Survival Food Basics Part 1: Collecting, Finding, and Growing Food

A guide to storing, finding, growing, and hunting for food in case of an apocalypse or other emergency situation.

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Since The Walking Dead cookbook is not only about food, but survival skills as well, here are some tips and tricks for you to help you survive your own zombie apocalypse!

And since this is a food blog, I’ll be keeping this mostly food-related.


It’s always best to be prepared ahead of time in case anything ever happens.  My husband and I have an emergency kit at home from Quake Kare with enough food to sustain us and the cat for six days.  We each also have a 3-day survival kit in each of our vehicles, and I have one at my office.1a_1a.jpg

Earthquakes are no joke here in Southern California!

These emergency kits usually come with “food bars.”  These are 2400 calorie bars in a single flavor that supposedly provides you with enough nutrients for three days.  It’s hardly “exciting” food, though.  Ours came in lemon flavor, and though I haven’t actually tried it yet, I can’t imagine it’s a lot of fun to eat.Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 4.56.49 PM.png

We wanted to make sure we had enough food for six days, not just three, so we added MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) to our kit.

MREs allowed us to add some flavor to our otherwise bland meals.  The 3-day MRE package we got from The Ready Store included three complete meals a day (pasta, chicken, stew, etc.), three desserts per day, additional water pouches, flame-less heaters, and a few comfort snacks like Skittles.  There’s even little packages in there with wet naps, pepper, and a spoon.

Don’t get me wrong, there still wasn’t a lot of variety there, but it’s better than a flat lemon-flavored block.

Keep in mind this food does still need to be replaced, but only every 3-5 years.  We plan to use up the food camping at around the 3 year mark, and order a new package to replace the old food.

Food with a Long-Shelf Life

If you don’t want to spend the money on MREs and calorie bars, or if it’s too late to order anything, you can stock up on food items that have a long shelf life.

You know the food I’m talking about – the stuff you give around the holidays to help those in need, or that you donate to the local women’s shelter.

Here are some foods that will keep for a very long time:

  • White rice (not brown!)
  • Dried beans, lentils, peas, and corn
  • Popcorn kernels (not the microwave stuff!)
  • Dried and freeze-dried meats (jerky anyone?)
  • Dried pasta
  • Rolled oats
  • Dried/dehydrated fruit
  • Dehydrated carrots
  • Sugar & Salt
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup (the “real” stuff)honey-sweet-syrup-organic.jpg
  • Instant coffee, cocoa powder, and tea
  • Freeze dried coffee
  • Powdered milk
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Bouillon (not cubes)
  • Vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Coconut oil

Pretty much anything canned will keep for quite a while as well, though they will not last as long as the items listed above.

You can also add oxygen absorbing bags when storing your food to increase the shelf life, as long as the food is properly stored.

Scavenging for Food


In the worst case scenario, you either didn’t pre-plan or you’ve eaten through what you had stored, and you’re now scavenging for food.

Grocery stores are an obvious place to search for goods, but they’d likely get picked over pretty quickly, especially in large cities.

There are plenty of other options, though, like searching through abandoned houses or apartment complexes.  People are very likely to be forced from their homes in case of emergency, and will have likely left some food behind.  Try to avoid the higher-end houses and apartments, though, as it’s likely they’ve already been looted.  And don’t forget to check the garage, as well!pexels-photo-292737.jpeg

You could check out gas stations, churches, distribution centers, fire stations, government buildings, hospitals, restaurants, schools, or food transportation trucks to see what they have stored away.  Even office buildings may have a snack machine, and cars may have some water or food stored in their trunk (though this is more unlikely).  And the further you head outside of the big cities, the more success you’re likely to find when it comes to scavenging for food.

Growing Food

Eventually existing food will become extremely rare, or completely run out.  In this case, you’ll want to grow or hunt your own.

If you’re able to find seeds, grab them immediately and start growing your own food.  This will give you a more steady flow of fresh food.  Seeds are likely to be found in old farms or fields that have livestock, but if you find fresh fruit you can plant the seeds from those as well.

Make sure you plant the seeds in an area with at least 6 hours of good daytime light, and you’ll of course need access to water to keep them growing.tomato-food-nutrition-plant-161554.jpeg

Ideally you plant them right into the ground or a raised garden bed, but if you think you’ll be on the move a lot you can try to grow them in pots so you can take them with you if needed.  Keep in mind, however, that not all plants will be able to survive in a small pot, and the pot may stunt the plant’s growth as well.

Understand that if you’re in a cold climate, it may be challenging to keep that plant alive through the winter.

Hunting and Trapping

The chances of you walking right up to a wild animal and killing it with a knife or other object are extremely low, so you’ll likely need a long-range weapon of some kind like a gun or crossbow.  This may or may not be something you can get your hands on.

If that’s not an option for you, you can also set traps.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on setting these, but you can find out how to build a ton of them on websites such as pexels-photo-229789.jpegOutdoor Life.  Most of the traps you’ll find online are for smaller animals, like squirrels.

And don’t forget about fishing!  If you have access to a body of water that contains fish, then you should have access to a somewhat steady supply of protein.  It’s pretty easy to put together a makeshift fishing rod with just a long stick, some fishing line, and a hook.  Click here for some ways to create your own fishing rod.

Safe Wild Fruits & Vegetables

If you don’t remember anything else from this post, remember this: don’t eat anything unless you know it’s safe!blackberries-bramble-berries-bush-134581.jpeg

Ideally you should have a book in your emergency kit that specifies which plants are okay to eat, and which ones are not.  But chances are most people won’t have this.

If you find recognizable fruit or vegetables that you’ve eaten before, you should be fine.  My sister and I used to eat blackberries and raspberries straight off the bushes back in Canada, and fresh peas out of my grandmother’s garden.

As long as you know what it is, and you know it’s edible, go for it!

Click here for Part 2, where I talk about cooking food and purifying water.

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