Camping & Survival

Top 5 Food for Survival Posts

Contents of a an MRE

Though pre-packaged, long shelf-life foods meant for survival have come a long way since the days of the C-Ration, MREs and even freeze-dried foods are generally no one’s first pick for what’s on the dinner menu tonight… or really any night. If you would rather have an MRE than a home-cooked meal, you have never had my mother’s chicken fried steak. Either way, MREs and other similar survival foods are convenient and easier to store than barrels of beans and grains or a year’s worth of #10 cans.

Contents of a an MRE
A case of MREs includes 12 full meals sealed in individual packages.


MREs made for civilians are very close to the same our military eats—packed with calories soldiers absolutely require when expending so much energy in the field. That’s one reason why MREs are popular with preppers and survivalists. It’s naive to think during a disaster or nation-wide catastrophe that you will be sitting on the back porch sipping a cold iced tea enjoying the forced break from the office.

No. Instead, you will be busy trekking to a safer location or chopping firewood to maintain a fire for cooking, heat and boiling water. You will need to eat more than you normally do. Your life now will look positively sedentary compared to what it will be like and you will need the extra calories to sustain.

A case of MREs includes 12 full meals sealed in individual packages. Each meal consists of 1,400 calories and comes with one main entrée, one side dish, drink powder mix, dessert, instant coffee, cookies, crackers, various condiments and an MRE heater. The MRE case comes sealed in a cardboard box, a little smaller than a standard medium-sized moving box. Weighing 24 pounds with the food in it, the box measures 17.5 inches long, 10 inches wide and is 15 inches tall. If space is an issue, the box will easily fit in a closet or on the floor in your pantry.

Stored properly, MRES will remain shelf stable for five years. However, I know people who have stored and eaten MREs older than that with no repercussions. Three cases of MREs will feed a family of four for three days or two people for six days. Priced below cost at $30.09, the Voodoo family meals case equals $2.50 per meal. There is no other survival, long-term food that you can get for cheaper.

Food Storage

There are plenty of reasons why stockpiling food is a good idea. Regardless if you identify or not as a prepper or survivalist—natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes that knock out power, accidental house fires, flu outbreaks and even unexpected job loss can find you with a need to have food that requires no refrigeration or city utilities to cook.

No longer just regarded for the doomsday preppers, more than three million Americans are preparing for disasters and emergencies. Besides smaller forums and preppers’ groups, there are many huge and even global organizations dedicated to preparedness—FEMA, WHO, the CDC and The American Red Cross to name a few.

We frequently write posts regarding survivalism and prepping—offering tips and tactics for the beginner to the most experienced stockpiler.

Here are the top five Shooter’s Log posts regarding emergency food and food storage

Freeze-dried foods will last up to 30 years.

Introduction to Stockpiling Non-Perishable Food for Novice Preppers
If you are just beginning to stockpile emergency supplies, no one expects you to build a year’s supply of food over night. The seasoned prepper knows it can take months to build up a decent supply of non-perishable foods for long-term storage. In “Introduction to Stockpiling Non-Perishable Food for Novice Preppers,” Lisa Metheny helps those just starting out to determine which foods and how much of each to buy. Further, she offers suggestions on how to create enough space to store them.

A whole different way to look at frozen foods...

Caching Food
Having a three-day supply of non-perishable food is all well and good for when a storm knocks the power out, but what happens during a total societal collapse? We’ve all seen the Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie. It is not far-fetched to believe people will be brutal in their fight for survival. Hardcore pre-planners already know—not only do they keep mum about their preps, but also they know how to hide supplies from the possibility of aggressive scavengers. In “Caching Food,” I describe ways to hide food both inside and outside the home from hiding in plain sight to off-site storage solutions.


Building a Year’s Supply of Food Storage
For those ready to be more serious about storing emergency food, this article provides the first stepping-stones to building up a year’s supply of food for survival. Listed in this post, you will find the where, why and whats of survival food storage—including a short list of recommended foods to store and how long they will last.

MREs and other goods for a food supply

MRE, Meals Rejected By Enemy

Written by a veteran, “MRE, Meals Rejected by Enemy” discusses how to read your MRE’s expiration date. Ex-Air Force service member Robert Clopton offers his in-the-know advice on MRE dates, which ones to buy and which ones to avoid. Have you ever wondered which MRE would make a soldier choose hunger over eating? You will have to read this expert’s advice on how to buy MREs to find out.

Picture shows a 55-gallopn drum filled with #10 cans of foodHow to Properly Store #10 Cans
There is a correct way to store your emergency food supplies. Though long-term, non-perishable foods are packaged in ways that keep the food good for decades, varmints are persistent, as is the Southern Texas heat and humidity, and if you do not store your emergency food properly, you can ruin the food in cans, freeze-dried foil packages and MREs. In “How to Properly Store #10 Cans,” I detail how to correctly store your emergency food supplies in seven easy-to-understand steps.

