How to Build Your 72-Hour Emergency Kit: Checklist and Organizing Aspects

As many of you know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The members of latter-day saints recently asked me to curate a list of emergency food that would be perfect for a 72-hour kit.

It is a very good idea to have a 72-hour kit full of non-perishable food just in case a disaster strikes. Whether it be a natural disaster or a power outage, it is smart to have an emergency food supply for an emergency situation.

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-hour food kits for a large group.

The 72 Hour Kit List And What You’ll Read About

Before I get started on the food you might consider including in your kit, I want to mention that the food that goes in your kit is only one small part of a full 72-hour kit.

If you would like, I can walk you step by step through what to include (and what not to include), in your 72-hour kit list, and how to make it fit your budget and your family’s individual needs.   Check out this ebook plan.

  • I’ll start by telling you what my goals were with this 72-hour kit list and why I created all the lists 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 costs.  (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 and handouts that you can use when planning your kits with your group!

My Goals Regarding The 72-Hour Kit List

This was quite a project as I really wanted to meet a few basic needs: the 72-hour kit list should be affordable for everybody, the food should have a lot of calories, taste super good, and require no cooking.

1. Affordable 72-Hour Survival Kit List

The cost of food adds up quickly. Having to buy three days worth of emergency supplies and emergency food all at once at the grocery store in addition to your regular spending can seem daunting, especially for large families. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints certainly has its fair share of large families, so I did not want the cost to deter people from taking this important step.

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

2.  High in Calories Foodstuffs For The 72-Hour Food Kit List

In most disaster situations, you actually would not need your survival 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 a day.  Hunger makes both my kids and I (and 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 a day or more while including at least some nutrient-dense foods.  I also ended up beating this goal!

3.  The 72-Hour Kit Requires No Cooking

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. Also, the foods on this list have a long shelf life, so you know your food supply will last as long as you need!

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.  During an evacuation, 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, lightweight mess kit, etc.  This would be an added expense to them and may again deter them from getting their kits altogether.

Furthermore, it might also be a good idea to throw some bottled water and a flashlight into a backpack.

I completely met this goal!  None of the food requires cooking, as it is all non-perishable food and simple canned food!

4. Tasty 72-Hour Food Emergency Kits

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 usable when we need it.

This was tricky because everyone has different tastes.  Also, not everything that tastes good and 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 it is stuff they really enjoy.  Other things are relatively nutrient-dense.  I figured this would work for most families without serious allergies in a survival situation.

The Emergency 72-Hour Food Kit List: Results & Details

Now, that you are aware of all the criteria I wanted to follow in the process of creating this kit, you are ready to find out the result!

1503 Calories per Day and $1.32 per Meal!

I created a 1503-calorie-a-day non-cook food kit for $11.86! That is just $1.32 a meal!  Seriously!  I was so proud of myself that 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 a meal at $1.81!

72-hour kit list

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 list #day1

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 list: #day2

Day 3

  • Breakfast: breakfast cookie, animal crackers, applesauce
  • Lunch: tuna & crackers, Goldfish, fruit snacks
  • Dinner: peanuts, animal crackers, yogurt raisins

Best Add-Ons for the 72-Hour Food Kit

If you are like me and want a few more calories/snacks, you can add the following products.  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.:

  • An 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
  • Six pieces of chewy candy per day: Adds 130 calories per day, $0.37 additional cost per kit
  • One pantry can Peach Drink for three people: Adds 306 calories per day, and LOTS of vitamins.  Enough for one cup of 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 two pantry cans of 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!

The Best 72-Hour Food Kit Products: Where to Buy/Prices

Note: these prices were accurate in the fall of 2013.  Current pricing may be different.  Also, I try to update links in this post 2-3 times per year, but some may have changed.  Use this as a general guideline.

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
  • 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 that we bought them 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 the “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.)

The Printables For The 72 Hour Food Kit List

There are some printables that would become super handy when you start to organize all the products. Keep in mind that when you start a 72-hour kit list, you should be prepared with a lot of labels, pens, colored highlighters (especially for the kids’ kits), and patience.

1.  Printable Daily Menu Labels

Print, cut, and put on each day’s bag so you know what to eat and when.  This is a wonderful idea, especially for kids. If you prepare and organize everything in time if anything,

print by clicking or on the image!

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!  Download by clicking HERE or on the image!

Spread the Word About This 72-Hour Kit List!

This was a lot of work to put together!  Over the last three years, I’ve received many requests from church members and 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!  Share it on Facebook or pin it to Pinterest (you can use the pink buttons below).

It will save them a LOT of time (and hopefully money) while helping them create truly valuable kits for their families. With everything happening in the world during the last few years, I feel relief to have this 72-hour kit list at hand. You never know when exactly you will need it and it is cautious and responsible to be prepared anytime. There are lots of things to consider for your kit list, including rotation, cash, clothing, medicines, personal care & hygiene, and more.

The last but not least important detail is that you should always adapt this 72-hour kit list to your and your family’s needs and preferences. What is perfect for me and my little ones would not always be for you, and that’s completely fine! However, feel free to share your 72-hour kit list with us in the comments section! Also, please tell us what you think about the article and about the products I picked. I am here to learn from you!

Pin It Now For Later!

