An Ideal 72 Hour Food Kit

72 Hours of Food72 Hr Kit Food List

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 put together 72 hours worth of food that could be placed in a 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!“)

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 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 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 items 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 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 about 6 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
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


Day #3
  • Breakfast: Breakfast Cookie, Animal Crackers , Applesauce
  • Lunch: Tuna & Crackers, Goldfish, Fruit Snacks
  • Dinner: Bag of peanuts, Animal Crackers, Yogurt Raisins


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
  • 1 pouch Peach Drink per two people: Adds 275 calories per day, and LOTS of vitamins.  Enough for 1 cup peach drink 2-3 times per day per person.  $3.10 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!

*Note: If you can take advantage of the sales at Costco through Sept 1st, 2013, you can save an additional $0.22 / per kit.

Where to Buy / Prices:

Amazon (using Amazon Prime for free shipping):
Note: Prices on Amazon change frequently
Local Walmart (or online with free shipping if spending $55+):

The Peach is my favorite, but you can also get Apple, Melon, Orange, Fruit Punch and Mango!   You can learn more about what makes these drink mixes so great here: Product Highlight: Drink Mixes. 

  • Annie’s Bunnies 36 Pkg: $8.65 (Currently on sale through Sept 1st, 2013; regular price $11.65)
  • GoGo Squeeze Applesauce 20 pkg:$6.99 (Currently on sale through Sept 1st, 2013; regular price: $8.99)
  • Fruit Leather 48 Pkg: $10.59
  • Goldfish Crackers 24 Pkg: $7.99
  • Welch’s Fruit Snacks 80 Pkg: $7.99 (Currently on sale through Sept 1st, 2013; regular price $10.99)
  • 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 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:

1.  Printable Daily Menu Labels

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

2.  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!

3.  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!


    It’s Your Turn:

    What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and encourage you to share your experience and insights in the comments box below.


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  1. Sheina says:

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

  2. Sheina says:

    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..

  3. Carla says:

    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 says:

      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!

  4. Shielah says:

    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 says:

      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!

  5. Jen says:

    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!!!

  6. Erika says:

    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 says:

      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.

  7. Rachel Mickelsen says:

    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.

  8. Cindi says:

    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!

  9. Kerri (TheMaven) says:

    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.

  10. Don says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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.

  11. Vicki S says:

    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!!!

  12. Nannette says:

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

  13. Francesca says:

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