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What’s the Best Survival Food? Healthy Survival Foods to Stockpile for Any Situation

Having a ready collection of survival foods in your home is non-negotiable. In times of uncertainty, it's crucial to be prepared with a reliable source of sustenance for you and your family.

Stockpiling the best survival foods today will ensure your household is always prepared for whatever disaster may occur sometime in the future.

Read on to learn about what to be prepared for, our favorite healthy survival foods you should always have in your home, and some tips on how to make your survival foods last longer.

Survival Foods for Short-Term Emergencies

survival foods for short term emergencies

The most basic recommendation for an emergency food supply is to have at least 72 hours' worth of food and water for short-term emergencies. However, we like to play it safe and recommend always keeping at least two weeks' worth of food on hand. Examples of short-term emergencies include bad blizzards and snowstorms, power outages, and nearby hurricanes. 

During short-term emergencies, you may lose access to your municipal power, water, and gas supply. Therefore, the food you have stockpiled for short-term emergencies should be convenient to cook. 

The fresh food you already have at home will be helpful to sustain the short-term emergency.  Besides that, classic examples of emergency food for short-term disasters include shelf-stable and non-perishable processed food items: 

  • Canned fruits and vegetables

  • Boxed soups, stocks, and broths

  • Dried grains, such as rice and couscous

  • Dried legumes, such as beans and lentils

  • Boxed and instant meals 

The Best Survival Foods for Long-Term Emergencies

long term food storage

Long-term emergencies are much more complicated. Emergencies such as nuclear warfare, EMP attacks, or civil war can affect your reliable access to food and water. In severe scenarios, your normal food and water supply could be gone indefinitely.

Therefore, they require a larger and more reliable stockpile of emergency food. Freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency foods are, by and large, the best option for prepping for long-term emergencies.  

Astronauts, campers, and backpackers have enjoyed freeze-dried and dehydrated food for years due to their convenience and the high amount of nutrients they provide. 

One of the most impressive parts of some freeze-dried fruits and freeze-dried vegetables is how long they last—for example, our freeze-dried food lasts up to 25 years. The long and reliable shelf life is perfect for long-term storage, whether a disaster strikes tomorrow or in 15 years. 

Healthy Survival Food Options to Stockpile

Peanut Butter, Trail Mix & Nuts

Not only is peanut butter delicious in every way, but it contains high amounts of healthy fats and proteins needed to fuel the body with strength and energy.

Because it does not require refrigeration, it is an ideal candidate for the best survival foods and is also good to be prepared and kept in your survival food bucket

Individually sealed packages of nuts or trail mix are also convenient and a great energy source. 

Ensure that the peanut butter and trail mix you pick qualify as healthy emergency food, because it’s easy to get highly unhealthy versions of any of these items. Therefore, we recommend reading the nutritional values on the packaging.


Believe it or not, vitamins are a part of this healthy survival food list. It’s not always something you think of as food, but it’s something you need.

You never know how long you may be without power or access to fresh food, so it is essential to include multivitamins in your emergency kit. A vitamin-packed supplement can help replace nutrients that may not be available to you during an emergency.

These will also help boost the effectiveness of your immune system and the nutritional value of your healthy emergency food.

Here’s a list of some of the best prepper vitamins we recommend.

  • Vitamin A – supports bone health, enhances vision, and supports the immune system.

  • Vitamin B1 – essential for glucose metabolism and plays a critical role in nerve, heart, and muscle function. 

  • Vitamin B2 – helps break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and boosts your body’s energy supply. 

  • Vitamin B3 – essential for proper metabolism, antioxidant protection, and nervous system function.

  • Vitamin B5 – critical for manufacturing red blood cells and hormones. 

  • Vitamin B6 – essential for healthy brain development and immune system function. 

  • Vitamin B7 – supports hair, nail, and skin health. 

  • Vitamin B12 – keeps your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy. 

  • Vitamin C – vital for the growth, repair, and development of all body tissues. 

  • Vitamin D – helps your body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, which is essential for healthy bones. 

  • Vitamin E – necessary for reproduction, vision, and the health of your skin, brain, and blood. 

  • Vitamin K – enhances effective blood clotting and the building of bones.

Freeze-Dried Fruit

[product_render product-handle="freeze-dried-meat-6-pack"]

We always get asked, “Which is better, freeze-dried vs. dehydrated foods?” The answer is that both are fantastic. 

Freeze-dried foods have a much higher shelf life than fresh fruit, making them an amazingly healthy survival food. Similarly, dehydrated foods have a very reliable shelf life.  Both also contain all their nutrition after the drying process and remain delicious. Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, apricots, and coconut are just a few of the available freeze-dried fruits on the market.

Canned Fruits, Vegetables, Chili & Soup

Canned goods are beneficial in an emergency kit for many reasons; for example, they can be eaten straight out of the can, do not require refrigeration, last for a long time, and provide essential nutrients the body needs daily. 

