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.

Understanding Your Pressure Canner

Selecting a pressure canner for sale for your home or business use is difficult especially if you do not know how to use it and much more to maximize it to your benefit. This kitchenware may look and sound similar to a pressure cooker, but they actually have differences that are quite interesting to know about. Both cooking apparatuses are useful in pressure-cooking but what makes your canner different?

A pressure canner is a cookware you use to make your own canned foods. This is very useful when storing food that you would like to have throughout the year. These foods are placed in cans or glass jars and heated until a certain pressure is achieved and maintained for a specific time.

Most of the time, your canner is bigger and it contains a jar rack inside where you can properly place your food cans so it won’t dodge inside the cooking device. Make sure that the glass jars are properly sealed before putting them inside the canner. Once you have filled the cooking machine with water, it is very important to check whether the lid is properly closed.

There is a pressure gauge usually located at the top of the canner, together with a valve, that allows you to control the heat and pressure inside the canner. It is dangerous to open the canner when it is cooking because the pressure inside builds up and could cause the same effect when a shaken can of soda is opened.

There are a variety of food that can be stored in the cans, such as pork, beef, chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables and all low acid foods. The time it takes to cook the food depends on the type of food that you are canning. For example, if you are canning vegetables, you can set the pressure to 10 pounds and the timer at 20 minutes.

Before anything else, make sure that you have read the user manual. This is the best way to understand and get to know your pressure canner. You can find lots of instructions online and you can even search for a specific canner model type. Canning is a practical way to store food. Once you understand how it works, you can use it to your advantage.

Food Storage Boxes

To gain any kind of survival advantage, the savvy prepper must consider items essential to life.  Humans cannot live long without food and water, which makes these the two most important survival items.  But what are some ways to store both food and water?

Water storage can be done many ways.  Empty soda bottles that have been washed out are great for storing water.  Larger containers such as blue food-grade 55 gallon barrels or other plastic storage bins that can be easily emptied or filled are great long-term storage options.  For on the go water storage or for ease in rationing, smaller bottled water containers bought in bulk work well.  They can easily supplement any go bag or bug out bag.

Food storage can be done many different ways as well.  5 gallon food-grade buckets can be lined with mylar bags and filled with wheat, rice, oats, legumes, and other dehydrated foods.  If stored in cool areas, like basements and cellars, the enclosed food can remain preserved for 30+ years.  Buckets are easily stackable, but not very portable.  Another food storage option is by packing food into #10 cans.  They also can last 30+ years, and are easily stackable, and are more portable than 5 gallon buckets.  Dehydrated and freeze-dried food is usually found stored in #10 cans.  Stocking up on canned goods at your local supermarket are another food storage option, and can either be stored in automatic can rotators, or in rubbermaid storage bins or other plastic storage boxes.  Canned food has a much shorter shelf life, usually between 6 and 18 months.  Check dates carefully and rotate often.

Military rations are another viable food storage item.  MRE’s, or meals ready to eat, don’t require water or heat to be eaten.  They are very portable and have varied shelf lives, usually between 5-10 years if stored in cool areas.  Many commercially available MREs can be bought in bulk, and come in cardboard storage boxes, which are easy to stack and transport.  If you get excessively large storage boxes, whether they be cardboard or wooden storage boxes, they will be more difficult to store and move.

Food and water storage is essential for the survival minded prepper, and can add great advantage during an emergency.

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