DIY Projects Food / Water

How to Make 3000+ Calorie DIY Survival Food Ration Bars (per batch)

Have you ever had those Datrex or Mainstay Emergency food ration bars? If so, you may have realized that they aren’t the best of survival rations for taste but they will keep you alive. Nuff said. And hard tack? Yikes! You may as well be eating a brick. 😉

Well, I came across this article a while back on making survival bars and I thought I would give it a shot myself to see what they tasted like. Please read the original article if you like, though, I will post the ingredients and steps below, as well as my own experience making them.

Also note that according to the original article the entire batch makes approximate 2000 calories, NOT just a single bar. Depending on how you cut it, a single bar will be a few hundred calories at most. This is about the same as the Datrex or Mainstay rations.

As for taste, they’re not bad at all. In fact, I was surprised that they tasted so good.


  • 2 cups oats (I used regular oats)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk (I used nonfat from LDS storage)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 3-oz. package lemon jello (the recipe says you can use orange instead)
  • 3 tbsp water


  1. Mix oats, powdered milk, sugar in a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix water, jello, honey in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Add jello mixture to oats mixture and blend well.
  4. After being thoroughly mixed, press into a lined (with parchment paper) 9″x13″ pan.
  5. Cut dough into bars and ensure they’re completely cut through.
  6. Bake bars at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1.5 to 2 hours. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Alternatively, you can dehydrate them at 145 degrees for 4-6 hours.
  7. After dry and cooled, separate bars and package in a foodsaver bag or mylar bag.

I choose to bake half the batch in the oven for two full hours and I would say that was just about right. The other half I choose to dehydrate for about six hours. Either way, when I was done the bars broke in half with a crispiness that tells me they were done.

I should also note that there was a noticeable difference in the color of the baked versus dehydrated bars, in that the dehydrated bars were significantly lighter in color than the oven bars. The taste seemed the same.


  • If dough is dry add water 1 tsp at a time until the dough is still crumbly but able to stick together when pressed. I ended up using about two tablespoons and that worked well for me.
  • Do NOT purchase Jello instant pudding mix. That’s what I bought the first time I tried this and it didn’t work out well. My wife laughed at for a minute or two. 😉 When finished laughing, she told me I needed the actual lemon Jello packet that says “Gelatin” on it. In my defense, the box said Jello right on the front.
  • Remember, the drier the better because moisture will cause them to go bad and possibly even to develop Botulism depending on how you package them for the long term. My advice: take your time drying!!

Caloric Breakdown

I decided to do my own math and found that the entire batch made up over 3000 calories. If cut into 12 roughly equal bars that’s 260 calories per bar. Unless I did my math wrong here’s what I found:

  • Oats = 560 calories (at 140 calories per 1/2 cup)
  • Milk = 1333 calories (at 100 calories per 3 Tbsp; there are 40 Tbsp in 2.5 cups)
  • Sugar = 720 calories (at 15 calories per 1 tsp; there are 48 teaspoons in 1 cup)
  • Honey = 180 calories (at 60 calories per 1 Tbsp)
  • Jello packet = 320 calories (at 80 calories per serving, 4 servings per package)

Well, that’s about it. I packaged mine in foodsaver rolls, marked the date, and stashed them in my workshop for a while to see how they do over the long term. Compared to what you can purchase commercially made and certainly when compared to hard tack, these are winners!


By Damian Brindle

How To Effortlessly Get Prepared For Emergencies Of All Kinds In Only 5 Minutes A Day... Fast, Easy, And Inexpensively... In Less Than ONE Single Month... By Following An Expert In The Field: Discover My 5 Minute Survival Blueprint To Get Yourself And Your Family Better Prepared Right Now.

89 replies on “How to Make 3000+ Calorie DIY Survival Food Ration Bars (per batch)”

I followed your recipe to a T and I was left with bars that crumbled at a touch. Its like eating strawberry flvored dust…
Any pointers???
Did I just not get enough moisture?

I looked in to datrex site and 20 x 3000 calories bars sold for 135 dollars.
1 bar costs 7 dollars. For 7 dollars , you can bake all of datrex 20x bars but if you are not living in scandinavia and food tax is %85.

I am building an small lifeboat and this survival bar recipe will save me from lots of expense and worries for tinned food under intense Mediterenean sun.

