11 Emergency Food Items That Can Last a Lifetime

11 Emergency Foods that can Last a LifetimeThis article originally appeared in Ready Nutrition

By Tess Pennington

Did you know that with proper storage techniques, you can have a lifetime supply of certain foods?  Certain foods can stand the test of time, and continue being a lifeline to the families that stored it.  Knowing which foods last indefinitely and how to store them are you keys to success.

The best way to store food for the long term is by using a multi-barrier system.  This system protects the food from natural elements such as moisture and sunlight, as well as from insect infestations.

Typically, those who store bulk foods look for inexpensive items that have multi-purposes and will last long term.

Listed below are 11 food items that can last a lifetime

Honey

Honey never really goes bad.  In a tomb in Egypt 3,000 years ago, honey was found and was still edible.  If there are temperature fluctuations and sunlight, then the consistency and color can change.  Many honey harvesters say that when honey crystallizes, then it can be re-heated and used just like fresh honey.  Because of honey’s low water content, microorganisms do not like the environment.

Uses: curing, baking, medicinal, wine (mead)

Salt

Although salt is prone to absorbing moisture, it’s shelf life is indefinite.  This indispensable mineral will be a valuable commodity in a long term disaster and will be a essential bartering item.

Uses: curing, preservative, cooking, cleaning, medicinal, tanning hides

Sugar

Life would be so boring without sugar.  Much like salt, sugar is also prone to absorbing moisture, but this problem can be eradicated by adding some rice granules into the storage container.

Uses: sweetener for beverages, breads, cakes, preservative, curing, gardening, insecticide (equal parts of sugar and baking powder will kill cockroaches).

Wheat

Wheat is a major part of the diet for over 1/3 of the world.  This popular staple supplies 20% of daily calories to a majority of the world population.  Besides being a high carbohydrate food, wheat contains valuable protein, minerals, and vita­mins. Wheat protein, when balanced by other foods that supply certain amino acids such as lysine, is an efficient source of protein.

Uses: baking, making alcohol, livestock feed, leavening agent

Dried corn

Essentially, dried corn can be substituted for any recipe that calls for fresh corn.  Our ancestors began drying corn because of it’s short lived season.  To extend the shelf life of corn, it has to be preserved by drying it out so it can be used later in the year.

Uses: soups, cornmeal, livestock feed, hominy and grits, heating source (do a search for corn burning fireplaces).

Baking soda

This multi-purpose prep is a must have for long term storage.

Uses: teeth cleaner, household cleaner, dish cleaner, laundry detergent booster, leavening agent for baked goods, tarnish remover

Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa

Adding these to your long term storage will not only add a variety to just drinking water, but will also lift morale.  Instant coffee is high vacuum freeze dried.  So, as long as it is not introduced to moisture, then it will last.  Storage life for all teas and cocoas can be extended by using desiccant packets or oxygen absorbing packets, and by repackaging the items with a vacuum sealing.

Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods

Non-carbonated soft drinks

Although many of us prefer carbonated beverages, over time the sugars break down and the drink flavor is altered.  Non-carbonated beverages stand a longer test of time.  And, as long as the bottles are stored in optimum conditions, they will last.  Non-carbonated beverages include: vitamin water, Gatorade, juices, bottled water.

Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods

White rice

White rice is a major staple item that preppers like to put away because it’s a great source for calories, cheap and has a long shelf life.  If properly stored this popular food staple can last 30 years or more.

Uses: breakfast meal, addition to soups, side dishes, alternative to wheat flour

Bouillon products

Because bouillon products contain large amounts of salt, the product is preserved.  However, over time, the taste of the bouillon could be altered.  If storing bouillon cubes, it would be best repackage them using a food sealer or sealed in mylar bags.

Uses: flavoring dishes

Powdered milk – in nitrogen packed cans

Powdered milk can last indefinitely, however, it is advised to prolong it’s shelf life by either repackaging it for longer term storage, or placing it in the freezer.  If the powdered milk developes an odor or has turned a yellowish tint, it’s time to discard.

