The Ultimate Guide to Survival Foods: What to Stock for Emergencies

In the face of unforeseen circumstances—be it natural disasters, pandemics, or economic downturns—preparation is key. One of the most critical aspects of emergency preparedness is ensuring you have an adequate survival food supply. But what constitutes the right kind of emergency food stock? It’s not just about filling your pantry with whatever’s available; it’s about smart, sustainable choices that will keep you and your family nourished over potentially long periods of uncertainty. Here’s the ultimate guide to survival foods you should consider stocking up on.

1. Water

First and foremost, water is essential for survival. While not a food, it’s crucial to have a sufficient supply. Aim for at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. For a family of four, that means you should have at least 12 gallons of water ready.

2. Non-Perishable Foods

Non-perishable foods are the backbone of any emergency food stock. These include:

  • Canned Goods: Vegetables, fruits, beans, and meats like tuna, chicken, and salmon. Canned goods can last for years and provide essential nutrients.
  • Dry Goods: Rice, pasta, lentils, and beans are inexpensive, long-lasting, and versatile ingredients that serve as excellent carbohydrate sources.
  • Nuts and Seeds: High in calories and nutrients, nuts and seeds are great for snacking or adding to meals for extra energy.

3. Preserved Foods

In addition to commercially canned goods, consider stocking up on foods preserved through other methods:

  • Dried Fruits and Vegetables: Lightweight and nutritious, dried produce can add variety and vitamins to your diet during emergencies.
  • Jerky: Beef, turkey, and other types of jerky are high in protein, making them an ideal, shelf-stable snack.
  • Pickles and Fermented Foods: Foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi last a long time and can provide probiotics, which are beneficial for your gut health.

4. Ready-to-Eat Meals

For situations where cooking might not be possible, ready-to-eat meals can be a lifesaver:

  • Meal Replacement Bars: High-calorie, nutrient-dense bars can provide a quick and easy meal substitute.
  • Pre-packaged Meals: Options like freeze-dried meals only require hot water and can be eaten straight from the package.

5. Special Dietary Needs

Don’t forget to consider any special dietary needs your family might have:

  • Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Allergy-Friendly Foods: Ensure you have suitable alternatives for family members with food sensitivities or preferences.
  • Infant and Baby Foods: Stock up on baby formula, jarred baby foods, or any specific nutritional products for infants.

6. Comfort Foods

In stressful times, having access to comfort foods can boost morale. Chocolate, tea, coffee, and hard candies don’t take up much space and can provide a sense of normalcy and a psychological lift.

Building Your Stock Gradually

The key to building an emergency food stock is to start small and gradually accumulate items. Focus on adding a few extra items to your cart each time you shop. Also, rotate your stock to keep it fresh and use the oldest items first.


Preparing for emergencies by stocking up on survival foods can provide peace of mind and security in unpredictable times. By choosing a variety of nutritious, non-perishable, and comforting foods, you’ll ensure that you and your family are well-equipped to handle whatever comes your way. Remember, preparation today can make all the difference tomorrow.