Food and Food Storage
Food is essential during a survival situation, and the right kind of food is critical. Food is comfort, and provides much needed energy and nutrition to help ward off illnesses. Your activity level may very well increase so a crisis is not the time to reduce your caloric intake.
During a crisis, supply chains will be disrupted and your only source of food will be your stockpile and you may lack refrigeration and the means to prepare food. You have to plan carefully and when calculating amounts you must consider, spoilage, waste, damage and friends and neighbors in need.
Types of Food
Families typically turn to canned foods for emergencies because they are relatively inexpensive, can be eaten from the can and are readily available everywhere. To achieve variety and the proper nutrition a family of four would need at least 12 cans daily. Each person needs one can of protein such as tuna or any meat-based soups, one can of vegetables and one of fruit daily. To supplement have peanut butter and crackers along with dried meats for protein.
For suburban preppers having enough storage space for extended periods may be a problem. You can also can your own foods but unless you can produce your own foods at home, there would not be much point in buying the foods to process at home. Expect a one-year shelf life from date of purchase.
Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) are another option and there are military issue and civilian versions available on the Internet, at surplus outlets and most camping stores. The meals are self-contained and they include the traditional condiments along with eating utensils. Military issue and civilian versions contain roughly 1,200 calories each. The meals can be eaten cold from the package or immersed in hot water for heating. Adults will require two MRE’s per day. The shelf life out of refrigeration unopened ranges from five to seven years. The cost not including shipping or taxes is approximately $7.00-$10.00 USD for each package.
Dehydrated foods are also an option, and they are becoming more popular as an emergency food source. The foods have an extended shelf life of up to 30 years if unopened. There is a large variety of foods available including dried fruits, deserts, potatoes and various meat products. Dehydrated foods will require water for reconstitution and an energy source to heat water for preparation. The food typically come packaged in cans if buying large quantities. Some manufactures will offer package deals where you provide the number of days, months or year’s supply you want and the number of people you expect to feed over that period. They will calculate amounts needed based on two meals per day and set a price and then ship the product to you.
Small children and pets will have different requirements and you must have adequate amounts of food available. Children of course can eat what the parents eat at a certain age if properly prepared. You must have a reliable water source for children on formula, unless you can stockpile liquid formula, which will be more expensive and will require more storage space.
Domesticated animals will not be able to hunt for their own food, but can eat what you eat to some degree, as long as they get adequate protein. Dogs and cats are carnivores and need protein from meat products in their diets. Stockpile dried foods and canned wet foods for all your animals. It is never recommended that you allow any domesticated animal to eat wild game that has not been processed properly because of the numerous diseases they can contract to include rabies. Rabies can be passed from your pet to you as well as harmful bacteria and parasites.
You will need spices such as salt and pepper, garlic powder, dehydrated onions and so forth. You will also need cooking oils, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and vinegar for basic food preparations and baking.
A family of four for a year would need (approximant values only) 200 pounds of rice, 240 pounds of dried milk, 160 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of flour and about 120 pounds of dried beans. Expect to use about eight gallons of cooking oil over the course of a year.
Keep in mind that dehydrated foods, canned foods and MRE’s would provide you with all the basics listed without the need for preparation. The products listed can be stored in the recommended quantities or in lesser amounts and used as supplemental food sources.
Food Source Alternatives
If you live in a rural area and have the land, it is recommended you begin developing your own food sources. You have to consider what happens if the crisis extends beyond your supplies. A relatively small section of land, slightly less than a 1/4 acre (10,890 sq. ft.) will quite easily provide your family with enough produce to eat daily while in season with a surplus to preserve for consumption over the winter months.
You can collect rain runoff to irrigate your garden or have a reliable well available on the property. Livestock can also be raised but consider feed and water requirements, along with medical care. Chickens, goats and even geese can be raised on small sections of land and the feed can be stockpiled. You would need a secure and reliable water source for your livestock.
Hunting and fishing is another option but neither one should be considered a renewable nor reliable food source. During a major disaster, others will be hunting as well and the animal population may very well diminish if the crisis is for an extended period. However, if the disaster has reduced the human population by a sizable amount animal populations may increase initially.
All fresh food and in particular meats must be processed and cooked properly. Without refrigeration spoilage will be an issue and according to some studies families and individuals without adequate refrigeration can expect to lose up to 50 prevent of all fresh foods due to spoilage.
Vegetables and meats can be preserved by drying, pickling, salting and canning. Fresh meats must be processed quickly and the drying/smoking/curing of meats must begin within hours of the kill. Produce can be canned or preserved in brines, and certain meats can as well. However, meat products that are not processed properly during the canning procedure can develop bacteria growth months after canning. Unless under pressure you cannot get the water, hot enough to process certain foods for canning so use caution when pickling or canning meats without a pressure cooker. Water under pressure can reach temperatures in excess of 240ᵒF/115.5ᵒC, which may be required for some products.
General Food Storage Requirements
Grains and grain products such as flour, baked goods to include rice must be stored in airtight glass or food grade plastic containers. Weevils can chew through plastic bags and cardboard. Once inside the weevils will lay eggs in grain and grain products. You can store grains under refrigeration if available.
Do not store any food products where they make contact with concrete floors or soil, unless in waterproof containers.
Bread should be removed from its wrapper and allowed to go stale (or you can toast it) to increase the shelf life. The moisture in the bread is what causes it to mold. Allowing it to go stale by exposing it to air will preserve the bread for longer periods.
PREP NOW – PREP HARD