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After the Freeze Dried Food is Gone

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What happens when you have eaten through all your supplies of dehydrated, canned, and stored food?  Even the most optimistic among us should not begin eating on your stores of food without giving a thought as to what comes next. What if the next emergency lasts two years? When your freeze dried food or packaged foods and stockpiles of hard red winter wheat are gone, you will have to have a plan for keeping your family fed. Not only do you have to worry about where the food will come from, but there won’t be any nutritional labels anymore if we are “eating off the land”.

Thinking about food differently than what we have been used to, for what have amounted to decades of prosperity in the United States is not always easy. Maintaining a proper balance of food may be difficult or even impossible. What if you are barely able to get enough food to survive? What I want to discuss is planning for renewable food options that will give you a balanced nutritional supply to keep everyone in your group healthy.

The essentials

Foods are broken down into three groups:  carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  You need a balance of each of these things to maintain a high level of health. Some foods may contain mixtures of both groups. Nuts, for instance, are primarily a source of fat and protein.  Providing these and other vital foods to your body cuts down on the stress your body must endure in a survival situation, allows your brain to function and keeps your immune system from being vulnerable to viral and bacterial attacks.

When you have to reduce the amount of food you are taking in, the body starts reverting to using the energy you already have stored. Your body stores energy in the muscles and fat.  This is where the body pulls its energy from if you are forced to go without food for any period of time. Ideally, you are not pulling from your body’s reserves at any time, but providing your body the fuel it requires for survival.

Planning on making it without the grocery store? The Encyclopedia of Country Living is an invaluable resource.


It is important to plan now for a renewable source of each of the different types of nutritional elements you will need to stay healthy.

Sources of Protein

Meat of course, canned meats or dehydrated are the simplest options, but once they are gone what will you eat? I know a lot of people who say they are going to walk into the nearest state park and hunt for game. This will work well for a few people until all of the big game has moved on or has been killed.

The easiest way for most people to have their own renewable source of protein is raising chickens and rabbits. Chickens pull double duty as egg layers and a source of meat. Rabbits are prolific at reproducing. That’s why there are several sayings that have rabbits at the heart of the pun… Rabbits are easy to raise and don’t take up much room.

In the garden, beans are wonderful because they are relatively easy to grow and you have the seeds for next year’s crop right there. I also recommend these for stocking up initially as they have a long shelf life. Beans are also one of the most economical items to stock up on as you can buy a 10 pound bag for a few dollars. That same bag will give you a lot of meals if you augment the beans with other supplies.

Barley also contains protein, but few people would be able to grow enough barley to feed their family. If you have a large plot of land, this may be a good option.

Nuts are a wonderful natural source of protein and nut trees can be grown in most climates.  You have to harvest quickly, though, because there will be other hungry critters out there trying to get to your nut tree first.

Important note: If you are rationing water supplies and still searching for a clean drinkable source, you will want to cut down on your protein intake.  Proteins produce urea which your body flushes out of the kidneys.  In order to process the urea properly, your body must have ample amounts of water.  Therefore, lack of water would be problematic if combined with a night of indiscretion where you find yourself consuming large quantities of jerky and salt pork and chasing it with the only bottle of Macallan whiskey left on the planet.   Living like this on your final rations would cause you to die of dehydration before starvation.

Sources of Fat

Fresh meats contain fat. Wild animals will have less of this and rabbits as I mentioned above are actually very lean so you wouldn’t want to rely on that meat for your daily fat intake. Chickens aren’t the same and are wonderful sources of both protein and fat. Fishing is a good source if you live near a body of water that isn’t polluted or over fished by the others who don’t have a supermarket to go to anymore.

Avocados, nuts, and flax seed are great sources of healthy fat also.  Avocado can be grown in some climates, nuts and flax seed can be stored, but do not have a long shelf life.  Again, growing your own is your best bet.

Sources of Carbohydrates

All fruits and vegetables and this is the primary reason behind your own garden. Depending on where you live, there will be a sufficient variety of vegetables that can be grown to provide you with all of the Carbs you need. Making sure you have this taken care of before the SHTF is a crucial item to consider. You aren’t going to go dig up your back yard very easily and plant a bumper crop of Martha Stewart worthy veggies your first year.

Grains and rice or any foods that contain these items or are made with flour (grains such as wheat are best kept in their whole wheat berry form; it can keep for up to 30 years in its raw state in a vacuum sealed container or bucket). Growing wheat is a great option if you live in the mid-west as a rule. This won’t be feasible for city dwellers in sufficient quantities unless you take over a golf course or a football field and re-purpose them. Not that this isn’t possible, but grains would be lower on my list of possible replacements.

