Skip to Content

60 Best Foods for Bug Out Bags

60 Best Foods for Bug Out Bags

SHTFPreparedness may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.

Bug outs require planning, gear, and food. The amount of each is ultimately determined by the duration of your expected bug out. Even if your bug out is only a few miles, a snack can lift and keep your spirits up. If you measure your bug out in days, then food is a requirement. This list of the 60 best foods for bug out bags will help you fill out your bag and ensure that you make it to your destination with a full belly.

assortment of bug out bag foods

The rule of threes states that the average person can make it three weeks without food. That may be true, however, you don’t want to be around me after hour 12. For most people, a weekend without a warm meal can frustrate the most level-headed person.

When considering the best food for your bug out bag, there are a few things to keep in mind. This article will list out some of those considerations and will catalog some of the best foods to consider.

Get out your pen and pencil. Take notes. But make the list your own with additions that best fit your survival kit plans.

Bug Out Bag Food Criteria

Some foods just aren’t compatible with a BOB. Let’s look at the key features you want in your BOB foods.

How to Choose the Best Food for Your Bug Out Bag?

  • Shelf Life – The first element of bug out bag food is its durability. A burst pouch or spoiled food does you no good. Both the food and packaging have to be durable with a long shelf life. Anything you bag up will probably be there for a few months. Make sure it will last.
  • Caloric Density – There are times for empty calories, even on a bug out. But it’s best to make the most of every meal. Keep the food nutritious and packed with calories. Fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates are your friends.
  • Lightweight – Where possible, choose lightweight food. Ounces add up to pounds. Pounds add up to pain. Bear in mind that freeze-dried foods require water. This spare water will add up.
  • Quick and Easy – On a bug out, time will be of the essence. You may need to eat on the run. You may not have the ability to make a fire. Foods that you can eat right out of the container are a priority. Don’t neglect the value of a hot meal. If you choose a few hot meals, make sure they only need to be heated and not cooked. Choose meals that will conserve your fuel.
  • Delicious – Finally, pack what tastes good. If you don’t like it, you won’t eat it. No matter how hungry you are won’t enjoy it. Select foods you enjoy. I cannot say enough about how a quick break with tasty food will lift your spirits.

What’s the Best Food for Your Bug Out Bag?

Here’s a list of the 60 best foods for your bug out bag. To make it a bit easier, we have broken the food out into seven main categories: carb-, protein-, fat-, sugar- and energy-rich foods, along with complete meals and emergency foods.

I. Carbohydrate-Rich Bug Out Bag Food

carb-rich bug out bag foods

Carbohydrates are fuel. We need them for energy. Carbohydrates from sugars (simple carbohydrates) give you a quick boost when you need an energy boost the most. Complex carbs give you energy throughout the day.

1. Instant Hot Cereals

Oatmeal, Grits, Muesli are all shelf-stable and warming on a frosty morning. Purchase instant oatmeal and quick varieties as they take less time and fuel to prepare.

2. Cereal

Cold cereal is a great snack. The sugar-coated cereals will give you a quick boost, while the no sugar added ones are loaded with complex carbs.

3. Instant Rice

Rice is the perfect chameleon food. Mixed with sweet or savory additives to fit your current mood. Like hot cereals purchase the quick variety.

4. Dry Pasta

Past is the perfect carbo-loading tool. Pack smaller kinds of pasta so they cook quickly and get you back on the road.

5. Ramen Noodles

Ramen, not just for college anymore. A bowl of ramen can be cooked in less than a cup of boiling water and in as little as 2 minutes.

6. Beans

Beans have both complex carbs and are protein-rich. If you are packing shelf-stable beans, pack lentils. They cook in 1/10th the time of other, larger beans.

7. Dehydrated Hummus

Not a fan of a bowl of rice or beans. Try hummus, especially if you like savory snacks.

8. Instant Mashed Potatoes

Another quick hot meal loaded with starch and carbs is potatoes. Once you have boiling water, you can prepare instant mashed potatoes in under a minute.

Bob's Red Mill Instant Mashed Potatoes Creamy Potato Flakes, 64 OunceBob’s Red Mill Instant Mashed Potatoes Creamy Potato FlakesBob's Red Mill Instant Mashed Potatoes Creamy Potato Flakes, 64 Ounce

9. Brown Bread

Sometimes you just need a slice of bread. Canned bread can give you that. Remember to bring a can opener

10. Seeds (Sunflower, Pumpkin)

Seeds are a powerhouse snack. Grab mixed packs or all one type. The natural oils in them have a shelf-life, so it is best to rotate them every 3-6 months.

