> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Survival Food: Bug Out Meals



Survival Food: Bug Out Meals

"Bug out" food is often over complicated by those in the survival/prep community. MREs and Mountain House meals are cool and all, but they aren't the only solution, and, like most things, they're a compromise. They can be difficult to find, expensive, generally require some kind of heating and are hard to eat on the move...which is exactly what you'd be doing during a bug out situation.

I set about to put together some simple ration packs, which I'm calling Bug Out Meals, also known as tactical black-ops snack packs. I had the following criteria in mind:

  • Off the shelf components only--available from major chain stores (Wal-Mart, Costco, chain grocery stores, etc.)
  • No heating or prep required - can be eaten on the go, with one hand.
  • Total calories of around 1100-1300, with a good mix of fats, carbs and protein
  • A decent variety of food. My realistic usage scenario for these will be on hikes, day trips, camping, car drives, travelling, etc. Variety isn't a survival necessity--a few cans of Spam, for instance, will keep you going for a while--but these are full of pretty good stuff and will be eaten and rotated. Variety can be a definite morale booster, too, which is always good.
  • Total cost less than an MRE or equivalent calories of Mountain House (most 2-serving MH meals are about 600 calories)
Shelf life is a compromise when using off-the-shelf components - I'd rotate these on about a yearly basis - but they will probably be eaten before then. I've packed them in quart-sized freezer zip locks - they're cheap, easily available, easily opened and multipurpose.

I've gone through two versions of the Bug Out Meal - Mark 1 and Mark 2 we'll call them. Full contents list and more information after the jump. Click below to get there!

Bug Out Meal Mk 1
This is my first go-around. I found it to be a bit too sugar heavy and not generally filling enough. Also could not find a good local source of the single-serve packs of Almonds in the flavor I like (Habenero BBQ!).

  • 1.25oz Pacific Gold Jerky (Costco)
  • Cliff Bar (Grocery Store) 
  • Welch's Fruit Snack (Grocery Store) 
  • Peanut M&Ms (Grocery Store)
  • Jalapeno Smokehouse Almonds (Gas Station)
  • (2) Lifesaver's Mints (Grocery Store)
  • Mini Oreo Cookies (Grocery Store)
Nutritional Info:
  • Calories: 1095 
  • Fat: 49g 
  • Carbs: 137g 
  • Protein: 40g
Cost: About $4.45 each

Bug Out Meal Mk 2
This is the latest version; I've swapped out the Cliff Bar for a Met-Rx Colossal protein bar, swapped out the almonds and Mini M&Ms for trail mix, removed the Life Saver's mints and added two packets of Gatorade drink mix.

  • 1.25oz Pacific Gold Jerky (Costco)
  • Met-Rx Colossal Big 100 Protein Bar (Grocery Store) 
  • Welch's Fruit Snack (Grocery Store) 
  • Peanut M&Ms (Grocery Store)
  • Kirkland Trail Mix (Costco)
  • (2) packets of Gatorade G2 Perform (Grocery Store)
Nutritional Info:
  • Calories: 1330 
  • Fat: 53g 
  • Carbs: 152g 
  • Protein: 65g
About $5.25 each

Some random thoughts that I have about these:
Size comparison with a Bug Out Meal and an MRE.
  • Obviously some processed/junk food in 'em - you could substitute homemade stuff fairly easily.
  • You obviously need water to wash down this stuff, but you shouldn't really be eating if you don't have access to water.
  • I'm not the biggest fan of the fruit snacks; they do have Vitamin C, though. Might sub in some Caffeinated Jelly Belly Sports Beans or something similar though they're more expensive and less common.
  • I'm not a fan of them particularly, but a 5 Hour Energy or similar energy shot could be a good add for the long hours that may be needed in a bug out scenario.
  • The Trail Mix and Peanut M&Ms are a bit of a peanut overload.
  • At about $.50 a pop, I'm looking for a better deal on the Gatorade packets.
  • Will probably add in some kind of mint or gum - something Altoids like, that doesn't leave your mouth/teeth sugar coated-feeling afterwards (unlike the Lifesavers mints).
  • No cooking means less noise and little in the way of smells, for those worried about E&E.
  • The quart-bag size fits well in a cargo pocket.
  • The bag is also a good improvised water carrier - I left one full and zipped for three days with nothing in the way of leakage. Clear, which means it can be used for SODIS (solar water disinfection).
  • Smaller and lighter than an MRE, which has similar calorie count.
  • You can easily scale and adjust these based on your budget and personal prefs. 
  • If you need some "real" food, you could look at adding something like the Bridgeford sandwiches; they're used in the military's new First Strike Ration (which was an inspiration for these Bug Out Meals). They're about $4 a pop, though. An MRE entree or a pack of Tuna, Mayo and crackers or MRE tortillas would be another option.
  • For longer shelf life, you can sub in MRE components, though cost goes up and you're not off-the-shelf unless you have a good Army Surplus/MRE vendor nearby.
  • Familiar, kid-friendly stuff. Putting these together could be a good family activity, though some of the good stuff might be plundered quickly if you're not careful/sneaky.
  • I might mock up some stick-on labels for fun, though they're not really necessary.