Everyone is talking about adding a liquid/oilbased Fat, I am wondering if anyone has considered a dry peanut butter? Granted it’s not a lot of fat, but it does add some fat content. it could even be possible to reduce the sugar and replace with this. Just an idea, give me thoughts.

Does it have to orange or lemon jello? Could raspberry or strawberry be used instead. No one in my family likes lemon or orange jello or things lemon or orange flavored.

I used raspberry and it worked great. You won’t believe it but I’ve kept mine in the deep freeze for 10yrs…triple wrapped, never thawed. Looks, feels and tastes exactly like they did 10 yrs ago, yummy. I prefer the texture of these over the datrex (dust bombs). I probably should have read this article first…never thought about botulism!!! So far things are aok 🙂

i’ve made these before and they are NOT the same as datrex lifeboat rations. datrex bars breakdown into crumbs. what you’re (pardon the term) regurgitating are a modern call to the old ship’s biscuits or hard tack, which can’t be just eaten without employing a hammer; or without simmering them into a cereal pottage. you can’t simply crumble them up and chuck them down.

What is the shelf-life for these Survival Ration Bars? If less than a year, what can I do to make the shelf-life longer? I hope that you can reply! Thank you

I am getting ready to try this recipe. Would I be able to use brown sugar or powdered sugar if I don’t have regular sugar?

Not sure about either brown sugar or powdered as they might be too “wet” to stay viable and to avoid going rancid. You can always give it a shot and see what happens.

Mr. Brindle I bought your ultimate package a while back, and found that most of the info seemed to be for people with houses and basements and/or garages , basically space…I live in a single bedroom apartment, and am on ssi. Most of the ideas I saw, were n/a for me…am I looking in the wrong place? Also how to recover password/username? Is possible?

I’d prefer you email me if you have specific questions about your account. With regards to your password: there is a “Lost your password?” link on the login page.

Regarding being in an apartment: you’re correct that quite a bit of my course is geared towards folks in single family homes. That said, there’s still plenty you can make use of for apartments, you just have to think on a small scale as space is of primary consideration. As such, making use of 55-gallon water barrels, for instance, just won’t work for your situation. In that case, consider some of the other suggestions I’ve outlined within. The same can be said for the other modules.

Regarding being on SSI: This could be your biggest limitation as I’m sure disposable income is at a premium. In this case then I would suggest “cherry picking” what I outline within to make my suggestions fit your budget. I can’t offer specifics here in the comments section but if you need more help I’d be happy to try and offer some, just email me rethinksurvival (at) gmail (dot) com.

Im gonna try corn starch and frozen strawberries the next time I make a batch. I think the corn starch will make them chewy…

Thanks for the recipe and ideas. That said,
Everybody pay attention here.
DO NOT CLICK THE LINK towards the end of the articleentitled “The Prepared Path”!!!
Obviously (!!) they are trying to coerce the reader to buy the typical All Knowing, All Encompassing, ULTIMATE Survival program for $47.00 plus S&H.
But that isn’t the worst part. Once you click/open the page you CANNOT EXIT the sales pitch page unless you physically exit the program from what I learned. They REALLY don’t want you to leave without buying this “ULTIMATE” “LAST THING YOU’LL EVER NEED TO KNOW” program BS by hitting exit or backing out.
I’m sorry but I’m not easily ticked off or given to (excessive) profanity laced rants, but this Chickensh*t tactic is SPAM of the first degree!
So save yourself a lot of potential hassles and aggravation and just DON’T open that link.
If nothing else, everyone should be aware of ANYBODY or ANYTHING that proclaims their widget or program is the “Ultimate” anything! Those that do are out and out LYING TO YOU!
I find it remarkably egregious when people make claims like that.
At best they are Flim Flam artists and at worst could be taking a person’s hard earned money and giving them false hope. False hope enough that they could end up DEAD because they relied on some “Ultimate” whatever thinking (based on claims) they could survive ANYWHERE by buying and reading the contents of this one program!
I’ll tell ya, if I ever learned a friend or family member perished because they relied on some BS “Ultimate” program, that person had better dig a deep hole in a far off land because I’d literally HUNT them down until I found them or one of us died.
To those of you out there that have books, give seminars, create these asinine “Ultimate Surviva” programs, etc., you should be ASHAMED at stealing from unsuspecting and uninformed or uneducated people.
All to sell your “Ultimate” whatever.
Shame on you!!!

