The kids were off on a school field trip and the wife went along as a chaperone so I was on my own for dinner tonight. I carefully considered my options; Chinese takeout, pizza, tacos, mac-and-cheese, or…dip into my emergency supplies to use up some of the “closer to expiration date” items and to see just what dinner would be like were I truly in a situation where I needed my emergency food.
I threw aside the Szechuan Palace menu I was looking at and decided it was time to see how I could stomach the “Big Name Brand” Chili with Beans that I have in the back pantry. Now, I must start by explaining that this is a can that made its way into my survival supplies when I was just beginning to PREP and was relatively new to the concept. I figured that on the plus side it was inexpensive, packed with calories, and had a fairly good shelf life. All of which is pretty much true. I also bought it while of the mind that if you purchase supplies that you’ll only use in a true emergency they’ll always be there when you need them. Now this sounds ideal, but in reality it turns into a cabinet full of spam, sardines, and random luncheon meat the original purpose of which- I can only assume- was for “double dog dares” and fraternity hazing stunts. Things you don’t want to eat ever really. Let alone anything that’s going to brighten spirits in a time of need, which, in my experience, is what the best meals are all about. Even in the toughest of times a good meal makes everyone feel better. So let’s stock for good meals. Why shouldn’t we?
Yes there are issues with stocking all of your favorite foods. It’s true that if my wife is making tuna salad and needs an extra can she’ll immediately grab one from my emergency stash [without asking…] but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep storing it. Tuna is high quality and everyone in our family likes it. So stock the items you enjoy that still fit the basic criteria of shelf life and nutritional value and you’ll be much better off should you really need them. Thoreau has one of the best comprehensive lists of emergency food that I’ve ever seen. It’s designed to provide great nutritional value and superior shelf life from foods he generally eats anyway. He doesn’t need to change his eating habits when dipping into emergency supplies. Perhaps he’ll share his list here. Thoreau?
Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, I popped open my can of chili and heated it up on the stove. –And yes, I know that if there was a true emergency tonight I would likely be without electricity and gas so I would have had to use my propane grill outside to heat up the chili but we’re being prudent and reasonable here (and it was starting to rain) so I figured I could skip that part of the equation and move on to the palatability test which was the real point here anyway*- Sigh… And so I must say I am now more convinced than ever that Thoreau’s “stock what you commonly eat” beats the old “stock what you would only eat in an emergency” any day. A can of chili with beans on an empty stomach is the stuff prison riots are made of. Brutal.
So, Let’s all take a quick inventory of what’s currently in our cabinets versus what really needs to be there and let’s make the necessary adjustments. And take a careful look at foods designed for longer term storage (freeze dried or otherwise) that are super high quality but not found at your local market. There are fantastic options there as well.
• And, yes I promise I’ll use my propane grill this weekend to make sure it’s still working properly and all the tanks including the backups are full. Man, some of our readers can nag!