15 Critical Food Items for Survival in a Crisis

critical food item in a crisis

Whether you’re preparing for a doomsday scenario that will change life on earth as we know it, or you just want to make sure you survive after a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, there are a  number of steps you can take to help increase your odds of survival.

On this page we’re going to talk about some of the essential food items you should have on hand and we will take a closer look at 15 critical food items you need in a crisis.


waterHuman beings can only survive without water for a few days so it’s obvious that water is one of the most important things you can have for crisis survival.

You can stock up on bottled water or you can even store tap water. If you’re going to store water for a long period of time it’s best to do so in a food grade storage container.

Food grade water storage containers can be purchased in 1 gallon or 5 gallon jugs or you can even buy large, 55 gallon barrels. For long-term survival it’s also a good idea to learn how to purify water by filtering, boiling, or even distilling.

2. Peanut Butter

peanut butterUnless you’re allergic to peanuts, peanut butter is a fantastic food to have in a survival situation. It is relatively high in calories, it is rich in protein, and it contains healthy fats. In addition to being calorie dense and rich in nutrients, peanut butter also lasts for a very long time. It has a long shelf life and it can also be stored without refrigeration.

3. Nuts and Trail Mix

nuts and trail mixLike peanut butter, nuts and trail mix are a great source of calories and nutrients with a long shelf life. Those are the qualities that you should look for in crisis food items.

4. Honey

honeyWhen it comes to long shelf life, honey is the king. 3000-year-old honey was found in a tomb in Egypt and even after three millennial the honey was still edible.

You can store honey indefinitely and although the consistency and color of honey may change with temperature fluctuations, the honey will still be good to eat.

Even if honey crystallizes, it can be reheated and it will melt back into a liquid form where it can be used again just like fresh honey.

5. Dried Meats

dry meatMeat is obviously a great source of protein and by drying meat, the way you would when you make something like beef jerky, you are preserving it so that it can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.

6. Dried Fruits

dry fruitsAgain, the process of dehydrating food means that it can be stored for a long time without refrigeration.

Dried fruits retain all of the vitamins and minerals that the fruits had when they were fresh but by drying the fruits and removing the moisture, you are creating a food that has a very long shelf life and is also very calorie dense because of the concentrated sugar content.

7. Canned Meat or Fish

canned meatCanning is another excellent way to store food for the long term without the need for refrigeration. Storing meat or fish will give you access to protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Canned goods are critical food items for survival.

8. Canned Vegetables

canned vegetableVegetables are not as high in calories as some of the other foods we have discussed but it is important to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that vegetables have to offer.

9. White Rice

white riceWhite rice is a dietary staple for many cultures around the world and it should be a staple for anyone preparing for a potential crisis. It is inexpensive, high in calories, and has an incredibly long shelf life. When stored properly, white rice can last for over 30 years.

10. Wheat

wheatLike rice, wheat is also something that can be stored for long periods of time and it is also high in calories and carbohydrates. Wheat also contains protein and a number of vitamins and minerals.

11. Dried Corn

dried cornDried corn is another item that can be stored for a long time and is also calorie dense and rich in carbohydrates. Dried corn can be used for any recipe that uses fresh corn, but by drying it you are extending its shelf life by up to a year.

12. Powdered Milk

powdered milkIf stored properly, powdered milk can last indefinitely. Milk is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. To make sure your powdered milk is safe to consume, make sure there are no odors or discoloration.

13. Instant Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa

instant coffeeTea is a great thing to have because it has a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. However, coffee and cocoa are also nice to have to give you some variety.

Drinking nothing but water for extended periods of time will keep you alive but having coffee, tea, or cocoa helps give you a little variety and keeps morale up.

14. Salt

saltIn our regular lives, most of us try to avoid eating too much salt. But in a survival situation, salt will give your body the sodium it needs and iodized salt gives you the iodine needed for proper thyroid function.

Salt can also be something you would be able to barter with in a crisis situation.

15. Sugar

sugarSugar itself may not be a necessity for survival but it will make survival a lot easier because you will be able to add some sweetness to your foods and possibly even make baked goods. Sugar is also a commodity that you may be able to use to barter for other goods in a survival situation.

If you would like to know more…

The food items listed on this page are some of the critical items for survival in a crisis but there are a number of others as well.

For a comprehensive list of items you should stock up on, and for information on which items will disappear from grocery store shelves the fastest, you may want to have a look at a food crisis survival guide called Sold Out After Crisis.

This guide talks about 37 different food items needed for survival and also gives tips and strategies for surviving a crisis situation.

Images by krossbow, epSos.de via Flickr