Doesn’t Matter, this is not the only site that suffers through that kind of BS scam crap!
IF I knew how, you can bet I’d send them an email with a little surprise in it that would do the same thing to them.
I think that is why they don’t attach a phone number of physical address so folks can send THEM a bunch of worthless CRAP!
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send them a 10# package oF ROCKS and make the package COD?? LOL

Funny, the original comment and now you, HH, don’t seem to have much of a clue on this one. The program being referred to is my own. I worked for a long time to create it and, if I do say so myself, it’s worthwhile to anyone wanting to prepare themselves and their families. I honestly don’t see how anyone can legitimately comment on a program that I’m willing to bet they haven’t purchased and really know nothing about… and if you think you can prepare yourself by following advice from random blogs then you’re fooling yourself even more than you think I’m fooling you! Good luck to you and Doesn’t Matter… you both are going to need it.

Well, Spud, MAYBE you can fool some of the people SOME of the time and all that, but I assure you you know but a tiny bit of MY knowledge,since, you see, I’ve been doing this LONGER THAN YOU have been alive. The difference is that I GIVE my knowledge away and NOT fleece or sucker the unkowning into buy a load of Horse Pucky.
So, pump your arms, beat your chest but KNOW that you are being called out for what you REALLY are, a Charlatan. Suck it up, Buttercup. You’ve been exposed.

You must know more than I do since you’ve been alive longer? Ok, maybe. I respect my elders but not the arrogant ones. You give your knowledge away do you, where? How? I’ve been doing this for many years myself, giving away knowledge on my blog and sharing content with many folks for a long time for free just because I love doing so… Heaven-forbid I try to make a few dollars from my efforts in another way that many people actually enjoy. Regardless, what about you? Who have you helped? What have YOU done to help people? Besides wasting my time I’ve seen nothing from you and know nothing of you. Please do share your accomplishments. “Pump your arms and beat your chest”… what’s that supposed to mean? Honestly, folks who choose to comment about something they know nothing of really should keep their mouths shut. It’s a shame you can’t figure out how to do that.

Funny how you managed to delete any additional possibility to afford additional responses so I’ll try this.
Since you seem to be the only “authority” on the subject of making these rations, and, apparently, nobody else has anything worthwhile to contribute and should just shut up, this lends further credence and ideas to readers that you don’t want anybody to have any more to say about the subject matter. I guess that proves you are the ONLY one who has an opinion and, therefore, everybody else is talking about the subject they know NOTHING ABOUT!?!
Read it here, folks. JUST like a politician or any other film flam artist, take ANYTHING this guy says with much more than just a grain of salt!
Doesn’t sound like a quality site with which to learn anything except what this “expert” has to say.
And THAT, folks, is how people get hurt or worse. By taking the word of someone who cannot back up his feeble “knowledge” with Facts or EXPERIENCE!
But, by golly, he has a blog and is published on the internet so it MUST be true! RIGHT?!?
Reminds me of a statement I read and written by none other than Abraham Lincoln which states in part: “Be leery of those who post on the Internet as an absolute authority! They are not always telling the truth or to be believed. ALL too often they are more full of BS than the average male steer or other bovine.
Just sayin’.”
You read it here, Folks. 😉

I wasn’t “deleting” anything. Really, I was just tired of having an impossible conversation with you. You’re obviously welcome to continue to post comments at will, even if they’re completely off base. You’re obviously very opinionated about me and my blog for some unknown reason… and I sure hope your quote from Lincoln was meant to be tongue in cheek since I’m almost positive the internet wasn’t invented in his day, but then again, I’m not the authority on anything… just a guy with a blog.

Weeeewwwww i so excited and cant wait to read one of you ask the other guy a survival challenge..???

I LOVE that you are so mad about that “Ultimate” scam!

I hope that others learn from you and stand up and fight for what is right!

Well,according to their website the ingredients for Datrex bars are:
“Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Shortening, Cane Sugar, Water, Coconut flavor and Salt. (Peanut Products Free)”
So, that is just white flour, Crisco, white sugar, coconut flavor and salt. I believe the ingredients are not cooked or baked but simply mixed and pressed into bars, but I could be wrong.
I think Mainstay is probably basically the same.
They are not meant to be LONG TIME nutritious or survivor food and are strictly meant to be something to keep one functioning and free from acute hunger pangs for up to a few weeks at most as there is little or no nutritional (vitamins, minerals or protein) value beyond empty carbs,fat and salt.

