Emergency Food Supplies – Give Yourself Some Options

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After water, food is probably the most important survival item to make sure you have stored and ready for a potential disaster. You won’t die immediately without food, but a couple of days without enough calories and you will start to notice a significant drop in energy, cognitive and fine motor skills, and morale. Even though it is widely accepted in the prepping community that you will be able to survive for up to 3 weeks without food, the loss of those things listed above can be a real threat to your safety. There are a lot of resources out there on the interwebs on emergency food supplies written by survivalists, outdoor experts, ex-special forces, and so on. My aim isn’t to be an end-all be-all defining line in the sand on which type of food is better or which brand of freeze-dried food tastes better or anything like that. I will just lay out some of the different options available for you to try. It’s all about having different options. And trying this stuff out is key, especially if you have picky eaters in your home (spouse, kids). Food fatigue is a real issue, and storing a bunch of rice and beans and calling it good can lead to slow starvation that food fatigue brings.

The different emergency food supply options can be broken down into a couple of different categories: canned goods, MREs, freeze-dried goods, and dry goods. Let’s take an in depth look at these categories below, in order of shortest to longest shelf life.

Canned Goods

Canned goods are a great starting point for anyone interested in building up their emergency food supplies. The beauty of this category is that it consists of food you and your family are likely already eating on a regular basis, and it is easy to have instant variety. It is inexpensive to build up your pantry compared to the other categories on this list.

One great suggestion that I read is to have about a month supply of food in your pantry (or if your pantry is small, as long as possible) that is properly organized and easy to rotate. Once you have that, double everything but store the copy in a plastic storage bin in your basement or under a bed somewhere. You could even make a 2nd copy to give you 3 months of easy to prepare emergency food storage. How do you arrive at that first month supply? Glad you asked.

Start by keeping track of what you and your family eat from your pantry for an entire month. Get yourself a cheap notebook and keep it in your pantry. Every time you use something, write it down. At the end of the month, see how much of each item you used. Over the next couple store visits, replenish what you used during the month and start to build your 2nd and if you choose, the 3rd extra month supply.

Don’t forget to rotate those bins every month. Set a reminder on your phone or on outlook or other calendar. Canned goods are easy to prepare, but they have a limited shelf life. You won’t be able to fill up a couple bins and leave them for the next 25+ years.

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup, Chicken Flavor, 3 oz, 36 Packs

Pros – Inexpensive, easy to prepare, instant variety, what you are already used to eating

Cons – short shelf life, constant rotation and expiration date checking (most work)

MREs

MREs, or meals ready to eat, are very popular among the prepping and survival crowd. Part of this comes from the fact that many in the prepping community are former/current military personnel, and are used to eating MREs. But even for those not used to MREs from military training, MREs just make a lot of sense when it comes to emergency food supplies. Let me elaborate.

MREs, as the name says, are ready made meals that can be eaten right out of the packaging, hot or cold. No cooking is required, which is usually required to some extent in the other categories (maybe not a can of baked beans or spaghetti-os), which makes this a great portable emergency food supply option. There is also quite a bit of variety with these meals, depending on the brand you purchase and whether you purchase full meals, just entrees or sides.

MREs range in price depending on the brand and where you buy them from. If you are current military, you will probably get the best deals from the commissary. Everyone else, shop around online. Below is an option from Amazon that comes highly rated.

The question that everyone is dying to know – are they any good? I actually like a lot of the MREs out there. Some of the sides not so much, but the entrees are quite palatable, although they are much better when warmed up than cold (with the handy MRE heaters). You don’t get the flavor that you would get with a freeze-dried meal (MREs utilize preservatives to extend the shelf life vs removing all the H2O). If you plan on storing MREs, I would strongly suggest buying a variety box of entrees and trying every one of them to see what you think. When it comes to ready-to-eat, portable emergency food supplies that have a mid-range shelf life (~5 years), you can’t go wrong with MREs.

Pros – portable, ready-to-eat, variety, better shelf life than canned goods, many calories

Cons – more expensive, only ~5 year shelf life, rotation necessary (not as much as with canned goods)

Freeze-dried Emergency Food Supplies

Within the last decade or so, freeze-dried emergency food supplies have really made big headway in the market. Before, NASA was basically the only group interested in freeze drying food for their astronauts in outer space. Now, it seems a new company is coming out every month with their own freeze-dried meal recipes for emergency storage. There are lots of options varying a lot in price from brand to brand. Mountain House used to dominate this market. Now there are several high-quality companies competing for market share, like Honeywell, Wise Company, Thrive, and Backpackers Pantry.

