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Drink mixes can check a lot boxes for us in both prepper pantries and bug-out/evac situations. Electrolyte drinks, vitamin and protein boosters, and meal replacement mixes would get top billing as a prepper supply, but instant mixes span far and wide. We have nearly endless options when it comes to stocking drink mixes, right on local supermarket shelves.
*I expect some “bah” with any article, especially the must-have’s and “frilly” subjects. If we go “bah” at every other concept in this article, please read and consider the sections on fiber and supportive care.
Related to fiber, remember: Caffeine isn’t just a night-watch or feel-good luxury. If we’re accustomed to caffeine and suddenly limit or eliminate it, our guts are likely to stop up.
Many Americans are already lacking fiber in their diets. Eating heavily off gardens and buckets of beans will alleviate it, but if we’re heavily stocked in MREs and just-add-water camping meals – especially for bug-out bags – fiber is a huge issue.
Some tubs and packets of a high-fiber drink mix (NOT a “cleanse) can alleviate those problems, regularly with added benefits.
Gut-health drinks like Culturelle and others can also be a gentle way to ease stomachs during major changes in diet. They can be especially helpful for kids, seniors, and people who already have food sensitivities.
Almost all of the examples have a big benefit for preppers, whether we’re working out of pantries or a bag: They boost calories.
Whether we’ve invested in pre-packaged just-add-water food systems or slowly stacking up beans, rice, and wheat, food storage is regularly deficient in calories (and fats).
We have to have energy to get things done.
While many of us have some weight we could lose now, should we ever find ourselves doing more by hand, we’re going to shed some pounds. The gardens many plan to start and the wilds many plan to forage through, short-term on a bug-out or for weeks/months on end, tend to provide mostly lean diet foods. Very few preppers are growing calorie or fat staples.
When you see “diet” and “light” options and weight-loss drinks here, for the most part, they’re being presented as an add-on to our planned food storage meals, and a way to boost BOB supplies and caches without too much space and weight.
Some of the sugar-free and “light” options won’t boost them much, but most boost at least a little.
Feel-good food supplies aren’t just about feeling “good”. It’s also about health. Personal reactions differ, but sudden changes create stress. Whether we recognize or acknowledge it, that stress affects our bodies and brains.
Pick-me-ups – both on a schedule we and ours can be looking forward to and periodic pop-up surprises – can ease transitions with goodies that would normally be “treats” and by maintaining some normal for households accustomed to a daily non-water drink.
K-Cups have taken over the supermarket aisles where powdered cappuccino types used to live, but those tins and small packets are still out there. Hot cocoa mixes are still prevalent, as are the mostly-just-flavor types that range from things like Nesquik to powdered “iced” tea and lemonade (well … sorta-lemonade and tea).
There’s a reason the Gators developed their wonder blend. We have to have certain types of salts to function. Labor and heat require replacing those salts more frequently.
Most of us will find ourselves drinking more water and fewer soft drinks if we ever have to rely on our food storage. Even if we’re already mostly drinking water, the foods we’ll have access to will usually shift. That will change the minerals available to our bodies.
If we’re laboring, we’ll push water even more heavily, but “push water” can be a double-edged sword.
When we “dropped” Marines in support fields on exercises and forewarned marches, it wasn’t always from dehydration. Regularly, it was actually that they’d push water, push it enough with little balance, that they flushed the required electrolytes from their systems.
It doesn’t have to be a pricey brand and there are plenty of at-home mixes with ingredients that can be stored for people whose bodies are pure temples. This one is too important to ignore, along with…
In many disasters, supportive care is all we’re going to be able to offer. It’s already sometimes all hospitals can offer, here and now. Sports drinks and alternatives like Pedialyte – or any reasonably balanced drink – can play a major role in that care. We already apply it combating and recovering from illnesses in everyday life with short-term stomach and head flues for both children and adults (and pets).
If for no other reason, snag some tubs of semi-decent drink mixes to stash with the medical supplies.
As with calories, a lot of food storage is seriously low in protein. Like whey as a protein source, there’s a lot of back and forth on just how much protein we need. Do some balanced research, but if you’re snagging some drink mixes, consider including the higher-protein version or a protein alternative, especially if the price difference isn’t significant.
Many protein shakes are pretty high cal. That adds to their value for sickbed support, jaw injuries, and injuries that prevent us from our usual hunting, livestock and garden and crop care, fishing, or even “just” cooking.
