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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Creating “The Plan” – Food – Part #1

This BLOG posting will be dedicated for those of you that are going to be surviving in an Urban (or suburban) setting – or at least toughing it out at home for a period of time.  I highly recommend that those of you planning to “stay the course” and survive in your home should have at least a year’s supply of food stockpiled somewhere in your dwelling (or VERY nearby in a secured structure).  The Mormons are the only religious organization that I am aware of that teach this to their members and while this BLOG is NOT about religion, I think it is a great idea.  There are lots of ways to stockpile a year’s worth of food so that when a situation or disaster occurs; you and your loved ones won’t go hungry.  An average adult person doing “normal” amounts of physical activity will need at least 1,200-1,500 calories per day.  

RULE of THUMB: Take your weight and multiply it by 10 to get the approximate amount of daily calories you will need to maintain your current weight. 

To stockpile enough food for a year there are several ways to do this.  The first and easiest way is to purchase “emergency rations”, “Camping food” or MREs (Meals Ready to Eat – what the military uses) in enough quantity to sustain everyone’s caloric needs for a full year.  Depending on where you buy these items you are looking at a price-tag of at least $1,000 per person for a year’s supply of food.  Pricing will vary and you might pay substantially more as demand exceeds supply or other factors drive up costs.  If you go this route, please make sure that you get a very lengthy shelf life (some products have a 10-20 year shelf life).

QUICK TIP: If you are able to do it, then you should also consider having a home garden and fruit trees to supply yourself with fresh vegetables and fruits.

If you don’t go the above route (or even if you do and want to supplement the MREs) you can buy up dry and canned goods that will usually have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year.  These items will be bulkier and heavier then the MRE’s will be so plan on a fair amount of SECURED storage space for these items.  Make sure you account for as many of the food groups as you can so that everyone remains as healthy as possible.  Going this route also means developing a menu for the year that translates into a shopping list of items to buy.  Once you have stockpiled up these canned and dry goods make sure that you use them in a rotation (first in – first out) and replenish them as you use them so that you always have a year’s supply of food on hand.  Below is a handy guide for some common items to have always on hand.  

NOTE: It is not a complete list and you will need to add to it and customize it for you and your loved one’s needs.

Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency

Fueling your body during an emergency is very different from your everyday diet. Because you’ll probably expend more energy than you normally would, you should eat high-energy, high-protein foods. And because you have a limited supply, the higher-quality foods you eat—and the less of them—the better. In a disaster or an emergency you want those calories, you want some nutrients and some fiber—something to keep your diet normal.

What to Always Keep in Your Pantry
These items have lengthy expiration dates, so you can stash them away for long periods of time. Make a list of everything in your stockpile and check expiration dates every 6 to 12 months to keep things fresh. And don’t forget to have a can opener on hand at all times — all that food won’t be of any use if you can’t open it.

  1. Honey – Is a great source of energy and lasts virtually forever.
  2. Peanut butter – A great source of energy, peanut butter is chock-full of healthful fats and protein. Unless the jar indicates otherwise, you don’t have to refrigerate after opening.
  3. Whole-wheat crackers – Crackers are a good replacement for bread and make a fine substitute in sandwiches. Due to their higher fat content, whole-wheat or whole-grain crackers have a shorter shelf life than their plain counterparts (check the box for expiration dates), but the extra fiber pays off when you’re particularly hungry. Consider vacuum-packing your crackers to prolong their freshness.
  4. Nuts and trail mixes – Stock up on these high-energy foods — they’re convenient for snacking and healthful. Look for vacuum-packed containers, which prevent the nuts from oxidizing and losing their freshness.
  5. Cereal – Choose multigrain cereals that are individually packaged so they don’t become stale after opening.
  6. Granola bars and power bars – Healthy and filling, these portable snacks usually stay fresh for at least six months. Plus, they’re an excellent source of carbohydrates. You can get more energy from carbohydrates without [eating] tons of food.
  7. Dried fruits, such as apricots and raisins – In the absence of fresh fruit, these healthy snacks offer potassium and dietary fiber. Dried fruits provide you with a significant amount of nutrients and calories.
  8. Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey – Generally lasting at least two years in the pantry, canned meats provide essential protein. Vacuum-packed pouches have a shorter shelf life but will last at least six months.
  9. Jerky – Beef, Turkey, Fish jerky is a great source of protein and sold in vacuum sealed packs will last at least 6 months.
  10. Canned vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and peas – When the real deal isn’t an option, canned varieties can provide you with essential nutrients.
  11. Canned soups and chili – Soups and chili can be eaten straight out of the can and provide a variety of nutrients. Look for low-sodium options.
  12. Sports drinks – The electrolytes and carbohydrates in these drinks will help you rehydrate and replenish fluid when water is scarce.
  13. Powdered milk – Almost all dairy products require refrigeration, so stock this substitute for an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D when fresh milk isn’t an option.
  14. Sugar, salt, pepper and other spices – If you are able to do some cooking then a basic supply of seasonings and sweeteners will improve the flavor of your food, both fresh and packaged.
  15. Multivitamins – Supplements will help replace the nutrients you would have consumed on a normal diet. 

