Being prepared is important. In fact, “Be Prepared” is the Boy Scout motto. This can mean many different things depending on the situation. Whether you’re a survivalist or prepper or just someone who appreciates making sure you’re prepared, one of the major areas you’ll need to tackle is survival food.
While there are plenty of lists with dozens of options, this is more of a quick hitter article. Here we focus on 10 of the most underrated survival foods to stock up on.
All of these are solid choices whether creating an emergency stash, setting up food stores at a seasonal property that you need to be ready to go when you come back, or if preparing for what preppers and/or survivalists like to refer to as a when the SHTF moment. They’re not the only options. They are great versatile options that will help you take advantage of often overlooked food gems.
No matter what your need, you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice if you don’t look at these outstanding options to supplement your current list.
10 Most Underrated Survival Foods
Some of the obvious options for survival foods aren’t going to be on this list. That’s very intentional. There are plenty of articles on top 50, top 70, top 100 survival foods and chances are that at some point we’ll do a master article like that. However, here we’re focusing on the overlooked & underrated options.
There’s a lot of discussion about this among various outdoor groups and plenty of debate. That being said, here are our picks for the 10 most underrated survival foods you need to pay attention to.
Note: In each section we include a “Buy Now” button for people wanting to order something right now to stock up. These are the best deals we can find. In other words, our best recommendations.
#10: Packed Emergency Rations (SOS Food Labs, Inc.)
Similar to civilian based MREs, having packaged emergency rations doesn’t necessarily mean meals in a pack. Though that is definitely one option. These can be certain foods properly vacuum sealed, dehydrated, or otherwise set up so that they have a shelf life of many years. The packed emergency rations of SOS Food Labs, for example, have a best used by date of 4-5 years on each one.
And that’s best used by, not expires by. In other words, in a truly long-term survival situation chances are your meal would still be good within a reasonable time of that date. In these case these are bars of cinnamon or coconut flavor that pack a whopping 3600 calories. Why is that good for survival?
People forget that at the end of the day calories = energy. Having bars that can load you up on calories without being too heavy in sugar is a great way to be able to sustain yourself for the long term.
These are my personal favorite. They taste really good (for emergency rations), have a long shelf life, and definitely pack in the energy. A great, and often overlooked, emergency food option.
#9: Powdered Milk
This might not be the tastiest choice in the world, and as someone who loves raw milk & whole milk the idea of drinking the powdered stuff isn’t high on my list at all, but there’s a reason it’s on this list. Powdered milk is loaded with vitamins & minerals that are hard to get from most conventional “survival foods.”
Powdered milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a two year shelf life in box form, but when moved to an airtight container stored in a cool dry place, the shelf life jumps up to 10 years, according to Eatbydate.com. That’s impressive.
Good for camping, good for preparation, and good for long term off the grid living. That’s a lot impressive uses that powdered milk brings to the table.
Whether there for short term use or stacked on the shelf for a decade-long long haul, there’s a lot to like about what powdered milk brings to the table.
#8: Power Bars
There are all kinds of power bars now. From the extremely popular Clif Bars (one of my personal favorites) to conventional granola bars, there are many options. These tend to be packed with carbs, a good amount of calories, are filling, and some even come with a bit of caffeine. That package is crucial when you need fuel but don’t know for how long or what type of challenges ahead.
Good power bars take relatively little space, are packed with nutrients, protein, and calories, and give you the energy to keep going.
There are many different options out there. Even many traditional granola bars or snack bars work. However, I find some of the newer choices are much better both in calorie count, nutrients, and additional bonuses. Plus when you find the right flavors, Clif Bars are absolutely delicious.
#7: Canned Meats
Canned meats come in many different forms, and they provide something important: protein that doesn’t spoil quickly or easily. Canned meat is overlooked but protein is hard to find in an emergency situation and it keeps the muscles strong while providing critical long-term energy.
These are obviously important when they need to provide without resupply for months (or years), but even in the short term having a delicious food packed with protein that will fill you up and fuel the furnace.
Some popular options include:
- Canned chicken
- Cans of tuna
- Canned salmon (this is so good it gets its own spot)
- Vienna sausages
- Canned ham
Canned meats are an outstanding option when it comes to survival food, yet they are often overlooked. Add in the psychological benefit of different food and taste and you’ll be glad you packed these.
#6: Canned Wild Pacific Salmon
Salmon should never be an underrated survival food yet on most lists it’s left off or just grouped in with canned meats. However, salmon is an incredible protein above and beyond most fish and even many other forms of canned meat. This is especially true when talking about canned salmon that includes bones and skin for extra minerals.
