Home' The Backwoodsman Magazine : july-august 2017 Contents 60
This sounds like an incredible amount of food until you put it
into perspective. A can of tuna is about 6 ounces, so 3 cans of
tuna equals one pound of meat. One 16 ounce can of vegetables
equals one pound, so 90 cans of vegetables or fruit is a year’s
supply. Be sure to store cans and containers in a safe manner.
Your shelves must be sturdy and secured to the wall to prevent
them from tipping over. Once a can is dented you run the risk of
a pinhole size break in the can seal which could allow bacteria
inside the can. The item you will need the most of is grain.
Grains store easily and are very inexpensive. Protecting your food
from vermin is the next issue. Bags of flour, rice, beans or dried
peas have insect eggs in them. Freeze these items for 2 to 3 days
before you repack them it into smaller vermin-proof containers.
Vermin-proof containers are any container that a mouse or bug
would have a hard time getting into. After they are cleaned and
dried, quart or gallon milk jugs make excellent containers to store
dried peas, beans or grains. Ice cream, cottage cheese or butter
plastic containers also. Make sure your containers are made of
food grade plastic. Never use trash bags to store food as trash
bags are treated with pesticides. What you want is a barrier that
a pest can’t chew through or crawl into.
Determining what type of food to store is very important.
• The easiest and least expensive food stuff to store are available
in your local grocery store, discount grocery stores or department
stores. You won’t experience a significant financial burden if you
pick up a few extra cans of tuna or bag of rice when they are on
sale or you have a coupon. Check the “best by” or “use by” dates
on the cans, most canned food has a shelf life of one to two years
and retains its flavor for up to a year after the shelf life date.
Purchase items you eat regularly; if your family won’t eat canned
spinach before a disaster, you are wasting your money purchasing
canned spinach because they won’t eat it after a disaster. Consider
simple, easy to prepare items such as ramen
noodles. You can make a quick and easy
meal if you add vegetables and canned
meat or jerky. Ramen noodles only take
about 3 minutes to cook. Granola or energy
bars can be used to supplement your diet.
They are not as satisfying as a meal but
they will fill a hungry child’s belly.
• Rice is the major food source for a large
portion of the world’s population. You can
buy a 50-pound bag of rice for about $20.
Repack your rice into smaller containers
such as vacuum sealed bags, zip lock stor-
age bag, water tight plastic tote or clean dry
2-liter soda bottles. A 2-liter bottle will
hold about 3 pounds of rice. If properly
sealed, the rice will store in this manner for
years. You may want to add a few whole
bay leaves to your rice as it will prevent insect eggs from hatching,
retard fungal and mold growth. The bay leaves do not flavor the
grain when it is cooked. Always store your packages of rice in a
larger vermin proof container.
• Dried beans, peas or lentils are another good option. Lentils,
peas and beans are nutritious, provide fiber and protein to your
diet. Dried beans can be stored long term and rehydrate simply
by soaking in water. They do not require presoaking so more
efficient to cook water or fuel is hard to find.
• Staples such as salt, pepper, yeast, flour, sugar, baking soda and
baking powder are essential. Bread is a staple in the diet of many
people. If you don’t know how to make bread there are alterna-
tives such as biscuits, tortillas, naan or flat breads.
• Dehydrated foods are lightweight because of the low moisture
content. They have a long shelf life and if kept in a sealed con-
tainer, do not spoil easily. You can dehydrate your own foods
taking advantage of sales and your own garden produce; however,
home dehydrators are often underpowered which could lead
to spoiling, molding or rehydrating. Dehydrated foods should
be kept out of direct sun, in a sealed container preferably at a
temperature of around 70 degrees. Dried bananas are an excellent
value. They are packed with nutrients, low in cholesterol and fat
and are a good supply of energy creating sugar. They can be eaten
like chips and one serving of bananas is only about 10 chips. All
commercially dried fruits have preservatives added but when the
choice is starvation or preservatives I choose preservatives. Make
sure you store your dehydrated food in a container such as a tote
to prevent mice getting to them and chewing open the bags.
• Meals Ready to Eat or MRE’s. MRE’s have an average shelf
life of 5 years if stored around 70 degrees F. They are easy to
store, carry and can be eaten right out of the pouch. They do not
require water to prepare and require no mixing. MRE’s usually
cost about $6.00 per meal. MRE’s contain water so they weigh
more than dehydrated or freeze dried meals. The meals are pre-
cooked and can be eaten cold or heated, most of the meals taste
better warmed up. Some of them have a heating system attached
directly to the package or they can be heated by leaving them in
the sun for 15 to 20 minutes, cooked in boiling water or left on
the engine of a vehicle. The chief disadvantage of MRE’s is cost,
serving size and availability. You need to purchase them from
Army/Navy surplus stores, survivalist outlets or on the web.
Ordering online increases the cost because you have to pay for
shipping. Some people do not like the taste of MRE’s and the
food quality or textures are considered poor by many people.
MRE’s contain artificial ingredients to improve flavor and increase
shelf life. Many of the MRE’s rely on sauces to improve their appeal
so the meal may be short on carbohydrates or vitamins and high in
calories. Add bread to make a more filling meal. MRE’s come
in foil pouches which make them susceptible to puncture and
heavier to carry.
• Freeze dried meals have a 5 to 7 year shelf life with some kits
advertising that they have a 20 to 25 year shelf life. You can
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