be easy enough for one person to carry.
The standard rule is that a survival backpack should be no more than 10% of your body weight, so for a 200lb person, they’ll want to make sure their bug out bag is 20lbs or less.