What to include in a 72 hour kit: Part 1 – Food


It is time to redo my 72 hour kits/Bug Out Bags.   It isn’t my favorite chore of the year, but I do like knowing I have enough food and water to last if a natural disaster happens.  Bug out bags or 72 hour kits are designed to keep you alive for 72 hours or until you can get to help or help can get to you.

As most of you know Aaron and I are campers and hikers, so my kits tend to be a bit more simplistic then most.  Every couple of months I do a massive shopping trip and buy all of my camping food at once.  I take a few hours and put together 20-30 one-day food kits that we can grab anytime we are heading out.

Each 72 hour kit has enough food to last me for one day at minimum.  Based on the trip I’ll add a few extra’s, but for the most part my kits are grab and go.

Some of the basic food I include in my 72 hour kits

Some of the basic food I include in my 72 hour kits

My Bug out Bags are built for function, weight and high calories.  I’m willing to sacrifice a little bit of taste.  I know that some people are a bit more into food then me, so I’ve put together a list of the basic food I use and then added a secondary list of item you can add for your individual palate.

I’ve linked everything to Amazon so you can see the items I’m referring too.  The pricing seemed pretty decent on Amazon, but if you are patient and watch your local grocery stories I bet you can save even more money.

As I mentioned before, I’m all about simplicity.  However, in a true disaster having warm food can be a huge comfort factor.  For this reason I have also included a list of basic food you can add to your kit if you have a heat source (I’ll cover heating options in a future post).


Belvita Breakfast Variety Pack, 5 Differant 8.8 Ounce Boxes – I typically add 1 package which includes 4 crackers for each day.  I like the Belvita’s because even if they get tossed around they are still easy to eat and don’t get mushy like a lot of breakfast bars.

Nutri-Grain-Kellogg’s Cereal Bars Variety Pack, 48-Count – I usually add 2-3 of these to each package.  They tend to get mushy after a while, so they need need to be rotated frequently.  There are a ton of breakfast bar options available.  Try out a few kinds and use the one that tastes best.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials, Rich Milk Chocolate Powder, 10 Count – The Carnation doesn’t taste great with water, but when you are in a rush it is a quick way to sneak in some protein and vitamins.  You could also include pretty much any protein shake.

Heat Options:

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Packets Variety Pack, 52-Count – Gotta love the old stand-by of Oatmeal.  It is quick and easy and fills you up.  Personally I recommend the flavor packs.  There is nothing worse then bland oatmeal.  I recommend at least two packages per person for each meal.

Natural High Strawberry Granola with Milk – There are a ton of freeze dried options that while slightly more expensive taste amazing.  This is one of my personal breakfast favorites.

Remember that the last three options need water, so plan accordingly.


As previously mentioned, I’m a minimalist, so I typically eat a few protein bars and then plan on a larger dinner.  If you don’t have a heat source you’ll need to do something similar.  Below are a few links to some of the bars I currently like (I have to switch them up frequently since I hate protein bars with a passion).

I also tend to snack periodically throughout the day and will include a list of snacks which makes a smaller lunch possible.

Luna Bar Variety Sampler Set 

Balance Bar Balance Bar GOLD Chocolate Mint Cookie 15 Bars – These get kind of messy in the summer, but I love chocolate and consider it a small price to pay

Balance Bar Original: Cookie Dough

If you need a more substantial lunch menu add in some of the dinner ideas below.


If I’m roughing it and don’t have a heat source I typically purchase the chicken and tuna salad kits.  One is usually enough for me, but I’ve seen my husband go through 3-4 of them after a really physically demanding day, so plan accordingly.

I typically get the Bumble Bee Brand in either Chicken or Tuna.  I’ve tried some of the flavored kinds and haven’t been impressed.  I recommend trying them before adding them to your kit. There is nothing worse then having to choke down food you don’t like when you are exhausted and hungry.

Heat Options:

If you have a heat source your options are significantly better.  Freeze dried food has improved significantly over the last 10 years and most of the stuff available is actually pretty decent.

There are a variety of option, but I recommend purchasing one of the assorted kits so that you try a few kinds and see what you prefer.   Here is a link to a Mountain House kit, but there are plenty of other brands that offer similar foods.

The freeze dried foods tends to be more expensive.  Below are a few cheaper options I’ve used in the past.

Maruchan Instant Lunch Chicken Flavored Noodle Bowls 24 Pack – Personally I don’t like these, but Aaron and the girls love them, so they have become my go to camping food since all they require is boiling water.

Pasta Roni Cups, Parmesan Romano, 27.84 Ounce (Pack of 12) – Although the directions call for microwaving, I’ve added boiling water to these a few times and they taste great.  I haven’t tried the rice ones, but bought a few to test out.

If you have a pot for heating more then water then chili, ravioli or pretty much any canned food works well.  Just make sure you include a can opener.  Personally I avoid these type of foods since they require extra cooking/dishes and they are very heavy.


I recommend a variety of snacks with a mix of protein based and sugar based products.

Below is a list of some of the snacks that have worked well for me over the years:

Planters Nut 24 Count-Variety Pack – Nuts need to be rotated frequently, but are a great source of protein.  Pretty much any trail mix will work.

Nabisco Mini Snack Variety Pack – This is typically my form of sugar.  My kids also really like Rice Kristy treats.

Ritz Crackers, Real Peanut Butter – Anything that is cracker based also needs to be rotated frequently.  They also tend to get pulverized, but they still taste decent.  I’ll also grab the little squeeze packs of Almond Butter for a quick shot of energy.

I love fruit based snacks and tend to include Fruit cups, apple sauce, fruit snacks and fruit leather.  I also dry my own fruit and often include dried apricots, bananas and pineapple.

I typically include granola bars as well.  Most of the bars are just glorified candy bars, but they are quick and easy to eat and if you watch the content you can typically find some slightly healthier varieties.

There are also a variety of high energy performance foods that include Gu, energy chews and sports beans.  I try and always include at least a shot of Gu in each of my kits.  You never know when you’ll need that extra little bit of energy.

I also include some form of drink flavoring preferably one that include electrolytes.  I’ve used the Sqwincher ones, but know there are tons of options for drink supplements.

Miscellaneous items

Based on the food you choose make sure you include extra water for cooking, utensils as needed (I like Sporks personally) and a can opener.

My goal is always to keep my packs light and compact.  A 72 hour kit is designed purely to help you survive long enough to either get to safety or to ensure you can survive until help gets to you.  Don’t go crazy with our food options – you can survive a few days without a gourmet meal.

This list is not inclusive and you will need to adjust depending on dietary, allergy and age restrictions.  This is intended as a basic starter list that can be expanded based on your individual family needs.

My next couple of blog post will include information on other items to include in the rest of your kit.  Since I’m redoing my entire kits I figured I might as well share what I’ve learned over the years.

I’m always looking for additional food ideas, so if you have any great ideas please include a comment below.  I’m kind of sick of eating the same food over and over again on my camping trips, but hey the food above works.  They are light weight, give me plenty of calories and are easy to prepare and pack.


PS.  Don’t forget the water!  I’ll go into more detail on water storage in future posts.



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