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Food dictates your survival in 7 Days to Die. Without it you die, with too little of it life can be tedious and slow but with a lot of it, many new options and styles of play are available to the character.
Early on, Canned Rations are your greatest source of fullness and stamina, although having minor repercussions on your hydration their hunger supply is an excellent way to keep your character going throughout the day. Although uncraftable, canned rations are reasonably easy to find- especially if you are to stumble upon a food air drop. However, as you delve deeper into your game these rations become less attainable and scattered, making it harder for one to regain lost hunger and stamina. The counter to this- craftable foods.
Craftable foods are foods that you can make yourself. They take time to make and in some cases you may need days to come up with a good batch. A strong example of this is Venison Stew. Venison stew requires 4 components to make, Venison, Potatoes, Corn and Bottled Water. Venison itself is hard to come by and Deer is a lucky find. Bottled Water is perhaps the easiest of the 4 to come by but the final 2 ingredients- Potatoes and Corn are where your time will be spent. A large batch of Venison stew, say 10-15 will take you several days, depending on the growth of your vegetables. And while this may seem such a downside to its canned ration counter parts have a look at Venison Stew's rewards.
Venison Stew offers you 40+ Fullness, (the most in the game) 25+ Hydration, (the most for a food in the game) 15+ Health, (the most for a food in the game) and 1.6+ Wellness (the most for a food in the game). All of these benefits heavily outweigh say a Large Beef Ration which does give you 30+ Fullness and 10+ Health but fails in any other respect, leaving you with 10- Hydration.
In conclusion, Canned Rations are certainly an excellent early game food source but as both you and the game progress and their availability decreases and renewable sources of food are needed. This is why it is important to start a farm early on, conserve hunted meat unless absolutely necessary and get into cooking from an early point. Almost all craftable foods and drinks give some measure of wellness increase, allowing the player to reach maximum health and stamina very quickly, and there are also several with player buffs that make them incredibly valuable as you become better established. A good example would be Coffee's Caffiene Buzz, which greatly increases the player's stamina regeneration rate.
|Food||Fullness||Hydration||Health||Stamina||Wellness||Gassiness||Smell in Bag||Smell on Belt||Other Effects||Type|
|Can of Ham||+15||-5||+5||Canned|
|Large Beef Ration||+30||-10||+10||Canned|
|Can of Chili||+15||-5||+5||-15||Canned|
|Can of Miso||+10||+10||+1||Canned|
|Can of Peas||+10||Canned|
|Ear of Corn||+2||Raw|
|Skinned Rabbit||+10||-5||-5||-20||-30||20m||60m||Food Poisoning||Raw|
|Can of Cat Food||+10||-2||+2||-10||Canned|
|Can of Dog Food||+10||-2||+2||-15||Canned|
|Can of Pasta||+15||Canned|
|Can of Pears||+5||+10||Canned|
|Can of Salmon||+10||-5||+5||Canned|
|Can of Soup||+10||+10||+1||Canned|
|Can of Stock||+10||+10||+1||Canned|
|Can of Tuna||+10||-2||+2||Canned|
|Raw Pork||+15||-7||-7||-30||-30||20m||60m||Food Poisoning||Raw|
|Jar of Honey||+10||+5||+40||+0.4||Raw|
|Rabbit on a Stick||?m||?m||Raw|
|Bottled Murky Water||+15||+5||-0.1||Dysentery||Raw|
|Corn on the Cob||+4||+2||+2||+0.08||1m||5m||Boiled|
|Bacon and Eggs||+30||+3||+1||Grilled|
|Moldy Bread||+5||-2||-30||Food Poisoning|
|Grain Alcohol||-5||+10||Beer Buzz||Boiled|
|Old Sham Sandwich||+20||Food Poisoning||Rotten|
|Canned Murky Water||+15||+5||Dysentery||Raw|
|Rotting Flesh||+10||-5||+5||-20||Food Poisoning|