Uses: beverage, dessert, ingredient for certain breads, addition to soup and baked goods.

Prepper's CookbookAbout this author

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

 

 

Emergency Food: How to Make Corn Tortillas

Howtomakecorntortillas_titleMr. Apt Prepper and I were talking out our emergency food supply which contains a lot of beans and rice.  For variety, we thought we should try making homemade tortillas.

Howtomakecorntortillas_ingredientsThe instructions came from the corn masa flour package.

How to make corn tortillas:

1 cup corn masa flour

2/3 cup water

1/8 tsp salt

Other equipment used:

  • Large bowl
  • Zip-lock freezer bag
  • Tortilla press (you can make them without one, this just makes it easier)
  • Flat cast iron skillet – coat with oil or butter

1.  In a large bowl, add water to the corn masa flour.  Mix for two minutes until you can shape a ball.  Add water by the tablespoon if the mixture feels too dry.  I ended up adding about three tablespoons as I kept kneading the dough.

Howtomakecorntortillas_dough2.  Once you can make a smooth ball out of the dough, you can start shaping your tortillas.  Separate the dough into eight small balls.

Howtomakecorntortillas_separated

3.  Lay a piece of plastic such as a cut up Zip-lock freezer bag against both sides of the tortilla press.  The plastic will keep the dough from sticking to the press.

Howtomakecorntortillas_ball

4.  Place the dough ball on one side of the plastic and flatten the press.   Heat the cast iron skillet on medium heat.

Howtomakecorntortillas_flattendough

5.  Carefully pry the dough off and place on the hot skillet.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.  You will notice the dough start to brown and puff slightly.  If you undercook it, the tortilla will taste like raw dough.  I should know, I tried one too soon.

Howtomakecorntortillas_cooking

6.  Keep cooking until all the tortillas are done.  Serve warm.

Result:

These tortillas came out way too small to make tacos but were tasty by themselves.  They are more flavorful and more filling than store bought tortillas.  This makes about eight corn tortillas.

Next time I will double or triple the recipe to make bigger tortillas.

I decided to see if I could make tortilla chips out of these, since they were too small for tacos.  I cut up the tortillas into four and fried them in hot oil.  I fried them for about three to four minutes until slightly brown, then added salt to taste.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Howtomakecorntortillas_chipsThe chips made from homemade tortilla chips were very tasty and filling.

It was a bit time-consuming to make corn tortillas yourself, but I like knowing I can make them in case I run out and don’t want to run to the store.   This skill will also help to add variety to survival foods.

 

My new book is out!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure

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Self Sufficient Saturdays: Cookware You’ll Never Have to Replace

cast-iron-cookwareMy favorite survival cookware are cast iron pans.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with cast iron, they are the black heavy iron pans that have been around for hundreds of years.

My mother-in-law actually introduced me to cast iron pans.  Whenever I helped her cook anything in her kitchen, I marveled at how her cast iron pans cooked everything so well.

Why I like them so much:

  • They distribute heat evenly
  • When well seasoned, they work like a non-stick pan, or require very little oil.
  • The same plan will cook well with any type of stove:  electric, gas, you can even stick it in the oven and make bread in it.  In an emergency, it will work well over an open flame. 
  • The pan adds iron to your food, which helps avoid an iron deficiency.
  • Because they so sturdy, they will last a lifetime, and you won’t need to spend money for replacement pans.

In those days, I used Teflon pans, but once they get a scratch, they peel and shred after a while.  After I saw how much better the cast iron pans heated through, I tossed out all my Teflon pans and asked my mother-in-law to help me buy some.

She did not take me to a cookware store; instead she took me to Goodwill.  She said she found the best cast iron pans there.  People would toss them out thinking they were inferior to Calphalon or other name brand cookware.  Being of a frugal nature, she encouraged me to find second-hand deals instead of full priced items.

