We want to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas. We pray that you will find the joy in the season – knowing Christ and being known by Him.
Being in the holiday spirit reminds me how important celebrations and traditions can be. Even those who adamantly declare that they avoid traditions are, in effect, implementing them – that is, their avoidance of tradition is, in fact, their tradition. I know, it sounds strange, but it’s true.
Traditions ground us – they define who we are and connect us to community. The community may be present or may be miles away, and it may be large or small. Growing up, we always baked Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving. Now as an adult, when I bake cookies on that day – even if I am baking alone – I feel connected to those I baked with, and even the people they baked with before I was born.
Traditions can be reassuring and calming. When the world changes dramatically, I can’t think of anything we’ll need more! What a better way to prepare for such a time, than to create “Holidays in a Can.” Or a six-gallon pail. Phil describes the contents of holiday cans as “the saved of the saved.” In other words, we’re prepping for the holidays, not just for survival. We’re purposefully storing special food and other items with our preps that we won’t touch until the holiday comes around so that our holiday will be special even when times are tough.
What holidays should you plan for? Any days that are special to you – birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve or Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Independence Day come to mind. In our house, only a few of those are important days – you identify the ones that are important to you. (Phil is a peculiar fan of Groundhog Day. Go figure.)
What should be in the holiday cans? Now there’s a question that will have a unique answer for each of us. Ask yourself this:
What makes the holiday special to me and my family? Is it smells or activities or sights or sounds?
Your answer to that question will help you identify what should go into your can. Here are some ideas.
- A card (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
- A decoration or two
- Ingredients for a prepper version of a favorite or special food (or just include a fruitcake!)
- A gift – something special to share with others
- Something frivolous or fancy
- Something that evokes memories of the holiday – perhaps a picture or ornament or piece of clothing (an ugly Christmas sweater comes to mind)
- Candles. Fancy ones since you might be using candles more in TEOTWAWKI and we want the can to hold special things. Don’t forget birthday candles if it’s a birthday can – and if you’re one of those people who always puts trick candles on the cake, be sure to include them.)
- Spray scent (I hate it, but if I was desperate, I might really enjoy the Christmas feel of it – or it might just remind me of why I always hated it – which is a part of Christmas, too!)
- A game
- A special drink (every year at Christmas I have a glass of Crown Royale because it’s what my dad gave me for Christmas every year)
The key is to pare the items down to just a few that will bring the essence of your holiday into a time of crisis.
The Alternative Holiday Can
Having written all that I just did about the importance of traditions – and believing every word of it – I’ve also experienced times when it was important to break with tradition to make the holiday livable. For example, the year Phil’s mom died I specifically planned a non-traditional Christmas for us. I knew that the holiday memories would be too difficult the first year, so instead of focusing on the holiday, we remodeled our living room and dining room over Christmas week. Yes, we took a short break to join family for dinner, but then we returned home to finish painting.
So another approach to your holiday cans (or perhaps just some of them) is an alternative holiday can. Instead of filling it with things that remind you of former holidays, use it as a starting place for igniting new traditions or simply having a fun day. Here are some ideas:
- A new game
- Supplies to make a new scrapbook or cards
- Treat food that isn’t reminiscent of your holidays. I’m loving Auguson Farms Blueberry Muffins these days. A couple batches of that in my birthday can would be a new tradition I’d enjoy!
- An IOU for a day of rest and pampering – in whatever form that would take in TEOTWAWKI. Massage oils would probably have a very long shelf life.
- A letter that you write now that would still be applicable then
- One thing that reminds you of and connects you with the traditional holiday. Just a small thing. Don’t make it the centerpiece of the can.
Remember, your holidays in cans are the “saved of the saved.” They’re in the secret vault not to be opened until the holiday arrives. That’s what holiday prepping is all about.
What are your ideas? How are you including the holidays in your prepping? Comment below or add your comments on Facebook.
And again, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.
This week, Americans have been indulging in the annual food extravaganza known as the national day of Thanksgiving. People have been baking pies, roasting turkeys, and stuffing themselves with stuffing. We took part in the festivities, too, but in the couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving Day we’ve been eating our own dog food.
Not literally, I’m happy to say.
“Eating your own dog food” is a slang expression that means personally using the same products and practices that you recommend to others. If we don’t do what we encourage others to do, why should anyone?
In our case, we’ve been preparing meals using long-term storage survival food from a one-month kit that we bought from Augason Farms. We don’t want to give you the impression that we’ve been living on survival food exclusively. Far from it. (You can read our introduction to this experiment here.) But we thought it wise to sample a variety of long shelf life food and learn how to cook it and make meals with it before we found ourselves in a situation where we absolutely had to use it to survive.
Going into this experiment, we had a lot of the same questions that anyone would have about food they aren’t familiar with:
- How is it different from what we normally eat?
- How does it taste?
- How easy is it to prepare?
- Could we really live on a steady diet of this stuff?
- What would we miss from our regular diet?
The one-month food kit that we were working from is largely a collection of ingredients that you combine to make recipes, rather than pouches or cans of just-add-water freeze dried entrées. We own and have tried some of the ready-made entrées. They’re quick and easy to prepare, and are quite tasty. They’re also relatively expensive, so we gravitated toward the much more affordable ingredients approach. Most of the ingredients are dehydrated, but some were the more expensive freeze dried varieties. Besides, if you buy a freeze dried beef stew entrée, what can you make with it? (This isn’t a trick question.) The answer is “beef stew.” But if you have all the ingredients you need for beef stew, you can use them to make beef stew or many other dishes. Consider Taco Bell. They’ve built a fast-food empire by coming up with different combinations and preparations for about six basic ingredients.
What have we eaten?
The kit from Augason Farms came with a booklet with 54 recipes. There are also recipes on each of the cans. Using the booklet as our guide, we’ve made:
- Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder
- Chicken Noodle Vegetable Casserole
- Creamy Wheat Cereal
- Scrambled Eggs with Bacon Bits
- Buttermilk Biscuits
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Mashed Potatoes
We should note here that one category of food that is glaringly missing from our list is desserts. We haven’t sampled any of the desserts or drinks yet. The pictures of milkshakes on the box look delicious. How do they taste? We don’t know yet.