The issue you have to be careful of here is actually picking healthy emergency food, just like with trail mixes and energy bars. Some canned goods can be unhealthy and have inadequate nutrition. Like the trail mix, check the nutritional values and what they contain.

Don’t immediately go for so-called low-fat cans that label themselves healthy; check the facts for yourself to make sure any canned goods you purchase qualify as healthy survival food for your stock.

Whole-Grain Crackers & Cereals

Crackers can be an excellent substitution for bread. They have a longer shelf life (especially when vacuum-sealed) and contain carbohydrates and fiber, which the body requires to function correctly.

Those two factors alone secure their spot on our best survival foods list, but you can take these one step further by buying whole-wheat and whole-grain crackers.

A similar healthy survival food is whole-grain cereals. These contain enough fiber to be a filling, fast, and easy snack food. Try to find a cereal with individually packaged servings so it will stay fresh for much longer.

It should go without saying—stay away from high-sugar cereals. Sure, we love ‘em, but they aren’t exactly great for healthy emergency food. Get them as a treat for normal times, but keep the healthy whole-grain options for survival situations.

Pasteurized & Powdered Milk

Milk is an excellent source of calcium and Vitamin D. Still, when fresh milk is inaccessible, non-perishable pasteurized and powdered milk can be a great alternative and a fantastic option for any prepper's survival food supply.

Fortified milk powder contains all of the essential nutrients that regular milk has to offer, but will last for up to 25 years. It does not require refrigeration, so it makes a great addition to your healthy emergency food supply.

Baby Food & Formula

Infants require a whole slew of nutrients to grow healthy and strong, so if you have an infant, baby food and formula will be an essential part of your food storage.

No little ones in the house? Adults can also benefit from the nutrients that baby foods provide.

An average jar of baby food has around 50-100 calories, so this can be a handy option to tide you over until your next full meal. This will also help your healthy survival food supply last longer.

Energy Bars & Sports Drinks

Energy Bars & Sports Drinks for survival food

If they are good enough for professional athletes, they are good enough for your healthy emergency food supply, right?

Yes, but again, like most food sold in typical stores, you have to make sure what you pick is nutritious and not packed with artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.

For example, granola bars are a great source of energy. They work quickly and efficiently because they are packed with carbohydrates and protein. They are also kid-friendly, so they are great for the whole family.

We also recommend some sports drinks. They are hydrating, and they provide the body with electrolytes and carbohydrates, making them a great source of energy.

Canned & Freeze-Dried Protein

Protein is required for maximum energy levels and strength, so canned proteins are a great addition to any healthy emergency food kit.

We’ve all had canned tuna fish, sardines, or salmon, but freeze-dried meats are giving canned proteins a run for their money and are considered one of the best healthy survival foods you can add to your supply—for example, powdered eggs.

Within the past few years, the process of freeze-drying proteins has come a very long way. It used to taste like dog food. Today, though, freeze-dried protein is packed with all of the flavors of normal protein, thanks to revolutionary advances in the freeze-drying process.


One of the most crucial components of any emergency food stockpile is water. It won’t matter if your storage is full of all the food items on this list—you simply will not survive without water.

Make sure you have a supply of freshwater as a part of your healthy survival food kit. Remember that the supply may run out, so you should also have a backup plan for your water source.

We also recommend having a plan for water treatment. For example, boiling water will make it safe for consumption and use. So besides having a stockpile of water, you should also have items that will allow you to collect, filter, and treat water.

Healthy Prepper Food Survival Guide Download

Herbs & Spices

The food you cook in the aftermath of a disaster does not have to be bland or boring. You can include herbs and spices into your cooking to make your meals more nutritious and taste better.

Dried herbs and spices don’t only add complex flavors to your food; they also enhance the color, aroma, and nutritional value of the meal. Herbs and spices possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic characteristics. 

For example, spices such as sage, oregano, rosemary, clove, and cinnamon are fantastic sources of antioxidants. Cooking with culinary herbs and spices has also been found to lower your risk of death from cancer, heart, and respiratory issues.

Dried Meats (a.k.a. Jerky)

Dried meat should be included in every prepper food supply. Dried meat, or jerky, is perfect for prepper pantries because it has an impressively long and reliable shelf life. Jerky can be made from a variety of protein sources, such as beef, elk, buffalo, fish, turkey, venison, and duck.

Dried meats are an important source of protein, but they also contain important vitamins, such as B3, B6, B9, and B12. Jerky also contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur.


maple syrup sweetener as survival food

Having sweeteners in your prepper pantry is as important as having a wide selection of herbs and spices. Sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, agave, and sugar make certain foods more enjoyable and, most importantly, more nutritious. 

For example, one serving of maple syrup in your oatmeal will supply you with zinc, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Maple syrup is also well known for its long and reliable shelf life. 

Honey is another important sweetener. It is ideal for sweetening coffee, tea, and oatmeal, as well as spreading on bread, toast, and bagels. Honey is also perfect for soothing sore throats and coughs if someone in your family or prepper community gets sick.

