items on display for a 72 hour survival food kit

72-Hour Survival Food Kit: Tips and Essentials

Survival preparedness is a critical concept in today’s world.

With the increasing frequency of natural disasters and unforeseen emergencies, being ready to sustain oneself for a minimum of 72 hours is an essential safety measure.

This article provides comprehensive insights into the constitution and importance of a 72-hour survival food kit.

It details essential items to include, the type of food to pack, the number of meals required, the appropriate water amount, and other factors to consider when building your kit.

What is a 72-Hour Survival Food Kit?

A 72-hour survival food kit, also known as an emergency food supply, is a package of food items designed to sustain an individual for three days in the event of a crisis.

The duration of 72 hours is based on the common timeframe that relief and help can take to reach you during an emergency.

RELATED READING: Survival Food Kits

These kits should contain a balanced mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and the food included should be non-perishable, easy to prepare (preferably not requiring cooking or a heat source), and compact for storage.

In addition to food, the kit should also contain an adequate amount of water for hydration and food preparation, if necessary.

Essentials for Survival: How to Stock Your 72-Hour Kit

all of the supplies for a fully stocked survival kit

Creating an effective 72-hour survival food kit requires a careful selection of items that not only provide necessary sustenance but also ensure ease of storage, transport, and consumption during a crisis.

Here, we delve further into the fundamental components and considerations to guide you in stocking your 72-hour kit.

  • Caloric Intake: When selecting food items, consider the calorie content. The average person requires about 1200-2000 calories per day, depending on factors like age, gender, weight, and activity level. In a survival situation, you’ll want enough energy to handle increased stress and physical demands, so aim for the higher end of the scale.
  • Nutritional Balance: While calorie count is critical, so is nutritional balance. Your body needs a mixture of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to function optimally. Proteins are essential for body repair and immunity, fats provide a concentrated source of energy, and carbohydrates offer quick energy and are essential for brain function. Vitamins and minerals, though required in smaller amounts, are vital for various bodily functions and maintaining your immune system.
  • Non-Perishable Items: Given the need for a long shelf-life, the food items you choose should be non-perishable. Options include canned goods, freeze-dried meals, dehydrated foods, and energy bars. Check the expiration dates on all items and remember to rotate them periodically to keep your kit fresh and effective.
  • Easy to Prepare: The food in your 72-hour kit should be simple to prepare, requiring minimal resources. Given the possibility of limited access to cooking facilities or even heat during a crisis, opt for foods that can be eaten as-is or prepared with just water.
  • Special Dietary Needs: Consider any special dietary needs or restrictions you or your family members may have. This includes food allergies, dietary restrictions due to health conditions, or preferences like vegetarian or vegan diets. Including necessary items will ensure everyone has safe and suitable food to eat during an emergency.
  • Packaging: The way your food is packed can affect its usability and longevity. Individual, waterproof packaging can protect your food from moisture and make rationing easier. Vacuum-sealed items and those in sturdy cans or jars have longer shelf lives.
  • Comfort Foods: While not nutritionally essential, comfort foods can offer a much-needed morale boost in stressful situations. Include small amounts of items like chocolate, candy, or your favorite snack, considering their shelf-life.
  • Water: Hydration is critical for survival. While water isn’t ‘food’, your kit wouldn’t be complete without it. You’ll need at least one gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation. A water purifier can also be smart to add to your kit.
  • Utensils and Equipment: Depending on the food you pack, you may need utensils or equipment to eat it. This can be as simple as a spoon or as complex as a camping stove and fuel. A can opener is also crucial if your kit includes canned goods.

Remember, the goal is to create a 72-hour survival food kit that will meet your basic nutritional needs during an emergency.

By focusing on these essentials, you can ensure that you’re well-equipped to maintain your health and energy during the critical initial period of a crisis.

What Food Should Be in Your 72-Hour Kit?

