Depending on where you live, the size of your family and what type of survival situation you will more than likely face, stockpiling certain foods makes sense, particularly if you may experience a long-term event where stores are closed or not accessible.
What you stock is another question, but here are 10 “must have” items.
The Top 10 Survival Foods
1.) Canned Alaskan Wild Salmon – Rich in protein and healthy fats like omega 3s. Look for “Alaskan Wild Salmon” and you're likely to get salmon with minimal or no environmental contaminants that can sometimes show up in other canned fish from other parts of the world. Salmon may not be your thing today but realize the Inuit people (native people of Alaska and northern Canada) on a traditional diet are known for low rates of heart attack and stroke, which is attributed to their long term, continuous diet of fish. Like tuna fish, you can eat canned Alaskan wild salmon right out of the can, without cooking — though, if you have leftovers, it will have to be refrigerated where it will then keep for the next 3 – 4 days.
2.) Dried Beans – Kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, pinto beans, and others are all high in calories, contain a fair amount of protein per serving, and also several essential vitamins and minerals. Dried beans come in packages larger than canned beans but for the amount you get weigh quite a bit less. The key difference is that you have to add water and let most beans soak for several hours before eating. Split peas, for example, have a much shorter soak time. Split peas are part of the dried bean family with many of the same vitamins and minerals. Finally, dried beans have a long shelf life. Dried beans will stay good in the back of your car, your office survival kit, and of course your pantry of survival foods at your home or cabin.
Brown[White] Rice – High in calories and protein, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. As a dry, non-perishable food they also have a long shelf life. Just add hot water to these guys and let soak for 1 – 2 days, or until the rice expands (always eat rice after it's expanded); or boil brown rice for 30 minutes to 1 hour for fastest edibility.* [Buy Instant White Rice]
4.) Bulk Nuts – Look for the bulk seed/nut area of your grocery store, and specifically for unsalted, and un-shelled (you want to choose survival foods not high in salt, as too much salt will make you thirsty and isn't good for overall health). Peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and a number of other nuts / seeds typically sold in supermarket bulk foods section are high in essential vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, and have a fair amount of protein. They're also conveniently light-weight and a serving size may be as small as a 1/4 cup, so you'll get many servings out of a large bag.
5.) Peanut Butter – It's packed with protein and essential fatty acids, as well as contains many essential vitamins and minerals (such as copper and iron). Just a couple tablespoons a day of peanut butter can help a person survive a period of limited food intake (during a disaster, one of your strategies to survive needs to include an understanding that it's time to cut calories — most people eat a lot more calories each day than they actually need to survive.
6.) Trail Mix – A favorite of hikers, trail mix has a variety of ingredients, raisins, peanuts and other nuts, and often pieces of chocolate, and sometimes dried fruit and berries. The simple sugars in the raisins, chocolate and dried fruits can be a quick mood booster and source of short term energy. Trail mix is a way to include dried fruits in your survival diet plan.
7.) Energy Bars and Chocolate Bars – There's an energy bar nowadays for every taste. Look for brands with a high calorie count as well as plenty of protein and a wide range of nutrients. Chocolate bars – Chocolate can be a quick source of energy and a great morale booster, while also being generous in calories. (Chocolate is also likely to become a commodity in demand in the weeks and months following a disaster.) [Buy Breakfast Granola]
8.) Beef Jerky – “Natural” brands of beef, turkey, etc. jerky do not contain any or as much of the harmful added ingredients seen in many commercial jerky brands. What is jerky? Jerky is a tasty form of dried meat. Dried meat, if you remember, is a long time proven survival food used by Native Americans and American pioneers alike, and also used by primitive tribes around the world.
9.) Coffee / Instant Coffee – Have you ever tried to quit drinking coffee, after years of counting on it to get you up in the morning and through the day? If not you, someone in your party is likely to consider coffee (or simply caffeine) an essential, and may be tired, lethargic, and have headaches without the stuff. It's a quick mood booster and good for morale. And it's also something that could be traded like a commodity during a crises situation.
10.) Sea vegetables / Powdered Super Greens – A popular item selling in health foods stores today are the sea vegetables that come in powdered form, or pill. In a time of catastrophic disaster, most communities are going to be hurting for fresh produce. Sea vegetables are a super food, packed with vitamins and nutrients and health benefits that help boost immunity, provide tissue repair and wound healing, and can even have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. What this means is that sea vegetables like kelp and chlorella and others are super foods. [Try Spinach Freeze Dried]
* Brown rice was previously listed. However one of our readers (thanks, Grinnan Barrett!) pointed out that the natural oils in brown rice cause it to go bad over time. So when storing rice, especially in a survival situation, always opt for WHITE rice rather than brown.
It is important to remember these are recommended basics for stocks of survival food.
You can tailor your pantry beyond these to other goods that you will want if faced with a survival situation, like flour, other types of rice, other canned meats, multiple types of dried fruits, etc.
[Check out these Food Organization options]
To learn more about what and how to stock basic survival foods, please check out Secrets of Survival.