How is it different from what we normally eat?
That’s a very personal question and your answer will undoubtedly be different from mine, but my answer is that it’s not drastically different from what I normally eat. Providing familiar foods that people already eat and enjoy is one of the major goals of a long-term storage food vendor. In this regard, Augason Farms was on the money. Dehydrated foods are a part of the dining landscape more than we realize. Grocery stores sell a lot of products that include dehydrated or freeze dried ingredients. The quality of these kinds of products has increased a lot over the years, and these are the same kinds of foods that come in the cans of long shelf life survival foods.
One major difference from my normal diet is that survival food won’t provide large portions of meat, fish, or poultry. No thick, juicy cheeseburger. No platter of fried chicken. No big honking slice of ham. I grew up in an age when kids heard a lot (at least from our parents at the dinner table) about the people starving in China. Real oriental food (not the Americanized stuff we get at carry-out restaurants) traditionally used proteins sparingly to flavor a dish, almost as a condiment. Rice or noodles and veggies were always the bulk of a dish. You’ll need to adopt that kind of mindset when you use your survival food.
How does it taste?
Having said that the foods are familiar and tasty, I’d like to add here that many of them are much higher in sodium than I am accustomed to, especially the soups, which are a staple in the survival menu. That’s bad news for anyone on a reduced-sodium diet. The good news is that the soups are flavorful enough that you can use them as a topping for potatoes, rice, or noodles. This practice will stretch your food budget while cutting back on your salt intake.
Another note on taste is that since you are preparing the recipes, you can modify them to your liking. The first meal that we made was the Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder. It was OK as is, but we had some leftover chicken that we added to it. Adding the little bit of chicken made it less like a soup and more like a meal. The pancakes were fine as is, but we tossed some frozen blueberries into the batter and kicked it up a notch. On another occasion, I made a sauce for baked potatoes by mixing some of the Broccoli Cheese Soup with just enough water to make it a sauce consistency and added some of the TVP Bacon Bits (a vegetarian soy-based bacon replacement) to give it a smoky kick. (Prepper Fun Fact: A little bit of TVP bacon bits goes a very long way. Use them sparingly.)
Of course you can also modify a recipe by leaving out things that you don’t like. Augason Farms’ recipe for Scrambled Egg with Bacon Bits included adding dehydrated chopped onions. We obediently followed the recipe, even though we don’t normally put onions in our eggs. We were open to trying something new, but the result was that the eggs were pretty strongly oniony. I was OK with the novelty of it, but Sandy didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t just the oniony-ness of the eggs, that Sandy didn’t like, though. She found the powdered eggs less than desirable in general. She’ll eat them in an emergency, but she won’t be pulling them out to make a meal when we’re out of eggs.
One of the questions we asked as we ate each meal was “would we serve this to guests?” In many cases the answer was “yes.” The creamy corn and potato chowder or broccoli cheese soup would be totally fine to serve to guests on a “come on over for soup and sandwich” night. Having friends over for breakfast? The pancakes would be fine, as would the creamy wheat cereal. The cereal is especially good with some raisins or other fruit thrown in. Of course, be sure to stock cinnamon because your cereal will come alive with some cinnamon. The biscuits were good, but the texture was a little off. We want to experiment with them a bit more before we serve them to friends.
Having said that, we’re thinking a “Prepper Food Tasting Party” might be a great way to introduce some of our friends to the prepper lifestyle.
How easy is it to prepare?
Most of it is just add water, simmer, and stir. Sandy, who does very little of the cooking in our house because she truly hates it did most of the cooking during our experiment. So I’m seeing a real benefit to adding some prepper food to our diet on a regular basis!
The Chicken Noodle Vegetable Casserole was more involved. You simmer some ingredients for 20 minutes, then combine others and bake it for 15 minutes. The result was a real casserole-style dish, but for a survival situation it was too energy intensive. I don’t want something that I have to both sauté and bake. Too much heating. One or the other, please. Still, having the capability provides nice variety. Maybe we’ll splurge on energy usage for a special occasion!
Could we really live on a steady diet of this stuff?
It has suitable nutrition and caloric content to sustain life. It tastes OK — sometimes better than just OK. We’ve become spoiled by abundance and variety. Of course we could live on it.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter full of joy to his friends in the church in Philippi. In it he said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV)
Sandy and I have been broke many times in the course of our 36-year marriage. Going broke is a good thing, if you know the secret of being content in any and every situation. It develops an appreciation and a gratefulness for the simplest of pleasures, the most basic of necessities. None of these are guaranteed in life. Entitlements are a man-made fiction. Can we live on a steady diet of long-term storage survival food? It might not be our first choice, but when it becomes our only choice I suspect that we will be quite happy to have it.
What would we miss from our regular diet?
My mother (who would have celebrated her 100th birthday this month if she were still on this earth) grew up dirt poor in the hills of central Tennessee. She told me that her favorite Christmas gift every year was an orange that she would get in her stocking. Not a pony. Not an iPad. Not a trip to Paris. An orange.
In a prolonged period of austerity, there are things that each of us will miss. We each need to give this matter some serious thought and plan accordingly. We might only be able to get fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season locally, which is a major change from what we’re accustomed to now. Learning to can and store those items would be helpful. We’ve also mentioned that large portions of meat might become a thing of the past. Those can also be canned. A lot of people store bulk quantities of wheat, but are they also storing baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and all of those other “minor” ingredients that we take for granted?
Sandy and I consider our experiment of “eating our own dog food” to be a success, but only a preliminary success. We’re going to make this an on-going part of our preparations. We will continue to learn to cook with food storage items and practice cooking on camp stoves and rocket stoves and maybe a solar oven. Food preparedness is about more than just hoarding. It’s also about knowing how to use what you’ve stored.
During National Survival Month, we encouraged readers to identify a task they hoped to accomplish. We were slammed with work that month and getting ready for vacation, so I picked an easy task that had been on my list – create a menu to be used during the first month of a serious emergency and gather the needed recipes.
As I began the menu project, Phil reminded me that we had purchased a one-month food supply kit from Augason Farms. This kit contained 48 small cans of dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients and came with a recipe booklet with more than 50 recipes. Wow! Menu task accomplished! Well, not quite. But close.
