Preparedness strategies are unique to each individual and I make every attempt to highlight that as much as possible. When it comes to survival food it’s no different. Just like how one particular firearm might be a wise choice one person it can be a poor selection for another. Alonso wrote a very good article about “mission specific firearms” that really defines the purpose of having different load outs depending on your mission.
Over the year’s I’ve tried a few different camping survival foods and I ate plenty of MRE’s while in army. Now I love me some good home-made chili too but I have no problem warming me up some wolf brand out the can either. But canned goods might be okay for a food rotation systems at home for a bug in but have no place being taken on a ruck.
Above is a photo of Mountain House’s Breakfast Skillet meal that I ate on a camping trip. I’ve tried many of the different Mountain House freeze-dried meals and this one was the best by far. It’s not as good something you’d get from a nice small town dinner but for something that you just have to add boiling water to its delicious. I’ve forced myself to eat stuff from fast food places that was far worse than any of their meals I’ve tried.
I generally keep these in my pack for hiking and camping because they contain no water they’re very light weight. One canteen cup holds enough water to bring to a boil to prepare these meals. Boiling 2 cups of water and pour into the pack let sit for about 10 minutes, stir and then it’s ready to eat. First time I prepared one of these I believe I added too much water but it was very easy to drain the excess water out.
The simplicity of just needing to add water make this a great survival food for your bug out bag. But it may not be the best choice everyone. You need 2 cups of water for every meal and while the meal is light weight it’s useless without the water. Water is very heavy so packing these you would want a source water other than what you’re carrying.
If you’re thinking tactical there is a very good reason why MRE’s are the survival food of choice by the military. USGI meals ready eat are generally packed with enough calories to sustain a person for a day even though I can easily eat one for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some of the MRE’s are very tasty while others like the Country Captain Chicken or Clam Chowder to me are just horrible!
These meals ready to eat have a good shelf life if stored properly but one of my biggest concerns is not knowing how it was stored before I got it. Another big downfall for MRE’s is since they are ready eat they contain water and are heavy. It really depends on the menu selection but I believe some of them weigh about 30 ounces. Ounces equals pounds. But these have a huge advantage over the freeze-dried foods because you can easily rip the top off the mylar pouches and eat your meal on the go. Being able to eat on the move without the need to make a fire and boil water could be crucial in a survival situation.
What I’ve done to shave some weight and still have the benefits of having ready to go meals at my disposal is separate them. As you can see in the above photo I have opened many MRE pouches and removed the main course meals so I can add those to my pack as needed. At any given time I have both MRE meals and freeze-dried survival foods. My battle plan for worst case scenarios is to save the MRE’s for last if possible.
Canned goods might be ok for a short-term survival food for a bug in situation at home but have no merit being rucked in a bug out bag. Not only are they very heavy most canned goods don’t really have a lot of calories and nutrition for its size or weight. A can of soup or chili really don’t hold me off for long and I’m skinny guy.
Food in a can might be okay if your bug out plan involves a bug out vehicle to cart it around and you don’t plan on having to leave your vehicle. Maybe it’s just my vivid imagination but when SHTF happens I’d rather be traveling by foot and avoiding roadways as much as possible.