When winter hits, some animals have to scrounge and forage for food. Squirrels don’t. They store-up, so when food becomes scarce, they have an ample supply on hand. And they aren’t the only creatures that prepare for hard times. Wildcats, moles, and foxes (to name a few) are also ready for cold, cruel winter. It’s part of their nature. They know tough times are coming and they make sure to plan ahead.
So why don’t we, as humans, stockpile food? I mean, most of us are a lot smarter than squirrels. Perhaps we just can’t believe that trying times are on their way? Maybe, since we might not live in Tornado Alley, or along the San Andreas Fault, or on the Southern Atlantic Coast, we can’t comprehend why we would ever be left without a way to get food. At the same time, common sense tells us hardships, set-backs, job losses, illnesses, accidents as well as natural disasters eventually strike us all – often with little or no warning.
So, why don’t we prepare?
I think it’s time we get squirrely (or foxy or moley…). I’m talking about food storage here. Like money in the bank, or a food insurance policy, building emergency food storage is a just plain smart...at least as smart as a squirrel.
Now, I’m not talking about putting up the “I’m-only-eating-this-is-because-there’s-nothing-else-to-eat” kind of food. Oh no. More than just bulk wheat and oats, I’m talking about fun, fast, easy, and delicious long-term food storage that give you lots of choices when it comes to “what’s for dinner?” in an emergency.
So what are your options? There are tons of choices when it comes to emergency food supplies and long-term storage. Let me show you what I mean.
Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy, Grains & Legumes, Whole Meals, and Desserts
This ain’t your grandma’s closet full of bulk food supplies. Today, there are all kinds of food options to choose from. All major food groups (and a few minor ones, like dessert) are packaged for decades of storage. Not only do they maintain their nutritional value, they will taste as great in 25 years as they would next week. Let’s talk for a moment about the benefits each food group offers, shall we?
Meat: Meat is a great way to get your protein. Today’s freeze-dried meats will rehydrate to virtually the same freshly cooked state it was before it was canned. Eat it as a main course with a favorite sauce, or add it to your favorite salads, stir-fries, tacos, and casseroles. I’ve been known to pop chicken chunks or turkey sausage right into my mouth, right out of the can. It’s a kinda fun and funky sorta experience as that dried meat rehydrates in your mouth. It’s also way delicious. These meats are prepared and packaged to last up to 25 years (try keeping any other meat that long! Actually, on second thought, don’t try that. Just…don’t).
Fruits: There’s not a fruit I know of that hasn’t made it’s way through a freeze-dryer and into a can, and each one as delicious as the next. Just as meat is a great source of protein, fruit is a fantastic way to get your vitamins. Freeze-dried and dehydrated fruits are also great in salads, desserts, or even (brace yourself) straight from the can! Let me tell you, pop some freeze-dried mandarin sections into your mouth and, well, it’s like candy! Really good candy that is 100% good for you. My friend’s mom likes to pop freeze-dried grapes into her mouth, then quickly follow them with a bite of a freeze-dried lime slice. “It’s a Lime Ricky party in your mouth,” she says. Seriously though, I have it on good authority that this stuff is all they eat in heaven. I’m sure of it. Every time I see a can of Freeze-dried fruit, I try to find a way to make it mine…or at least pilfer some of its contents.
Vegetables: Low in fat and high in nutrients, easy to store and prepare, vegetables are a brilliant food to store. They’re also super quick to rehydrate, which makes them a great addition to your recipes, snacks, and sides. Like their fruity counterparts, freeze-dried vegetables have rich flavor, making them another great snack straight from the can.
Dairy: Dairy includes all those products derived from milk, of course, though I also include eggs because when I was a kid the milkman also delivered eggs with the milk (although, I don’t include bacon or popsicles in dairy, which he also delivered. Oh well...where was I?) Dairy! In addition to powdered milk (in all its flavors), it’s easy to store cheese (which actually melts like fresh), sour cream, butter, and (you guessed it) eggs (whole and scrambled). Dairy products provide protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Few foods are as versatile as dairy products—perfect for pouring over cereal, baking and cooking, or even just drinking by itself—or as an essential for keeping your body healthy and strong.
