The Best Food for Your Bug Out Bag

A lot articles tackle bug out bags and casually mention we should all add food to them. However, all of them fail to talk in depth about this aspect.

A Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) is the term we use to describe the bag or kit that contains valuable food and tools necessary for basic survival. We often associate BOBs with wilderness situations, but have you thought about keeping one in the trunk of your car or somewhere in the house as protection against that event or natural disaster that could easily happen?

Shelf life/ spoilage

When selecting foods for your bug out bag, the first thing to do is check their shelf life. Remember, food should last months, even years before you actually open it. As such, fresh food and dairy items are not going to be an option. Think dried fruit, nuts, powdered milk and soup sachets. These sorts of items have long shelf lives, keep well in most climatic conditions, and provide tasty and nutritious meals when needed. Select items with at least 6 months of shelf life.

You will, of course, need to rotate the food in your bug out bag periodically, just like you do with the stockpile in your pantry. Twice a year, during daylight savings time is when I recommend you do it.

Why High Calorie foods?

When choosing food for your bag, be sure to pick items that are high in carbohydrates and calories. The human body breaks down carbohydrates so that they can be more readily absorbed in the form of simple sugars, which are needed for maximum energy and physical performance.

Surviving a disaster will expend a lot of the body’s precious energy and resources. The higher the calorie count of the food item, the more energy it will provide.

The recommended daily intake for a woman is 1950 calories; for a man it is 2500 calories. Obviously your physical health and fitness and the type of exercise you are doing will affect how many calories you burn. Strenuous activities such as mountain climbing or hiking are going to require much more physical energy than you will use in your own home if there is a prolonged power outage.

Ok, to make your preps easier, below is a comprehensive list of food ideas to include in your BOB.

Meals and Snacks

When you are in dire straits, the taste and visual appearance of food will take second place to its nutritional value. The most important consideration is how much energy is packed into the item in question.

One of the best survival food items to include in your kit is a selection of nuts. Nuts are high in calories and healthy fats which are excellent body fuel, providing a lot of potential energy. They also help to make the prepper feel fuller – a definite advantage when the going is tough and food supplies are limited.

It is worth noting that pistachio nuts are high in minerals and vitamins, as well as flavor. Salted nuts may also help to replace salt lost through excessive sweating; however they may also increase thirst.

Seeds such as chia, flax and sunflower, are lightweight and contain high amounts of oil and energy. Sprouts are even healthier than the seeds themselves and can be grown easily with a little water and sunlight. Why not pack alfalfa seeds and a piece of paper towel in a zip-lock bag – when the time comes, simply wet the paper towel and grow the sprouts inside the bag.

A selection of lentils, beans and rice are an invaluable food source. By simply adding them to boiling water you can have a filling meal in a short space of time.

Oatmeal is another faithful standby. A tasty porridge can be made by simply adding a handful of oatmeal to boiling water. It may be sweetened or flavored with sugar or dried fruit, depending on supplies. It is filling and convenient and the main ingredient is light, easy to store and contains a lot of fiber.

Dried beef (commonly known as Jerky) is a means of supplying the body with protein. It is easily stored, lightweight and can be eaten on the move. However, because it is meat it is also attractive to human predators such as bears. If you are moving through bear country, do not carry any unsealed or open foods, especially jerky or other dried meat.

Dried fruits are full of sugar and can be eaten at any time to replenish failing energy supplies. There are many delicious dried fruits such as pineapple, raisins, banana, mango, berries and apples which will all help to keep you going. Crystallized ginger is a pleasant addition for flavor and is also known to settle the stomach.

Dried soups and chicken or beef bouillon can be easily stored in paper bags or envelopes and added to hot water to make a very nutritious and quick meal.

Instant noodles are very good choice for your BOB. They are easy to carry, high in carbohydrates and the flavor sachet contains salt, which is necessary to replace the body’s lost electrolytes. Dried pasta is another option which will last almost indefinitely. Pasta side meals can be purchased in dried sachet form and are also a worthwhile addition.

Bread is bulky and perishable, so replace it with dried biscuits and tortillas. They are still high in carbohydrates, filling and can be eaten without preparation.

Although it may not seem the healthiest option, chocolate is a great source of sugar (energy) and can be eaten while on the move. A chocolate bar such as Snickers combines nuts and chocolate and makes a welcome treat.