Sugars and honey (honey is the best for storing because it has a virtually endless shelf life; it may crystallize over time, but it is still good). This is one reason why so many Preppers raise bees. They not only pollinate the garden and your fruit and nut trees, but they make wonderful honey.

Simple Rules to Remember

  1. Simple sugars like candy are carbohydrates, but they break down very quickly.  They may give you a boost of quick energy, but you will quickly hit a wall and be depleted and useless.
  2. In the event  you find yourself without a good source of heat to keep your body warm, simple carbs will be your friend.  The body uses them to tap into fat reserves and it will cause you to burn more calories, thus keeping you warmer.  You should graze simple carbs to maintain your body temperature.
  3. Fats should be included in every small meal because fat combined with carbs gives your body a slow and steady burn of nutrients.  You won’t hit a wall as quickly if you add fat to your meal.
  4. In higher altitude, cut back fat consumption because fat requires oxygen to oxidize their components. High fat intake increases the risk of altitude illness.
  5. Protein is necessary for the building and repair of body tissues.  It regulates body processes such as: water balance, transporting nutrients, and making muscles work better.  Proteins also aid in preventing the body from becoming easily fatigued by producing stamina and energy.

You can calculate your body’s protein needs with this formula: Weigh in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg.  Multiply weight in kg X o.8-1.8 and this will tell you how many grams of protein must be consumed.

Gorp Anyone? 

What is the perfect food, you may ask?  Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, or Gorp for short.  The Native American Indians had survived many harsh winters and lived off the land well before we brought our refrigerators and local markets.  They ate berries and nuts because this is the perfect mixture of all three components your body needs to survive.  The berries or fruit provide essential carbs and nuts give your body the fats and proteins for sustained energy and strength.  If you find yourself on the go and have to carry your food with you this is one of the best food sources available.  I also recommend M&Ms even though I am pretty certain the Indians didn’t have access to them.  They are a source of simple carbohydrates and they are delicious, too!

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  • Evil von Scarry

    Excellent article as always! Preppers do need to consider foraging as part of prep training and planning. The only concern I have though is that it is really only a stop gap measure. Also in larger urban areas (and a big reason I live in a rural/small town area) game and foraging will quickly run out. I would say in urban areas town size and larger (ie more than 3000 pers) the country side and suburbs would run out of game and foragable food within months (say 2 to 3 depending on population demand). This is why organizing our local communities would be critical to long term survival. Many preppers talk about bugging out (good idea in a city or if in immediate disaster area) however if possible the best bet is to sit tight in a community of like minded families and people, farming,gardening (and local defense!).

    • prepperjournal

      Thanks!

      I agree with what you are saying. The only scenario I can envision that bugging out will be successful (for the average person) is if they have a retreat to go to that is ready to support a self-sufficient lifestyle. Now, can some unscrupulous or very lucky people make it? Of course, but that won’t be the norm.

      People in larger cities may be able to survive if they pool their resources and reclaim areas for farming. Foraging works if you are making your way through an area but as you say, if you are camped in one spot and the competition for food is high, the resources will be depleted quickly.

      Pat

      • jyrhino

        I agree that the average food (rabbits, deer, possums, squirrel) will become rare in small towns and the edge of big cities, BUT there’s other animals we don’t really consider food that are edible. Pigeons – really almost all birds. Rats. Most insects. Not appetizing but if you need to help others to eat (or explain why you haven’t lost 30lbs like the ‘rest of us’) share these ideas.

        Unscrupulous single people will disappear quickly. Wrol, you will only hurt others for a short while then they will turn on you. It’s large groups of the unscrupulous that will be dangerous.

        Bugging out to the country without a safe location is dangerous but if it’s all you’ve got, I’d say try and gather more than just your family and work together. A ‘caravan’ in the woods is much safer than singular refugees.

        Farming in the city is a wonderful idea. If you can defend it. And if it doesn’t get contaminated from the idiots “going” in their front yards. Look at that wrecked Carnival cruise ship – according to what I read, people were doing their business in hallways, ‘”The hallways were toxic,” said Reyes, who said she would never go on a
        Carnival cruise again. “Full of urine. It was horrible. If that ship
        caught on fire and they had not contained it where would we be? Floating
        in the ocean or dead.”‘ People are dumb. I have a garden in the city, hope to keep one but if people start ‘using the hallways’ the garden moves indoors, “girls you gotta move over, the potatoes need room.”

        Thanks for the article!

