Best Bug Out Bag Food: 24 Options Worth Considering

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By Bryan Lynch •  10 min read

When it comes to bug out bags, choosing the right kind of food can be a tricky proposition.

Best Bug Out Bag Food

This is because a BOB does not get used all that much and typically sits in a vehicle or a closet for long periods. 

Most of the food we eat daily would likely spoil in a pack due to the lack of refrigeration and other conditions.

So, what should you be looking for when packing food into your emergency bug out bag?

3 Types of Food Ideal For a BOB

The following are some characteristics that I like to look for when choosing BOB food.

1. No Refrigeration

A BOB is going to be subject to the environmental conditions it is in, i.e. no refrigeration. 

This means you are going to want to stay away from perishable and fresh foods. 

2. Long Shelf Life

Referencing what I said earlier in the article, a BOB is generally not going to be used often but always needs to be ready to go.

I do not want to be swapping food out of my pack every other week. 

So, I like to use food that has a longer shelf life.  

3. No Cooking Required

When bugging out the ability to cook may or not be an option. This could be due to not having the right kind of supplies, a fire could be unsafe to have, or time constraints could make cooking unfeasible.  

For this reason, having some food that can be consumed without cooking, would be good to have. 

24 Choices for the Best Bug Out Bag Food

Here is a quick list of some food that would be good to have in a BOB.

  1. Mountain House freeze-dried meals: These do require hot water to be cooked but they are extremely lightweight and have a long shelf life. There are also a variety of meals to choose from.  Check out the best Mountain House products here.
  2. Ready Wise freeze-dried meals: Just like the above, they require hot water, are lightweight, and have a long shelf life, and there are a variety of meal options.  
  3. MRE’s: These are great because they are a complete meal in one package. However, they can be bulky and expensive. They can be eaten cold but some come with heaters that are activated by the addition of water. 
  4. Hardtack: Super simple to make at home and cheap. As long as it is kept away from moisture it has an indefinite shelf life. But due to its extreme hardness, it must be soaked in a liquid before consumption.  
  5. Crackers: A lightweight simple snack that lasts a long time.  
  6. Instant oatmeal: These are easy to pack, do not take up much space, come in a variety of flavors, and only require a little bit of water. 
  7. Honey: A great sweetener that does not go bad when stored properly and has additional uses. 
  8. Trail mixes: A lightweight choice that can be made with a variety of items that provides a snack with nutrition and energy.  
  9. Nuts: A quick healthy snack that is filling.  
  10. Emergency Bars: Can be purchased almost anywhere that food is sold and can be eaten on the go.  
  11. Granola bars: Similar to energy bars. 
  12. Canned Food: This option will become heavy quickly. But one or two cans of beef stew or chili won’t break your back and will be very filling. They are perfectly fine to eat cold but you will need a way of opening the can. 
  13. Rice: A small container of rice is lightweight and has a long shelf life. A couple of cups will serve several meals, are filling, and requires minimal preparation.
  14. Dried Beans: This is a similar option to the rice. They are lightweight, have a long shelf life, a couple of cups provide several meals, and they are filling. The downside is that they will need to be soaked in water for several hours before cooking. A little tip for this is to place them in a water bottle and allow them to soak while you are on the move. For a more complete meal try mixing them with the rice!
  15. Jerky: Properly dehydrated jerky can last for weeks and provides protein. Beware of most jerky that you find at the store or gas station. Most of these are not dehydrated and have unhealthy fillers. The best option would be to make your own at home.
  16. Dehydrated Food: This can come in the form of fruits, veggies, and meats. The shelf life can vary depending on the food type but by vacuum sealing it the shelf life will be extended. 
  17. Meat pouches: I have seen these in both tuna and chicken. I would opt
  18. Sardines or Kipper snacks: These canned fish will provide protein as well as some fats. 
  19. Instant potatoes: These are super quick to make and only require a bit of water. They are also quite filling. 
  20. Soup mixes: These can provide a lot of flavor in a small package.
  21. Dry pasta: Similar to rice, a small amount of dry pasta will go a long way. 
  22. Seasonings: Do not forget to pack your favorite seasonings like salt and pepper. These will make some of the blander food options on this list more palatable.
  23. PemmicanThis is a mixture of dried ground-up meat, tallow, and dried berries. When prepared and stored properly pemmican can last for a decade or more. 
  24. Peanut ButterProvides a good amount of calories, fats, carbs, with some protein thrown in. 

