Today  I want to go over some recent purchases of mine. If you ever read my series called “Food for Thought” which was just a brief overview of some “what if” situations and possible ways to prepare for them, then this takes off from there. One of the shortages I had when I wrote that up was food. Now I have some, so let’s talk about survival food. I am just beginning to learn about all this long term food stuff myself so if your an experienced prepper please feel free to share tips and whatever.

I was at Hurricane Katrina and I saw Sandy on tv like everybody else. Both times seems like most people didn’t have a bite to eat or drink. Before now that would have been me too. Once my box of Lucky Charms was gone then old Jack the Dog and I would have been SOL. Jack is gone now and my new friend Bailey eats even more! (look at the size of her head!) I didn’t want to end up like the masses in the event of some sort of catastrophe whether it be natural or man made. So I purchased 270 days worth of emergency rations to start and have plans to take that up to 2 years of stashed food.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to buy. MRE’s are bulky for the amount of food you get. It’s a good meal I think but with all the extra stuff and individual packages it makes it too bulky to carry around a lot of it in my opinion. We actually used to break them down before moving out on a mission. If you were going to be out say 3 days then grab 9 or 10 of them and just take out the stuff you wanted and throw away the extra junk and extra packaging. Furthermore, they are kinda pricey. I looked to some other alternatives and this is what I found.

Food Bars: For size, weight and price these are hard to beat. I paid $4.99 a piece for the 3 day ration bars from SOS Food Labs.  So there are 9 individual ration bars in each wrapper. They last at least 5 years and are Coast Guard approved. (whatever that means) I got 90 days worth of these. These to me are like “super” emergency rations. What I mean by that is I’ve got 30 seconds to “get out of Dodge” and this is the most compact and easiest to pick up a backpack full of them and run. So for a quick bug out these are my choice.

There are some problems with the food bars though. A. You get 3 bars per day, you will be one hungry and unhappy person. There’s no way you will feel full and satisfied. B. 1200 calories a day is what they provide. That’s not a whole lot, especially considering in the event of some kind of disaster you may be much more active than usual. These things will at least keep you alive but even with inactivity most of us will be dropping weight fast. Of course you could always eat 6 a day or more, that’s up to you. If I was SURE I had enough for the duration I would do just that. They are loaded with fat but I figure I have more to worry about than my longterm health if I am forced to live on them. So I think these are a pretty good buy, easily transportable, they taste pretty good (like a cookie) and I am glad to have them as a last resort food.

Next I bought some cases of Mountain House  beef stroganoff. Still a bit pricey at $140 for a 6 can case delivered. There are 10 servings per can, so 60 servings per case. A serving provides about 260 calories. I prepared some last nite. I cooked up 3 servings and split it with Bailey to see what she thought. She liked it and so did I. I thought it was a tad bland but overall I have eaten way worse. I was surprisingly full from my 1.5 serving size and I am a big dude. Bailey is a bottomless pit but at least it would be enough to sustain her. She’s one big “bitch” 🙂 too at 171 lbs. So 3 servings did us pretty good. I like this stuff. Sealed it has a 25 year shelf life which is great. I will buy a few more cases of this stuff for sure, probably another kind like the chili-mac.

Next I bought Augason Farms 6 gallon buckets. I bought several buckets of several kinds. I got some that are 305 servings of various dehydrated foods like stews, chicken and rice, broccoli and cheese. A decent assortment of stuff. I like this idea because you get 305 servings for $89 to my door. So it is a cost effective way to have a variety. This one bucket is 30 days of food for one person. It provides 1857 calories a day. That’s not too bad. I have/will not open them to taste test because they have a 25 year shelf life sealed. So I don’t want to unseal 300 servings of food and then have to eat it all up in a years time. These are for emergencies. I have ate tons of dehydrated food over the years in the Corps. I was never disgusted by any of it. Even if it’s not the most palatable stuff who cares. It’s a disaster, just be glad to have it.

Additionally I bought big buckets of brown rice from Augason. I like this idea a lot too because it’s brown rice which is excellent for you and filling. At $60 a bucket of 43 lbs with 7 years shelf life sealed this makes an excellent choice for the family on a budget. Are you going to be sick of rice? For sure! You won’t be sick of being full and being alive though. So if the SHTF day comes this rice is a great long-term food idea. 433 servings of brown rice to your door for $60. I feel this stuff is a good choice for a bad situation.

