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Food For A Bug Out Bag: Bug Out Bag Food You Can Count On


If SHTF and your location becomes unsafe, you may need to grab your bug-out bag and evacuate. Ideally, you’ll already have prepped bags, designated evacuation routes, and a safe bug-out location waiting for you.

In the past, we’ve talked a lot about what essential items should be included in a bug-out bag, such as shelter, water, survival gear, and food. Today we want to focus on that last component: food for your bug-out bag. 

Keep reading to learn about the importance of bug-out bags and the best types of bug-out bag food. 

What is a Bug Out Bag and Why Do You Need One?

 bug out bag food


A bug-out bag is a vessel, typically a backpack, that is filled to the brim with survival gear. It’s the first item you locate when you evacuate from your current location and activate your survival plan. Bug-out bags should be pre-packed with any of the food, water, and survival gear you expect you might need; and there should be a bug-out bag ready for every family member.

Depending on the scenario, there’s no knowing when you might be able to return home, if ever. For that reason, it’s critical to ensure that the equipment you include is adequate for living on the go and high-quality, especially the food.    

Survival calls for nourishment and therefore, it’s important that bug out food is nutritious and calorie-dense. No matter the situation, you'll want your bug out bag food to support your energy and focus. It’s also necessary that the food you choose for your family bug-out bag isn’t just sustaining, but also tastes good. We’ll get more into this shortly.

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The Importance of Choosing the Right Bug Out Bag Food

Choosing the right bug-out bag food is vital. What you decide to pack may be the only food you have until you reach a safer bug-out location. In particularly dire scenarios, it may be the only food you have until you can forage, trap, or hunt for more. 


Before selecting the food you want to pack, you must consider three essential facts:

  1. Space is very limited in a bug-out bag. 
  2. In most cases, a bug-out bag must be carried by the individual.
  3. It needs to include enough food, water, and equipment to help you go from point A to point B in a relatively short amount of time—it’s realistic to pack a bag for upwards of seven days.    

This means that your bug-out food cannot take up a lot of space; it needs to be relatively compact. It also means that your bug-out food needs to be lightweight. It will do you no good if your food is too heavy and you cannot move swiftly enough to safety. 


The Best Types of Food to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag


best bug out foods


In addition, you need to consider other critical characteristics of bug-out food besides size and weight.

  • Non-perishable: The food you pack must have a long shelf life. Your bug-out bag and the food inside could be in storage for months, even years, before you have to bug out and eat the food you packed.
  • Calorically dense: During an evacuation, you need to make the most out of every meal. There is no time for empty calories. Your bug-out food must include vital nutrients like fats, proteins, and complex carbs.
  • Convenient: Time is of the essence during an evacuation. You may not have time to build a fire and have a cookout. Therefore, the food you bring must be convenient to prepare and eat. For example, foods that can be eaten straight out of the container are great, as well as food that only requires reheating and not cooking.
  • Delicious: Considering the bug-out scenario, the word “delicious” may be an overstatement. We all know that bug-out food will fall short compared to a delicious home-cooked meal. But the fact remains the same-–if you don’t like the food you packed, you probably won’t eat it. Therefore, pack tasty foods you know you can enjoy.

Examples of the Best Bug Out Bag Food

Instant Hot Cereals

Instant cereals like oatmeal, muesli, granola, and grits are shelf-stable and lightweight bug-out foods. They are the ideal breakfast for cold mornings. Mix them with powdered milk, peanut butter, or chocolate, and you can add valuable nutrition and sugar. 

Instant Rice

Rice is one of the most consumed foods on Planet Earth. Everyone loves it because it's nutritious and delicious. And the shelf-life of rice is fantastic, especially white rice. We like rice because it can be mixed into other foods to create a complete meal. For example, add chunks of teriyaki chicken (or beef) jerky to the instant rice minutes before it's cooked. You’ll be amazed.     

