For me, good survival food should have three things going for it; 1: Compact size: It shouldn't take up much room in a kit. 2: Provides energy: Sugar is nice, but protien and complex carbohydrates are even better and keep you going longer. 3: Transport Stability: Sure it's nice to have that box of powdered milk in your pack, but drop that puppy once and you have more white powder all over your kit than Scarface had on his table. 4: Decent shelf life: If you have to constantly replace the food stock in your kit, then it probably won't be very good when you really need it. 5: Taste: Sure you can pack all the dry, nasty, tastless, and bland survival food ya want, but to me, if you can get something that actually tastes GOOD, it will make surviving much more enjoyable and will do wonders for your moral and will to live (of course like they always say though... hunger is the best seasoning of all). I know that's not three... tough. Fine, it should have FIVE things going for it.
Some top contenders that should be included in most survival kits and bug-out bags are as follows;
Beef Jerky: Packed full of protein, salt, and taste. Beef jerky is a flavorful, versital, and extremely long-lasting and stable foodstock that belongs in almost any survival kit. Not Only will it give you something to chew on (which produces saliva and decreases that "thirsty" feeling). But it can also be added to boiling water along with some wild greens and other things to make a wonderful soup broth, and good hot beefy soup broth is what I call good survival.
Dried Fruit: Basically fruit "jerky" dried fruit packs flavor and nutrition in a small, stable, easy to transport package. Although not quite as versital as beef jerky, it can also be chewed up and used as bait for animals.
Peanut Butter: Shelf stable, flavorful, and packed full of protien and other nutrients, peanut butter is one of the all time great survival foods. Although your local mega-mart UBER-JARS are a little too big and bulky to add to most kits. A smaller can, plastic tube, or small sized tub for lunchboxes are perfect for adding to a kit. The really great thing about peanut butter is that it is perfect for smearing on branches, lines, or other traps as bait or for making your own catfish bait with some mushed up bugs or other nastyness.
Peanuts: Well, we had peanut butter, now comes time for the stuff that it is made from, Peanuts. Very shelf stable, long lasting, high in protein and essential oils, peanuts are a great survival tool. And depending on what size and type you get, you can even use the packaging for other purposes. Peanut jars and cans are extemely useful for traps, collecting water, and all sorts of things. Plus, the things are just so darned tasty!
Chocolate: Whether it be in the form of a candy bar, or in a wrapped up package of survival chocolate, this is a really great survival food. By itself, chocolate has many great properties that will give you energy and make you feel better. I prefer carrying around candy bars since I think the survival chocolate tastes kinda nasty. But if you are going into anywhere that gets over 90 degrees... get the survival chocolate which doesn't melt nearly as easily as that snickers bar (which is my personal fav for putting in a survival kit since it has nuts and caramel in it and provides more substance and energy than a hershy bar or peanut butter cup). Another great use for chocolate is using the wax in it to polish and shine up the bottom of a soda can (which you could probably find by most streams and rivers anymore unfortunatly), and use that shiny, concave surface to start a fire by redirecting and focusing sunlight.
Small cans of food: While the package (a good metal can) is often more useful than the meal inside it. A good small can of beans, beef or chicken stew, or canned fruit can be a survival staple. The main problems that they had before (needing a can opener to get inside them) has mostly been eliminated with the pull top can lids (and besides, all good survival kits should have a can opener SOMEWHERE in them!). The other problem is that they can be rather bulky and heavy to carry around with you in a small pack. But in a bug-out bag... they are basically an MRE without all the fancy extras.
MRE: Speaking of which, MRE's or "Meals Ready to Eat", a survival staple of the military is definitly good enough for us civies to use. Although they are too large to put into a travel sized survival kit, they are perfect for a bug out bag. Although they can be a little more expensive and harder to find, they are practically a survival kit in and of themselves and usually contain toilet paper, wetnap, matches, coffee flavoring, chocolate, and a self-heating meal. Unfortunatly, from what I have heard, they stopped including the little bottles of tabasco sauce with them, but still they are excellent survival meals
Corn Chips: Although a bag of chips may be a little too fragile to carry and you will probably wind up with crumbs all over your kit. If you can find them in a can or other stable container that won't tear or break open easy, then they are great survival food. The great thing about corn chips is that besides being great for putting on a trap, the corn oil they contain make corn chips act like little candles and will hold and keep a flame for a minute or so making them excellent firestarting tinder.
So those are some really great food items that will work in most survival kits and provide a great deal of flavor, stability, and versitility to your pack. However, there are a couple of things to watch out for.
1: Stuff with a ton of sugar in them when out in a hot dry area. All the sugar will make you feel thirstier and more miserable.
2: Stuff with tons of salt in them. Although having food with salt in it will help replenish what you have lost through sweating. It can also dehyrate you faster if you eat a lot of high salt food.
3: Anything that can possibly go "bad". Things like little cans of tuna, spam, or chicken. And tuna salad, anything with mayo or salad dressing in it like the little tubs of tuna salad and condiment packages of miracle whip. It could be safe at first, but after a while there is a possiblity that it can go "off" and make you sick. So it is best if you don't chance it.
Now if you will excuse me... I have a peanut butter, chocolate, and dried banana sandwich to eat, ya know... for survival (Elvis would be proud). Until next time on Good Survival.