From that easily accomplished goal we decided that after returning from vacation we’d set aside a week during which we would make some of the recipes and get a more realistic idea of what it would be like to live off of our long-term storage food supply.
Our original plan was to eat nothing but food from our long-term food storage, with a focus on the Augason Farms kit. After putting off our one week of survival food experiment several times, we realized that our original plan needed some tweaking. We realized that maintaining our normal schedule of work and ministry activities meant that it wasn’t practical for us to only eat survival food for that week. In an emergency, these commitments would be radically altered. We weren’t willing to make those adjustments for our experiment. Still, we were able to accomplish our goals by eating most meals from our long-term food storage while allowing the restaurant or fast food option when our schedule demanded.
Yes, we know that we’re not practicing true survival. We’re not forcing ourselves into simulated hardship. Instead, we’re practicing with and sampling our survival food. I’m OK with that for this experiment. So what were our goals?
Our goals for the week are to:
- Taste the food. Do you remember the line from the movie Crocodile Dundee – “It tastes like crap, but you can live on it.” Were we going to be miserable eating what we’d bought? The Augason Farms kit has a wide variety of their staple products and recipes that could be made from them, so we’d be able to sample much of it. (And we’d have an idea of which foods we might want to purchase in larger quantities…and which we wouldn’t.)
- Practice preparing the food. It’s never a good idea to wait until five minutes before you really need something to start learning how to use it. We want to practice preparing the food before we absolutely need to use it. Our one-month food kit is not a case of prepared entrees. It’s an ingredient-based kit that allows you to mix and match items to make a lot of recipes. There’s a big difference between reading the contents on the box and figuring out what you could make with it.
- Evaluate what’s missing from our food storage plan. When we start living on survival food, what will we be craving that we don’t have? It might be fresh fruits and vegetables, or meat, or desserts, or salty snacks. But until we start using what we have stored, we won’t know what is lacking. We need to fill in the gaps now.
- Evaluate how much water we’d be using when cooking primarily dehydrated and freeze-dried food. (As it turns out, the kit clearly specifies that it takes 23 gallons of water to prepare all of the included food. That’s 23 gallons of water for one person for one month for just food preparation. What does that do to your estimate of how much water you want for every person to include drinking and washing?)
- Evaluate portion sizes. Would their claimed “makes 2 servings” really make 2 real world servings?
- Share our findings with you.
With all that as a backdrop, we finally picked a week to start – last week as a matter of fact. Here are our first lessons and impressions from our week of survival food testing:
- We have more food in our fridge at any given point than we realize. We were scheduled to begin sampling the survival food last week and immediately realized that we had enough food in our fridge that we needed to use before it spoiled to last us nearly a week. So the first five days were spent eating from our fridge with a little supplement from our pantry shelves. I was actually surprised at this because I don’t think of us having that much ready food on hand. I know we have a healthy-sized pantry, but didn’t realize that we had so much that needed to be eaten. I was really encouraged by this. I know that if an emergency takes out our fridge and freezer (which it likely would), that week would turn into “eat as much as you can in the next few days”. I’ll have more to share with others than I thought I would. (And no, we didn’t go out and do big shopping shortly before our survival food experiment was to begin. Quite the opposite. We had abstained from grocery shopping for about a week before that.)
- With our on-hand “need to eat” food, our one week of survival food experiment has turned into two weeks of survival food. We’re five days into it and we tasted our first survival food today. (Yes, we’ve tasted many other products in the past, but today was the first in this experiment.)
- There is a lot of variety in the Augason Farms one-month pack. You can do a lot with it. In addition to their recipe booklet, there are also recipes printed on each can’s label. Being who I am, I put them all into a spreadsheet and created a weeks’ worth of menus.
- Along with the variety, there’s also a lot of repetition in the Augason Farms recipes. Chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle casserole, and chicken noodle vegetable casserole sound a lot alike to me! Still, having just tasted my first variation of potato soup (creamy potato soup with corn and chicken), I’m embracing the variations. (More on that in our next blog.)
- I’m really looking forward to this!
Without trying to sound like a commercial, it seems like I should give more info about the Augason Farms one-month pack. This pack is advertised as providing almost 2,100 calories per day for one person for one month. Nutritional information is provided on each can. The only absolutely necessary ingredient that isn’t provided is water. Some of the recipes in the included recipe book include ingredients that you may not have available (sour cream or hard cheese, for example), but most do not.
The kit includes 21 different items in a total of 48 cans:
- Beef, Chicken, and Bacon TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- Cheesy broccoli soup mix
- Creamy potato soup mix
- Chicken noodle soup mix
- Southwest chili mix
- Broccoli (freeze dried)
- Corn (freeze dried)
- Potato dices (dehydrated)
- Potato gems (for mashed potatoes)
- Onions (chopped dehydrated)
- White rice
- Whole eggs (powdered)
- Creamy wheat cereal
- Buttermilk pancake mix
- Strawberries (freeze dried slices)
- Banana slices
- Milk (powdered)
- Chocolate milk (powdered)
- Orange delight drink mix
Have you ever seen the cooking competition show called Chopped on the Food Network? Chefs are given a basket with four ingredients. Some of them are normal ingredients, some are very abnormal. The challenge is to make a tasty meal using all four ingredients, plus whatever else they have available. This kit is like playing Chopped. What kind of culinary wonders can you create with these ingredients and what’s in your pantry?
These aren’t the jumbo #10 cans that you normally see for long-term storage food. Those big boys hold almost a gallon each. The food in this kit all comes in the smaller #2.5 cans which only hold about a quart. The smaller size makes it practical and affordable to sample a lot of products. Besides, the big #10 cans aren’t always your best choice for every type of food storage, as blogger The Survival Mom points out in this excellent article.
The regular price of the kit is $256.99 (with free shipping as of this writing), but it is occasionally on sale. We paid at least $60 less for each of the packs we’ve purchased. (We purchased three kits at different times, so the price of each pack varied.) If you’re just getting started with prepping, or you’ve looked at the huge one-year food kits that many food storage vendors offer and found them to be way out of your budget or your prep plans, this one-month kit might be just the ticket for you. It’s way more affordable, takes up way less space, lets you sample a lot of products, and could be good as a starter pack for you or as a gift for someone else whom you wish was better prepared.