II. Protein-Rich Bug Out Bag Food

protein-rich bug out bag foods

Proteins are the building blocks of recovery. When you exert yourself, you need protein to repair and rebuild your muscles. A high protein snack during a break in your bug out will get you up and running sooner and longer than empty calories.

11. Tuna Cans or Pouches

The most commercially available and inexpensive protein is tuna. Can’s or pouches, it’s available in almost every grocery store. Buy it packed in oil for additional calories.

StarKist Tuna Creations, Lemon Pepper, 2.6 oz pouch (Pack of 24)StarKist Tuna Creations, Lemon Pepper, 2.6 oz pouch (Pack of 24)StarKist Tuna Creations, Lemon Pepper, 2.6 oz pouch (Pack of 24)

12. Chicken Cans or Pouches

Chicken has followed tuna’s lead. You can buy both chunked and grilled tuna in long shelf life cans and pouches. There are now many flavors available (buffalo, Italian, etc.)

13. Sardines, Smoked Oysters, and Kippers

Ok, maybe not for everyone, but they are filled with protein, healthy fats, and calories. One tin can last you several hours.

14. Canned Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s loaded with omega-3s, B vitamins, folate, thiamin, and selenium. Again, a small amount will go a long way.

Sockeye salmon is always wild-caught (much better for you than factory-farmed fish) and it’s low in mercury, making it an ideal choice. It’s canned, so it will keep pretty much indefinitely. Go for salmon packed in BPA-free cans.

Wild Planet is a good option.

15. Jerky

Is there any trail food better than jerky? Salty, protein-rich, and smokey. You can even cut up a slice and add it to rice for flavoring.

16. Meat Paste

Beef, chicken, and ham are all available and popular in the US. Used as a spread (think Pâté) or just spoon it out of the jar.

17. Pemmican

vacuum sealed pemmican bars - ideal food for the bug out bag

The original Native American power food, pemmican, is easy to make on your own. Check out our own homemade pemmican recipe.

18. Biltong

Biltong, like jerky, but cured rather than dried, is a quick protein-rich snack.

19. Salami

Salami is loaded with protein, fat, and salt. All the things needed on a break during a hot and sweaty bug out.

20. SPAM

Eat it raw, fried, or straight out of the can. SPAM is an acquired taste. Try it before you add a can to your bug out bag.

Spam Single Classic, 2.5 Ounce Pouch (Pack of 24)Spam Single Classic, 2.5 Ounce Pouch (Pack of 24)Spam Single Classic, 2.5 Ounce Pouch (Pack of 24)

21. Powdered Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk was the original post-workout protein drink. Find a powder that is touted as “just add water.”

22. Powdered Milk

Like chocolate milk, some meals or snacks just aren’t complete without a glass of milk.

23. Whey Powder

You can amp up the protein with whey powder. There are too many whey protein powders on the market to count. Buy a variety that suits your tastes.

24. Meal Shakes

Ensure, Boost, and SlimFast all make meal replacement shakes that are great on the trail. Rotate them out every 3 months and don’t store them below freezing unless you want a mess.

25. EPIC Bars

EPIC Bars are awesome. The company uses grass-fed/pasture-raised meat and combines it with all kinds of tasty addition.

EPIC Bars are an excellent source of grass-fed protein and fat, they’re low in sugar, and they’re vacuum-sealed for freshness. The beef-apple-bacon bars are especially tasty.

III. Fat-Rich Bug Out Bag Food

foods high in fat

No food is more calorie-dense than fat. Fat is the ultimate source of heat and energy for your body. In the Keto diet, a high-fat snack is called a “Fat Bomb.” These snacks are rich in nut butters, coconut oil, almond oil, and olive oil.

26. Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, Peanuts, Pistachios)

A bag of mixed nuts is filled with salt, fiber, and fat. Mixed nuts satisfy that savory urge while providing a good calorie boost.

27. Raw Nut Butter

Raw nuts are another source of dense nutrition and fat. Nut butter keeps a very long time, and a little bit goes a long way. Raw is key – cooking nuts spoil the delicate fats in them, making them inflammatory and robbing them of many of their beneficial properties.

No peanut butter, either – peanuts are legumes, not nuts, and they’re very often contaminated with mold. Opt for raw almond, cashew, or pecan butter. Artisana is a solid brand.

