Outdoors Prepper

19+ Essential Bug Out Bag Food List Items

A bug out bag (also called a “ready bag” or “go bag”) is a portable emergency kit that is essential should an emergency strike. Your bug out bag essentials are designed only to last for a 72 hour time period while you seek shelter and replenishment of supplies.

Although your body can survive for around three weeks without any food, that is absolutely not an ideal situation. In order to avoid sickness, weakness, and other complications from lack of proper nutrition, let’s prepare your bug out bag food list now.

Bug Out Bag Food List

While packing food in your bug out bag, you’ll want to think about two different factors: type and quantity. What type of fuel do you need in order to feel your best? How much food do you need in order to get to your destination?

You’ll want to pack enough food for 3 days– that’s how long your bug out bag is meant to last. The dilemma here is making sure you have enough supplies to keep you alive, but that they’re lightweight enough to carry for long periods of time.

Ideally, in a bug out situation you’d have your car on you so you can pack a few extra items, but you want to be prepared for the worst. Assume you will be traveling on foot for three days and you need to pack all your essentials in order to survive. Each item in your bug out bag should be carefully thought out– this includes whatever food you may choose to pack as well. 

Here are some requirements we like to look at while selecting our bug out food.


For the food you choose, you want to make sure it is highly caloric, but not heavy in weight. Calories are what gives you energy and will keep you alive.


Size is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing the food for your bug out bag. Not only do you need enough food to survive for three days, but you need space for the many other essentials you need to pack as well. Whatever you decide to bring, make sure it is not bulky. Boxes take up much more space than bags do.

Nutritional and Energy Value

Nutritional and energy value are also important to consider while packing up your bug out bag. You’ll want foods that have more fats and proteins than carbs; however, carbs are still important to keep your energy high. Things with sugar and caffeine can help with this as well.


Although your bug out bag is really only meant to last you three days, you never know what could happen. While packing your bug out food, you want to make sure the majority of the items have a long shelf-life. You don’t want to pack yourself apples, only to find they’ve spoiled before you got around to eating them.


Nothing you decide to pack for your journey should be difficult to prepare. You want to be able to eat it as is, by adding hot water, or by throwing it in your portable camping stove (if you decide to bring one). Keep in mind you will have very limited supplies and ways of cooking.

With all of that being said, here is our suggested food list for any emergency bug out scenario.

1. Beef Jerky

One-of-Everything Beef Jerky Sampler Box

Beef Jerky is one of the best food items you can have in your bug out bag. Not only is it extremely high in protein, it also comes in a variety of flavors, and has an extremely long shelf-life. It comes in a resealable bag so it barely takes up any room, and there's absolutely no cooking involved.

Shop People’s Choice Beef Jerky: One Of Everything Jerky Sampler Box - $84.99

2. Nuts


One of the best survival food items out there is nuts. They are extremely nutritious, providing you with high amounts of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Not only do they have so many healthy qualities to them, they will also make you feel fuller for longer. This can be extremely important if you’re unsure when your next meal will be coming. Plus, they’re easy to pack. Win, win, win.

Shop at your local grocery store.

3. Seeds


Similar to nuts, seeds are also easy to pack, lightweight, and carry an insane amount of nutrients. Seeds such as sunflower seeds, chia, and flax, are always a good idea.

Shop at your local grocery store.

4. Raisins


Raisins are another great option because of their nutrient-dense characteristics. They are packed with carbohydrates and calories to keep you energized.

Shop at your local grocery store.

5. Beans


Beans are a great option if you decide to take a portable stove with you. You’ll need to cook them over a fire with some water, but if you have access to these things, they make a delicious and nutritious meal.

Shop at your local grocery store.

6. Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

Although peanut butter usually comes in a jar, which is less than ideal for packing in your bug out bag, you can find it in little packets. Not only is it delicious, but it’s a great source of protein too.

Shop at your local grocery store.

7. Instant Noodles

Instant Noodles

Instant noodles are not only a necessity for college students but they should be for your bug out bag too. They are super lightweight, and make a delicious and comforting meal. Again, you will need boiling water, but they’re great to have if you can.

Shop at your local grocery store.

8. Instant Oatmeal

Instant Oatmeal

Again, by adding nothing but boiling water to this dish you’ve got a delicious and easy meal. Instant oatmeal is practically weightless and you can store it pretty much anywhere as well.