When building your 72-hour survival food kit, it’s crucial to carefully select foods that offer substantial nutrition, have a long shelf life, require minimal preparation, and cater to any dietary needs or restrictions. Here’s a more in-depth look at the type of food you should consider for your kit:

  • Protein: Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies, necessary for tissue repair, muscle growth, and immune function. Canned meats (like chicken, tuna, or salmon), canned beans, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of protein and have a long shelf life. You could also consider protein bars or protein powders, as well as freeze-dried meals that often contain a good amount of protein.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide immediate energy, which is crucial in a survival situation. Ready-to-eat cereals, granola bars, and crackers are good sources of carbohydrates and are easy to pack. Dried fruits not only offer carbohydrates but can also satisfy a sweet tooth without resorting to candy or other less healthy options.
  • Fats: Fats provide a concentrated source of energy and help you feel full longer. Nuts and seeds are a good source of healthy fats and also provide protein. Trail mixes often contain a blend of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, offering a balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Peanut butter is another excellent source of healthy fats and protein.
  • Dairy: Dairy products provide essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Powdered milk can be stored for extended periods and can be used by just adding water. It can be consumed as a drink or used in other foods like oatmeal or granola.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: These provide a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While fresh fruits and vegetables don’t store well, canned or freeze-dried options can last for years. They can be eaten as-is or added to other dishes for added nutrition.
  • Comfort Foods: While not nutritionally critical, comfort foods can offer a psychological boost in a challenging situation. These could include small amounts of chocolate, hard candies, or other favorite snacks. Just be mindful of their shelf life and the potential for melting or spoilage.
  • Hydration: While technically not a “food,” hydration is so crucial that it bears mentioning in any discussion of a survival food kit. Include a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.
  • Special Dietary Needs: If you or any of your family members have special dietary needs or restrictions, be sure to include appropriate food items in your kit. This could mean selecting gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium, or allergen-free options, or foods suitable for infants or older adults, depending on your family’s needs.

Remember that variety is important. Eating the same thing for every meal can become monotonous, especially in a stressful situation.

A diverse mix of foods can help maintain morale and ensure a balanced intake of nutrients. Don’t forget to check expiration dates periodically and rotate foods out of your kit to keep it fresh and safe to consume.

How Many Meals Do You Need?

When it comes to the number of meals, plan on three meals per day per person. This translates to nine meals for a 72-hour period. However, the structure can be flexible based on your food choices.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Nutrition During Natural Disasters

For instance, you could opt for six smaller meals or snack continuously throughout the day, as long as you meet your daily caloric and nutritional requirements.

How Much Water Should You Have?

Water is a critical part of any survival kit. The general rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. This means for a 72-hour period, you should have at least

three gallons of water per person. However, keep in mind that individual needs may vary depending on age, physical condition, activity level, and climate. It’s also worth considering additional water if your food options require water for preparation.

In addition to the water itself, consider including water purification tablets or a water filter in case your water supply runs out or you have access to an untreated water source.

Other Factors to Consider For Building Your 72-Hour Kit

While food and water are the main components of a 72-hour survival kit, there are other crucial elements to consider:

  • Cooking Tools: While your food should ideally be ready-to-eat or require minimal preparation, including a portable stove, fuel, a pot, a utensil set, and a manual can opener could be beneficial.
  • Packaging and Storage: Your 72-hour kit should be portable and easy to carry. Consider using a sturdy backpack or a plastic bin for storage, and ensure all food items are well-sealed to prevent spoilage.
  • First Aid Kit: Emergencies often come with injuries. Including a basic first aid kit can help address minor medical issues.
  • Personal Hygiene Items: Basic hygiene items like hand sanitizers, wet wipes, toothpaste, and soap are often overlooked but are essential during emergencies.
  • Important Documents: Keep a copy of important documents like identification, medical records, and emergency contact information in your kit.
  • Light and Communication: Including a flashlight, extra batteries, a whistle, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio can be crucial in some emergency situations.


A 72-hour survival food kit is an essential part of any emergency preparedness plan. It provides the necessary sustenance to get through the first three days of an emergency, when help may not be immediately available. When building your kit, focus on including a balanced variety of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food items, and an adequate supply of water.

Remember to cater to any special dietary needs and aim for a daily caloric intake of around 1200 to 2000 calories per person. Plan for at least three meals per day and at least one gallon of water per person per day. Also, consider including other essential items like cooking tools, a first aid kit, personal hygiene items, important documents, and light and communication tools.

In the end, the goal of a 72-hour survival food kit is to keep you safe, hydrated, and nourished during the critical hours of an emergency. The peace of mind it offers is worth the effort and time it takes to prepare. Stay safe, and be prepared.