At the regular price, assuming 3 meals/day for 30 days, the price per meal is less than $2.63. That seems pretty darn reasonable. At the prices we paid for our one-month packs, our cost went down to $2.18. And when the meals are stretched with rice or pasta, the price goes even lower. Of course one of our purposes in this experiment is to find the things we like most and purchase those items in larger cans at a better price. But considering the convenience of the smaller cans with menus provided, I’m a happy camper.
Assuming the food is good. Assuming it truly is 30 days’ worth of food. That story comes next…
In my previous National Preparedness Month blog, I encouraged you to review what preps you’ve made in the past year and consider strategic purchases to improve your preparedness position. Some of you know off the top of the head what your highest prepping priorities are, but for most of us, I’m guessing a more directed approach to evaluating your preps would be helpful. We’re here to help. Use the Preparedness Check and Challenge checklist below to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be.
There are more areas in which we need to prepare – communications, transportation, and medical, to name just a few. But our readers tend to be beginners in prepping, so we’ll stick with these basic topics for today’s blog.
We’re still working on every area (of course), but we’re making progress. My personal challenge for September is to complete a 3-day and a 1-month food plan with recipes. As I was writing this blog and explaining my alternate approach to evaluating my stored food, I realized that I can easily look at my pantry and evaluate if I have the necessary food to meet my immediate and short-term needs. Today, that is. That wouldn’t be the case in an emergency. You see, cooking is a weakness for me. Phil can grab ingredients and make good food. I can’t. I used to become paralyzed in video rental stores – there were just too many options. I also become paralyzed when faced with an immediate need to make food if I don’t have a plan.
So, by the end of September, I hope to have several written menus for the first three day s and first month of an emergency, and make sure that we keep all the ingredients on hand to make those meals. If we don’t have the ingredients in stock, the menu plan isn’t worth anything.
Let me urge you – spend a few minutes reading this brief checklist, then challenge yourself in one area. Set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish before the end of September (National Preparedness Month). That’s only two weeks away, so be reasonable about what you might be able to do, but don’t be too easy on yourself. The harder you work now, the easier you’ll have it when you need it.
- Recommendation: The government recommends 1 gallon per person (and pet) per day for drinking and cooking. We say more is better, but 1 gallon is a minimum place to start. Oh, and if you want to keep yourself and your things clean, plan on needing more water.
- How much water do you need/want to store:
____ (Number of people/pets) x ____ (number of days) x 1 gallon
- How much water do you have stored: ________
- What are you going to do to upgrade your water storage and/or purification capabilities?
- Recommendation: The average adult intake is about 2000 calories/day under normal conditions. In an emergency, you’re likely to be burning more calories than that, so if you can plan for 3000 calories/day, that’s a good thing.
- How much food do you want/need to store:
____ (Number of people) x ____ (number of days) x _____ (number of calories)
- How much food do you have stored: ________
- Don’t forget pets. If you have pets, how much do they eat each day? Multiply that by the number of days and you know how much pet food you need to have stored.
An Alternate Approach — Having just given you the formula, let me tell you that I don’t use the formula any more. I did at first, as I was developing my plan and understanding of long-term food storage. Now I take a different approach. I consider my preps in three stages: immediate, short-term and long-term. I approach my evaluation according to these three stages:
- Immediate: How many meals can I make with little or no preparation in the first 72 hours? My goal is 3 meals per day for 6 people. I can easily look at my pantry and determine if I am at that goal.
- Short-Term: How many meals can I make from my pantry with minimal dipping into my long-term storage food during the first month? My goal is 3 meals per day for 8 people, with some desserts added to help keep up morale. Again, I’m going to visually inspect my pantry to determine if my goal is met.
- Long-Term: How much long-term food do I have? Phil and I met our one-year plan for the two of us last year, so now we look at how many other people can we help.
- If the power grid is down, do you have the capability to cook the food you have? What key purchase would allow you to say “yes” in response to that question? Consider a propane camping stove (don’t forget to store some propane), an outdoor fire pit with grill, a rocket stove and/or a solar oven. (I have plans for a DIY solar oven that I can’t wait to try. Oh if there were just enough hours in the day!)
- Do you know how to cook the food you have with the cooking method(s) available?
- If for any reason your current shelter is no longer available, do you have a backup plan? Where will you go and how will you get there? What kind of challenges are you likely to face in getting there? What will you take with you? What do you need to be able to make the trip? How quickly can you be on the road?
- In a no-power-grid situation (whether it’s from a snow storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or a power-grid failure) do you have a plan to keep you family warm? Start with buying extra clothes and blankets. Add to it by developing an alternate heat source.
- Is your home an easy target for being broken into? What can you do to “harden” your home? (Think about things like upgrading your entry doors or planting thorny bushes under first floor windows.)
- Are you prepared to protect your family? What do you need to do to become more prepared and better trained?
- How’s your prepper notebook coming? Read more about it here. People tend to put off gathering important documents and creating a prepper notebook. If this is the one thing you do during National Preparedness Month, you will have done a good thing.
What’s your Preparedness Check and Challenge goal for this National Preparedness Month?
Once in a while I stumble upon a free resource that’s so good I want to get it into the hands of all our readers. I didn’t actually “stumble upon” this one. I’m a subscriber to Melissa Norris’ excellent blog on pioneer living. (The “city kid” in me still shakes his head in amazement when I say things like this. What a long, strange trip it’s been.) Melissa has a number of valuable resources available for download through her site. Today she’s out-done herself with the Preserve Food at Home Ultimate Resource Guide.
I’m a snake-bitten skeptic. When I see superlatives like “ultimate” bandied about, my BS radar goes on full alert. But hey! It’s free, and you know what I always say — “If it’s for free, it’s for me!” So I punched the link for this so-called “ultimate resource guide” and loaded it. All nine pages of it. And that page count includes the front cover. Another over-blown pamphlet that calls itself an “ultimate guide”?
