The Best Food for a Survival Kit

best food for a survival kit


Having a survival kit is a must for anyone who may find themselves in a crisis. Being prepared can be the difference between life and death. When planning, stocking up on the best food for a survival kit is important.

Not all foods are equal when it comes to suitability for a survival kit. Dietary needs vary, so shelf-stable, nonperishable and nutrient rich foods should be chosen. Research common items found in most emergency kits, as well as unique alternatives.

Here's an overview of the best food items for a survival kit:

  • Granola bars
  • Nut butter packets
  • Beef jerky/meat sticks
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Fruit leather/freeze dried fruit
  • Canned goods (beans, veggies)
  • Instant oatmeal/instant mashed potatoes
  • Packed soup or ramen noodles
  • Hardtack crackers or other whole wheat items

Non-Perishable Foods

A survival kit should always include non-perishable foods. This type of food stays edible when stored and doesn't need to be refrigerated. Examples include:

  • Canned food
  • Dry goods
  • Nuts
  • Energy bars

These are the best options for any survival kit.

Canned Foods

Canned food is a great option for your survival kit! It's cheap, easy and doesn't need to be refrigerated. Don't forget to bring manual can openers, since most canned foods don't come with one. Examples of canned/shelf-stable food include:

  • tuna
  • chicken
  • beef
  • chili
  • stew
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • beans

Peanut butter, powdered milk, energy bars, jerky, and hard candies should also be in your kit. They'll help to make meals tasty and keep your energy up during a crisis. Most of these items last months to years. Check expiration dates and switch out older items as needed.

Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated foods are great for emergency and survival kits. They contain no moisture, so spoilage is less likely. Most dehydrated food will last up to one year without refrigeration, making them perfect for long-term storage.

These foods are usually smaller and lighter than canned or frozen food. Even when packed in waterproof, durable containers, dehydrated meals usually take up less space.

Examples of dehydrated food to include in your kit:

  • dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apples, apricots, bananas)
  • nuts (almonds, peanuts)
  • ready-to-eat cereals
  • freeze-dried meat or vegetarian meals (beef stew or chili con carne)
  • dried pasta or rice mixes (mac n cheese mix or Spanish rice mix)
  • instant oatmeal

Remember to check expiration dates on dehydrated food before packing it in your kit. Try single-serving packets too – they can be reconstituted with one cup of water!

Freeze-Dried Foods

Freeze-dried foods offer a long shelf life, light weight and convenience for your emergency plans. They last 25-30 years in cool, dry places with no oxygen. Ready-to-eat items like grains, fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy items are full of vitamins and minerals.

Choose a variety of soups, desserts, snacks and breakfast items to ensure enough nutrition for all. Preparing freeze-dried food just requires adding hot water, and it has a mild taste profile making it good for picky eaters.

Perishable Foods

Survival kits should always include perishable food items. These provide energy and nutrition, plus they taste great in tough times. Here are some you should consider packing:

  • Canned meats such as tuna, salmon, or sardines.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Energy bars.
  • Dried fruits and jerky.
  • Crackers and other shelf-stable snacks.


Meats can be great protein sources for a survival kit.

Canned or vacuum-packed meats

like jerky, pemmican, canned salmon and tuna are ideal. They have lots of protein and vitamins and won't go bad easily. Eat them soon after opening – they'll spoil after a while.

Fresh meat that needs to be refrigerated is not recommended – it can lead to food poisoning. Jerky is great – it's dehydrated and doesn't need cold storage. You don't even have to cook it or use water – just open the package and enjoy! Choose the most nutritious meat for your survival kit:

  • Jerky
  • Pemmican
  • Canned salmon
  • Canned tuna


Dairy products are a great pick for a survival kit due to their nutritive value and long shelf life when preserved decently. Dairy goods do require refrigeration and are perishable, so it's essential to switch them out regularly and inspect for spoilage and expiration dates.

