The absolute perfect food for preppers would be high in fat, protein, vitamins, carbs, etc., be light-weight, be compact, be inexpensive, take no fuel resources to prepare, and would taste fantastic. About the only things that come close are those Mayday emergency food bars. While they're edible, I think I'd eat a bullet if I had to go more than a week or so munching on those things.
So we have trade-offs. For instance, flavor and texture are usually sacrificed for storage time. Real mashed potatoes taste a whole lot better than dehydrated potato buds.
I've got a few items that I think most folks believe would fall into that category - they don't taste as good as "the real thing". Personally, I like each of these as much as I like the real thing.
They'd be: Instant grits, instant cream of wheat and instant coffee.
Hey, hey, hey! Put down those pitchforks and flaming torches! Not being from a part of the country that eats grits on a regular basis, I've NEVER had the real deal. Not once.
A few months ago, I picked up a box of the individual serving Instant Grits packs and loved them. A half of a cup of boiling water, a pat of butter, pinch of salt and pepper, and a half teaspoon of sugar.... Color me a heretic if you must, but they're damned good! They're ready to eat in about 2 minutes.
And they're high on the "stickin' to the ribs" scale. I can have a bowl of them and a cup of coffee, and it will easily hold me until lunch.
Shelf life: About 2 years.
As a kid, I did eat a lot of cream of wheat. I still love the stuff. Preparation is about the same as the grits.
Shelf life: About 8 years (!)
With instant coffee, for me at least, brand names matter. I simply cannot handle the "store brand" crap. Weak, watery, smells of old, stale water. I like Nescafe Clasico. I like it so much, it's what I drink every day now. Instead of making a whole pot of coffee, I just nuke a cup of water at a time.
Shelf life: About 2 1/2 years.
With all of these items, besides the improved shelf life over the real thing, you have a serious savings in fuel costs. For most of us, right now, that's not a major issue. But, we prep for when it MAY be a major issue. It takes a whole lot less fuel to boil up water, than it does to fully cook these items from scratch (see our Just Add Water posts).
Also, if things were to get uber-ugly, you do not want to bring notice to yourself that you have resources. The aroma from a pot of brewing coffee could bring a bunch of hungry and desperate people in your direction.
[The same goes for garlic, onions, basil, oregano, thyme, BBQ smoke, frying foods. Think what those smells do to you now when you get a whiff, and think what they'd do if you hadn't eaten in 2 days.]
I lost a butt-load of sugar.
Well, not really, but I can't find it. I have LOTS of staples that I don't rotate (eat from my stores) - sugar, salt, beans, rice, wheat, corn. The main reason for this is that these staples are in long-term storage containers. Mylar bags with oxy scrubbers inside of food grade buckets, or smaller portions (a couple of pounds) in Foodsaver bags.
Since all of these items will last forever (from a practical standpoint), I don't want to incur the expense of, say, cutting open a Foodsaver bag to get at two pounds of rice. I then need to go out and replace that rice, and incur the expense (time and money) of re-Foodsaver-ing the food.
The only exception to this rule is if I run out of something that I must have this very second. I recently needed some sugar, and the cupboards were bare. So I went out to my storage, and I'll be damned if I couldn't find any sugar.
I've got tons of the stuff in 2 pound Foodsaver "bricks". Seriously, I remember packing a 66 quart Rubbermade tub FULL of these things.
Nuthin'. I found the 7 gallon buckets each filled with 35lbs of sugar in mylar bags. I was NOT going to crack open one of those bad boys.
I ended up substituting honey for whatever it was I was making, but it's got me scratching my head. I've been telling myself I need to reorganize my preps to make it easier to know what I've got and where it is - to make sure my inventory lists are accurate. I think this is a hint that I was right to do a little reorg...
Long term fats - think Crisco. I think I've mentioned this before, but in case not, it's a great way to squirrel away fats that last a long time. As long as whatever you're making doesn't require a liquid fat (such as in a salad dressing), Crisco is a great alternative.
I buy the bricks/sticks of the butter flavored stuff. In a pinch, you can mix it with salt to give you a spreadable butter substitute. Unopened, Crisco will last you 2 years.
I've got some that has just passed the two year mark. I'm going to let it go at least another 6 months to see if it turns into some grotesque science project, or, if as I suspect, it will be perfectly fine.
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