50+ Bug Out Bag Food Ideas

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We can go approximately 3 weeks without food before dying.  But, let’s be honest here: I get cranky and tired after going without food for even half a day!

That is why I think it is so important to add some survival food to your Bug Out Bag (aka Go Bag).

A Bug Out Bag is meant for your survival, so each item should be chosen with care.  This includes the food for your Bug Out Bag.  Here are the requirements I have when selecting Bug Out Bag food.

*If you are new the idea of Bug Out Bags, here are some articles to get you started:

Caloric Density

You obviously don’t want heavy food items in your Bug Out Bag.  But choosing lightweight foods isn’t a solution either.  What you want to look for are food items with a high caloric density.  This means that they have a lot of calories for their weight (calories/ounce).

An ounce of fat contains 240 calories.  An ounce of protein contains 100 calories. And an ounce of carbohydrates also has about 100 calories.  So, fatty foods are good options for your Bug Out Bag food. *Read this post for ideas on how to cut weight from your Bug Out Bag.


Caloric density is calories per ounce.  Size refers to the calories per volume.  You don’t want a lot of large, bulky items taking up space in your BOB which you need for other important items.

Nutritional and Energy Value

This requirement is debatable.  I know a lot of thru-hikers who don’t give a damn about nutrition.

For example, I know one hiker who practically subsists off of Pringles because they are lightweight and have massive amounts of calories.

He hikes for weeks at a time, whereas a Bug Out Bag is meant for about 2-7 days of travel.

However, for me personally, I know that I don’t do very well when I eat junk foods.  Eating sugary foods (which includes starchy foods) causes blood sugar levels to spike and then quickly drop.

You definitely don’t want your energy levels to drop when you are in an evacuation situation (adrenaline can only fuel you for so long).

The best Bug Out Bag foods for sustaining your energy levels are proteins and fat.  They keep your blood sugar levels more stable so you don’t get energy spikes and subsequent drops.

Preparation Requirements

In an evacuation situation, you won’t have time to stop and cook a meal.  So, your Bug Out Bag food should be ready to eat and require no preparation.

Shelf Life

No one wants to check on the contents of their Bug Out Bag every week.  So, you need food that you can put in your Bug Out Bag and forget about it.  Okay – you shouldn’t completely forget about it.  Ideally your Bug Out Bag food will have a shelf life of at least 6 months and you will rotate it before it goes bad.

Bug Out Bag Food Ideas

Protein-Rich Bug Out Bag Foods

  1. Beef jerky
  2. Pemmican (read how to make pemmican here)
  3. Tuna pouches
  4. Sport energy gels
  5. Packets of peanut butter
  6. Salami
  7. Mettwurst
  8. Kabanos
  9. Meat paste (just add water)
  10. Dehydrated hummus (just add water)
  11. Dehydrated bean paste (just add water)

Nuts, Seeds and Fatty Bug Out Bag Foods

  1. Almonds (160 calories/ounce)
  2. Cashews (160 calories/ounce)
  3. Brazil nuts (184 calories/ounce)
  4. Pistachios, shelled (160 calories/ounce)
  5. Walnuts (183 calories/ounce)
  6. Peanuts (170 calories/ounce)
  7. Sunflower seeds (173 calories/ounce)
  8. Pepitas (126 calories/ounce)
  9. Avocado powder
  10. Packets of olive oil
  11. Hard, aged cheeses in wax coatings

Food Bars

  1. Millenium bars – Buy on Amazon
  2. ProBar – Buy on Amazon
  3. Cliff Bars – Buy on Amazon
  4. Honey Stinger bars – Buy on Amazon
  5. Bear Valley Pemmican bar
  6. Hooah Energy bars
  7. Larabar – Buy on Amazon
  8. Emergency food ration bars –Buy on Amazon


Add-to-Water Bug Out Bag Foods

  1. Resource 2.0 meal replacement shake
  2. Med Pass 2.0 meal replacement shake
  3. Mighty Shake
  4. Boost Plus shake
  5. Ensure Plus shake
  6. Powdered milk
  7. Whey powder

Carb-Rich Bug Out Bag Foods

  1. Trail mix/GORP
  2. Banana chips
  3. Dark chocolate
  4. Snickers bars
  5. Twix peanut butter bars
  6. Tootsie rolls
  7. Peanut M&Ms
  8. Kit Kat bar
  9. Pop tarts
  10. Nutella
  11. Sesame bars
  12. Dried fruit
  13. Fruit leather
  14. Chocolate pretzels
  15. Cook-in-the-Pouch meals (Mountain House makes some good ones that you can buy here)

What foods do you have in your Bug Out Bag?  Let us know in the comments.


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  1. I started making MRE’S because I am a picky eater. I put foil packed tuna, chicken, spam or salmon in each package with condiments, crackers with peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts and a straw of drink mix for water bottles. My kids already ate through theirs so I need to make more, but at least I know they will get eaten in an emergency

  2. BOOST & ENSURE meal replacements are my go-to when anything interferes with regular meals (such as dental freezing). They go on sale regularly, buy the flavours you like (I really dislike the “chocolate”). No, a carton of 6 will not get you thru 3 days. I add foil packs of tuna, salmon, chicken, cans of sardines in spring water or oil, crackers, jam + peanut butter in individual serving packs. A can of DR PEPPER per day more as a psychological boost than anything. Apples will keep for months in my BOB. Almonds & cashews. A 3″ tall can of Pringles. My room mate eats very differently than I do, so she packs what she likes.

  3. Very good article with great ideas and thanks for the caloric breakdown. My problem is I need to get/have long term storage items as I just can’t afford to replace MREs/Energy bars/and any other perishables every few years. Mountain house is my go-to GOD food along with Cliff or Gatorade bars as those I will tend to munch through When expiration dates warrant. Plus I can get bulk purchases of recently expired bars that still taste okay 12 months later. I don’t enjoy snacking on a Datrex bars or year old nuts or jerky.

  4. Most people want tea/coffee in the morning and something warm at night (plus you’ll likely want a security/warmth fire) so I plan accordingly. I carry instant oatmeal with dehydrated fruit chips/raisins/craisins/chocolate chips, coconut oil/honey (in packets), cinnamon/nutmeg, instant non-fat dried milk all in double-sealed ziplock bags (obviously the flavors/fruits change) for a warm, filling breakfast. The kids really get into creating and sampling them at home.

    In the evening, mix boullion cubes or instant soup mixes with the nettles, clovers, Dandelion leaves, Cattail roots, etc. that you’ve collected along the route with chicken or fish from pouches. You might pick up a tomato, potato, onion, green pepper, carrots, etc. from farmers’ gardens along the way as well — carry some junk silver with which to barter.

    Add water to pouches containing flour, baking soda and salt to make a dough. Shape it into a long cylinder, wrap around a green stick and bake Bannock to go with your meal. Make enough to carry along for morning or late evening snacks. There is nothing like warm bread to brighten spirits and smearing on some reconstituted butter buds heightens that pleasure.

  5. I have some 2,400 calorie bar packs and a few MREs to get through a few days and miles. Prepared with snare wire, knowledge and a .22 rifle for longer term…

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