Letter Re: Energy Bars as a Storage Food


This might interest your readers. I am considering buying compact, high-calorie emergency food bars for long term storage of food. I know they are not “real” [nutritionally complete] food but they easily moved and taken along, they have a great storage life and taste pretty good. The problem is that no pizzas and no cereal might make for a dull year, but having some of these on hand might be good. I was wondering if the ‘food bars’ are a good storage product. I would not stop storing real food, but would rely on the ‘bars’ for [short term] major calories. The ones I am looking at are in the Emergency Essentials catalog and I am sure you are aware of them. I would continue to add to my stores but the ‘bars’ would be a fairly expedient way to store a fast year’s supply, so your thoughts are? Just guessing at about 100 bars to start in case you wonder where I might go with this. Thanks for your consideration. – “SSB”

JWR Replies: The commercially made “energy bars”, “emergency ration” bars, and “sports bars” can provide a useful adjunct to a storage food program. In terms of their calories per cubic inch of storage space, they are just about at the opposite end of the scale from ramen noodles, which we recently discussed. Because they are so compact, these bars can easily be packed in ZipLoc bags (or better yet, vacuum packed with a Tilia FoodSaver sealer) and stored in a chest freezer. This will greatly extend their shelf life, especially in hot climates. Just don’t forget to pin a prominent note on your “Get Out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) kit rucksack, reminding yourself to retrieve them from the freezer before you head out the door.

Nutritionally, food storage bars just by themselves are in adequate, just as you mentioned. But they do make a useful supplement to your food storage program, both to provide variety and and flavor in a bland diet, and to serve as a very compact short term food supply for your G.O.O.D. kit.

As with any other item in a food storage program, relying too heavily on one sort of food can lead to digestive problems. When storing foods, moderation is the key. Include plenty of foods that you can use in greater or lesser quantities, to keep your bowels moving properly. I’m not joking Constipation that progresses to fecal impaction can be lethal, particularly in situations where strong physical exertion is required. Books on wilderness medicine and medicine for mountaineering often stress this fact.

Nearly all of the energy bars on the market are fairly expensive. On my budget, I consider them prohibitively expensive. One good alternative is making traditional jerky and pemmican at home. The cost per ounce can be very low, especially if you hunt or if you raise livestock. OBTW, I recently received samples of Hickory Blend Jerky Seasoning and Jerky Cure from the folks at Hi-Mountain Jerky, in Riverton, Wyoming. I probably won’t have the chance to try them until the upcoming deer and elk season, but these look promising for a budget conscious do-it-yourselfer like me. (I’ll post a review after I make my next batches of jerky and pemmican.) But, keep in mind that just like with energy bars, if you store dried meat you will also need to store a good source of dietary fiber.