They can also help keep somebody drifting from food fatigue or depression “fed” enough to get them over their slumps and prevent the energy-loss that leads to a spiralling cycle (don’t eat, less energy, less activity, decreased appetite, less energy yet, further decreased activity and appetite, downward and downward).
When comparing options, hit the senior-citizen and diabetic sections of food supplements as well as muscle-building, athletic, and fad-diet aisles. It varies label-by-label, but general meal-replacement, weight-loss, and snack shakes can also regularly be good ways to boost protein, as well as calories and daily-need vitamins.
The calorie and protein energy provided makes those shakes and drink mixes something to also seriously think about for evac kits and bug-out bags, replacing or augmenting things like MREs, camping food, and ration bars that are common go-to’s.
Further poking at common food storage, both MRE-type and just-add-water-kit preppers and the beans-and-rice preppers are skirting some vitamin deficiencies. A daily multivitamin can allay many of the factors and stores compactly, but if we can kill two birds with one stone…
Our changing society means there’s a whole wide world of drink supplements. We can go as crazy as we like with green and red juicing alternatives, happy-fad grains, coconut water, and super-foods.
Or, we can scale back and check out some of the old standby’s with a new eye. Many of those quickie drinks, from Hi-C to Hawaiian Punch, Wyler’s at the green-sign dollar stores to Crystal Light, have some valuable vitamins and minerals in them. Options like Slimfast, Boost, and Carnation also tend to check the box for vitamins.
Vitamin C is a big general health boost all on its own and especially in winter and spring, if we face lowered sanitation, and cold and flu seasons. Research where the term “Limeys” came from if you want an idea of just how important Vitamin C is when you’re on a repetitive diet low in fresh foods.
B-Vitamins also have widespread effects. Vitamin D, especially, is one to check for as it affects absorption of calcium and greatly influences brain health.
Some drink mixes are only available in single-serve packets. They’re convenient, but there’s a trash/waste aspect. There’s also space efficiency loss with many of the boxed packets. We can absolutely bust them out of boxes to repack more densely, but doing so decreases our ability to donate them later if they’re not something we’ll be rotating through in daily life.
Big-tub sizes tend to be friendlier on the wallet. Depending on family/group size, they can be very reasonable to consume once opened, and we can always repackage in bottle-sized portions for travel bags, and mix single-serve bottles (or jars) to help with portion control when we’re leaning on food storage in a permanent-home setting.
Food storage companies haven’t ignored the expanding interests in drink mixes. Pretty much all labels sell flavored milk substitutes, and most sell some version of a Tang or Kool-Aid level orange drink and apple drink. Some offer expanded options that vary in sugar content and actual vitamins.
When pricing those, make sure to weigh how “worth it” they are and our priorities.
The difference of storage in a steel can or Mylar bag really isn’t all that different from what we’ll get with plastic tubs and packets. #10 and #2.5 cans are a little more moisture and pest resistant, but those aspects are pretty easily mitigated by storing them in Rubbermaid totes or repacking in canning jars.
Supermarket options allow us to sample a smaller size for less outlay, even if the price per serving is much higher. That’s not just about “taste” and personal preferences. Some anti-caking components and certain types of sweeteners, especially, can lead to dry mouth, stomach upset, shaky hands, and headaches for some of us.
We also want to get the most bang for our buck.
Check mixes – especially for shakes – to see what the nutritional content is on its own. Many call for milk. Using water, milk substitutes, and non-fat whey milk can affect what we’re actually consuming.
On the dairy front, also compare apples to apples the common milk and milk-substitute options. Each has pro-con’s we’ll have to weigh, especially when it comes to calories, shelf life, number of same-sized servings per dollar and by can, and ease in mixing.
Protein-supplemented drink mixes and instant juices with actual vitamins tend to be more expensive, but have a great deal to offer. Even the inexpensive options we can snag incrementally from a green-sign dollar stare can make a big difference in health and mentality, though. Instant broth and creamed soups are a whole realm all their own, with their own range of benefits for preppers.
Priorities will always differ, as will our individual capabilities. That applies to stocking drink mixes, but they’re worth some consideration. Some rate a place in our pantries just to help maintain norms or transition to a new normal. Some fall into general nutrition and diet. Some offer the ability to soothe a really bad day. Some really shine in a bug-out or high-labor situations. Others have actual medical applications.
Drink mixes might not be an obvious must-have, but they’re too inexpensive, compact, and accessible to ignore.
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