Best Bug-Out Bag Foods for Survival in the Wilderness

When it comes down to it, it’s important for everyone to have an emergency escape plan. Unless you’re an expert hunter, trapper, fisher, or forager then you should consider stocking up on food that helps you to survive for as long as possible, or at least until you encounter your next source of calories.

A bug-out bag, or BOB, is essentially a portable bag that contains the supplies necessary to survive for at least 72 hours after a natural disaster. The point of the bug-out bag is to focus on evacuation instead of long-term survival, and it can literally be a lifesaver. It can help save lives in the event of earthquakes, tornados, wildfires, blizzards, hurricanes, and other natural and human-caused disasters.

When stocking your bug-out bag, you want to include foods that are high in protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the best foods include peanut butter, jerky beans, lentils, freeze-dried meals, and granola bars. It is also useful to have energy drink mixes, coffee, and/or candy for a quick energy boost.

What distinguishes a bug-out bag from a survival kit is that it focuses on the evacuation element of survival. It is not meant for longevity, but instead moments of extreme pressure due to disaster.

Best Foods to Place In Bug-Out Bags

Before you decide what type of food to place in your bug-out bag, you first need to consider these three important factors that’ll help you choose the best food for your bug-out bag.

These three important factors are:

  • Weight
  • Size
  • Energy required to cook

Make sure to consider each factor when choosing which food to add to your bug-out bag.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the best foods to have on you in case an emergency arises. It is 186 calories per ounce, and protein-heavy. It also helps manage blood sugar levels and has potassium and carbohydrates.

Energy Drinks or Coffee

Although energy drinks and coffee do not necessarily count as food, they can truly be beneficial to have in your bug-out bag. They can give you a big jolt of energy when you need it the most. This will help keep you moving and alert in case of an emergency.


Jerky can be a real staple. It is high in calories and protein and can also be very tasty. One of the downsides of this option, of course, is the high salt content so make sure to limit how much you stock your bug out bag with.


best beans for bug-out bag
Image Credit: Tanushree Rao

Beans are an ideal food to store in your bug-out bag because they are high in protein and easy to make. Canned beans can also be eaten raw and don’t take up too much space. However, stocking up on canned beans can get heavy real quick.

Beans in a pouch or refried beans in a pouch are another great option.


Lentils are an excellent food to store in your bug-out bag because they are extremely high in nutrients. They also tend to cook relatively quickly and are very easy to make. They will also supply you, like beans, with a high amount of protein.

Drink Mixes

Although drink mixes are not food, they can make all the difference in a bug-out bag. They don’t take up a lot of space and can give you a quick burst of sugar. They can also really enhance your water by providing electrolytes. It is recommended to look for drink mixes that are high in electrolytes for your BOB.

Freeze Dried Meals

best freeze-dried food for bug out bag

There are plenty of delicious freeze-dried meals or astronaut meals that you can pack in your bug-out bag to prepare for an emergency. They have multiple perks. They are extremely lightweight and compact, so you will be able to fit a lot in your pack. They also can turn into a full meal extremely quickly, most of the time just by adding water. They also, of course, are created to have an impressively long shelf life. There are plenty of delicious freeze-dried meal options, ranging from breakfast frittatas to tortellini to curry.

Dried Fruits

Dehydrated fruit is a tasty option when preparing your bug-out bag. They contain vitamins and nutrients as well as a decent amount of sugar, which the body absolutely needs in times of emergency. Some good, dehydrated fruit options include dates, mango, apricots, bananas, pineapples, berries, or raisins. Of course, dehydrated fruit opposed to fresh fruit is the best option because it does not risk going bad and can last a very long time.


Candy can be great for a quick energy spike. If your strength is running a bit low, candy is the best option because the sugar enters your bloodstream much more quickly than other sugary options, like dehydrated fruit.

Canned Meat

canned meat for bug-out bag

Canned meat can be a good option when looking for a protein-dense food that lasts a while. Usually, those preparing bug-out bags will go for canned beef, as it tends to have more calories per ounce than other meats. The one downside of canned meats is that they tend to be a bit heavier than other food options, so perhaps are best packed in moderation. SPAM is also a classic option, although the downside to SPAM is that it contains a high amount of salt.

Instant Oatmeal

When thinking about breakfast options to pack in your bug-out bag, instant oatmeal is one of your best bets. It has many perks. First off, its delicious and incredibly easy to make. All you have to do is add water. It also has a high-calorie count per ounce and is loaded with carbs.

Long-Term Food Packets

Long-term food packets are definitely something that it is a little more difficult to get your hands on, but they can make all the difference. This type of food packet is what the military uses for their rations and is incredibly high in protein and has all the nutrients needed to sustain life. One of the downsides of long-term food packets, however, is that they tend to be a little more expensive and can also be high in sodium.