Freeze-dried meals have some nice advantages. First is shelf life, with most touting at least 25 years as the standard now-a-days. Because of how they are prepared, they are completely water free. This makes them very portable and lightweight compared to MREs and canned goods. However, you will need to re-hydrate the food before it will be edible.

The freeze-drying process preserves the flavors of the food very well, without the need to add a lot of extra preservatives, so the flavors will be excellent with most well-known brands. The meals do require some preparation, but not a lot (usually just boiling some water and mixing with the food and waiting for 10 minutes for the food to re-hydrate).
Like with the MREs, my suggestion is to buy a variety meal pack and try out the different meal options before stocking up (they can be pricey). This Mountain House entrée pack is a great place to start. I would prefer to eat a freeze-dried meal entree over an MRE any day of the week.

Pros – Long shelf life, lightweight, delicious

Cons – Expensive, requires preparation

Dry Goods

Dried Pinto Beans – 20 lbs.

In the realm of food storage, dry goods take the grand prize in shelf life (as long as they are stored properly). Scientists actually found grain buried with an Egyptian Pharaoh that was still good after more than a thousand years. If done properly, this category can long outlast us.

Common dry goods include rice, beans, wheat (red and white), oats, and popping corn. The combination of rice and black or pinto beans can sustain life almost by itself, and is the basic food of many undeveloped countries. Wheat can be use in a variety of different ways, from sprouting to grinding for flour.

Dry goods are very inexpensive for the total amount of nutrition they provide. I can regularly find 50 pound bags of White or Red wheat for around $14, 50 pound bags of white rice for around $20, and 20 pound bags of pinto or black beans for around $15 in early 2015.

The main drawbacks when it comes to dry goods include the weight, extra work to store the food, and the sometimes extensive work in preparing the food for consumption. It is way easier to rip open an MRE, open a can of soup, or even prepare a freeze-dried meal than to cook a meal that consists of dry goods, which could include grinding the grain, extensive boiling, or even sprouting the grains. Preparing the dry goods for long term storage is also extra work that isn’t required with the other categories.

A sensible approach when dealing with dry goods is to start small and to only store items that you will actually use. There is absolutely no use in storing 1000 pounds of red wheat in your basement if you don’t know how to turn the wheat into something edible. I recommend some rice and your bean of choice (black, pinto, kidney) to start out with. A couple hundred pounds of each will do a lot to extend your family’s survival without adding a lot of extra work for food prep (boil the rice, soak beans overnight and boil them with some seasonings, viola!).

Pros – Inexpensive, longest shelf life, nutritious

Cons – Heavy, extra work to prepare and store, needs extra seasonings and ingredients to help taste, not used to eating

Preparing your dry goods for long term storage requires some extra work, food grade containers (5 gallon buckets work great), mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers. Below is a great video to walk you through the steps.

Balanced Approach

So which category do I recommend for you to build your emergency food supplies? All of them. Let me explain why. If you were to just focus on canned goods, you would be alright in the short term, but after you run out or they go stale, depending on the duration of the emergency, you might not be able to re-supply. The longer shelf life food supplies can sustain you for a long time, but nobody wants to eat bland rice and beans every day for a year.

The key is to balance your storage with a variety from these 4 categories. I recommend starting with the canned goods, especially since you and your family are already eating these items on a regular basis. Top Ramen, Spaghetti-Os, canned chili and Mac and Cheese are comfort items and will not only provide sustenance but also a sense of normalcy during trying times. Expand into the MREs and Freeze-dried meals next, but be careful of the price, as it is easy to spend an entire paycheck at once. Lastly, diversify with some longer-term dry goods to round out your emergency food supplies.

It’s all about options. A well balanced plan will see you and your loved ones through an emergency scenario. If you haven’t built up your supplies, the most important thing to do is to start. Start today. Good luck!

Food Insurance Essentials Kit Review

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We’ve all heard of the rumors started by doomsdayers about the Mayan apocalypse that’s supposed to come on December 21, 2012. I know what you’re thinking: they have been wrong so many times before, so why should they be right now? Personally, I highly doubt the whole Mayan apocalypse nonsense; I think it’s a bunch of brainless and baseless babble. However, what I can’t deny is that the world seems to be experiencing quite an increase of both natural and man-made disasters.

