No one wants to be hungry, weak, and vulnerable during a survival situation.
Survival is a mentally and physically challenging ordeal—you’ll need all the energy you can get to make it out alive. The problem is, food shortages are possible when SHTF. Where will you get your food when the grocery stores have all shut down and your own stockpile is slowly dwindling?
The answer is pretty simple: maximize your backyard and plant high calorie vegetables or grains in a survival garden.
Not only do these prevent you from starving by giving you a high calorie yield, they also provide a healthy and sustainable way to put fresh food on the table. If you have any of these crops on hand, chances are you won’t starve when SHTF.
Here are 7 high calorie vegetables and grains to plant in your survival garden:
Consider this: corn is made up of 19% carbohydrates and, on average, can yield as much as 365 calories per 100 grams. It’s really no wonder why we’ve been consuming it for hundreds of years.
What makes corn one of the top high calorie vegetables for your survival garden is that it’s pretty easy to grow. Given adequate space and the right conditions, you can harvest it in about 4 months from planting. Most corn varieties love lots of warmth, sun, and rainfall, but some can be impervious to cold.
Once your corn is harvested, you can do a lot of things with it: eat it on the cob by boiling or grilling; take the kernels and grind them into corn flour, or simply add it to soups and other dishes. You don’t have to throw away what you don’t eat, either. The husks and empty cobs can be used as biofuel, which is a great source of alternative energy.
Corn is also a shelf-stable crop. If you end up with some surplus of kernels, you can always freeze or can them for future use.
Beans are another survival staple. They provide ridiculously high amounts of protein, carbs, and calories—much-needed resources when you’re in a survival situation.
A single serving of cooked soybeans can yield 300 calories, while chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, account for more than 260. Mung beans, on the other hand, can give you around 350 calories.
Beans are known for their versatility—you can cook them in a lot of ways and combine them with other food like rice, veggies, or meat to make a more nutritious and balanced meal. Another advantage to growing beans in your survival garden is that they store really well. Just put ’em in a cool, dry place and rehydrate them when you’re ready to cook.
Most beans germinate in warm temperatures, so start planting in the spring. They grow faster when soaked in water before planting. Weather affects their growth in a big way, so protect your beans from frost or too-dry soils. Check out this great tutorial on planting beans for your survival garden.
Rice is a staple food largely consumed in Asia but has become popular all over the world because of its nutritional value. Like corn, rice is rich in calories: a bowl of steamed white rice can yield around 204 calories, roughly making up 10% of a person’s energy requirements based on a 2000-calorie diet. Unlike corn, however, rice takes a bit of work during harvest time as it needs to be hulled before consumption.
Rice is native to wet, tropical climates, but it can be grown in temperate areas, too, so long as the soil holds moisture well. If you’re just starting out, you can even grow it in buckets first. Find out how to grow and harvest rice here.
Who doesn’t love some good ol’ taters in their survival garden? Depending on their size and variety, potatoes can get you around 130-270 calories per serving. These hardy, high calorie vegetables take up little space in your garden and can be cooked in lots of different, delicious ways.
Potatoes can be boiled, fried, grilled, or added to soups and stews. Heck, you can even wrap them in foil and just throw them into the fire if it comes to that!
Potatoes are a reliable survival food, so make sure to grow some in your survival garden.
People have been calling quinoa the “latest” superfood, but humans have actually consumed it for hundreds of years.
This plant loves cool weather, high altitudes, and well-draining soil. It’s not the best for container planting, so you’ll need a bit of acreage to plant quinoa.
Patience is also a good virtue to have since quinoa likes to take its time when growing. Still, the results outweigh the effort of growing these pseudocereals: quinoa isn’t only packed with calories (as much as 368 cal/100 grams), it’s also full of nutrients like protein and B-vitamins that you’ll certainly need in a survival situation. Unlike its cousin wheat, quinoa is gluten-free, which is a huge plus for those suffering from gluten sensitivity.
Compared to other grains, quinoa is pretty easy to harvest—you’ll know it’s time when the leaves start falling off. When preparing the seeds, wash them thoroughly as they have a bitter, soapy coating called saponin. Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed that substance off, you can cook your quinoa seeds like rice and enjoy their benefits.
Here’s the full guide on how to grow your own quinoa.
Some people consider amaranth as quinoa’s sun-loving cousin. The plants share similar traits: they’re both gluten-free, packed with protein and calories, and easy to grow. These two look like weeds when they sprout, so they belong right in your survival garden, where camouflage is key.
Amaranth is composed of 16% protein and contains about 103 calories per 100-gram serving. Its calorie count may not be as big as the other crops featured on this list, but it compensates for this by producing a really high seed yield. Learn how to plant these hardy crops here.
Jerusalem artichokes are a godsend in any survival garden. The term “artichoke” is actually a misnomer—this plant isn’t related to artichokes but belongs to the sunflower family. The plant has fleshy edible roots and bright yellow blooms.
This crop is hardy and low-maintenance: you can virtually plant the sprouts, leave them alone, and they’ll be fine. In fact, they proliferate so fast that a lot of gardeners even call them “pervasive.” In a survival situation, pervasive crops are actually a good problem to have because that means they’ll keep on growing…giving you more food in the process.
One serving of Jerusalem artichoke can yield 73 calories, plus dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Not as huge as beans, but since you can get a hefty harvest, this can easily fill your daily energy needs, so much so that they can serve as potato substitutes. Aside from these benefits, Jerusalem artichokes are unique because they’re great for lowering blood sugar. If you’re diabetic, they’re great high calorie vegetables to have in your garden.
These plants can be grown during the cooler months, around late autumn to early spring. Check out the full steps of planting your own Jerusalem artichokes here.
Keeping your energy up in a survival situation is a must. With most modern conveniences gone and government help a long way off, you’ll have to rely on no one but yourself. You’ll probably do a lot of manual labor and make many critical decisions. You can’t afford to be weak and hungry if you mean to survive.
Having a thriving survival garden is one way to ensure food security when SHTF. These high calorie vegetables and grains can keep your belly filled when you’re in really dire straits.
There are lots more survival crops you can grow. Start with these seven to turn your garden into your very own grocery store.