Friday Food Storage Quickie

Sharon December 18th, 2009

Friday again!  Time to add more to the food storage.  Ok, this week we’re going to take advantage of holiday sales and add beverages and some quick cooking food.  This is a departure from our usual focus on nutritious staples, but it is a necessary one.

Why this stuff instead of more basic staples?  Well, there are a couple of reasons. In the case of beverages, most of all they are useful for keeping everyone hydrated and comfortable.  In a real emergency you may find yourself drinking water that has been stored for a while, or powdered milk or soymilk.  Moreover, you may be living with a lot less heat, and need hot beverages to keep yourself warm internally.  Plus, if you a caffeine addict or even psychologically addicted to your cuppa, you will be very, very unhappy in a difficult time if you don’t have your fix.  No one needs a crisis and a caffeine headache.

The same goes for the quick cook staples – you may not have a lot of cooking energy to use, or you may need to evacuate and cook quickly over an open fire, sterno or camp stove.  Or you may be so enmeshed in a crisis that you simply have no time to cook staple foods.  So everyone needs to have a small reserve of edible, tasty, calorically dense and tolerably nutritious quick-cooking food.  It is possible to buy this from good sources or preserve it yourself, and if you can, I’d certainly advise that, but I’m assuming here that most of us will be going to a regular supermarket.

What should you store?  Well, for beverages, it depends on what you drink.  Our family drinks water most of the time, but the reality is that stored water may not taste all that good.  Adults can force themselves to drink, but kids may not – and can become seriously dehydrated.  So I advise families with kids to get a flavoring agent – the best is probably Tang or Hi-C – these are not normal staples in my house, I know they are junk, but I think it is the better part of valor in difficult imes.  They cover unpleasant tastes and do add some vitamin C, which is often in short supply.  Or you can store honey, rose hips and a favored herb, and make sweet vitamin C-rich tea for your kids, if they will drink it, although you will be able to taste the water through this more. 

If you store powdered milk, rice or soy milk you might want some cocoa – you can store cocoa powder and sugar or instant cocoa, as your family prefers.  It isn’t as good as fresh, but it will be more palatable than most dry milks.  Or you can store the ingredients to make spiced milk – honey, cardamom and cinnamon.

If you store coffee, I think the best option are vacuum sealed whole beans kept frozen until the power goes out, and a manual grinder and press pot or non-electric percolator.  For tea, you can buy fair trade bulk tea in mylar bags and freeze it – don’t forget a tea ball. 

What about quick cooking foods?  The cheapest, as we all know, are ramen – if you are going to buy these, I think it is worth buying slightly higher quality ones available in some asian grocers – they tend to be tastier too.  But even plain old ramen will do.  They aren’t nutritious, and they are extremely high in salt, so make sure you have water with you, but mixed with some foraged dandelions or lambsquarters they will be decent.  Some shelf-stable tofu actually brings you into the range of “not-that-bad-for-you.”

Canned soup is fine if you aren’t planning on evacuating – it gets heavy if you have to carry it, and it shouldn’t be frozen, because it ruins taste and texture.  You can can your own soup, of course, but if you are buying commercial varieties, or need metal cans, I’d recommend low-salt varieties that don’t require water added – organic if you can find it, but Progresso or something similar if not. 

Dry bean “cup a soups” are good if you have water – often salty, again, but with more fiber and calories.  I do *not* recommend MRES – everything on this list is tastier by a good long bit.   If you can buy good quality hiking food, that will be better than much of this, but I’m assuming here that most of us are looking at supermarkets.  If you like it, instant foods like rice a roni and macaroni and cheese are another option, although they will take more fuel to cook.   

To supplement this, I’d add some good quality trail mixes (no chocolate, which may melt), some hard candy (I use dum dum lollipops, since they are small and come in quantity) for quick energy and as a bribe when things get nasty, along with dried fruit and nuts already in storage.  You can make up small packages, one for each meal, say with a ramen pack, a small package of dried fruit, some nuts, a piece of candy and a small ziplock of your favorite water-taste coverer and put them in bug-out bags.

I don’t like most energy bars that you can buy commercially – they tend to be sweet and bland, and offer a lot of crap for the money, but they can be a good addition to a bug-out bag. You can also order ones made for real emergency use that are of higher quality and better nutrition.

You can go with peanut butter and crackers – whole grain rye crackers last a long time, along with dried fruit and whole nuts.  But when you do it, think about circumstances – how long will your family be content with peanut butter and crackers?  There’s something to be said for a reasonably comforting quick food – soup is probably worth keeping on hand. 

Again, I’m not suggesting that anyone rely on processed and preserved foods as a basic staple - you want to be eating whole foods, not processed crap. But there may be times when that’s not possible, and adding a little bit to your reserve is a good idea, enough for a few meals when no one has the ability to focus on food.

Finally, our non food item this week will be multi-vitamins.  Yes, I’ve put this on before, but let’s make sure you really do have an adequate supply.  I’d also take this time to check over your evacuation kit, and make sure it has things like band-aids, ibuprofen and other basic first aid materials.

