The Survival Tabs: meal replacement survival food

survival food tabs

by Jesse Mathewson

Two of my favorite historical people, Samuel Clemens (eg., Mark Twain) and W.C. Fields had much to say regarding food. Mark Twain stated, “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” While the amazingly funny comic, Fields stated, “Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water…” Yes, he was a notorious drinking man and this was a lead up into a really wonderful joke. However, as we all know, food is something that fuels us, and thanks to our taste buds and sensory organs, must taste good as well as be somewhat visually appealing.

Over the years there have been hundreds of approaches to survival/prepper/bush crafting ration. A short list follows, and if you have been playing with the Foxfire books or in the bush for any length of time, you will know what most of these are and how they are made, or can be made.

  1. Hard Tack – originally designed for long sailing journeys as a last resort they evolved into crackers, cookies, biscuits as they say on the other side of the pond with time. This food is an extremely hard, long lasting mixture of flour, salt and water. That’s basically it, sure there are variations but quite minor.
  2. Honey, this has always been a food used for its benefits, taste and ability to last virtually forever. My suggestion is for eating, buy local honey, or learn to keep bees. For antibiotic and medicinal reasons, spend the money on the New Zealand honey, its worth it. With dozens of surgeries and months of wound care I can say, honey is my go to for healing, all day every day. If you cannot afford the New Zealand honey, get the darkest local strained BUT not pasteurized (boiled) honey. (Strained is essential, bee parts will make infections worse, everything else kills valuable antibiotic properties.)
  3. Dried fruits/ fish and smoked meats were the staples of many Viking clans, simply because salt was a rarity. Done properly, dried or smoked foods can last for many many months and be quite healthy for you.
  4. Salted beef, fish (again a sailor trick originally) salt is a preservative, and again, done properly, the food lasts indefinitely regardless temperature variations. Contrary to what the FDA may say.
  5. Pemmican, a personal favorite for myself pemmican is made of rendered animal fat, crushed nuts, berries, finely diced dried meat and seeds etc., rolled into a ball it is not the most appetizing to look at, but lasts well in heat and is VERY good for energy rebuilding. I do my best to use only local nuts, berries, etc., this keeps diet similar and doesn’t cause major issues with stomach (as can occur when your diet changes suddenly.) Make sure you look around or talk to someone who has made it, its not difficult.
  6. R.E.s, yes the military cardboard packaged in cardboard and flavored with cardboard, guaranteed to stop you up immediately. Honestly, I avoid them, however, some people simply must have them.
  7. Coast Guard Survival Rations: similar to granola bars but with a longer shelf life, no thirst inducement, and relatively decent taste, these are favorites for myself and others for 3-day packs

This review is on one particular product that has been tested by 7 children, 3 adults with stellar results. The Survival Tabs ™ these amazing tablets are smaller than a nickel in diameter, but about 4 times as thick, (see pictures). Twelve tablets contain 240 calories, and you are supposed to eat one every hour.

  • Four flavors currently exist, vanilla, strawberry, butterscotch and chocolate – my testing crew were okay with all of them but preferred the strawberry and vanilla flavors.
  • They have a solid mixture of necessary proteins, fats and nutrients needed to provide energy and help you feel good while not being able to eat a regular meal.
  • Unopened they have a shelf life of 25 years, keeping them air tight after opening you should be okay for several years.
  • Temperature extremes are not supposed to affect them, however, they do recommend room temperature.
  • Originally designed for the space program, they give the body 100% of the required nutrients to maintain mental and physical acuity.
  • My personal testing was for a total of five days, using just these and water. I lost two pounds, but at no time did I feel like I was losing energy or ability to function.
  • The most important benefit I have found is that for the size and weight, you can easily pack 4 of the foil wrapped packages in a three-day rig for the same size and approximate weight than one coast guard ration. At ten ounces per package, this allows you over a week for one person or 3 days for 3-4 people depending on rationing approach. Pretty amazing really.

Now for the negatives, as there are always negatives, thankfully with this product there are not many.

  • They are slightly chalky in taste, a little greasy in texture but NOT thirst inducing. The flavoring is light, enough to make them easy to eat without being cardboard like.
  • My children had no problem eating them, however, were not thrilled with taste or texture. And we noticed no side affects, such as diarrhea, constipation or stomach upset. All individuals who ate them noticed increased energy almost immediately and enjoyed that aspect.
  • Lastly, packaging, you either get the smaller sample type packs or the larger jugs, there are no in between sizes or mixtures of flavors in one package (which would be ideal).

What long term survival food do you use for your three day, go bag preps? I have mountain house and other items, however, those are for my caches and bugout locations. These are specifically for get home, three day, bugout packs. I can honestly give them 3 stars and this is only because I think they could package them better, to allow for longevity and a mixture in one package versus carrying four different cartons, or packages. I would add a star because unlike other similar products these actually did increase energy and allow for superior cognitive and physical function. (I shot a small match the same week just to see how it affected that aspect, and there were no negative side affects.) So overall, a 4 out of 5 star rating from myself. And definitely worth having in your go bags!

survival food tabs

survival food tabs

survival food tabs

Thoughts, questions? As always feedback is greatly appreciated.


