A fellow raises his hand and asks, “What is the best survival food?” Another fellow stands up and says, “Why the last can of beans of course.” And there you have the answer to the article. And you know, in a way, it’s really true that the best food is that which is left when all else is gone. But that would mean that times are too desperate for such an article. So, lets maybe consider foods you may buy or foods you can grow which would be worth your time—short term or long term.  

Why Gardening Is a Good Idea   

Perhaps the very best foods are those which you can plant and replant from season to season. Even though it requires work, such food is a lot more healthy. Participating in food growth is something most people today have grown away from due to the fact that it is much easier to go to a grocery store than to dig and plant and harvest. However, a big part of survival skills is knowing how to grow your own food. And since most people nowadays don’t know how to do that, it is a skill you must learn and practice in order to become competent at. Being able to grow your own food is a necessity and will be appreciated by others when circumstances can’t support the conveniences everyone has grown accustomed to.     

The Basics of Gardening

Now, when it comes to gardening, there is much to know. Good soil is a must and good things can grow when the soil is good. But you may live in a place where good soil is not found there. What do you do then? 

That was the case with me. 

The ground where I planned to have a garden was all rocks, and without a tractor, soil from someplace else had to be dug (by hand) and put in 5-gallon buckets and carried to the garden spot. All in all, about 1,800 lbs of dirt was required. Now soil must be rototilled every year, and a lot of it would be lost with erosion, which would mean hundreds of 5-gallon buckets of dirt again. So I had an idea to place the dirt in large truck tires which would maintain the soil quantity and never need a tiller. And it actually worked great. A 1 and a ½ inch hose was also run from an uphill pond 100 yards away to gravity feed the garden. And all this was done in the short order of about 2 months!

What Foods Are Best to Plant? 

So what kinds of foods are best to plant? Well, whatever grows best in that climate and soil where you live. That can either be researched by zone or done by trial and error. To grow certain foods, which are really not suited for that climate, may require a lot of extra care, and you must be willing to give it that. Also, you have to ask yourself what foods you actually like that can be grown (sorry ice cream!). Good fertilizers and composting are a must for having a healthy garden, and you may know that composting is simply taking foods left for the garbage and placing them in an area to be broken down and added later to the soil to provide nourishment to that soil. The survivalist who is on the ball has a purpose for most anything and lets nothing go to waste. 

So here is a list of foods which would be great to plant and are very nutritious: spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, beans, squash, kale, cucumbers, and purslane (which is actually considered a weed). A garden with these sorts of goodies would feed many people (providing your garden was big enough). Some things to keep in mind are that corn, for instance, requires a lot of dirt and nutrients. Crops like cucumbers, spinach, and beans may not require so much soil and can really keep you busy. The honest truth is anyone can grow a garden, but there are those who are really good at it and love to work in a garden. You would know if you are one of those people, and the great thing is, you can become one of those people too! It just takes practice.  

Now when a garden yields more than you can carry, then begins the task of saving your “earning,” and that is where the work begins with freezing certain items, storing in a cool cellar, canning, or all that goes into dehydrating. And dehydrating can be a job. 

For example, suppose you have buckets full of cucumbers. First, you have to slice them all up into thin slices, boil them for a couple of minutes, then dip them into ice water before you can lay them evenly into a dehydrator and repeat the process until you run out. After they are all dehydrated, it is time to place the cucumbers in a container as a food source for later on. Also, remember that it is extremely important to keep moisture out. Putting some white rice in with the cucumbers keeps them all nice and dry. Sound like fun? No wonder going to the store is so much easier, right? While it is true that a trip to your favorite grocery store is indeed easier, learning these important skills will give you peace of mind when it comes to a disaster situation. Survival skills require work, pure and simple, but that work and knowledge really pays off in the long run. 

Hunting and Fishing

Before moving on, I should really include that which you can catch or hunt for food. While catching fish can be fun for just about everyone, not everyone has a yearning to hunt. To hunt means to take a life, and somehow some people see fishing as different (even though life is also being taken). It’s really all a mental thing. Survival means doing what you may not be keen about or even comfortable with; however, you do it because it must be done in order to live. So the big question is whether or not you are up to the task? What are your priorities? It is what each person must answer in his or her own head. Along with the task of hunting, can you skin and process whatever you have harvested? It’s all part of being fit to carry out the task of survival, and those who haven’t “been there” might spend time to learn and find out more about themselves.  

The Grocery Store

Okay, with all that said, let’s go shopping. In this aisle you have cereal, cake mix, and a lot of other worthless foods which are not fit for survival. When you really think about it, most of the food in a grocery store is just “filler food.” As a survivalist, you must think about what foods are the most nutritious and cost-effective. Most folks only have a certain amount of money. Do you buy the absolute best foods possible at a high price or do you buy more bulk food that will sustain you over a longer period of time? Additionally, what foods you buy may have to feed others, maybe many others. So what foods are the best for the money? Among the many foods you can buy, there is one which is often overlooked: snack bars. Snack bars are made of several nutritious ingredients. These little meals come already in a wrapper and can keep for a long time. They can also be thrown into a bag on the way to wherever you are going. All in all, they are a wise choice to have.                                   

