No, guys, seriously, where do you get food in the early days?

It’s probably my 15th attempt to play CDDA over the last few years but this time I am daring to ask instead of just abandoning the game again for 15th time.

Could anyone please verify whether assumptions are correct:

(1) I don’t dare fighting anything but the most trivial “regular” Z’s (I poke them with my knife spear while they are in a window frame or in a bush)

(2) I don’t dare to expect enough calories from picking berries from underbushes

(3) I don’t expect to be able to make living from hunting if I have 0 skills in archery and throwing

(4) I assume it will take too much time&calories to dig up lots of deep pits to catch small wandering mammals

(5) I assume that since I am famished I have only a couple of days until I lose an ability to fight and to walk distances due to lack of calories

With that in mind (especially (1)) I only have two or three raidable houses in town outskirts which normally have no stockpiles of food. Sometimes a moose kills a cougar and I can scavange some meat but that does not happen regularly enough to rely on.

My build:
STR: 8, DEX: 10, INT: 8, PER: 8
tailoring: 3
surviving: 3
fabrication: 1
first aid: 2
marksmanship: 2
Roleplaying backstory: an occasional hiker/casual huntsman has been caught off-guard without any of his specialised gear: only city clothes, a pocket knife and an evac shelter are at hand.

Is it too much to ask to find food in the early days with such build?

I really beg for options, I am desperate. Thanks in advance.

Fasting until I found cow.

All good assumptions.

Some suggestions:

There are many, fairly safe farms now so check them for food, crops in the fields, former domestic animals that might** be easier to kill.

City raiding should always include an escape plan, and objectives. Know when to cut your losses and run.

I think it takes a long time to starve, but I dont recommend it.

I just played a Student Mage start; I got pretty beat up fighting zombies with a wood plank or wrench, but ended up with a couple of days worth of food in scrounging 4 houses after dark. I think you should consider raiding more aggressively, especially given your gear.

Also, with Survival 3, foraging should at least break even if you can find a pot to cook your food with.

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If you don’t want to approach the cities, you can try to move to swamps. Cooked cattails, while not providing lots of calories, are quite abundant, and complement the occasional wildlife very well. Swamps are also a good source of salt water, very good for preserving food.

Its a bit time consuming, but pine nuts are quite nutritive and pinecones do not rot, so you can forage lots of pines, and roast only the cones you plan to eat. With the pine bough you can craft pine needle tea, a good improvement over plan water.

If you manage to survive until summer, you probably will have a hard time processing all the food you can get from a forest.


Mutaman’s guide to finding food in the cataclysm:

  1. If you have no options you’d be willing to risk then foraging through underbrush bushes found in forests by interacting with them will raise your survival skill a bit and is likely to give you a stockpile of wild vegetables that you can cook to make more edible. When summer comes you’ll be able to harvest just about every appropriate bush for berries.
  2. If your survival skill is at 2 you can turn pine cones harvested by interacting with pine trees into pine nuts through crafting by a fire. They are very nutritious.
  3. If you find even a single cash card you’re likely to be able to use it at vending machines to get food for a couple of days. Look at gas stations, subway stations, and other such public areas to find vending machines. You could also smash the vending machine with a high enough bash weapon to get at the goodies without money but you’re going to set off an alarm and attract robots, zombies, or worse.
  4. Most houses contain enough food to last a survivor a day or two, assuming that the things haven’t rotted yet.
  5. Zombie children are weak and frail, and often carry edible candy. If your character isn’t a psychopath then watch out for the mood debuff you get by killing them.
  6. Fat zombies are slow but have a higher health rating, if you can take one down you’re likely to find junkfood, drinks, and other such edibles.
  7. Even a normal zombie has a chance to drop something edible.
  8. Most farms in the cataclysm are relatively abandoned and offer many solutions for long-term food sustainability. You are likely to find farms by traveling the roads in wooded areas a litle ways away from cities.
  9. Fishing is a good way to secure a way to get food for a really long while. Just don’t over-fish an area, or it’ll run out of fish and it won’t be a food source anymore. Find a lot of fishing spots and alternate between the lot of them as you go along.
  10. If you ever choose to hunt for your food, look for an area that has game and wait for it to get dark. Crouch to lessen the noise you make and move to the point where the animals were. Note that crouching also slows you down. They’re likely to still be there and then you’ll be able to take them out and butcher them for food. Most animals can’t see you in the dark and if you have a spear you can usually kill them without them seeing you. If you don’t have night-vision it’s going to be hard for you to do this or find where the animals are but you still have a small viewing range of which you’ll be able to get in and kill rabbits before they run. With a ranged weapon you can hunt in the mornings and evenings, because there will be a range where it is light and a range where it is dark. Animals in the dark range usually can’t see you but you can still see them and take a shot. Don’t EVER hunt in the day unless you’re planning to take down a predator or are fast enough to go after prey, otherwise your quarry will simply run away and it will be hard to track them down again if they ran into the woods. You can use ranged weapons while driving something effectively enough for hunting(like a bicycle), so use the added speed to your advantage and remember that the vehicle will keep going while you aim so make sure you won’t crash after the shot.
  11. If you find any corpses at all that aren’t tainted then don’t be afraid to butcher it, even if it’s human. You’ll usually get a useful amount of fat or meat if it isn’t a small corpse.
  12. If you have access to a bicycle or another small vehicle you can try to risk a grocery run, where you drive into town to a building that is likely to contain a lot of food with a large bag on your back, hop off the vehicle, grab everything you can and bolt out of there as fast as you can. During the day this is very risky because zombies can swarm the building and even destroy your vehicle. I usually drive through town by day to find out where the buildings are and then do the raid at night on foot.
  13. Swamps and giant bugs are often easy sources of nutrition. Especially normal giant ant territories.
  14. If you’re desperate you can eat the butchery refuse but your guy won’t be happy.
  15. If you’re even more desperate then you can eat zombie flesh. Yes, you’ll be poisoned and probably nauseated, but you’ll have bought yourself enough time to get proper edibles.

