(includes food prep)
Warning: 'Survival food' is a thoroughly abused and ill-treated subject by those who know little and
simply repeat what they have read in some disaster prep book. Get this right, folks, or you will regret not having
investigated food more carefully. Bugging out will place demands on you, physically and mentally, that you may not
be accustomed to, so select your nutrition carefully and, repeat, get this right. If all you want from your food is
a 'full feeling', then you can skip this section and eat whatever you want. If, however, you are serious about your
mental and physical health and believe that food will affect your performance, read on, and be ready to admit that
your own ideas about what good food is may have been shoved down your throat.
I've been studying food, nutrition, human physiology, health, fasting, cleansing and more, and have been
experimenting in all these fields for over 45 years. So I can help you understand food and what to select for your
BOB and your survival retreat.
The so-called 'experts' on survival and disaster prep tell you to store canned food, macaroni and
spaghetti, Tang, sugar, peanut butter, jam, coffee and tea and so on. I don't, and I can't recommend any of those
items for a retreat and certainly not for a BOB. In fact, I don't suggest that you carry anything that has
to be (or has been) cooked in your BOB. Why not? Because your BOB is for bugging out, not for doing some casual
camping for a weekend. You can carry far more nutritious food in its natural state, which requires no preparation,
saving you time and labor. Casual camping does not place you in danger or demand that you exert yourself or stay
awake for a few nights. Bugging out can be stressful, physically and mentally demanding and require you to live
uncomfortably, possibly in fear for your life. Camping fires attract attention, and that could be dangerous in a
bug out situation. Fires take time to make, and you might be in a hurry; it could rain or snow or be too windy for
a fire. Why burden yourself with food that requires preparation, when you can carry better food that is
ready to eat?
For my views on food, which are lengthy, see my other web site at www.SurvivalRetreatPlans.com
To truly understand food and how the body deals with it, you have to study and experiment for many years. Few
'experts' do that, they just repeat what others have said or written. Here's an example of just one of hundreds of
I ate only dried figs and water for three months, in Germany in 1985, through January, February
and March, the coldest months of winter. Most of the figs were the second-class kind you get in round blocks, from
the Middle East (Turkey). I soaked them in water overnight and ate them the following day. The results? Did I lose
a lot of weight, freeze my ass and feel tired all the time? Actually, I lost no weight, I was toasty warm and I had
as much energy as usual, in spite of the bitter European winter. In fact, my health improved during these
So how do I feel about figs as a food, especially as a survival and bugout food? You cannot find anything
better, but you can find other natural foods which equal figs in nutrition, none of which requires preparation or
cooking. If you're addicted to spaghetti and cheese (and enjoy constipation), hey, carry that stuff in your BOB
(along with your white sugar, coffee, Tang and MREs. But if you're interested in the best nutrition, in the
smallest space, which is ready to eat, please read on, and check out my comments (disertation?) on food at my other
Here are a few items I carry, none of which requires cooking:
1. Dried fruits, like raisins, dates, figs, cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, etc. I prefer to soak
these in water overnight or at least 4 hours (longer for thicker ones) - it makes them soft, and the soak water is
delicious. They can all be eaten dry, however, and I do this when I have no time to soak them. Just chew them a
long time - until they are liquid - and drink enough water to stay hydrated, as any dry food eaten uses up body
water. If I had to choose only one dried fruit to carry, it would be dates, a real power food. Leave the
candy and sugar for those who don't know or care about their health. Natural foods will help you perform far better
and longer, and dates are king. If dates are not available, figs (dried) are just as good - some say they enhance
2. Seeds and nuts, like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, etc. Never buy them roasted, get them raw
without shells. These are also best soaked overnight, because soaking begins the sprouting process, turning a
dormant seed into a living vegetable/sprout. I also eat them dry, when I can't soak them, and they must also be
chewed until liquid, if we want to digest and assimilate them well. If I had to choose only one food to
carry, it would be raw sunflower seeds. Not because they taste great, but because they are, in my opinion, the most
complete food. So I usually carry sunflower seeds and dates - the two best survival foods I know.
