Outdoor Life Prepare for Anything Survival Manual (9 page)

BOOK: Outdoor Life Prepare for Anything Survival Manual
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Go Carb Crazy

The modern fear of carbs is just that . . . modern. For most of history, humans have relied on starchy foods for energy, comfort, and nutrients. And the All Grapefruit Supermodel Diet has no place in a disaster situation.

Whole-grain flour does spoil more quickly than the white stuff, but it also has a lot more nutrients. Store it carefully.

This American Indian staple has a very long shelf life and can be ground up to make grits, polenta, and cornbread. Or if you want to get really old-school, look into making masa harina (or just buy some premade for your pantry). This corn flour processed with lime is used to make nutritious corn tortillas.

Buy the whole, steel-cut oats and you have a versatile staple that can be cooked up for breakfast or used in baking to add nutrients and fiber.

You don’t get a lot of nutrition from crackers, but they have a long shelf life, are easy to eat, and can be a good snack for kids (or grown-ups!) who need some sense of normalcy in a tough situation. Never underestimate the calming power of peanut butter and saltines!

Dried pasta lasts virtually forever and, if you buy the fortified kind, can be a source of some vitamins as well. Ramen noodles aren’t terribly good for you, but they’re easy to cook and can be a nice comfort food.

Stash Some Little Luxuries

Man (and woman and especially child) doth not live by whey powder and canned tomatoes alone. If you’re going to be eating from your pantry for more than a few days, you really want to be sure it will provide variety and enjoyment as well as sheer nutrition. Even Soylent Green tastes better with a little horseradish.

A dash of hot sauce or a sprinkling of oregano can make a bland survival dish into a real meal. Grow fresh herbs and chile peppers in your kitchen garden (see item 137), and stock your pantry with some versatile basics. Tabasco and soy sauces last virtually forever, cinnamon and ginger spice up desserts and tea, and spice blends (“Italian seasoning,” “Chinese five-spice powder,” etc.) make cooking easy.

Most condiments spoil pretty quickly, so buy them in smaller-size bottles, and open as needed. Flavored vinegars have a very long shelf life and can liven up all kinds of dishes.

Bags of chocolate chips and bars of high-quality chocolate last well if stored in a cool place. Cocoa powder and chocolate syrup are also good treats in tough times.

While making your bulk purchases of those essential canned tomatoes, corn, beans, and peaches, throw in some quirky indulgences that will brighten your day even if the power’s out and the water’s rising. That might be fancy stuffed olives in a jar, hearts of palm, pumpkin pie filling, or whatever else might lift your spirits after a week or two of oatmeal and bean soup.

Pack It in PETE

For long-term storage of dry goods, consider using bottles made of PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. Many standard bottles out there are made of PETE (check for these letters under the recycling symbol), but you want to buy fresh ones, not reuse old food or drink packaging. A lot of plastic is too flimsy or porous to moisture, oxygen, and pests, but PETE, when used in combination with oxygen-absorbing packets, does the job. Only use this kind of packaging for dry foods—moist foods must be handled much more carefully to avoid the danger of botulism (see item 33 for more information). Bottles should be no bigger than 1 gallon (4 l) for optimal effectiveness.

Test your bottle’s seal by closing it tightly, placing it under water, and pressing on the lid or cap. If any bubbles escape, that means the seal is faulty; don’t use it for long-term storage.

Place an oxygen absorber (a packet of iron powder that helps keep food fresh, available at home storage stores or online) in the bottle.

Fill your bottle with dry goods (wheat, corn, dry beans, etc.).

Wipe the bottle’s top sealing edge clean with a dry cloth, and screw on the lid tightly.

Store the sealed bottle in a cool, dry location away from direct light. If you use a bottle’s contents, add a new oxygen absorber when you refill it.

Plan for the Long Haul

Certain foods, if properly stored, can last up to 30 years or more in your pantry. Remember, do not try these long-term storage methods with even very slightly moist foods, to avoid the risk of botulism.


Wheat • White rice • Dried corn • White sugar • Pinto beans • Rolled oats • Dry pasta • Potato flakes • Nonfat powdered milk


Pearled barley • Jerky • Nuts • Dried eggs • Brown rice • Whole-wheat flour • Milled grain • Brown sugar • Granola

Not sure if a foodstuff is dry enough? Try this test. Place it on a piece of paper and whack it with a hammer. If it shatters, it’s dry. If it squishes, it definitely isn’t. And if it breaks but leaves a little spot of water or oil, it’s still too moist. Err on the side of safety—your family’s life is literally on the line.

Don’t Forget FIFO

A basic rule of any food pantry is “First In, First Out.” What that means: Keep track of the expiration dates on items, and swap them out as they approach culinary old age. That bagged rice is good for a year? After 11 months, replace it with a new bag and enjoy a nice jambalaya. You should never have to throw anything away, just keep using ingredients and replacing them as needed. That way, if and when disaster does strike, dinner’s not going to be expired okra served over bug-infested rice.

Count Your Calories

We’re accustomed to reading food labels to make sure they don’t have too many calories, too much fat, or too many carbs. In a short-term emergency, you turn this wisdom on its head. Your body needs fuel, and fat and sugar are the fastest ways to fuel up. Your BOB and short-term food stashes should include things like protein bars, MREs, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, and other calorie-dense, easy-to-eat items. That doesn’t mean your best survival foods are pork rinds and soda pop—you should strive for some nutritional value, which is why nutrition bars are a good, reasonably priced staple.

Store Food Right

How you store your food has a great bearing on its longevity. Anyone storing more than a week’s worth of food in his or her home should consider these points:

Find a cool place to prevent food loss from heat. A dry basement is ideal, but a closet can also work. Metal cans with food-safe desiccant packs are a great way to save food from moisture, light, insects, and rodents. Food-grade buckets are pretty handy, and oxygen-absorbing packets can also extend the life of stored food.

This part is easy; most containers are lightproof. But if you do end up with a stock of food in clear jars or plastic containers, keep the storage area dark to prevent light from reacting with the food.

Rodents and bugs can play havoc in your food. Metal canisters or glass jars can keep them out.

Depending on the food item and type, it could be nitrogen-packed, freeze-dried, or in a vacuum-sealed package for best shelf life. Otherwise, go with canned food and rotate your stock often. Put the new cans in the back, and use the older cans first.

Stash your goods in basements, closets, or garages, or create storage spaces under furniture.

Dry goods can stay frozen indefinitely, but not wet-packed foods. Avoid breaking or exploding containers by keeping your stuff from freezing.

Make sure any shelving is sturdy; your jars of food won’t help anybody when they have smashed everywhere due to a flimsy shelf or a cheap, collapsed bookcase. Don’t keep your food where it can be easily stolen. And in earthquake-prone areas, keep the food in bins on the ground.

BOOK: Outdoor Life Prepare for Anything Survival Manual
9.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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