Wilderness Survival Foods: A Beginner's Guide

Foraging edible wild plants is a delightful hobby that goes well with fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities. It’s also an essential life skill that every outdoors person should have because you never know when a survival crisis can emerge.

The most significant moment to learn and gain confidence is when you’re comfortable and your mind is clear, rather than when you’re in a hurry because tension and hunger may interfere with establishing a definite identification, which is the most important rule to follow before consuming any wild plant.

Quick Picks:  Wilderness Survival Foods: A Beginner's Guide

Survival Foods in Wilderness

The following is a collection of easy-to-identify top recommendations ideal for novices to get started.


Everyone is familiar with dandelions, which are available from spring through fall and are high in calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Leaves, buds, and blooms can be eaten raw and used as a herb in cooking or cooking steeped in herbal tea (tisane). Roots can be dug, roasted, and ground to provide a caffeine-free coffee alternative.

Stinging Nettles

Wear gloves when harvesting this plant because it “stings” when you touch it (making it easy to identify). Nettles are just as healthy as spinach. They are a reliable food source because they are among the earliest plants to emerge in the spring, occasionally peeking through the snow. The leaves make a healthful tea and a healthy potherb after they lose their sting when cooked. Nettle blooms (seedy green tips) can be plucked off and cooked in the same way as porridge. With the addition of a few wild berries, you’ve got yourself a tasty survival dinner.

Wild Berries

Berries are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars, making them a high-energy snack that is also enjoyable to eat by hand. Teas made from flowers, berries, and leaves are delicious. Picking daily is a surefire method to learn about the seasons and habitats that they inhabit. There are many edible kinds, but beginners should start with those similar to their farmed relatives (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and gooseberry.) A field trip with an expert or an illustrated handbook is best to learn about berries like crowberries, soapberries, and bunchberries.

Wild Roses

It is possible to consume the buds, blossoms, and leaves in raw, cooked, or steeped forms. Still, it’s the fleshy, appley-tasting fruits (known as hips) that can be a real lifesaver, as they’re loaded with vitamin C and natural sugars, can be eaten raw or cooked, are plentiful, and rank high on the survival foods list because they ripen in summer and cling to bare branches all winter. Break open the hips and thumb out the seeds with microscopic hairs that can irritate your mouth. Don’t throw away the seeds; they can be ground into nutritional “flour” with a stone, rendering the hairs harmless. This type of plant “flour” can be used as a thickening or mixed with water to form a dough that can be baked on a rock or wrapped around a stick and cooked over an open fire.


Spring cattail shoots can be eaten raw or cooked and are high in vitamins and minerals. Grab the bottom of the stalk and pull to harvest. About six inches from the root end, cut. In mid-summer, the green flower spikes (which resemble baby corn) become available and can be eaten raw or fried. When the spike (cattail) matures and turns brown, the nutritious pollen can be gathered and used as a thickening or flour by peeling it off with your fingers into a dish or onto a birch bark. Cattail root stalks are high in starch and can be dug at any time of year. Using a stone, pound the roots and soak them in water to release the starch, a concentrated source of carbs.


Clovers can provide a touch of sweetness to your survival food if you have a lot of them. Raw leaves and blooms can be eaten, steeped into a soothing tea, or used as a potherb in cooking. Sun-dried blooms can be pounded into flour using a stone, a traditional Native American food. A word of caution: eating raw clovers in large quantities can cause bloating, so boil them whenever feasible.

Evergreen Needles

Evergreen needles (pine, spruce, balsam) are high in vitamin C, which helped early settlers and explorers avoid scurvy. In a teapot, simmer the needles and tips. The hardened sap gives the pot a hint of sweetness. These teas, particularly balsam, are beneficial in treating colds and flu.

Wild Nuts

Hazelnuts (which are related to cultivated filberts) are the most popular wild nut in our province, growing in mixed hardwoods. You can rely on hazelnuts as a good source of protein and fat when you’re in a crisis. Pine seeds are nutritious, but beating the squirrels to the cones is difficult; on the positive side, the pine woodland could be a good site to put a snare for some supper meat.

Nodding Onions

Cambium is a rich source of starch and natural sugars found in the inner bark of hardwood and evergreen plants. It’s more plentiful in the spring when the tree’s sap rises, but it can be gathered all year. Peel the outer bark off and scrape the inner bark into jerky-like strips to collect. Roast on a flat rock over an open fire before mashing into flour to form a dough. Because taking too much cambium from a tree will cause it to die, you should only harvest it in a real-life survival crisis.

How to Make a Cooking Vessel Out Of Birch Bark

Hot foods are more soothing and simpler to digest in a survival situation than cold foods, so if you have a fire but no pot, you may create a cooking vessel out of birch bark that will not burn as long as the bottom is covered with water. Fill the vessel halfway with your collected food and water (excellent for boiling water and melting snow for drinking) and place it on a flat rock over hot embers.

Cut a 16-inch square of birch bark to form the vessel. Soak until pliable in water or snow. To make a basin, slit the corners and fold them up. Cut four small, circular limbs approximately four inches long and make one-inch slits to function as cloth pins to secure the corners.

Learn more: Fishing & Hunting - Travel Tips

Frequently Asked Questions About Wilderness Survival Foods

How do you feed yourself in the wild?

Various wild greens, berries, fruits, and tubers are available. These are some of the simplest meals to come across in the outdoors. Foraging for food should be something you do after getting a decent field guide for your area. It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll learn about wild edible plants.

What are the five basic needs essential for human life?

The essentials of life are food, water, clothes, rest, and shelter. Charitable organizations are essential for many individuals in meeting their fundamental necessities. To focus on greater priorities, a person may require a steady source of nourishment.

How do animals know what’s edible?

They learn which ones are safe to consume from their parents and their own experience. The flavor, almost always exceedingly bitter, will alert them that this isn’t something they should be eating. In contrast to other creatures, birds and reptiles are not afraid of color.

Can you eat earthworms?

The truth is that people can eat all types of earthworms. Maoris in New Zealand see them as a delicacy. In Japan, they’re even served like pies. According to specific sources, they are also consumed in Africa, New Guinea, and South America.

How long can you survive without food?

For up to two months, the body may go without food and drink for up to eight to 21 days, according to an article in Archiv Für Kriminologie. Modern-day hunger strikes have given us a better understanding of what it’s like to go hungry.

Can you eat grass for survival?

Grass seeds are the most nutritious portion of the plant, and practically every grass species has edible seeds. Although grasses are edible, it is not worth the caloric expenditure required to gather numerous tiny seeds in a survival situation.