Some of our Survival Food During SHTF

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

Survial Bootcamp

Get instant access to everything, learn at your own pace, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

Some of the links you’ll find here are affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. But don’t worry! You won’t pay a single penny more!

You might be wondering what we ate when SHTF?

Well, not too many types of food, most popular was some kind of local pancakes, to prepare them you needed water, hand full of flour and local herbs, i don t know type of herb, but i am pretty sure it was cow food.It did not require cooking oil, and it needed few minutes on fire to be ready, feeling was like you are eating dusty carpet.

To explain it simply, it was grass, we just use small amounts of flour and water to keep that grass together. We eat that when we did not anything else.

Speaking about herbs, people used a lot garlic and  lavender as substitute for antibiotics, pine was popular as a antiseptic and of course camomile.

Cans were luxuries, we acquired cans mostly trough trade. Rice was popular to had, i ques one reason was because it easy to prepare it. Who owned some kind of garden was in advance, i remember green salads mostly from gardens, to protect that gardens was another problem, but that is theme for another post i quess.

Most popular food

It was matter of whole new thinking, for example if you manage to get somewhere tomatoes, and happened to had some sugar in house, than probably you gonna make kind of marmalade from that, or sauce, call it as you like, and put it in jars.

Most popular kind of can was corned beef because few reasons, it was meat to eat of course, it had a lot of fat in that can, when we eat meat, we used that fat and can as a lamp (add a lace and bottle cap, melt fat)

As i said mostly it was a matter of improvisation,like to make small portable stove from pressure cooker, simply with hammer nails and saw we made two openings, one for smoke and one for wood, we attached some pipe on smoke opening, so basically we had small portable stove, we could carry that in bag, or backpack, if we going somewhere on day, we could quickly cook something on that, and warm our self.

Of course it looked funny, we cough because smoke all the time, but it worked, and it was portable.
We also made stove from the bigger cans, also portable.

As the situation deteriorated more and more, some things about food changed, things were brought to a level where we eat just to survive. To explain you in simple way: in first month it was like-oh i really could use pizza or beer, but after a few months it was like- oh i really want to eat SOMETHING, it was not too important what.

There was not to many different kinds of foods, i ll try to remember here what we use to eat. Cooking and preparing food mostly was not my part in that days, but i ll do my best here.

Bread was not everyday thing, and it was not bread like we eat today, and it was homemade of course. Flour was bad quality, actually it was some kind of mixture i think. We use to bake that bread in small pots, on plate, not in oven, it took less firewood to bake it like that. After baking we wrap it in wet clothes, rug or something similar and leave it for hour or two, to make it softer.

About pancakes, we just call it pancakes, but actually it was mixture of herbs , water and small amounts of flour, baked also on plates, so when it is done you got something what look like pancake, with lot of green stuff inside and taste bad. For pancakes we used two kind of herbs, one was wild onion or bear onion, other was nettle (urtica).

We also used herbs mostly for different kind of soups, as a soup we used mostly nettle, especially if we had few potatoes to put in. We used all kinds of tea, actually something between tea and soup, i ques depended did we had anything else to put inside. Rice was popular also, alone or in form of some kind of pie.

Sometimes i did not eat for few days but at the end i always managed to get something trough trade or on other ways. It was a question of your strength and brain and some luck to find food.

Now you are going to ask me how?

OK for example two from our group go out to wait for MREs, two others go to find someone to trade something, two are going to find some usable herbs.
Food was coming in town trough few ways, depended on state of those ways in some days was easier to get some food, in other days was just too hard.
For example in one period in black market there were great amounts of some kind of cookies, or hard biscuits, in big metal containers, i do not have clue from where. Something similar to those crackers in MRE.

