Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
So you’ve beefed up your home security, you’ve gathered plenty of emergency supplies, and you’ve stocked your pantry with lots of survival food. Now you’re ready to ride out the next disaster… Or are you?
Just because you have months or years worth of emergency food doesn’t mean you’re ready to live on it. Cooking without power is easier said than done, and it takes practice. So instead of cooking the fancy meals you love so much, you should focus on recipes that are simple and easy to make.
And since you probably won’t have a working fridge or freezer, they should be recipes that either don’t make a lot (so your family can eat it all in one sitting) or store well at room temperature. Here are nine popular survival recipes that fit the bill.
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Also called hard bread, ship’s biscuit and even tooth dullers, hardtack has been a survival food for many centuries. The Ancient Roman army had a version of the hard biscuit, and Admiral Nelson’s men had barrels of them on their ships. Here in America, we recognize hardtack from the many mentions of it Civil War letters, poems, and songs.
The basic recipe for hardtack always includes flour, water and perhaps a bit of salt or sugar. The resulting baked wafers have an incredibly long shelf life. Hardtack is, well, hard–and quite bland. That’s why soldiers and sailors would soak them in coffee, soup, or grease to soften them up and make them more palatable.
- 5 to 6 cups of flour
- 1 cup of water
For more info, here is the full recipe for hardtack.
Created by Native Americans, pemmican is often called the ultimate survival food.
Its name comes from “pimi,” the Cree word for “grease” or “fat,” and traditional pemmican is made from deer, elk, bison or moose meat. Lean beef can work well too. A concentrated blend of fat and protein from lean, dried meat, pemmican has been known to keep for decades.
- Lean meat
- Lard (or tallow)
- Optional extras (nuts, berries, dried fruit, etc.)
If you’d like to try it, here’s how to make pemmican.
Forget about those thin packaged versions you can buy at the supermarket or convenience store. They are filled with all kinds of unnatural preservatives. Homemade jerky is a high-protein, easy to make, and portable survival food.
You begin with strips of lean meat of your choosing – from beef to venison to other wild game – and then follow a simple process of marinating and then dehydrating. If you do not have a dehydrator, you may use an oven for drying. In fact, many people think oven-dried jerky has the best flavor.
- 2 pounds of meat
- 1/2 cup soy of sauce
- 1/4 cup Worchester sauce
- 1/2 tsp. of Morton Tender Quick Cure
- 1 tsp. of chili powder
- 1 tbs. of garlic powder
- 1 tbs. of onion powder
- 2 tbs. of cracked pepper
Here is the full beef jerky recipe.
Biltong is a traditional South African food that consists of dried and marinated meat. Whereas jerky is often smoked, biltong is cured with vinegar, salt, and spices, and then it’s air-dried. Also, you can make biltong from a large variety of cuts of meat.
- 2 kg of lean meat
- 2 cups of brown sugar
- 3 cups of plump sea salt
- 1 tsp. of baking soda
- 2 tbs. of ground black peppercorns
- 100 ml. of Worcestershire sauce
- 5 cups of vinegar
- 4 tbs of ground coriander seeds
Here is the complete recipe for bitlong.
Bannock, sometimes called skillet bread, is a round, flat unleavened bread that is associated with Scotland and northern England. Although you can adapt a bannock recipe for the oven, it is meant to be cooked in a skillet over a campfire or in a fireplace.
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
- 1 tbs. of sugar
- 1 3/4 cups of dried fruit
- 1 tsp. of chopped rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
Here is how to make bannock.
6. Peasant Bread
Homemade bread is great, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to make. Peasant bread, on the other hand, is easy to make and doesn’t require any kneading at all. In fact, the whole preparation process takes less than an hour. That’s why it became so popular, especially during the Great Depression.
- 3 cups of warm water
- 2 tbs. of sugar
- 1 tbs. of active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 3 cups of wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
Here is our complete peasant bread recipe.
7. Dried Fruit
You can get many of the essential vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy in a survival situation by eating dried fruit. In addition to canning your summer and fall bounty, why not consider frying some of it? It is a great everyday snack and it stores well for an emergency. You can use a dehydrator if you have one or you can use your oven. You also can dry fruits in the sun during an emergency situation.
- Fruit of your choice
- 1/2 cup of lemon
- 1/2 cup of water
It’s fairly easy to make. Here is some DIY dried fruit.
8. Beans and Rice
Beans and rice is easy to make and it offers your family a complete meal in a survival situation. If you have bacon, you can add it for flavor and more protein.
- Equal parts dry beans (such as Pintos, Great Northern or black beans) and rice (not quick-cook or instant varieties). pintos, great northern, or black beans)
- Salt and pepper (about a teaspoon per cup or to taste)
- Water (three times as much as you have of beans and rice)
- Rinse the beans and let them sit overnight.
- The next day, bring beans to a simmer and let them cook for about two hours until they are starting to get tender.
- Add rice and cook for about another 30 minutes.
- If available, add spices or garlic to taste.
9. Ration Bars
You also can make your own homemade protein ration bars to have on hand in an emergency. They’re not the tastiest food, but they are calorically dense with lots of fat and protein. The energy they provide will keep you going all day.
- 6 cups of oats
- 2 Tbs of chia seeds
- 3 Tbs of hemp flour or almond flour
- 2 Tbs of fruit powder (optional)
- 6 scoops of protein powder
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 cup of coconut oil
- 10-12 heaping Tbs of peanut butter
I made a post with detailed instructions on how to make these. You can read it here. Or you can watch the instructional video below.
As you consider survival food preparations, here are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Nutritional content
- Caloric content
- Minimum one-year shelf life
- No refrigeration required after opening or single-serving sizes to reduce spoilage
- Minimal cooking requirements – Heat and eat or just open and eat
- Ingredients and flavors your family already likes (an emergency is not the time to experiment with new things if you don’t have to)
Rather than waiting for a disaster before making these survival foods, why not go ahead and make them now? Most of them will last months, if not years, and will be ready to eat when you need them.
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I’d like for some of my “REAL MEN” friends to try eating only meals served with HARDTACK for a weekend. Some of them might break their teeth trying to eat it.
Hardtack is no longer made because because newer kinds of survival foods have been invented. I’d like to see a prepper try to serve hardtack to a 6 year old.
Ed Crabtree says
What is the shelf life of the survival bars and the best way to store long term (if advisable). thanks.
ROBERT SNYDER says
Ed, Just a quick reply to your question:
ANY recipe is vulnerable to it’s weakest ingredient.
In this recipe for survival bars, the oil and peanut butter will determine shelf life and storage.
Both go rancid over time, so package/store as you would for those ingredients.
If they can benefit from vacuum-sealing, okay.
If FREEZING them is the best for those ingredients then you also need to consider how the other ingredients might be affected by the storage method.
Vac-sealing AND freezing these bars will give them the best chance for the long term, maybe up to a year!
Leonie Sykes says
But you could just have the ingredients in your pantry and make when needed, like in a pandemic
Seth O'Dell says
The video didn’t include any of the ingredients listed.
Sorry about that. I think I must have been watching the wrong video when I listed the ingredients. I just updated the article.
where is the updated video so that I can get the ingredients list and amounts?
I thought I updated this post but I guess not. The video didn’t include any details about ingredient amounts, but I found a video with a better recipe. I added it to this post, and I also wrote a whole other post with more details: https://urbansurvivalsite.com/make-emergency-ration-bars-home/
How long will the survival bars last if bagged with food saver?