Foods for Bug Out or Get Home Bags

Recently I wrote a post on my belief that most preppers would end up having to bug in. Even though I believe that, I still have a bug-out bag and a get-home bag in my car. It’s best to always have as many options as possible. A question that always seems to come up on bags that are kept in the car is what type of food will withstand the temperature changes.

Over the years, I have seen all types of suggestions, from just a plain sack of whole-wheat berries to freeze-dried meals. Where I live, foods in the trunk of my vehicle will be exposed to 100 degrees F plus temperatures in the summer to below freezing in the winter. This is very hard on your food.

There are several ways to handle this problem. You can carry the bag with you when you leave your vehicle. Personally, this does not work for me.  A second choice is to rotate the food on a regular basis.  How often depends on the type of food you carry.  I have tried that, and I guess I am not quite that well organized.  My choices run towards foods that have a long shelf life.

Food prep of your survival foods should cook quickly or not need to be cooked at all, and not need much added. Overall, the best bug-out bag will have lightweight food items, easy to make, and food items with a longer shelf life. Nutritional value should definitely not be discounted and how much food you can pack will effect this as well. Your potential foods should be high-calorie foods with a good amount of healthy fats but avoid too much sodium.

Survival food will not make elaborate meals, but you can still have a complete meal and be satisfied with what you’re eating. The best food will be something you will also enjoy eating.

Possible Bug-Out Foods for You to Consider

Lifeboat Rations

Lifeboat rations are designed to withstand extreme temperature changes and still be good for years from the date of manufacture. They are Coast Guard approved for a five-year shelf life.  They are calorie dense, come in calorie count packages of 1200, 2400, or 3600 calories, and are designed to provide you with three meals of 400 calories each a day. Personally, I am not a fan of their taste, but they will keep you alive.  Because they are inexpensive, you can afford to carry a couple of rations a day for extra calories.

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The individual meal rations are smaller than a pack of cards and are an easy way to save space in your bug-out bag.

Millennium Bars

I have had some Millennium Bars in my bag for several years, and they seem to be holding up well. They cost about a dollar each and come in several flavors. They are Coast Guard approved for a five-year shelf life. There are 400 calories per bar, and they taste better than the lifeboat rations.

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Millennium Bars

Freeze-dried Foods

I have eaten Mountain House foods that have withstood the temperature variations for over five years and were still fine. Mountain House is one of the very few companies that I would trust to consume after this type of extreme abuse. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive of the three choices that I recommend. But it probably provides the best nutritional value, depending on the meals you choose to carry.

See also  Get Home Bag: Making Sure You Come Back Home Safe and Sound

One newer company, NuManna, sells freeze-dried foods that are non-GMO, have no high fructose corn syrup, and no soy.

Cereal

A great snack and useful for a quick sugar boost for energy. Carbs, sugar, and starchy foods will keep your energy levels up, but make sure to rotate on a schedule; otherwise, you’re likely going to eat stale food. You can also stock up on some powdered milk and dried fruits to go along with your cereal.

Dehydrated foods

Foods that just need boiling water or hot water to make are a great addition to your bug out bag foods. There is also a great variety of these foods: instant oatmeal, instant coffee, soup mix, instant mashed potatoes, tea bags, dehydrated hummus, instant rice, instant grits packets, etc. There are also dehydrated foods that don’t require anything to be added to be eaten such as banana chips or other dried fruit.

Spices and Additives

Sometimes the best survival food is a little bland and you need something to spice it up. To save space you should get spices and other additives that can be used with many foods. For additives, this includes coconut oil packets and olive oil packets. For spices, you can get mixed ones such as Italian spice. But don’t forget the basics like sugar packets either. Drink mixes are also a great additive to have to give your water some variety.

Protein Bars and Granola Bars

Having a protein-rich bug-out bag is helpful as protein helps the human body function properly. These are great for an energy boost. The only downside is if the protein bars or granola bars contain chocolate then they can become messy.