If you are in the market for one, try getting it used at stores like Goodwill, or shop online at Craigslist or Freecycle first.  If you are just starting out, I would recommend choosing a slightly rusted cast iron pan, to make it easier on yourself. 

The same process to salvage it, is the same process to season a brand new pan.

  • If you have a new pan, just wash and rinse, no scraping needed.  If you are working with a used, slightly rusted pan, wash with a strong dishwashing liquid and scrape out the rust with a steel wool.
  • Dry completely with a dish towel.
  • Coat the pan with cooking oil all over.  I have used vegetable oil, olive oil or peanut oil
  • Turn the oven on low heat, around 250 degrees and leave the pan in the oven for 4 hours.  Do not leave unattended.  It may get a bit smoky if the heat is too high.
  • Turn of the heat and leave the pan in while it cools.
  • Repeat the process over a few months until the pan turns black.  You now have a well-seasoned pan.

Cast iron pans are available pre-seasoned.  You don’t have to go through the process if you don’t feel like it.  Just remember the pan should not be left sitting in a sink-ful of water.  It should be rinsed and dried after use and coated with a thin layer of oil.  I’ve recently started coating my pans with coconut oil and it adds a nice flavor to the food.

They are still fairly inexpensive, around $10 for a non-seasoned pan, and about $20 for a pre-seasoned one.  Whether you buy it used or start out with a pre-seasoned skillet, you’ll be pleased with they way they cook, and it will last for generations.

 

Reminder:  Don’t forget to enter our latest giveaway for  Berkey Sport Bottle and Watersafe City Water Test Kit!

For details click here!

 

 Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Self-Sufficient Saturdays: How to Cook a Common Survival Food

Pinto BeansWelcome to another Self Sufficient Saturday post.  Today we’ll take a look at a prepper’s staple:  dried beans.  It is an inexpensive source of protein, tasty and filling.   Many people settle for canned beans, thinking it is too hard to make it yourself.  It is actually very easy.

How Much Dried Beans to Use

1 cup dried beans = 3 cups cooked beans

Since I like to make a large enough batch to last for a few meals, I use about three cups of beans.

Preparing Beans

Before you cook any type of beans sort through them to remove any pebbles or any foreign matter.  You should also give the beans a quick rinse.

There are two ways to prepare beans:

  • Soaking method
  • Fast boil

Soaking method:

1.  Just measure three cups of beans and soak in a pan of water overnight.  The beans puff up the next day.

2.  Throw out the soaking water, then rinse the beans.

3.  In a large pot, add the beans and enough water to cover the beans.  Cook on medium heat and let the pot simmer.  You can add a peeled piece of garlic if you like.

A couple of tips:

  • DO NOT ADD SALT.  The salt will toughen the beans and will not cook properly.
  • Old beans may take longer to cook.  For tips on how to properly store beans, please see Survival Food Storage.

Add more water as it boils down.  If the water runs out, the beans will start to burn.  Allow the mixture to boil for 1 1/2- 2 hours until the beans are tender.  Once the beans are soft, add salt to taste.

Fast boil method

1.  If you forget to soak the beans the night before, do the fast boil method.  Add enough water to cover the beans in a pot.  Let the mixture boil for about three minutes.  Turn off the fire and remove from heat.  Place the pot in the sink and add tap water.  Pour the beans into a colander and throw out the water.  Rinse the beans one more time under the faucet.

2.  Now you are ready to cook the beans.

Follow Step 3 above.

Plain cooked beans are great added to plain white rice.   With a bit of salt and pepper, beans and rice make a great comfort food.  Even picky kids like it.

Another thing you can easily make is refried beans.

Refried Beans

You will need:

5-7 cups of cooked pinto beans (following the steps above)

1/2 cup lard, butter or vegetable oil

1 cup grated monterey jack cheese or your favorite type of cheese like grated cheddar cheese

Melt the lard, butter or if using vegetable oil, add to the pan.

Drain the beans leaving around 1/2 cup of bean water and add the beans and water to the pan all at once.  Careful you don’t get splattered.