For longer term use as survival food they would have to be made into the carb portion of a diet in some kind of soup where you added fresh wild greens, meat from fish or wild animals and roots or berries to the soup and supplement the empty calories of the bar with protein, vitamins, minerals.

I made some of these a few months ago . Very tasty but very hard . Can you make this recipe instead of using dry milk use protein powder ? Making more today and will dry can them .

I too would be concerned about protein, its just a thought could you use quinoa, its not a true grain but a seed. Its a complete protein with a wonderful amino acids and etc. This is something a diabetic would greatly need. My concern is your level of sugar, as you said sugar will take you straight up then drop you big-time. I agree with some sugar but protein to help stabilze it in the body. 🙂

Hi I would like to ask how many hours do you heat it and on what setting if using a microwave oven? TIA

You CANNOT make these in a microwave oven. Microwaves are made to heat and cook, NOT to dry, and drying is what you want here for proper storage. You could potentially sun dry them, but that would take several days to dry properly unless you live in a hot, dry climate.

The sugar content gives you fast energy but it will fade quickly, the oats gives you slow but a steady flow of energy. The sugar content in this bar is also a preserver, if you pack this vacumed it will last longer. Fat products will last about 3 months then it is still edible but tastes awful. A body can only digest about 8000 calories a day, but a pro athlete can burn 10,000 calories a day. Thats why saving bodyenergy must be part of a good survival plan.

Is it possible to substitute sugar with freeze dried Honey Powder of appropriate quantity to make up for the lack of sugar?
If I’m not mistaken, Honey is a better and natural “complex” form of “sugar.”
Perhaps asking a dietician or qualified nutritionist could shed light on the possibility of substitution.
Just a thought as an alternative.

Honey is better, IMHO. As I haven’t tried what you’re asking my only advice would be to give it a shot and see what happens. Then you can even come back here and tell us what happened… and this, H.H., is what it will look like when you’re actually being helpful to others… and for free, no less. 🙂

Actually made some of these bars a couple years ago, using several different flavors of Jello. The berry flavored taste like Fruity Pebbles. Problem is they get harder than a rock after just a few months and require hours of nibbling to eat them.

SPECIFICALLY,” what brand coconut oil are you suggesting and recommending? You mention that you must use “the right” oil but WHAT IS THE “RIGHT” oil?? Thank you.

I was wondering what the temperature of the oven is and what is the temperature of the dyhrator
Thanks Laurel

I’m curious if you can use non-flavored gelatin instead of Jello. The citrus flavors don’t seem that they would make very tasty bars and the other ingredients should seem like a granola bar. Any thoughts?

actually sounds pretty good overall… but i have a question… you said to store them in mylar bags this method what is the approx storage time it will last?

I don’t know actual storage times. I’d assume that since they’re made with mostly long term ingredients then they’ll last a long time, especially if properly stored in mylar bags. I did recently get into a few of these a few weeks ago and I’d say they’re still fine and perhaps even harder than when I sealed them! If I had to be pinned down then I’d say several months if not a year or two.

See Majco comment from August 18th below. [I tried to reply to that comment, but somehow it didn’t work.] Sorry for the confusion!

I don’t think coconut oil spoils very fast, in fact, it’s antimicrobial, and i have been using the same oil from the same pot, unrefrigerated for probably around 2 years now …. it’s still good, in fact it’s the same as when i bought it, although it’s getting near the end of the jar now. I thought i would add that.

Come on people, grains are not suitable for human consumation. Grain products are the cause of most of the new age diseases from alergies to brain damage.

So, you are suggesting that we should not consume grain or products made from grain? In my house, I have the following grains: rice, wheat, rye,corn, etc; are these not for human consumption?

What should I eat — red meat, garden vegetables, fruits, dairy, without a good source of carbohydrates?

I think the commenter may be suggesting that modern grains aren’t necessarily fit for human consumption. With regards to your list of meats, vegetables, fruits, and dairy… yes, you SHOULD be eating those foods because they’re precisely the foods that give us our nutrition! And, of course, you need the other foods too, you know, for fiber and such.

If you look at the spelling mistake in the article, you’ll notice that he was poking fun at the word “cosumation” as to opposed to “consumption” which is eating over a mating ritual.
Just poking fun,folks. Don’t get all bent over mad, people. LMAO

It is not the grain. It is all the preservatives, added sugars, etc that have changed the natural proteins. Organic whole oats are fine.

They never used grains in ancient times and they are still living. Are you really believing the shit you’re shoveling?

