“If you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat anything.”
That’s the common maxim, and it’s true, of course, but for most of us spoiled Americans, it takes a long time to reach that point. And before we get there, having familiar food on hand can provide a great deal of comfort in times of stress. (They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing.)
So, deciding what food to include in your emergency kits/reserves can be a more significant question than it seems.
If it’s a short-lived emergency (e.g. your car breaks down on a deserted road), you can get by nicely with a bottle of water and a couple of power bars from the emergency kit in your trunk or glove compartment (hopefully, the expiration date isn’t long past).
If you lose power in your home, however, and you don’t know how long it’s likely to be out, you’ll want to eat up the perishable food in your fridge first, then move on to items from the freezer and supplement with canned or packaged foods from your pantry.
In the case of a true disaster, when you have no power and help isn’t likely to arrive for many days, choices become more limited. What should you have on your shelves and in your kits?
Your options expand significantly if your emergency supplies include an apparatus for heating water, e.g. a *camp stove or *Bunsen burner, because there are a lot of decent packaged foods that just require you to add hot water. Most of these have a shelf life of many years — even decades. Yes, decades!
IMPORTANT NOTES: *Most of these appliances require propane, so don’t forget to include propane tanks in your supplies; they come in varying sizes. Also, use extreme caution if cooking indoors with any kind of gas stove. The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is very real! To ensure your health and safety, only use these devices out-of-doors in the fresh air.
Many canned foods now have “pop top” or tab lids so you won’t go hungry if you forgot to include a manual can opener in your supply kit. Check out this YouTube video that demonstrates an ingenious method for opening a traditional tin can without a can opener.
If you want the option for hot meals without the need for hot water, MRE’s are one option. MRE stands for meals ready to eat. They were developed by the military to feed soldiers in the field. Modern day versions come with heating devices that are activated by cold water. I have no idea how they work, but I was fascinated by the concept when I tried one. It’s worth noting, however, that although the food in these MRE’s usually has a very long shelf life, the heating mechanisms can expire long before the food does.
Most foods with extended shelf-life are freeze dried and vary in their quality and nutritional value. High levels of sodium are common, since salt acts as a preservative.
If you decide to include freeze dried foods in your kits, here are two companies that provide high quality products that will keep you out of the hungry-enough-to-eat-anything category.
Mountain House – Meal kits for camping and emergencies.
Thrive Life – Freeze dried snacks and meals that can be eaten cold or cooked.
If you have others you recommend, please leave a comment.