survival kit in the backseat

72-Hour Survival Kit Food

72-hour survival kit food choices. The kit is more or less intended as a grab-and-go bag. What goes inside? Well, anything you want according to your purposes or needs. It also does not have to be solely for emergency use. For example you might grab your 72-hour kit when going on any sort of road trip. Maybe you get hungry along the way, and reach in to the bag for a bite to eat..

This article will simply focus on the food aspect of the so called 72-hour survival kit.

This kit (or you might call it a bugout bag) is generally designed to help you during any number of ’emergency’ situations. Perhaps an evacuation. A disaster (while bugging out), or for any other emergency reason. It can be tailored to anything you want.

What’s the reasoning behind 72-hours? Why not 24 or 48 hours? I don’t know the origin of the term, or who first coined it, so to speak. However it does seem like a generally reasonable timeframe to assist getting from point-A to point-B, an interim period. Hey, if you want a more trimmed-down bag to cover just a 24 period, well, that’s fine too!

Perhaps the most important aspect of this kit is food and water. Here are some suggestions for food content while considering items that may be better choices.

Food For Your 72-Hour Survival Kit

I would focus on energy, calories, ease of use, and size versus what you’re getting (because you’re stuffing it in a bag, right? And what if you have to carry it rather than simply tossing it into your vehicle?).

Use high energy food, high calorie food, dry food, maybe even some particular canned food and/or other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual hand can opener and eating utensils (just because you’re in survival mode doesn’t mean you can’t be well-mannered :-)

The food you choose for your 72-hour survival kit is for calories and energy – so be conscious of the calorie count as you attempt to add up to 2000 calories per day per person.

Although this post is about one’s choice of food, DO NOT IGNORE THE WATER.
Keep bottled water (and a water filter) for your kit and/or vehicle.

I will brainstorm some ideas in no particular order..

  • Peanut Butter (lots of calories, and don’t forget a spoon!)
  • Energy Bars (there are so many types)
  • Chocolate, hard candy, etc.. for quick energy
  • Nuts (unsalted)
  • Avoid salty foods that will make you extra thirsty
  • Drink mixes (powders) to add with water (electrolytes, etc..)
  • MRE’s

Consider food that is light-weight versus calories (in other words – calorie dense), compact, minimal preparation, reasonable shelf life, and food that preferably does not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

One nice thing about this water filter, is the fact that it’ll screw on to a typical water bottle (which you would have filled from a source such as a stream, pond, etc..), and then simply drink from the other end of the filter.

Survival Kit – Food Maintenance

Ordinarily store your 72-hour kit in a cool, dry place for longest shelf life. How about a closet..

If you have a kit in your vehicle at all times, first know that the summer will melt your chocolate (ask me how I know).. Also, heat will shorten the shelf life of foods. Maybe get in the habit of changing out the food once or twice a year.

Consider using Ziploc bags for the food where appropriate, to keep it dry (just in case). Or consider vacuum sealing some of the food items to lengthen shelf life.

Use or rotate foods before so called ‘expiration’ dates and replace them with fresh supplies (even though many foods are okay beyond their ‘use-by’ or ‘sell-by’ dates)

Re-evaluate your food and water storage needs annually.

While there’s more to a 72-hour survival kit than just food, what are your recommendations and/or experiences regarding food choices in your kit?

[ Read: Use-by, Best-by, Sell-by | Food Expiration Dates ]

[ Read: MRE’s for a Survival Kit Convenience ]


  1. In January I had a raging infection I just couldn’t shake. I took myself into the ER to get some antibiotics. Took me 3 days to escape, but luckily I had my backpak in the car. First time I needed it in 5 years. It had everything I needed plus FOOD! Thank God! No tasteless cardiac diet for me. I had fully caffeinated tea and sweetener, salt, peanut butter crackers, flavor packets for my water, ramen noodles, energy bars, coast guard cookies, candy bars, and hard candy. I have since done replacements and added more real food. Tuna in the foil bag, crackers to go with, some FD veggies to add to my ramen and extra chicken bouillon cubes. Car bag was awesome. Don’t leave home without one!

    1. Gopher:
      I agree with ya 1000% on that.
      Have a Get Home Bag in the truck always, and extra water.

      1. BTW, for me a Bug Out Bag or 72 Hour Bag is the same as a Get Home Bag.

  2. Two items to my comment.

    First.. “hey Ken how do you know Chocolate will melt in the BOB?” LOLOL sorry could not resist 😁

    Second, I stuff quite a few (10-15) ready to eat meals in there, Mountain Houes or whoever. Yes a Sawyer Filter. I have a brick of those survival bars (forget the name. Sorry), at least 2 quarts of water (make sure the empty bottle will screw onto your filter).
    And I dump in some hard candy, protein bars, vac-sealed Biltong, and some good Ole dehydrated cheese sticks.

    Of course there is a LOT more in the Bag than that, but that’s about it for food stuff.

  3. Dried fruit, various protein bars etc, maybe some jerkey, water, water purrifyer, i keep it basic.

  4. I keep 3 days of freeze dried food in my bag. I keep some of it in cereal that doesn’t require cooking, just water, in case I’m in a rush or boiling water is not convenient. 95 percent of the time I am within a day or two walk of home, but the extra calories won’t hurt if I have to cut through the mountains, which would take longer and be more strenuous. Like if there is reason to avoid the roads, or if I am already in the woods, like I am often, if SHTF goes down.

    For water I carry some Sawyer filter usually. There are numerous brooks and streams and rivers and ponds in my area.

    But ideally I will have my folding bike in the car and can be home usually in a few hours and won’t even need my bag.

  5. Just finished replacing water in my truck and replacing food in my GHBs/BOBs. Good reminder, Ken. Thanks!

  6. Intended to restock a few items today for my car everything bag, I forgot.
    I ate all the granola bars a while ago.
    My main bag has food for three days and lots of stuff.
    My second bag has mostly food plus the Gerber LMF2 knife.
    Several small can openers in both bags.

    My car has a tote with lots of things, food cans.
    Potassium iodide definitely in there, cooking gear, burner+ lp canisters.
    I figure if I gotta run, grab the bags, if I have time I can pick and choose through the tote for the occasion whatever it may be.

    I don’t carry the folding mountain bike anymore.
    I may if I have to travel more than 50 miles away.

    Worst case I can think of is if forced to find shelter in another’s home but only for imminent fallout, never anything else.
    That is a bad situation overall, horribly dangerous for anyone with very limited choices.

  7. Just recently updated entire family 72 hr. kit.
    Made it completely standardized. Invested in Peak meals. Choose the meals with the highest caloric count. Included 3 Peak Deserts. Then the usual water treatment tabs, life straw, plus Liquid IV packs – 2 per day per person. This is important for both warm and cold climates. Jolly ranchers for the kids. Plus additional items packed in Dry bags with carry strap. Keeping at under 10lbs. for the kids 14lbs for the wife and 20 lbs. for myself. If you cannot run with it, you are a dead man /she/ it/ sheman…

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