In these days of uncertainty, it makes sense to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised when the worst doesn’t happen.
For some, preparedness means ensuring you have the best barrel in the upper receiver of your AR15 the market can provide.
For others, it’s all about sufficient food and water to consume when food and running water isn’t available. What’s important to note is that most survival preppers aren’t running around telling us the sky is falling. Survival preparedness is all about complete self-sufficiency and being able to survive without needing to count on others.
When it comes to food, many preppers adopt the strategy of purchasing only non-perishable bulk to fill their prepper stockpiles. There are, however, several different types of food kits you can make at home for the more budget-conscious survival prepper.
A form of dried meat like beef jerky, pemmican is one of the most long-lasting and nutritious food sources you’ll need to stave off those hunger pangs.
Traditionally made from bison, these days, you’ll discover pemmican is often a collection of deer or elk meat dried in a food dehydrator, then stored in a vacuum-sealed bag.
Producing pemmican is not an expensive ordeal by any means. You can find food dehydrators and vacuum sealers that function dependably and perform well for a little under two hundred dollars.
Another good thing is that both the dehydrator and vacuum sealer are not mission-specific, meaning you can use both for making several other quality food sources to stock in your preparedness storeroom.
Making pemmican is as simple as cutting various sized strips of your selected meat and placing them in a food dehydrator for two or three hours. Remember to save the grease that collects in the bottom of your hydrator because you’ll want to add it back in when it comes time to eat.
You can also add items such as berries or nuts to your pemmican to make the taste more enjoyable but keep in mind that anytime you add items to your pemmican, it will reduce the shelf life of your food source.
Make Your Own MRE
A military acronym, MRE, means meal ready to eat. While the extended shelf life of an MRE is one of the most desirable attributes to most survival preppers, buying stockpiles of MRE can get a bit pricey for the average survival prepper. Most MRE kits often hover around the one-hundred-and-sixty-dollar range for only twelve meals.
Instead of purchasing an MRE, you can make your own, and all it takes is the food source and a vacuum sealer. When putting together your MRE, you’ll want to maintain a calorie count of about one thousand calories per meal.
Also, try not to include dairy products, fatty foods, or fruits as they typically go bad quickly. Remember, you want a meal kit that can sit in your stockpile for several months or a year before it’s time to consume it.
Many preppers get very creative with homemade MRE kits. It’s typical to see a combination of items such as Ramen noodles, freeze-dried vegetables, various powdered items such as cocoa and milk, and granola and energy bars.
If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, you can also include sufficient portions of either in each homemade MRE along with various packets of sugar, salt, and pepper.
Most survival preppers that build their own MRE kits typically choose to store small packets of salt and pepper in a separate place, but you can include them by simply taping them to each MRE bag you create.
When putting together your meal kits, pay close attention to the blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals. Each homemade MRE needs to contain a good mix of what you need to experience a complete meal.
Additionally, mix your combinations up slightly, so you’re not eating the same MRE every day. Remember, you’re the chef in the MRE kitchen, and you determine the variety of meal selections.
Vacuum sealing your MRE food sources is straightforward if you keep this in mind. Many of the dry food sources you intend to use will have packaging. Just before sealing, puncture the packages with a pin or needle. What this does is make your MRE more compact. When landscape in your backpack or upon the shelf is at a premium, you’ll be glad you did.
Making a Shelf-Life List
Whether you’re making pemmican, jerky, or MRE for your preparedness stockpile, one thing you’ll need to do is to create a shelf-life list of every food source you store.
One of the biggest problems most survival preppers experience when stockpiling is how to reduce food waste. Not everything you include in your food storage areas will last indefinitely. Even those that have an indefinite shelf life can and will go bad under the right circumstances.
Aside from checking your stockpile every day and then consuming what you didn’t plan on before it goes south on you, consider making a shelf-life list.
If you’re unsure what falls in what section, the following is a good rule of thumb to consider. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. List the items by time categories of six months, one year, and yes, indefinite.
Six Months – Powdered milk or dried fruit, crackers, cereal, and believe it or not, potatoes.
One Year – Here, you’ll want to take note of the actual expiration date of the item and plan on consumption before that date. In this section, you’ll probably have the most significant quantities since you’ll be stockpiling a lot of canned vegetables, fruits, and items such as peanut butter and jelly for all those PB&J sandwiches you intend to eat.
Indefinite – As mentioned earlier, even products with an unlimited shelf life will ruin if not stored in proper containers and under the right conditions. In this category, you’ll be stockpiling items such as wheat and grains, flour, baking powder, and many of your rice and pasta items. Other things such as coffee and tea will fall into this category as well.
You probably noticed the caveat about storing food products that have an indefinite shelf life. It’s all about containers and conditions. You’ll want to keep these foodstuffs protected from air, critters, and bugs, and of course, moisture.
While you may stockpile these items in clear plastic containers with a button-top seal that forces the air out, there is one extra thing you can do to ensure you achieve the necessary criteria.
Since you used your vacuum sealer to create your MRE, here’s another opportunity to go the extra mile to ensure your indefinite shelf-life food stock lasts even longer.
One last item on your list you’ll want to do is ensure that each product you stockpile in each category adheres to the “use by” date on the food source itself. It won’t hurt to mark the date on a sticky note and tape it to the container for easy and quick reference.
Rotate and Then Rotate Some More
Although you’re stockpiling your food and water sources for a future event, unless that event is about to take place tomorrow, you’ll need to consume some of the items you’re stocking as you go.
Think of it this way. If you’ve taken the time to purchase and containerize all your emergency food supplies, the last thing you want to do is let them turn up unconsumable and spoiled.
Whether it’s six months or a year, or even longer, you should constantly be monitoring and rotating food and even water in and out of your emergency supply. Food from this stockpile needs to be consumed and replaced. Water needs checking and refreshing when necessary.
It won’t take much time to do this, as giving your emergency food and water supplies a once-over isn’t a daily grind. Use your shelf-life checklist and give your stockpile a thorough going over a day or two ahead of the expiration dates.
A Little Bit of Preparedness Goes a Long Way
Whatever route you take to stockpiling your food source, remember that a bit of preparedness on your part will pay off in a big way should a natural or manufactured disaster happen.
Yes, it takes time and money, and a lot of answers to what happens if questions. That’s why it’s called prepping. Survival preparedness is, simply put, having a situational awareness for a future event that may or may not occur.
It is not by any stretch of the imagination doomsday planning. Most preppers are content to take a pragmatic view of what’s happening around them, and so they learn skills and stockpile food and water for that rainy day.
While it’s true that none of us understand what our future state will be, it doesn’t mean we can’t at least try to control what we’ll be eating and drinking if the lights go out and the water stops flowing.
Think of survival preparedness as a rule of the five Ps. Proper planning prevents poor performance.
Suggested resources for preppers:
Ideal Foods and Storage Techniques For the Serious Prepper is written by Bob Rodgers for prepperswill.com