Stockpiling food is one of the basics of emergency preparedness and it requires careful planning. Choosing the right survival foods for your pantry becomes a vital preparedness step. You will rely on those supplies to survive when it hits the fan.
Your survival pantry should be well-equipped and diversity is the key word if you want to avoid food fatigue. There are many ways you can stockpile your pantry and there are many survival foods that can satisfy even the pickiest eaters. However, the survival foods available on the market have their own pros and cons. You should be aware of these characteristics before you put together your pantry.
Survival foods – Freeze-dried food
When it comes to survival foods, freeze-dried goods are gaining more and more popularity. You can buy these foods already packaged for long-term storage or you can freeze-dry your own goods at home if you can afford a freeze dryer.
Pros: Freeze dried food has a long shelf life and is an ideal choice for your survival pantry. It has a low content of moisture and it can be reconstituted quickly. The taste of freeze-dried food is well preserved and it tastes much better than dehydrated food. Freeze drying is an ideal solution for storing dry meat for when there is no power. Freeze dried-food retains its original shape, color and texture even after reconstitution and this makes it appealing for kids.
Cons: This is probably the most expensive storage food option for your survival pantry; unless you have your own freeze dryer. In order to prepare freeze-dried food you will need water, and this could be a problem in an emergency situation. This food is bulkier than the dehydrated food and you would require more storage room to store it for more extended periods of time. It can also be difficult to carry when bugging out compared to other foods.
Survival foods – Dehydrated Food
Dehydrating food is one of the lost ways of food preservation and our forefathers used to rely on this method to store food for extended periods of time. Ice was a rare commodity back then and refrigerators weren’t common household items as they are today. However, there was plenty of sun and they had many ways to improvise solar dehydrators.
Pros: Dehydrated food is very light weight compared to the other survival foods listed in this article. These foods are waste free and also have shallow content of moisture, just like the freeze-dried food. A lower content of humidity means longer shelf life and this type of food is not easily spoiled. Since dried food loses a lot of weight and moisture during the dehydrating process, it is an ideal addition to your bug out bag. It is a cheap food storage alternative for your pantry since you can dehydrate food at home using a simple food dehydrator and your own produce from the garden.
Recommended reading: Dehydrating food at home
Cons: Dehydrated food requires water to be prepared and water could become a luxury in any survival situation. These items have poor visual appeal in general. The kids and the old folks might not like the idea of a diet composed of mostly dehydrated food. It is also known that dehydrated food loses its taste after being reconstituted. Another problem is that dehydrated food also loses its nutritional value since it takes longer to reconstitute.
Survival foods – Ready To Eat Meals (MRE)
This is a self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging bought by the United States military for its service members. It is used in combat or any other conditions where classical food facilities are not available. MREs are available to the general public for quite some time now.
These types of survival foods have become very popular among preppers and survivalists. I’ve noticed that during holiday sales these products are bought in large quantities and you have to move quickly if you want to get some. MRE’s contain almost everything for a complete meal, including desert and are fortified with nutrients.
Pros: Since you have everything in one package, MRE’s are very convenient to use and you don’t need cooking skills to prepare them. These survival foods are very similar to your everyday meals although they may have a different texture. You do not require water to cook the meal and usually, no mixing or blending is needed. These are ideal survival foods for a grid down event since they can be prepared and eaten without electricity. You can even heat them for a hot meal and you can eat them straight from the pouch.
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Cons: Different people, different preferences! This saying is valid when it comes to MREs since their taste is not meant for everybody. Although it provides everything a meal should contain, the taste is somehow ignored and you often wonder if the meal you are eating is the same as the one labeled on the package. They are not ideal for long-term consumption and they will cause food fatigue.
There are many additives added to MREs and they can get quite expensive if you compare the amount of food you get for the money you pay. The entrees alone cannot be enough to provide the nutritional value required by an adult. Since MREs are packed in foil pouches, they can be punctured if not transported or stored properly. MRE are generally heavy and so they are very difficult to carry if you are bugging out.
