Whether you’re facing a natural disaster, civil unrest, or any other unforeseen circumstance, having the right provisions can make all the difference.

While there are numerous options, one recommendation consistently rises above the rest: Military MREs. Offering complete meals with a long shelf life, these ready-to-eat packs provide essential sustenance in a compact and convenient package.

However, here is a list of essential bug-out bag foods that you might also consider.

Read: Free Bug-Out and Tactical Backpacks

Bug Out Bag FoodDescriptionShelf LifeCaloriesRecommendations
Beef JerkyHigh-protein, compact, no cooking required.1 year80-110 caloriesSee Brands
NutsNutritious, high in fiber and protein.6-12 months160-200 caloriesSee Brands
SeedsLightweight, packed with nutrients.6-12 months150-180 caloriesSee Brands
RaisinsCalorie-dense, provides quick energy.1 year85-130 caloriesSee Brands
BeansProtein-rich, hearty meal.2-3 years110-130 caloriesSee Brands
Peanut ButterHigh in protein, convenient in packets.2 years180-200 caloriesSee Brands
Instant NoodlesLightweight, comforting, easy to prepare.1-2 years180-220 caloriesSee Brands
Instant OatmealQuick to make, sustained energy.1-2 years120-160 caloriesSee Brands
Dried Soup MixConvenient, requires only boiling water.1-2 years100-150 caloriesSee Brands
Sardine TinsHigh in protein, packed with nutrients.3-5 years150-200 caloriesSee Brands
Dried FruitsLong shelf life, a good source of protein.6-12 months80-120 caloriesSee Brands
Salami/PepperoniLong shelf life, good source of protein.1-3 years110-130 caloriesSee Brands
Trail MixNutrient-dense, variety of flavors.6-12 months120-180 caloriesSee Brands
Military MREsComplete meals, long shelf life.5-7 years800-1,300 caloriesSee Brands
Emergency Food BarsCalorie-dense, no preparation required.5 years200-400 caloriesSee Brands
Instant RiceVersatile staple food, requires minimal cooking.4-5 years200-250 caloriesSee Brands
Pouched MeatsConvenient protein source in portable pouches.2-5 years100-200 caloriesSee Brands
Caffeine and SugarProvides energy, prevents fatigue.2-3 yearsVariableSee Brands
VitaminsEssential for maintaining health during emergencies.2-3 yearsVariableSee Brands

Best Recommendation: Military MREs

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Military MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) are a top choice for emergency bug-out bags due to their convenience, long shelf life, and comprehensive nutritional content. These self-contained meal packages are designed to provide soldiers with the sustenance they need in the field, making them an ideal option for emergency preparedness.

Why Choose Military MREs?

  1. Nutritional Balance: Each MRE contains a balanced combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, ensuring that you receive essential nutrients during emergencies.
  2. Long Shelf Life: Military MREs have an extended shelf life, typically ranging from 5 to 7 years or more, making them reliable food options for long-term emergency storage.
  3. Compact and Portable: Packaged in durable pouches, Military MREs are lightweight and space-efficient, making them easy to carry in your bug-out bag or emergency kit.
  4. No Preparation Required: Unlike other emergency food options that may require cooking or heating, MREs are ready to eat straight from the package, eliminating the need for additional supplies or equipment.
  5. Variety of Meals: Military MREs come in a variety of meal options, including main entrees, side dishes, snacks, desserts, and beverages, providing versatility and choice during challenging situations.

Bug Out Bag MRE Best Brand

mountain house amazon reviews

We recommend Mountain House MREs are a popular choice for emergency food supplies, renowned for their quality, taste, and convenience. These freeze-dried meals are designed to provide sustenance during emergencies, outdoor adventures, or any situation where access to traditional cooking methods is limited.

I’ve personally always loved Mountain House because of its convenience and taste. The price is alright and thousands of other reviewers recommend that brand as well.

Other Bug-Out Bag Essential Foods

survival food

As an outdoor enthusiast with years of wilderness escapades under my belt, let me tell you: having dependable emergency food options is an absolute game-changer. Now, let’s talk about some must-have grub for your bug-out bag.

Also Read: https://insighthiking.com/best-survival-food-companies/

These foods are like the Swiss Army knives of sustenance, ready to keep you fueled up and ready for whatever the wild throws your way!

I won’t mention water, because duh… that’s what should be grabbed first and foremost. Then, these items that are mentioned below.

Beef Jerky:

Beef jerky is a versatile and protein-packed option for your bug out bag, providing an average of 80-110 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 1 year, it’s an ideal choice for emergency situations.

Our Recommendation: People’s Choice Beef Jerky Sampler Box


Nuts are a nutrient-dense option, providing an average of 160-200 calories per serving, and they offer healthy fats, protein, and essential nutrients. With a shelf life of 6-12 months, they are a reliable source of energy during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Assorted Mixed Nuts by Planters


Seeds are lightweight and packed with nutrients, providing an average of 150-180 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 6-12 months, they offer essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats to keep you fueled during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Sunflower Seeds


Raisins are a calorie-dense option, providing an average of 85-130 calories per serving, and they offer quick energy when you need it most. With a shelf life of 1 year, they are a convenient and tasty snack for your bug out bag.

Our Recommendation: Sun-Maid Natural California Raisins


Beans are a protein-rich option, providing an average of 110-130 calories per serving, and they offer a hearty meal that can be easily cooked over a fire or portable stove. With a shelf life of 2-3 years, they provide essential nutrients to keep you satisfied during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Goya Black Beans

Peanut Butter:

Peanut butter is a high-protein option, providing an average of 180-200 calories per serving, and it comes in convenient packets for easy packing. With a shelf life of 2 years, it’s a delicious and energy-boosting addition to your bug out bag.