Whether it’s tsunamis in Asia, hurricanes in America, economic depression in Europe, the threat of war in the Middle East, or the melting of the ice caps in the Poles, one thing’s for certain: something’s definitely wrong with the world as we know it. As such, it isn’t really surprising if you’re worried about you and your family’s safety. In fact, I’d be more shocked if you weren’t concerned at all about all that’s going on around us.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying that the world is coming to an end, but I’d rather have a plan and not need it, than need a plan and not have it. If you feel the same as I do, here are a few things I think you should consider doing:

  1. First off, always have an emergency bug-out plan (no, it has nothing to do with bugs). When I say bug-out, I mean escape plan. When worse comes to worst, the best thing to do is to keep a level head to be able to make logical decisions. Having a plan for the worst is a good way to keep your calm and prepare yourself mentally for whatever might happen. If you’re taking care of some people, then it might also be a good idea to set an emergency rendezvous point where you can meet up and escape together.
  2. Secondly, make sure you have an emergency supply of all your essentials. Bring along some food, water, medical supplies, hygiene products, personal safety gear, and maintenance tools. Iff you plan on building your own emergency food supply, be sure to consider buying freeze-dried food for survival. Check out these Food Insurance reviews for more information.
  3. Lastly, teach yourself some survival skills. While it is admirable to take an intensive training workshop, knowing how to apply first aid, bandages, and CPR will do for starters. If you want to go a step beyond the basics, try getting some wilderness survival training from your local campers or outdoorsmen.

How To Have A Safe Food Kitchen

There are things that people can do to keep their kitchen food friendly. The more people care for their foods, the better off they are. Here are the tips that many have found to be very useful and reduce the risks of individuals getting sick from the food that they have on hand. these are some good tips for people looking to get their food handler permit as well.

The first thing is to look at what temperature the refrigerator is set on. A person does not want this to be too cold. This can freeze things. However, they want the temperature of the refrigerator to be cold enough. It is suggested that it be kept at forty degrees Fahrenheit. The other thing about the refrigerator is that once people open things, they might save things if they do not use it all. However, they have to know how old it is. Putting dates on things can help with this. They say that if they do not know how old it is, then they should go to throw it away.

Food Service Polyethelyne Gloves Medium 100/Bx

Some people need to look at how often they change out their dish towels and their wash rags. If they do not do this often enough, they can find that this can be very dangerous. The thing about this is that bacteria can thrive on here and if they do not wash them, they could become contaminated. For the same reason, cutting boards and counters need to be washed regularly as well and with warm water and bleach if possible.

When people cook in their own kitchen, they need to be sure that they cook things all the way through. These are things that some people do not do. They like their burgers rare, but this could be something that could have bacteria in it and all. This could be very harmful.

Another thing that people need to do when in their own kitchen is making sure that they put things in the proper place. They need to be sure that things that have dairy product in them are put in the refrigerator. There are some things that on the packages they tell a person that once it has been opened, they then need to be sure they refrigerate it. There is a reason. If they are not sure, then reading the package can assist with directing them as to if they do or do not need to refrigerate them. These are some of the things that people out there are not doing and can cause big problems for them and their family.

Pleasure Cooking Is Long And Slow

I watched a TV show the other day where two chefs, Guy and Rachel, had a group of celebrities paired off in teams for a cooking competition. It was the cooking world’s version of American Idol and Dancing With the Stars rolled into one. I did not like it.

Cooking is not a competitive sport. It should be fun and pleasurable. There is nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon of making a slow chicken gumbo recipe. As a matter of fact, part of making the recipe calls for making a roux on low to medium heat. It cautions you to cook it long and slow while you are attending it and stirring constantly. There is something very sensuous about cooking gumbo. The flavors are slowly infused into the soup.

New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups (Classic Recipes Series)

Gumbo is a cross between a soup and a dish. The word gumbo is an African word for okra. Okra is sticky and gooey when you slice it up to put into the soup. Gumbo becomes a hearty and flavor filled soup. It is a soup my grandma would say that “sticks to your ribs”. I think that means that it fills you up and if you eat enough of it, it would make you fat. I don’t think there is a danger of that.

When you are looking for a special dish that is colorful and spicy, try this. I cooked it on Christmas Eve for dinner. It has green and red bell peppers and green okra. It is served around a small mound of white rice. It made a festive looking dish for a humble soup.