Dehydrated vegetables and instant dried mashed potatoes are easy to carry and inexpensive. They can be quickly turned into a meal by just adding hot water.

Meal replacement powders can be readily purchased and contain all the essentials for a quick, complete meal. They are high in carbohydrates and fats and many contain slow release sugars, which make them a very good choice for your survival kit.

Sugar sachets, maple syrup and hard sugar candies are an invaluable source of sugar which is easily absorbed and turned into precious energy. Be sure to add in as much as possible. Honey is famous for one unique quality – it will not spoil. It is also an excellent source of natural sugar.

Cayenne pepper is a natural appetite suppressant and can be used to add flavor and spice to many different foods. If you are forced to go a long time with limited food supply, it is invaluable to have something to reduce hunger pangs because you will need to focus all your attention on the task at hand – survival.

Protein or energy bars are a quick way to boost the body with minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates. They are often individually wrapped and can be consumed while travelling.


Most importantly, be sure to take drinking water and have a plan for how to obtain it from nature when your supply runs out.

Tea bags can easily fit in spare spaces and can be used to make refreshing hot or cold drinks, both of which will offer a measure of comfort in formidable circumstances. Instant coffee is also easily packed into an envelope or zip-lock bag and can be prepared quickly and easily, providing a hot, stimulating beverage.

Be sure to include some electrolyte replacement sachets. One of these can be added to a cup of water to replace lost body salts and slake the thirst. They are invaluable – the body needs salt to function to the best of its ability, and these small sachets could be a lifesaver.

Canned food, pre-packed meals, and freeze dried food

Cans are obviously going to add weight to your bag and may be bulky and awkward. However, there are many canned foods which can be beneficial if added to your BOB. One advantage of cans is that they are waterproof. Tins of tuna and chicken are high in protein and minerals and can be eaten with crackers or on their own.

Mountain House meals are an excellent standby for camping trips. As well as being filling, they come in a variety of flavors and are extremely tasty. They are quickly heated using hot water – simply add the water to the bag, seal for the length of time stated and then open and enjoy.

Freeze-dried foods are an even better option. They’re much lighter than dehydrated foods, have a far longer shelf life (usually between 2 and 25 years), and require very little preparation. With the addition of hot water the food is quickly reconstituted and will provide you with a nutritious and balanced meal.

You will find that there are many types of freeze-dried foods which can be purchased, including fruits, meat, vegetables, grains and desserts. They retain excellent flavor and color.

Your Bug-Out-Bag’s weight

This should be fairly logical – the heavier the food items, the more weight they will add to your bag. Try to choose foods which are light as well as high in calories. Avoid canned foods, these are bulky and heavy. After all, who knows for how long you may need to carry your supplies? A heavy bag will most certainly add to your physical exertion.

Maximizing space

Where possible, remove food packets from cardboard boxes. Pack dried foodstuffs into zip-lock or vacuum sealed bags. Items such as noodles can be crushed and kept in a bag with the air removed – any extra inch of space gained can be put to good use.

To reduce the footprint of packaged meals, pierce a hole in the packaging and remove any extra air. Cover the hole with tape. It is important to remember that you may significantly reduce the shelf life of items by removing or piercing their original packaging.

Other essentials

In order to be able to consume the food in your BOB, you will need to take basic utensils and preparation materials.

Be sure to take some means to light a fire. Waterproof matches are essential. Also include some type of fire steel which can be used to generate sparks, regardless of the prevailing weather. Pack some type of tinder to ignite the initial flame. Firelighters or other tinder can be readily purchased from most outdoor equipment retailers.

Other items which will be of inestimable value are knives, a small saucepan, metal mug, scissors, and eating utensils. Chopsticks are very light and can be used for much more than just eating with. If you are packing canned food, you will have to take some means of opening this.

With careful consideration and by making prudent decisions you can put together, with relative ease, a very comprehensive BOB. Now that many of your food options are listed out, it’s time to fire up and get cracking – don’t wait until it’s too late.

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  1. Avatar

    Gotta love your list, you mentioned some really useful food items.
    On my list, one of my favorite food items is dehydrated seaweed (sealed of course).

    You get a good dose of iodine!

  2. Avatar

    Dehydrated seaweed is usually treated with an oil, the name of which I don’t know. Whzat I can say is that after 8 months of storage, our seaweed had to be discarded as the oil had turned rancid. Be glad to thear of others experience.

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