Our Recommendation: Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs

Instant Noodles:

Instant noodles are lightweight, comforting, and easy to prepare with just boiling water. With an average of 180-220 calories per serving and a shelf life of 1-2 years, they are a convenient option for quick meals during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Nongshim Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup

Instant Oatmeal:

Instant oatmeal is quick to make and provides sustained energy with an average of 120-160 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 1-2 years, it’s a nutritious and filling option for breakfast or any time of day.

Our Recommendation: Quaker Instant Oatmeal Variety Pack

Dried Soup Mix:

Dried soup mixes are convenient and require only boiling water to prepare. With an average of 100-150 calories per serving and a shelf life of 1-2 years, they offer a warm and satisfying meal option during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Bear Creek Country Kitchens Soup Mix Variety Pack

Sardine Tins:

Sardine tins are high in protein and packed with nutrients, providing an average of 150-200 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 3-5 years, they are a convenient and nutritious option for your bug out bag.

Our Recommendation: King Oscar Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dried Fruits:

Dried fruit provides quick energy and essential nutrients, with an average of 80-120 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 6-12 months, it’s a lightweight and flavorful snack option for emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Crisps Variety Pack


Salami and pepperoni have a long shelf life of 1-3 years and are a good source of protein, providing an average of 110-130 calories per serving. They are a convenient and tasty addition to your bug out bag.

Our Recommendation: Old Wisconsin Premium Summer Sausage

Trail Mix:

Trail mix is a nutrient-dense snack with a variety of flavors, providing an average of 120-180 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 6-12 months, it’s a convenient and satisfying option for your bug out bag.

Our Recommendation: Planters NUT-rition Wholesome Nut Mix

Emergency Food Bars:

Emergency food bars are calorie-dense and require no preparation, with a long shelf life of 5 years. Providing an average of 200-400 calories per serving, they are a compact and efficient option for your bug out bag.

Our Recommendation: DATREX Emergency Food Ration Bars

instant Rice:

Instant rice is a versatile staple food that requires minimal cooking, providing an average of 200-250 calories per serving. With a shelf life of 4-5 years, it’s a convenient and filling option for meals during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: Nishiki Premium Rice

Pouched Meats:

Pouched meats are a convenient protein source in portable pouches, with a shelf life of 2-5 years and an average of 100-200 calories per serving. They are a versatile option for adding protein to your meals during emergencies.

Our Recommendation: BUMBLE BEE Chicken Salad with Crackers

Caffeine and Sugar:

Caffeine and sugar provide energy and prevent fatigue, with a shelf life of 2-3 years. They are essential for staying alert during emergencies, and their variable calorie content depends on the specific product.

Our Recommendation: VitaCup Genius Blend Coffee Pods


Vitamins are essential for maintaining health during emergencies, with a shelf life of 2-3 years. They provide necessary nutrients that may be lacking in emergency food supplies, and their calorie content varies depending on the specific product.

Our Recommendation: Nature’s Way Alive! Once Daily Multivitamin

Worst Bug-Out Bag Foods

When it comes to the worst bug-out bag foods, it’s all about avoiding the heavy, bulky, and high-maintenance options that’ll weigh you down and sap your energy faster than you can say “emergency.”

No.Bug Out FoodDescription
1Fresh Fruits and VegetablesNutritious but spoil quickly, taking up valuable space.
2Canned FoodsHeavy, bulky, and require a can opener.
3Highly Perishable ItemsRequire refrigeration and have a short shelf life.
4Bulk Packaged FoodsLarge packages that cannot be resealed attract pests.
5Heavy Bottles of WaterAdd unnecessary weight to your bag.
6Specialty FoodsRequire specific cooking equipment or ingredients.
7Highly Processed SnacksHigh in sugar and lack sustained nutrition.
8Alcoholic BeveragesImpair judgment and hinder alertness in emergencies.

Picture this: you’re on the move, adrenaline pumping, and suddenly you’re lugging around a giant can of baked beans like it’s your new best friend.

Not exactly the ideal scenario, right? Let’s steer clear of those cans that’ll just add unnecessary weight and take up precious space in your bag.

And don’t even get me started on the fresh fruits and veggies that’ll go from ripe to rotten before you can say “bug out.” We’re aiming for lightweight, long-lasting, and low-maintenance here – the kind of snacks that won’t slow you down or spoil your survival game.

Bug-out bag | Important Tips

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Now that you know what bug-out food is best and what is the worst, here are some other tips to complete everything with essential tips for survival in case of emergencies.

Selecting the Right Backpack

Proper bug-out bag preparation starts with selecting a sturdy backpack that can withstand outdoor use. Look for one with multiple compartments for easy organization.

Backpacks that have a high thread count such as 1000D+ is important. Also water-resistant

Focus on the Essentials

Focus on the essentials: water, food, shelter, clothing, first aid supplies, and important documents. Opt for high-quality, lightweight, and compact items with a long shelf life.

Multipurpose Tools

Include multipurpose tools like a multi-tool, flashlight, and fire starter. These items can be invaluable in various emergency situations and take up minimal space in your bag.

We’ve actually compiled a list of giveaways certain brands and companies have here.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it!

While my top choice and best recommendation is Military MREs, also exploring diverse options ensures you’re prepared for any scenario. From savory beef jerky to nutrient-rich nuts and seeds, each selection contributes to your readiness for the unexpected.

Think of your bug-out bag as your trusty sidekick, filled with versatile and nourishing options ready to fuel your journey through life’s twists and turns. Whether facing a natural disaster or embarking on a wilderness expedition, these foods serve as reliable companions, providing sustenance and comfort along the way.

Yet, preparation transcends food selection. It encompasses choosing the right backpack, focusing on essential items, and equipping yourself with versatile tools for diverse challenges. So good luck and stay prepared!

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