Not this time. This ultimate guide really delivers. After you get past the attractive front cover, you’ll find that it’s a true resource guide, chock full of links to other sources — web sites, articles, videos, product reviews, books, online courses, etc. Be advised that not all of the resources that the Guide links to are free, but if you’re looking to learn about these topics and will need to buy some of these things, the Guide is a real time-saver. It covers the most common means of food preservation (canning, freezing, and dehydration) and some lesser-known practices like salt curing and using alcohol or oils to preserve foods and make your own extracts.
It’s no secret that we here at The Approaching Day Prepper aren’t experts in the topics that we discuss. We are perpetual newbies. That’s why I love it when someone like Melissa not only does all the heavy lifting for me, but then she freely gives away the fruits of her labor. There are a lot of links in her Guide that I want to dive into. Things like:
- Which pressure canner is best? The budget-priced Presto or the spendy All American?
- How to can meat
- How to make your own vegetable powders
- How to dehydrate cantaloupe (say what??? )
- How to cure and store onions and garlic (you can NEVER have enough onions and garlic in your preps)
- How to dehydrate ground beef safely (I presume that the operative word here is “safely”)
I’m pretty jazzed about this resource guide. So much so that I stopped what I was doing as soon as I found it and posted this blog. Click here to link over to Melissa’s site and grab a copy of it for yourself.
I think you can see by our track record here at TADPrepper that we don’t promote products just for the sake of the small commission we get from our advertisers. But when we find a deal that we are eager to take advantage of ourselves, we always want to let you know about it, too.
We have found just such a deal.
This weekend only, from Jan 17 – Jan 20, 2014, Auguson Farms is having an up to 40% off sale on their 6-gallon pails of long-term storage food. Not all of their six-gallon pails are at 40% off, but they are all deeply discounted for this weekend only. We jumped on it, buying some staples such as salt and sugar that we didn’t have a significant quantity of, and adding to our supply of other basic foods like rice and beans.
I don’t get suckered by ads. “40% off ” sounds like a good come-on, but 40% off of what? So I did some comparison shopping at other food storage companies to see how Auguson’s sale prices compared with other vendors that I’ve bought from in the past. Blew ’em away. No contest. But I’ve done enough online shopping to know that great prices are often diminished by horrible shipping fees. Not this time. I bought six 6-gallon pails of very heavy food and was charged only $15 for shipping. Auguson’s site lets you check your shipping cost for everything in your shopping cart before you actually authorize the purchase. I like that.
So I took this for what it was — an outstanding opportunity to store a lot of food for a very low price. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this short sale. With the escalating price of food, this might be the best deal you see for a very long time.
When most people start prepping, they go on a buying spree. I know we did. There were just so many things that we needed that we didn’t have. We started buying things that I thought we’d never had any use for before — things that weren’t on our radar before we became aware that the lifestyle that we enjoy right now might not always be available. We bought long-term storage food and stackable water storage containers. We bought hand crank powered appliances such as a radio, grain mill, and lights. We bought a couple of knives that we had no intention of using in the kitchen or dining room. And we still have a list of wants and needs that’s as long as my arm.
Acquiring all of these new tools and necessities is fun and exciting, but one of the keys to prepping is preserving the things that you already have to protect them and make them last longer. A great tool that I’ve found for helping to preserve stuff that I want to keep is a vacuum sealer.
I’m sure you’ve seen the infomercials on TV for these things. They show you how the vacuum power is so strong it can crush a beer can and they deliver the long awaited good news that now you can buy a big block of cheese on sale at the warehouse club store and vacuum seal it so it won’t go all green and fuzzy on you. All of this is true! It’s also a great prepping tool. Two of the worst enemies of preservation are air and moisture. A good vacuum sealer can help you with both of those problems, opening up a nice range of prepping applications.
- Most obvious is the fact that you can use it to keep your everyday food fresh for a longer period of time. Use vacuum sealed plastic bags to keep meat, cheese, or any kind of dry food fresh longer, especially if you freeze it. One of the biggest benefits pointed out in the vacuum sealer infomercials is that sealing your food means that you save a lot of money because you’re not throwing away food that has gone bad. Saving big money on food means more money to spend on preps.
- Many vacuum sealing systems have an optional accessory that lets you vacuum seal canning jars. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities, including vacuum packing wet foods. You can’t use the regular vacuum sealing plastic bags for wet foods, but now you can put them in a jar and vacuum seal them for longer freshness.
- Preppers are known for having a stockpile of the gallon-sized #10 cans of dehydrated or freeze dried food. In the past, you once you opened a big can you had to use it up quickly to keep the food from going bad. Now you can vacuum pack the leftovers in canning jars. The shelf life of food in a vacuum sealed jar is only five to ten years, far less than the 25 years for an unopened can, but hey! — you’ve already opened the can, so you’re going to use the contents sooner than that anyway. Keep it fresh for years by vacuum sealing it in canning jars.
- Freeze dried entrées are good, but they’re really expensive, and many of them are loaded with sodium or other ingredients that you might not want. You can save money by assembling your own entrées from individual freeze dried and dehydrated ingredients and vacuum sealing them in canning jars. When you assemble your own meals, you can customize the recipes to your personal taste and dietary requirements. There is a wonderful website run by a lady who calls herself Chef Tess that has many good recipes for putting up meals in vacuum sealed jars. Highly recommended.
- In case of an emergency, I want to be able to share what I’ve stored with others. I’d rather be able to give someone a couple of jars of entrées that I’ve vacuum canned than a bunch of dehydrated ingredients that they wouldn’t know how to use. These meals in jars are very simple to prepare. For most of them, you just add the contents of the jar to boiling water and simmer for 25 minutes or so. This is a great option for sharing your food with others.
- When times get tough, you can also use food as a bartering item. It’s so much better to be able to barter a meal in a jar than ingredients to make a meal – easier for you and whoever you’re swapping with.
- The bad news about canning jars is that they’re breakable and relatively heavy. No one is going to go backpacking with quart-sized glass jars of entrées. The good news for all you bug-in types is that canning jars are reusable. If you’re careful when you pry the lid open, both jar and lid can be reused over and over and over again. Take out half of what you’ve sealed in a jar and seal that bad boy once again.