Types of dairy that can be included in a survival kit:

  • Milk: Powdered milk is an ideal choice. It can last up to two years if stored in sealed containers and does not need refrigeration.
  • Butter: Air-tightly stored butter can last three months without refrigeration.
  • Cheese: Hard cheeses like cheddar and Swiss can stay fresh for five to six months if stored right. Soft varieties like mozzarella should be consumed within one month.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt should be had within one week of opening. Some brands may have a longer shelf life. Also, powdered yogurt mixes may last up to two years when kept correctly.
  • Cream Cheese: Cream cheese stays good for one month after opening as it is highly perishable. Sealed containers may keep up to six months without refrigeration.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are a must-have in any survival kit. They provide essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. But, since they are perishable, proper preservation is crucial.

Canning and dehydration are the most common methods for preserving fruits and veggies. Canning involves submerging produce in an airtight container with a liquid. This stops oxygen from spoiling the food.

Dehydrating removes moisture, making food shelf-stable. This maintains the nutrient content of fresh produce. Dehydrated goods should be stored in a cool, dark place. They can stay good for up to two years.

  • Canning is better for high moisture fruits like apples and oranges.
  • Veggies like broccoli and carrots are better for dehydration.

For your survival kit, make sure all cans or jars are airtight. Invest in a vacuum sealer machine. If you're short on time, pre-packaged dried fruit and veggie products are available online. Just check the expiration dates!

Other Considerations

Choosing food for your survival kit? Factors to consider: shelf-life, storage, calorie count, portability, and taste. Think about these when selecting items!

  • Shelf-life: how long will it last?
  • Storage: can you keep it in a small space?
  • Calories: how much energy will it give you?
  • Portability: can you take it with you?
  • Taste: yum or yuck?


Water is a must-have for any survival kit. It is key for hydration, hygiene and cooking. Water can be hard to find in an emergency, so it's best to have some handy. Mylar bags or lightweight containers are ideal for easy transport.

The best sources of water are ones that are filtered or purified before an emergency. If not, you may need to filter or boil water you find in nature.

At least one gallon per person per day of water is necessary for a single day survival kit. For larger group survival kits, enough for three days is recommended.

Commercially-made containers designed for storing water are the best option to ensure your water doesn't become contaminated.


Food and water are important for a survival kit, but don't forget about utensils! You may have limited space, so opt for multi-use items. Examples of utensils to include:

  • a mess kit (plate, bowl, cup, and utensils all in one)
  • a can opener
  • dish soap (buy a small bottle of Iodine SO Crystal with a dropper)
  • a towel/napkins. The towel/napkins should be ultra-absorbent and have high tensile strength so they can be used multiple times.


When stocking a survival kit, it's important to include seasonings.

Dried herbs and spices

have a long shelf life - making them a great choice. Seasonings not only make food taste better, but they may provide essential vitamins/minerals.

Herbs to consider:

  • Coriander
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Chili Flakes/ Powdered Chili Pepper

Spices to consider:

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • All Spice
  • Cloves


Choose foods that will give you energy and nourishment in an emergency.

Eat whole and nutrient-dense foods

. These include nuts, seeds, dried fruit, jerky, peanut butter, cereal bars, and energy bars.

Clean drinking water is very important. Have one gallon of water per person per day. Get some purification tablets or a filter water bottle.

Survival food and water will help you stay strong in a crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the best foods for a survival kit?

A: The best foods for a survival kit include non-perishable items such as dried fruits, nuts, jerky, energy bars, canned meats, and canned vegetables. It's also important to include items that are high in protein and fat to provide energy and help maintain a healthy weight. It's also a good idea to include items with a long shelf life, such as powdered milk and dried beans.

Q: What should I include in my survival kit?

A: You should include items such as a knife, fire starter, first aid kit, water purification tablets, compass, flashlight, and a whistle. These items are essential for surviving in the wilderness. It’s also important to have enough food and water for at least 72 hours, and a shelter to protect yourself from the elements.

Q: What items should I avoid in a survival kit?

A: You should avoid items that are perishable, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as items that are heavy or bulky. It’s also important to avoid items that can easily break or malfunction, such as electronic gadgets. It’s best to stick to items that are lightweight, durable, and can provide essential needs in an emergency.

Karen Borchert
Karen Borchert

Freelance travel fanatic. Infuriatingly humble internet practitioner. Passionate twitter practitioner. Extreme social media nerd. Web trailblazer. Passionate pop culture advocate.