Now, in your shopping cart, you have 10 boxes of snack bars. Rice is another very important survival food. Get at least 50 lbs of rice, 20 lbs of white and 30 lbs of brown. And over on the other aisle are different types of beans. Grab 10 lbs of kidney beans, 10 lbs of black beans, 10 lbs of lima beans, and 10 lbs of pinto beans. (This will take you more than one cart!) Then you may get 30 cans of salmon or sardines, and after that, nuts. Grab several bags of almonds and cashews. But skip the peanuts. Why? Because our next stop is the peanut butter. Of course, this is all based on personal preference, but I like to grab the biggest containers and get extra crunchy peanut butter.  Maybe get 30 containers because peanut butter can last for years.  

Now, what about things to drink? Coffee, tea, lemon mix? Grab whatever you like to drink and get lots of it. And let’s try to find some of that powder that’s called “sea vegetables.” Sea vegetables can be put in other foods for nutrition that is in vegetables you may be missing out on. Oh, and there is still room in the cart, so grab a couple dozen bags of jerky (but don’t eat it all on the way home!). 

Next, are the items needed for cooking and other uses, so off to the store again! As the shopping cart rolls along, 30 bags of 5 lbs sugar enter first. Then, lets get some salt. Grab about 25 of those round containers of salt and several pepper containers. Flour is also a must so load up on 40 lbs of that as well. Now, you still have room for some spices, and yes, you need cooking oil too. Next be sure to grab canned beans, fruit, chicken, stew, corn, soups, sauerkraut, beets, vegetables, chili, tuna, tomatoes, and some coconut milk. 

Organizing Your Food Storage

Now, when you have a pantry of stored food, you have to have some order to it. And there is always the chance that things get goofed up, but that is okay. Maybe there were some cans of something which didn’t get used first over newer stock. It is believed that canned food is edible for some 7 years after the expiration date. And if in question, don’t eat it or just eat a small amount. That way, you only get a stomach ache instead of being sick for days. If a can is bulged out, that is not good. If a can is considerably rusted, that is also not good. Also, you have to watch for mice because mice like to be fed without paying for it. You don’t have to worry about mice and canned food, but anything in a plastic container may be a target for those sharp little teeth. A good idea is to get 5-gallon buckets to put certain foods in so that they are sealed, and that works great for bugs as well. You can have several of those, and they stack nicely too.

Now, for those who have the money, there are companies who will sell you a year worth of supply of food in buckets which you just open and prepare. Those are great to have if you have the money to pay for them because they can run in the thousands of dollars and are usually for the long term. But for the majority of folks, it seems to make more sense to buy what they can afford and for what situation they consider important. It’s all a learning process as well. As stated before, gardening is definitely a learning experience, and in my opinion, everyone should learn how to grow his or her own food. Have you ever heard of wild lettuce? It is a strange-looking lettuce which, when eaten, acts like a pain killer. Also, did you know that you can take seeds from a lemon, apple, pear, and other things and grow your own trees? Yes, it takes time, but it’s all worth it in the long run.

Now one of the things which is on almost no one’s list is candy, for kids, right? Well, that would be one reason, but really it is for more serious things. Suppose you have someone who is a diabetic, and he is having low blood sugar. What do you do? Candy would be a wonderful thing to have on hand! That is if the children haven’t eaten it all. There are also things that people with a “sweet tooth” will miss, and to have something sweet would make any dietary transition more pleasing. Sugar, however, should be kept in containers that are sealed well so as not to allow any moisture. 

Additionally, did you know you can use sugar on a wound? “To treat a wound with sugar, all you do…is pour the sugar on the wound and apply a bandage on top. The granules soak up any moisture that allows bacteria to thrive. Without the bacteria, the wound heals more quickly” (BBC Future, 2018). Sugar can also be used to feed flowers and plants, keep cheese from molding, is a great cleaner for spice grinders, and most importantly, sugar makes great lemonade and great tasting cookies!

Water As Part of Your Food Storage

Now last, but not least in consideration is what to drink, and really it makes no sense to try and buy things to drink. Drinks should be made with whatever you have to mix with water and that makes water an essential element in the food world. Where do you get clean water at some point? Suppose a long storm hit, and there hasn’t been running water in a town. Suppose the only water is from a pond? What do you do? Do you know how to filter water to make it safe to drink? What if you have no water filtration devices? What do you do? 

There is actually a way to make a natural water filter using a 2-liter soda bottle. To make this simple filter, you cut off the bottom of the soda bottle so it becomes a sort of funnel. Then, you put a rock which is slightly bigger than the small end as you make that the bottom, or you can also use a piece of cloth. Next, you put several handfuls of charcoal in the bottle. After that, you put several handfuls of sand and then grass. All that gets covered with equal amount of rocks so that the bottle is full to the top. Start pouring your water through the filter at the top and catch it in another container, then take that water and run it again until it runs clearer and clearer. Now, you have a water filter. Always keep some 2-liter soda bottle around and anything else which can be of value for survival.

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Note: There are also edible wild plants, and knowing what is safe to eat and what to stay clear of. From mushrooms to acorns, berries, and even certain tree bark which can contain edible protein. These are covered in other articles for those interested.

Bill is known internationally for his art and has authored two books as well. Among his many interests is that of being a survivalist. He lives remotely and has learned much about the art of survival—from growing his own food, making his own natural medicine, to being inventive with what he has to work with. He has a long history as a big game hunter and understands what is required to live without the comforts of home when needed, and he doesn’t assume that tomorrow will be better, for it may just be the opposite. He considers it wise to be prepared in every way possible and believes what wisdom the Bible has promised. Bill is more than happy to share what he has learned because he cares and that care needs to be shared.