29 March 2013

How to Not Starve in an Emergency

    Preparedness is pretty much my hobby these days. I enjoy just about any emergency preparedness or wilderness survival related activity. My wife...not so much. She does like some of it, and she sees the importance of a lot of it. She's not a fan of being outside with bugs, animals, or snakes(especially snakes). Me, I don't mind animals. Bugs are pretty gross, but whatever. Snakes, well...

     ...actually, it did kind of taste like chicken. Here's how it went down. There was a snake...so we killed it(it had to be done), and Chris(pictured below) showed us how to skin it,

Chris, The Man
      then we cooked it over a fire, and we ate it.
Snake meat roasting on an open fire

     There wasn't much meat to it, and we pretty much got rid of the juices by cooking it this way, but at least we tried it. Next time I think I'll make a soup or something. It really did kind of taste like chicken, but it was more like a mix between chicken and fish, sort of. My wife told me that when I got home I wasn't allowed to kiss her until I washed my mouth out and brushed my teeth. She forgot, so I kissed her anyway.

      That isn't my plan for an emergency. It probably isn't yours, either. What kinds of foods should we have stored or put in our 72-hour kits to help us get by? I've got a few MREs, or Meals Ready-to-Eat. Those are the brown bag specials they feed people in the military on field exercises and stuff. This is what one looks like:

MRE Contents
      The sides and snacks in the MRE vary depending on the entree...and the year it was produced. They're not all that bad, even though you've probably heard they are. To prove that they are edible, I enlisted the help of my step-dad, Don, while he was visiting a couple weeks ago.

     It was Don's first time eating an MRE. The meal was Pork Rib. I explained that it was kind of like the McRib sandwich patty. We wanted to go through the full experience, so we pulled everything out, and heated the entree and side dish by setting them outside in the provided heating pouch. When he tried it he said, "I'd eat that," and then he did. He said it was actually kind of tasty. There you have it folks. You can't argue with science. 
     Honestly, when you eat MREs for a couple weeks, two or more meals a day, you get tired of them pretty quick, but for a few days, they're not so bad. In fact, the meals are just like something you'd find in a can, like beef stew. I do recommend drinking plenty of water to help with digestion and all that. You should always drink plenty of water, especially in an emergency.

     What are some other food options? Well, if you're like my wife, you might have a pre-assembled 72-hour kit. While I was deployed, we talked about what she would do in an emergency and we bought her one so that she would at least have the basics covered while I was gone. In these kits, you will usually find a calorie brick. I'm not sure what else to call them. It's a food ration bar of some sort.
      I haven't actually tried one, but it's definitely on my list of things to do. (Update: I tried it. It's not bad. Kind of like a lemony shortbread. Kind of oily, but pretty dry. store lots of water.) They're compact and relatively light, so it may not be so bad to have. I do foresee getting sick of these well before MREs, so a little variety couldn't hurt.

     The way I see it, during an emergency, a lot of things are going to be different or turned upside down, so you could try to keep at least your food as normal as possible. Whatever foods you decide on, they should be easy to prepare, long lasting, preferably lightweight, and maybe not very messy. Try it before you decide on it. You don't want to be any more uncomfortable than necessary. I really want to talk about how to cook food in an emergency, so I'll write a post about that later. If you don't have to cook it, that's the easiest.
     Some foods that are good to have are:
     -Meals in a can, like soups, stews, and Chef Boyardee type stuff. These come in a can, which can be used as a bowl, and you can heat it up in the can on a stove or fire, but not in a microwave. You can eat most of them cold, too.
     -Canned foods, like fruit, vegetables, or tuna.
          Pack a can opener for anything in a can.
     -Instant foods, like oatmeal, rice, potatoes, and just about anything in a pouch or freeze-dried.
          Make sure to store extra water with foods that require it for preparation!
     -Trail mix, dried fruit, raisins, crackers, etc.
     -Peanut butter(also good on crackers), honey goes great with it and never goes bad.
           Honey is something I think everyone should have. It's even good for people with low blood sugar. There are a lot of reasons to have honey. Put it in your kit, because even if it's all you have to eat, you'll live.
     -Energy bars and granola bars.
     -Comfort food. Pack something you really like, maybe your favorite candy bar or cookies.
     -Remember to pack baby food or formula if you've got a baby(pack some formula, even if you nurse, just in case).
   There are a lot of different foods you can store. If you're staying at your house, you've got everything in your cupboards, and everything thawing in your freezer, but you won't always stay at your house, and that's why you should pack some of these things. Keep them in your kit. Don't assume you'll have time to gather things. For some foods, you'll want paper plates or bowls or a mess kit or something. Also, keep some plastic garbage bags on hand and some paper towels for clean up.

    Leave a comment if you've got a food item in your 72-hour kit(or your future kit) that you think will benefit others. I don't know everything and I might be missing some important stuff, so feel free to help me out. Thanks!

Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.
-W. C. Fields


  1. You are a very brave man! Snake jerky, eh? Hum, I suppose in a 'REAL' emergency...but I'd pack a lot of BBQ sauce in my emergency kit, just in case. =O)- I think I'll keep that handsome hunk of a step-dad of yours nearby to kill the snake for me as well. Great advice NatMan!

  2. Just have to add, we love the view of the angel in the background in the pic as well. <3