This topic came up in a Facebook Group that I’m in:
Here was my response:
“The only problem is that it takes time, fuel, and water to cook. All precious commodities in a bug out situation. Security may dictate that having a fire is not safe.”
•Let’s break that down-
Time – A Bug Out is going to be a pretty time sensitive occasion. You need to get from Point A to Point B as quick as you can. Taking time to boil and cook beans or rice is going to pretty far down on your list of priorities.
Fuel – If you don’t already need a fire for warmth, collecting supplies for a fire will cut into your, already precious, time. If you don’t need a fire for warmth, building one will also cut into your fires trying supplies (unless you rely on primitive means). If you plan on using and Esbit (or solid fuel) type stove or a liquid/gas fuel (alcohol, white gas, butane, etc), you’ll be using more supplies as well as taking up more space in your pack. Solid and liquid fuel stove do have an advantage that I’ll get to shortly.
Water – Water is heavy. Really heavy. It’s about 8.5 pounds per gallon. How many of those do you want to carry? If you have to carry water for drinking AND cooking, you better leave a lot of good gear behind to make room and keep weight manageable. If you plan on finding water, I hope your are in an area that makes that easy and there are viable sources along your route. You’ll also need to have a way to transport it to your campsite (trust me, camping too close to the water source can be a security problem but that’s the next section of this article). You’ll need a method of filtration or you’ll have to boil all that water (again, using time and fuels).
Security – Smoke can be smelled from hundreds of yards away. Smoke is a pretty sure sign of humans. Smoke (in the outdoors) can usually indicate food or, at least, heat. In a disaster, there will be plenty of people looking for both. Speaking of “looking” smoke can be smelled from hundreds of yards away but it can be seen from MILES away. Attracting attention is the last thing you’ll want to do if you’re forced to Bug Out! The light from a fire will also increase your visibility to humans. Cooking food can also attract the 4 legged predators. You won’t want them nosing around your campsite after bedtime. Staying too close to a water source will likely increase your chances of encountering other people.
So, what are some good alternatives?
GORP… No, that’s not a typo.
Emergency Meal Bars like these:
Simple canned foods that can be eaten cold like Ravioli, hearty soups, etc. these will be heavier than some alternatives but also give you a metal can that can be reused for a multitude of things.
Granola/protein bars – These pack a lot of good calories and energy if you choose wisely. The downside is a shorter shelf life than other alternatives.
Simple dried fruits and jerky can be a light weight, compact, and delicious choice.
And never forget the old standard MREs
I hope this article has got you thinking about the different options and dangers involved in Bug Out food choices.