Don’t Starve, with its many expansions and the standalone multiplayer version, Don't Starve Together, offer an appropriately unforgiving experience. Starving is only one concern, you must also survive the many horrors of the game’s eerie world. Keeping monsters at bay and avoiding being frozen, burnt or blown up. To say nothing of getting whacked in the face by a returning boomerang.
There are numerous different eating options and recipes you can craft to keep your hunger topped. As with most survival games (and real life), your hunger will gradually decay as time goes on. Once your hunger meter has been completely depleted, you’ll begin to lose health. Eat something or die, simple as that. To avoid that fate, here’s what you’ll need to know about staying well fed, and ultimately following the namesake of Don’t Starve!
Finding and cooking food in Don’t Starve’s early game
Early in your adventure, you’ll be able to sustain yourself by foraging, consuming Berries, Carrots, and, to a much lesser extent, Seeds. You can roast or toast them over a campfire to for a slight health gain, with the exception of seeds, which provide only an extremely minor gain when cooked. Cooking these foraged ingredients will get you through your first couple of days, but cooked Berries will expire quickly (only three days), and wild-harvested carrots will not re-spawn. Expect your most convenient food options to dwindle fast.
Crafting an Ice Box to avoid food expiration
Possibly the most limiting factor in your hunger is not the availability of food, but the fact that food will spoil. Perished food can be used as fertilizer or as fuel, so it’s not entirely useless, but you certainly won’t want to eat it (we shouldn't have to tell you this), as it will ding both your hunger and health.
You can avoid ending up with a chest full of rot by crafting an Ice Box as soon as possible. They require some specific, relatively hard to find items, but there’s fairly reliable sources for each ingredient if you’re willing to do the (virtual) leg work.
Ice Boxes will reduce a food’s spoilage rate by 50% and requires an Alchemy Engine station along with 1 Boards, 1 Gears, and 2 Gold Nugget. The Gears are going to be the hardest part, as you’ll either have to get lucky or defeat some challenging enemies in order to get them to drop. Here’s how you can obtain each of these items:
Boards: Boards are simple. Chop trees with an axe, get Logs, craft Boards.
Gears: Gears drop from Clockwork monsters, found in the small Chess biomes (you’ll know one when you see it). A more reliable early game source, however, is Tumbleweeds, which were added in the Reign of Giants DLC. Tumbleweeds drop some very helpful items, including some uncommon monster loot, and have a 1% chance to drop Gears. Head out to the nearest desert biome and hunt down every monster in sight!
Gold Nugget: Gold Nuggets require more effort too. You’ll have to search your map for Rockylands or Savanna to find Boulders with gold veins. Such boulders will look noticeably different, as you’ll be able to see the gold.
Use Drying Racks to preserve meat
Until you’re able to craft an Ice Box, and even afterwards, Drying Racks are a huge help. They’re easy to craft, requiring only 3 Twigs, 2 Charcoal, and 3 Rope, so once you have a Science Machine you should have no problem creating a few Racks. You’ll want more than one, as drying meat can take up to 2 days per piece. Drying meat creates Jerky, depending on what kind of meat you use, and it can last 20 days before spoiling. Additionally, if you have spare racks, the meat will not start to perish until you’ve actually removed it from the rack, making it a good way to preserve food for when you need it prior to obtaining an Ice Box.
Now we’re cooking (with a Crock Pot)
Likely even before you’re even worrying about an Ice Box, you’ll want to get your hands on at least one Crock Pot. They’re easy to craft, requiring only 3 Cut Stone, 6 Charcoal, and 6 Twigs. Be careful when burning trees to obtain that Charcoal, okay? Once you’ve created your Crock Pot, it’s time to start throwing things in it.
There are a total of 48 recipes that can be cooked in the Crock Pot, and each requires four ingredients, more than required for a specific recipe. You’ll have to throw in any extra ingredients needed to reach four total, and can actually use Twigs as a filler in many recipes. Yum. Twigs.
Early on, you’ll simply be throwing in whatever ingredients you have and hoping for the best. Be careful when using Monster Meat, however, as it can increase your chances of the recipe creating Monster Lasagna. While it does replenish hunger, you will take a huge hit to your health and sanity by consuming it.
Crock Pot recipes to remember
Once you’ve established farms and other renewable sources, there are specific recipes you’ll want to try. When using meat in a recipe, you’ll want to check the recipe to find out whether you need to use a large piece of meat or a morsel, acquired from smaller critters including rabbits and crows. Be careful with the Monster Meat. Here are some of our favorite, most efficient and effective recipes for the Crock Pot:
- Meatballs: 1 Morsel + 3 “filler” ingredients (such as Berries, Carrots, Mushrooms)
- Meaty Stew: 2 Meat + 2 “filler” ingredients
- Bacon and Eggs: 1 Morsel, 1 Monster Meat, 2 Eggs
- Taffy: 3 Honey
- Trail Mix: 1 Birchnut (cooked into a Roasted Birchnut), 2 Berry, 1 “filler”
- Dragon Pie: 1 Dragonfruit + 3 “filler” (non-Meat)
Setting up renewable sources of ingredients
If you’re in it for the long haul (and you should be), you’ll want to craft items and structures in your base camp that will provide renewable sources. Here’s what you’ll want to have:
Early on, and really throughout the rest of the game, Traps will be your friend. You can set traps directly above Rabbit Holes to catch Rabbits, which are a great source of morsels. You can also place them near a Spider Den to trap Spiders, which are a good source of Monster Meat, Spider Glands (used for crafting health recovery items), and Silk.
You can make things a bit easier on yourself once you’ve established a basic camp by crafting a shovel, digging up Berry Bushes, and replanting them nearby. This will provide an easily accessible and reliable source of food until you’re able to get better established and progress through the technology trees to unlock helpful new items and gain access to better food. Do note, however, that the Berries take an incredibly long time to regrow (3-5 days) and will eventually require fertilization with Manure, which may be a wasteful use of the waste compared to using it in a farm. Additionally, they will not produce Berries in winter.
As mentioned above, Spiders are your friends! Other than the whole wanting to kill you thing, and the fact that they’re also only useful to you dead. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can actually dig up a Spider Den using your Shovel and relocate it nearby. If you do plan on doing this, we recommend placing them a few screens away from your base camp, so you’re dealing with spiders only when its convenient.
BEES! Bee Boxes are a great source of Honey. Early on, you’ll have to obtain Honey by defeating Bees and destroying their Beehives, which will provide you with the Honeycomb needed to craft your first Bee Box. Once you have a few Bee Boxes set up, it’s important to keep in mind that the efficiency of your bees will increase with more flowers planted nearby. To plant flowers, catch Butterflies with your Bug Net and plant them nearby. You may also consider investing in a Beekeeper’s Hat, which will absorb most of the damage from Bees.
Once you’ve made your way to a Swamp and have acquired some Cut Reeds, you can use them to craft 2 Papyrus and, along with 6 Gold Nuggets and 2 Seeds, craft a Birdcage. Using Silk from your friends, the Spiders, you can then craft a Bird Trap to catch your very own bird. You can place only a single bird in each Birdcage, and feeding him meat will produce Eggs. It’s worth noting that your bird won’t eat Monster Meat, but is happy to gobble down any spoiled Meat you have neglected, and will still produce a fresh Egg every time.