How To Choose The Best Foods For A 72-Hour Survival Kit


A 72-hour emergency survival kit is just that – a kit with a 3-day supply of food (and other useful items).

A 72-hour kit is generally designed to help as you evacuate a disaster (bug out) or for any other emergency reason. I keep one in my vehicle at all times. The reasoning for 72-hours (why not just 24 or 48, etc?) is the likelihood that 3 days is generally enough time under the circumstances to get from point-A to point-B. It’s an interim solution to the problem of survival.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this kit is it’s food and water. Here are some suggestions for the FOOD to consider for a 72-hour emergency survival kit.



Use high energy food, high calorie food, dry food, even some canned food and 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 civilized ;) ).

The food you choose for your 72-hour 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.

I repeat, count and add up the calories. Don’t be caught short.

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

Canned meats
Protein bars, energy bars, fruit bars
Dry cereal or granola, trail mix
Peanut butter
Nuts (unsalted)
Dry drink mixes to add with water
Chocolate, hard candy, etc.. for quick energy
Snacks that are salt-free or low-salt
Food for infants (if applicable)
Instant coffee (need to heat water though)

MREs (Meal ready to eat) designed for the military, have a fairly long shelf life (3 – 5 years more or less – depending on conditions). You can buy complete meals that include entree, side dish, dessert, drink mix, and utensils all in a pack. Or, you can stock up on individual entrees, side dishes, and desserts separately. These meals are designed to be heated, but can be eaten cold since they are already fully cooked.

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


Tips To Maintaining Your 72-hour Emergency Kit Food

Keep the food in a cool, dry place for longest shelf life. If your kit is kept in the vehicle, the heat in the summer will melt your chocolate ;) and it will shorten the shelf life. Get in the habit of changing out the food once or twice a year.

Use Ziploc bags for the food where appropriate (keeps dry)

Use or rotate foods before 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 kit (topic for a different post) than just food, what are your recommendations and/or experiences with the FOOD in your emergency kit?


  1. Does Hershey still make tropical chocolate? We had it in Vietnam and it didn’t melt in the heat. It was pretty good also.

  2. I had a party mid-December and there was a snow storm – 40 people did get to us, 40 weren’t able because of the snow/ice. I put the extra food (aus gratin potatoes, almond green beans, and Yorkshire Pudding all wrapped in plastic and placed in foil pans. Is there any chance any of those foods are still edible and not ‘deadly’ to humans?

    1. @Shari, When in doubt, throw it out.

      7 weeks later? Was it in the fridge? Or in the freezer? Or just sitting on your counter? Does it pass the smell test? Are there any ‘science experiments’ growing on it?

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