a man takes a bite out of an Emergency Ration Bar

Emergency Ration Bars: Your Ultimate Guide to Survival Food

In the realm of survival preparedness, an often-overlooked but critical resource is the emergency ration bar.

As we face an increasing number of natural disasters and other emergency situations, a comprehensive understanding of emergency food supplies is more important than ever.

In this article we’ll provide a detailed overview of emergency ration bars: what they are, their shelf life, how to make them at home, their ingredients, and other vital factors to consider.

What is an Emergency Ration Bar?

a woman takes a bite from her emergency ration bar

An emergency ration bar is a high-energy, non-perishable, compact food source designed to sustain an individual in a survival scenario. They are also referred to as survival bars, disaster bars, or lifeboat rations. These bars are formulated to provide a balanced mix of essential nutrients, typically rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, to maintain energy levels during strenuous circumstances.

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Used by survivalists, hikers, and emergency response teams worldwide, these bars are compact and lightweight, making them easy to store and carry in emergency kits, backpacks, and even pockets. They are often individually packaged to ensure they remain uncontaminated and retain their nutritional value until consumed.

How Long Do They Last?

One of the primary advantages of emergency ration bars is their long shelf life. Many commercial emergency ration bars can last anywhere from five to ten years, some even up to 25 years, depending on their packaging and storage conditions.

The longevity of these bars is attributed to their unique formulation and vacuum-sealed packaging, which prevents the ingress of air and bacteria, preserving the nutritional value and taste for extended periods.

However, it’s important to note that the shelf life will depend on the manufacturer’s guidelines, so always check the expiration date and storage instructions.

How to Make DIY Emergency Food Ration Bars

While the market is replete with commercial emergency ration bars, there’s something uniquely satisfying about making your own at home. Not only does this give you the freedom to customize the ingredients based on your dietary preferences, but it also allows you to ensure the quality of the ingredients used.

Here, we delve deeper into the process of making DIY emergency food ration bars, providing a detailed recipe and some variations for you to consider.

Basic Recipe


  • 2 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of protein powder
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, or any combination)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and honey together, stirring until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the oats and protein powder.
  4. Add the dried fruit to the oat-protein mixture, then pour in the melted butter-honey mixture. Stir until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish, making sure it’s evenly spread.
  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.
  7. Allow the dish to cool completely before cutting it into bars.

This basic recipe provides a good balance of carbs, protein, and fats. The oats and dried fruit deliver slow-releasing carbohydrates, while the protein powder adds necessary protein. The honey and butter not only serve as binding agents but also contribute additional nutrients.

Recipe Variations

While the above recipe provides a good starting point, there are numerous ways you can modify it to suit your taste preferences or dietary requirements. Here are a few variations:

  • Nut-Free Bars: If you have a nut allergy, ensure that the protein powder you use is nut-free. You can also add seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead of nuts for extra protein.
  • Gluten-Free Bars: If you are gluten intolerant, use gluten-free oats and ensure your protein powder is gluten-free.
  • Vegan Bars: For a vegan option, replace the honey with maple syrup or agave nectar, and use a plant-based protein powder. Substitute the butter with coconut oil.
  • High-Protein Bars: If you want to increase the protein content, consider adding peanut or almond butter to the mix.
  • Extra Energy Bars: For an extra energy boost, consider adding additional high-energy ingredients such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, or dark chocolate chips.

Remember, when making your DIY emergency ration bars, the goal is to create a nutrient-dense food source that can last for an extended period.

The bars should be able to withstand various storage conditions without going bad. Store the bars in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

If you’re planning to take them on a trip, consider vacuum-sealing individual bars to prolong their shelf life and maintain freshness.

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Making your own emergency ration bars can be a fun and rewarding process. By following these guidelines and experimenting with your own ingredients, you can come up with a recipe that best suits your taste and nutritional needs.

This way, you’re not only prepared for an emergency, but you also have a delicious and nutritious snack to enjoy whenever you need it.

Emergency Ration Bar Ingredients

The ingredients in emergency ration bars are selected to provide maximum nutritional value, long shelf life, and durability.

  • Carbohydrates: Typically, the main ingredients are sources of carbohydrates, such as wheat flour, oats, or sugar. Carbs are a primary energy source, helping maintain high energy levels.
  • Proteins and Fats: Protein powders or peanut butter may be added for protein content, and fats might come from oils or butter. Both are essential for bodily functions and provide sustained energy.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Some bars are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals to help meet nutritional needs.
  • Preservatives: To extend shelf life, commercial bars often include preservatives. These could be natural, like honey, or synthetic.
  • Binders: Ingredients like corn syrup or honey also act as binders, holding the bar together and providing a chewable texture.
  • Flavorings: To make the bars more palatable, manufacturers or home cooks might add flavorings or spices. For instance, natural flavors from dried fruits or sweeteners can enhance the taste.

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Other Factors to Consider About Emergency Ration Bars

When selecting or making emergency ration bars, several factors must be considered:

  • Nutritional Content: The bar should offer a balanced nutritional profile to meet your energy needs in an emergency. Look for a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and consider bars fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Shelf Life: For maximum preparedness, opt for bars with a long shelf life and check the expiration date regularly to ensure your stock is fresh.
  • Taste: While not a top priority in survival scenarios, taste can boost morale during stressful situations. Try different brands or recipes to find one that you find palatable.
  • Packaging: Look for individually wrapped bars for ease of distribution and to prevent contamination of the entire supply if one bar is opened.
  • Dietary Restrictions: If you have specific dietary needs or restrictions, such as allergies, vegetarian or vegan preferences, or gluten intolerance, ensure your chosen bars meet these requirements.=
  • Weight and Size: The bars should be lightweight and compact for easy storage and transport.


Emergency ration bars are a vital component of any survival or emergency preparedness plan. These high-energy, long-lasting, and compact food sources can provide essential nutrients during times when regular meals might not be available. Whether you choose to buy commercial bars or make your own, understanding their composition, storage, and usage can make a significant difference in survival scenarios.

Stay prepared by keeping these points in mind and ensuring you have a supply of emergency ration bars on hand. Remember, it’s not just about surviving—it’s also about maintaining your health and energy levels to face any situation effectively.

In the ever-changing world of survival preparedness, the humble emergency ration bar stands as a testament to human ingenuity, providing a lifeline when we need it most. As the saying goes, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”