Shop at your local grocery store.

9. Dried Soup

Dried Soup

Dried soups can easily be stored in small bags or envelopes, anywhere you can find even the tiniest bit of room. Again, add boiling water and you’ve got yourself a nutritious and delicious meal.

Shop on Amazon: Packaged Dry Soup Mixes

10. Sardine Tins

Sardines in a tin

Sardines have one of the highest amounts of protein of all the items listed here. They come in small tins, easy enough to pack, and give you a great amount of nutrients.

Shop at your local grocery store.

11. Dried Fruit

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit are one of those snacks that are full of sugars and can be eaten at any time to replenish your energy.

Shop at your local grocery store.

12. Salami / Pepperoni


Bags of sliced salami or pepperoni are pretty life-stable, and a great source of protein. You can eat them on their own for a delicious snack or pair them with anything else on this list for a meal.

Shop at your local grocery store.

13. Trail Mix

Trail Mix

Although we already mentioned pretty much everything that goes into trail mix, we figured it still couldn't hurt to throw it on the list. Things like raisins, nuts, and other items pair beautifully together for a tasty and healthy snack.

Shop at your local grocery store.

14. Military MREs

Military MREs

Military MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat, are designed for maximum endurance. MRE’s are self-contained Military rations consisting of a full meal packed inside one small pouch. Each meal will give you the perfect amount of calories to last you an entire day. They have an extremely long shelf life, take up little to no space, and are perfect for any bug out situation. You can eat every pouch as it comes or heat it up with hot water.

Shop on Amazon: MREs Genuine U.S. Military Surplus Assorted Flavors (4-Pack) - $39.99

15. Emergency Food Bars

Emergency Food Bars

Similar to MRE’s, emergency food bars provide the suggested amount of calorie intake in any given day for an adult. They are ready to eat, easy to pack, and have a 5 year shelf life. Although they may not be the most appetizing, they are easy and nutritious. They will keep you alive.

Shop on Amazon: Compact Provisions 3 Pack Emergency Food Supply - $29.99

16. Rice


Rice is always a great option because it’s another food item where you just simply have to add water to. You can also pair it with literally anything for an actually pretty decent meal.

Shop at your local grocery store.

17. Pouched Meats

Tuna in a pouch

There are many different kinds of meats that you can buy in pouches. For example: tuna, salmon, chicken, spam, etc. These are all great because they’re a good source of protein, easy to travel with, and they’ll add a little variety to your diet. Just make sure to select the ones that are small in size. 

Shop at your local grocery store.

18. Caffeine and Sugar

Tea + Tea Bags

Something that’s very easy to overlook are items with caffeine and sugar in them; however, they are very important to keep on you. Things like tea bags, drink mixes, and coffee can keep you energized on what could be a very taunting journey. It will also keep you from getting bored of drinking water all day long.

Shop at your local grocery store.

19. Vitamins


Another thing that is easy to overlook while packing your bug out bag food essentials is vitamins. You are most likely not going to be getting all proper vitamins and nutrients while on the move, so make sure you pack some supplements to help you out. Simple, but effective.

Shop at your local grocery store.

Bug Out Bag Foods to avoid:

Now that we have PLENTY of options for your bug out bag food list, let’s discuss some things that are absolute no-no when it comes to packing.

Canned foods

Canned foods are an absolute no go while packing for any bug out bag situation. They are large, take up a lot of space, are heavy, hard to carry, and will leave you without space for things you will really need.

Fresh fruit and veggies

Not only are whole fruits and veggies normally large and bulky as well, but they spoil very quickly. Save yourself the time, space, and energy by skipping these bad boys when you pack your bug out bag.

Ways to Consume Bug Out Bag Foods:

What could possibly be worse than packing your entire bug out bag only to realize you didn’t pack any utensils to eat your food with until it’s too late? Make sure you pack a couple of these items so you're able to consume the food you pack easily.

  • Spork
  • Thermos
  • Canteen
  • Portable stove
  • Items to start a fire

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of different food items to choose from while packing your bug out bag, but do not choose to pack all of them. Remember, the best thing you can do here is optimize your space. You need to be able to pack enough food for yourself for three days, BUT ALSO all other emergency bug out bag essentials as well. Pick the things that make most sense for you. Personally, our bags will probably be strictly beef jerky, but that’s just us.