Mash the soft beans with a potato masher.  Mix the beans and the oil very well.  If the beans look too dry, add 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth to the mix and keep mashing to your desired consistency. Some cooks like the beans to be on the dry side, some like it a bit more watery.

Mashing beans

Once the beans are mashed, add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the grated cheese on top.  Allow the cheese to melt.  Serve with tortillas, tostada shells or tortilla chips.  You can even make breakfast burritos by mixing the refried beans with scrambled egg, more cheese in a large flour tortilla.

Refried beans

Refried beans with monterey jack cheese

 

 

Self-Sufficient Saturdays: How to Brew Coffee without Electricity

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Today I am trying out a new feature, “Self-Sufficient Saturdays” where we take small, practical steps to becoming more self-sufficient.  I used to have a Starbucks habit, but managed to kick it, not by giving up a tasty cup of coffee (I know it’s an acquired taste), but by learning to brew a great cup of coffee at home.  And, at the same time, I have backup plans for my coffee, in case of an emergency.

A coffee drinker who is missing his or her daily coffee knows a caffeine withdrawal headache is coming.   You have a few choices to avoid that pain:

  • Instant coffee – the “just add a heaping teaspoon to hot water” kind that comes in a jar (not my preferred choice)
  • Individual packets of Starbucks or a similar brand (Not bad, even after it expired)
  • Single cup bags of coffee – also just needs hot water (this is good too)
  • tea
  • Give it up (I’m not ready to do this right now)
  • Brew it yourself

I have a few backup plans, including all of the above, but will only give it up if I have to.  This time I am brewing it myself.

You will need:

–campfire popcorn popper (or small covered skillet)

–green coffee beans

–manual grinder

–French press

–measuring cup

–wire mesh colander (optional)

How to Roast Green Coffee Beans

  1. Since I am trying to have a backup plan in the event of an emergency and we are off-grid, I used our propane camp stoveWarning: I do not recommend using a camp stove in your kitchen:  this would be unsafe and can cause carbon monoxide build-up.  Camp stoves should be used outside.  Also, I read from various articles that roasting green coffee beans may cause a lot of smoke.  Our apartment has a very sensitive fire alarm which gets set off very quickly, so we did this outside,  so the fire alarm does not go off.  We don’t want a visit from the fire department from having the fire alarm go off while we are roasting our beans!  If you are roasting on a stove indoors, turn on the exhaust fan or open a window to make sure your area is well-ventilated.
  2. Assemble all your materials in advance:  green coffee beans (I used Kona coffee), campfire popcorn popper, measuring cup, wire mesh colander
  3. To start small,  I measured about a quarter of cup of green coffee beans.
  4. Turn on the fire to low setting.  Preheat the popper on low flame.
  5. Pour the green coffee beans into the skillet/popper, cover and shake.
  6. Keep the popper moving around and start listening for a popping sound.
  7. Check under the lid and look at the beans.  They started to turn brown after about 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. The popping is not constant like popcorn, but happens every few seconds as the beans crack.  This  is about the time the beans start to smoke a bit.
  9. After about 10 minutes, I checked again and it looked like the beans were brown so I turned off the fire.
  10. You will notice some bits of chaff:  pour into a wire colander or just blow on the beans and the bits  fly off.  Now you are ready to grind the beans.
Coffee beans

Roasted coffee beans and green coffee beans

These photos show the difference between the green beans and the roasted beans.  The smell is also quite different: the green beans do not smell like coffee at all, they have a pungent, plantlike smell, while the roasted ones indeed smell like the strong coffee smell we all know.  The aroma does linger long after you have finished roasting them.

