When putting together a Bug Out Bag, people often focus a lot on what kind of shelter they can carry or what kind of ammo is the most plentiful and lightest feeling in the pack, but to be honest there should be one thing that is thought of before all other things: FOOD. That’s right, because no gun, tent, or super survival tactical tomahawk 9000 is going to do you any good if you don’t have the energy to use it.
The challenge though is that we live relatively comfortable lives and don’t have to worry about carrying our food around with us, so when someone is putting together a BOB for the first time it can be confusing trying to decide what food to pack that can save your life, but also won’t slow you down.
Foods that go in your B.O.B. are simply meant to keep your body fueled so you can keep bugging out to wherever you need to and that is it. Also, don’t expect your food to last you more than a few days, or maybe even a week if you packed right; the purpose of a B.O.B. is to get away quickly and effectively but realize that eventually you will need to restock if the timeline calls for it.
So firstly, when you pack your BOB, these foods need to be decently high in calories and a good balance of carbs, fats, and proteins to keep your body as fueled as possible so you can keep going forward. Do not stress about eating too many calories because if you are bugging out you are going to be burning those calories off.
Second, the food needs to be relatively lightweight, so don’t try to pack cans, but more on that later.
Third, the food should have a long storage life in moderate temperatures, and if your BOB is kept in your trunk like many people do for driving in the snow then you need to make sure you rotate food out more frequently due to extreme temperatures, especially in the summer.
Finally, pack things that are simple and do not require cooking of any kind. You are bugging out for a reason, and unless that reason is to go to a full functional kitchen don’t expect to cook. So there it is!
Now look below for a list of 10 food ideas to put in your BOB so you can get up and keep going.
#10 Straight Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is not normally considered a sustainable food source unless it is slapped on some bread with some jelly, but when bugging out it is almost priceless to have. It many not look like much, but it is packed with loads of calories; as well as fat, carbs, and a very decent amount of protein.
Bug Out Bag peanut butter can be found in the form of little peanut butter cups, and most MREs come with a tube of just straight up peanut buttery goodness. If one option had to be picked most preppers would suggest the MRE peanut butter packs due to their weather resistance, their ability to be slipped into a pocket, and the fact that they pack 240 calories.
The peanut butter cups can be bought at any grocery store, and the MRE peanut butter packs can be found in most MREs, and can even be bought by themselves on Amazon and other surplus websites.
#9 Instant Rice and Mashed Potatoes
If you have access to hot water while you are bugging out then you have to at least consider taking along instant rice or mashed potatoes, as both are great filler foods that will keep your stomach feeling stuffed and satisfied. A lot of people don’t think about these two items since they usually come in big packaging, or awkward to pack to-go containers, but you can fix that.
All you need to do is separate portions into small sandwich bags for optimal storage, and then all you need is a dedicated bowl to put them in and then add hot water and wait. If you don’t want to carry a bowl around they ahave collapsible bowls now or even a small Tupperware container.
You can mix both of these things with other food items like beef jerky, emergency ration bars, and foil tuna or chicken for a great tasting meal, and the best part is that their shelf life if stored properly, is years upon years if kept dry.
#8 Tuna and Chicken Foil Packs
Cans of tuna and chunk chicken are very well known for being a great food to put down in any home shelter or bunker due to storage life, but the heaviness of the can makes it impractical for packing in a BOB, but fear not.
Luckily we live in the 21st century, and here in the modern age, we have put tuna and chicken in very thin foil packets that you can tote around in your own pocket that makes them the perfect size to fit into a side pocket of your bag and easily carried.
These two different kinds of storable meals will help provide you with a decent dose of healthy fats and will give you the protein boost you want out of a good dinner meal, and they make a great stir in items to any bigger meal.
The great part about the foil packets is that not only are they slim, but they offer the same long life as the cans, so your tuna and chicken are good for up to 2 or 3 years depending on when you bought it. Definitely worth browsing next time you are at the grocery store.
#7 Beef Jerky
Beef jerky kind of seems like it was just created to go into any kind of BOB right? Think about it, its dried out food with a long shelf life that comes in a sealed bag that has a silica packet in it to keep out moisture. While it may not have been made for the prepping community it would seem wrong to not have at least one bag of beef jerky in a BOB.