Grains and Legumes: While grandma would store 500 pounds of wheat in the cellar and call it good, today’s common culinary tastes and skills could do no more with a cup of wheat as a sack of rocks. While in able hands, raw dried grains and legumes stored in bulk are a potent and useful source of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and iron, these nutrients are now found in several other easy-to-store and quick-to-prepare varieties. Peanut butter powder, pasta, freeze-dried frijoles, and Emergency Essentials’ famous Mac & Cheese are a sampling of the dozens of prepared grains and legumes that make any meal complete.
Whole Meals: Sometimes…you just don’t want to cook, and that’s OK. Especially now, since you can get pre-cooked, complete meals that are freeze-dried and last up to 25 years. Many of these types of meals are fully prepared before they are freeze-dried, so you’re getting an actual meal – with real texture – that tastes great. Just add boiling water, let sit for a bit, then eat. It’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to feed your entire family. Gone are the days of stocking up with only wheat, bottled sauces, and canned meat to make a meal. Now are the days of fantastic home-cooked meals that only take a few minutes! If you were ever hesitant about storing food before, this should allay all fear. Full freeze-dried meals really are as quick and delicious as I’m letting on.
Desserts: Alright, let’s be honest. This is the one you really wanted to know about, am I right? These desserts are so easy to make. From cake and brownie mixes to puddings and ice cream (yes, ice cream!), these just-add-water desserts are absolutely delectable. Personally, I love dessert (chocolate cake….Mmmmm….), and so when I can’t run to the store to get the required ingredients, I’m definitely going to want a mix or two (or three) on hand for when the cravings hit. That is, if I am out of my all-time favorite…Freeze-dried Ice Cream Sandwiches. Seriously…if they sold these at 7-11 I would never get out of the parking lot.
As you can see, there are a lot of different options regarding food. If you want something, chances are you’ll be able to find it. Having an emergency food storage doesn’t mean storing food you’ll never use. On the contrary, your emergency food storage will be something you’ll actually enjoy eating. There’s no use suffering when your life is already hard, but you still need to do your part and get the food before the dire need arises.
Cans, Buckets, Pouches, Superpails
Lastly, let’s discuss briefly the various ways in which you can store your food.
Cans: Cans are a great option for storing food. You can get basically anything in a can, from grains to legumes and from meats to fruits and vegetables. They come in large #10 cans, as well as smaller, two serving cans. They’re easy to store, especially if you don’t have a lot of room for large pails and buckets.
Pouches: Pouches are packaged for individual meals. They can fit nicely into a bug-out bag or in the trunk with your car emergency kit. They are also very popular among outdoor enthusiasts. The two serving pouches will serve one hungry hiker with a hot, delicious home-style meals while hunting or camping. And don’t worry about leftovers… you’ll never have any with these.
Buckets: Buckets are the home to lots of pouches. Inside each bucket are an assortment of different meal pouches, or a large quantity of your favorite ones. Buckets are easy to store, as they stack well on each other. This lets you maximize your floor space in your storage area.
Superpails: Superpails are large, 6 gallon pails (not to be confused with buckets). Superpails come lined with metallized bags, which help block out the light, keeping the food fresh longer. Superpails hold about the equivalent of eight #10 cans, and are great for buying in bulk. Just like the buckets, the Superpails are built for stacking, leaving you with optimized storage space.
So there you have it. Lots of different options for starting your food storage. So go ahead…start squirrelling away an emergency food supply. Take it slowly, month by month, or go all out and get a large load all at once. Either way, let’s get smart and follow the example of our bushy-tailed prepper friend, and be ready when tough times come.
What’s your preferred method of storing food? Do you prefer bulk grains and food, or individual or pouches? Let us know!