Are you catching the vision for this? Let me widen it just a little. While not a prepping application, we also love meals in jars as our homemade quick dinner option. Having one of those days when the last thing you want to do is cook dinner? You know – one of those days when fast food or eating out is so tempting it’s about all you can do to steer your car toward home instead of the nearest establishment that will put food in front of you. Knowing you can go home, put some water on to boil, change into comfy clothes, grab a jar and throw the ingredients in the boiling water, relax for about half an hour in your comfy clothes and favorite chair and then enjoy a tasty dinner curbs that temptation.
Vacuum Packing Other Items
OK, like I’ve said, food preservation — both short-term and much longer-term — is the first and most obvious use for a vacuum sealer. What else can I vacuum seal?
- Vacuum seal important documents or books in plastic bags (again, not a prepping application, but we’ve vacuum sealed Sandy’s grandmother’s Bible that has all her personal notes in it – what a treasure!)
- Vacuum pack your medications and first aid supplies, either in bags or jars
- Personal sanitation supplies
- Tools or small parts
- Matches and fire starting supplies
There are much larger bags that you can buy (“Space Bags”) that allow you to vacuum pack clothing, blankets, pillows, etc. The vacuum sealing process squishes these items so that they take up a small fraction of their normal space and keeps them dry to boot. Once you open the bag, the air fluffs your stuff up again and it’s back to normal. These space bags are generally reusable, whereas the smaller food vacuum bags are generally not.
Vacuum sealers really suck – sometimes that’s a good thing. Put one to work in your prepping plan.
Our first taste test competition was a classic David and Goliath battle where we pitted industry giant Wise Foods against the relatively unknown eFoods Direct. No contest – eFoods ran away with it, surprising and delighting us with its restaurant-quality Tortilla Soup. I could go for a bowl of it right now.
Round #2: The Competitors
We wanted to do another head-to-head taste test using the same general format of an industry leader compared to a lesser known food provider. The industry leader we chose for this match-up is THE industry leader, Mountain House. Mountain House is the best known name in the food storage business and has a reputation for good taste and high quality. They also tend to be on the expensive side.
The “David” that we chose for this comparison testing was the winner of an 8-vendor cook-off that a select group of preparedness bloggers was invited to earlier this year. Yours truly was not one of the invitees, but I have an “in” with one who was there and I learned that the winner of the competition was a little outfit called Food Insurance. They also market their products under the brand name of Daily Bread. This promising young upstart seemed like the ideal candidate to take on the 800-pound gorilla known as Mountain House.
I bought a pouch of Mountain House Chicken and White Bean Chili from my favorite sporting goods store. I didn’t have the presence of mind to retain the receipt, but if memory serves me correctly (a dicey proposition at best) it was in the neighborhood of $7.95 for a 4.8-ounce, 2-1/2 serving package.
The Food Insurance entry was purchased as a “free” sample, where you pay only for the shipping and handling. $5.95 for shipping of a 2.5-ounce one-serving sample makes me feel like it wasn’t so free after all. They chose which entrée we got. I was less than delighted to see that it was Chicken Teriyaki with Rice, “a sweet combination of oriental flavors.” If I had my druthers, I would have picked something else.
I’m going to cut to the chase and let you know who won. You can read more about why each product scored the way they did after the results. And while we’re letting the cat out of the bag about the winner right here, there’s still a surprise to be found below.
The winner was the Food Insurance Chicken Teriyaki with Rice.
I opened the Mountain House Chicken Chili first. It was beautiful. A nice balance of white beans with chunks of freeze-dried chicken, and some red bell peppers. This is my kind of food. This was going to be hard to beat.
The Food Insurance Chicken Teriyaki looked about like expected. Lots of rice, a mixture of freeze-dried Chinese vegetables, and small pieces of chicken in a brown powder.
Preparation instructions for both products were exactly the same. Boiling water was added to each, stirred, and allowed to sit covered for eight or nine minutes. Both of the products gave the option of preparing the food right in the pouch that it came in by adding the boiling water directly to the pouch. Not only does that say a lot about the quality of the pouches, it’s also a potentially huge convenience factor. This means that you can travel light and don’t have to take a cooking pot with you when you’re backpacking, bugging out, or just on the run from the law. We didn’t take them up on their offer of cooking and eating out of the pouches for this taste test, but opted to prepare them in bowls.
Nutrition stats are important to me. I read labels and make choices based on it. One of my concerns about many of the freeze-dried long-term food storage entrée’s on the market today is that they are way too high in sodium. I was attracted to the Mountain House Chicken Chili because it had a bright label pasted on the pouch announcing that it had only 260mg of sodium per serving. That’s outstanding for a product of that type. By comparison, Food Insurance’s Chicken Teriyaki had 790mg of sodium per serving, more than three times what MH put in theirs. Mountain House was the clear winner here. (In a small, random sampling of other free-dried entrées, I found sodium content as high as a briny 1200mg per serving. Yuck!)
A key stat for emergency food is calories per serving. Unlike in normal times, you want to consume high-calorie food in an emergency because you’re not likely to be eating as much or as often and you’re likely to be burning more calories through increased activity. Food Insurance came in with 280 calories per serving, while Mountain House was at a tummy-trimming 150 calories. Food Insurance did almost twice as well as Mountain House in this category.
Both entrées had 13 grams of protein, but there was a big difference in carbs — 19 grams for the Mountain House Chili versus 51 grams for the Food Insurance Teriyaki, boosted by brown sugar as the third ingredient. Mountain House also prevailed as the fiber leader with 7 grams per serving versus Food Insurance’s paltry 2 grams.
For me at least, it’s hard to pick a winner in the nutritional value category. I like all of Mountain House’s stats with the exception of its low calorie count. The solution is to doctor it up with a healthy, high-calorie addition, such as a small splash of olive oil.
This brings up a teaching point about long-term food storage. You can’t think of pre-packaged foods like the two in this taste test as being a total solution to your food storage needs. They are a component, but you also need to store staples and ingredients that can be added to an entrée to better meet your needs.
In our first taste test, we found that the eFoods Tortilla Soup mix had so much robust flavor that we could add a small amount of it as a topping to a serving of white rice and extend it far beyond the number of servings of just the soup by itself. Most of the nutritional stats on this Mountain House Chicken Chili are great, but it needs more calories. Having a well-stocked prepper pantry can address almost any deficiency in a convenience entrée.