Try and get your cooking to 3, wood soup can be made entirely from foraged foodstuff, it’s healthy and has pretty good calarioes. You can make it from pineneedle tea (with you get at cooking/survival 2 AND is also a good thing to basically replace water with) eggs and wild vegetables.

After you get settled a bit, work on getting a charcoal kiln and a smoking rack. Once you have those and get the charcoal making process going you are set for food. You can also use the smoking rack to cook on.


Its actually not as bad as it seems at first. Ive played a few wilderness characters and right at the start you can get fabrication and survival to 4 fairly easy.

Examine bushes to find things like veggies, roots and eggs. Might seem like you only get crap but those hundreds of bushes add up. Dont worry about the morale penalties they are mostly important when you try to raise skills by repeat crafting, doing complex crafting, butchering, or reading books. Just shove all that food into your face and get back to work.

Once you have survival 2, make a pine shelter so you have somewhere to sleep and then get to grinding fab and survival. It will take a few in game days but dont give up. Even if you have 10 focus and atrocious morale you can still do a simple crafting line itll just take a couple hundred heavy sticks which arent as hard to get as you think.

The goal is to be able to make a charcoal kiln, a butchery rack, a smoking rack, a fiber mat, a stone knife, a hand axe and a stone pot. A shovel also makes it easier to get tons of withered plants. With this bit of kit you will be able to make most food in a few in game days.

You smash small trees for long sticks, drag them all into a huge pile woth drag command (\ i think) and use the butcher key to bulk disassemble them all. Make sure youve made a stone knife if you dont have one. Even a naked guy can get a couple hundred heavy sticks fairly quick.

Then you craft cudgels till fab 1, throwing sticks till surv 2 (look in bushes for surv 1), Then crude arrows or bolts for fab 2, then atlatl for surv 3, distaff and spindle for fab 3.

Once you have 3 in both you can make pretty much all of that stuff above. Use the hand axe to fell trees and cut them into logs and other wood to burn into charcoal. Shove your 2500 charcoal into your smoker and you can cook as much as you want no power needed and no need to mess with annoying fires. Can butcher anything too with a butcher rack + fiber mat + hand axe.

Add a quern and some large container with water next to your smoking rack and youll have all the water you need for cooking. Make some salt from salt water even better.

As for actually getting the food… one of the best foods you can get outside of winter is pine cones. You’ll always be calorie positive. Just examine pine trees to get cones and pine boughs, make a pile and drag the whole mess home. Dandelions are easy veggies. They dont have much for calories but they have nice levels of vitamins. You won’t find much fruit till summer and fall but pine tea, herbal tea and dandelions have plenty of vitamin c. Make a basic fishing rod and find a river or pond and you are set. Cattails also have decent calories and can be used to make flour. When you kill an animal make sure to smoke, salt or dehydrate the meat for preservation and cook the fat into oil, tallow or lard.

Soup is a time consuming recipe and i find that pie works better if you have the fat. Save and preserve everything you can even the bones. Eat everything before it spoils. And dont underestimate hunting with a stupid self bow and crude arrows. Its quick to raise archery and youd be surprised what you can kill. Using a cudgel and baiting a dog or coyote into attacking you can work if you are healthy too. Its a good early defensive weapon. Doesnt do a lot of damage but hits fast and has a huge hit bonus and a good parry bonus.


Early on I get most of my food from house scrounging. It’s rough going for the first several days when your combat skills suck and you can really only go in after dark, but most kitchens will have a day or two’s worth of food in them.

If food is really bugging you early game, just go for a summer start and it gets far easier to scrounge food in the wilderness or from farms.

Once you get over that hump it gets a lot easier, and late game junk food drops from zeds are so common that you could trivially survive off of just a fraction of the candy bars from zeds you kill, except that you need to occasionally supplement your diet with something that isn’t crap. :smiley:

Thanks guys! Finally I survived a few more days than usual!