The 9 Best Survival Foods

Updated November 08, 2017 by Chase Brush

9 Best Survival Foods
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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Whether you're a hiker, camper, backpacker or a doomsday prepper awaiting the apocalypse, you will appreciate this selection of great survival foods. It incorporates easy to prepare and hardy rations that make perfect additions to any emergency kit and are designed to last for years, helping to keep yourself or your family nourished during any situation. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best survival food on Amazon.

9. Wise Company Emergency Food Entrée Pack

The Wise Company Emergency Food Entrée Pack includes a plethora of entree options appropriate for almost any occasion. The contents of each pouch rehydrate in just 12 to 15 minutes, and boast a generous shelf life of up to 25 years.
  • 60 servings of food
  • comes in stackable bucket
  • no single-serving packs
Brand Wise Company
Model OS01-104
Weight 8.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner

With 11 meal varieties totaling 92 servings, the Augason Farms Lunch & Dinner offers a savory and effective way of feeding the whole family in the case of an emergency. Compared with other, more expensive brands, it's also a fairly cost-effective option for doing so.
  • pail is fda compliant and bpa-free
  • family owned and operated company
  • must be stored in a cool dry place
Brand Augason Farms
Model 5-20235
Weight 15.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations

These Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations are actually compact, 3,600-calorie bars that are precut and measured for easily consuming and keeping track of your nutrient intake. They're enriched with tons of vitamins and minerals, and feature a tasty lemon flavor.
  • kosher and halal friendly
  • withstand extreme temperatures
  • packaging could be improved
Brand Grizzly Gear
Model pending
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Chef's Banquet All-purpose Readiness Kit

For a gourmet meal plan capable of outlasting a nuclear holocaust, try the Chef's Banquet All-purpose Readiness Kit. This one-month supply features carefully prepared and delicious breakfasts and dinners that, if stored properly, will stay fresh for up to 20 years.
  • made with high quality ingredients
  • zip-seal metalite foil pouches
  • pricier than other options
Brand Chef's Banquet
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Valley Food Storage Pantry Supply

Freeze-dried survival food doesn't have to be packed with preservatives and artificial flavors to last long and taste good, as evidenced by the Valley Food Storage Pantry Supply. The 200-serving bucket is free of unhealthy hydrogenated oils, GMOs, MSG, or trans fat.
  • extremely varied menu
  • backed by satisfaction guarantee
  • longer prep time than other items
Brand Valley Food Storage
Model pending
Weight 26.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. S.O.S. Food Lab Emergency Rations

These S.O.S. Food Lab Emergency Rations are U.S. Coast Guard approved for use during disasters like floods and earthquakes, and are non-thirst provoking, allowing you to better preserve your water supply. They're not, however, meant as a permanent meal replacement.
  • pleasant coconut flavor
  • durable mylar packaging
  • relatively short 5-year shelf life
Brand SOS Food Labs, Inc.
Model 3682Cal
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Patriot Seeds Survival Vault

Even the highest quality emergency rations are no substitute for fresh, naturally grown food, which is where the Patriot Seeds Survival Vault comes in. Twenty vegetable and grain varieties offer the opportunity to plant your own garden and become totally self-reliant.
  • high yield and germination rates
  • non-hybrid and non-gmo
  • includes handy growing guide
Brand Patriot Seeds
Model 50200465
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Rothco MREs Box A

There aren't many groups better prepared for the next natural disaster than the U.S. military, which is why this Rothco MREs Box A may be one of the best emergency meal choices for the hardcore survivalist. They're ideal for hunting, fishing, boating, and more.
  • water-activated flameless heat
  • average 1250 calories per meal
  • genuine us military surplus
Brand Rothco
Model pending
Weight 20.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Mountain House Classic Assortment

The Mountain House Classic Assortment contains 12 full meals capable of feeding one person for three-and-a-half days. It's perfect for the camper or backpacker looking for a simple, lightweight alternative to food planning, since each pack can store easily in your bag.
  • no dishes needed
  • freeze-dried to retain flavor
  • do not require boiling water
Brand Mountain House
Model 80635
Weight 5.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

When Your Body's Under Stress: Nutritional Notes

It's great to know you have a supply of survival kits on hand. Sustenance that requires little prep and lasts for years must give you some peace of mind, but really being prepared for anything from a natural catastrophe to a taxing hike means looking a little more deeply into what your body needs during crisis.

