72-hour-kit, Vehicle, Food Storage

Ever wonder what is the best way to store food in a 72-hour survival kit for your vehicle?

There is a perfect solution to keeping your vehicle survival food fresh, the longest. It is simple. Keep your survival food in a cooler! Depending on the size of your vehicle’s trunk, tailgate space, pickup truck storage space, buy an appropriate size cooler that will fit the best.

For example, what we did with our vehicles is we purchased a cooler that seemed about right to hold all of the food, which includes calorie bars, some MRE’s, chocolate bars, canned stew, peanut butter, a variety of high calorie items – etc…

Storing your vehicle’s survival kit food in a cooler will help to keep the heat out during the summer (heat is the worst enemy of food storage life), and will help to keep the extreme cold out during the winter.

Having said that, we recommend keeping some kind of backpack along with your other additional 72-hour kit supplies, so that if you have to hit the road with your feet, you will have a means to carry some food (and water, etc…) with you.

We believe the best way to store food in a vehicle for an emergency is in a cooler. The size will depend on your requirements and storage space.

Please refer to the following additional articles regarding a 72 hour kit for your vehicle:

Things To Keep In Your 72-hour Car Kit

Best First Aid Kit (Made in the USA)

72-hour Emergency Kit

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  1. Excellent post. I need to get one set up for my truck. You just never know when you might breakdown or something else goes wrong. Great post.

  2. Thank you so much this is a terific idea! I need more ideas to help with teaching Young single adults how to store their food storage or 72 hour kits.

  3. Will this be adequate even in the extreme Texas heat? My car can get up to at least 120 on a typically hot summer day…maybe hotter. Will storing my food in a cooler really help keep that temp down enough, or is this one of those better than not doing it situations?

    1. I live in arizona and I have the same issue with heat. The cooler does not help one bot in the extreme heat. I just keep canned goods, bottled water, and high sugar snacks that won’t melt in a milk crate in the trunk. I rotate it out at the every 6 months or so as to keep extreme temp exposure down to a minimum. My mum just keeps a backpack by the door with her supplies by the front door and grabs it every time she leaves.

  4. Jaci, I was wondering that myself as I live in Texas also. What I am going to do is put an empty cooler in my car with a thermometer in it on a triple digit day and open it in the heat of the day and see what it registers.

  5. Exactly! I am worried about storing medicines in my vehicle kit here in Texas. Heat is bad for food, but worse for first aid kits. I think the “test it” idea is perfect. I’m going to try it too.

  6. I’m so pleased to have found your website about food storage in a car. I have been wondering what the intense heat in the trunk of a car would do to food stored there. Thank you for the cooler suggestion. Great idea! What is your guess on the shelf life of food stored this way? Thank you very much!

    1. Patrick, I can tell you what I do… I swap out my car-kit food every 6-months. I realize that especially during the summer, the heat will have shortened its shelf life (even when stored in a small cooler chest – which still gets quite warm in the summer heat – although not as hot as the interior of the vehicle). I then consume the food as part of my regular food in the house and replace it with new for the vehicle.

  7. If you don’t mind, can we get a quick rundown of the items in the cooler? It looks like Powerbars, deconstructed MRE components, and a multipack of stew with water being stored separately. How many calories total are in the cooler?

    1. @Dogan,

      That particular cooler (and some additional supplemental storage) was holding approximately 12,000 calories. I keep enough food in the vehicle for 3 days for myself and Mrs.J. The cooler helps to stabilize the extremes of temperature – because the hotter the temperature of food storage, the shorter the shelf life:

      Temperature vs. Food Storage Shelf Life

      Here’s another article on one of my vehicle kits which identifies some of the specific food ideas:

      72 Hour Emergency Kit

        1. I had heard that once the bottles got hot that it wasn’t recommended to drink the water. That the plastic would put off toxic chemicals. I was wondering if this is true or not.

          1. yes, any plastic off gases/releases chemicals. And, heat speeds this up. These chemicals of course have effects (endocrine disrupting/cancer) which are mostly evident long term use. Ideally, one should never use plastic for anything..However, as emergency water storage, especially in a vehicle, there is not much else to use. And, you will die of thirst long before any effects would “kick in”. I too use plastic bottles..sigh. Even stainless steel (as some use) is not toxic free….Let water sit in stainless for a while, and no doubt you will notice a “taste”… Might be the nickel in the stainless, might be one of the other components, none of it great to ingest…but…

  8. If you are carrying canned items duct tape a small can opener to the inside of the cooler lid. It’s handy and you don’t have to dump everything out looking for it.

  9. i would think a cooler pak or frozen water would be helpful to have ready. Throw it on top to help keep heat out in the car.

  10. To all those that live in southern states and are worried about the heat, you can drop the ambient temperature from 10 to 15 degree. 1. Obtain a rectangular solar windshield reflector from the automotive section of any discount big box store; 2. Wrap the exterior of the cooler in the reflective sheeting; 3. Leave enough room between the solar wrap and the exterior of the cooler to allow for circulation. NOTE: you can extend the efficiency of the solar reflective wrap by obtaining a 12V dashboard fan and circulating air under the wrap.

  11. I keep 7 packs of MREs, u can get them at any army surplus. Do not keep bottled water. The heat will cause toxins to leak into the water. I fill a two gallon igloo. Also keep first aid kit and a blanket.

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