Emergency kit preparedness is an important thing, regardless of where you live. Outdoor survival is particularly important if you are someone that spends time camping or exploring in settings removed from civilization.
Here is a variety of the best survival food ideas for the outdoors so you can put together the survival kit you need to catch all the calories, and a lot of vitamins and minerals you need on your trips.
Instant, Add Water Meals
There are two ways to go about instant meals- you either buy pre-packaged options or you make your own. A lot of instant “meals” aren’t actually meals, but more of aside.
For example, instant mashed potatoes or rice sides. However, for the purposes of a survival kit, these work well. You can find a plethora of different varieties of dried food in your local grocery store, just be sure to double-check the instructions to make sure you only need water for cooking your food.
The other option of making your own is actually preferred. One Ziploc freezer bag is all you need to have a complete meal. You can start off with an instant meal bought at the store and then add some water or start from scratch, depending on what you are making.
For example, you can take an instant mashed potato mix and add more vitamins and minerals by adding ingredients.
Simply empty the packet into a Ziploc freezer bag and add extras like dehydrated food like vegetables, wheat, some good bacon bits, dehydrated meats for the calories, and some grams of protein or cheese powder. There is a wide variety for you to choose a good option for you
Another option is to buy instant oatmeal and use that as your base. Put a little sugar or powdered milk into the mix and water. Add some dried fruits or go savory by adding in a variety of dehydrated vegetables and dried seasonings.
You can really use your imagination and experiment while cooking. Try playing with some good fruits, or a wide variety of seeds. Just be sure you always use a freezer-style bag as the normal thin bags will not hold the hot water you’ll have to add when you’re cooking them to eat.
Always be sure you are getting some vegetables in your diet. Just because you may be in a survival situation doesn’t mean vegetables aren’t important. The best way of getting vegetables into your diet is through dehydration. Dehydrated food is always a good option for his durability, so you make sure that through the days at outdoors your pack of food won’t be a disaster.
You can purchase tins or bags of dehydrated vegetables in stores or online to use in recipes. This option is well paired with meals that require only water for cooking. If you make your own meal in a Ziploc bag, add in some dried vegetables.
Canned and Dehydrated Meats or Fish
Typically you want to avoid canned things due to the weight but for a survival situation, it is nice to have these on hand. Canned meats and canned fish are excellent sources of protein and calories.
It is recommended to try canned tuna, albacore, Alaska salmon, and other canned fishes since you’ll get different nutrients and some grams of protein, and important omega 3 fatty acids. Don’t forget to check your grocery store shelf for a pack of fish like tuna and salmon, and if you are lucky you can even find some good beef stroganoff for your survival food kits.
You may even be able to find a pack of good shredded chicken. You can also buy dehydrated meats and fish online from bulk food sources. These are good for adding into instant meals like mashed potatoes that just need boiling water or dried vegetables.
MREs or Meal Ready to Eat seems like the typical survival food, but they are indeed one of the best survival food ideas. These are popular for those creating an emergency ration storage but are looking for the least amount of work possible. That is this option’s major advantage after all – you just buy them and store them, using them as needed.
There is no prepping or extra work on your part. Most MREs sell for about $4 to $8 per meal. This isn’t cheap compared to some other options but for the sheer convenience and ease of mind knowing it offers good complete nutrition, it can’t be beaten.
An alternative to buying MREs would be DIY MREs. These require work upfront to make the meals but once the preparation is finished you can store them as survival meals just as you would with MREs.
Homemade MREs don’t have to be fancy but they do let you get creative with your meals and get the right calories. MREs are often thought of as not the best tasting so if you have very specific tastes, going the DIY route is a good idea. If you have food allergies it’ll almost be a necessity.
A basic homemade MRE pack could be individual meals but for outdoor survival use, you can save space by putting your ration for the entire day in each bag. An example of a DIY MRE for one adult for a day could include:
- Instant coffee or a teabag
- Powdered creamer and/or sugar packets
- Single serving juice mix to add to water
- Small snack Ziploc of a trail mix
- One candy bar for a pick-me-up
- A packet of canned tuna or Alaska salmon
- Package of instant dried mashed potatoes
- Package of instant rice
- Packed with instant pasta
As you can see, many of the outdoor survival foods listed can play a part in your homemade MRE. If you really want whole meals ready to grab and go, this is a good way.
Be sure to review nutritional information and determine how many calories you should consume on a daily basis. Don’t go too heavy on sugars, though candy bars can come in handy in a survival situation.
Put all your dehydrated food into a large Ziploc bag or, even better store it into a vacuum-sealed bag so you get it as compact as possible.
Trail Mix with Extras
Trail mix is essentially the go-to outdoor snack and shelf-stable food, but by making your own trail mix you can go from the equivalent of a sugar-filled, candy mix to something of real sustenance.
Getting enough protein and real nutrition is important, as well as fat. Healthy fats from nuts are necessary for health and are ideal for a survival situation. You can find it in bars or canned, but the cheapest trail mixes have a lot of peanuts, which can be a kind of disaster. Instead go for a mix of nuts like:
Don’t forget about seeds. Sunflower seeds or wheat are also a good addition to any pack or bars!
You can also add in some pretzel balls for variety and a little bit of salt. You don’t want to go too heavy on salt so try to only get unprocessed raw nuts and seeds. Avoid salted or honey roasted, although a tablespoon of honey roasted peanuts can add a nice flavor.
To round it all out, add some dark chocolate chips and some dried fruits.
Jerky or Dried Fish
Jerky is a great thing to have on hand or on your shelf for any emergency. Beef and other meat jerkies are great but don’t forget about alternatives like chicken or turkey jerky. If you can find some smoked dried fish jerky, go for it. Jerkies are heavier but having some real meat to chew is a nice change of pace.
Just as it was mentioned about canned meats and dried fish, you need to be consuming a healthy amount of protein. Jerky can be enjoyable to chew on while hiking and can be more satiating and provide grams of protein.
There are a number of emergency situations that could leave you high and dry without food. While planning ahead and stocking on emergency foods is extremely important, don’t forget about educating yourself on these two important subjects:
Knowledge of Native Edibles
Educate yourself on the local edibles in your area. Most experts recommend you skip mushrooms just in case of accidental misidentification. However, there are still plenty of berries, tubers, and greens you can find.
Hunting and Trapping Skills
Most survival situations aren’t going to be prolonged but it is still wise to learn the basics of hunting and trapping if you aren’t a vegetarian. Trapping is a very important skill and will probably be handier than hunting since you won’t need a weapon. Not to mention there are few survival situations that could warrant hunting big
In the event, your food stores are damaged or you find yourself lost in the backcountry with a dwindling supply, you can fall back on these two skills. Try to find a local class for more information.
Having a supply of outdoor survival foods ready to go isn’t as difficult as it seems. All it takes is some preparation and knowledge.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival skills. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.