Artisana Organics Raw Walnut Butter with Cashews (1 Pack (8 oz))Artisana Organics Raw Walnut Butter with Cashews Artisana Organics Raw Walnut Butter with Cashews (1 Pack (8 oz))Artisana Organics Non GMO Raw Cashew Butter, 14 oz Non-GMO Raw Cashew ButterArtisana Organics Non GMO Raw Cashew Butter, 14 ozArtisana Organics Raw Pecan Butter with Cashews, Plastic, 9 ozArtisana Organics Raw Pecan Butter with CashewsArtisana Organics Raw Pecan Butter with Cashews, Plastic, 9 oz

28. Coconut Oil Packets

Why not go straight to the source for your fat boost. Mix the coconut oil with something else (e.g. coffee: research bulletproof coffee for the recipe) to help it go down.

29. Avocado Powder

Avocado powder can be mixed with water to make instant guacamole. Heavy with healthy fats and tasty too!

30. Packets of Olive Oil

Again, go straight to the source. If you can’t find olive oil packets, make your own. Either seal them up with your own vacuum sealer or just bring along a small bottle.

IV. Sugar-Rich Bug Out Bag Food

foods high in sugar

Sometimes you need a boost of simple sugars. Either for an energy lift or an emotional lift. A sweet can bring a smile to your face as easily as it lifts you out of an energy deficit.

31. Honey

Honey is a wonder food. It’s also a wonder medicine. There is no reason not to pack some. Get raw, unfiltered, honey that has not been pasteurized where possible.

Nature Nate's 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey, 32 oz. Squeeze BottleNature Nate’s 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey, 32 oz. Squeeze BottleNature Nate's 100% Pure, Raw & Unfiltered Honey, 32 oz. Squeeze Bottle

32. Jelly

Pick the right jelly and you can eat it by the spoonful, mix it in tea, or spread it on bread/crackers.

33. Nutella

Want a hit of chocolate with your sugar? Grab a small jar of Nutella. When in doubt, eat it by the spoonful.

34. Dried or Dehydrated Fruit

Want a more natural sugar boost? Go with dried fruits. You can even find ones that are sweetened. Banana chips are often coated in honey for a little extra energy.

35. Fruit Leather

dehydrated strawberry fruit leather roll-ups

Natural sugar with an intense flavor sums up fruit leather. Toss a few rolls in your pack and tear off a treat.

Try our delicious and simple blueberry fruit leather recipe.

36. Candy Bars

Snickers are the original power bar. But don’t limit yourself to just Snickers. Grab a mixed bag of mini candy bars at each of the candy-laden holidays.

37. Cookies

Nothing like a bit of normalcy on the trail. Throw in a pack of your favorites. Even if they get crushed, cookie dust can still be a treat.

38. Peanut M&Ms

Melts in your mouth and not in your bug out bag. Peanut M&Ms also have a boost of protein and fat.

M&M'S Peanut Chocolate Candy Singles 1.74 Ounce (Pack of 48)M&M’S Peanut Chocolate Candy Singles 1.74 Ounce (Pack of 48)M&M'S Peanut Chocolate Candy Singles 1.74 Ounce (Pack of 48)

39. Pop-Tarts

Pop-tarts were a staple when my brother and I were in scouts. Back then they had a paper and foil wrapper. Light a corner on fire and let the paper slowly burn off and they would be perfectly cooked.

Sadly, they are now packaged in mylar and that is no longer an option. But hey, they are still great cold.

40. Dark Chocolate

Science has proven that the chemicals in chocolate are mood lifters. Stash a bar of the good stuff in the bottom of your bag.

V. Energy-Rich Bug Out Bag Food

energy-rich bug out bag foods

Sometimes a sweet snack isn’t enough. You need a highly caffeinated break to keep your energy levels up!

Caffeine, like sugar, is a tool to be used on a bug out. Make sure you also eat the calories required to support your energy boosts. Finally, be prepared for the crash at the end.

41. Bulletproof Coffee

What is more normal than a morning cup of coffee? Bulletproof Coffee is high-quality coffee blended with grass-fed butter and Brain Octane oil. It takes up a spot on my list for several reasons:

  • Coffee promotes wakefulness, gives you energy, and keeps you attentive. Most people don’t experience the headache or energy crash often associated with coffee, provided they use high-quality coffee beans that are mold-free.
  • The fats in Bulletproof Coffee amplify and smooth out the effects of the caffeine, giving you hours and hours of heightened focus.
  • The Brain Octane in Bulletproof Coffee resets ghrelin and CCK, two hormones that cause hunger. The reset keeps you feeling satiated, even if all you’ve had is a cup of Bulletproof joe. Brain Octane also rapidly converts to ketones, fuel your brain can use. This system promotes mental precision.
  • Grass-fed butter/ghee provides slower-burning energy and tons of vitamins and nutrients.