3. Dried and powdered veggies - Potatoes, carrots, kale, cabbage, squash - you name it - all can be cut
thin and dried, then powdered in a blender. Mix your favorites and add water to make instant soup or veggie drink.
Sprinkle over other foods or in sandwiches. I also cook beans, dry and powder them, then add the powder to salads
or soups. You can make instant bean soup by adding water to the powder; toss in some powdered veggies, and you have
a meal. Powdered veggies and beans are far smaller and lighter than their canned versions.
4. Powdered milk substitute or protein drink - I don't drink cow's milk, but I like 'milk' made from
things like soy, grains, seeds and nuts which you can buy or make yourself. If you have a Vita-Mix or equivalent
'super blender', you can make milks from nuts and seeds like sunflower and almonds, then dehydrate them in a food
dryer (use the fruit leather inserts). Powder them again, add carob or whatever and you have your own custom made
milkshake. Mix it with less water and you have pudding. Mix it with very little water, roll into balls and dry and
you have energy food.
Another, simpler, way to make these drink 'powders': Simply grind the seeds or nuts fine, add whatever you want
to sweeten - honey, date paste, maple syrup, brown/natural sugar - and shape into a block and bag it. When you want
to mix a drink, put some small pieces in a bottle (wide mouth helps, I use discarded Powerade and Gatorade bottles)
and fill with water. Let sit overnight, shake vigorously and drink. there will be some granulated stuff in the
bottom, but it's all good.
5. Honey or maple syrup. Add some to a bottle of water, squeeze in a lemon (vitamin C powder in a pinch)
and you have lemonade. Vitamin C is said to reduce muscle fatique after heavy exertion and speeds recovery. Let
other drink their Tang and Gatorade (sugar and chemicals), and all the other so-called sport and electrolyte
drinks. Read the labels - I have - and notice that there are no natural ingredients, except white sugar, which is
refined and can't really be called 'natural'. Those comapnies spend more on the bottle than on making the drink.
Honey is simply concentrated flower nectar, made by bees. It's about twice as sweet as white sugar, so you can use
less. Maple syrup is also a good sweetener, less dense than honey.
6. Energy Bars - I have gone on 4-day hikes with nothing but homemade energy bars and water (see Powdered
milk substitute above). I make them from sunflower seeds and dates, ground up into a paste. To this base you can
add all kinds of things, like sesame seeds, raisins, quick oats (powdered in a blender), coconut shreds, carob
powder, chopped nuts, and you can season with things like cinnamon and ginger. I mix all this up into a thick paste
and form a flat block, then stuff it into a ziplock bag. If you prefer individual bars, roll out between sheets of
waxed paper, let the mix harden (the dry ingredients will absorb moisture in an hour or two, making it hard), then
cut into bars and wrap in wax paper. Or just dust each bar with quick oats/oat powder, sesame seeds, coconut shreds
or whatever and pack in a bag. This is dense food so chew well. A handful will keep you going all day.
7. Seeds for sprouting, like Mung and Alfalfa. You would have difficulty finding a more nutritious food
than sprouts. So if you expect to be bugged out for more than three days (minimum sprouting time), consider packing
a ziplock bag with your favorite sprouting seeds. They are about the most concentrated nutrition on Earth. Just add
water and watch them grow into living food - the best food you can find. You can even sprout them in a bag, after
soaking overnight. Just leave the zip open a bit to let air in. Rinse daily to keep wet but not sitting in water
(they will rot). Mung can be eaten as soon as the roots come out about half an inch, but if you can wait a few
days, you will be rewarded with long, green-topped sprouts that will give you chlorophyll, Vitamin C and lots of
enzymes and other great nutrition that is not available in cooked food (and not even in the dry Mung seeds). You
can live on sprouts and nothing else - that's how good for you they are.