Cheers,

Sharon

16 Responses to “Friday Food Storage Quickie”

  1. Sarahon 18 Dec 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I particularly like ramen-style noodles for quick food, because the seasoning comes in a little packet, allowing you to adjust how much you actually put in. I find half a packet quite sufficient most of the time.

  2. Denise (Illinois)on 18 Dec 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Considering the mac n’ cheese suggestion and the comment that they take more fuel, I have found that in preparing these if you heat the water in which any pasta cooks to a boil, turn off the heat, then cover the pot with a lid, the pasta will be perfectly done in 15 or 20 minutes.

  3. Paula Hewitton 18 Dec 2009 at 2:57 pm

    my problem with storing this type of food is that it is stuff we wouldnt normally eat but we eat it when it comes close to its use-by date, and the kids develop a taste for ramen noodles and crappy museli bars. how do you handle this?

  4. Sharonon 18 Dec 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Paula – Donate it? The other thing is that most of this food doesn’t really go bad the instant it hits its expiration date – really, ramen is so processed you can eat it forever.

    Sharon

  5. Fernon 18 Dec 2009 at 5:10 pm

    My son’s in college – ramen (and sushi) are his major food groups.

  6. Claireon 18 Dec 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I remember grocery shopping in grad school and coming home with multiple packages of ramen noodles of different flavors. They could have an ad campaign: Ramen Noodles: The Student’s Best Friend.

    OK, now you know why I didn’t go into advertising. But ramen noodles are great camping food too, especially if you don’t want to have to take a cooler and be dependent on ice. Cook up enough packages to feed everyone, and you’re done.

  7. Anonymouson 19 Dec 2009 at 1:25 am

    cocoa powder is a great idea – along with some sugar, of course. Honey keeps forever but is heavy. I think nut butters and tahini are very very useful. if you have honey, nut butter, and oats, you have “treats” that will keep kids going a long time. Even better with raisins or other dried fruit. I am also a gigantic advocate of “flavor packets,” – things like dried onion soup mix, or taco seasoning, or dill dip mix, or anything like that. These packets are extremely cheap and lightweight (twenty of them wouldn’t weigh a pound) and can really make a gigantic differenmce when it comes to eating the same thing every night, if it ever did come to that.

  8. Bradon 20 Dec 2009 at 4:10 am

    Instead of Tang or Hi-C there are powdered sports drink mixes, which are likely a *little* better for you than just pure sugar and artificial flavor, and still taste pretty good. My neighbor brings a mix whenever he’s working out doors, and just makes a weak blend to add a little flavor and some electrolytes to his water.

    I had a little chuckle to think of using lollipops as a bribe. :) Remember “Hotel Rwanda” and the importance of his high end liquor cabinet?

  9. Sarahon 21 Dec 2009 at 1:11 am

    What about packing Emergen-C packets for flavoring drinks. More healthy and flavorful.

    There’s a company in Idaho – MaryJane’s Farm, I think it’s called – that sells fantastic, organic, high-quality, and *tasty* camping food. I have that in our emergency backpacks.

  10. Eliseon 22 Dec 2009 at 4:44 pm

    This does not qualify as a quickie food storage item, but with some lead time to prepare lightweight food that can be packed and only needs water and cooking to be able to eat it, the book, The Dehydrator Bible by Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt & Don Mercer has almost 100 pages of camping food mixes. They all look like they would taste good. There are instructions for cooking grains, cottage cheese and beans and then dehydrating them, which never would have occured to me.

  11. ctdaffodilon 22 Dec 2009 at 6:13 pm

    hormel vegetarian chili in a can. Since I have tons of beans on hand already its what I’m stocking up on. Its salty and seasoned enough I can add a can of pinto or kidneys to it with a can of chopped tomatos – totally stretches it out and mellows the flavors enough for my brood. And its really good on Baked Potatos.

  12. jweber6on 22 Dec 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I think the ideal quick cooking food to store would be couscous. The quick cooking varieties found in grocery stores jsut need poured into boiling water and set in five minutes. By itself couscous can be dry, unflavorful and very unappealing. However, it takes on very easily the flavor of whatever herbs, spices or sweeteners you add to it. My favorites are brown sugar and butter, or curry and thyme.

  13. Sarah Worrelon 24 Dec 2009 at 12:43 am

    One thing about Top Ramen is that the flavor packets contain MSG. If that is something you are concerned about with your food you will want to find another brand, or not use the flavoring packets of that particular brand. Also, Dum Dums are wrapped in paper. I’ve bought boxes of them from the company directly, and the paper does end up sticking to the candy if not kept in the appropriate conditions after about a year.

  14. Jasonon 24 Dec 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Gotta take away that stuff about Casaubon on your top page. Anyone new to the place is going to wonder why it’s there.

  15. Carolineon 30 Dec 2009 at 10:42 am

    Hi everyone,

    Sorry it this sounds stupid, but what is people’s motivation for storing food? Natural disasters? War?

    Just want to understand….

  16. MEAon 12 Jan 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I store food in case I need it…I’m not that worried about why I’ll need it —I mean, I am worried, but I don’t try to decide it job loss (mine or someone elses) is more likely than super-flu or EMP.

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