Call me a hipster if you dare, but this stuff will give you clarity and satiety for hours (you can read more about the science behind it) [7,8,9,10], earning the space and weight it takes up in your bag.

Bulletproof The Mentalist Whole Bean Coffee, Premium Gourmet Medium Dark Roast Organic Beans, Rainforest Alliance certified, Keto diet, Clean Upgraded coffee (12 Ounces)Bulletproof The Mentalist Whole Bean CoffeeBulletproof The Mentalist Whole Bean Coffee, Premium Gourmet Medium Dark Roast Organic Beans, Rainforest Alliance certified, Keto diet, Clean Upgraded coffee (12 Ounces)Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil Go Packs, Travel Friendly Packets, Keto Diet Friendly Source of C8 Energy, More Than Just MCT (15 Count) Brain Octane Oil Go PacksBulletproof Brain Octane Oil Go Packs, Travel Friendly Packets, Keto Diet Friendly Source of C8 Energy, More Than Just MCT (15 Count)Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee, Quality Clarified Butter Fat from Pasture-Raised Cows, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO (13.5 Ounces) Ghee (13.5 oz)Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee, Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee, Quality Clarified Butter Fat from Pasture-Raised Cows, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO (13.5 Ounces) Ghee (13.5 oz)

42. Instant Coffee

For the less hardcore and much more space-conscious, you can’t go wrong with instant coffee. I have many a fond memory of my dear mother preparing a spoon of instant Maxwell, boiling water, and one of those tiny Saccharin tablets each morning. Why not take these memories on your bug out with you?

While you may be used to Bulletproof or French pressed excellence, the right instant coffee can get you a passable cup for a lot less volume.

43. Tea Bags

I don’t consider a bug out bag complete until I have the means to make a cup of tea. To make a stronger cup, use multiple tea bags, don’t let them steep longer. Time just pulls out tannins and makes the tea acidic.

44. Hot Chocolate

Drink it cold or hot and you have a cup of liquid gold. For a double boost, mix a packet with a cup of coffee.

45. Energy Drink

Energy drinks are made for pushing you through your barriers. Pack one or two for true emergencies. Beware of the crash afterward.

46. Sports Energy Gels

Sports gels are made to increase performance when you are about to bonk. Small and compact, you can pack a few into any free corner of your bug out bag.

VI. Complete Meals

homemade MREs

A snack is fine on the road, but a meal is much more satisfying. When time allows, take a break and fill your stomach!

47. Commercial MREs

Armies march on MREs. You can march on them too. Buy a few different ones to figure out which ones you like.

48. Homemade MREs

Don’t be intimidated by making your own MREs. A few ready to eat components (bagged rice, a pouch of chicken, and a snack) vacuum-sealed into a handy package and you’re all set.

49. Freeze-Dried Meals

Freeze-dried meals are the pinnacle of bug out bag foods. Try a few different meals from Mountain House and other manufacturers in the comfort of your own home. Don’t forget to account for the extra water you will need to cook them.

Save money by buying food buckets. You can conveniently pack your bug out bag with the individual packets as needed.

Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply (1 Person), 200 Servings, 36,600 Calories, Net Weight 20 lbs. 7 oz.Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply (1 Person), 200 Servings, 36,600 Calories, Net Weight 20 lbs. 7 oz.Augason Farms Deluxe Emergency 30-Day Food Supply (1 Person), 200 Servings, 36,600 Calories, Net Weight 20 lbs. 7 oz.

50. Soup Mix \ Bullion

Soup and bullion can be a terrific source of salt for a hot day. Bullion is a favorite item of mine that preppers tend to forget.

Prep the bullion when you have hot water and then drink it later on the trail. The salt content of bullion lets you store it for the long term.

51. Heat and Eat Rice Pouch

If there is something better than rice, it’s rice that is ready to eat. You can heat in a pot of boiling water or eat cold.

52. Knorr \ Uncle Ben Side Dishes

Modern packaging has led to a flurry of prepacked side dishes. Hit the grocery store aisles and pick any that sound good.

53. Pork and Beans

Pork and beans will provide more than just carbs. The beans and pork will also add protein and fat to the meal.

VII. Emergency Food

trail mix emergency bug out bag foods

Often, life doesn’t fall into nice little groups. It’s time for a snack… It’s time for a complete meal… During these gaps, it’s great to have a more complete food to fill you up.