Ready-to-Eat Rice

ready to eat rice for bug out bag

Ready-to-eat rice pouches are a great option as they are quick to make and are high in carbs and sodium. Combine them with a protein, like canned meat or beans, for a much fuller meal and enjoy!

Granola Bars

Granola bars, particularly breakfast bars, can be a great option. There are hundreds of different types, so there is plenty of room for you to choose a flavor and texture that you enjoy. They also will give you a big boost of energy when it’s most needed.

History of the Bug Out Bag

The bug-out bag has a rich history. The terminology “bug out bag” was originally derived from the U.S. Army. Military aviators used to carry what they called “bail out bags” during the Korean War in the event that units had to retreat. It acquired the name “bug-out bag” because units were required to “bug out” of the location.

If military units had to withdraw, it was necessary that they had the survival tools needed to make it through the next 72 hours until they were able to access more supplies. It was meant as a short-term emergency solution to keep soldiers alive.

Food was, of course, not the only thing that these bug-out bags would contain. Military bug-out bags, as well as the version we use in emergencies now, contain flashlights, fishhooks, first aid supplies, matches, tinder, a multi-tool or swiss army knife, and sometimes even a sewing kit or bandana.

What Kind of Food Should I Put in My Bug Out Bag

When packing your bug-out bag it is imperative to pack efficiently. You should boast foods that have a long shelf life, particularly foods that will last a minimum of six months. It is important to be aware of when the foods in your bug bag go bad and restock your bag every six months.

You should also choose foods that are relatively lightweight. This could be a real game-changer if the natural disaster that occurs requires you to evacuate your home. You want to make sure that your bug bag is not too taxing to carry around.

You should also choose foods that don’t contain too much sodium. In the event of an emergency, it may be possible that water will be scarce. You want to keep yourself as hydrated as possible and foods with a high sodium content will dehydrate you quickly. On that note, you should also pack foods that require minimal water to prepare. You want to make sure that you don’t run out of water, and it is best spent on hydration and sanitation.

The foods that you select should also be nutrient-rich. Your body, in the event of an emergency, will need protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and calories to function under such conditions. Especially if the situation arises where you have to be doing more strenuous activities to ensure survival. You’ll want to make sure that you’re fueling your body as effectively as possible.

Lastly, you’ll want to select items that are as easy to prepare as possible. Items that require little to no cooking, like canned beans or freeze-dried food that can simply be taken out of the bag or can and immediately consumed. In a survival situation, you don’t want to be wasting energy preparing a five-course meal. You also don’t want to be wasting any time and having easily preparable foods can help with this.

How Much Food Should I Pack in My Bug Out Bag

When packing your bug-out bag, you want to prepare to survive 72 hours or about three days. In an emergency situation, it is important to conserve food. This means that you likely won’t be eating three full meals a day and instead will have to be concerned with fueling your body as efficiently as possible.

Your meals should also be light and combat so you can fit as much as possible in the least space as possible. It is recommended that you pack smaller snacks to consume throughout the day as opposed to meals. Or, that you pack smaller snacks to consume up until the evening, and then have one freeze-dried meal.

Each person should be consuming 2,000 calories a day at a minimum. To last the entirety of the three days you should aim to fit eight meals, plus a few snacks, that tally up to this calorie amount in your bug-out bag.

What Other Items Should I Have in My Bug Out Bag

Of course, a bug-out bag can’t just consist of food. There are numerous other tools and supplies that have to fit in there. It is important to have a sharp knife to open containers and sometimes prepare your food. It may also be beneficial to pack a small stove or sterno kit, depending on what type of food you prepare to pack.

It can also be extremely helpful to have a camping mess kit or utensil that serves as a fork, spoon, and knife if you have curated food that is not necessarily eaten with your hands. Water is also one of the most important things to have handy. The body can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water.

Aside from food preparation materials, you will want to bring a whistle, a flashlight, a compass, and glow sticks. Store your important documents in waterproof bags. You may also want to bring a bandana, a tarp, an extra set of clothing, and a water filtration system.

In terms of first aid materials, you should have N95 face masks in the event that you’re in a situation where the air is unsafe to breathe. You should also have a comprehensive first aid kid that includes band-aids, antibacterial wipes, ointment, hand sanitizer, peroxide, and other necessary objects.


At the end of the day, a well-stocked bug-out bag with the right amount and type of food can be the difference between life and death. Preparing a bug-out bag can really help make a bad situation better. Hopefully, these tips and food recommendations will come in handy when you’re preparing your own BOB.