People avoided to eat that because rumor was that cookies are poisoned, i did not avoided them. So it was some strange situations with food too. Of course all different kinds of cans, MREs, end every other “luxury” thing was subject of many different “if s”. Preparing of food was pointed to how to “how to make it with less firewood”

In summer we prepared food in a yard on a simple two stone and one plate fire. But most of the preparing of food was simple and took as long as to “boil water”, like pancakes or kinds of donuts (not real donuts, more like a bad case of a donut)

Spices were pretty important for the simple reason because most of the home made foods tasted awful, or did not have taste at all, so we practically used them for every meal. Tabascino, peppers, rosemary everything.

You may say that we actually experimented with food but actually that is a really nice way to put it. We did not have too much problems with storing food, because we never had enough food to store it actually. It was like finding food for day or two in most cases, i mean to get somewhere more than 15 cans at once was really rare. There was some importance of having jars, because people tried a lot with making some kind of sauce or marmalade, if we had sugar it was marmalade, without sugar it was tomato sauce.

Most Useful Tool to Prepare Food

Most useful tool in preparation of food was something like a small stove, i mean even if we had a wood stove in house it was not to economic to prepare something really fast on it, it just required too much firewood to get hot so you can prepare something.

So solution was to remodel it so you can faster get “water boiling” or even try to make new one from very thin material, so you do not need too much wood to make it really hot. People used sometimes big cans for that purpose, or changed original material on old stove with thinner.

Money was actually not much worth, only in rare occasions you could use it, and under very changed valuation of course. Even before everything started the monetary situation was confused and we had hyperinflation. When all started i had as i said before some food in my house, for a week maybe not sure, some other folks who joined me brought more, and i had some money, if you compare it with today situation and money i can say that i had something like 700-1000 Euros in house and good savings in bank.

In first days of confusion i did nothing with that money, i just waited for situation to get better, so in some two months i barely found some guy and bought from him some flour for that money, at price maybe 40 times more than at the beginning of everything. On the other way if i would have been smarter and bought candles, batteries, and food for example at the beginning, in few months i would have been rich trough trading that stuff.

So real explanation of question was money worth much it depended how smart you used it. I was not smart. But truth is that very soon money simply didnt matter anymore or was nothing we even thought about.

Survial Bootcamp

Get instant access to everything, learn at your own pace, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

12 Responses

  1. Selco, what foods are best to stock up on, in your opinion? What foods were the most needed, or missed? What was the first delicious thing you ate after you were freed? Thrilled with every post you make, I check your blog twice a day to make sure I haven’t missed anything – thank you so much!

  2. I just discovered this blog and im now sharing it with my friends, I was reading some of your previous posts, and you mentioned using garlic, and lavender as antibiotics, and pine as cantiseptic…was there any special way this was done? or did were they just eaten?

    1. Hi Rob

      If I may chime in here, I’ve found a real good resource for “herb-ology” It is Linda Ruyon’s web site, Of the Field. Just Google, and you’ll find it. Lot’s of good info on wild food, and medicinal plants.


      Long Shot

  3. Good info, thanks for posting your experiences.

    I have been thinking recently about some of the same things you mentioned, so it was good to see your comments confirming it. I recently procured several small, single burner camp stoves not only for quick, efficient use but also for trade purposes. Also, instead of storing foods like pinto beans which take an overnight soak and 2 or 3 hours of cooking, I recently switched to storing things like lentils, split peas and black eyed peas as they require no soak (no wasted water) and cook in just 20 minutes.

    I think the idea of storing spices and seasonings is a very good and often overlooked idea.

  4. Excellent advice. Please keep it coming. My current status is to acquire a more rural retreat/homestead, and a bug-out /utility vehicle or just a truck but I have most of the other areas either well-taken care of or good enough. I think something that should be added as a category to strongly emphasize are reference books, combat surgery, herbs, defense skills/tactics, gardening/seed-collecting, etc. If people have leisure time and are indoors, they may as well use that time to study to survive better. So for those that were “off-duty” (either NOT on-the-ready-defensive/guarding/ searching for food..what did everyone else do with their free time? Sleep, play cards? What did people do for pastime? What kind of leadership structure was there? Like democratic mixed with (who owned the house/property) who had more goods/guns etc/shared leadership based on skills, council of “elders”?
    I hear that a few good survival foods to consider for nutrition is Quinoa and Chia seed because injury and health are helped by nutrition, some eat more when eating low-nutrient foods. Also wheat for sprouted bread, wheat grass for nutrients. Can also be processed for chicken feed. Since there is probably a 13 month timeline before a collapse happens, storing foods that can last 2+ years would be viable-using those first of course depending on situation. Also, if possible, one could use a solar cooker for cooking depending on geography. Water filters are a must. I read elsewhere about 1000 bic lighters! Not there yet but will get more! 🙂 Perhaps trade will be limited by geography but always best to be ready anyways. Things change!

