Powdered TVP made from soy just isn’t going to cut it on the real food diet. Let me count the ways… Actually, if you need me to count the problems with unfermented soy, “meat substitute”, and powdered foods in general, maybe the concept of “real food” is foreign to you!
TVP, by the way, stands for “textured vegetable protein.” Doesn’t that sound delicious? (photo source)
Many of the preparedness food storage solutions for meat are a far cry from a hamburger or a whole chicken simmering gently on the stovetop. They’re more likely to have no meat involved or be packed with additives and preservatives. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) in their thin envelopes just don’t scream “farm to table” to me.
As I think about what we would eat if
(a) we couldn’t leave the house for a while or ran out of money
(b) the grocery stores didn’t get restocked
(c) the power was out (we’d still have our stove)
(d) we were totally cut off from everything and had no power, water, or heat for cooking
I try to think about what we naturally have in the house that would be edible. Here are my best thoughts for meats, proteins, and fats. I’m certain I’ll forget or miss something, and I guarantee that there are options I don’t even know about – so please, fill the gaps in the comments and I’ll try to update the post as ideas come in. Thanks!
Storing Real Meat
As I mentioned yesterday, you can rely on many types of food preservation and storage, including canned goods, home canning, dehydrating, and freezing.
Here’s the meat we have on hand (or could have):
- Tons of beef and chicken in the freezer– obviously this would be a problem in the event of loss of electricity for more than a day or so. My plan?
- Thaw, cook, and eat. Yum!
- Dehydrate: as long as I have cooking fuel, I can make beef jerky in the oven on 200F (recipe can be found HERE), and then that can last many days at room temperature (months if done properly and all the moisture is out).
- Make stock: I’ll keep a pot of bones boiling as long as I can and continue to use the stock to make soups. If I had a pressure canner, I’d immediately can some stock, too. But I don’t.
- Canned tuna and salmon – sure, BPA linings in cans are a concern, but we don’t eat canned fish often. I probably should stock up a bit more, because in a pinch, we could eat it right out of the can with no heat or electricity required. Starvation would be the only circumstance in which my husband would eat canned salmon. Even then, he might rather die. The protein boost and omega-3s would help keep our family healthy if the rest of our diet is fairly compromised.Would canned chicken be another option? I just don’t think I’d want to use it very often to refresh and replenish my store, so this one doesn’t work for me well at all.
- Dehydrated meats (jerky)– I don’t keep this on hand very well, just a batch at a time. If I wanted to get serious about preparedness, however, I could certainly dehydrate more. I’ve had troubles with the jerky molding, though, so I’d have to be ultra-sure I got all the moisture out and would probably cook the meat in the oven for a bit first before dehydrating. My Excalibur only goes up to 155F, which in reality is about 145F on the food, and that’s not enough to kill bacteria or anything.
- If I were really smart and prepared, I’d get a pressure canner and home-can meats. But that’s just not part of my life right now, and I’m okay with that step waiting a bit.
- How about freeze-dried meats? I never even realized this was possible, but what do you all think? You can see some examples here.
- UPDATE from comments/Facebook: Consider corned meats. It worked for generations before refrigeration came along.
- UPDATE: How about salt pork?
Storing Other Protein Sources
Beyond meats, we can get protein from beans, nuts, quinoa, and dairy, as well as small amounts in whole grains. (I’ll tackle dairy and grains in their own posts next week.)
How should we keep beans on hand?
- Dry beans – We eat a lot of beans around here, so buying in bulk and when they’re on sale is a good frugal strategy anyway. It makes me doubly happy to know that if we were stuck at home, I could feed my family for a long time on the bags of beans in our basement. Just be careful not to keep dry beans for more than 6 months to a year, so only stock up on what you might use in that time.It’s also important, of course, to KNOW how to use beans! If you’re in an emergency situation, that’s no time to be learning a new skill. Your family also needs to be used to beans, both for their emotional comfort in a time of stress and the physical challenge for some of digesting beans. Need help? Check out The Everything Beans Book for cooking info and tons of recipes to use.
- Seeds to Sprout (an update from a reader): What a great reminder! You can have your own “living food” if you keep sprouting seeds (found at health food stores and mail order) on hand. You can even sprout lentils and eat them raw. How to sprout and the health benefits of sprouting.
- Canned beans – Again, we meet up with BPA in the cans (Maybe? Or maybe only if they’re lined with white?). You can can your own beans to avoid that entirely. I do think it’s important to have some canned beans on hand, because if you don’t have enough water to rinse, soak, AND cook dry beans – that’s a LOT of water – you can just eat the already cooked beans out of the can. UPDATE: Hot packed canned beans
- Nuts – Full of healthy fats, protein, iron, and energy, nuts strike me as the perfect preparedness food. They can be eaten without any preparation, don’t need a ton of fancy storage techniques if in their original, unopened packaging, and are easy to grab and go if you need to evacuate. A small handful can really ease a hungry tummy.Long-term storage of nuts is probably best in the freezer, especially walnuts on account of their unstable omega-3s. Once nuts are opened and soaked/dehydrated to become “crispy nuts” it is recommended that they be frozen. However, if you lose electricity or have to run, they can also be out of the freezer for quite some time before becoming problematic (days for walnuts, in my opinion, and up to a month or more for almonds).I generally have a lot of nuts on hand for the recipes in my Healthy Snacks to Go eBook, plus because they’re my family’s favorite “grab it” snack ever since Goldfish and Cheerios stopped showing up.