Coffee & Tea

Coffee and tea are also essential items in your list of best survival foods. Both coffee and tea are comfort drinks. They help raise morale and are especially helpful when the weather is cold. 

Most types of coffee and tea also contain caffeine. Caffeine is a performance-enhancing stimulant that can increase your focus and energy levels. Therefore, caffeine can be helpful in the mornings and when you need to re-energize during an exhausting survival situation.

Cooking Oils & Lard

Last but not least, cooking oils and lard are important additions to your practical prepper food supply.

Cooking oils, such as vegetable, canola, peanut, olive, soybean, sunflower, or avocado oil, are fantastic for cooking. They are ideal for deep-frying, pan-frying, and searing your food. Furthermore, they are helpful for keeping your food from sticking to the pan or baking sheet and adding flavor and texture to your food. 

 Plus, like lard, they add important nutritional value to your food. Lard, along with certain types of oil, is an important source of unsaturated fatty acids. Lard also contains high levels of vitamin D, less saturated fat and cholesterol than butter, and no trans fat. 

Tips for Making Your Survival Foods Last Longer

store foods in a glass container

The best survival foods already have a long shelf life. However, you can also take important actions to help your food last longer and keep your emergency food supply well-organized. 

First in, First Out (FIFO)

Restocking is an important part of keeping an up-to-date prepper pantry. As you restock, place the newly purchased or fresher items towards the back. This guarantees you use the older things first and avoid expired food. 

Store Foods in Glass Containers

Glass containers are ideal for pickling and canning. They are great because they retain fewer stains and odors than plastic or metal. Plus, if you want to reheat the food items in the glass container, they are ready to use and safe for reheating in the microwave. 

Understand Expiration Dates

Contrary to popular belief, expiration dates refer to food quality, not food safety. In other words, some technically expired foods can be safe to eat; they just may not be the highest quality. 

Sell-by dates are dates that inform how long the item can be displayed. Best-if-used-by dates reflect when the item is at its optimum quality and flavor. And use-by dates refer to when the food item has passed its peak quality. So even if the food is technically past its best-by date, it can still be a valid part of your survival food stash.

Know What to Refrigerate and What Not to Refrigerate

Some food items belong in the refrigerator or freezer because it helps them last longer and retain their delicious flavor. However, there are other foods that you should not refrigerate or freeze because they will spoil quicker. 

For example, tomatoes lose their flavor in the fridge, so instead, they should be kept on the counter. Basil is another example of food you should not refrigerate. Instead, you should hang it up to dry. On the other hand, foods like broccoli, berries, apples, celery, jams, and nut butter are safe to refrigerate. 

When in Doubt, Make It into a Stew

Older vegetables that are beginning to look questionable are still usable. You don't have to throw them away when you have extra food (such as carrots, potatoes, onions, or other hearty vegetables). They are perfect for making into a broth, soup, or stew. 

Blend Herbs with Olive Oil and Freeze Them

After drying the bulk herbs you’ve harvested from your survival garden, you can blend them with olive oil and freeze them. Using ice trays is best for this. Then, when it’s time for additional herbs, you have some ready to go. 

Label Everything

Labeling everything helps keep your survival foods and other supplies organized. Knowing exactly where something is located and the quantity of the item is super helpful information, especially in a stressful situation. 

Put Heavier Items Toward the Bottom

As your survival food storage expands, you will want to keep it organized. We recommend putting heavier food items, like pallets of canned goods, towards the bottom. 

Placing heavier items towards the bottom is good for two reasons: it reduces the risk of falling overhead hazard, and it allows you to access heavy items without lifting them over your head. 

Maximum Vertical Wall Space

Maximizing your storage space is important. Floor-to-ceiling wall space is extremely valuable. Utilizing all the nooks and crannies around your home is helpful as well. In time, you will develop storage solutions that take advantage of all the best places, as well as the less obvious spaces, like above the refrigerator. 

Remember The Six S’s

  1. Sort – Stay organized to know what you have, what you need, and what you do not need. 

  2. Set In Order – Practice FIFO.

  3. Shine – Stay vigilant with cleaning. 

  4. Standardize – Develop survival rules, label everything, and color code. 

  5. Sustain – Stay motivated with your prepping and food storage maintenance.

  6. Safety – Child safety considerations are especially important.  


Final Thoughts: Everyone Needs Survival Foods 

With the ever-changing landscape of our country and world, you have to be ready. The easiest way to prepare is with a fantastic healthy survival food kit for your household.

If you’re ready to start building your healthy emergency food storage, start with the leader in clean, simple survival food: Valley Food Storage. Our emergency food buckets are pre-packed with healthy survival food, and our food lasts for 25 years. With one of our survival food subscription boxes, you can gather your goods today and start building the best survival food storage your family has ever seen. 

Regardless of what emergency food you invest in, don’t wait until you are in the midst of an emergency situation. Start prepping today with healthy survival food.