The human body can last a while without food, but you won't be as effective without it. We have a lot of fat people in this country so it's not a long stretch to assume that not all of us HAVE to have a lot of calories right? Well there is more to nutrition than just calories. You also need some good vitamins and minerals. Whatever you get it's a good idea to watch your salt. We rely heavily on processed goods with large quantities of salt and we get accustomed to the taste of all that salt so when we cook we add "a little salt for flavor" and sometimes add too much. Desparate times call for desparate measures so if you need to eat and don't have anything else you probably shouldn't starve yourself.
Your bugout bag is supposed to have about 2 or 3 days of supplies so that's nice to keep in mind. You need to have enough food to last and you need the discipline to make it last. Keeping specific prepared portions can help you ration out your food. If you keep all your food in one mass it can be harder to keep track of your consumption. If you eat more than you thought you would you can run out of food faster.
Perishables are a bad idea since you probably won't be carrying a refrigerator. Preserved goods last longer. Since your kit will probably be in storage for a while rather than actual use it's good to have goods that will last a while. Canned goods last a long time but can be heavy and if lacking a pop top also require a can opener. Food in jars are heavy and the jars can possibly break in your kit making a mess and a cutting hazard. That's why I would recommend dried goods instead.
So what dried goods should you get? Well there's many different things. First off I like the idea of vitamin supplements. If you have a lot of food with little nutritional value the supplements can help compensate for a poor diet. I carry some packs of Emergen-C in my kit. Just add some water and drink.
I like to stay away from food that you have to cook. Rice is light weight and very filling, but you have to cook it so you have to build a fire. That means you have to carry fire supplies and some sort of container to cook food in. You have to stop what you're doing to build your fire to cook your food. There's nothing really wrong with any of that. I just like the convenience of just grabbing some food out of the backpack and eating on the go.
One of the most popular survival foods is the MRE which stands for Meal Ready to Eat. They have a lot of calories which is good if you're doing a lot of exercise and need the energy. As far as I know they have plenty of vitamins and minerals as well. The big problem I hear for them is the price. We're not all made of money so we can't afford them. I've never had to rely on them so I can't give a review from personal experience, but all the reviews I've read have really recommended them so if you can afford them I don't see any other problems with them.
Sporting goods stores sell freeze dried meals in the camping department. These are considerably cheaper than MREs but not as good. As far as I know they're fully cooked so you just have to add hot water. You might even be able to get away with just cold water and let it set out in the sun. The freeze dried meals I've seen have come with 2 servings per bag which is good if you have someone traveling with you. All alone you might want to divide the bags into smaller portions. My big problem with these meals is the salt content. There's a lot of salt in these. I don't remember off hand but I think it's 60% your daily value per serving. I am not certain so feel free to look it up. Let me know if I'm wrong. I want accurate information in this guide.
Meal replacement shakes are popular. You can get a bag with some powder. Just add water, seal, and shake. Just like that you have a meal you can drink. I haven't researched this one at all but if they're anything like Slimfast they should have all the vitamins and minerals you need. The one downside I see is possibly not feeling very full. Liquid diets don't keep you feeling full and you may feel the urge to snack. That's just a guess though. Like I said I never researched these.
So what do I personally use? Well to start off I have a can of spam. That's about 3,000 calories right there so it's not very good for me. It's better than nothing and it's fully cooked so I'm not eating raw meat. It has a pop top so I don't need to carry a can opener. Unlike many canned products it's not mostly water so it's not unreasonably heavy. I got the reduced salt spam so it's not quite as high in salt though it still has quite a bit. That's kind of my last resort. I also have a sack of beef jerky. Once again high salt, but jerky is a good source of protein. The key here is moderation. One piece of jerky to supplement the meals will make it last longer and won't pump too much extra salt into my system. My main course is mashed potatoes. You get complex carbs, potatoes are filling, and they keep you feeling full longer. I have some small snack sized bags. They hold about a cup of volume. I have them roughly half full with potatoes and a blend of onion powder, herbs, a little salt, and black pepper for flavor. The potatoes are pretty bland alone so the seasoning makes it taste better. The directions claim to use milk and butter. Since I don't like carrying perishables I just add water. It also adds less fat. Anyway all I have to do is open a bag, pour in some water, seal it, and mash it between my fingers to hydrate the potatoes and I have an instant lunch that doesn't even need heating. If you're building a fire and cooking food you can make a hot meal out of it too. Throw in a piece of jerky and I have a survival banquet of steak and mashed potatoes. Helps to be optimistic. Anyway you can get a large box of instant mashed potatoes for about $5. That easily fills 10 snack sized bags and leaves more than enough left over to have potatoes with dinner.
What you put in your kit is entirely up to you, but hopefully I have given you some helpful ideas.
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