Grinding the Beans

  1. I used the Danesco Manual Coffee Grinder.  Adjust the grinder for maximum coarseness, if you will be using a french press.  To do this, take off the handle and adjust the cog wheel up and tighten it back up.
  2. The grinder does not have any cushioning under the bottom, so you will need to stabilize it on the counter by placing a towel or pad underneath.
  3. Remove the cork stopper from under the grinding mechanism.
    Coffee off grid1

    Coffee grinder

  4. Pour the beans and start grinding.  Hold the grinder stable with the left hand and grind with your right hand (vice versa if you are left-handed).
    Coffee grinder

    Grinding roasted coffee beans

ground coffee

Ground coffee beans

I have to say this was the hardest part!  It took a bit of muscle power to continuously grind the beans and hold it down.  All in all, it took about seven minutes to grind the quarter cup of beans.

Brewing with the French Press

  1. I used the Bodum Shatterproof 8 cup French Press Coffeemaker.  Eight cups sound like a lot of coffee, but actually, the “cup” is actually a 4-ounce cup, not an 8-ounce mug that most of us are used to.
  2. The quarter cup of whole beans made about 2 level scoops (measuring scoop came with the french press) of ground coffee.  The rule of thumb is to use one scoop per cup of coffee.
  3. Boil water in a separate pan.  I boiled about 2.5 cups of water.  Turn off fire once the water boils.  Because this is a plastic press, the instructions indicate the water must be hot but not boiling.  I would think a glass french press would work with boiling water.
  4. Remove the cover/plunger of the french press.
  5. Pour the ground coffee into the bottom of the press.
  6. Pour the hot water.
    French press coffee

    Brewing in a French press

  7. Slowly insert the cover/plunger.   Turn the lid so the opening/pour spout is sealed and away from you.  and press the water/coffee gently until plunger cannot go any further.   Do not apply too much pressure or this may cause the water to splatter up.
  8. Once the coffee is pressed, it is ready to drink!

I have to say this was a fine cup of coffee.  It seemed like a lot of work for two cups, but it was worth it.  The result was a very fresh tasting, strong cup of coffee.  Roasting the green coffee beans was not hard at all;  I can roast a larger batch next time.

In a disaster situation, you can’t beat a nice comforting cup of fresh brewed coffee.

Even if we never need to make coffee off grid, knowing how to roast green coffee beans saves money in the long run.

© Apartment Prepper 2013

 For low-cost ways to prep:

 

For easy ways to become more prepared, read my book:

Review of Chicken Fajita MRE from Meal Kit Supply

Chicken Fajita MRE from Meal Kit Supply

I’ve been having a back log of product and book reviews, both on items I purchased on my own, and review samples sent by the company or publisher.  It takes me a while to get the reviews done, as I like to read/test each one individually before I post anything about it.  I usually post on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, so on Saturdays I will do product and books reviews.

Meal Kit Supply sent me their newest MRE, Chicken Fajita, for review.  I had tested their product in the past, and was curious how this one would turn out.  The MRE pack included the following:

  • chicken fajita entree
  • 2nd entree was fried rice
  • pack of tortillas
  • dessert consisted of a spice cake
  • 2 drink packets:  cocoa beverage powder and orange flavored electrolyte carbohydrate mix
  • salsa packet
  • eating utensils including salt and pepper
  • heater unit

Contents of MREI added water to the heating unit as directed and wrapped it around the two entrees.

Chicken Fajita entreeThe chicken fajita warmed up really well, but the rice was only slightly warm.  I decided to throw it in boiling water for a minute and it warmed up.  More on this later.

Here is the rice after it warmed up.

MRE Rice

The tortilla packet included 2 flour tortillas-they were ready to eat and did not need warming.  I made 2 tacos by filling the tortillas with chicken, rice and salsa Now for the taste test.

  • I was not expecting a lot from the tortillas but they turned out great- the texture and taste were on par with a brand name such as Mission.
  • The chicken had a stew type consistency, and was a bit more saucy to my taste, but added as a taco filling with the rice, it tasted good.
  • The rice also had a nice texture and flavor.
  • The spice cake was very sweet – I prefer a less sweet taste, but that is my preference.