54. Emergency Food Bars / Lifeboat Rations

Emergency food and ration bars are made to be tucked away and forgotten. They may not taste like a porterhouse steak, but they will get you through the lean hours. Especially after they have been forgotten at the bottom of the bag for a year.

55. Protein Bars

Protein bars are designed to be nutritionally balanced for times of physical stress. Most will also last for months in the bottom of a bug out bag.

56. Trail Mix/GORP

Good Old Raisins and Peanuts were one of the first high energy trail snacks. GORP has been around forever. It was a good option then, and it’s a good option now. Rotate them every few months to avoid the nuts going rancid.

Bug Out Bag Food Item Tips

Food isn’t everything in your bug out bag. You will need to pack several other items to cover needs and conveniences.

57. Hand Sanitizer

Always pack standard hygiene items like hand sanitizer and a small towel. You can alternatively pack soap if your route takes you close to water.

58. Mess Kit

You will need basic utensils. This may be as elaborate as a full set of cutlery and a mess kit, or as simple as a spork and a cookpot.

Bag Weight

got my bug out bag ready!

If you are planning on bugging out on foot, then you will have strict limits on what you can carry. The hiker’s rule of thumb is a pack weight limit of 20% of your total body weight. If you are not used to hiking, then even this much will be a challenge.

Review the contents of your bug out bag and remove anything that is not absolutely necessary. Then allocate space and weight for food.

Finally, practice with your bag. If it’s too heavy, cut back, or practice more.

Food Prep and Cooking

You can plan to eat all your meals straight out of the package and cold. That being said, a warm meal can fill you as much as it can lift your mood. Therefore, you will need to include a heat source in your survival kit.

59. Esbit Stove

Cooking over a fire can be done however it takes practice and skill. Second, you need to be able to start a fire. Third, fires bring light and smoke. Both can bring uninvited guests.

Your best bet is a small cook stove and pot. The type is up to you. My personal favorite is a simple Esbit Stove. It comes with a pot and stand, and I pack several tablets. Within a few minutes, I can get the pot boiling and have my warm meal.

Esbit Stove 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook SetEsbit Stove 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook SetEsbit Stove 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set

Water Supply

We need one gallon per day per person. At 8 pounds per gallon, that’s a lot of weight for a multi-day hike.

Water storage is a critical skill for preppers. Review your environment, terrain, and your physical abilities. Additionally, knowing how to purify water on the run is critical for survival.

60. Water Filtration and Treatment

To reduce the amount of water on hand, you need to add a water filter and water treatment to your pack. Filters and tablets or drops allow you to replenish on the way. Mark your bug out bag plans with available water sources to make sure you never run dry.

Recommended Water Products:

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterLifeStraw Personal Water FilterLifeStraw Personal Water FilterPotable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification TabletsPotable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification TabletsPotable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification TabletsSawyer Mini Water Filtration SystemSawyer Mini Water Filtration SystemSawyer Mini Water Filtration System

Local Flora Guide

This one isn’t food, but it can turn into food with a little effort. Veggies are important, but they don’t keep well and they take up a lot of space. The solution? Get a guide to local flora and study up.

Find edible plants in your area and commit them to memory. Doing so will ensure that you can eat well if you’re stuck in the woods for a few days.

Final Thoughts

Preppers often assemble bug out bags out of reaction rather than planning. Tossing a bunch of food into a bug out bag will either lead to a collection of inappropriate food or not enough. Both can lead to a critical situation when the SHTF.

Take a little time to plan out your snacks, drinks, and other foods for your bug out bag. Allocate the space and weight to the calories you will need to make it out of harm’s way to safety.

These options are a dramatic upgrade to the standard fare in bug out bags. Stay sharp, stay strong, and stay prepared!

The best food for your bug out bag have a long shelf life, high caloric density, are lightweight, and taste great. Here are our top BOB food picks, by category.



Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker

root cellar that can be used as a bunker

Do you remember the old root cellars our great-grandparents used to have? In fact, they probably built it themselves, right in their back yard.

If you want to learn how to build a backyard bunker like your grandparents had, without breaking the bank, then you need Easy Cellar.

Easy Cellar will show you:

  • How to choose the ideal site
  • Cost-effective building methods
  • How to protect your bunker from nuclear blast and fallout
  • How to conceal your bunker
  • Affordable basic life support options

Easy Cellar will also reveal how a veteran, with only $421, built a small nuclear bunker in his backyard.

Also included: