The best food for your 72 hour kit

non-cook 72 hour kit foo | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | 72 hour kit food ideas

As many of you know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I was recently asked to help many of the families in our congregation decide what the best food for a 72 hour kit would be.   This 72 hour food kit would be part of a larger complete 72 hour pack / survival kit.  I thought I’d post a bit about what I came up with here as it would be helpful to anyone trying to put together 72 hr food kits for a large group. (If you are LDS too, think: “This would be a fantastic Relief Society meeting!“)


72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food


What you’ll find in this post:

  • I’ll start by telling you what my goals were with these kits and why I created them the way I did.
  • Then I’ll give you the details:  I will tell you what you will be eating for each meal each day, where I bought everything and what it all cost.  (Yes, you have my permission to scroll down right to this section if you’d like to right now)
  • Last, I’ll give you links where you can download menu labels for each day, handouts, and signup forms that you can use when planning your kits with your group!


1.  A BIG Undertaking: My Goals


This was quite a project as I really wanted to meet a few basic needs:

1.  I wanted to keep the cost of the food for this 72 hour kit as low as possible.

The cost of food adds up quickly and having to buy 3 days worth all at once in addition to your regular spending can seem daunting, especially for large families, which there are many of in our congregation.  I did not want the cost to deter people from taking this important step.

I set a goal to keep the cost for each meal at $2 or less per person.  I ended up beating this goal!

2.  I wanted to keep the calories in the food for this 72 hour kit as high as possible – while not sacrificing nutrition.

In most disaster situations, you actually would not need your kit.  For example, in a house fire, you’d likely be able to go to a friend or family member’s home.  You wouldn’t grab your 72 hour kit and go camp out at the park!  Or in an earthquake, you’d likely still stay at (or near) your home once it was over and have access to all the food in your home, not just your kit (well, at least anything that isn’t destroyed).

So, in reality, the only time you’d actually use your kit is if you had to quickly evacuate and the evacuation radius was wide enough that you couldn’t quickly get to a family / friend’s home.  This means, you’d likely be expending a lot of energy and would need calories.  I looked at many other 72 hour food kit lists online and most offered only 600-1000 calories / day.  Hunger makes both my kids and I (any maybe you, I’m guessing?) terribly grumpy!  In my opinion, a large scale disaster is not the time to cut your calorie consumption by half or more.

I set a goal to get calorie consumption at 1500 calories / day or more while including at least some nutrient dense foods.  I also ended up beating this goal!

3.  I wanted all the food for this 72 hour kit to be “non-cook” type items

I wanted this for a few reasons.

First, many items that need to be cooked (canned soups, stews, chilis etc) are heavy and would add significant weight to your packs.  In addition, “just add water and cook” type meals require extra water….and water is HEAVY!  Ideally, since you may have to carry them, your packs should be as light as possible.

Second,  if you truly are evacuating on foot, simple will be best.  I know that even in my nice home, when I have a bad day, I prefer making a simple meal to a complicated one.  It will be much easier to pull out a granola bar, open it and give it to my child than to pull out the stove, the fuel, light it, then the can opener, open the can, wait for it to cook, then dig through my pack to find bowls / cups / spoons etc.

Third, many families do not already have a small portable stove, light weight mess kit etc.  This would be an added expense to them and may again deter them from getting their kits altogether.

I completely met this goal!  None of the food requires cooking!

4.  I wanted foods for this 72 hour kit that tasted good!

Again, multiple reasons for this.

First, and most obviously, you are more likely to eat food that tastes good.  This is especially true of children.  As adults, if we know we need to eat, we are likely to eat most anything even if it doesn’t taste great.

But children are different.  They may not understand how serious the situation is and will react just like they would at the regular dinner table.  They will whine and complain if they don’t like something and end up not eating much.  That may not regularly be a huge issue, when tomorrow morning they will wake up and have pancakes, but in a true survival situation, they need to eat all they can.

Second, you are more likely to rotate food you like!  When we rotate the food in our 72 hour kits, we have a PARTY!  It is fun!  We get out all that yummy food (stuff we don’t usually eat otherwise) and have FUN.  Then, we re-stock it with more yummy food.  But if the food in our kits is gross, we won’t likely rotate it.  Then, it might not be use-able when we need it.

This was tricky b/c everyone has different tastes.  Also, not everything that tastes good & is high in calories is extremely nutritious!  Some things in my kit are things that I might not want my kids eating every day (sugary, salty, processed etc), but that they really enjoy.  Other things are relatively nutrient dense.  I figured this would work for most families without serious allergies in a survival situation.


2.  The Results & Details:


1503 Calories per Day and $1.32 per Meal!

I created a 1503 calorie / day non-cook food kit for $11.86!  That is just $1.32 / meal!  Seriously!  I was so proud of myself I had to call my mom to brag.  It took hours to figure it all out, but I really think it is a great kit!

In addition, if you can afford a few more dollars, you can get that kit up to over 2200 calories per day for $16.29.  That is still under $2 / meal at $1.81!

The Three Day Menu:

Day #1

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal to Go Bar, Annie’s Bunnies, Yogurt Raisins
  • Lunch: Peanut Butter and Animal Crackers, Fruit Leather
  • Dinner: 4 Slim Jims, 2 Chewy Granola Bars, Fig Newtons
72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food

 Day #2

  • Breakfast: Soft Baked Breakfast Bar, Annie’s Bunnies, Craisins
  • Lunch: Trail Mix, Annie’s Bunnies, Fig Newtons
  • Dinner:  Peanut Butter and Animal Crackers, Crunchy granola bar, Yogurt Raisins

72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food

Day #3

  • Breakfast: Breakfast Cookie, Animal Crackers , Applesauce
  • Lunch: Tuna & Crackers, Goldfish, Fruit Snacks
  • Dinner: Bag of peanuts, Animal Crackers, Yogurt Raisins

72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food


If you are like me and want a few more calories / snacks, you can add the following.  You may only want to add some to your adult kits and keep the kids kits smaller, or you may add the candy to the kids, but not the adults etc etc:

  • Additional bag of nuts per day: Adds 170 calories per day, $0.96 additional cost per kit
  • Three Additional slim Jims per day: Adds 130 calories per day, $0.96 additional cost per kit
  • 6 pieces chewy candy per day: Adds 130 calories per day, $0.37 additional cost per kit
  • 1 pantry can Peach Drink for three people: Adds 306 calories per day, and LOTS of vitamins.  Enough for 1 cup peach drink at each meal per person.  $2.66 additional cost per kit

So, for my family of six, I would purchase the basic $11.86 kit for everyone, add the nuts and candy for everyone and 2 pantry cans peach drink.  My total cost would be $100.86 or $16.81 per kit ($1.87 per meal).  Total calories per day per person would be 2236 per day!


Where to Buy / Prices:

Note: these prices were accurate in the fall of 2013.  Click on the links to view the current prices.

Amazon (using Amazon Prime for free shipping):

Note: Prices on Amazon change frequently

Local Walmart (or online with free shipping if spending $55+):



  • Annie’s Bunnies 36 Pkg: $8.65
  • GoGo Squeeze Applesauce 20 pkg:$6.99
  • Fruit Leather 48 Pkg: $10.59
  • Goldfish Crackers 24 Pkg: $7.99
  • Welch’s Fruit Snacks 80 Pkg: $7.99
  • Chewy Granola Bars 60 Pkg: $8.99 (Quaker brand currently on sale for this price (regularly $10.99); but Costco brand regularly $8.79 for 60)
  • Hi-Chew Candies 104 Pkg: $6.39


A Few Important Notes:

  • Obviously, the prices in your area may vary a bit, or you may end up reading this post months or years after I post it.  But, unless there has been some sort of HUGE inflation since I posted this, I believe you can easily get this 72 hr food kit for under $2 / meal.
  • Part of the reason I was able to get these prices was b/c we were buying in bulk.  I went to Costco and shopped online in bulk.  So, if you are to do this, it will be best to get a large group of people together!  You could get your church group together or a few families in your neighborhood.  You can even all rotate at the same time each year and buy your re-supplies together too!
  • Also, because things are packaged in different sizes, you will NEVER be able to buy just exactly what you need for “x” number of kits.  You will always have a little extra of something.  You can roll that extra cost into the cost of the kits or whoever is in charge can front the extra cost and keep the extra food.  (That is what I will be doing)



I have three FREE downloads for you:

72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food1.  Printable Daily Menu Labels

Print, Cut, and put on each day’s bag so you know what to eat when!



72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food2.  Informational Handout

Give this handout to anyone you’d like to invite to join your group.  It should help them understand what it is you are trying to do and why you are building the kits this way!



72 hour kit food ideas | Smart food for your 72 hour kit | no-cook 72 hour kit food3.  Signup Form:

Pass this form around a group meeting so people can sign up for what they want in each kit!


Spread the Word

This was a lot of work to put together!  Over the last 3 years, I’ve received many requests from group leaders (mostly LDS Relief Society leaders) for such a post.  So, if you know a leader of a group who could benefit from this, send it to them!  It will save them a LOT of time (and hopefully money) while helping them create truly valuable kits for their families!  Thanks!


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46 Responses to The best food for your 72 hour kit

  1. Jill November 4, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    Found this after surfing Pinterst for food kit meal ideas. All of the ones I’ve seen are packed with overly sugary overly processed food, just because it’s cheap. But most meal kits I’ve seen would never be practical if you were on foot for three days burning more calories than normal. And they wouldn’t be practical if you had to live out in the elements for three days with no fuel source. Thank you for taking the time to come up with nutritious yet affordable meal kit ideas – that require no fuel usage! This will give me a huge jumpstart!

  2. Jackie N October 7, 2016 at 3:15 am #

    Carla from below- I know this is years later but I read your post–the “nervous eater”, you obviously can’t eat constantly in a true emergency situation, but what about chewing gum? Make sure you pack several packs for that kiddo!

  3. Jackie N October 7, 2016 at 3:10 am #

    Wow, kudos! I’ve never made a 72 hour food kit before, but have been reading your posts for a while and it is “one of those things” on my to-do list. But I am so impressed by how cheap and calorie-dense you made this pack! You brought up things I never thought about in an emergency, and your experience is really appreciated! I will be subbing a few items according to my families taste and preferences, but I can do that because of all the work you did here! Thank you!

    • Misty October 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

      Thank you so much for the kind comment Jackie! It means more than you know and I grateful you took the time to write it.

  4. arlene butler October 4, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Thankyou Misty for all of your work and the sharing of this hard work for all of us. I am L.D.S. also and will be spreading this information among my ward, none L.D.S. friends family members , etec.

    Thanks again for all of your hard work .


    • Misty October 5, 2016 at 6:46 am #

      I”m so glad it is helpful Arlene!

  5. Marie Bauer Galpin September 10, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    This is so interesting, I hope our Relief Society starts making these kids, I am for sure Thank you for the information.

  6. Deborah September 7, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    Awesome meals. I can do this. There are only 3 adults here, 2 dogs and 3 cats. Whew. A lot of animals. Only one cat and one dog are house fur babies.

    • Deborah September 7, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      OK, so I may have to get different breakfast bars, but it’s doable! Thank you so much!

  7. Julie Miller June 25, 2016 at 7:51 pm #


    • Misty June 28, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

      You are welcome!

  8. Ruth Williams April 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    You’ll have to find something other than the Oatmeal to Go bars – I absolutely LOVE them, but they aren’t available any more. The last time I bought them (about a year ago) I had to go to Amazon, and since then, I haven’t been able to find them. I guess the newer Nature Valley breakfast bars are closest, but they don’t have as many calories and I don’t think they taste as good.

    • Misty April 18, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

      Oh bummer! This was originally researched and published a few years back. I guess I’ll need to go double check some of that type of stuff!

  9. Cindi April 15, 2016 at 7:24 am #

    Great job, Misty! This is a great list. Thank you for all your hard work in putting this together.

    • Misty April 18, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Glad you found it helpful Cindi!

  10. Susy Hiller April 11, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Hello Misty,

    How do you know when to rotate the rations?

    • Misty April 18, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

      I go by the date on the package plus a few months Susy! I typically check my packs every six months (in April and October) and will switch out things that are expired then.

  11. Scott January 12, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I’ve been looking for a good kit like this, with food people like to eat. Thanks so much!

    • Misty January 14, 2016 at 9:49 am #

      You are so welcome Scott. I’m glad it was helpful.

  12. Karen December 13, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    These are great ideas. I didn’t even think about putting the items into baggies and labeling them. Now how easy is that! Think I will do this for my grown children and give the kits to them. Fun to think about how simple and not expensive.

  13. Sheina February 5, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    P.S How long does this 72 hour kit last? As far as shelf life.

    • Misty February 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

      Most everything has a 6-12 month shelf life written on the pkg. I keep mine for 12-18 months before rotating.

  14. Sheina February 3, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    I am the Provident Living Specialist in our ward. I came across your this website today and I am in Heaven. Thank you so much for your hard work. I can;t imagine the time it took to put this together. I am in charge of our 72 hour kit Relief Society activity in April 2015. Your website just saved me alot of headache.. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you..

    • Misty February 11, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

      Yay! I’m so glad Sheina. That is the whole point. Thanks for letting me know!

  15. Carla December 8, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Thank you for this post! Several boys in our Boy Scout Troop have decided they are Preppers, so my husband and I want to put them to the test. Each boy will make his own 72 hour kit, with suggestions like these. Some of them claim to have a bug out bag all ready to go, so they will need to pack all supplies in their own backpack. No borrowing from others, only fair approved trades, etc. (As leaders we will have emergency supplies available). We will camp 2 nights as see how they do. You never know how prepared you are until you test it, and I think it will be a blast to actually live off of my kit and see how I’ve done.

    One suggestion I have is to remind people to take into account “nervous eating”. We have a boy who once he enters a vehicle, starts eating and doesn’t stop until he arrives at his destination. After that he’s fine. People need to account for this when making their personal kits. If all of your 72 hour kit is eaten on the road, how are you going to make it through the 72 hour period?

