​​The Ultimate Survival Food Guide

​​Having food stored up just in case is kind of like having a parachute on an airplane or helicopter:

It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Unfortunately, there's ​so much​ crappy information out there about survival food. Before I wrote this, I spent some time digging deep on the great Web and was extremely unimpressed.

My goal today is to make survival food simple for you. I'll show you the best foods to accumulate, how much you'll need, and give some tricks that I ​know​ other websites just aren't providing.

​I looked.

Let's get rolling!​​​​​​

​​​What Is Survival Food?

​"Isn't all food survival food?" says the snarky eight-year-old in every room.

Well, yes.

But for our purposes, we're going to define survival food like this:

​Survival food consists of food that is intentionally stored up to last and be used when regular methods of attaining food (such as supermarkets) are unavailable, inconvenient​, ​or dangerous​​​​.​

Essentially, survival food is the stuff you'll live off of in case you can't get food elsewhere.

​Who Needs It?

Sadly, being unable to get food elsewhere is a bit more common than many people think it is.​​​​​

​A common misconception is that emergency food will only be necessary in case of massive doomsday scenarios.

​That is simply not true.

As I write, recent storms have literally left millions without power​ in the US.​​​ Ignoring the fact that many roads were probably unusable, can you imagine what modern day cooking is like without heat?

​No microwave.

​No stove.

​You may not can even build a fire.

​And if the roads are unusable, then it's too late to go and get food that you ​can ​eat.

Of course, you won't starve from a minor little power outtage that lasts for a day, a week, or even a month.

But do you really want to go hungry? I don't even like to skip out on my daily snack, much less a full meal.

So who needs survival food? Emergency food? Well, we think everyone needs a little something just in case.

Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.​​​

​The Best Kinds Of ​Survival Food

​Survival and emergency food stores are not all created equal; some are vastly better than others. And, despite the picture above, very few of them are home grown veggies.

If you want to home grow some veggies to supplement your emergency food storage, we cover all you'll need to know in this post here.

Your survival food will need to have a few things in particular that it excels at providing you to optimize your chance at survival. These are covered below, then I give some examples of food I have in my home.

​High Calories​: The best survival foods have high calories.

​Yep. I said it.

Calories are the lifeblood of all energy that humans have. Without calories, we starve. Simple as that. To lower the amount of stored food you'll need (covered later) and lower the cost of your food stores, go for foods that are high in caloric value.

​All calories are attained from three things, each covered below.

​Proteins​: Proteins are 4 calories per gram. They are extremely useful for rebuilding muscle and extremely filling. Proteins are found in most types of seeds, nuts, meats, and pretty much anything that came from an animal at one point or another.

Consider these your superfood survival food because a high protein diet will repair your muscles and last you longer ​during the day than a high carbohydrate one. Which leads us to...

Carbohydrates​: Carbohydrates (carbs) are also 4 calories per gram. These are usually the majority of calories we consume per day​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ in the form of breads and sugars. Basically anything that tastes good has some carbs in it.

Carbs don't last too long in the belly, which leads you to feeling hungry sooner. They also don't give the most bang for your buck as far as calories per gram. That dubious award goes to...

​Fats​: Fats are 9 calories per gram. Despite the bad reputation that these little guys get in modern culture, the best survival foods have quite a bit of calories from fat in them.​​​​​​ Fats are usually found in nuts, seeds, oils, most types of meat, and dairy.

Fats are among the most useful foods that any survivalist can grab in the grocery store for their survival food shelves. Due to their high calorie per gram count, you don't need to store or eat nearly as much of them to have just as much energy and survive until tomorrow on a budget.

​Easily Stored: Since your survival food will need to last you for a while in case you don't have any other options to eat from, your survival food will probably take up a bit of space.

In general, it's easy to go with things that can be bagged, sealed, or were bought in a can.

​Long Lasting​: Since you don't know when you will need to use your emergency stash​ and you don't want to have to repurchase all that stuff ​again​, it's best to get things that last a long time.

Dried foods like beans or noodles are great. This is a little gross but to be honest, we all know that if something is canned, it pretty much lasts forever.

Since cans are easy to store and usually not too expensive, go buy some canned things and forget about them until the apocalypse.​​​​​​​

​Nutritious​: ​When it comes to survival food, I always recommend that people spend less time concerned about their vitamin B12 and more time concerned about how many proteins and fats they are getting per day.

Proteins in particular are incredible little monsters.

Don't go for the honey buns to get your calorie count up. It's better to have chili with beans than it is to have a 3000 calorie diet just because you're stacking up on carbs.

Keep carbs (that means sugary foods) low and proteins high. You'll do fine.

