Steven Stuckey, @geocaching_ham, asked a great question via Twitter.
“Having a hard time Replaceing anything with low sodium do you have any suggestions?”
Yes, we have suggestions!
For starters, if you’re in the market for low-fuss, lower-sodium meals, here are four tasty options from Mountain House: Chicken Alfredo
(260 mg per serving), Chicken and White Bean Chili (260 mg per serving), New Orleans Style Rice with Shrimp and Ham
(290 mg per serving), and Lasagna with Meat Sauce
(300 mg per serving). With these meals you get the just-add-water convenience and a lower sodium option in one!
Here’s something to consider: a lot of food storage is taken from meals originally created for people with active lifestyles; take for example MREs and LRPs. These ready-to-eat and just-add-water meals were created to sustain soldiers in the field. Because soldiers are expending so much energy these meals were specially designed to replace lost calories and sodium.
MREs and LRPs are a great option for your emergency supplies, so don’t rule them out. Just remember that they are designed to replenish vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs when you’re expending a lot of energy. You won’t want to rely on MREs or LRPs for your entire food storage, but they can be an integral part of your broader strategy.
Other ready-to-eat meals were created for backpackers and outdoorsy people who are hiking and trekking and climbing all day long. Also consider that in an emergency situation it’s likely that your body will be working overtime to keep you calm, warm, and functioning. You will probably need more sodium to compensate.
But if you need to be on a low-sodium diet for medical reasons, or have a family history of heart disease and diabetes and are being careful, there are still options for you. (According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines
, if you have high blood pressure or diabetes you should not consume more than 1500 mg of sodium daily.)
Meals made from scratch are usually lower in sodium than ready-to-eat meals. Instead of relying on just-add-water or ready-to-eat meals, make staples like whole grains, freeze-dried or dehydrated vegetables, and fruits the foundation of your food storage.
I’m not a food scientist, but by comparing nutrition labels I’ve figured out that cooking from scratch does make a difference. Making spaghetti from scratch will save you about 220 mg of sodium over preparing freeze-dried spaghetti. Sure it’s not as convenient, but it fits your need. With little effort you’ll develop the skills to create low-sodium meals from your food storage. Click here for recipes.
If part of your food storage is canned goods, next time you’re ready to make a purchase choose the low-sodium option. You may also consider rinsing your canned food before using it. Draining the juice and rinsing the food can do a lot to decrease the sodium. This works really well with foods like beans and vegetables, especially when adding them to soups or casseroles. I do this all the time and haven’t noticed a decrease in flavor.
Speaking of flavor, did you know that you can “trick” your body into wanting less salt? When you use more herbs and spices on your foods, you won’t need as much salt because your taste buds are busy savoring other flavors. Some of my favorites are garlic, pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, cumin, bay leaf, cinnamon, allspice – ok I could go on forever. I love flavor.
If you really need to cut the sodium out of your diet, start substituting vegetables for meat. Mushrooms are a popular substitute, as are lentils and beans. These hearty foods will help fill you up and are much lower in sodium than meats like ground beef.
The most important thing to remember is that you can make your food storage work for your specific needs and lifestyle. There are always options.
We love getting these kinds of questions! To ask your questions, tweet us at @BePrepared_com. We’ll respond to your tweet and post longer answers here on our blog. Now, here’s a question for you:
How do you use your emergency supplies to make healthy, low-sodium meals for your family? Feel free to share recipes, too!