Survival foods – Canned Food
Most of the preppers I know have a monthly budget explicitly planned for buying canned goods. When it comes to survival foods, all preppers will instinctively go for canned food and it can become a cheap alternative to equip your survival pantry. It will also provide you with diversity and you can use your canned foods on various occasions while waiting for the brown stuff to hit the fan.
Pros: As I said before, you need variety when building your survival pantry and canned foods will provide you with it, without breaking the bank. Canned foods are packed very securely, so the chances of them containing oxygen or moisture are very slim. You can find them in all grocery stores and they are good choices for a last emergency shopping trip.
They have a reasonable shelf life, of around 3 years if stored in proper conditions, but you can rotate through your supplies and always refresh your stocks. The waste product of these foods (the cans) can be used in various ways and you can improvise all sorts of survival items from them. Also, the juice contained in the can is a good substitute for water and it can be used for cooking (depending on the canned food).
Suggested reading: Expiration management – Is your food still safe to eat?
Cons: Canned food is heavier than all the other survival foods listed in this article and the size of the can varies, hence you will need a lot of storing space. Canned goods cannot be frozen and pose problems when exposed to temperature variations. Exposure to water and humidity leads to rusting of the cans which can affect the safety of the food. There are a lot of preservatives in the cans and you don’t really know what you are eating, this can create a health risk if you adopt a diet composed of mainly canned food.
These survival foods are not ideal for bugging out since they are heavy and the cans can create noise, giving away your position. They require more space than any other processed food for storage and this is why some preppers store canned food even under their bed.
Survival foods – Emergency Food Bars or Energy bars
Pros: When it comes to survival foods, emergency food bars are very inexpensive compared to any other survival foods. They are engineered to have the right amount of calories for an adult, although different physical activities (duration, weather elements exposure, etc.) would require more than one food bar.
The shelf life of these survival foods is outrageous and they are ideal for bugging out. Stockpile them when you have to deal with a limited living space. They are compact and the kids love them since most of these energy bars have sugar or other types of ingredients that kids love.
Cons: These survival foods have a limited nutritional value and they are not recommended for your daily diet. The taste differs from brand to brand and it is not to everyone’s liking. These are transition foods and are not seen as adequate for long-term survival by most preppers and survivalists. You cannot heat or prepare energy bars to make a decent substitute for a hot meal.
Survival foods – Lab/Engineered food
There are new types of foods being created every day and modern technology is stepping up to take the crown. Soylent is one of the products advertised as a staple meal. It was developed initially for the Japanese market to increase the productivity of office workers. Basically, to avoid wasting time eating at a restaurant or cafeteria, workers were provided with a liquid and powdered form of food that meets all the nutritional requirements for an average adult.
Pros: This is a good alternative for preppers as the prices are affordable and you often get discounts for ordering large quantities. Easy to store and you do not require a lot of storage space (could be a good alternative for urban preppers). It is available in both powder and liquid form. This food is FDA approved so we can assume it is safe for long-term consumption. It is a good product for vegans as it has no animal products or byproducts.
Here is a video about the lost ways of preserving food and many other skills passed on by our grandparents:
Cons: The taste is not to everyone’s liking and it takes some time to get used to it. It is not GMO and Gluten-free nor allergen-free and this can cause problems for certain people. While I don’t have any problem with gluten and I don’t have any know allergies, I can’t help but worry about GMOs. You can’t rely on only one type of food and you need diversity. Therefore I would not recommend a diet composed mainly of lab foods like soylent.
Building a survival pantry shouldn’t be a complicated task. There is a lot of information online about how to choose foods for your pantry, how to keep them safe and how to customize it based on your family’s needs. This article will provide you with additional knowledge and it’s a good start for those who are interested in emergency preparedness and food storage.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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