If you’ve planned well and have an emergency survival kit that includes food rations, you have a better chance of getting through the survival situation smoothly than those who did not put aside rations for such a contingency. Your food supply will get you through the difficult challenges that will come at you in the initial phase, such as assessing the situation, figuring out an action plan, and considering any natural food sources that might be in the vicinity. Your emergency rations might be all you need, since statistics show that in the majority of survival situations, people are rescued or escape unaided within 72 hours.
The importance of having a food supply on hand for a survival situation is crucial. Due to the fact that in our everyday lives, with food sources abundant and close by, we don’t concern ourselves with the possibility that our food supply might one day be cut off. It’s only in a sudden situation, when for example a political crisis or a natural disaster and you’re cut off from the usual food sources that you’ll quickly realize that your very existence is going to depend on your ability to feed yourself.
What is the Ultimate Survival Food?
A frequently asked question is: What’s the best choice of food for survival? It’s an important question to consider for those devoted to the survivalist lifestyle and it’s not a new question, since for years people have been touting such items as ramen and trail mix. These old standbys are OK for a while, but what we are seeking is the answer to the question of what food will sustain us, and possibly even allow us to bloom over an extended period.
“An army travels on its stomach”. This is can truly be said of survivors as well. We are searching for the perfect combination; food that is not only nutritionally balanced but tasty, readily obtained, easy to prepare under difficult conditions and satisfying. Moreover the perfect survival food would keep well during periods when it remains stored, even when the storage is in adverse conditions. This whole list of requirements seems difficult to fulfill but there a number of possible solutions that exist, and finding the perfect one depends on several variables.
One of the variables that need to be taken into consideration is the survival scenario itself and the environment. If you’re traveling on wheels, it may seem that canned food is a practical solution because there will be plenty of room in the van. However, if an unforeseen event happens and you end up on shoe leather as a means of transport, the bulk and weight of the cans would obviously render them impractical. Temperature is also an important consideration since canned food is not impervious to freezing or overheating. For example, some canned foods stored inside a vehicle can spoil in very cold weather, while meat from your own kills can (kept under the same conditions) stay edible for a very long time.
Another consideration in finding the perfect survival food is personal and cultural dietary preferences. Some foods that are favored by some people may be considered inedible for another. An example is dried dog food, which in our culture is looked down upon but which once served a man as his chosen rations on a solitary ocean voyage on a raft. Aside from the cultural distaste for dog food, if you look at it rationally, it fills the bill: it’s cheap, easy to find, has enough nutritional value to be used as the sole diet for dogs, and keeps well for a long time.
The foods you select for your survival kit should be items containing high caloric value, relative to their weight. Peanut butter contains about 200 Calories per table spoon so any food item containing large amounts of it will do. The calories will fuel your survival efforts and keep your sharp and alert. It goes without saying that the food must be long lasting and should not spoil easily.
What Kind of Containers Are best for Storage?
It is essential to use proper food storage containers which can be sealed to effectively keep out agents that cause spoilage, such as moisture, rodents, insects, etc. You can get good metal cans that survival-food manufacturers use for packaging, or you can use plastic buckets. If you choose the latter, you will have to line them with a food-grade plastic liner, available from packaging suppliers. Note that the liners must be food-grade – never use ordinary trash can liners to store foods, as they are pesticide-treated.
Whatever container you use, the last thing you want is for the lids to come off or the containers themselves to be damaged, so take the precaution of not stacking the containers too high, because in an earthquake they may fall and all kinds of damage may be done that you can not easily repair.
Preventing “Appetite Fatigue”
Experience has shown that people who have attempted to live off food items that they had stored for survival have encountered many problems. One of the major reasons for this was that most of these people had stored just a few basic items like wheat, honey, salt and milk. Statistics suggest that trying to live off a steady diet of just these few basic items is going to fail.