This is a “taste” test, after all, so how did the two products actually taste? We’ve already announced that the Food Insurance Chicken Teriyaki was the winner. How did it accomplish that?
The Mountain House entrée disappointed both of us. Chicken Chili is my kind of food, but this wasn’t a very good example of it. It was beautiful to look at straight out of the pouch and after it had been rehydrated, but both of us were negatively surprised by a potent tangy-ness that the dish just didn’t need. The list of ingredients includes tomatillos, citric acid, tartaric acid, and lemon juice powder, all of which could boost its sourness. Whatever the culprit, it was just too much. Leave out the tangy overload, find a different seasoning to punch up the flavor, and this would be a home run. I gave it 3-1/2 stars for the overall quality of the product, but had to ding it for the tang.
While Sandy was in total agreement with my assessment of the tangy-ness factor, finding it equally as unappealing as I did, she was much more put off by the level of hot spiciness of the Chili. This was a non-factor for me. I didn’t considered it to be spicy at all, but Sandy is extremely sensitive to hot pepper and its kin. Using this Chili as a stretcher for something bland like white rice would have improved it for her, but we evaluate the products as they come out of the package, prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As such, Sandy scored the Mountain House Chicken Chili at 1-1/2 stars and said that she would never eat it again.
Then we moved on to the Food Insurance Chicken Teriyaki. To be quite honest, it didn’t look all that good when it was rehydrated. The teriyaki sauce gave the dish the consistency of a bowl of oatmeal. It was already something that didn’t intrinsically appeal to me, but now I was even less looking forward to actually eating it.
But it was good. Yes, it really had the texture and mouth-feel of a bowl of oatmeal, but it was good. How did they do that? The sweetness that I was dreading was well balanced, not overpowering. The oriental vegetables tasted fresh and didn’t get lost in the crowd of flavors. It wasn’t like getting Teriyaki Chicken at a good oriental restaurant, but for something that was a chunky freeze-dried powder eight minutes ago, it was darned good. We both gave it 3-1/2 stars. While it was very decent for a freeze-dried Chicken Teriyaki, it still had that baggage of being not the kind of food that we would normally choose for ourselves, so we gave it a just slightly better-than-average rating. But given our prejudices against this type of dish, that was a triumph.
Just like the group of preparedness bloggers had determined in their taste test of eight different food storage companies’ products, we proclaimed Food Insurance to be the winner over industry giant Mountain House. At least in this random pairing of entrées. But like they say in football, “On any given Sunday..”
There are a few “bottom line” lessons to be taken from this:
- It’s not easy to find the perfect survival food. Mountain House did better on some measures while Food Insurance was the clear winner on others.
- What’s good for the goose isn’t always what’s good for the gander. Mountain House’s spiciness wasn’t a factor for me at all, but it was a total deal-breaker for Sandy. You have to store foods for every palate in your family.
- Try a small quantity before you buy in bulk. On the face of things, I would have tanked up on the Mountain House Chili. Low sodium, low fat, low carb, decent fiber, all baked into a Chicken Chili. Sign me up! But it had something in it that neither of us liked.
- Even something that doesn’t have a lot of immediate appeal for you could be a surprise winner. Mountain House got downgraded for a negative surprise. Food Insurance got upgraded for a positive surprise. Keep an open mind. Try anything once. Maybe twice.
The Bonus Surprise
I said above when I announced the winner that there would be a surprise below. You’ve persevered and found it.
It should be clear by now that I read labels carefully. That’s where I got the info on the nutrition stats and ingredients. The surprise came when I read on the label that Food Insurance, which also goes under the brand name of Daily Bread, is actually manufactured by a company called Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc.
The same Oregon Freeze Dry that makes Mountain House.
In the words of the late, great Paul Harvey, “And now you know the rest of the story. Good day!”
For the month of September, Mountain House has done something it’s never done before. Apparently, they have a contractual agreement with their vendors where Mountain House controls the minimum price its products can be sold for. For this month only, Mountain House has lifted that restriction and is letting their vendors set their own prices. As a result we’re seeing Mountain House foods selling at the lowest prices ever and competition between vendors is fierce. I don’t know if Mountain House will ever do this again, but I’m not going to let it get past me without taking advantage of it. (We’re ordering a couple of cases of free-dried meats to use in “meals-in-a-jar” recipes. More on that later.)
Below is a short list of reputable Mountain House dealers. All of them are running specials on Mountain House products. I’ve listed a number of them so that you can comparison shop. I don’t know of any one vendor for whom all their Mountain House products are cheaper than all other vendors. They might all advertise “40% off!”, but off of what starting price? Sorry, but you’ll have to do a little homework on this one, but whichever vendor you go with, you’ll save a bundle if you jump on this deal before the end of the month.
Emergency Essentials: Mountain House SUPER SALE! 40-50% off all cans!
The Ready Store: Shop Mountain House Freeze Dried Foods
Freeze Dry Guy: 40% off all cans or cases of Mountain House
EDIT: This bundle is no longer available. It was a great deal, but the consortium of prepper authors who put this together were true to their word about this being a very limited time offer. They’re talking about some other products in the future. We’ll let you know of any worthwhile specials that we find.
We don’t do a lot of selling on this site. That’s not what we’re about. The purpose of this site is this:
- To inform people of the potential dangers we all face in these unstable days we live in
- To motivate people to take steps to prepare themselves for an emergency
- To educate people about what they can do to make those preparations
But sometimes the best way to accomplish one or more of those goals is to recommend a product. This is one of those times.
A group of preparedness authors have banded together to offer a package deal of their books and instructional materials at a discount so deep it’s too good to pass up. It’s only $29, but that price is only good until this coming Monday (September 23, 2013). I don’t know what the price will jump to then, but it is an absolute steal at this introductory price of $29. They say the retail value of the package is $700. I haven’t done the math, but a cursory glance at the wealth of materials will confirm that they’re darned close. I bought one for myself right away. It was a no-brainer. I got enough stuff in this bundle to keep me learning and prepping through the cold winter months to come.