Ramen Noodles

Ramen isn’t only for “starving” college kids. Ramen is a 100% legitimate bug-out food. It can be eaten dry or reheated with hot water in as little as two minutes. It’s flavorful, warming, and morale-boosting. Ramen takes up little space and is very lightweight. It’s the perfect quick meal when the other foods you packed are getting boring.  




pasta as bug out foods


We all know what pasta is good for—carbs. And when you’re bugging out, carbs can be very important to fuel your body. It is true that pasta can take longer than some other foods to prepare, but if you have a safe location and the time, pasta could be worth it. Mix it with some canned tuna or chicken, and you’ve got yourself a completely improvised bug-out meal.

Instant Mashed Potatoes

If you’re not a fan of mashed potatoes, well, we recommend turning a new leaf, because instant mashed potatoes are one of the best instant foods on the market. They weigh close to nothing, and will fill you up and satisfy your hunger for long periods. They reheat very quickly and provide the carbs and calories your body needs.  

Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Meals

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Freeze-dried and dehydrated shelf stable meals are the perfect bug-out bag food. They are incredibly lightweight and packable; plus, they are full of valuable nutrition. A couple of these shelf stable meals per day, along with some snacks, and you'll have plenty of fuel to keep moving.

Choosing the Best Bug Out Bag Food: Tuna Cans or Pouches

Tuna is one of the most widely available and affordable animal protein sources. You can buy it in small cans or pouches. Either way, it will be designed to last a very long time. Cans or pouches of chicken are also reliable bug-out foods. 


In addition, you might consider canned oysters, sardines, or kippers (herring). We know these foods may not be the most popular, but we have to face the facts: they are easy to find, last for a long time, and include omega-fatty acids, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.  

The Versatility of Jerky as Bug Out Food

Jerky is a great food for your bug-out bag. It’s salty, smokey, protein-rich, and delicious; and nowadays, you don’t just have to be stuck with beef jerky. There are so many other flavors to try. We love the other types, such as elk, pork, wild game, salmon, and vegan jerky. Plus, a wide variety of seasonings and flavors help with the monotony.  

Preserved Meats: Salami and Spam as Food for Go Bag

Processed meats like salami and spam are protein-rich and reliable. They taste great and can be kept in storage for a while, so long as their original packaging is not altered in any way. 

Consider Powdered Milk, Protein Mixes, Lemonade, Coffee, And Other Drinks in your Bug Out Bag

Your bug-out bag should also include drink mixes. Things like powdered lemonade can satisfy your sweet tooth; instant coffee is great for caffeine in the mornings; and powdered milk is ideal for helping kids consume valuable vitamins and minerals.  

Meal Bars: The Best Bug Out Bag Food

Meal bars and protein bars have come a long way over the years. Nowadays, you can find meal bars jam-packed with calories—some of which even have upwards of 2,500! They come in an astounding array of flavors and taste pretty good too. They are convenient to eat and come individually wrapped for a more reliable shelf-life. Plus, they take up hardly any room in your bug-out bag. 

Nuts and Nut Butter: Essential Bug Out Food


jar of peanut butter as food for bug out bag


Nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, and brazil nuts are perfect bug-out bag foods. They weigh next to nothing and hardly ever spoil. Plus, they are well known for their essential nutrients. They make the perfect snack. 

The Sweet Side of Food for Go Bag: Cookies, Candy Bars, and Other Sweets

Let’s face it, sugar is an essential component in many of our diets. Many of us even have a sweet tooth; therefore, it’s good to pack some chocolate or candy bars into your bug-out bag. The sugar can give you a much-needed energy boost and help raise morale. 

Here’s an important addition that is often left out: while packing your food for go bag, don't forget to include a few comfort foods. In the stressful situation of evacuation, having a familiar and comforting snack can help lift your spirits and provide a mental break from the situation at hand.