A few days later, I emailed my contact at Meal Kit Supply to find out why the 2nd entree did not warm up as well.  As I suspected, I positioned it the wrong way, since I wrapped it around the 2 entrees like a blanket, but the correct way is:

“The flameless ration heater should be wrapped around the rations in a ‘z’ fashion — the rations should not touch each other and instead should be inserted on the inner parts of the ‘z.’ Once you’ve done this, quickly shove it back in a ration box before it starts billowing up with steam and let it sit for a few minutes.”

She also mentioned that this was common:  “We’ve received a few emails with confusion over flameless ration heater use, so it is something we are addressing (i.e. clear explanation on the site as well as the bag itself).”

As an emergency food, the chicken fajita is a good choice and passed the taste test.  With so much food included, and with the ability to make two tacos, I felt that two people can split this entree in an emergency.

 

Mother Earth Food Storage

Mother Earth Products

For beginning preppers

DebtProof Living

What You Should Know about Pepper Spray

Pepper SprayI have a couple of pepper sprays in key chains that are getting old so I started looking into replacing them.   There are actually several types to choose from, and the more I read up on the topic, the more I learned.

Mace versus Pepper Spray

  •  Mace is a chemical irritant that is similar to tear gas.  Pepper spray’s main ingredient is the pepper derivative oleorsein capiscum (OC)  Pepper spray will cause inflammation and a severe burning sensation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin.
  • Pepper spray works quicker than Mace.
  • Mace does not work on persons who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but pepper spray works.
  • I also found out that “Mace” is now also a brand name that makes pepper spray products which confused me at first, but now I know.

Now that we have cleared that up, we can take a look at the various types of pepper sprays.

  1. Foam – a heavy, thick liquid, similar to a shaving cream consistency.   This is the type I am considering, as it is less likely to be affected by wind.  Also, if your attacker tries to wipe it off, he will end up rubbing it deeper into the skin causing even more irritation and pain.
  2. Stream or broken stream – Much like getting squirted by a water gun, the stream or broken stream will deliver a large amount of pepper spray with a longer range.  The downside is, the canister will get used up faster.
  3. Forced cone – This is the most common type that key chain type pepper sprays emit.  The range is about six to 12 feet, covering an area roughly the size of a human head.  The mist is finer than the stream type, but there is some risk of blowback if you are outside on a windy day.
  4. Fogger - this covers a larger area and delivers an even finer mist than forced cone.  It is good for crowd control and protection from bears.  Because it is like a mini fire extinguisher releasing a large amount of spray, there is some risk of blow-back but the attacker will go down even in windy conditions.

What if You Accidentally Spray Yourself?

In spite of careful precautions, sometimes accidents happen.  Here’s what you need to do:

  • Do not touch or rub the affected area as this will spread it and make it worse
  • Remove clothing that has come into contact with pepper spray, and bag it up to keep it separate from other clothes
  • Wash the area with lots of cool water
  • Do not use anything oily or greasy on the area.
  • If the discomfort persists, get checked out by a doctor.

 How Long Does Pepper Spray Last?

Pepper spray comes with an expiration date, usually a year from purchase.  The pepper spray itself does not become ineffective over time, but the spraying ability may be compromised.  The nozzle may be blocked, or the propellent may no longer work.  You don’t want to be carrying something to protect yourself and find out that it doesn’t work at the time you most need it.

Some manufacturers recommend testing the spray periodically.  To do this, you go outside and note which way the wind is blowing.  Spray away from yourself, making sure the wind is blowing AWAY from you.  However, testing it does cause the product to get used up.  To be on the safe side and avoid the risk of accidentally spraying yourself, use your best judgement and replace the sprays every 12-18 months.

 Legal Stuff

Pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, but some states have certain restrictions in size, strength, age of carrier (must be over 18 in some states).  Check on your own state’s regulations or the local police department for rules about carrying pepper spray.  It is illegal to carry it anywhere on a plane (whether on your person or luggage) and is prohibited in Federal and State buildings.