  1. mom of three says:

    Thanks for the information it’s always smart to have other food products to choose from.

  2. Thanks for the info.

    I have bought the Survival Tabs in jars (2 quart size), usually one per year. I need to go back and test some. These only can in Malt and Chocolate.

  3. I can’ go for the cardboard in cardboard. I love jerky, beans, rice, pasta, and endless fresh food from the garden or woods. Microgreens all winter from my south windows and greenroom.
    I grew barley this year, and will try wheat also. Indian corn did great. I missed Teff (ordered too late) but wild amaranth is a staple, as salad in summer and seeds for sprouting and flour.
    I have stored food, but lean more to food production. Granted I only feed one person, so it isn’t !much work. I love gardening and enjoy cooking and preserving, Of all preps, these are my favorite. I am branching out into wine!making and herbal medicines. I am eyeballing fiber plants and spinning and weaving. I already knit and quilt. All feel more like playing than work, but the results are satisfying as preps too.

  4. Almost There says:

    Thanks for this great review Jesse. Very thorough and tested with your family so as to provide a viewpoint from children and adults. I have never heard of these. These look like a great option to some other things out there. I would also like to learn how to make pemmican. And thanks for the quotes in the beginning. I had forgotten about W C Fields’ quote… It added humor to your review, which is always nice to read.

  5. Jesse:

    At only 20 cal/tablet, how many of these did you eat each day?


  6. j.r. guerra in south tx. says:

    Are those Survival Tabs the same type of food item as the old Minuteman tabs that came in a canteen shaped jar ? I remember those from way back but never heard or read a review of how they tasted.

    Thank you for the post.

  7. Anonamo Also says:

    RE: HONEY …If you can not get the New Zealand honey, you can make your own from filtered local honey. ..for wound care. I put about 2-3 ounces in a jar that peppers came in,larger mouth easier to use, .. had been washed and sterilized… and added about 4 drops of tea tree oil per ounce. mix well with sterilized object sterile tongue blae, or q tip type, or spoon. every thim you utilize use only STERILE, object to dispense.
    I used on a wound /coccyx area..obtained in an intensive care unit.
    WE alternated what was working at the time.,also used collodial silver in spray application and in cream. would wash with wound cleaner. drain,spray with collodial spray, allow to sit open for 3-5 min. and apply silvadene cream to dressing, seal with absorbent dressing ., If in area such as we did one smaller dressing with wound sealed then larger absorbent layer w/ waterproof outer is indicated and prevent re-contamination .. maxi pads, and other femine hygeine products that are individually wrapped, are considered sterile.Using appropriate sterile techniques is crucial. IF you don’t know these techniques, learn! here are two video’s to get you started.
    Best results were obtained when done Q 8 hr…or sooner if heavy drainage/or any possible contamination.
    Note: if you are using anything on a wound, and drainage increases..the protocol should be changed…that is ONE indication of new/increased pathogens.

  8. For me a 3 day bag could leave me 9 days short! I carry quite a variety in my truck including foil packed tuna, granola and protein bars, canned pastas, and dehydrated fruits, and several mountain house meals. Along with a small mess kit. I also have a two wheel cart and always a cooler with water and a day packed lunch with fresh fruit. I know in my situation I will need fire on the trip so boiling water doesn’t seem to be such a bother.

  9. Hvaczach,
    I have a collapsible 2 wheel cart to add to my truck. Fits perfectly behind the seat with my other stuff. I used to use it in the house after I fell off the roof once upon a time ago. I moved endless things with it and with a wheeled office chair. Wheels were an incredible invention. Travois not bad in a pinch, keep a lot of weight off my back.

  10. riverrider says:

    we used these in the infantry for long range patrols and ftx’s. they don’t provide enough calories but do provide the correct protein combination and vital nutrients. we made up the calorie deficit with granola bars and such. these tabs made a heck of a difference and the big bottle fits in a canteen pouch. they used to come with a ziplock bag inside. once opened we poured the tabs in the ziplock and put it in a cargo pocket where it was handy 24/7. a bottle is two weeks worth if supplemented with other snacks. that saved a lot of room in our pack that would otherwise be taken up by mre’s. laying in a hide position is no time to fire up the stove for a meal. good job jesse.

  11. where can you fid these tabs? Never heard of them

  12. For small three day bags, get the small “sample bags” for house seated go bags, the cans you wont be disappointed 🙂

  13. Jesse,
    Thanks for this review. This is a hole in my preps I thought I had to accept due to serious food allergies in my family.
    My only on the run food currently is dried meat, dried fruit and gluten free protein bars. This will be a great addition to the bug out bags.

  14. Hummingbird says:

    Thanks Jesse for a good review. I had not included the tabs in the prepping plan and will try them. Another addition to the GHB that can be eaten while on the move.

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