If there was anything my freeze-dried food experiment taught me, it was how lucky I was to be able to walk down the street and buy a sandwich whenever I wanted to—but also how far I was from being self-reliant in the more quotidian sense. If freeze-dried meals are becoming increasingly popular in America, then maybe it’s because many of us realize that if something really bad happened, we wouldn’t know the first thing about surviving for a week on the ingredients lying around in our pantry. But as we continue to be bombarded by headlines foreshadowing epic floods, economic collapse, and nuclear escalation, there’s nothing wrong with finding a little peace of mind in a bag of dehydrated Chicken A La King.
So, what about specialty prepper food? Is there such a thing? Yes. Even though you can turn your everyday food into prepper food simply by storing it away under the proper conditions, you can also purchase speciality prepper food that has a long shelf-life and will keep you and your family well-fed for a long time. There are basically two types of specialty prepper food – MREs and freeze dried food.
Legacy Foods 120 Serving Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Bucket is a great option for vegetarians or people who want more of a bland foundation that you mix with other ingredients. For $299, one bucket covers two people for two weeks at 1,500 calories per day. Although other companies drop the calories to cut costs, Legacy assumed you would add more ingredients to their base, so we thought the relatively low calories per day was acceptable.
Dehydrating your food is a fabulous way to preserve it. Provided you have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate fruit, vegetables, and meat. Dehydration means to literally take the water out of the food. Without water, the food stays is less susceptible to spoilage. It can be eaten that way (think fruit leathers or beef jerky) or rehydrated and put into soups and stews and other meals.
At a minimum, a good framing hammer, hand saw or hacksaw, medium prybar, axe, shovel, vise grips, screwdrivers, fixed blade general purpose knife, small mechanics kit with wrenches, can of all-purpose lube, sturdy cordage (paracord or accessory line) and duct tape. Ensure you have an adequate wrench or similar tool that can shut off water and gas valves in and around your home.
When you find out your buddy or mentor has months and months worth of food, water, medical supplies, tools, weapons and more it is easy to get discouraged before you even begin. This is a mistake. No matter where you are and how much or little you have to work with you can take steps right now, today, to improve your situation over the masses who don’t care or cannot be bothered to do the same.
I mean, how can you possibly deny the usefulness of one of these? I’ve spoken about it before in my article about staying indoors when the power’s out: having a brick room-sized shed/garage separate from the house and put a fireplace there is pretty much my idea of the perfect prepper space to create. And this is the wood-burning stove/fireplace that would go there. In my dreams of course, because first you need to have the right property, then the right garage/shed, then finally I can grab this sort of remarkably useful kind of thing.
Personally, I’d separate this list out from the actual food stockpile list. Why? If you have a list of foods you’re stockpiling, it’s better to organize it in a way that makes sense to you (refrigerated, frozen, canned, grains, etc.) than it is to organize it by food expiry, and if the food is expiring soon it can be hard to tell if you just tacked the expiry date on to the end of each item in an unorganized list.
Monitor what your family eats for a week and use that as a guideline for getting started. The advantage of doing this is you will learn what your family likes so that you can shop accordingly. You would be surprised at how many people can’t remember what they ate yesterday let alone a week ago. Try to write everything down so that you don’t have to rely upon your memory.
Keep in mind that Legacy didn’t necessarily intend to create a product only for vegetarians. It was designed as a base for people to add their own protein, salt, seasonings, and ingredients. Which means Legacy requires more “cooking” than many of the other options we looked at, to the point where some of our testers didn’t think it qualified as “emergency food.”
Not to mention the “year without a summer” that happened after the eruption of Mt. Tambora in the Dutch East Indies in 1815. The resulting ash and smoke plume blocked the sun enough to lower the average temperatures only by a few degrees. It was enough to trigger famines in North America and Europe for several years until temperatures gradually normalized. If the Yellowstone caldera erupts the smoke and ash would block the sun much as would a nuclear winter and would trigger even worse famines and suffering from people trying to cope with minimum if any infrastructure for heat, water, medical, etc. just for the simple reason that we’ve got way more people now and more of us live in urban areas.
After 9/11, my dad filled a duffel bag with some energy bars, a couple gallons of water, some penicillin, and a map. Amid scaremongering headlines about imminent anthrax and “dirty bomb” attacks in the city, he wanted to have some supplies on hand in case we needed to get out of Brooklyn fast. Were he to assemble such a bag today, he’d likely stumble on a number of companies promising a more wholesale brand of disaster preparedness: a box full of shelf-stable freeze-dried meals, to be revived from their dessicated state with the addition of boiled water.