Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Right now, most of us live in a world where the fewer calories a food has, the better. Should the day ever come when food is in short supply, though, that trend will reverse.
When preparing to grow a survival garden, the number of calories a crop offers is an important consideration. Although veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers are nutritious and easy to grow, they won’t keep you very full during a long-term disaster.
That’s why when planning your survival garden, you also want to include lots of high-calorie crops. To help you with this, I made a list of 11 of the highest calorie crops I could think of. Plant these foods, and you can help ensure that you and your family stay full when food is in short supply.
Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods in the world–baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, French fries, hash browns, tater tots, potato chips, and about a million different casseroles. In addition to their versatility, potatoes also offer a lot of calories, with a medium-sized baked potato providing about 225 calories.
As an added bonus, potatoes store well, giving you access to a food supply during the non-growing months, and they yield a large amount of foot per square foot of garden space.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes offer all of the same benefits as russet potatoes, except they grow in the hot summer months, making them a good crop to rotate in when the temperature rises. On average, a sweet potato will provide about 112 calories.
While this is less than a russet potato, the different growing season and different flavor combined make them a crop worth considering.
Another dinnertime staple, corn is high in calories, with one cup of corn kernels providing about 354 calories. While corn takes a little more space to grow than many vegetables and grains, it’s still a popular choice for survivalists given its versatility as a food and its high number of calories.
To make your corn last, you can either dry it, can it, or freeze it, though drying and canning will likely be the more efficient options in a survival scenario.
One of the factors that make soy a great choice for a survival garden is the fact that it’s a good replacement for meat, providing you with a way to keep getting protein in your diet, even if your access to fresh meat is diminished. Soy is also high in calories, though, offering about 376 calories per cup.
Nuts of all kinds are very high in calories and nutrients. However, the time it takes for a pecan or walnut tree to grow to maturity limits their viability as a survival food option unless you already have a few planted. One crop that can be planted in your garden and grown in a reasonable time frame, though, is sunflowers.
One cup of sunflower seeds offers 270 calories as well as a good dose of healthy fats, making them a great snack to have available.
Avocados are rich in protein, healthy fats, and calories, offering about 370 calories per cup. Of course, your ability to grow avocados may be limited based on your location, as they prefer warmer climates. One way to get around this, though, is to plant your avocados in pots and bring them inside when the weather turns cold.
However you manage to grow them, avocados are a tasty crop full of calories, making them an efficient way to add some variety to your garden.
Wheat is often left unconsidered as a survival crop due to the perception that you need a lot of space to grow it. However, there are ways around this, especially since wheat requires very little care and can thus be planted anywhere the soil is good (think backyards, small fields, and so on).
If you do manage to grow a crop of wheat, you can look forward to quite a few calories, as one cup of wheat berries offers 651 calories. Wheat berries also store very well, and given that flour is an important part of so many dishes, it’s a great crop to have available.
8. Jerusalem Artichokes
One cup of Jerusalem artichokes yields about 76 calories, making them a good choice for adding variety to your garden while at the same time ensuring everything you plant is still relatively high in calories. Best of all, Jerusalem artichokes are hearty and require very little care to grow.
9. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are a survivalist classic. Most often, people will buy bulk bags of dried pinto beans and put them in storage, but you can easily grow your own pinto beans. One cup of pinto beans offers about 670 calories, making them a very filling food.
Combine this with the fact that they are relatively easy to grow and have an indefinite shelf life when you dry them, and you’ve got a crop that is well worth planting.
10. Lima Beans
Another high calorie bean, lima beans provide about 217 calories per cup. Like pinto beans, they can be dried, canned, frozen, or eaten fresh. Any way you prepare them, though, lima beans will have quite a different flavor than pinto beans, providing you with a little more variety while at the same time still offering plenty in way of calories.
Turnips are somewhat of an acquired taste. However, if you enjoy them, then the good news is that they are relatively high in calories. Offering 36 calories per cup, turnips may not be quite as high in calories as the other crops on our list, but they earn their spot largely due to the fact that the entire plant can be eaten.
In addition to eating the tuber, you can also eat the leaves of the plant (turnip greens), which are loaded with nutrients. Thanks to this, planting turnips is a great way to have access to fresh greens while at the same time providing you with a tuber that is relatively high in calories.
What are some other high-calorie crops that would go great in any survival garden? Let us know.
Tree nuts of all sorts are also good. You can plant the trees even on wild land and then crop them when available but best to grow them in your garden of course. Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts etc have huge numbers of calories and good fats.
Thanks for the info! Just a thought though – the information on the dry beans is a little misleading because you’re providing caloric data based on RAW DRY beans. A cup of cooked pinto beans is more like 60 calories. But I’m excited to look further into planting and storing wheat! Seems like a worthwhile project.
hadaya Abudu says
thanks much for that information but I would like to know even some crops with high proteins……
Lynda Buchholz says
Beets are a good crop to plant too. Easy to grow and some even bolt the first year and provide seeds. Both root and leaves are good food.
Sprouts are a good way to go also. Many seeds stay viable for long periods of time if stored right. I have a little four tier table top system going right now. This could easily be scaled up with a little DIY.
Avocados are great – but the trees can be huge. Most take about 6-7 years to produce and typically skip a year. Mangoes are delicious and high in calories but like avos, take a long time to get started and need lots of space. If you live in the South East you might be able to grow breadfruit and jackfruit. Both produce very starchy large fruits – 5 to 15 lbs. We also grow coffee and cocoa. If the poo hits the volcano, we’re still going to want our freshly roasted and brewed cup of joe.
I’ve never seen any package of wheat “seeds”? anywhere…. Maybe I’d have to look online? I’d definitely would have to look online, on how to grow it, as I’ve never even THOUGHT about growing THAT! But it seems like that would be a good idea….question is….how?
Check out this article, I think it will answer all your questions: https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/homegrown-grains-key-food-security-how-grow-and-make-your-own-wheat-flour
Robert Bigelow says
Tried one Three sisters hill last year, heritage corn, heritage beans, and squash. Corn and beans went crazy producing, squash, Ho hum. Three hills of “The sisters, two rows of potatoes, two of sunflowers, garlic, and onions, planted in the spaces between the sisters, will take up my space. Grew habeneros last two years, have enough ground up to last about 500 years!? That stuff is so hot, stew cooks itself..lordy! Got lots of produce for two people from a 20 by 15 garden. 5 year old Labrador kept the rabbits and squirrels at bay, and provided some protein as well as the softest furlined gloves. Good year!?
I have heard of making pepper spray from habeneros.
Lee Petersen says
I also have a “lifetime supply” of hot pepper from last years….lol