Foods I Would Not Use for Bug-Out Bag Food

MREs

They do not withstand heat well, and unless you are prepared to rotate them at least every year, I would not use them.

Photo courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/523825000416105276/

Trail Mix, Nuts, and Other Foods Commonly Used for Hiking 

The oils in these foods will go rancid in the heat. You will not like the taste of rancid foods and it is carcinogenic. The salt content also tends to be high in these food items.

Canned Food/Glass Jars

They are subject to damage from both freezing and heat. They need to be rotated on a regular schedule, and if there is any damage or bulging from the cans, they should be thrown away and not consumed. And food items in glass jars are heavier and more prone to breaking before consumption.

Photo coutesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/358669557819364304/

Final Thoughts

Whatever choice you make, make sure you have enough food and that your bug-out bag food is in good shape and not spoiled. The last thing you need in an emergency is running out of emergency food or food that is not edible or can make you sick.

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15 thoughts on “Foods for Bug Out or Get Home Bags”

  1. The Seven Oceans ration, from Norway, has a less sweet, if somewhat bland cereal flavor, which I prefer to the sickly sweet overpowering lemon of the Mainstay brand. PrepareSmart in Redmond, WA carries them, as well as the Datrex, Mainstay and SOS brands. I suggest before storing these buy some samples and try them to see which you like and can tolerate for 3-4 days.
    Manufacturer site has detailed nutritional info.

    https://www.gcrieber-compact.com/product-range/maritime-survival/

  2. Peanut butter, purchased in 1 pound PETE plastic jars tolerates heat and cold well, has high calorie value and tastes good. Fruit jam or honey similarly packaged also tolerates temperature extremes well and are tasty on Wasa crispbread, Sailor Boy Pilot bread or lifeboat biscuits. Stock should be rotated yearly, but satisfying, affordable car rations which you can buy in most grocery stores. Plastic bag inserted inside a gallon cooking pot with basic utensils, matches, a box of bouillion cubes, instant coffee, dry soup mix or tea bags makes a good basic emergency food supply, or convenient hot meal if the next truck stop is 100 miles away.

      1. This is true to a point. I am currently eating an inexpensive store variety chunky peanut butter purchased in 04/12 now. It is turning slightly rancid (detectable alone) – but I’m eating it with about a tbs of honey mixed into each (double) serving on toast and one would need to be very picky to notice it. On toast with honey and a glass of milk it is still good. You’d need to be a real finicky eater not to eat it, even when TEOTWAWKI hasn’t hit.

        Blessings

  3. The trunk or back of a vehicle is a rough environment in more ways than one, for water as well as food — not only are there temperature extremes to deal with, but also the physical abuse of getting shoved around or having sports equipment or bags of groceries piled on top of your supplies. As if storing water in the car weren’t already hard enough, I’ve found that using jugs, pouches, or single-serving boxes doesn’t work well for me — eventually they all get beat up and leak. The only thing that has worked for me is canned water; rather expensive but the cans do survive manhandling and I only use a few in each car. An added advantage is the 30-year shelf life of steel cans.

  4. Lifeboat rations; that’ll work! We’ve used everything from ramen to minute rice to roasted wheat. Ramen and minute rice are dirt cheap (and so support frequent rotation), can be eaten dry in a pinch (about as tasty as lifeboat rations) and give you the option of a tasty hot meal if you have the time and place.
    Roasted wheat has been a staple of backpacking with us since we were kids. It pops much like popcorn during roasting, increasing slightly in size and making it easy (and tasty) to eat. We most often salt ours but have used sugar and cinnamon, cayenne and other spices. Cheers and happy new year to all!

  5. Regarding peanut butters oil, I’m currently eating out of a seven year old plastic jar that was in my BOB, in my truck. Like many we experience 90 plus heat, and as I write this -17colds.

    The PB has been casually stored in my tool box in the back of my truck, with no real attempt at temp control. I’ve got another plastic jar of PB in my jeep, under the rear seat, again seven years old, that I just rotated out. We’ll be eating this jar next.

