We can perhaps survive three
weeks without food.
But it isn’t good to try.
A person can go several weeks without food. That,
however, is stretching it. I’ve gone eight days without
any food; interestingly I stopped feeling hungry after a
few days. However, the ability to function begins to
When our output exceeds our caloric intake these are
-confusion, poor judgment, and disorientation
-weakened immune system
-inability to maintain body temperature which can
lead to hypothermia, heat exhaustion/stroke
The Coast Guard has determined that with fresh
water people can survive in a life raft 8 to 18 days
without any food. The Coast Guard also believes you
need a bare minimum of 800 calories a day for
survival; but that’s sitting in a life raft, not being very
active and just focused on pure survival.
Note that number when I discuss emergency ration
bars further on.
Bottom line: have a minimum 3
day supply of non-perishable food
for each member of your
The same in your Grab-n-Go bag.
Non-perishables for three days minimum.
Food that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Don’t have food that will make you thirsty.
Plan for infants and special dietary
Note expiration dates.
Click on image for a good supply from the
company that made our Long Range
Patrol meals in Special Forces. It’s what
we have on hand and in our grab-n-go
Also good for camping.
I recommend investing in some emergency ration bars.
They are a bit expensive, but you won’t mind the outlay
when you need them.
The ones I list all are 3600 calories, which in a survival
situation equals 800 calories a day for three days. They
contain a mixture of salt, carbohydrates, fat, protein
and are usually enriched with daily requirements of
minerals and vitamins. Some reasons to have these:
1. They have a five year shelf life, so you can store
2. They’re compact (but heavy)
3. They’re ready to eat (no cooking)
4. They can withstand wide temperature swings, which
helps with storage.
5. They don’t make you thirsty.
I have ration bars in my vehicles, my Grab-n-Go
bag, and in my ERP. I recommend storing some
at work. Even just one packet in each place
makes a big difference; and it’s less than two
cups of extra-whatever-latte-frappe you order at
Some things to consider:
-Put them inside a large ziplock bag, because
once you open the packet, the bars aren’t
-They are emergency rations, not to be used if
other rations are available.
-They are designed for survival not activity.
-They’re heavy so many don’t put them in Grab-
n-Go bags, but I think the weight is worth it.
I have a variety of ration bars (click on each for
Grizzly Bear Emergency Food Rations
Below are some before going into a ziplock bag
and into my Jeep.
FOODSomething to consider if you have time to
prepare is trail mix, or what we called GORP in
Special Forces. We were among the first to start
putting M&M into regular mix.
There are a number of varieties, but it's quick
However, the shelf life is limited.
There are many variations.
Having high protein bars is a quick source of
energy and doesn’t require cooking. Click on
A small, portable stove. I use the
MSR Dragonfly for camping and
my grab-n-go bag. Make sure you
have plenty of fuel.
Click on image.
Pots to cook in with utensils.
A simple set up that I use is
Food Expiration Dates
There are several terms stamped on food. This is what they
SELL BY: How long a store should display the product for
sale. This is a guide for the store. It is optimum quality date,
but food is still edible for a while after.
BEST IF USED BY OR BEFORE DATE: This is only about
quality, not safety.
GUARANTEED FRESH DATE: This usually refers to
bakery items. They will still be edible after that date.
USE BY DATE: This is the last recommended day to use the
product at peak quality. It is still edible after this.
PACK DATE: This is on canned and packaged goods. This
actually might not be clear as sometimes its in code. It can be
done by month-day-year as MMDDYY. Or it could be Julian
calendar for the year, which means January is 001-0031.
December would be 334-365.
Food Expiration Dates
Foods not to eat past their expiration date?
Eggs. Deli meat. Mixed greens. Alfalfa sprouts. Oysters.
Shrimp. Raw ground beef. Berries. Soft cheese. Chicken.
So how long is food usually good for?
Milk: a week after Sell By.
Eggs: Three to five weeks after you buy them. Double-grade
A will go down a grade in a week, but are still edible.
Poultry and seafood: Cook or freeze within a day.
Beef and pork: Cook or freeze within three to four days.
Canned good: High acid foods such as tomato sauce can last
to 18 months. Low acid such as canned green beans can last
for five years. However, do not store these in a hot space. A
dry, cool place, is best.
The primary way to get food in a high mild to
extreme emergency is to scavenge. Remember,
though, that others will be doing the same.
Think through the food distribution network.
Don’t go for the obvious targets like stores.
Move up the chain.
Crops still in the field.
Unless you are an experienced hunter, consider trapping.
It’s quieter and more effective. You can set multiple traps
that are passive, while hunting requires activity.
One of the most important things to have in your Grab-n-Go
bag are snares.
I keep snares in all my G-n-G bags, in my cars and in my
house and ERP.
How To Use A Snare
Anchor your snare. Use wire, such as from a coat hangar, slide it
through the loop, and tie it around the base of a tree or post. Make
sure the wire can’t be pulled apart or unwound by the animal as it
fights the trap.
Find a stick as the stand for the snare. Prop it up between the
anchor point and the loop for snare. Have the slide lock of the loop
about a half inch in front of the support. Essentially you’re hanging
a noose down over the trail. Once you’re in place, push the stick
down into the ground fixing it in place. The loop must be at the
proper height for your target—where it’s head would go into the
loop. This is from 3 inches to 10 inches off the ground.
Set multiple snares to increase your odds. This is another way
trapping is more effective than hunting.
Check your traps every day. The animal will be dead because the
sliding lock closes around their necks and either cuts off circulation
or breaks their neck during their initial struggle to get free.
But let’s hope it doesn’t get to
Get and keep a three day supply
of food in your home. More if you
can. This will make you more
prepared than 60% of American
The book on the left is how you prepare NOW.
The book on the right, is your guide to surviving an
emergency or catastrophe given you’ve prepared.
The handbook in the center is a discounted, distilled
version of both books with the most important basics
- click on cover for any.
I highly recommend getting at least one print copy of the
survival manual. During an emergency you can’t count
on an eBook. It’s pocket-sized— shown next to my
trusty, old Ranger Handbook. I keep one in the glove
compartment of each car, in every Grab-n-Go bag and
also give them as gifts— the gift of life. Click on image
for print version
New York Times bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former
Green Beret, and feeder of two yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus.
He’s had over seventy books published, including the #1 bestselling
series Time Patrol, Area 51, Atlantis, and the Green Berets. Born in
the Bronx and having traveled the world he now lives peacefully with
his wife and labs. Sort of. Free book below available HERE