To survive means literally "to live through" a situation. But when disaster strikes, at home, on the trail, or during travel, what you probably really want is to ensure your family thrives. So, take a good look at the nutrition labels (I know it seems boring, but it's your family we're talking about), and get serious about providing complete nutrition for whatever you'll be living through.

You'll notice that some survival foods are heavy on sugar and/or carbs. That's because the brain needs glycogen -- which, put simply, is derived from sugar -- to function well. You might be familiar with that early-morning brain fog that somehow seems to clear when you snarf a sweet roll.

Simple carbs, like sugar and white flour can, in a manner of speaking, hit the brain pretty much right away. This allows your foggy head to clear enough for you to finish that weekly report before your mid-morning meeting. Of course, you don't want to indulge in sugar and simple carbs every day (because of the crash that follows the spike in energy), but in an emergency, your body will be grateful.

Fats play a pretty heavy role in most survival kits, as well. Fats help you feel full longer: this is key when you're battling extreme circumstances. On a hike, for example, you won't have to keep stopping to eat to maintain energy.

Some kits, you'll find, offer a nutrient ratio similar to what was adopted by NASA for 1960s astronauts. That is, 51 percent carbohydrates, 32 percent fats and 17 percent protein. However, today's nutritionists tend to recommend amping up protein when you are under stress.

So, you might consider adding protein tablets to your store of kits. While you're at it, powdered vitamins and minerals couldn't hurt, just to be sure you're covering all the bases.

And of course, keep as much water on hand as you'll need, both for drinking and for prepping the meals.

Survival Foods: Methods of Dehydration

You may not be an astronaut, but when it comes to survival food, you probably have some of the same standards.

Good survival food needs to be lightweight and compact, but it also has to keep your energy up and meet your needs for protein, carbs, and fat .

The difficulty lies is in making it taste good. Food during the early space programs didn’t pass the taste test. It was so bad, in fact, that the astronauts -- disciplined and accustomed to enduring physical extremes -- complained. It took a team of food scientists several years to develop better-tasting options for space flight.

Dehydrated foods are foods from which the moisture has been removed. Even prehistoric peoples dried foods to preserve them, typically by placing them in the sun. Removing the moisture helps stop the spoilage process. In the 1800s, foods were often dried using heated air. This method was used to prep rations for World War II soldiers.

These days, foods might be dehydrated using tunnel, kiln, cabinet, or vacuum driers. The less time the food takes to dry, the better it will taste. Vacuum drying is great for fruits and veggies. Spray drying -- converting liquid to fine mist and then heating it -- is one good way to make powdered dairy products. Freeze-drying works especially well for meats. It allows foods to hold onto both nutrition and flavor for several years.

Freeze-dried foods were put to the test during the Gemini and Apollo space ventures. Meals were “prepared by quick-freezing cooked items, which were then placed in a vacuum chamber where they were heated to remove all water,” according to the National Air and Space Museum. The food was “then vacuum-packed in a four-ply laminated container with a water valve at one end.”

NASA explorers first had only cold water to re-hydrate their rations. Hot water later became available during flights, and the food became a lot more palatable.

Most of the foods in our recommended kits have been freeze-dried. You may not need a hot water gun to reconstitute them, or a restraint pouch to keep the food from floating off in zero-gravity conditions, but the flavor and nutrition you’ll enjoy surely owe a debt to NASA.

Survival Prep: It's Not Just for Mountain Men

Survivalism in its literal form dates all the way back to the first cave dwellers foraging for food to give them enough energy to go about their daily tasks.

Many millennia later, around the advent of the nuclear explosive, the US government actually encouraged ordinary citizens to construct their own home bomb shelters. The well-stocked, underground bunker seemed to some an even safer alternative.

As panic over the bomb subsided, folks who still kept up a shelter were seen by some as a bit kooky, on the lunatic fringe. They were often the butt of late-night TV and tabloid jokes. But at the turn of the millennium, citizens again resorted to prep mode. The events of 9/11 provided yet another trigger.

Today's preppers are a truly mixed bag. Some have an eye toward natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes. Others seem to anticipate man-made circumstances that would lead to apocalyptic conditions. Preppers come from all walks of life. There are suburban moms, white-collar workers, blue-collar families, and rural residents. Some are driven by ideology, while others see themselves as practical. Naturally, the survival foods industry happily serves them all.

In any case, learning to provide for ourselves and our families during harsh and unexpected conditions builds a sense of resiliency. And there's nothing off-the-wall about that.

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Last updated on November 08, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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