So, the next time you are reading a survival or disaster prep book and come to the food section, you can read it
if you want, but don't expect much nutritional wisdom there. My suggestion: skip the parts about canned food and
MREs, pasta and jerky.
Okay, if you are stocking a survival retreat, you can afford the luxury of a greater variety of foods, even
those that are more for comfort/pleasure than for nutrition. You can also stock foods that require more
preparation, since you probably have the equipment to do that. Like grinding wheat to make bread (you can also soak
and sprout wheat). You might like to have popcorn sometimes. I don't suggest either of these as a bugout food,
unless you really like sprouted wheat and have the time to sprout and grow it. My preference for bugout foods are
those natural foods which are nutritionally dense and require no preparation. MREs and canned foods are not
good nutrition, nor are pasta, breakfast cereal, cookies, granola bars or hot cocoa. I cannot condense 45 years of
nutritional research into this page (perhaps I have), and I've said about all I want to say about which foods are
good for you (natural foods) and which are not (processed, canned, preserved... foods). Your choice.
Food Storage (Cache)
This will not cover food storage at a survival retreat. For that, see my other web site at
SurvivalRetreatPlans.com. Here, I will talk about temporary food storage for/in a bug-out situation. Let's say you
are departing the city before things really fall apart, and you are carrying everything you can on your back in a
BOB. But you might have to walk far to get to your retreat or a safer place to settle. In that case, consider
burrying a cache of food and water (possibly other items) every 20 miles along your route. That way, you can
resupply as you go and need not carry so much.
A single five-gallon bucket can hold a lot of food and water and can be burried easily just off the traveled
roads. Be sure to get the heavy-duty 90 mil (not 70 mil) bucket and a gasketed lid. The gasket is like an O-ring of
rubber inside the lid and it seals air-tight when snapped on.
If you walk about 3 miles per hour, you can cover 20 miles in about 7 hours, unless the terrain is uneven, in
which case you can decide to burry your supplies closer together. Each bucket can contain a gallon of drinking
water and a few pounds of food. The food can be stored in air-tight containers with Oxygen absorbers or vacuum
sealed or whatever. You might like to have fresh socks and underwear waiting for you, extra ammo, a new pair of
shoes, poncho or raincoat - whatever you think will make your trip successful and easier. See the section on
burrying extra gear for detailed instructions on this.
You may or may not carry a folding shovel in your BOB, so plan on how you will dig up your cache. A shovel will
make your dig much easier, so that would be reason enough to carry a small folder. Otherwise, leave a sharpened
stick or other implement near your cache. Also, there are 3-gallon buckets that might hold enough, making it easier
If you expect or plan to have another person follow later and use the same caches, you can replace the standard
gasketed lid with something like a Gamma Seal lid, which snaps on as usual but has a gasketed, screw-in lid in the
middle. Now you can simply uncover the top of your bucket and unscrew the small lid, take out what you need and
screw the lid back on and cover the top again with soil. The next visitor need only do the same, leaving the bucket
in place. It is possible to do this with the standard lids, but they can be difficult to pry off, unless they have
the small tabs that you can operate individually to break the seal. You do have to expose more of the top of the
bucket than with Gamma lids.
I don't recommend burrying things in plastic bags, no matter how thick. Animals may dig up your cache, and a bag
offers little resistance to sharp teeth.
A cache might also be a place to burry things you would not want to carry out of town - things that might be
confiscated at a checkpoint or by thieves (same thing). Perhaps a backup firearm or ammo, or a battle rifle that
would have attracted attention protruding from a backpack (see Defense for folding rifles as alternatives). Money
in whatever form (currency, coins, silver, gold) might be safer in a cache.
Since you can easily leave the cache container in place, you need not carry everything it contains, if doing so
will burden you. You can return days or even years later to reclaim your things.