In order to survive, you only need two basic foods:

  1. meat (can be partially substituted with other animal products)
  2. carbohydrate source

Please forget anything you have learned about nutrition that would contradict this. Unlike meat, most vegetables are devoid of most vitamins, proteins and fats you need to survive. Getting variety is nice, but overcomplicates things and can be misleading to your investments. Simply stocking up more meat and more rice means longer survival time. Putting that money instead into canned spinach and Brussels sprouts does not.

To deal with food expiration, the following techniques make sense:

  • if you own a pet, build a 2-year stock of pet food for it and cycle the old cans
  • freeze-dried survival food has a shelf life of 20-30 years
  • rice, most beans, lentils, split peas and oats can last up to 30 years
  • build a stock of canned foods and oils and continuously eat it yourself

It is important to note, that only a few foods have very high shelf lives:

  • canned food 5 years, possibly much much longer but carries very small risk
  • rice, oats and pinto beans 5 years or longer, 30 years if oxygen & humidity removers are used

Other foods such as oils, nuts, cured meats, dried milk, protein powder, and so on only last 2 years.

A sensible daily calculation for an adult would look like this:

  • 250g rice (900kcal)
  • 100g lentils, split peas or pinto beans (300kcal)
  • 200g cat food, pure meat (250kcal)
  • 40g sugar (160kcal)
  • 40g cooking oil (350kcal)
  • one-a-day vitamin

Total: 1960 kcal

Light physical activity only makes up a small percentage of your kcal requirements and can be ignored.

It would only cost 1100 Euros for 3 people to survive on this diet for 266 days, whereas 400 Euro are from stockpiled cat food, and 100 Euro is from stockpiled cooking oil. As you cycle those foods, this money is not actually lost, and you are only looking at a total of 600 Euros in rice, legumes and sugar to give you an additional 9 months of survival time for the next 20-30 years. In my country a kilo of rice costs 1.50 Euro, this information can be used to extrapolate prices from in yours.

I have put this plan first, because cost is the main issue that keeps people from prepping. Beware that dog food or cheap cat food might contain substantial amounts of wheat and vegetable refuse, which lowers its nutritional value accordingly. Proper cat food however contains only meat, including important organ meats and fats and it is fortified with vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals, such as vitamin D, zinc, taurine and iodine. However as dogs tend to be much larger than cats, the amount of food you can stockpile and continuously cycle before it hits the expiration date is also much larger. 200g cat food roughly equals only 125-150g of actual meat, as it is cut with water and inedible parts such as hooves. With dog food it could be as low as 20%.

If you don’t own a pet however, things can get much more expensive. Generally speaking, canned foods and other prepper food make a rather poor diet by 21th century standards. So cycling those foods in your own diet might not be an option. In this case, the most economic long-term investments are the foods that have a 30 year shelf life and whatever amounts of cooking oil and other foodstuff you can cycle within 2 years. If your can however, you should cycle at least some canned meats in your diet. Without any meat, you will suffer from severe malnutrition within 3-6 months, depending on your age and health, with a lot of luck at most you have a year until you perish.

  • If you have absolutely no strategy for meat, buy a large stockpile of canned pure-meat cat food initially and restock a fraction of it every year, regardless of the fact that it will go to waste. A year worth for one person only costs 200 Euros, that’s 80kg of meat, 60kg if you account for poor meat quality. Stock older than 5 years can still be valuable and better than nothing.
  • Buy rice, beans, lentils and split peas in high quantities to last each person at least a year, and store them in large sealable plastic drums in a low temperature environment. Even if no oxygen removers are used, chances are that prepacked, dry and cool stored rice and legumes will be edible 20+ years. If you have more money, buy double or triple that amount. Remember, you might be stolen from so you need to have some level of redudancy. Beans and other legumes are rather poisonous if uncooked. Beans have a long cooking time (up to 90 minutes) and need extensive soaking (up to 12 hours) to reduce it. Rice (20 minutes) tends to be of much higher value and is cheaper, followed by black/red lentils then split peas (30 minutes). All of those can be soaked as well. It is advisable to cook beans and chickpeas only once a week to save energy.

Freeze-dried foods would be an excellent option, if they didn’t sell for 10x the cost. A kilo of meat often costs 50 Euros instead of 5 Euros if freeze-dried and the same goes for other foods. Freeze-dried cheap emergency food rations are also garbage: 95% wheat flour and sugar. Depending on the size of your family, scale of your prepping and luxory you can afford, it might make sense to consider a freeze-drier for 3000 Euros instead. However shelf life might be much shorter in a DIY setup, since conditions are less hygienic and the foodstuff will rehydrate from the humidity in the air. I am not an expert on freeze-dried foods, but I believe them to be questionable due to exorbitant cost and various other issues.

A gas stove is recommended for cooking, since wood can run out and it draws attention:

  • 2 x 11kg propane gas bottles, lasts about a year to cook for a small family
  • propane cooking stove, with suitable hose and regulator

Salt and vinegar can’t hurt, is very cheap and it does not expire.

MSM flavored vegetable powder goes a very long way and gives your meals a nice and compelling taste. On days you eat rice, I can highly recommend 5g tomato powder per person (only for the taste). With some more vinegar and salt, it is surprisingly good.


Farming your own food is dangerous and should be avoided. If you live remotely, chances are that you will already have good access to agricultural resources that don’t make it to the cities, like grains, fruits or milk, which makes planting food yourself somewhat unnecessary. If you live in or near an urban area, it will only attract thieves and incentivize them to raid you. However you might have luck with a plant called topinambur, which few people can recognize, and hence can be disguised as a weed or flower. The tubers can be planted like potatoes, but are winter hardy and can be dug up and eaten all year. Use balanced NPK chemical fertilizer to increase yield by 3-6x. Only start horticulture, if you somehow can very effectively hide large amounts of crops on your property from neighbors, or if there hardly are any neighbors to begin with.


Foods on this list will only barely or only partially provide the energy you burn while obtaining them, or their availability is extremely poor. Also some of them have very poor nutritional value. This is why it makes only very limited sense to resort to these foods.

  • snails (need to be fed clean vegetables for 2-3 days, only av. if not cold on rainy days)
  • acorns can be leached with water several days and times in a row to make them edible
  • the ultra-thin cambium layer in tree bark is edible (some trees are deadly poisonous!)
  • nuts (only very sparsely available after harvest season)
  • mushrooms (dangerous!; mostly only available on few select rainy days in a year)

Tree sprouts, mosses and weeds provide too little energy to bother with.

hunting & fishing

Hunting and fishing only makes sense if you live very very remotely or near a huge lake or coastline, and otherwise you should never attempt it. A viable hunting strategy would be to set up dozens and dozens of wire traps in your forest, check them every day and attempt to kill the predators that raid your traps. This takes a lot of time, draws attention and puts you far away from your home. Stalking large game is even more difficult and very time-consuming. However illegal passive fishing techniques, such as running large gill nets through a river to be checked the other day, could be very profitable. Generally speaking, legal fishing techniques like rods are very time-consuming, ineffective and useless, even if used at a very high skill level with extensive experience and knowledge about what spots to fish in. For hunting (and to a lesser degree also gathering) to become a viable strategy, it requires that you have little to no competition and access to vast amounts of natural resources (such as when living in the Alaska wilderness). This is unrealistic in most parts of the western world and most people’s situations.