Wheat is problematic because there are many people who have an allergy to it. Either these people did not know about the allergy until they were on a constant diet of wheat, or they developed the allergy in the course of eating it so much. When people have to eat the same thing over and over every day, they sometimes end up refusing to eat at all. “Appetite fatigue” is the name for this condition, which afflicts children and the elderly more than others. To prevent this problem, you should calculate the amount of grains to put in storage differently than the usual suggested amounts in survival books.
Store less wheat than is suggested, and make up the difference by adding other grains, especially those that the members of your family enjoy. Beans should be stored as well, and since variety is essential, make sure you store different kinds of beans, thus providing variety in color and taste. Don’t forget to add flavorings such as tomato, onion and bouillon and spices as well, as this will help enormously in providing variety in cooking the beans and grains.
There are specialized cook books on the market that provide recipes for meals to be prepared from stored foods; exploring the pages of a good storage cook book and identifying recipes that use ingredients you and your family like will be a tremendous help to you in selecting food supplies for your survival storage pack.
Should You Store Vitamins?
The answer is an emphatic “yes”, especially if children are among those you’re planning for. Children are less able then adults to maintain a reserve of nutrients in their bodies. The most important types of vitamins you should store are a multivitamin, and Vitamin B. Of course, you may consider others as essential, according to your individual needs and budget.
The Fast ‘n Easy and Mood Boosters
Give some thought to the kinds of items that you can turn to on those days when you are either unable or unwilling to prepare a meal using your basic items. Think of the tried-and-true items we all depend on once in a while, such as no-cooking-required foods, usually in freeze-dried form where you need to add water, or ready-to-eat right out of the package, and of course, canned items as mentioned above. Mood boosters are the goodies that will help you get through the tougher moments – candy, chocolate, pudding mix, etc.
You might think the idea of adding mood boosters to your all-important survival pack is going too far, and that these are luxury items whereas all space in the storage pack should be devoted to more serious stuff. If that is your first reaction upon reading this, keep in mind that this recommendation comes from interviewing people who have actually gone through a true crisis and had to utilize their storage exclusively for a long stretch of time. Most of those people say that, far from being frivolous, the mood boosters were the most valued items in helping them get through an otherwise unbearable situation. It stands to reason that such items are even more vital if children are in the survival group.
Having a Variety in Your Food Storage
Keep in mind the point about variety; don’t make the mistake that many have made in the past, filling their storage plan from a list and paying scant attention to detail – for example, they will see “grains” on the list and buy wheat, filling up the entire grain category with just one item and then going on the next on the list. Balance should be maintained when building your supply by buying a number of items in smaller quantity each, instead of a large quantity of just one item.
Storing an Adequate Amount of Staple Items
As mentioned earlier, it’s unwise to limit your staple food supply to basic items. Variety is the way to go. Be sure to include not only dried foods, whether processed by dehydration or freeze-drying, but also canned products which you’ve either prepared at home or store-bought ones. You won’t be able to add much variety in your cooking if you forget other basic items such as oil, powdered eggs, shortening, baking powder and dried yeast. You will find many more useful tips on what items to store and in what amounts, as well as sources for purchasing them, in the “New Cooking with Home Storage” cook book.
Get Familiar with Your Storage Items
If you’re confronted by an attacking wild animal when you’re going through a jungle, the rifle you’re carrying won’t be of much help if you suddenly realize you don’t know how to use it. Similarly, your storage pack, no matter what care you took in planning it, will not serve its purpose if you and your family are not knowledgeable about the items in it and how to prepare them, and what they taste like. When you are under the kind of stress that is inevitable in an emergency situation, you can’t calmly sit down and read a book about it. So the time to do that is now, it’s just as much a part of survival preparedness as the storage pack itself. When you have begun the process of choosing items, creating recipes, familiarizing yourself with new food, you will see the problems that arise and have time to adjust, remove some items, add those you realize have been missing, etc.
If you study a little history, you soon realize that the kinds of storage items we are considering here are the same basic foods that the pioneers stored and consumed, and if we work at it a little bit, we can follow their example and arrive at our goal of a satisfactory diet with a few extra goodies.