Last from them I bought a few buckets of dehydrated potatoes. Who doesn’t like fried potatoes? Add some water and once hydrated you can cook them up a lot of different ways. I thought adding this into some of the other foods or as a side dish would be great. You get 226 servings for $39 to your door! That’s pretty cost effective too. I will be buying more of these for sure too. You can use potatoes for breakfast with your eggs if you have chickens like we do and as a great side to whatever you shot recently like venison. Add them to your wild game stew and everybody will be pleased when the day is otherwise a lost cause. They provide 70 calories per serving with 0 fat and 10 carbs. Nutritionally that does not amount to much. I think these need to be used as “filler” in your belly along with something else. Otherwise plan on eating alot of them and not really getting 226 servings out of the bucket. For the price and shelf life though I think these are pretty good.

Another item I have been stocking up on are canned goods. Of course we all know they have some kind of expiration date. Usually 2-3 years from the time you purchased them on most cans. The more I read the more it seems that as long as a canned good isn’t dented then most of it will be good LONG after that. Take for instance Dinty Moore Beef Stew. It never expires, NEVER, as long as the can is in good shape it should be good to go. Yes flavor may degrade, so what. It beats starving. I have been buying this stuff up regularly. Same with the Hormel canned meats, like the hams. Same deal, if the can is good then it is good. Notice the date says “Best by” whatever year it says. It doesn’t say “expires”. Of course avoid any can that bulges. That tends to mean Botulism. Same with MRE’s if they are bulging or sucked up tight throw them out. Something is wrong with them.

The down side of canned goods is weight. The food is hydrated and therefore heavy. Your not going to get far trying to bug out with 175lbs of canned stew on your back. Additionally you have to think about the cans being dented. If you are on the move it would be harder to keep the cans from damage. Short term that’s no big deal, long-term though and the food may be no good. My plan is if the world goes to hell and I can stay at home then eat the canned stuff first. Then if you have to bug out take the lighter dehydrated stuff with you. If a good storm or whatever keeps the grocery store closed for an extended period of time or the shelves are shopped/looted clean this is when all those canned goods will be handy.

That’s what I have bought so far, along with some  emergency water rations, it’s like a foil packaged juice drink only it’s water. So just  look at what I decided to buy and think about your own needs. There are lots of brands and kinds of long term food to store. I’m not saying my way is the best way to go just passing on a bit of info and more “Food for Thought”. To start I suggest you go to eBay and search “survival food” It will give you a better idea of some of your choices and what they really cost.

One final note on food. I have been to 2 wars and 2 natural disasters for relief duty. I have spent countless 1000’s of hours training for these things as well. I promise you food is more than just nutrition. When you are draggin’ ass dead tired and pretty much wishing you’d get shot, blown away in a hurricane or cooked by a volcano, a cup of soup or coffee or anything half decent to eat can bolster your morale like you wouldn’t believe. I’m serious, that little bit of food can help fight that lack of sleep your experiencing as well as just be the highlight of your otherwise totally sh*tty day. (pardon me) I had a cup of hot mushroom soup one time I swear to God it just about saved my life. We were pretty beat down and these Marine cooks pulled up in an armored hummer, hopped out and fed us all a cup of mushroom soup and a cup of coffee. They have no idea what they did for us that night. These 2 guys were just out driving around looking for our patrols to feed. They should have gotten Silver Stars in my opinion. That takes guts to do that alone and they sure didn’t have too. My eternal gratitude to Marine cooks!! That soup I have thought back on many times. Mentally I was just about beat, it’s probably the lowest I can remember feeling. Those dudes and their soup saved us, after that we were re-energized and ready to go again. A winning Powerball ticket and a key to Hugh Hefner’s front door couldn’t have cheered us up as much as that soup and coffee did.

As always thanks for reading and train often.

By: Cary Kieffer

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Cary Kieffer

USMC Infantry/Combat Veteran/MUESOC/Sniper School - Med Retired LEO w/ 8yrs on job before Iraq wounds caught up with me.

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