I just sent this to my fiancee. I suggested that we try this together.

I remember that Alton Brown (Good Eats) made three or four protein bars and posted the recipes.

I agree the coconut oil would add to spoilage. However, adding protein powder could be a good idea to help offset the carb intake for people with diabetes.

If you added protein powder would you replace another ingredient and would the protein powder affect how long the bars would remain viable?


iv got the daytrx bars in my GHB that i take in every night (the bag) and carry out in the morn before leaving for work… so using the mylar bags with o2 absorbers i think would be the way to go for this type of activity… you can order 1qt mylar bags and use those even if you decide to cut them down… i think this is a great idea but i also think a follow up would be appropriate if anybody makes these to see what kind of longevity they have… good idea on the coconut oil too.. i can see making 2 batches and see what kind of shelf life you can get with the oil and with out the oil also in different types of environments like sitting around the house and in the GHB….

as always Damian great post altho every time you post something like this it puts me to work… ugggg… 😉

It’s almost one of those ideas that you could try a half dozen different combinations to see what works best and hope you get lucky. Personally, I feel that sealing these in foodsaver rolls is a better option than mylar bags because, honestly, I wouldn’t try to keep them around for years on end and the foodsaver rolls are cheaper than mylar.

Damian thanks for pointing that out.. something i didnt even consider… you are right it wouldnt be cost effective to put those in mylar bags and the reality is 6months would be ideal as far as me keeping them around the house as the recipe does look pretty good im sure better for ya than the store bought stuff…

sometimes i have to get my head out of the box and look around to see whats going on outside the box… LMBO…

Damian, coconut oil takes years to turn rancid. It is a medium chain fatty acid as opposed to say, olive oil which is a long chain fatty acid. My wife and I use coconut oil daily in our diets. We buy it 5gal at a time. In 20 yrs I have yet to see a rancid batch. It is high in calories, good fat, and so many other things. Look at the book by Dr. Bruce Fife called “The coconut oil miracle”. All of you will want it after that I’m sure. Coconut butter is NOT the same thing btw. My long term storage techniques and products have served me in actual emergencies but I encourage everybody to do their own research.

We do use coconut oil for a variety of uses, including in our homemade deodorant and it’s now my go-to body lotion so I’m no stranger to the stuff. That said, I simply wasn’t sure whether adding oil to a food that doesn’t call for any and really NEEDS to stay dry for storage purposes is a good idea. I do like the various suggestions and of all the oils one could choose to add, coconut oil is probably the best option.

I do wonder, however, whether there is a potential concern for botulism due to a low oxygen environment (being placed in either foodsaver rolls or mylar) and a potentially higher moisture content due to the addition of coconut oil? I really don’t know what to think about it.

Love coconut
oil. I use it on my feet every night. I had to hide my feet from my dog because he wanted to lick the lotion. Don’t have to worry anymore.

I was wondering how long they would last as far as being shelf stable.
Would it be wise to vacuum seal these or put them in a mason jar and take out the air. I think you could do the mylar bags and cut them down small and seal 2-4 together in one bag for your EDC or for storage in the car in the winter.
Great article. I think I’ll try these out soon. Still wonder how long you could possibly keep them and have them edible. thank you

I really have no idea how long they can last, however, anything placed in the car (assuming extreme heat) is not going to last very long. Maybe the traditional hard tack that is merely flour and water but I wouldn’t bet on these lasting all summer but I could see them lasting the winter for sure. As for storage, I choose to seal them in vacuum sealed rolls but I’d imagine that mylar and mason jars would work so long as you include an oxygen absorber.

I made some of these years ago (like 10) and still had them. My boys wanted to do a survival hike/campout so i sent them with some of these to see if they still were good. They were hard as rocks. But my boys boiled them in water and ate them like cereal. Worked just fine. One thought they tasted like flavored soap. But the others thought they were ok.

I have seen recently (other prep / survive sites) that recipes with powdered milk shelf life drops to just a few weeks…
I’d be interested in how long these would last. A year would be real nice for maintaining the EDC – BOB and such. those store made bars and those life boat bars are not that good taste or nutrition….. Best of luck and hoping for great outcomes 😉

I don’t see why the powdered milk would make them spoil that fast. If you didn’t include it the calorie content would drop off substantially so I’d be hesitant to do so.

I have tried the “lifeboat bars” and found them to be awful. I gave them an unbiased test, but they made me feel sick.

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