    BTW I love the idea of rotating the kit during conferences, what a way to make kids look forward to the event. That feeling will stick with them forever. I am not LDS but many of my friends are so my family could make it a Family day with movies and board games and have a blast with it.

    • Misty December 12, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      LOVE the idea Carla! It is so true that you really don’t know till you test it! Good Luck. I would love to hear how it goes!

  16. Shielah September 30, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    This kit looks awesome, Misty! Thanks for your hard work. I am helping my ward put together 72 hour food kits and this is perfect! Do you have recommendations for children’s kits or does this pretty much cover everyone?

    • Misty September 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

      I’m so glad it is helpful Shielah! The kits here are just the food portion of a 72 hour kit and what i have listed works for our whole family. But there are some tips here for 72 hours kits for kids in general as part of a series of posts I did:

      I hope that helps!

  17. Jen March 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Wow – best 72 hr. kit blog I’ve read yet! I’m doing a class in Relief Society so I wanted several different options, and yours is my favorite 🙂 I love how you shared your goals and provided the tools to set up bulk/group 72 hr. kit creation. Loooove it! Thank you sooooo much!!!

    • Misty March 7, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      Thanks Jen! I’m truly glad you found it so helpful!

  18. Erika December 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Very helpful post! I am just curious as to how you bagged up the food. Did you make a separate bag for each person’s meals so that each person has 1 for breakfast, 1 for lunch, 1 for dinner for each day? Or did you bag everyone’s food together so that breakfast for day 1 has the whole family’s food in it?

    • Misty December 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      Sorry for the late response Erika. I bagged it up just exactly as I have it on the printable labels. So, each person has 3 bags total: one for each day with all three meals in one bag.

  19. Rachel Mickelsen August 27, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    Thanks! You totally inspired me to update my 72 hour kits! I closely followed your plan, exchanging things here and there for things my family likes. But I’d been avoiding doing it because I didn’t want to have to figure it out. Thanks for making it so easy. I updated my 7 kits in about 2 hours (including shopping trip)! My 6 year old’s pack no longer contains diapers. My 13 year old had size 7 pants in his. Yikes! Thank goodness we have not needed them.

  20. Cindi August 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Great ideas, Misty! They would work well here in hurricane central. 🙂 Just curious — did you weigh one of these kits? It sure seems like it would be fairly light!

    • Misty August 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Weighed it just for you Cindi. 3.3 lbs. (-: Not too bad!

  21. Kerri (TheMaven) August 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    My husband and I have been putting together our kits for home (and our cars) and I’m so glad I found your site! I couldn’t agree more that you want your 72 hour food to be fun and yummy. Especially if everything around you is pretty grim – it will make it tiny bit better.

    • Misty August 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Yes, yummy food can always make things a bit better, right? (-:

  22. Don August 25, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Misty, I received my 6 in 1 tool and pocket saw. They look great and I can’t wait to try them out. Thank you for the great insight to prepping and the giveaways. I have thought a lot about food for bugging out and the items you suggested are a new way for me think about food to bug out with. Even though my wife and I will probably bug in our son and a niece live in Atlanta and our daughter lives in Austin so if we go on the road it will be to get them home. This type of food would help us to travel faster and have enough for the return trip. The last thing I would like to ask is if you would post something on clothing to bug out with. I have some thoughts on this but will comment later.

    • Misty August 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      I’ve got warm clothes in my bug out kit Don. Sweat pants and sweat shirt. I figure I could always cut them if it is hot. But I’ve not given it much more thought than that. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. I’m sure they’d be helpful.

      • Caitlin August 28, 2013 at 8:29 am #

        I’m trying to gather clothes for my BOB currently by thrifting. Somethings we have at home but I’m specifically on a mission for the hiking style pants that zip off into shorts. I live in Minnesota, so temps varry widely from one season to the next. I want to try to keep the option to put the pants back together because nights can get cold, etc. I managed to find a pair of these pants for me for about $6 and am keeping my eyes peeled for ones for my man.

  23. Vicki S August 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Awesome job Misty. I found this website:
    to be very helpful for meal planning also. You can substitute several of the Thrive Life products for things that he has in his meal plans. His menu is for ultra light backpacking but can easily be used for emergency 72 hour kits. It is all about personalization when it comes to food. Again, great job!!!

    • Misty August 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

      Thanks Vicki!

  24. Nannette August 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Thank you so much Misty… this is wonderful information and I will put it to good use!

    • Misty August 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

      Thanks Mom! I’m so glad you like it. (-:

  25. Francesca August 24, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    This is so incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for all your hard work!

    • Misty August 26, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      Of course! Glad it is so helpful Francesca!