Jerky may lack carbs and a large amount of fat, beef jerky is a straight shot of delicious meaty protein for your muscles, which will be working in some manner if bugging out, so you are going to need that boost. With so many different flavors out now it is hard not find a flavor that will suit you in some way or another, and it can add flavor to your bland bug out meals.
One of the best things about jerky is that an unopened package can last 2 to 3 years in your pack, and can be bought in pretty much any store or gas station you walk into, so its easy to resupply if needed.
#6 Tootsie Rolls or PAYDAY Bars
While maybe not the healthiest option, chocolate candies like Tootsie Rolls offer a good blast of carbs and fats to help fuel your body, and PAYDAY bars even throw in a decent amount of protein. It is great to have sugary candies in your pack if you have someone bugging out with you that is diabetic or hypoglycemic so that you can raise their blood sugar in the even that they let it slip too far down, which can cause serious health concerns.
When it comes to weather resistance both do well in the winter months, but Tootsie Rolls are much better suited for the hot summer months, which is why soldiers in World War II so wildly carried them. Just be sure that you pick up the long Tootsie Rolls and not the mini ones to conserve space, as well as making sure to rotate out any candy as it expires or accidently melts.
#5 Hormels Compleat Meals
Hormel Compleat Meals are just what they sound like, meaning that they are meals that have already been cooked and sealed in a small plastic bowl. The bowl itself makes the meals a little bulky for a BOB, but they are not the biggest meal-to-go that you could put into your pack.
These are a perfect solution for people who really want ready to eat meals in their BOB, but also want some decent flavor in their bugging out experience. You can microwave the meals for heat, but it is not necessary and they taste just find cold. Also, because the meals were not aimed at the prepping community it is probably best to keep them out of the car and in a location with A/C, but other than that they have a shelf life of months without refrigeration.
#4 Emergency Ration Bars
Emergency ration bars like ERBars or Mainstays emergency rations are excellent additions to any BOB. The actual food itself is just a small block of what looks like corn bread, and while a pretty plain meal, each block will supply you with hundreds of calories.
Each package is capable of feeding a full-size adult for three days, has a shelf life of five years, and can withstand extreme temperatures. It is no gourmet meal, but it will keep you full and it will give you the energy you need to keep bugging out. Also, the bars can be eaten without causing you to feel thirsty afterwards as they are formulated with anti-thirst technology.
#3 Freeze Dried Meals
If you are not overly worried about how much space your food takes up in your pack then freeze dried meals like the Mountain House brand are a great choice for any BOB. They are only one meal, but it is a meal that will fill you up and keep you going, and they don’t taste half bad. They are much more appetizing than MREs, but can only be eaten if you have a source of hot water such as a hiking stove.
Many people who have multiple BOBs will put freeze dried meals in one bag and carry the hiking stove in the other to conserve space and weight. The biggest benefit of freeze dried meals is that unlike MREs, these meals can be found at big box retailers like Wal-Mart for a decently competitive price.
#2 Meal Replacement Bars
Meal replacement bars such as Clif Bars, Pro Bars, and Power Bars are specifically designed for people on the go, and work great for bugging out, even if preppers were not the original audience the products were designed for. These bars are chock-full of carbs, fat, and protein to keep you going, and often have added minerals and good sources of fiber, which will help keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.
They are relatively small and usually have an average shelf life of one year, but many hikers and athletes have noted that the bars still taste just fine at the two-year mark. Still, make sure to keep an eye on the date once a year and rotate them out as needed or desired.
#1 Meal Ready to Eat (MRE)
MREs are probably one of the most recognizable food sources for a BOB in the prepping community due to the fact that they fuel the US military for weeks at a time, and are capable of being stored for long durations.
One major downfall to MREs is the fact that they come in a big bulky package, as they hold multiple food items. One solution though is to only take the entrée portion of the pack like the one shown below, as they often have lots of calories and a good balance of nutrients packed into a small thin box that comes with a water-activated heater.
The only downside is that they can usually only be found reliably online, and often times you don’t know which ones you are getting until they arrive. Still, there are some companies like mealkitsupply.com that lets you order a box of MREs and you get to choose which ones you get.
What other suggestions do you have?
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