(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

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 my experiments...

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 months.

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 web site.

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 mental abilities.

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 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 to burry.

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.


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