This could be anything from a favorite candy bar, a pack of cookies, or a small bag of your favorite flavored popcorn. Though not essentially nutritious, these comfort foods can provide the psychological boost that's needed in challenging circumstances.

Tips for Your Bug-Out Bag and Food 

When selecting and maintaining the bug-out food you pack into your bags, there is a lot to consider, so here are some helpful tips to remember. 

Individually Wrapped Foods are Better

Individually packaged foods are optimal because they tend to have a longer shelf life. This is helpful because your food may be in storage for a while before you have to bust it out and start eating it.  


For example, if you want to pack beef jerky in your bug-out bags, consider individually wrapped jerky sticks instead of bags of jerky. This way, you can eat only an individual ration without opening the entire bag. This will guarantee that your food lasts longer during your bug-out. 

Maintaining Freshness and Nutrition: Rotate Foods in Your Bug Out Bag

The food you select for your bug-out bag must have a long shelf-life. However, even some food marketed as non-perishable will eventually need replacing. Just like any other aspect of preparedness, your food supply needs to be rotated and checked regularly. While many bug out bag food options have long shelf lives, they don’t last forever. Regular checks will ensure your food hasn't expired, and rotation keeps your supply fresh. This way, you're always ready to go, and you can rest easy knowing you have a solid plan in place.


We recommend setting a reminder on your phone or calendar to monitor your bug-out food and replace it, if necessary, routinely. Another convenient way to remember this is to rotate your bug-out food every time you switch out your seasonal clothing, so about every six months.    

Try the Food Beforehand

Before you commit to certain foods, it’s a good idea to try the food beforehand. This is especially true if you are trying a new product or flavor. The last thing you want is to open something during a bug-out and find that you cannot stand the taste. 


If you plan on reheating foods, it’s a good idea to become proficient with the stove and fuel type you’ve selected for your bug-out bag. That way, you don’t have to figure it out on the spot, and can quickly reheat and eat when time is of the essence during a bug-out.

Another point worth mentioning is about cooking utensils. When thinking about bug out bag food, you should also consider how you will prepare that food. Adding a compact, lightweight cooking set and utensils can make it much easier to cook and eat the food in your bug-out bag. Portable stoves, foldable utensils, and heat-resistant containers can be crucial for preparing your food efficiently.

Don’t Forget the Hand Sanitizer


dont forget the hand sanitizer


Things can get messy during a bug-out. You might get dirty and lose access to water or the ability to bathe regularly. If you are not careful, this could lead to falling ill. Therefore, we recommend packing hand sanitizer to clean your hands before eating, at the very least. If you suspect you’ll have access to water, a small bar of soap and a rag is even better for washing up. 

Avoid Overpacking: Select Only Essential Food for Go Bag

We cannot overstate the importance of only packing what you can carry. This is especially true if your bug-out plans involve traveling by foot. But even if you do have a reliable bug-out vehicle, over-packing can slow you down. 


Experts recommend packing no more than 20% of your total body weight. So, for example, if you weigh 180 pounds, your pack should weigh at most 36 pounds. If you can, it’s a good idea to practice carrying your bag around the house or on small hikes to get used to it.   


Final Thoughts: The Importance of Choosing the Right Food for Your Bug Out Bag

In SHTF scenarios where evacuation has become necessary, your bug-out bag and the food, water, and other equipment packed inside are responsible for helping you reach your bug-out location safely. Therefore, there is no room for shortcuts when deciding what goes in the bag, especially for bug-out food.

We hope you found this article insightful and helpful. If you enjoyed it, visit our website to learn more. At Valley Food Storage, we are committed to connecting you with high-quality, shelf-stable, nutritious emergency food. Let us help you get prepared for the unexpected.

We hope you found this article insightful and helpful. If you enjoyed it, visit our website to learn more. At Valley Food Storage, we are committed to connecting you with high-quality, shelf-stable, nutritious emergency food. Let us help you get prepared for the unexpected.