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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mobile vs Immobile Foods

I was hob-nobbin' around some prepping sites, and ran into a few that had their various lists.  "Must have" stuff for the serious prepper.

I'm a list guy - love 'em - as they help to keep you on track and focused.  Most of the lists were heavy on canned goods.  This is fine for in-home storage, but can be problematic for food you want with you while you're on the move.  Especially if your back and legs are the primary means of transport.

I'll use my Get Home Bag (GHB) as an example.  It is packed with food, water and equipment to sustain two people for 3 days.  That means, at the bare minimum, it needs to hold 12,000 calories (two thousand calories times two people times three days).  I want densely packed, light-weight foods.  This leaves more room for water, fire, shelter and defense provisions in the bag.

Notice, I used the words, "sustain" and "bare minimum" as part of my description.  We're not talking about "living large" here.  The purpose of this bag is to get us home - probably by foot.  We'd most likely burn more than the 2,000 calories each per day, but when we arrived home, we wouldn't be looking like refugees from Somalia.

For this purpose, Survival Bars are the best choice.  The Mayday brand bars [link] run about $3 for a 2400 calorie bar, or $1.25 per 1000 calories.  Personally, I've got the Millennium Energy Bars [link] which run about $10 for ten, 400 calorie bars, or $2.50 per 1000 calories.  I prefer this more expensive alternative because they come in smaller individual sizes (easier to gauge the amount eaten) and each bar is a different flavor.  The smaller size also makes it easier to use for barter or charity.  Both brands have a 5-year life.

All of these bars have other benefits as well.  They require no preparation - water, fuel, utensils - and they can be eaten while on-the-move.  With both types of bars, they are manufactured to be "low water intake" nutrition - you don't need excessive amounts of water for your body to digest the nutrients.

One step up - with regards to flavor, at least - are dehydrated and freeze dried foods.  I keep somewhere in the range of 40,000 calories worth of these foods in my car as well.  The idea for these foods is some sort of car breakdown in a remote area - mountains or desert.  This would provide two people with food for another ten days or so.

These foods are light, but they're more bulky.  And they can be VERY expensive per 1000 calories ($10-$11 in some cases).  Shop around and do the math, as deals can sometimes be found.

Personally, I make my own much less expensively.  Check out our series of Just Add Water [link] posts.

The 'downside" is that you need to be able to heat water.  This means the need for fuel (indigenous or brought with you), a way to make fire (you had better have that covered anyways!) and some sort of container in which to boil the water.  We're not talking about putting together a Martha Stewart kitchen, but you'll need more than what's in your GHB.

For me, I have a box in my trunk with these, "Medium-Term Survival" foods and tools.

Accept The Challenge

When you're putting your various lists together, don't pigeon-hole yourself into thinking one product type will fit all of your needs.  Take off the blinders and consider which foods are best for different situations.

If you're able to wait things out in your home - as most of us plan - those heavy, immobile, low-cost, easy-to-prepare foods are great.  More bang for the buck.

But we need to assume we'll have to go mobile - the whole, "best laid plans go all to hell" deal.  You DON'T want to be lugging around 3 cases of canned tuna fish on your back.  Weight is a huge factor when thinking about mobility.

Water for two people weighs around 16 pounds for one day.  It's heavy and bulky, but you've got to have it.  Be sure to have filters (I use the Katadyn Hiker Pro) and lots of purification tablets so you can turn crap water into potable water.

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Crustyrusty said...

I like to keep a large can of cashews around; they're calorie- and mineral dense, and have extra sodium to boot.

Assuming no allergies, of course.

Oblio13 said...

Chief Instructor said...

Crusty, cashews and pistachios to me are like crack to an addict: If they're around, I eat them! I've tried storing dry roasted peanuts, but the same thing happens. If I get a snack Jones, they're gone.

Oblio, you wrote a great article there! A couple of things: With the pemican, you said it tastes better than it sounds. I've gotta admit, the reason I haven't made any is partly because it sounds like you'd be eating a bar o' fat. Pinky swear it tastes good? ;-)

Also, why not use sulfited fruit? It seems like that would help extend the life. No?

Lastly, any idea how long the parched corn will store? I can really see that as an item to include in my GHB as something to munch on to control hunger. Sounds like Corn Nuts.

Oblio13 said...

When it's cold and you're working hard, pemmican really does taste good. Your body craves fat, but it will also tell you when you've had enough. I suppose there's a cultural thing to overcome, too, we've been so conditioned to think of fat as bad.

I was under the impression that sulphur only preserved color and I'd rather not eat additives that only make food look pretty. I just Googled it, though, and it does increase shelf life as well, so good point.

No idea how long parched corn will last. I re-discovered half a plastic bag of some that was three or four years old, and it seemed to have absorbed some moisture and gone a bit "off". But then it wasn't packaged well at all.

On a brighter note, I can report that I just found six tins of homemade ghee that are at least three years old. I opened one, and it's fine.