I’ve done a fair amount of writing in the past couple years about creating a deeper pantry and food stash for the unexpected – including job loss or the apocalypse. But I more fully appreciated another more practical use recently when I became ill for several days.
Sure, I have a “sick box” stashed, with things like Tylenol, Pedialyte packets, basic meds, a thermometer and other things that I might need to take with me in an emergency bug out, but that’s not what I’m talking about right now. Those things are important, but this is more of a convalescent thing I’m talking about.
I realized that foods that are good to prep for an emergency also happen to be easy-to-prepare. Think about it – most stash foods are for “one pot meals” because you’re likely to be cooking them exactly that way, and on a single burner stove or fire of some sort. These foods are mostly the “just add water” type as well.
I was down with a fever bug for several days last week. ‘Rona negative thankfully, but it kicked the stuffing out of me. When I finally decided that I wanted some real food and not just soup, tea, and toast, I didn’t exactly have energy to spare and was not about to go smoke a pork butt for myself.
That’s where the stash comes in. I used a bag of Knorr seasoned rice, added a half-pint jar of grilled turkey that I canned last November, and a handful of my dehydrated garden vegetables, added the requisite amount of water (plus a little extra for the veggies to rehydrate) and nuked it in a casserole dish for 15 minutes.
Sure, I could have used organic brown rice harvested by celestial virgins or something instead of pre-packaged commercial mix, but I didn’t have the mental energy left to do any seasoning myself, and I didn’t have the physical energy to stand in the kitchen and babysit a simmering pot. Because it wasn’t an emergency and I had electricity I stuck my concoction in the microwave and went back to the couch for the 15 minute cook time.
In the end I had a decent plateful of turkey rice “casserole”, which was hot, tasty, and filling, the preparation of which didn’t exhaust me so much that it put my recovery behind. I also had enough left over for 2 or 3 more meals.
I realized that the situation, when you think about it, could be similar to how it is during a survival emergency. You’d need hot, filling, nutritious food, without much fuss or equipment. You’d also need it to not require a ton of mental or physical energy to prepare because you’d likely already be mentally and physically exhausted from dealing with whatever the situation was – from weather emergency to social unrest. And you’d possibly not have all your usual spices and condiments at hand depending on the situation, so a pre-seasoned package would be useful.
My one pot meal was also pretty cheap. The Knorr packages run about 99 cents, the turkey cost me pennies from a really cheap turkey on sale, (but my labor and equipment was involved), and the veggies were also just pennies as they were from my own garden and dehydrator (but again labor and equipment factor in).
I’ve honestly done similar “recipes” over the years as a non-traditional student and working mother of three who was trying to juggle budget, hungry kids, school and ball practice schedules. I just didn’t have the garden and canning skills at the time.
I CAN cook from scratch, but I also have years of experience of just throwing things together and calling it dinner. I’ve just never thought about it from a sick and survival perspective much before. In some ways that was just my everyday life for awhile.
But this recent experience has shown me that “that” was also a sort of “survival skill” – being able to create a quick and easy meal at home from stuff on hand without spending 20 dollars at the drive-thru, without exotic ingredients, and without spending three hours at the stove. That’s a disappearing skill in the modern world.
It’s also been a pay-off and personal pat on the back for my efforts at canning, dehydrating, and prepping lately. Having those shelf-stable simple meal ingredients on hand gave me a boost even in a non-emergency, and I was able to appreciate its value even without a world-ending disaster.
So right there is yet another reason to stockpile or keep on hand deep pantry items like canned meats, dehydrated vegetables and fruits, and just-add-water rice and pasta packets. It’s cheaper and tastier than freeze dried stuff, there is an almost infinite variety of flavors available, and they keep for years despite what the “best by” date says. Plus, you can use them even when the world isn’t ending, but you just feel too crappy to cook much of anything.
So there ya go – my new perspective. Maybe it will help you too.