    Have to admit I was concerned about the ” rancid issue” as well. Only one way to learn, that’s by doing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all learn the specifics of prepping by others actions.

    Every situation is exactly different.

    Happy New Years

    PussyCat

  6. My experience has been that peanut butter is fine to the expiry date printed on the container. If that is not readable be sure to use within a year.

  7. As with any food you put in a BUG Out Bag one will need to rotate it. The LifeBoat rations and Mainstay rations usually have a 5 year life just like a MRE. I’ve eaten plenty of MRE’s overseas in the summer that had been sitting in a metal box for 2 or more years and they were just fine. So as long as you rotate your food you’re just fine

  8. Peanut butter could be kept for extended periods of time regardless of the elements (except maybe the temperature extremes of boiling to -50 below…).
    As for the expiration of most anything, the majority of products have a “Best By” date on them. This is basically there to “inform” you that the product will start loosing some of its quality. It does not mean it will be bad. This includes everything from fresh to canned to packaged.
    The old common-sense ‘rule-of-thumb’ way of determining if food is safe is to:
    1) Visual. Look at it. Seriously. Look at the food. Examine it. Does it look bad? Look slimy? Unusual coloring?
    2) Odor. Smell it. Smell like it is supposed to? Or does it smell rotten?
    3) Taste. Yes, taste it. Not a big heaping amount. Just a small amount. Taste like it’s supposed to?
    If you’ve made it this far, then you should be good to go.
    Remember, common sense will take you far.

  9. Living in the trunk of my vehicle is my GHB. Food consists of 6 Millennium Bars, a can of tuna fish, and some sweets. I currently store any water in the tire well. In the tire well it is protected from everything else that gets thrown into the trunk.
    Also in the tire well is a small power inverter and extra survival stuff.

  10. S.Fla. car trunk..110 degrees! Tuna in water or oil? Does it make a difference? Probably not!!! And those sweets, melted to the wrappers? And finally, the water in plastic bottles at that temp, day after day. Just think of the chemicals getting into that water. Not trying to put you down, but try dry crackers, packed carefully and water in cleaned glass bottles. Switch sweets with a can of Altoids,after all you just want a taste, not nutrition. Feel free to comment, always looking for a better idea.

  11. As FYI, contents of my emergency food can, packed in a waterproof, steel military 20mm ammunition box:

    7-day Emergency Ration Pack – No Cooking Required

    WASA whole grain crispbread 18 slices/pkg. x4 pkgs. 60cals./slice, 10 slices/day. 600 cals.

    Peter Pan Natural Peanut Butter, two pounds , 14 servings/lb., 4/day @ 210cals. Ea. 840 cals

    McCutcheons Grape Jelly, 30 servings / lb. @ 1 tbsp. 18g, 50 cals. 4/day 200 cals.

    Red Feather butter 1 tin, 12 ozs., 24 servings/tin @ 100 cals 3/day 300 cals.

    Bega Cheese 1 tin, about 6 servings /tin @ 100 cals. Ea. 1 serving/day 100 cals

    Sugar cubes, 12 cals./cube (4 cals./gram) @ 150 cubes/lb., 20 cubes/day 240 cals.

    Instant Coffee sachets or tea bags box 40 ct. 4/day +/- 0 cals

    Knorr Bouillon cubes 3/day, 24 ct. per bx., @15 cals each 45 cals

    Evaporated milk eight 4 oz. tins @ 1/tin/day for tea, 4 servings @ 40 cals. /oz. 160 cals
    ———————————————————————————-
    Approximate daily caloric intake from emergency rations 2485 cals./day

  12. We live rural, no neighbors close. We have bad rodent problem always find their way into any automobile we ever buy,truck suv or car. They get in trunks of car easily as well as cabin of vehicle. I gave up carrying emergency provisions as the rodents can sniff them out. Im wondering if theres a type of steel container for provisions that would keep them fresh and smell proof for a few years.

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