Thought I'd try to revive some discussion in this thread, what with various catastrophes occurring all over the world these days. We may have covered some of this already, but what the hell, let's do it anyway.
How about - CANNED FOOD!
Although there are some downsides to canned food such as high sodium content and less than fantastic taste in most cases, it does have the wonderful virtue of lasting a long time
. This makes it ideal for an emergency stash.My current pantry includes the following:Meats
2 canned hams
12 cans of tuna (they're sort of small - you'd want to eat 2-3 cans at a sitting, so it's really 3-4 servings)
4 tins of sardines
4 cans of salmon
6 cans of chicken
4 cans of chicken spreadLegumes
12 cans of garbanzo beans (a.k.a chickpeas)
4 cans of peas
4 cans of refried beans (pinto beans)Vegetables
12 cans of potatoes
8 cans of green beans
4 cans of carrots
2 cans of beets ("beetroot" for some of you)"Meals"
2 cans chicken n' dumplings
8 cans of spaghetti/chili mac/ravioli type stuff
8 cans corned beef hashOther Stuff
4 cans chicken noodle soup
8 cans cream of mushroom soup
4 cans of gravy
4 cans of olives (we like olives, what can I say?)
Now, what I choose to stock the pantry with is determined in large part by what we'll actually eat. All of the above appear in our normal eating (some items are solely for my Other Half - the peas and pasta-in-red-sauce stuff is off-limits for me due to allergies. On the other hand, he doesn't like beets or the salmon.) This makes rotating the stock over time easy and practical. Don't put stuff in your emergency store you don't like to eat!
Canned food, assuming the can is intact and stored at room temperature, is reliable for at least two years. Longer storage is certainly possible.
Yes, some people stock MRE's
. Personally, I don't have any experience them (and given that so much of their menus are off limits to me due to health reasons I'm unlikely to - but if someone else wants to discuss them please do so) but in many ways they're similar to canned food: they last a long time without need refrigeration.
Canned food can also be salvaged from flood situations, provided the cans are undamaged. In such cases you MUST clean the outside of the can thoroughly to avoid contaminating the food when you open it, but as long as the can is intact so is the food inside.
I would actually like to expand my canned vegetable stock, as I feel I have a reasonable store of meat/protein items. I am also considering adding canned fruit, but we don't eat canned fruit very often so the stock rotation might become problematic. I know from experience that in an emergency I do like to have canned fruit as an option, as meals tend to get somewhat redundant.
Now, a word about DRY GOODS
These would be things like pasta, from egg noodles to ramen, instant potatoes, and so on. Stuff that's dry, often powdered, and usually (though not always) quick to fix.My current stock:
2 boxes of dehydrated potatoes
6 boxes of noodles (macaroni and rotini)
36 packages of ramen noodles
2 pounds of couscous
8 pounds of rice (brown - it does take longer to cook than white)
10 pounds of flour (all sorts of uses)
3-5 or pounds of sugar (we do use it, so the supply varies rapidly. Includes white, brown, and honey)
Powdered chicken boullion
Several boxes and varieties of crackers.
Now, this stuff also
lasts a long time, and we also eat all of the above so the stock keeps rotating. The down side is that the packaging is not as durable as what's in cans, so it's vulnerable to water and damage.
The thing is, all of the above combined makes for meals that will keep you going, fill you up, and might even taste good. All you need is water and a means to heat it: stove, microwave, campfire... CONDIMENTS!
This will keep you from going crazy from either a bland or repetitive diet. Ideally, you want stuff that doesn't need refrigeration, like hot sauce, salt, herbs, mustard, soy sauce, etc.
Now you don't want to spend more money than you have to, either for daily eating or your emergency stash. This brings us to a couple of points to keep in mind:
1) House brands:
these are almost invariably cheaper than national brands, and usually of similar quality. They last just as long. When they go on sale stock up. Warehouse stores, discount stores like Aldi, and so forth may provide additional savings.
I have a household of two. Therefore, I buy canned goods in sizes that two people can reasonably consume in one sitting. While a much larger can may be cheaper per unit of weight, once you open the damn thing if you don't have a working refrigerator you have to eat it all or watch it go bad. Keep that in mind. For an emergency situation smaller portions that won't go bad are actually a better choice than huge cans that will. Obviously, if you have a family with six kids and your in-laws/parents all under one roof buy the bigger can.
3) Extra stuff:
Stuff can get damaged. You might wind up taking in a friend or neighbor. Don't skimp. If you decide to keep two weeks of food on store figure out how much you're likely to eat, then add maybe 50% on top of that.OK, HOW THE HELL DO I USE THIS STUFF?
I do suggest you do some experimenting with cooking with these materials before all hell breaks loose. One easy technique is cook noodles or pasta, then add canned meat and vegetables and a can of cream of mushroom soup and heat everything up to boiling for a minute or two. It can serve 2-4 people, if more are coming add more cans of stuff.
Another thing you can do it add a can of vegetables to a pack of ramen noodles, and maybe a can of chicken or some other meat as well. Bring to a boil and serve. Add condiments to make the taste more interesting.
You can also mix a can of soup and additional can of vegetables, add crackers, you have something like a reasonable meal.
Serve pasta-in-a-can and vegetables-from-a-can side by side.
Then we have the "shit on a shingle" variations. The original shit on a shingle
was a US army thing consisting of creamed chipped beef on toast. Very informally, this can be extended to anything pasty on anything bread/cracker like. So... chicken or ham or other meat spread on a cracker. Corned beef hash on a cracker. Mashed beans on a cracker. You get the idea. It's quick, it's easy... sometimes it even tastes good. Served with vegetables for something sort of like a balanced meal.
And, of course, you can just crack open a big can of beef or chicken stew, or some other sort of "meal in a can".
Needless to say, if you have fresh vegetables around you can use those, too - during the summer months, for instance, I have a garden with things like lettuce which can add variety to emergency stores. But even in the depths of winter you can eat reasonably well for a week or two on such stored goods. Gourmet? Well, maybe, if you're really creative... but even the average person will be able to assemble edible food out of the above.