However, it’s absolutely stunning what a single can of wild Pacific salmon brings to the table not only when it comes to protein and good lean calories but also calcium, hard to find vitamins, and of course the health and energy benefits that come from Omega-3 fatty acids.
This is a stunningly good survival food and yet often is completely overlooked. There are some important details you need to be aware of, however. The first is to make sure the salmon is Pacific and not Atlantic. Atlantic salmon tends to be loaded with heavy metals like mercury and other things that really counteract a lot of the benefits that salmon brings to the table. You only want Pacific!
Second, make sure the salmon is wild not farmed. Farmed salmon also tend to have a variety of health issues (and inferior meat) that don’t exist with the wild fished and wild caught salmon.
#5: Dried Beans
Often available in bags of 5 lbs, 10 lbs, or even 20 lbs, dried beans often get overlooked for rice and oats, but there are good reasons to make sure you have a few bags of these on hand. They end up offering more calories and can be very filling, give much needed fiber, and provide solid iron so your body can continue to process protein and stay strong meal after meal.
These are different than canned beans, so if you don’t have any experience treating dried beans you will need to make sure to do this during non-emergency times so you are fully comfortable with how to prepare these. While Pinto Beans are being shown in this section, there are many different types of beans and legumes to choose from.
Choose the one you are most likely to continue to like, or at least tolerate, over an extended period of time. Adding these gives some options – and personally I find the combination of black beans and brown rice go together much longer than one of them satisfies solo (doubly so if you only have white rice).
#4: Canned Sardines
There are many types of canned sardines out there, and you may want to try a few options to see which ones you enjoy the most. Pictured are Chicken of the Sea sardines in a light oil – these are my personal favorites by far, but your taste buds might go in a different direction.
Generally I find that sardines soaked in oil are much better than ones soaked in water, hot sauce, or anything else. In addition, it’s okay for sardines to be farmed meaning you don’t need to be nearly as picky when grabbing the tins and figuring out which are best for survival purposes.
Sardines are like a superfood. Loaded with protein and vitamins, packed in oil means extra calories for when every bit of energy matters, and with additional calcium these are small in size, easy to pack, and the ones I just bought have a best used by date 5 years away – and as long as the can isn’t compromised they should be able to last many years longer.
A heavily underrated survival food, sardines deserve their spot high up on this list!
#3: Brown Rice
White rice is more commonly bought, in part because it’s cheaper and easy to find in giant bags (see the picture leftover bag from a former roommate still in the pantry), and while it is a great option, brown rice has many more nutrients, more health benefits, and generally also tends to fill you up a little bit more.
Brown rice can be put in a pantry, doesn’t need power to keep, and can provide an incredible amount of meals while also filling in something that becomes a legitimate concern over the long run: calories.
A 20 lb bag of rice will provide an incredible number of calories and if you can get brown rice over white rice, even better as you’ll get more nutrients from those carbs. As long as you have a water source a few of these bags can last for a months long emergency scenario.
That’s a pretty solid investment, especially considering how inexpensive it is, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
#2: Peanut Butter
Any thru hiker can tell you just how exceptional peanut butter is as a survival food. Loaded with calories (energy) in even a single spoonful, a burst of instant energy from sugar, and plenty of protein (especially if you go with crunchy), peanut butter packs a ton in a very small space.
Even a simple jar of peanut butter is a good deal, but there are family sized packages and even large tubs with pounds of the stuff. A little of this can go a really long way. The combination of calories and protein will do some good.
When you add in the other potential benefits of peanut butter like for manning mouse traps or as bait in the wilderness, this becomes an even better investment. It’s not just for occasional sandwiches anymore but as a necessary part of your survival food checklist.
Add a tub of this to a couple of giant bags of brown rice and some canned meat and you’re looking good for most potential emergencies.
Honey is used in many different ways that makes it absolutely essential when it comes to an emergency stash. One of the most underrated survival foods out there, there is a whole lot to love about honey.
Honey is not only a fantastic natural flavor to any oatmeals, oats, teas, or other low flavor food options you have but honey doesn’t spoil.
Literally, it’s the one food that will last forever. Even if it hardens, gels, or changes forms, all of those are still edible. Honey doesn’t go bad so you never lose out on your investment.
In addition to this, honey can be used as part of a paste to put on wounds, as well as medicinal applications for things like a sore throat.
Honey is amazing as a food, one of nature’s real miracles. It needs to be on the top of any list for best survival foods out there.
Wrapping it Up
There’s no denying the large number of options when it comes to survival food. Depending on the situation, the budget, and hey given ideal situations the list would be much larger. We’re also not overlooking the fact that water trumps all. Clean stored water, water purification tablets, water filters are all top of the list for long term survival because water > food on the importance scale. However, these underrated survival foods can go a long way to filling out your stock.