- Quinoa – My husband hasn’t like quinoa much, but I bought a 5-pound bag because we need to extend our grains that are gluten free, and because quinoa is a really healthy grain (some say it’s just a seed, not even a grain) because it’s so high in protein. You will need to cook the quinoa, though, so it’s not perfect in every disaster situation. UPDATE: reader tells me you can sprout quinoa and eat raw. Cool!
- Eggs – Scrambled eggs would be one of the things we’d have a lot if the electricity was out but we had fire. I’d also try to use up whatever eggs we have in the house (usually between 1-7 dozen) by making soaked baked oatmeal, grain-free pancakes, or other baked good-type dishes that could be stored at room temperature for a while.It’s possible to dehydrate eggs, but I’m not ready for that step yet.
- UPDATE from comments/Facebook: Raise or buy the best quality eggs you can and preserve them yourself. How to preserve eggs Who knew? That is cool. This one is even better: preserving fresh eggs with mineral oil
- UPDATE: Can your own homemade soups, too, if you have a pressure canner. Here’s one resource from a reader: http://www.homestead-acres.com/
- UPDATE: Dehydrate entire meals and store in the freezer. I don’t have directions on how to do that, but I bet a quick Google search would work great. A reader describes boiling down homemade soup quite low, de-fatting it for long-term storage, then spreading the on dehydrator trays and drying out. Something I’m going to fiddle with…
At any given time, I have up to a gallon of extra virgin olive oil and two or three gallons of coconut oil in my basement. As for preparedness, I couldn’t really increase the amount of olive oil I store, since we go through no more than 1-2 gallons in 6 months. Extra virgin olive oil is more susceptible to going rancid, and 6 months is the recommended shelf life.
As a saturated fat, coconut oil, on the other hand, has a shelf life of at least two years. You can use it in baking for any solid OR liquid fat, to saute, to fry, or even in your oatmeal. If you need a healthy fat for your real food stockpile, grab a few extra jugs of coconut oil. It’ll hold you through!
There are plenty of fats you should avoid completely. If you’re unsure where to draw the line between health and unhealthy fats, please see the Fat Full Fall series or the printable How to Use Fats chart.
Butter is another saturated fat that it’s great to stock up on, but it does need to be refrigerated or frozen for long-term storage. You can only fit so much in those appliances, you know? In looking into the preparedness resources, I realized that clarified butter, also called ghee, is a great option for longer term storage. It’s available here (but not organic) or in many other places. (How to Make Your Own Ghee – although I admit mine didn’t last very well, so I wouldn’t count on it for long-term storage!) UPDATE: You can can or bottle butter! How cool is that? How to bottle butter.
Lard and tallow are also saturated, therefore more stable, but it’s still recommended that they be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, so they’re not a great option for disaster preparedness. If we lost electricity for a long time, my tallow could come out of the freezer while we address the things that are really going to be lost once thawed, then make fabulous French fries for about a week to use it all up.
The Golden Nugget
Peanut butter may be the best suited for real long-term storage. It fits in both the “protein” and “fats” categories, would help keep my family’s energy up, and would provide a superb morale booster as I know the kids would get a kick out of eating PB right from the jar!
Next time good peanut butter goes on a great sale, buy as much as you think your family could eat before the expiration date. Alternately, buy twice as much and make a note in your calendar of halfway to the expiry date. At that point, donate what you’ll never get through and watch for the sale again!
Be sure to look for “natural” peanut butter, and learn to read labels to avoid trans fat. You don’t want any “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” anything. The best peanut butter, in my opinion, looks like this:
It’s also possible to just buy peanuts and make one’s own peanut butter, but other than the chance of avoiding phytic acid, I can’t justify the time it would take for the pennies – maybe – that it might save.
UPDATE: Readers are concerned about reports of carcinogenic mold in peanuts. Organic might help…might not. It’s not an issue I’ve looking into, but I suppose it’s something to consider. Perhaps sunbutter or almond butter would be better options. Almond butter only needs refrigeration after opening, and if you’re starving, I can’t imagine it would sit around long anyway.
UPDATE: A reader tells us that Valencia peanut butter is mold-free because of the environment in which it’s grown.
What did I miss? Take a walk through your pantry and cupboards and tell me if you see any real food protein sources to add to the list!
Check out Doctor Prepper’s radio show Monday night (May 23rd) from 9:00-10:30 EST for my interview. We’ll be talking about making things from scratch and my rookie preparedness efforts. You can also download the podcast after the face and listen at your leisure.
Tomorrow: Real Food options for storing fruits and veggies, plus a giveaway for this month’s KS sponsor, Fertility Flower!
Happy People: Last Week’s Giveaway Winners
Last week featured two giveaways, for Cara’s grain-free menu planners and Sarah’s allergen-free OR nourishing (for anybody) menu planners. Fro nearly 400 entries, the three winners of a month of grain-free menu planning from Health, Home and Happiness are:
And the big winner of the full year to Heart of Cooking, out of 619 entries, is:
Congrats, ladies! I recognize a few regular readers here, and that always makes me happy. Watch your email for instructions on how to redeem your prizes.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Emergency Essentials. See my full disclosure statement here.