Prepper Must-Haves: Drink Mixes

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Editors Note: Another article from R. Ann Parris to The Prepper JournalAs always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a$300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies!

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.

Caffeine

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.

Fiber

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.

Condensed Calories

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 Goods

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).

Electrolytes

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…

Bedside Bottles

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.

Protein

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.

Vitamin Deficiency

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.

Buying Considerations

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.

Drink Mixes

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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Methane
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Methane

I found packages of drink mixes at Academy Sports store for mixing with alcohol to make flavored cocktails. Fast and easy and might be the stress reliever in a disaster!

R. Ann
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Can’t argue there, although we made do with all kinds of Kool-Aid when we were young. 🙂
Don’t forget to make some lime salt to stash in the prepper pantry!
-RA

Illini Warrior
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Illini Warrior

Good overall article – subject rarely covered >>>> excellent to see powdered drink mixes recommended for the med supplies – definitely a must for pandemic SHTFs and DIY electrolyte replacement formulas ….

R. Ann
Guest

Thank you!

John
Guest

Be careful when selecting drinks (or foods) for calories. If they contain an artificial sweetener, then it will not provide the calories – they are all ‘0’ calories. Furthermore, they are harmful to some degree. The worst is NutraSweet, which breaks down into chemicals like formic acid and formaldahyde if it gets too old, or too warm. This is particularly annoying in cocoa or jello, which are made with boiling water. The other zero calorie sweeteners also may be harmful, but probably not a critical concern in a survival situation. The best of the non-sugar sweeteners, is Stevia. Go for… Read more »

R. Ann
Guest

Agree on all fronts, as well as your inclusion of the “if practical” (others tend to take 0 or nothing views on stuff like sweeteners, corn syrup, etc.).

I’m one of the people who’s actually sensitive to several artificial sweetners and anti-caking agents. Most of the liquid stevias are fine, but some of the powdered sugar-sub “spoonful” types of stevia bother me. Just one of those things we have to beware of, and one of the reasons I push trying stuff out instead of buying 25-50 year stuff that won’t get tested until we hit hard times.
Cheers! – RA

Kate
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Kate

We use the lemonade mixes for kidney stones it works for hubby who has them a lot. It helps dissolve them and he passes them, use crystal light lemonade, it works the best.

R. Ann
Guest

Neat tip. I’d heard of cranberry juice and stock some for all kinds of kidney health.
-RA

Peter Sherwood
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Peter Sherwood

Great article. I am amazed on how much powdered milk and drinks like Ensure cost. The importance of variety in a diet cannot be over stated. If we have to face months of rice and beans, any “extra” anything would make a world of difference.

Thanks

R. Ann
Guest

Thank you! I carry some pre-mixed Boost, Muscle Milk, or Glucerna for workdays when I can’t catch a break, so I understand the expense aspect there. Even buying Nido at Walmart, the dry and powdered milk is less than buying gallons at Aldi’s, and since my family is milk drinkers across the board and generations, it doesn’t really register as expensive. Nothing like the quarts of UHT milk I keep in for filling in gaps in fresh milk without having to run to the store! 🙂 Agree 100% that on a repetitive diet, alleviating things even a little is big.… Read more »

susie7754
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You can buy (off-brand) Tang and a similar (Hi C) fruit punch dry mix at Winco in bulk. They are high much cheaper than you can purchase any other way and you can repackage them in empty bottles for long term storage. Winco also sells seasonings, hard candy, grains, beans, nuts, and other prepping foods in bulk cheaper than you can find anywhere else.

R. Ann
Guest

Thanks for the heads up – hopefully some of the other users have one in the area and can benefit.
The laborer Mexican markets can also be really good places for bulk buys, basics, and some of the treats and seasonings.
Cheers!
Rebecca Ann

dmwalsh568
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dmwalsh568

While I have some Tang for the vitamin C included, most of my drink mixes are just for flavoring to liven up plain filtered water. I have a few mylar bags I filled with pre-sweetened Hawaiian Punch mix, but I also store a LOT of those little packages of Hawaiian Punch that you have to add the sugar yourself. This lets me store a lot in a small space and I can always use the stored sugar for other things so it gives me flexibility. And don’t forget tea leaves. Tea bags are easy and cheap, but I also stock… Read more »

R. Ann
Guest

Good points on the flexibility of both sugar and the tea, and the benefit in cutting treated water’s flavor. I do both tea and coffee. If you ever buy your tea in the loose paper/cloth bags instead of loose leaf or the well-sealed Twinnings, don’t forget that you can bust it out of the box to vac seal or O2 absorber vac seal in a jar to save some space. We’re primarily coffee or soda drinkers, with some tea mixed in daily or weekly for the soft drink and coffee family members, but it winds up being less expensive and… Read more »

Game addict
Guest

Noted all these must-have drink mixes. Will try them out in my house. Thank you 🙂

R. Ann
Guest

Glad it helped you assess!