Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meals Ready to Eat and other Options

"You know you need to have some food on-hand for emergencies, right? -- but where do you start? What goes into an emergency kit and what do you obtain for long-term emergencies or serious food shortages?" - An Emergency /Survival Food Primer
Today's topic borrows heavily from a web page called the Survival Food Primer. There are lots of options for food storage: pills, tablets, food bars, freeze dried, dehydrated, canned, etc.
  • FOOD BARS - specially formulated "cookie" bars that are non-thirst provoking, high in protein, and frequently exceeding the normal daily requirements for vitamins and minerals. They typically have a five-year storage life and can withstand extreme temperature ranges (-40 degrees to 300 degrees F). Food Bars are great for keeping in the car or boat where temperatures can range from sub-freezing to 200 degrees F.
  • MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) are the military's latest type of rations and supposedly better tasting than the older K and C rations. MREs are packaged in a specially designed triple-layer foil/plastic "retort" pouches that are sealed, cooked and not exposed to air until opened. Most MREs do not required water or heating (though the meals will taste better if warmed.) MREs typically have a five to seven year shelf life if stored in a cool environment but the nutritional value and taste deteriorate with time and heat. They are great for Go-Kits kept in the house but not for storage in your car.
  • CAMPING POUCH PRODUCTS are aluminized foil pouches with dehydrated or freeze dried food which is nitrogen flushed to ensure freshness and extended storage life (2 years at room temperature). There is a wide variety of entrees, side dishes, soups, breakfasts, fruits and desserts. Food pouches are very light, easy to transport, and can double as affordable trail and camping food.
  • LONG SHELF LIFE FOOD SUPPLY. This includes food that is dehydrated or freeze dried, packaged in double-enamelled #10 or #2-1/2 cans, nitrogen flushed, and has an expected shelf life of 10 to 15 years (or more). Many suppliers will sell you a year's supply of canned food for a thousand dollars or more shipped direct to your door. If you can afford this, it is the easiest way to build an long term home based food store. Personally, my family buys #10 cans of dried food that we like when they go on sale - dried spinach, carrots, onion, cheese, TVP, etc. We add these to soups and pastas that we make year round.

Bottom Line

  • Purchase a sample food item to see if the taste is agreeable before buying in bulk. You might love the barbecue pork with rice MRE but despise the spaghetti with meat sauce.
  • Look at the ingredient list for packaged meals. Many dried meal & soup mixes are very high in salt.
  • Eat what you buy. Keep the shelf life in mind and rotate emergency food into your normal meals or camping trips. This also has the advantage of acclimating children to the emergency meals. The last thing a kid will want where scared and stressed is to try a new icky food with a funny texture.

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