Building a Quality Survival Kit on a Budget: Part 5

It's time to add up to $25 worth of goodness to the budget survival kit. This month I'm suggesting a choice between throwing some calories in the kit or a bit of cash.

In the last post of this building a quality survival kit on a budget series, we added a water filtration system to the survival kit. Given that the kit now has items to deal with injuries that may be immediately life threatening, something to mitigate exposure to the elements (life threatening within a few hours), and tools to help gather drinkable water (life threatening within a few days) we can now turn the attention to the last imminent threat, starvation. Remember one can survive without food for up to three weeks, albeit a very uncomfortable three weeks.

Remember, from a survival threat perspective we can survive for:

  • three minutes without air (or in icy waters),
  • three hours without shelter,
  • three days without water,
  • three weeks without food.

Without food, starvation eventually becomes a serious threat. Even though one can go without it for three weeks, that time frame can be reduced quickly depending on nutritional needs and physical exertion. Oftentimes food is not a consideration for survival kits since most kits are designed to get a person through one to a few days. As such, I considered skipping it all together. However, I decided to include some food suggestions since blood sugar level irregularities can significantly impact some individuals more than others. Additionally, extra calories are welcome when physical exertion is present.

I do what I can to ensure I have some extra calories in various bags and backpacks that I tend to take with me whenever I leave the house so in the event of needing a few extra calories I have them available. These are usually in the form of a couple of energy bars, more often than not they are Cliff Bars. But I don’t usually throw them in a survival kit, I just keep one or two in a range bag or a backpack that I’m rarely without.

In terms of what to throw in a survival kit, things get a little interesting. The right selection is mostly dependent on where a survival kit is kept. A lot of ready to eat food options don’t keep well in extreme temperatures so this has to be considered.

While I don’t personally keep food in a survival kit per se, I have considered adding a pouch of freeze dried camping food in them. The down side to this is that freeze dried foods require water and recommend a heat source. Both of which require energy to gather and create with typical survival kit components. Since dehydration is a more imminent threat, the decision to use water for this type of food in a survival situation must be made carefully.

To be honest, I maintain a healthy supply of freeze dried camping food at home. I also keep a box or two of the Cliff Bars around to resupply the couple of bars that I keep in my range bag and my backpack that tend to go with me everywhere. Neither of these make it into my survival kit, but they aren’t a bad idea. Picking up both a freeze dried food pouch and a couple of Cliff Bars for the survival kit can be done while staying well under the $25 monthly budget so it’s something to consider.

Another option is to just throw $25 in small denomination bills in the survival kit and use that to purchase food should it be required. In most cases, this will be sufficient to pick up some better tasting hot food and make your way to a location where survival food is not necessary. This option makes less sense for survival situations in the wilderness or rural areas. It’s also an option that would have no value if one found themselves in a pinch after a complete breakdown of society. But it’s a decent option for more common situations in urban and suburban environments such as waiting an extended period of time for assistance in a parking lot with a broken down vehicle.

With all of that said, consider your situation, your preferences, and your nutritional needs to decide whether or not including food in your survival kit is necessary or optional. Then decide whether it is better to add food to the kit or just drop some cash in it. As far as my kit goes, I’ll go with the cash since I’m likely to have extra calories on hand anyway.


  1. I have kept a jar of peanut butter and a jug of water in my truck for years. I change it out once in a while to keep it fresh. I like Cliff bars too and eat them on tournament days mostly. You mention keeping cash on hand. I learned a great idea from a friend. He recommended keeping a $20 in your pistol lockbox. I keep the box locked to my frame where I can stow my pistol if I can’t take it with me somewhere. That’s also where I stash the cash now. Solid post.

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