You can make variations of this using shrimp and chicken, smoked ham and chicken or serve it in a vegetarian style. Play with the flavors and spices to suit your taste and how spicy you are feeling at the time. For more delicious soup recipes, visit eatdinner4two.com. I love to cook soups long and slow on a cold winter afternoon.

The Many Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

One of the most famous health remedies used today for various purposes is apple cider vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar is not new. It has been used by people for hundreds of years in the treatment of various ailments. Hippocrates himself is said to have used apply cider vinegar as an antibiotic. There are various apple cider vinegar benefits.  Although there are some benefits derived from apple cider have not been confirmed by scientific studies, it is still a trusted product and a lot of people swear by all the good things it can do for the body.

Bragg - Apple Cider Vinegar, gallon, 1 liquid

A lot of people are asking, is cider vinegar the same as apple cider vinegar. Yes, both are one and the same. Apple cider vinegar is made from cider or apple must. It has an amber color.

  • Apple cider vinegar makes a very good toner. It improves the skin on your face. Just dilute equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water. However, you should be very careful because apple cider vinegar can have a very bad effect on your eyes.
  • Apple cider vinegar has the ability to reduce the aches and pains of getting sunburn. Just soak a piece of cloth in the vinegar and apply it to the sunburn gently.
  • Women also use apple cider as a douche for yeast infections. But, there is also talk that apple cider can worsen an already existing yeast infection.
  • Apple cider has long been promoted as a treatment for arthritis. Even the National Arthritis Foundation says that apple cider has been proven effective in treating arthritis.
  • If you have an issue with very high levels of cholesterol in your body, try apple cider vinegar. You can also drink teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water daily to help lower your blood pressure.
  • It has also been reported that apple cider can treat warts. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar and soak the affected area in it.

Easy Tips To Boost Your Barbecue Food

Do you love the taste of authentic grilled food? Barbecue is one of the best family traditions around, and it’s a great opportunity to show off your culinary skill. You don’t have to be an expert in order to reach barbecue perfection but it certainly helps when you have a bit of experience. When everything comes together perfectly, it results in a wonderful combination of good fun and delightful food. Here are some easy tips you can follow to make sure that your next barbecue experience is a memorable one.

Clean your equipment – it all starts with the equipment you use and you should make sure to have a solid gas or charcoal grill. But buying yourself the perfect grill is just the first step, and you’re going to need to maintain it in order to get good food each and every time. Try to clean your barbecue after each cooking session so that you don’t have to worry about caked-on grease building up in between your barbecue meals. Don’t forget about making sure that your utensils and tools are sparkling clean as well.

Plan ahead – your barbecue can be as simple or complex as you like, but it’s always a good idea to make sure that you are prepared. That means knowing what you are going to cook and having a few backup items just in case. It’s always a good idea to incorporate one or two new dishes so that you can continually expand your overall menu. As long as you are organized, you’ll be able to handle any challenge that will come your way.

Only use fresh ingredients – stay away from frozen foods that are supposed to make barbecue more convenient. They might speed up the cooking process but they dramatically reduce the amount of taste and flavor. Only use fresh ingredients and quality cuts of meat that you buy the day of the barbecue. Remember, just because something might make the process easier doesn’t mean it will increase the overall enjoyment of the meal.

Make your own sauce – you might not know it now, but making BBQ sauce is actually quite easy. If you can heat up a can of soup, the basic mechanics are the same. All you need are your ingredients in one place and about half an hour to cook them up. Making your own sauce gives you a chance to stamp your food with your own personal signature. It can be a lot tastier than using generic barbecue sauce that you buy in a bottle from your local grocery store.

Side dishes – off course big juicy steaks, chicken burgers, and chicken wings are important to traditional barbecue. But no meal would be complete without favorites such as coleslaw, potato salad, or a nice fresh garden salad. Make sure that you have a wide array of side dishes to balance out heavier items on the menu. There are plenty of side dishes that can be prepared by other members of the family so that your barbecue becomes a family event.

Make it healthy – you don’t necessarily have to feature meat at your next barbecue meal. Modern gas grills have a tremendous amount of finesse which means you have full control over temperature. Using different settings, you can master the art of cooking vegetables that will taste better than anything you’ve had before. Don’t be afraid to include a bit of variety that boosts the health sector of barbecue which has traditionally been associated with unhealthy eating.