 The Proper Mindset

You need to have the right mindset to be able to use your pepper spray should the need arise.

  • It should be within easy reach.  If you are walking or jogging alone, you should have it either in your hand or front pocket.  There is no point having it in your purse or your car’s glove box if you are attacked.
  • Be aware of where the nozzle location and where you are about to spray.   If you are outside, be aware of where the wind is blowing.
  • Take a moment to envision various scenarios and plan ahead.
  • Aim for the eyes and face.
  • Always have an exit strategy.

Just having pepper spray does not mean you are assured of fending off an attacker.   As with many aspects of preparedness, having the right mindset will help push the outcome in your favor.

 

 

For beginning preppers

DebtProof Living

 

Homemade MREs

Editor’s note:  Today we are happy to feature a guest blog post from From Julie Languille,
Author of The Prepper’s Pantry and the soon to be released Meals in a Jar: Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes

Thanks, Apartment Prepper, for inviting me to write a guest post about Homemade MREs. I am passionate about food storage and my first book, The Prepper’s Pantry  is all about setting up food storage with both a deep larder of long term storage foods, and also a rotation pantry filled with canned goods and home pressure-canned meats and chicken. I love the idea of having plenty of dehydrated and freeze dried foods on hand to cook from, but in times of emergency I think it will be really convenient to have ready-made meals, like homemade MREs on hand, and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I sampled several different brands of commercially available entrees. Although some were somewhat palatable, I found most to be disappointing in terms of taste and texture.  When I think about all the extra work our families would need to be doing to keep us safe and warm in times of trouble, the commercial meals also fell short on calories needed to sustain us.

So I began developing scores of recipes for meals in a jar (or bag) which would be just-add-water complete meals. Some are dry ingredients such as soups or stews and others are home pressure-canned meals of classic braised dishes, such as pulled pork, or brisket. The meals are packaged either in jars or vacuum sealed bags and some come packaged with a “sidekit” a side dish of mashed potatoes, polenta, noodles, tortilla makings or the like.

My second book, Meals in a Jar: Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes, which is due out in March of 2013, is a collection of homemade MRE meals. The entire book is filled with great recipes for dry soups and stews, perfect for lunches as well as big braises; savory meat and vegetable packed meals sure to satisfy the biggest man appetites. It also includes breakfast ideas for MREs, egg dishes, and cereals, as well as side dishes, beverages and desserts too. The book can be pre-ordered now.
I love the sight of a shelf in my pantry filled with homemade MREs, they taste better than anything I found commercially available, in fact we eat them every week and they are easy to grab and go in a bug-out hurry!  They are also fantastic at the end of a busy weekday.
Besides pressure canning in jars, Meals in a Jar: Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes  , also covers pressure canning into retort pouches, which are specialized bags you can buy online. They are inexpensive, light-weight and unbreakable (although they can be punctured – ask me how I know). Retort pouches are a great (and portable) addition to your Prepper’s Pantry.

Below is a basic recipe for a chicken noodle soup. I invite you to make up a single batch, adjust it to your tastes and then bag or jar up a whole shelf full. Make a few variations and I guarantee you that you will rest peacefully knowing if hard times are ahead, you have a pantry full of good meals waiting for your family.

Chicken Soup MRE
Makes 1 quart jar or vacuum bag for storage and yields 8 cups of soup – about 6 servings

3 cups egg noodles (choose a variety with a 10 – 12 minute cook time, not the longer cooking “homestyle” noodles)
1 cup freeze-dried chicken (optional) (or you could package this meal in a bag and include 1 can of commercially canned chicken or a pint of home canned chicken)
3 Tb. powdered chicken soup base
¼ cup dried onion
¼ cup dried celery
½ cup dried carrots
½ cup dried mushrooms
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. dried thyme
1 Tb. dried parsley
1 slice dried lemon

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. (This makes the ingredients take less room in the jar as smaller ingredient fill the spaces between noodles.) Add to a clean quart jar, top with an oxygen absorber and close tightly or vacuum seal in a bag.

