A year’s worth of Survival Soup for under $300? I tried it.

Recently in my syndicated column, I shared some thoughts on using couponing strategies for “prepping” – storing food, water and supplies to prepare for an unexpected emergency. One of my readers sent an interesting question:

A year's worth of Survival Soup for under $300?

“Dear Jill,
Have you seen the recipe for a survival soup for preparing for disasters? I’ve seen this recipe online on quite a few prepping sites, and it says you can store a year’s worth of soup ingredients for four people for under $300. This seems like it would be something worth sharing with your readers as it would be just .06 per meal.”
Eva C. 

Read a few survival forums, and you’ll see the topic of survival food storage is a popular one. I’ve seen this survival soup recipe on more than a few websites, and it supposedly contains a balanced mix of carbs, protein, and amino acids. It’s been called everything from Scotch Broth (not to be confused with the actual lamb-and-root-vegetables soup of the same name) to ABC Soup to Survival Soup. For simplicity, I’ll also go with Survival Soup.


This soup recipe is attractive to preppers because it’s cheap and easy to prepare. The soup’s recipe claims that you can prepare and store one year’s worth of meals for four people for less than $300! Granted, you’ll be eating the same meal every single day, but in a survival situation, eating something is certainly better than eating nothing, right?  Here’s the recipe that’s been widely posted around the web:

Original Survival Soup

  • Four 20-pound. bags of white rice
  • 22 one-pound bags of red kidney beans
  • 22 one-pound bags of barley
  • 22 one-pound bags of lentils
  • Six one-pound bags of green split peas
  • Six one-pound bags of chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
  • 30 pounds of chicken or beef bouillon/stock 
  • Garlic powder, salt and seasonings to taste (except onion)

Dry-mix these ingredients in a one-quart bag or container to make it easier to portion and cook (proportions taken from Christian Viewpoint)

survival soup bag

Small-Mix Survival Soup

  • 1/3 cup kidney beans
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/8 cup green split peas
  • 1/8 cup chickpeas
  • 1 1/4 cup rice
    (* You may want to keep the rice separate until near the end of cooking. Due to the long time it takes to cook dry beans, some sites recommend leaving the rice out until the soup is nearly cooked — otherwise, you’ll end up with very mushy rice in the end soup as the rice cooks more quickly than the beans. If you’re leaving the rice out of the one-quart bag mix, use 3/4 cup of the bean/barley mix. Later, add  1/3 heaping cup of rice. )

This one-quart bag of mix will make three meals of soup. To make a pot of soup, use one cup of dry soup mixture, one rounded teaspoon of bouillon, and three quarts (12 cups) of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer covered until the beans are soft. Add the rice last if you’re keeping it separate from the mix. (I simmered the broth for an hour and 15 minutes, then added rice for another 20.)

The various forms of this recipe online also recommend adding whatever fresh meats and fresh vegetables you have too, though you don’t have to add any additional ingredients to eat it. Use garlic powder, salt and seasonings to taste — it’s fairly bland without salt and garlic. Several sites warn of the inclusion of onion though if you are making a batch that will last more than a day, as the onion evidently will ferment and spoil a large pot of soup that’s left to cool, then reheated to eat the next day.

survival soup stir

While this soup is hearty and has a nice mix of carbohydrates and proteins, despite the “One Year Survival Soup” name, the American Preppers Network notes that this recipe will not provide one entire year’s worth of meals for a family of four. (Don’t you love the way things spread on the internet?) Based on a 2000-calorie/day allotment and assuming that this soup is the only thing you’re eating, they note that this represents 90 days’ worth of meals for one person – not one year’s worth of food for four people.

The good news? You can indeed purchase the dry ingredients for 270 meals of Survival Soup for around $300, and everything will fit in an 18-gallon plastic tote. 

survival tote

survival tote

Stored properly (packaged and sealed air-free with desiccants) several survival sites state that the dry ingredients in this recipe will last at least 10 years.  If you are interested in storing 90 days’ worth of food for a dire emergency situation, this works out to about $1.11 per meal – not a terrible price for peace of mind.  


This was a fun recipe to shop for, test, and try out. Could we eat this every day if we had to? It’s certainly not terrible, but it opened an interesting family discussion on what we would do in an extended emergency. I also learned some rather interesting things about survival situations while researching this post. Did you know…

  • If the electricity was out for an extended period of time, 21 percent of people surveyed said they would survive without power (and the services electricity provides) less than one week! Another 28 percent of people believed they could last less than two weeks.  Three in four Americans say they would be dead within two months’ time of when the electricity went out. (I found these statistics incredible — I personally would bank on lasting much longer than that!)
  • The nonperishable goods in a supermarket would be enough to sustain one adult for a whopping 55 years! That is, provided no one else descends on the store to pilfer its offerings along with you…

Hopefully, we’ll never have to endure an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it situation. The longest we’ve gone without electricity was five days during a severe summer storm that knocked power lines down around the area a few years ago. Our children look back on this outage as a great adventure that included candlelit dinners and meals being cooked on the stove and grill. We are avid campers, so a lot of our camping gear (propane stove, solar charger, lanterns) can double as emergency gear.

There are a couple “light prepper” tactics that I’m mindful of too (in addition to my new plastic tote full of dried grains and beans.) We always have at least one fresh gallon of bleach on hand in case we would need to purify water. You can use eight drops of chlorine bleach to purify a gallon of drinking water. (Clorox’s website has instructions and a how-to guide.) Bleach only has a shelf life of about six months, so I keep one gallon for laundry and cleaning and one for what-if purifying. I rotate the jugs so the newest one is the one designated as the “emergency” bleach. You also want to buy pure bleach for this with no scents or additives.

candle stash

I also never miss a candle clearance! Couponers know of the plethora of coupons available at any given time for Febreze, Glade and Air Wick candles. I’ve had remarkable luck picking up free clearance-priced candles with coupons after holidays and different seasons. Then, they go on a shelf in the basement for occasional air freshening or even more-occasional power outages. As my daughter has pointed out, if the zombie apocalypse ever does occur, our house will be smelling great for at least the first few weeks… 


  1. QueenKitty says

    The survivor recipe reminds me very much of the Friendship Soup in a Jar that I gave as gifts last year. Also used it as a fund raiser for Youth Group.

    • 1/2 cup dry split peas
    • 1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
    • 1/4 cup pearl barley
    • 1/2 cup dry lentils
    • 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
    • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta (option: rice)

    In a 1 1/2 pint jar, layer the split peas, bouillon, barley, lentils, onion flakes, Italian seasoning, rice, and bay leaves. Wrap the pasta in plastic wrap, and place in the jar. Seal tightly.
    Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions: Friendship Soup ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS: 1 pound ground beef, black pepper to taste, garlic powder to taste, 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes – undrained, 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste, and 3 quarts water. TO PREPARE SOUP: Remove pasta from top of jar, and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef with pepper and garlic; drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

  2. Lisa says

    Regarding the bouillon, is it truly 30 pounds of the powdered seasonings? That sounds like a lot of it. Thanks.

    • says

      Lisa keep in mind that I didn’t -create- this recipe — it’s something that’s been posted all over the internet. I do think it seems like a lot as well.

  3. says

    Also…the original person that I saw this recipe said it was for grid down ultra survival mode and the 4 people were 2 adults and 2 children…
    1 bowl of soup each adult and 1/2 bowl each child…
    This was NOT meant to be for when things got just a LITTLE hairy…it was for being RATIONED out until you could or the govt. got the country back up and running…
    You have no idea what you can survive on until you HAVE to….

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