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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

90 thoughts on “How to Build Your 72-Hour Emergency Kit: Checklist and Organizing Aspects”

  1. Thanks for this great list! I really want to have a quality 72 hour kit for my car but one of my concerns is finding food that won’t go bad while sitting in my trunk during the extreme hot and cold temperatures. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. Thank you so much for all your hard work on getting this together and posting it. I am giving my 3 adult sons each a 72 hour emergency kit for Christmas. Yea, kind of lame, but with all that has been happening in the world, I feel it is something they need and wouldn’t be apt to getting for themselves. I was trying to think of small stoves to give them, but think I will go with this idea of not having to cook anything. Now to figure out Small First Aid kits.

  3. Do you (or does anyone in comment-land) have any suggestions for a low-carb 72-hour kit? Diabetics and gluten-sensitives have to really be careful with pre-packaged foods.

    Thank you for your information, and breaking down the overwhelming task of preparedness into manageable tasks. I’m getting back to work on these things.

  4. It is a great Relief Society Activity! I used this for an RS night meeting in January and my sisters really loved it. The no-cook menu is smart, especially for young or old who would be responsible for their own 72 hour pack. Thank you for sharing your inspired and practical ideas.

  5. This is AWESOME! But any suggestions for peanut replacements? We’ve got a peanut allergy so need to find another portable protein…

    • My husband is allergic to all nuts, as well as fish (including tuna) so for his kit I have several individual serving packets of SPAM (not something we normally eat but good protein in a pinch plus they’re $1 at walmart) and chicken salad/cracker packages. Also bags of seeds, like sunflower and pumpkin are good. There also are no-nut butters, made from sunflower, lentils, etc.

  6. Thank you for the great ideas!
    We have had several small earthquakes here in Utah over the past few weeks. That prompted me to rotate my emergency stash today. I found several items at the dollar store such as, a 10 pack of raisins, and Starkist tuna and cracker lunch kits. They are dated 2021. I keep a log of everything in my 72 hour kit, along with expiration dates. I try to check it often, so I can rotate stuff like the canned tuna, chicken and salmon.
    Here’s to hoping that none of us will ever need to use this stuff!

  7. I might add to your optional list the mylar packaged pre-seasoned Spam at $1 each, making one meal a day feel more substantial. It is harder to rotate as it is a less liked food, but the shelf life is 4-5 years. Even if 2 of the family kits had these and you split it between a couple of people. I also found that Honest Kids mylar packed, single-serve fruit juices are lightweight, tasty & I keep them under my passenger car front seat with 2 high-quality Kind bars – in case I ever get stuck in my car. (as well as in my 72-hour bag).

  8. This is an awesome post. Although all the items you packed are more snack or munching foods. I thought you might appreciate some more meal-like foods.

    Instant mash potato pouches do not need heat to reconstitute just water and time. The beef jerky-cheese combos cost a touch more but are way more calorie dense. Also never forget canned tuna. Also Bumble-Bee offer snack packs that contain canned spread and crackers for usually $1.

    I will say though the items you got are perfect for little kids to munch a little at a time though.

  9. These ideas are great! I can tell you’be put a lot of work into this and I appreciate it. This will help our family a lot! Thank you!

  10. I saw this on pinterest and thought it was so funny because it looks like the post office accidentally delivered my recent Amazon order to you! Many of the items are very close in price. Some I got for even less than your prices here. On Amazon, many of the items are available through the subscribe and save. When you subscribe to 5 or more items you get 15% off all of them! And you can cancel the subscriptions very easily anytime. So the boxes of 48 fruit leather strips were $9. A box of 120 Slim Jims was $19.48. The animal crackers I ordered are the same ones, but I got a box of 80 packages for $21.90. I am going to add individual Crystal Light flavor packets to my kits (I got a pack of 44 packets for $5.99 on Amazon.) to flavor water with.

  11. Sorry blowing you up…did some research on prices to make sure things were roughly the same…Costo items are much different in price…
    Welch’s Fruit Snacks (60 pk) your price $7.99/ NOW $17.00
    Chewy Granola Bars (Kirkland 60pk) your price $8.79/ NOW $17.49
    just to name a few…I’m so sad…I think this might drive the price up quite a bit!!!

    • That is a really big difference Chelsea! Could it be the area? I just bought Kirkland granola bars last month and they weren’t anywhere near that. Ugh…that is a BIG difference!

      • Different Costco locations do have price difference as well as stock variety. Any time we travel we try to check out different stores and take advantage of items not carried at our local store. I agree that I have never seen granola bars that expensive. The protein bars are often that expensive. I try to buy snacks bars and jerky when they are marked down in coupon book. I find it gives a good rotation.

    • I live in Missouri, and the prices she gave are very close to what I find in my area. Your prices are extremely high. What area are you in? Have you checked Sams club? What about smaller quantities t a Walmart?

  12. Can I ask the weirdest question…can you email me so I can ask you some questions…like how many sisters need to order to “qualify” that price you set out/ kit?
    A few more questions…lol
    Please email me as soon as you can.
    Thank you so much!

  13. Oh my heck girl…the only words I can say are THANK YOU!!! You are amazing and really saved me. We are doing a RS activity and the sisters wants to make 72 hour kits and I am the coordinator and I was going to have to set out and do EXACTLY what you ALREADY did!!!! SO THANK YOU FOR YOUR EFFORTS AND HARD WORK AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL and all the handouts!! Truly amazing!!
    PS prices have gone up and some items are not available on Amazon right now. Bummer!!! I’ll have to figure something out unless you have other ideas…lol.

  14. We appreciate your help…but find your religious preference unnecessary. I’m just a Baptist looking for a way to help my family get through a tough time


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