To prepare your soup, in a large pot heat 8 cups of water to a simmer, and stir in meal contents. Return to a gently simmer and cook 12 to 15 minutes until noodles and vegetables are tender.

Variations: Add dried peppers or corn, or swap out mushrooms for peas or green beans, or substitute beef stock and freeze dried beef for chicken. If you add beans, be sure they are the quick-cooking variety (quick cooking beans have been almost fully cooked and then dehydrated.) Also, stirring in ¼ cup sour cream powder at the end would make a delicious cream-style soup. You can store the sour cream powder in a baggie and tuck it in with the rest of the ingredients to segregate it for adding at the end.

Julie Languille is passionate about both food and preparedness. She owns a dinner planning website with thousands of recipes compiled to make dinner planning, shopping and cooking easy for families. She teaches workshops on preparedness and long term food storage and regularly hosts food packaging parties where families gather to make pre-packaged meal kits to build their own food storage as well as bless families in need. Julie lives with her husband and family on lovely Whidbey Island, in the Puget Sound near Seattle, and when not cooking loves to read, sail and kayak in the waters near her home. Julie is the author of The Preppers Pantry and Meals in a Jar: Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes.

Editors Note:  Julie’s book, The Preppers Pantry and Meals in a Jar: Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes is available on Amazon for pre-order.  I have also added it to Apartment Prepper Amazon Store.  Thank you for making purchases through our store!

 

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers


Good ideas for building a food storage plan can be found here:

An Ideal Stove for Outdoor Cooking

Long time readers know I am always on the look-out for lightweight portable stoves to test out, having had less than stellar results in the past. Living in an apartment in the city, we cannot deny the possibility we may have to bug out if there were an extended emergency.  In addition, we enjoy camping and backpacking, and a lightweight stove is a must.

Sole Stove box

I was excited to try out the Solo Stove.  It is a small, portable stove that uses biomass (twigs, dried leaves, etc) for fuel.  Not needing to bring special fuel is a big advantage:  since you can easily find branches and twigs, you are not adding weight to your bug-out bag.

Assembly

The stove is very easy to assemble:  just set the cooking ring on top of the stove so that the prongs are on top.  That is what your pot will rest on.

Starting the Fire

1.   First, collect your fuel:  in our case, Mr. Apt Prepper gathered up twigs, dried leaves and a few acorns out in the back of our building.  Place the twigs in the stove chamber.  The twigs or wood pieces should be roughly two to three inches in length.

Sizing Sticks for kindling for Solo Stove2.  Make sure the stove is on a level area, away from the wind.  We just set it on a  paving stone.  The Solo Stove’s instructions can be found here.

3.  Start the fire.   It would have been easier to use firestarter, but we wanted to see how it would perform by just lighting the fuel using matches.  The dried leaves caught fire instantly and in a couple of minutes, the rest of the twigs were burning nicely.

Burning leaves in Solo Stove  4.  We set a pan containing two cups of water on the stove.  We continued to add twigs to the fire.  The water started to boil in about 10 minutes, which is a lot faster than I’ve experienced with a regular campfire.

Pan on Solo StoveCleaning

Once the fire has died down and stove has cooled completely,  all you need to do is empty out the ash.  Since the fuel is all organic, you don’t need to worry about polluting the area.

Ash inside Solo StoveA bit of soot may cling to the stove but it is easily wiped off.

We put the stove through the paces and it performed well.  Mr Apt Prepper kept an objective eye over the test.  If we had to come up with an area of improvement it would be to provide more detailed instructions for the inexperienced portable stove user.  One thing that is not obvious to a new user is gauging the amount of fuel that is needed.  Using dried twigs, the stove did not give off much smoke at all, which is great for a bug-out stove, when you don’t want to attract a lot of attention with your cooking fire.   For those readers who are inclined to “do-it-yourself”  there are many plans found around the internet that provide instructions on how to make one.

 

 

For beginning preppers