You have done an excellent job stock piling a variety of freeze-dried foods, but do you know what to do with them when it is time to serve them to your family? In a survival situation, you will probably not have running water, a stove or a microwave. This can make heating water a little tough, which is what is typically needed to rehydrate food. Check out the following tips below that will help you turn your food storage into a delicious meal.
How Much Water?
Surprisingly, you don’t need as much water as you probably thought. In fact, it takes very little water to turn a bowl of freeze-dried survival food into something edible. For your fruits, veggies and powders, you need very little water to rehydrate them. A couple of tablespoons of room temperature water will do the trick. It does take some time. Allow at least an hour for fruits and vegetables to become soft and pliable. It can take a couple of hours. Generally if you have two cups of freeze-dried food that you are going to eat without cooking or doing anything else, you will need 1 cup of water. For stews, soups, chili and other meals that you will cook over a campfire or on a propane stove, you will need less water. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions when possible. It is better to have too little water than too much water that will make a food soggy and nearly inedible.
Cold or Hot Water?
Cold water or room temperature is always best for most foods. Boiling water is going to cook the freeze-dried food. If you are rehydrating meats, this could end up in the meat being overcooked and tough. The best way is to use cool water to reconstitute the meat and then heat it with the rest of the meal or plain. Hot water does reconstitute the food faster, but it does not do anything for the taste.
Do not add salt or other seasoning to the freeze-dried foods while they are reconstituting. The salt will absorb the water during the process and result in the food being tough or make it take longer to soften up. Salt or season the food after it has gone through the rehydration process.
If water is in short supply, you can always eat the foods as they are. You don’t technically have to reconstitute them to eat. Freeze-dried fruits are actually pretty tasty and make an excellent snack if you are on the move.
If you have been working hard to build up your emergency food storage supply, you may need to take another look at your supply. There is a good chance you have been diligently storing your food, but have forgotten a few key things that are necessary to actually putting food on the table. You can’t exactly serve a bowl of whole wheat grains to your child for breakfast. It can be hard to plan for living out of your house or in another location without electricity, running water or the conveniences of your kitchen. This list will serve to remind you of all those little details.
• Manual can opener-You likely have a lot of canned food in your food storage, but it won’t do you any good if you can’t open it! It wouldn’t hurt to have two can openers just in case one gets lost.
• Grain mill-You can find whole grains for a lot less and they will often store longer. But, in order to use those grains, you need a grain mill. These can be picked up for relatively cheap. Make sure it is a manual grain mill and not electric.
• Disposable utensils are extremely useful. Your water is going to be very precious and you want to conserve as much as possible. Disposable utensils can be used and set aside until you have more water available to take care of cleaning the dishes.
• Avoid stocking foods that are overly salty. Things like saltine crackers, jerky and other foods that are high in salt will make you thirsty. Again, water is going to be a precious commodity.
• Don’t stock foods you and your family have never eaten. If you don’t like canned spinach today, you are not going to like it in a survival situation. Before you make a decision to stock up on a particular food, taste it first.
You also need to remember any dietary restrictions for family members. Although you would certainly not want anybody to get sick, it is a fact of life and with limited water, cleaning is likely going to suffer. Viruses and germs are going to be prolific. A good supply of chicken noodle soup, canned juices and drink mixes are all good to have on hand.
To help keep your food storage organized, it helps to keep your can opener, mills and utensils in a small tote. This way, if you do need to bug out, the tote makes it easy to grab everything you need without worrying about where the can opener is.
You are looking at your pantry or if you are lucky, your basement, and thinking, how much food do I really need to store? Only you can answer that question, but there are some guidelines for you to follow to help you plan a food storage to last as long or as little as you want. The absolute bare minimum for a healthy emergency food storage is enough food to last your entire family 30 days. Many preppers will shoot for three months up to a year.
The number of people in your family and the amount of calories each person needs to maintain a healthy body will definitely affect the amount of food you need to store. Obviously children need fewer calories than adults. However, an easy way to calculate the amount of food is by caloric content. Assume each person in your family needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain their muscle function and overall healthy body. A family with four members would need 8,000 calories a day. Check the labels on some of your canned foods and freeze dried foods. Identify the calories per serving of a particular food. For example, a freeze-dried stew mixture contains 500 calories per serving. If that was the only food your family ate on a given day, you would need 16 servings. How many servings are in the can? Typically, you will find the smaller cans of freeze-dried foods contain 16 servings. That means you would need 30 cans of a particular food to last your family of four one month.
Another formula you can use involves evaluating your family’s eating habits during a typical week. If you do the grocery shopping, you probably have a pretty good idea how much food and the kind of food your family eats. How many cans of soup do you typically open for your family’s lunch? Is it two or three? Multiply the number of cans of soup used for an average meal by the number of days you want to have on hand. That may be 30, 180 or 365 days. 2 cans of soup x 30 days would be 60 cans of soup for 30 days of lunches.
When you think about your food storage plans, it is important to keep in mind that a survival situation is not the time to be cutting calories and eating enough to simply stay alive. You will be expending a lot more energy, which translates to using a lot more calories than you normally would. In order to survive, your body needs to be in the best condition possible. You will likely have to walk everywhere you need to go, hunt for additional food, carry water and chop wood. These are major energy users. Don’t skimp on food storage and assume you can lose that extra 20 pounds you have been trying to get rid of for years.
If you have been considering food storage for survival, you may think you can’t store more than a few days worth of food due to a lack of space in your home. That is not the case at all. There are plenty of ways you can store freeze-dried and other foods that do not require refrigeration. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can store enough food to last your family for several months without moving to a bigger home!
Under the Beds
You can buy plastic totes that are designed to slide under the bed to store your food. Freeze dried bagged foods can be stashed in these containers along with dry soup packages, pastas and a variety of other staples. Under your beds is also a great place to put canned food holders. You can find these at your local home improvement store. Instead of putting the can holders in the pantry, stick them under your bed. Load from one end and pull from the opposite end. This is a great way to keep up with rotation.
Bottom of the Closets
If you have 5-gallon buckets, place 2 or 3 on the bottom of your closet. Put a piece of plywood over the top to create a new floor. This makes reaching for your shoes more convenient while giving you space to store your food. If you are not using buckets, you can do this with canned food as well. Stock the cans one to two high to create a sturdy platform for your shoes and what not.
Behind the Couch
You can create a functional table behind your couch by using the can holders mentioned above and a 2×6. Put the can holders (stack one to two high) between the wall and the couch. Place the wood over the can holders and add knick knacks or whatever you like to dress it up. The 6 inches of space between the wall and your couch is minimal and you won’t even notice it, but you will have a large place to store canned goods.
Over-the-door shoe organizers are great for storing single serving freeze-dried meals and MREs. You can store dehydrated spices and other sealed bags of dehydrated fruits and vegetables in the pouches. The organizers hang over the door so they do not take up any space at all.
You can use buckets of freeze-dried food to create functional coffee tables and end tables in your living room or in your bedroom. If you don’t have 5-gallon buckets of freeze-dried foods, you can still stack canned goods inside an empty bucket to save space. Place a piece of wood over the bucket and drape with a pretty tablecloth. Nobody will know your furniture is also a food storage.
There are likely plenty of spaces around your home that could be transformed into a food storage area. Get creative and you would be amazed at how much space you truly have in your home!