  • GoneWithTheWind

    It is a myth that sugar gives you an energy high and then you fall off an energy cliff. Sugar does indeed get through the digestive process quickly but your liver converts it to glycogen which is stored in your liver and muscles. Depending on your conditioning, someone that excercises strenuously every day can store a lot of glycogen in their body and use it for hours to perform anaerobic excercise such as running or playing sports. To consume more sugar then your body can store short term and use would require a staggering amount of sugar. But your body can handle that excess sugar as well, it converts it to fat and stores it for later use. If you eat carbohydrates the process takes a little longer but is essentially identical as your digestion converts carbohydrates to sugar. If you are excercising strenuously, as in running, hiking, biking, etc. your body will also convert protein and fats you eat into glucose and then glycogen to be burned as energy. If you are excercising and you have not eaten your body will covert stored fat into energy and if you do not have sufficient stored fat it will convert body muscle to energy. Without sugar to be converted to glycogen you die. This is what your brain uses to think and your heart uses to pump blood.

    • I completely agree with your points and probably should have elaborated on this in my post. At times I take the whole, “Brevity is the soul of wit” concept too far. I certainly would not suggest anyone push down a couple of slices of whole wheat bread before they perform strenuous exercise in the hopes of enhancing their workout. I have seen my husband run a race after eating a chicken biscuit and it’s not pretty. I am guilty of over-generalization, I suppose. I was speaking more to the day to day living in a survival situation. I was trying to give thoughtful, and somewhat general advice for the middle of the road and I should not have smeared the reputation of sugar completely. Simple sugar, in a cyclist study I read, does benefit the athlete who is exercising strenuously for a couple of hours. And I admit, throwing back a handful of Starburst would be prudent and wise in the event zombie hoards are chasing you. However, one study below suggests that loading up on sugar for moderate exercise is not ideal, and the study beneath, released from UCLA, discusses the effects of sugar on the brain. At this point, I am splitting hairs so I will stop. Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comment.

      Cornelia

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21407126
      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/uoc–smy051512.php

    • Cornelia Adams

      I completely agree with your points and probably should have elaborated on this in my post. At times I take the whole, “Brevity is the soul of wit” concept too far. I certainly would not suggest anyone push down a couple of slices of whole wheat bread before they perform strenuous exercise in the hopes of enhancing their workout. I have seen my husband run a race after eating a chicken biscuit and it’s not pretty. I am guilty of over-generalization, I suppose. I was speaking more to the day to day living in a survival situation. I was trying to give thoughtful, and somewhat general advice for the middle of the road and I should not have smeared the reputation of sugar completely. Simple sugar, in a cyclist study I read, does benefit the athlete who is exercising strenuously for a couple of hours. And I admit, throwing back a handful of Starburst would be prudent and wise in the event zombie hoards are chasing you. However, one study below suggests that loading up on sugar for moderate exercise is not ideal, and the study beneath, released from UCLA, discusses the effects of sugar on the brain. At this point, I am splitting hairs so I will stop. Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comment.

      Cornelia

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21407126
      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/uoc–smy051512.php

  • trend micro warned this site was abusive!! I dont see that here, somebody dont like this site

    • prepperjournal

      Thanks for the heads up William!

      I will have to look into that. I know there has been a huge attack on blogs for over a week, but I know of nothing on this site that would be constituted as “abusive”.

      Pat

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    Ignore this warning this is what I see when i click to go on this site…

  • You should be replenishing your food stocks as you are consuming them, FIFO (first in first out). If you are growing your own fruit trees, berry plants, and grape vines, then you would have plenty of food to be replenishing your dehydrated, and canned foods as you are eating them. If you plant the right plants you can attract the whole deli department, like at a grocery store, to your property where you can hunt and have access to fresh meat. The animals you kill will be skinned and you could make blankets or warm winter clothes out of the skin. Growing your own grocery store is the best solution for preppers, because if you are going to survive you have to vertically integrate now or else you’re only as good as the food you can store now. Check out my website at preppergardens.com for more info.

  • J Galt

    Self-sufficiency after TSHTF is very challenging , and unnecessary. Before things fall apart, stock up. You can afford to store enough calories, if you know what you’re
    doing.

    You can figure 25-30 years storage life for hard red wheat, stored at 60 degrees in a 55 gallon drum, using 1 pound of dry ice to drive out the oxygen (wait 24hrs) before sealing the drum. 400 pounds per drum equals 400 man-days of calories, about $100. Fill several. It’s Cheap insurance. Add a barrel of Rye for variety. Add a barrel of
    oats. Then a couple barrels of rice, and 2-3 barrels of pinto beans. (You need
    the beans to balance what’s missing from the grains. The beans may be harder to
    rehydrate after 10-12 years without a pressure cooker, but then you just grind
    up the dried beans, and bake them in your bread.) For under $1000, you can be
    prepared to feed your family for a decade, especially if you garden and have
    fruit trees. Honey is way too expensive to store on a dollar/calorie basis, but
    consider bee keeping.

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