Going Beyond Storing Bulk Foods
Storing bulk food has been the traditional method of emergency storage. We too have a supply of bulk items such as rice, potatoes, powdered milk, sugar, salt, pepper, pancake mix and fruits. Sounds like a plan as long as there is a way to prepare/cook these foods. Otherwise, we are going to be eating raw rice and cold potatoes with no proteins to go along with them. For me, this has always been a bother and something that I was just not comfortable with.
After the hurricane season of 2004 and my trip to cleanup after Hurricane Katrina my unease with storing bulk food items only increased. After Hurricane Katrina it was very apparent that people with supplies did not have any way to prepare them. If their kitchen survived the storm (our kitchen did not survive the 2004 storms) they probably did not have the power or ability to cook food. For the people that I met after Katrina, having bulk food storage would really have done them little or no good.
Unprepared bulk food storage is not the answer.
Cooking After a Disaster
Your kitchen is on the ground floor. This makes it more prone to flooding during storms. Even if you have electricity after the storm your kitchen may have been destroyed by flood waters and be totally unusable. This is what happened to us during the 2004 storms. We lost the use of our kitchen for 6 months. We had bulk foods. Without a kitchen we had no way to prepare them.
Cooking during a WROL situation may be nearly impossible for some as there may not be electricity to power stoves and ovens. To make matters even worse there may be marauders or others who will smell someone cooking meals and come running to take your food. The smell of food to a hungry person is magnified and could driver them to extreme measures. Cooking during a WROL situation is just not a wise thing to do..
Looking For a Solution
Understanding all of this I began searching for a way to prepare meals now, while we still have utilities to cook that we can eat during a disaster. I found a store called Honeyville Grains. They not only have the edible supplies you need their corporate chef teaches a concept known as “Meals in a Jar”. The concept is simple. Put all the ingredients needed to create a meal for 4 into a quart jar and vacuum pack it for your food storage. All that is needed to prepare the meal is hot water. No cooking is required. I immediately saw this as the answer to my uneasiness with storing bulk uncooked items and cooking during a disaster or WROL situation.
Imagine going to the food storage and being able to select from any number of meals for 4 people that only require you to heat water to prepare.
Here is an example.
- Taco Bell ground beef over rice.
- Spaghetti with diced onions and mushrooms.
- Beef tips over rice with gravy.
- Beef stroganoff over noodles.
- Cheeseburger helper over noodles.
All of these are recipes that fit into a single quart jar that is then vacuum packed to give a 10 – 15 year shelf life.
This solution made sense to me. Prepare meals that my family will eat while I have the resources and ability to prepare them. Turn my bulk foods into edible meals that extend their shelf life for up to 15 years.
Will Your Family Want to Eat Your Stored Foods?
Dried bulk items stored in gallon cans are easier to do than this method. However, what good does it do to store foods that cannot be easily prepared during a grid down situation? Plus, what meals do you plan to prepare without any proteins (meats, fish, dairy, etc)? You also have to consider if your family will even eat what foods you have stored?
Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) are just plain nasty. Adults don’t like them. Soldier only eat them in emergencies. Your family will revolt if you try to feed them MREs for days or weeks at a time.
Then there is the mental factor. Meals can be a comforting time for all. In an emergency if your family has some comfort food to look forward to it will make the emergency much easier to stand and to live through.
In the absolute worst case scenario of a WROL situation you do not want to be cooking. The smell will attract hungry people, most of which you do not want at your table looking for food. Meals in a jar are all prepared ahead of time and then placed in jars and sealed. When you are ready to eat a meal all you need is warm/hot water.
With Meals in a Jar you do not waste water. You only add enough water to eat the meal. Water is not wasted cooking noodles, rice or beans.