​My Survival Food Shelf:

  • ​Canned chili
  • ​Various types of canned meats
  • ​Dried beans (I keep these in empty liters of Coke)
  • ​Dried lentils (same)
  • ​Dried peas (mostly black-eyed, ditto for the empty liters)
  • ​Canned vegetables
  • ​Canned meats
  • ​Different types of noodles such as spaghetti, ramen, etc.
  • ​Rice
  • ​Powdered foods
  • ​Long lasting proteins such as certain protein bars, protein mix, etc.

​How Much You'll Need

​​​​​This answer depends on what you want to prepare for and the budget you're willing to invest.

My personal recommendation is for people to have ​at least​ one ​​​month's worth of food and water stored up, or have a great water purifier like one of these.

As we mentioned before, do make sure that the food is more or less nonperishable.

​One month's worth of food will last most people through most disasters that they will see in their lives. More will never hurt, but I would caution against having less for a few reasons:

​1)​ It's impossible to tell exactly how long some crises will last. In my area in particular, snow could do nothing harmful at all or knock down every tree between me and Tennessee. A month is a nice buffer zone for the ​just in case​ types of scenarios.​​​

​2)​ Stocking for at least a month will allow you to share with less fortunate (and less prepared) people if the disaster will not be too severe.

​3)​ ​​​​​​​​​Since most crises ​won't ​last for a month, having this buffer won't require you to go out and buy survival food ​again​ every time you dip into it.​​​​​​

​Caloric Value Of A Month

​Knowing that you should have at least a month's worth of food is great, but exactly how much is a month?

The temptation is there to get less than a month and swear that you'll just cut back if you ever have to.

Don't give in to that temptation.

Calculating exactly how much you'll need is pretty easy.

​Easy Peasy​​​​​​​: ​​​​​If you're not wanting to get into the nitty gritty of number crunching, plan for 2500 calories per day per person.

2500 calories for 30 days means you'll need to have 75,000 calories per person stored up in case of disaster.

Don't let that number scare you! It's not nearly as much as it sounds and, since we're talking about a lot of canned goods and other nonperishables, will cost far less than most trips to the grocery store.

​We cover the best way to accumulate in our Best Practices section down the page.

​Nitty Gritty​: Ah, going the nitty gritty rout. This one is still pretty easy, but a little more challenging.

​You'll have to start by logging your calories for about a month. ​There are two ways to do this.

​1) The way I recommend is to use a tool to track how man calories you will burn daily. I use my Fitbit Charge 2 ​​​(I haven't gotten around to upgrading to the Ionic yet but it's in the works) which will use heart rate levels throughout the day to measure how many calories I burn.

​I'm very active, so I'm usually burning between 3200 and 3600 on 5 or so days every week. In my survival food stores, I've gotta prepare for that.

​2) ​​​​The other way is to manually write down how many calories you're consuming every day for about a month (Fitbit does this for me too) and find the average. Make sure you aren't losing weight and if you aren't, use that average to calculate how much food you'll need.

​Again, the easiest way is to just get something that'll track your calorie burn throughout the day, find a month's average, and use it.

Best Practices

​You've gotten some foods picked out that you know you wouldn't mind surviving on for a while, you know exactly how much you need...

​Now what?

​Here are some of our best practices when it comes to storage, accumulation, and so on.

  • ​Buy In Pieces​. ​Of course, the more quickly you get your storehouses filled, the safer you'll be, but that's just not the right fit for every budget. ​Try to get ​just one day​ worth of survival food ​​​in each trip to the grocery store. Within a few trips, you'll have lifesaving food for you and your family.
  • ​​Buy In Bulk​. ​If you've got some cash laying around and want to save a few dollars, take the opposite strategy to the one above and buy all your food at one time. You may be able to mix and match some grocery store deals to cut costs.
  • ​​Store It Out Of The Way​. ​It's a good practice to store your emergency food away from your kitchen. It's pretty easy to dip into the survival stores when you don't really need to, which kind of defeats the purpose of having the food anyways. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • ​​Get More Than You Think You Need​. ​While not strictly necessary, food has a tendency to go missing and unaccounted for. Unless you are extremely disciplined and have Spartans for family members, it's better to go over than it is to go under your meal needs.
  • ​Be Able To Produce Food To Compliment. ​This step involves some forward thinking. Eventually though, your food will run out. It's best to be able to produce your own food either through gardening, hunting, or providing services to those around you. This doesn't have to be your primary sustenance, but it may help if you can squeeze out some more uses from your survival food storage.


Thanks for reading our post on survival ​food! We ​just wanted to take a minute to thank you for being our incredible reader. Tell us in the comments below: ​​what does your food storage Look like? What tips would you give to someone just getting started?

Stay safe out there. God bless.

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