I’ve been at this prepping stuff for a long time. Through the four decades I’ve been a survivalist, ideas have changed plenty.
Much of that has been market driven, as new products have been developed and made available to the prepping and survival community. But some has been driven by new threats and new ideas. After all, the Cold War that I grew up with is no longer an issue for us to be concerned about.
Sadly, not all the new ideas are worth putting into practice. While some of the information that has come out on survival is absolutely excellent, there are always those who will put their own untested ideas out there, hoping they will be bought by the community at large. This leads to confusion, which when we’re talking about people’s survival, can end up being deadly.
Such has been the case with some lists of ideas about what we should stockpile. In what seems to be an attempt to “one-up the next guy” many platforms out there have put out their own lists of what people should stockpile. In this process, there have been some items which have been suggested, which are of rather questionable wisdom.
If we’re depending on something for survival, than what we have and what we don’t have are both important. Leaving some things out of our stockpile might just be what we need, especially if those things aren’t going to help. Here are my top items to make sure you leave out of your stockpile.
The Food Your Family Eats Every Day
One of the common things I’ve heard is to stockpile the foods that your family likes to eat. If you think about that for just a moment, you can see how foolish that idea really is. First of all, most of us eat a lot of fresh and frozen food. Without electrical power, that food isn’t going to last. But even if it did, so what? Most of us don’t eat a very nutritious diet, so that’s not going to provide what our families need.
Rather, we’re going to have to find foods that will become the foods that our family eats every day. In other words, we’re going to have to find foods that we can prepare, out of ingredients which will store for a prolonged period of time, which we will be able to make tasty for our families.
This is going to require a lot of time experimenting. You’re going to have to find recipes which you can make from the food you are stockpiling or can modify to work with the food you are stockpiling. Then you’re going to have to try them out with your family, just to make sure they will eat them.
Frozen food is probably the single biggest waste for survival. Not that I don’t like frozen food, I do; but with the power likely to go out in just about any disaster, chances are that the frozen food will go bad, before we can even eat it.
Of course, if you have a massive solar food dehydrator, then you can do something with all that meat you’re stockpiling in the freezer. But the reality is that few of us have that. So the idea of stockpiling meat, frozen vegetables and prepared meals, just to have them, isn’t going to get you very far. After you gorge yourself the first few days, you’re probably going to have to throw most of that away.
If you ever wondered how much junk food has infiltrated our society, just stop in at your local convenience store. Pretty much everything they have on the shelves and in the coolers qualifies as junk food. They don’t bother selling real food, because people don’t stop in to buy it.
The funny thing about this is that most of us believe that what we eat isn’t junk food, while what someone else eats is. We’re so busy looking at the splinter in their eye, that we don’t see the beam in our own. Yet we all have our own favorites, even if they are marketed as being somewhat healthy.
Basically, any sweet or salty food that can be used as a snack food qualifies as junk food. Other than carbohydrates, these foods don’t provide much in the way of nutrition. So stockpiling them is just a waste of money.
Breakfast cereals have become a standard in the American home. One might think that they would be great to have in a post-disaster world, as a touchstone with better times and as a comfort food.
But breakfast cereals don’t store well for a prolonged period of time; even when we use the same methods to store them, which are used to store other dry foods for a prolonged period of time. You could open those buckets 10 years from now and find that they aren’t even edible.
Breakfast cereals are also bulky, like most junk food. So if storage space for your stockpile is an issue, storing breakfast cereal is not the way to go. You’ll be much better off making pancakes for breakfast in a post-disaster world, than you will trying to feed your kids breakfast cereal. Besides, most kids won’t even touch powdered milk, let alone enjoying it on their bowl of cereal.
Most people don’t realize it, but coffee has a limited shelf-life. I’m not saying that it necessarily goes bad, but it doesn’t stay good either. Coffee that has sat around too long loses some of the potency of its flavor. Freeze dried coffee doesn’t seem to have this problem, but who prefers freeze dried to fresh?
For survival, you’re much better off stockpiling whole beans and buying yourself a coffee grinder. Not only will you have better coffee to drink, you’ll have more of it and it will be fresh. You’ll enjoy that coffee a whole lot more than you will something that you bought canned 10 years earlier.
Ground Flour and Grains
Like coffee, wheat flour and some other grains are best bought in a whole grain form and ground when you need it. We don’t notice this in any day-to-day baking we might do, because the time that the flour sits in our homes usually isn’t long enough to be an issue. But when it comes to storing it for 10 or 20 years, that old wheat flour is going to taste just like old wheat flour.
A good grain mill is an investment, especially if you take into count that you’ll need a manually operated one, rather than an electric one. Nevertheless, it’s a good investment. If you can, buy one of the higher priced ones, as they will grind your grain finer than the low-cost ones will.
Only “Survival Food”
If all you’re buying is packaged survival food, you may find that you’re disappointed when you have to live off of it. I’m not referring to the flavor here, as that’s usually not so bad. But have you looked at those “meals.” Most of the time they aren’t really meals, but just servings. Be careful about that, as what we’re used to as a typical meal consists of several servings of different types of food.
The key here is to look at how many calories they are claiming there are in a serving. If the servings are 300 calories and you buy as if you’re only going to eat three servings per day, you’re going to be trying to survive on a 900 calorie a day diet. That’s great for weight loss, but not much more.
Civilian MREs are better for this, in that they give you a high calorie diet. But have you looked at the price of those lately? If all you do is stockpile MREs for survival, I sure hope you’ve got deep pockets. You’re going to be spending a lot on your food.
Go ahead and buy some packaged survival food, even some MREs; but don’t just buy that. Mix it in with the other foods you buy, so that you can make the job easier for yourself. There are some things those companies do much better than you or I can expect to.
I don’t care if you’re talking about soft drinks, instant iced tea or orange drink powder, buying them is a waste of time and especially money. All any of them are is sugar and flavoring. They don’t provide any real nutrition.
Now, I know your kids probably love that stuff. It’s sweet and flavorful. But it’s not nutritious. Rather than buying that, I’d recommend making your own fruit drinks, when the time comes. They do this in Mexico, and they are much better, as well as being much more nutritious.
What I’m talking about is called “aguas frescas” (fresh waters) in Mexico. There are many kinds of these, but they are more or less follow the same pattern. That is, they are like a watered down juice, with some sugar added. As such, they do provide the nutrients of the fruit you started with, plus providing the sugar and flavor your children crave. I’ve seen these made from lime, pineapple, coconut, cucumber, tamarind, hibiscus flowers guava, and a host of other fruits.
This one is hard for me to add to the list, because I’m a chocoholic. But the truth of the matter is, chocolate doesn’t keep well, unless you can keep it cool. That’s going to be out of the question, when we’re talking a post-disaster world, without electricity. So, no matter how good your chocolate is or how you store it, it will probably turn to garbage.
About the only thing you can do is store chocolate baking powder. If you have that, sugar and powdered milk, you can make some respectable hot chocolate. That’s about the best you’re going to do. You, like I, are going to have to learn to live without chocolate.