Best and Worst Ready-to-Eat Survival Foods

I’m hoping a vast majority of you have a sizeable supply of survival food stockpiled. It’s something we’ve been preaching here at 4Patriots for a long time.

You may even be tired of hearing about it. Or at least you might have been prior to 2020. That’s when many of us saw empty grocery store shelves for the first time. And rationing signs on shelves that did have food.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic was the main culprit. Panic buying and a disrupted food supply chain will do that. 

Those who had set aside enough survival food for weeks, months or a year or more weren’t worried. But those who hadn’t prepared were very concerned.

Be prepared for a zero-prep scenario

Well, we’re still preaching the importance of stockpiling survival food. Especially the kind designed to last for 25 years.

But we also want to stress how essential it is to have non-perishable, ready-to-eat food on hand. Both at home and in your vehicles. 

You could be in a situation where you don’t have the time or ability to heat up your survival food. In which case a zero-prep snack or meal would be the perfect way to keep your strength up during a trying time. 

But what are some of the best ready-to-eat foods? For that matter, what are some of the worst? Are some more filling than others? Or more nutritious? Today I want to take a look at quick and easy foods some people store and keep handy for an emergency.

5 criteria for choices

But before we get into specific food items that need no preparation, let’s look at the criteria we want to use for making our decisions. In no particular order…

  •           Foods you enjoy eating. Hopefully you won’t have to dip into your ready-to-eat items for more than a day or two. But if so, you’ll wish you’d given more thought to your taste buds. You’ll get more needed calories and vitamins from food you enjoy than from food you don’t like. Simply because you’ll eat more of it.
  •           Foods that store well. Your ready-to-eat stockpile doesn’t need the same kind of shelf life your survival food needs. But you also don’t want it going bad before you’re ready to consume it. For at least some items, aim for a shelf life of at least several years. Five would be preferable. 
  •           Foods that contain the nutrition you need. In a survival situation, you need protein. And carbohydrates. And healthy fats. That’s how you keep up your strength when you need it most.
  •           Foods that offer variety. Yes, you can survive by eating the same thing day after day. At least for a while. But stockpiling a variety of ready-to-eat food will lend itself to more frequent eating and a much better mental outlook on your situation. 
  •           Foods that are packaged well. The way a food item is prepared – such as with the freeze-drying or slow dehydration methods – goes a long way to ensuring its shelf life. But so does the packaging. The best packaging, such as Mylar, keeps out heat, light, moisture and critters.      
Some grab and go options

OK, so let’s get into some of the specific ready-to-eat foods you may wish to stockpile for an emergency. 

  •           Peanut butter. This is something you can eat right out of the jar, although spreading it on healthy crackers will make it more filling and provide a taste variety. 
  •           Grains, nuts and legumes. This trail mix item is very popular, and for good reason. Everything in it is delicious and nutritious. The freeze-dried form will last longer. 
  •           Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are nutritious, lightweight and easy to store. No, the taste is not the same as fresh veggies and fruits, but they’re perfect when you need a zero-prep snack. 
  •           Cereal/powdered milk. Cereal is another item you can eat right out of the container. You don’t really need milk to enjoy it, but powdered milk can do the trick.
  •           Granola bars. Most don’t have a long shelf life, so you’ll want to frequently rotate your supply. But they are tasty and can really hit the spot when you’re hungry. Make sure the sugar content is not high.
Think twice about these choices 

What about ready-to-eat food that might not always be your best choice? Here are a few.

  •           Canned food. Many different foods come in cans. Including meat, potatoes, soups, fruits, vegetables, etc. If I had no access to water or a way to heat this food, I’d eat it out of the can. It would certainly be better than starving to death. But the taste would be lacking and the shelf life isn’t great. 
  •           MREs have fed U.S. military personnel for many decades. And they’ve improved through the years. These Meals Ready to Eat come in airtight packaging. But generally speaking, they don’t have a great reputation. Mainly due to the taste. But they’re said to last seven years and are relatively inexpensive. 
  •           Junk food. There is no official definition for junk food. But you know what it is. Potato chips, candy bars, many types of crackers and energy drinks. Any nutritional value they contain is far outweighed by excessive amounts of sodium, saturated fat and other harmful elements. Again, if I’m starving and that’s all I have, I’ll eat it. But otherwise, no.     

Some people have been busy stockpiling long-lasting survival food. Which is good. But some of them have forgotten about storing ready-to-eat food. That’s bad.

There may come a time when you need some healthy calories in a hurry, with no time to prepare your food. Do yourself a favor and add some zero-prep items to your emergency food supply.  


  • Vernell Sutherland - January 12, 2022

    Good blog A good reminder of a lot of things we did when I was growing up
    Of collecting water ,we canned our food including a lot of meat
    Dried fruit,Still have a spring on the property

  • Emily Sandstrom - December 27, 2021

    Canned fish, organic, has good protein, has moisture, is tasty. The brand ‘Natural Catch’ is packaged for long term storage, is filet of tuna, not chopped, is vastly superior in taste, and is even reasonably priced.
    Tri Union or Wild Planet organic sardines.

    Pita bread stores well (and can be used and crackers).

    Fruit preserves.

    Kettle and Fire bone broth soups are great: Very nourishing, tasty, liquid, and packaged well when you don’t remove the cardboard around the cartons, stack up well, and the individual cartons would not bust like cans can in freezing temperatures.

    Dried fruit, including candied ginger, are nourishing and everybody likes one or the other. Blueberries and pineapple have extra benefit. And don’t forget dried coconut (shredded) or coconut macaroons: They are a diarrhea prevention and remedy for you and for your dog.

    Learn how to make survival bread, and biscuits. You can buy powdered butter, canned butter (it’s better), and long term storage baking supplies. Brad is a great barter item.

    (I ought to get paid for this!)

  • John Jones - December 21, 2021

    We would like to wish everybody at the 4Patriot team and Patriot community a very Merry Christmas and Happier New Year.

    John & Janet
    Cape Coral, Florida

  • Carmen I Ortiz - November 14, 2021

    Canned food a bad choice? I disagree, most canned food can last years longer than what is stated by the “use by date”. The ones with a shorter shelf life (still longer than the date indicates) are those that are very acidic. For example, tomato products in metal cans. If you can your own or purchase then in glass jars their life is extended (kept in the dark). Plus most canned food has liquid. No secret than canned Spam (brand name not canned meat made to look like it) lasts for many years as many people can attest. I’m 74 and I can attest to it personally. Plus, saved many lives during the WWII era. (As to the illustration, I have been eating Goya all of my life, same with Green Giant.)

  • Ferrell Sutherland - October 29, 2021

    Thank you for the reminders
    In our Dailey lives we forget a lot of these most important items for a
    Healthy menu

  • Louis Lafourcade - October 27, 2021

    great blog!!! Frank you always do a good job informing people of their options, hope thery’re listening.

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