What to Buy Right Before an Emergency
If you’ve been given ample warning that a “situation or disaster” is coming, there’s still time to run to the market and pick up fresh produce and other items that have shorter shelf lives. Most of these foods will last at least a week after they’ve been purchased and will give you a fresh alternative to all that packaged food. Make sure to swing by your local farmers’ market if it’s open; because the produce there is fresher than what you’ll find at your typical supermarket, you’ll add a few days to the lifespan of your fruits and vegetables.

  • Apples – Apples last up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area away from more perishable fruits (like bananas), which could cause them to ripen more quickly.
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits – Because of their high acid content and sturdy skins, citrus fruits can last for up to two weeks without refrigeration, particularly if you buy them when they’re not fully ripe. Oranges and grapefruits contain lots of vitamin C and will keep you hydrated.
  • Avocadoes – If you buy an unripe, firm avocado, it will last outside the refrigerator for at least a week.
  • Tomatoes – If you buy them unripe, tomatoes will last several days at room temperature.
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams – Stored in a cool, dark area, potatoes will last about a month.
  • Cucumbers and summer squash – These vegetables will last a few days outside of refrigeration and can be eaten raw.
  • Winter squash – While most are inedible uncooked, winter squashes, such as acorn squash, will keep for a few months. If you’ll be able to cook during the emergency, stockpile a bunch.
  • Hard, packaged sausages, such as sopressata and pepperoni – You can’t eat canned tuna and chicken forever. Try stocking up on a few packages of dry-cured salamis like sopressata, a southern Italian specialty available at most grocery stores. Unopened, they will keep for up to six weeks in the pantry. 

More Food Advice for an Emergency
  •  If the electricity goes out, how do you know what is and isn’t safe to eat from the refrigerator? If your food has spent more than four hours over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t eat it. As long as frozen foods have ice crystals or are cool to the touch, they’re still safe. “Once it gets to be room temperature then bacteria forms pretty quickly, and you want to be very careful about what you’re eating.”  Keep the doors closed on your refrigerator and freezer to slow down the thawing process.
  • If your family has special needs — for example, you take medication regularly or you have a small child — remember to stock up on those essential items, too. Keep an extra stash of baby formula and jars of baby food or a backup supply of your medications.
  • If you live in an area at high risk for flooding, consider buying all your pantry items in cans, as they are less likely to be contaminated by flood waters than jars. It’s recommended that people don’t eat home-canned foods or jarred foods that have been exposed to flood waters because those seals are not quite as intact. 

In my next BLOG posting I will talk about getting food in the wilderness.

Stay tuned for the next BLOG post that will continue with Creating “The Plan” – Food – Part #2.

Survival is a combination of preparedness plus a survival mindset. If you have the WILL to survive, the skills/knowledge to survive, as well as, some planning and preparation ▬ then you will ultimately survive. Don't wait until it is too late or your chances for survival will diminish accordingly. As always, good luck and know I am on your side. ~~ The Survival Guy