  5. I sent this as a message but it should really go under this section;


    I was a soldier that was in the first group to go over to this region. We were part of a contingent that went in to make initial contact and set up the bases so I travelled a large area. Once we did that we settled in. After about 2 months the big money grubbing contractors like Brown and Root set up shop. We had been eating MRE’s for the most part but now had a chow hall. The first breakfast I went in and got a plate of food and a banana and went back to my tent. My interpretor, a local, was there and he saw my banana and said with a serious, desperate look “Where did you get that” and kind of puzzled I said at the chow hall. He told me he would be right back. He came back with 5 bananas and proceeded to devour 4 as soon as he could. I asked him by the third one what the deal was. As he finished the 4th he said “Its been 4 years since I had a banana” I never forget that everytime I buy a bunch at the store and as I add to my prep stock dried fruits. I can share alot of stories but that is one that is always at the top of the list. Thanks for sharing yours,

    1. Thanks again Selco. Appreciate your wisdom.

      Back on the topic of food – the power of hunger should deeply concern us. People who have not endured it have no idea how corrupting and evil starvation can be. I have experienced it to the point of collapse and nearly to death. I did things then that I am not proud of – actions that I would NEVER have contemplated in normal circumstances. Everyone affected by it behaved in foul ways because we were not mentally prepared ahead of time to face the brute strength of hunger.

      But to keep from doing bad things to others is the real challenge when one’s family also faces extreme hunger. No doubt – hunger will quickly destroy the thin veneers of civilized behavior every time. The best rule is to ensure that you have MORE than enough food stored up before SHTF. But we should also prepare to face hunger because it will win out in the end if the SHTF situation last long enough. Even the best preparations can be exhausted or compromised.

      Selco has experienced hunger in a very brutal way but those who have never felt it – and felt it over many, many months – are in for a HELL of a ride. People who want to prepare for SHTF must become mentally prepared. I am not certain what training is available (outside of the US Army Ranger School) but please know that prolonged starvation is far stronger than your will power. However, with proper mental preparation you can maintain a degree of humanity and essential charity even in the face of extreme animalistic urges.

  6. This is a very good site to gain perspective on more realistic urban survival scenarios and solutions. One thing I had’nt really figured out was how to replace bread if baking it was not convenient. I got the idea of pancakes from this site. Bake slices of*pancake bread* as needed, requiring minimal expenditure of fuel etc. Pancakemix is very easy to acquire, store, and prepare. Just add water. Pancake batter cooksvery quickly. Easy to makepeanut butter and jelly sandwiches with this I believe. Thank You

  7. An inexpensive hunting firearm that has a lot to recommend it – the pump up air rifle. Not powder burning, so many laws that prohibit firearms do not affect them. Short range small game, and overhead tree perched birds – piece of cake. The ammunition is very compact, has long shelf life and is very inexpensive as well. Not very loud either. You can buy several of them if you have young children and send them out hunting with some instruction. Also great for vermin eradication like mice.

    Its worth considering.

    1. …and for a little more oomph get an easily obtained short bolt mini crossbow for stealthy small game hunting but can be useful for legal self defence situations

Leave a Reply


Related Articles

Prepping What Food To Store

What food can be foraged?

Explore the bounty of nature with me as I delve into what food can be foraged, from wild berries to edible plants and mushrooms. Join the adventure!

Read More

Join our Mailing list!

Get the latest on survival, exclusive deals and course updates.