Teenage Survival Part 3: Food

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By Josh •  6 min read

Planning for emergency food and water is your parent’s job right?  If your parents are not of the emergency preparedness mind set then it is up to you to make sure you and your family are prepared.  Are you a teenage survivalist?

Capt. Bart:
(But I am hungry) Survival rations are tricky if you don’t have input into the family’s supplies.  You won’t have a storage room set up with a year’s supply of food so what do you do?  Well as a start, FEMA (the government) says every American needs to have a three-day supply of food, medicines and water available.  There are even websites showing a large trash can (clean) packed with this food.  Most folks that won’t prepare will listen to the government so perhaps this is possible.  The photo to the right is to a poster that NASA sent to all of its employees.  That is a good start.

Whether or not your parents are on board with preparedness, you can look at food that you can stockpile yourself.  Jerky is a great protein source that keeps for at least one year.  It is also something that is light weight and can be used as an ingredient in a soup.  Trail mix is another source of good food that keeps for quite a while.  Diabetics (I am one) keep food bars/cubes to help stabilize blood sugar levels.  They keep for a long time and are a good supplement.  Peanut butter is another excellent source of easily stored food.  Just remember the food should be a mix of protein and carbohydrates if possible and require no cooking.  Cooking is great if you are able to do it but microwave popcorn probably is a poor choice as a survival food.  Also, use a marker to mark the date you bought the food and plan to rotate it every 2 (possibly 3) years.

This is one of those things that you are really going to need adult support for, unless you are providing your own food.  A lot of people can give you recommendations as to what to stock pile, but it is very difficult to buy anything without money.   If you are a teen who is old enough to have a job then this changes the dynamics a little bit.  My best recommendation is to talk with your parents and have examples of recent situations that have disrupted people’s lives around the world.  (Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Power Outages, War, etc)  What my family does for food is actually pretty neat.  My parents give me a certain amount of money for a pay period, and with that money I have to purchase all of the food that I plan on eating for breakfast and lunch. I am able to buy a little bit more than I need each pay period.  I put the extra food that I buy in the very back of the pantry as an emergency cache.  Obviously this is not the best way of doing things, the ideal situation would be if your parents had a year supply stored in a separate area.   Just remember, “Eat what you store, and store what you eat.

Capt Bart:
One of the advantages of groups like the scouts is that your local troop should have information on what is edible in your area.  The

various plants that you might find that can keep you alive are important to know.  It is also important to know what will kill you.  Just before I moved out of Arizona, a scout master was showing his boys the wild onions that they could eat.  Unfortunately, wild onions in bloom and hemlock in bloom can look a lot alike and he died. Fortunately none of the boys tried the plants but it was a fatal mistake.

I can not recommend that you eat wild plants unless you can positively ID them.  I know what plants are edible in my area, but I don’t eat them in quantity or with any frequency.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  For good information on wild edibles take a look at Judy of the Woods’ website.

Capt Bart:
Another approach is backpacking food.  If you are into hiking and even overnight camps the food carried for these sports are a good choice for stockpiling.  Things like instant oatmeal, Ramen noodles, even Mac and Cheese are all long term storage items that do not raise immediate flags with parents.  Buying an extra can or box of your favorite snack may well be acceptable.  Just be sure the snack is storage friendly.  Storage in a “backpacking bin” for use on your trips allows you to have a stockpile without being one of those ‘weird’ kid types who worry folks who should know better.

Look at your hiking gear as well.  Yes, the plastic water bottles are great but an army surplus canteen with a metal cup that fits around the canteen gives you something to cook in as well as a water holder.  A signal whistle that contains a magnifying glass gives you a way to start a fire as well as a distress signal.  Some type of water filtration system (individual Aquamira bottles for example) to be carried on your backpacking trips are good.

There are a great many “health” foods out there as well that are suitable.  Bora Bora bars are delicious, keep a fairly long time and are good for you. Protein in any form is always good.  Student athletes always need to watch their dietary needs and many of the foods used to strengthen folks for vigorous sports are also suitable for storage.  Remember the key is to get what you will eat.  Don’t buy and store…only to let the food go bad.

If you are in scouts, then you may want to talk with your Scout Master about ordering some of the extra meals from Philmont Scout Ranch.  Every year they package large quantities of backpacking food, and sell the surplus to troops from their website.  Check it out (click here)  Philmont also sell a lot of surplus hiking and camping gear.

Capt Bart:
The whole key to survival food for a teenager is to have the absolute essential items to keep you going.  Proteins are most important although the Irish lived for decades on an almost nothing but potatoes.  Not the most healthy but survival.  If you wind up without family support one other thing to be aware of is your vitamin intake. A good solid multi-vitamin is absolutely essential.  Usually a “I am worried about my health, I want to start a multi-vitamin” will be well received by your parents.  To go with long duration foods, drink mixes “I’ve lost my appetite for sodas, I’d prefer Gator aid mix” should work as well.  After all, the government says you are drinking too many sodas and eating the wrong stuff.  Use them to help get the prep foods and drinks you need.

Read Teenage Survival Part 1 (Click here)
Read Teenage Survival Part 2 (Click here)


Josh is a Boy Scout and an avid outdoorsman. He specializes in knives (and other such tools), various knots & lashings, traditional skills such as blacksmithing & woodworking, bushcraft and fire starting. Read his full interview here.