Preppers and survivalists alike are always on the lookout for the most shelf-stable and nutrition-packed foods for their stockpiles.
Peanut butter is one example of a staple in almost every pantry across North America. As kids, we grew up with it as a favorite filling in our sandwiches for lunch and as adults, it has stayed the same.
With so many companies producing their own take on what they think is the best peanut butter you’ll find grocery stores stocked with a plethora of varieties and textures to please everyone.
At its most basic level, peanut butter is full of protein and fats that are definitely great for the body, but can you live off peanut butter in a survival situation?
Yes, peanut butter is a great option for sustenance in a survival situation. It’s full of essential fats and proteins, and a hefty nutrient capacity. It can last a few months opened in the fridge, and 1-2 years unopened.
As mentioned above, there are some things to keep in mind when purchasing your peanut butter as companies like to sneak in chemicals and sugars that are not necessarily good for your health.
Let’s break down the benefits of peanut butter for your mind and body.
What Makes Peanut Butter A Good Survival Food?
The main requirement for food in a survival situation is a dense caloric profile.
Calories are a measurement of energy we burn off in our activities and are required for us to be able to continue being physically active.
The more calories you have access to, the more energy you will have, it’s as simple as that.
Peanut butter can provide a whopping 200 calories per two tablespoons which is a significant amount, even when not in a survival situation.
You can imagine the energy it can provide during a survival situation where you are without access to food for an extended period.
An excellent source of protein from a plant, peanut butter is no slouch. On average you can get 8 grams of protein per two tablespoons and provide a significant contribution to your daily allotment.
Protein is excellent at repairing muscle tissue and in general, helps heal the body from physical exercise.
If you’re in a situation where food is scarce and there are no other sources of protein, having this in your emergency kit can improve your quality of life.
Having access to fats is essential for everyone, but in a survival situation, it matters even more.
Fats rebuild your cell membranes, reduce inflammation and improve muscle movement, but only if you consume the right kinds of fat.
You’ll see terms thrown around like trans-fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats, but how do you know which ones are good for you?
Well, peanut butter is full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are excellent for long-term health.
Naturally, we need fats in our bodies to survive, and low-fat foods are not the way to build energy within your body.
Some brands of peanut butter have things like trans-fats which are hydrogenated and supposedly keep peanut butter more stable, at the cost of heart problems over long-term consumption.
If you see this type of fat in your peanut butter it is best to generally stay away.
Saturated fats lie somewhere in between trans fats and mono/polyunsaturated fats and should also be avoided.
The most natural and organic peanut butter won’t have either of the bad fats in them.
Macronutrients and micronutrients aren’t created by our body so a diet consisting of these elements helps keep the body regulated and able to perform the tasks it needs to ensure we keep living.
Peanut butter is jam-packed full of a lot of these nutrients which makes it a strong candidate for survival food.
Here’s a list of the nutrients found in peanut butter that our body uses:
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Various sugars
- Phytochemicals (resveratrol, a polyphenol that is an antioxidant)
Any good survival food needs a long shelf life to be considered as such. Peanut butter, properly stored, has a shelf life of up to 2 years depending on the manufacturer.
The more preservatives and unnatural chemicals (like hydrogenated palm oil) tend to see the peanut butter spoiling quicker or having that classic rancid nut taste.
Some preppers will freeze their peanut butter stores which possibly extends their shelf life for a much longer duration.
The idea is that once it’s taken out of the freezer, the shelf life is reset to 1-2 years. Once opened, it doesn’t necessarily have to be refrigerated if you are eating it promptly.
Survivalists and backcountry enthusiasts also love powdered peanut butter, which is then the dehydrated form of this tasty food.
It can be rehydrated with a little water and can be used as regular peanut butter would be.
However, you can also add it to things like hot chocolate, coffee, and a variety of food recipes for an extra peanut punch.
Not All Peanut Butter Is Equal
All-natural peanut butter seems to be a buzzword that has infiltrated supermarkets and has created a 4-foot wall of peanut butter selections to choose from.
It’s important to recognize that you want peanut butter that is 100% peanuts with no other stabilizers and chemicals added to it.
Companies like to add ingredients such as hydrogenated palm oil, icing sugar, and other oddities that shouldn’t be in peanut butter.
The logic behind it is that it helps with the separation that peanut butter goes through when the oil moves to the top and provides a sweeter, creamier taste and texture.
Don’t be fooled, added sugars are detrimental to your health and in a survival situation could lead to things like dehydration and other maladies.
A note on peanut butter products that are 100 percent peanuts, be sure to research where those peanuts were grown.
Peanut crops are commonly rotated with cotton crops as a way to replenish the soil.
However, cotton is what’s considered a dirty crop since it is usually laden with pests and other diseases.
Because of this, farmers will spray their cotton crops with all sorts of pesticides that stay in the soil and eventually can lead their way to the following peanut crop.
The best suggestion to combat this is to shop as locally as possible and find out if the farmers rotate their crops with cotton. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Peanut butter is one of the best foods to have stocked up in a survival situation, as long as you research the ingredients and where in the world this product is coming from.
This sounds like a lot of work for just a jar of peanut butter, but if you want clean, dense caloric energy for your body, it needs to be done.
Additionally, growing your own peanuts is an excellent way to produce your own quality peanut butter.
Just make sure to have a lot of peanut butter because it’s delicious and will most likely disappear quickly to hungry mouths.
Perrin is an adventure guide and naturalist currently living a nomadic life in the Canadian wilderness. His education and expertise is in wilderness survival and wildlife tracking. He enjoys teaching people about the outdoors and has managed large groups on expeditions.
With several accredited certifications, including being a wilderness first responder and a leave no trace expert, Perrin believes it is important for all of us to reconnect with the natural world.