Do you have tips and tricks to share with others on storing survival foods? Tell us in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (15)

  1. Great suggestions here. My problem with the long term storage specialty foods is that I am allergic to Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG. Even a fairly small amount (such as would be in a seasoning salt) has disasterous effects on me. Does anyone know whether this “Flavor Enhancer” is in the MREs, or Mountain House, etc., foods?
    I’m going have to try sardines, but since I don’t care for fish, it would be a food of last resort! 🙂

  2. Back in the day when I was involved with military survival, I had access to a study based upon British experiment coming out of the Sepoy mutiny, in the 1850’s I believe. After the mutiny, there was an excess supply of prisoners available to the British. Since the mutinous troops had killed their British officers, one assumes that there was not a lot of sympathy for the mutineers on the part of their captors.
    The Brits put prisoners into a solitary confinement situation and controlled their environment other than temperature which was awfully hot. The experiment would have made the Germans in WWII proud.
    Bottom line, it was discovered that people in a hot, humid environment on enforced inactivity could survive 3 to 5 days with no liquid whatsoever. On the other hand, people in the same situation could survive 75 to 90 days with no food whatsoever as long as they had access to unlimited water. It was India and so cold temperatures were not a factor. Quite the contrary.
    The conclusion I drew was that while food was important, water was much more important. Particularly in hot, humid climates, like Vietnam. I stressed, in my teaching on the subject, the importance of water and hydration as the first priority and others as subordinate. If you are dead from thirst, other survival considerations become unimportant.
    We concluded that, in those days, iodine or halizone tablets were fine for everything except large single celled life forms, like protozoa (amoebic dysentery). We used to say that there were 3 stages to amoebic dysentery — wiping, patting and fanning. Large, single celled animals could be dealt with using filters. However, even if infection was likely and unavoidable, it was more important to stay hydrated than to be dehydrated, even at the risk of other infections. Those other infections could be cured subsequently when conditions improved.
    Yes, food is important and less volume than water is required for proper nutrition. Knives, fire making equipment, weapons and, in our limited environment, signaling equipment mattered, too. All were important but water had to be first on the list.

  3. I mentioned it below in a response to Don P but it is worth mentioning again. Mainly, because I never hear them suggested. Go to the store and compare protein content of canned tuna,salmon, chicken, beef, or anything else you can find, then look at canned sardines. They are a protein powerhouse.

  4. Rice when properly stored will last longer than most people reading this (: IT needs to be cooked but any fuel will work, propane, wood,etc. Rice is fairly cheap 25 lbs for $20 or even less. You mus have pot with tight fitting lid to cook rice properly.

    Ratione 25 lbs will keep you alive for month. But you must practice cooking rice so that you know how to do it so it is good texture and tasting before a crisis comes. You do not want to experiment during a crisis on how to cook it right.

    Now buy some on sale cans of Tuna or Chicken and dump that in the ric and you have a really decent hot meal.

    Beans are the same deal, I recommend a pressure cooker to cook them. That way they cook faster an more uniformly. A pressure cooker has other advantages to .Learn how to cook good beans and toss in small can of ham etc and your have another decent ,nutritious meal. At present bams in n0 lb bags are dirt cheap.

    Finally, unless you have Celiac disease( gluten intolerance), buy flour ands store it in dry container it will kep. I have stored flour for two years and made brad with and it was very tasty.Again lrn to make bread well before a crisis, it is rally easy. You do need yeast, keep your yeast refrigerated. You cn make it with backing powder or nothing to make the brad rise, you will still have flat bread to at.

    An oven can be improvised, a chimenea etc or a camp oven.

    ARE YOU GOING TO SURVIVE IN PLACE? If so this is cheap way to go 200 will last 2 people dam near a year if rationed.

    DO YOU FEEL YOU WILL HAVE TOP REVACUATE? If so it maybe on foot so all oyu can carry is maybe 25 to 35 lbs if that ,but. In this case MRES and Top Ramen etc and dehydrated g\food make sns, but other is why do you need light food store.

    Also you can’t last long without water and you can’t carry much o that. So really drinking water is the main thing you need to store. This can be done in 16 oz plastic bottles or the batup or in 5 gallon bottles etc. Keep laundry bleach handy. It is 8% sodium hypochloride and a ouinc of that bleach will kill most bacteria in water.

    Buy a lot of disposable lighters and get some military surplus trioxe or or other fire gels etc. It makes it much asir to make a fire. Gasoline is dangerous to start a fire with but if don carefully it works very ,vry ell!

    1. Thanks for the tip Suzanne. I will buy a few of them and check them out, like seeing how much cold water I need to add, and seeing if I can mix it inside the package, or if I have to have a small plastic tupperware-like bowl.

  5. I ordered a huge full-size backpack from CTD, for the purpose of surviving a few days if I get lost while hiking, or dealing with a disabled SUV. Can someone who is really into backpacking suggest the best type of food to store in it. Weight is an issue because I will also have a weapon and ammo in the backpack. Water contained with the food is an issue because I live in Arizona.

    I’m leaning towards cans of beans, also tuna cans, but would like to hear what anyone else suggests.

    1. For the amount of protein per weight/space, canned sardines are hard to beat, and they are very inexpensive. They also are a very fast growing fish which means less worries about toxins, as in tuna and other fish. In addition, they are a very sustainable food source.

    2. Steve your info about sardines seems like something I never would have thought about, but need to look into. I’m a huge seafood fan, like it’s my #1 choice in all restaurants, but I have never tried sardines in my life. So I’m excited about your idea….Thanks!

  6. Why is it I never see anybody list honey when talking about storing food for emergencies? Honey is THE food product for long term storage since it will not go bad if kept sealed when not used. It is also supposed to have medicinal uses for injuries.

    1. Honey is an excellent food source and should be included in everyones stash, unless allergies or tolerances do not allow.

    2. Honey is main thing to store. For the reasons given. But remember if you are gluten intolerant (Celiac disease)that honey has gluten content. IF you take the bread off a hamburger as regular thing because you ‘don’t like bread’ get celiac test soon! It is progressive disease and the sooner you find out if you ate gluten intolerant, the sooner you can stop the damage to your lower intestinal track.

    3. Iam in my 3rd year with bees. Investigate a local bee club go on line bees are very important to a vegitable garden, flower etc. plus you get honey, if you do everything right. If I can help let me know!!!

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