I’ve said many times that stocking up on non-perishable food is a must, but I feel this needs more attention. Like, what to look for and why.
The first thing you may need to “get over” is the current trend of Low/No Carbs, Low Fat and Low Calorie. In a survival situation that mindset will do more harm than good. Think about it for a moment, our lives right now are pretty sedentary, the majority of us sit at work, we sit in something (car, bus, subway etc) to get to and from work, then we sit at home. Any exercise comes in short bouts at a gym, on a trail or in the yard. That will change if/when the SHTF (S+*t Hits The Fan) and society breaks down. If you can’t get gas for your car, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking and that will require calories to burn for energy. If stores aren’t being restocked, you will have to find other ways to supplement your stockpiled food with fresh food for your family by either gardening or foraging. Either way, that’s going to require more energy and that means more calories. The list could go on and on, but will be dependent on just what the disaster/emergency is. A total breakdown of society is hugely different than a natural disaster which would be more short-term.
We’ve all had the “How to Read a Label” lecture drummed into our heads, so I won’t subject you to it again. The important thing you need to know is: calories=energy, sugar=quick energy and fat=stored energy. You will have to change your thinking about carbs, calories and fats because your body will need them for energy to survive day to day.
Protein is being over-hyped right now, in my opinion, and unless you are working out hard, a high protein diet is a waste of money and hard as hell on your kidneys. Any excess protein you are taking in right now is being passed off by your body through your kidneys to be excreted in your urine. If your urine is cloudy after you take protein powder or eat a high protein anything, then you’ve taken too much and your body is passing it off. That’s asking for kidney trouble! In post SHTF, however, you will, most likely, be working hard and using your muscles regularly and will require more protein to rebuild/repair them. I read/heard several formulas for protein needs post workout and am just not sure enough about which one is correct. After a quick Google search I found, “The amount of protein needed daily by human body relies on many conditions. Normally it is estimated based on the body weight (0.8-1.8 gram/kg of body weight), or as a percentage of Total Calories intake (10%-35%), or simply based on age.” On http://www.calculator.net/protein-calculator.html This is a good starting point anyway and there’s a calculator where you can input your information and calculate your daily protein needs. There is also a chart with the average protein content of common foods, like 1 cup or 195 grams of rice contains 5 grams of protein or dried beans (1 c. or 92 g.) has 16 grams of protein. If you really want to make yourself crazy, we can get into complete proteins versus incomplete protein!! The only combination I know is what Native Americans called “Three Sisters”, corn, beans and squash. That’s the limit of my knowledge, but you can look up Macrobiotics for more information on that. To my mind, if it’s gotten to the point where society has broken down and you’re having to either forage for food or eat your stockpiled food, any protein is better than no protein and we’ll have more to worry about than that.
Fresh food will be even more important during a long-term disaster (like an economic collapse), than it is now. The best way to ensure you have a variety of fresh produce when the grocery stores are gone is to grow your own. About 5 years ago I ordered a set of “Survival Seeds” off Amazon. That was a mistake! Most of the plants won’t grow in my area, like carrots, my soil doesn’t have enough gravel in it or something. Plus, there are vegetables in it that we don’t like!! I was able to learn that by keeping the seeds in the freezer, they are still viable, I planted some lettuce this year and they all germinated. Over the years I’ve gotten smarter and started going to a local nursery to get my seeds and that has worked much better. The only seeds they carry are for plants that grow here and the employees are extremely knowledgeable. Here is what I’ve learned: don’t go to a store that only has a “garden center” during the spring and summer, the employees aren’t knowledgeable at all; buy “Heirloom” seeds because you can save the seeds and plant them the following year, the majority of seeds for sale have been altered so any seeds produced by the plant won’t germinate (guarantees seed sales for the company); and only buy seeds you know you’ll eat, it’s easy to fall into thinking that good old rutabagas will make a good replacement for the potatoes you won’t be able to get, but during the high stress times post disaster isn’t the time to learn you hate rutabagas. If you can, plant fruit trees where you plan on being post disaster so you’ll have fresh fruit for you and your family. Contact your County Extension Office or a Community College with Culinary Classes and see about learning to can your extra produce. My mother-in-law taught me canning in a 2 day weekend. If I can learn to can, anybody can (no pun intended, maybe). I also have a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer, both of which I’ve had to teach myself how to use and that’s a work in progress still.
Lastly, don’t think just meat, veggies and fruits; stock some “comfort foods”. The dehydrated canned foods we bought also contain brownie and pudding mixes that only need water added. You can also stock some bags of hard candies so long as you can keep them out of high heat so they don’t melt. They will be good for a quick energy burst and to help induce a feeling of comfort when things are out of control.