Freeze-dried dinners. Popular with hikers. Extremely lightweight (up to 2,500 kcal per pound) and surprisingly tasty. The most reputable brand is Mountain House. Fairly expensive on a calorie basis (100-150 kcal per $1), but you get a choice of raspberry crumble, chicken with dumplings, bacon and eggs, and everything in between. Storage life in excess of 15 years. The drawback is that they need some boiling water to reconstitute (cold water will also work, but not make a tasty meal).
Use mylar bags when storing bulk items. After about four years the pinto beans started growing mold. It was hard to get the stink out of the bucket even after using bleach. I didn’t have a mold problem with my black beans or other food just the pinto beans. I trashed them and bought more storing them in the same bucket. After two years they became moldy again. I now use one-gallon mylar bags to help:
Built for the Kill (2001–04) Taboo (2002–13) Explorations (2003–04) Be the Creature (2003–04) Seven Deadly Arts with Akshay Kumar (2004) Interpol Investigates (2004–05) Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan (2004–11) Megastructures (2004–11) Naked Science (2004–11) In the Womb (2005–10) Hunter Hunted (2005–08) Is It Real? (2005–07) Extraterrestrial (2005) Paranormal? (2005) I Didn't Know That (2006) Ultimate Factories (2006–13) Wild (2006–12) Prehistoric Predators (2007–09) Trapped (2007) Critical Situation (2007–08) Lockdown (2007) DogTown (2008–10) Big, Bigger, Biggest (2008–11) Planet Mechanics (2008) Perilous Journeys (2008–13) World's Toughest Fixes (2008–10) Rescue Ink Unleashed (2009) Alaska State Troopers (2009–15)
To maintain sanity while trying to enumerate risks, I found that it's best to focus on broad outcomes instead of trying to track down every single way for things to go south. Say, it should not matter if you are laid off because of a downsizing, because your new boss hates you, or because they finally catch you stealing paperclips. The outcome is the same: you are out of a job and urgently need a way to pay your bills.
In his 2016 book, Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods, Gary Allen, a food writer and adjunct professor at SUNY Empire State College, traces the evolution of food preservation as a source of culinary innovation. “The original food-preservation methods—like salting and drying and all that—actually turned the food into something else,” he told me over the phone. “Cabbage sauerkraut is not the same thing as cabbage. Wine is not the same thing as grape juice.”
We tried the $85 Instant Loaded Potato & Cheesy Broccoli Soup from Simpli Prepare because soup might be an easy way to supplement the main survival meals. Packaged the same way as the shakes, with shaker bottle and algae oil, and with the same directions. Vendor confirmed this is meant to be a “just add water” product, not a simmer and serve hot sort of thing, and suggests using hot water from the tap if possible.
You can figure 25-30 years storage life for hard red wheat, stored at 60 degrees in a 55 gallon drum, using 1 pound of dry ice to drive out the oxygen (wait 24hrs for the dry ice to “melt” before sealing the drum). 400 pounds of wheat per drum equals 400 man-days of calories, and costs you about $100. Fill 3-4 barrels. It’s Cheap insurance. Add a barrel of Winter Rye for variety. Add a barrel of oats. Then a couple barrels of WHITE rice, and 2-3 barrels of pinto beans. (You need the beans to balance what’s missing from the grains. The beans may be harder to rehydrate after 10-12 years without a pressure cooker, but then you just grind up the dried beans, and bake them in your bread.) For around $1000, you can be prepared to feed your family for close to a decade, if you also garden, keep chickens, and have fruit trees and bushes. Honey is way too expensive to store on a dollar/calorie basis, but consider bee keeping. A drum takes up LESS than 2’X2’. And they stack nicely, at 33” tall. In a 2’X10′ strip along a basement wall, you can have 10 barrels with 4000 pounds of food. Hang a peg board in front of it, and you’ve got very useful space. If you can’t spare that much space in your basement, to protect the lives of your family, think Venezuela .
Buckets are great, but rats can chew through them. Store them where you think you can protect them from rodents. Also, plastic is somewhat air permeable, so mylar bag inserts are a really good idea. For basics, the LDS site is the best. You can get flour, wheat, beans, rice, sugar and some pasta already processed in #10 cans and boxed by the 6 can case. All my beds are on these case lot boxes so they take up zero extra room in my house. The prices are extremely reasonable since the church only covers its cost. I wouldn’t store anything in garbage cans just because the sheer weight of the thing will be prohibitive…unless you have a forklift lying around!
Freeze-dried food is nothing new. As early as the 13th century, the ancient Quechua and Aymara people of Bolivia and Peru pioneered a form of the process by exposing potatoes to the freezing temperatures of the Andes overnight, then drying them in the sun. In 1937, Nestlé used industrial technology to create the world’s first freeze-dried coffee, and in the 60s and 70s, the US military shipped freeze-dried food rations to the troops in Vietnam.
When it comes to recommendations, there is no short list of hobbies that are objectively better than the rest; the selection is vast, and the right choice will inevitably depend on your own interests, natural talents, the space you have available, and on countless other constraints. That said, here are some fairly popular options that may be worth thinking about:
I see myself as a modern man (born in 1980) and novice prepper, but dammed if I know anyone who hasn’t got a manual can opener, also storing soda bottles of water behind baseboards in kitchen units is also fairly common amongst people i know. If you have meat in large cuts and steaks in a freezer even once they defrost they keep a lot longer if preserved by smoking or drying, even ground meats can be made into patties and smoked to last longer, vegetables and fruits stored in a freezer can also have their useful lives extended by preserving as pickles and jam’s.
This obviously means you’ll have to balance your use of redundant items with your carrying capacity. However, you can address both of these competing forces by trying to bring along items that serve multiple purposes. This way, you aren’t really bringing items that are duplicates of each other, but you still benefit from having some backup options. For example, duct tape is often included to repair clothing or camping gear, but you can also use it as a band-aid in a pinch. Safety pins are another good multi-purpose supply, as they can be used for clothing repairs, bent into fishhooks or used to sew up a wound if need be.
Luckily for the survivors, the highly radioactive isotopes present in the fallout are also very-short lived; the intensity of radiation will likely drop ten-fold within 6-8 hours, and will decrease a hundred-fold within two days. If you wait a week or two, it should be quite safe to venture out. Of course, it's still best to stay indoors for as long as possible, and when heading out, it's good to keep the trips short, to wear disposable coveralls ($11), and to take care not to track any residues into your home. But you don't need to lock yourself in an underground vault.
In addition to the dangers of poor financial planning and the ever-present specter of unintentional injury, another threat we should reckon with is becoming a victim of a crime. Although the risk is not as pervasive as the challenges discussed earlier in this chapter, it still earns a distinction as one of the things that many readers will almost certainly have to face at some point in their lives.