Things to Consider for BOB Food

After you have decided on the type of food you want to put in your BOB, the next step would be figuring out how much food you want to pack. 

How Much Food To Pack In Your Bug Out Bag?

The amount of food you decide to pack is going to depend on a few variables. 

The first is deciding on how long your pack is meant to serve you. For many people, the rule of thumb is that a BOB is meant to last roughly 72 hours. Sometimes it is less and sometimes it is more. 

I like to think a minimum of three days should be packed. Keep in mind that does not necessarily mean you need 9 MRE’s if that is what you are carrying. 

Something like an MRE could be split up into two or even three meals.

But if you can, always pack more food than you need

Secondly, what kind of area do you live in and what are your skillsets. This specifically relates to the ability to hunt, fish, and gather types of food. 

If you are well versed in the above and plan on getting your food from the land, you may not need to pack as much food. In this case, more tools and gear, rather than food, would be needed. 

But keep in mind that if you are bugging out then you most likely will not be the only one do so. This could make hunting, fishing, and foraging difficult so always have some food in your pack. 

The last thing to consider is the weight requirement of the bag. This is going to depend on your physical abilities and what you think you need in the bag. You may not be able to pack a week’s worth of food if you are only able to carry a ten-pound bag. 

You may start bugging out in a vehicle but for a multitude of reasons, you should not depend on a vehicle. Always plan on carrying your bag on your back. 

Once you figure out the weight you can comfortably carry you can then decide on how much food to add. 

A Closer Look at Two Food Options…

Freeze Dried Meals 

These have become a very popular backpacking food option because they are incredibly lightweight, require no refrigeration, and depending on the company the product can have a shelf life that lasts decades.

Due to the process of how the food is made, the product is extremely compact. This allows for many meals to be carried without taking up a lot of space.  

Now, I have tried several meals from the two biggest companies on the market that make these: Mountain House and Ready Wise.

To be honest I do not prefer one over the other. They both make affordable meals that taste really good. There isn’t a meal yet I have tried that I do not like. 

What is also great about these companies is that they offer a wide range of products that come in the form of breakfast, entrees, snacks, desserts, and drinks. Other than buying a premade kit, you can use the above options to create a personalized menu. 




MREs are another popular choice for a bug out bag because they are a complete meal, have a long shelf life, require no refrigeration, and can be eaten cold.

Depending on the company that you buy from, they can also come with some extras in each meal. Such as eating utensils, a heater to warm up the food, seasoning packets, napkins, and wet wipes. All of which is nice to have. 

MREs also come in a variety of meal options but again every company is different in what they offer. 

I have tried MREs by SURE-PAK and had a very good experience with those. Not only did they taste great but they come with some of those extras I was talking about earlier. 

An MRE meal from this company comes with

Taking a glance at the above list and you can see why some MREs are a popular choice. 

I have eaten many MRE’s by this company and they are very filling. Sometimes I would not finish them in one sitting but break them up into separate meals. 

The downsides to MREs is that they can be a bit pricey, they are bulky, and their shelf life is around five years when stored at fifty degrees Fahrenheit.



Before Buying

I like the taste of MREs and freeze-dried food but everyone’s palate and bodies are different. I would suggest buying one or two samples and trying them out before investing too much money in either one. 

Wrap Up

As you can see there are several bug out bag food options out there. Some are homemade and some are prepackaged.

No matter what you choose to pack, I hope this article helped in giving you a few options as well as some things to consider when packing food.

Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

What kind of food do you like to pack in your BOB? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know! 

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.