The Ultimate Survival Bundle is a collection of downloadable books, videos, and audio presentations that covers most of the critical areas of emergency preparedness or survival. Included in the package are a couple of books that give a comprehensive treatment of preparedness and it is well worth the bundle price of $29 just to get those two books. They are Making the Best of Basics (edition 12.5) by James “Doctor Prepper” Stevens, which sells on Amazon for $28.99 (one cent less than this entire bundle); and The Untrained Housewife’s Guide to Getting Prepared (also sold on Amazon).
Topics covered by resources in the Ultimate Survival Bundle include food storage, gardening, alternative energy, security, homesteading, medical preparedness, raising animals, and ethical issues. A total of 46 resources from 36 different authors. Some are very broad while others are highly specialized. Here are some examples:
- A 150-page book on dehydrating food, written by the author of a book on the same topic for the “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series that you’ve seen in bookstores
- A 101-page guide to herbal medicines, which sells for $29.67 on Amazon (I’ve looked up all of these Amazon prices myself to get a sense of the value of this package)
- A 266-page book about wind power from a consumer’s point of view
- A 106-page book on “apartment gardening” – growing your own food in limited spaces
- A book on solar energy that sells for $19 on Amazon
- A 40-page booklet on how to build a fire
- A 228-page book on raising goats
- A 62-page book on building and living in a yurt (after browsing this bad boy I am really wanting to get me a yurt!)
Click on this link to go to a page that gives details about all of the many products included in this package.
Besides books, there are also a few videos that you can download. Two of them are instructions on how to build a greenhouse, companion videos to a book on that topic that is also a part of the package. These video files are very large and will take a while to download. One is two hours long (2 gigabyte file size) and the second in a little over an hour long (1 gigabyte). Another video is a half-hour presentation on hand-to-hand self-defense techniques.
I could go on, but I’m going to try to contain my enthusiasm. The bottom line is that if there’s not something in the Ultimate Survival Bundle that gets your juices flowing, you’re not a prepper. At $29, this is one of the biggest bangs for the buck that I’ve encountered in a very long time. I can blow that much on pizza in a week. This is a deal that will give me something to chew on for much longer than that. When you’re ready to order, click here. Get it while you can get it cheap.
It’s always a good idea to try before you buy. That’s especially true when it comes to long-term storage (LTS) food. Whether you buy the less expensive dehydrated food or the premium freeze-dried, LTS food isn’t cheap, and those who buy it tend to buy it in bulk.
You buy it to eat when you don’t have anything else to eat, but that doesn’t mean that it’s OK for it to taste bad.
Some people have the mindset that if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat anything. Remember the line from the movie Crocodile Dundee: “Tastes like crap, but you can live on it.” That isn’t necessarily true. There is such a thing as “food fatigue.” Some people get so tired of eating something over and over again that they stop eating altogether. In a survival situation, that’s not a good thing. Your body is already stressed. You don’t need to add starvation to your list of problems.
Sample Packs are Your Friend
Fortunately, with many brands of LTS food you can buy sample packs or pouches to try a small quantity before you invest a big chunk of change. We recently took advantage of two such offers. One was from Wise Foods, one of the giants in the LTS food industry. Wise Foods is the most heavily advertised of any LTS brand that I’m aware of. Their commercials run over and over again on Doomsday Preppers. Their website has an offer for a free 4-serving sample of one of their entrées. They pick which one you get. Over the past couple of years, I’ve requested and received two samples from them.
The other sample we tested was from eFoods Direct, a much smaller company that you probably have never heard of before. Neither had we until we started shopping for LTS food. eFoods Direct’s website offers a “free” six-meal sampler. I put free in quotes because they charge you $9.95 for shipping, but in their defense you get quite a lot for your ten bucks. They send you three 4-serving samples of entrées or dried soups, a food planning guide to help you determine how much food you need for the number of people and amount of time that you’re planning for, and a 30-minute audio CD (which is essentially a sales pitch).
We decided to compare these two brands head-to-head one evening. We didn’t have the same entrée from both companies, but we hoped that by trying both brands at the same time we would get a feel for the quality of each.
Let the Sampling Begin
The product we sampled from Wise Foods was their Creamy Pasta and Vegetable Rotini. Sounds good to me. I like pasta and I especially enjoy having some veggies with my pasta. We matched it up against eFoods Direct’s Tortilla Soup mix. So how did they compare?
Wise Foods, for all their advertising budget and celebrity endorsements, did not fare very well. Not at all. On the plus side, it was easy to prepare. Boil four cups of water, add the mix, stir it up, remove it from the heat, let it stand covered for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Easy peasy. The resulting dish had eye appeal, but that was all. Our first impression was that it really didn’t smell good at all. It just didn’t have a food product aroma to it. As for taste, it was salty (800 milligrams of sodium per one-cup serving), but otherwise bland and starchy. We gave their Creamy Pasta two stars out of a possible five. And that might have been generous.
On to eFoods Direct’s Tortilla Soup. As I said, this was one of three 4-serving samples they provided. The other two are Creamy Potato Soup and Cheesy Chicken Rice. The rice dish would have been a more direct comparison against Wise’s Creamy Pasta, but we wanted a little variety. I’m a tortilla soup fan, so it’s not like we were comparing something we liked against something we didn’t.
The Tortilla Soup instructions required bringing 4-1/2 cups of water to a boil, whisking in the mix, reducing the heat, and simmering it for 15-20 minutes. This preparation would take significantly more fuel in an emergency situation over the Wise Foods product, where you boiled the water but reconstituted the food with no heat at all. The energy advantage goes to Wise.
But this was a taste test, so how did eFoods come out in that category. Let’s just start by saying that this is not a pretty soup. It was a reddish-gray color, about like a bowl of mashed kidney beans would look. So Wise beats eFoods in eye appeal, at least between these two very dissimilar dishes. As for aroma, the Tortilla Soup smelled just like you would expect tortilla soup to smell. You could tell what it was with your eyes closed. It was ringing my olfactory dinner bell. But the pleasant aroma didn’t fully prepare us for the flavor of the food. As good as it smelled, it tasted even better. This was restaurant-quality tortilla soup. It was very well seasoned, but not overly salty (451mg of sodium per one-cup serving) or what you would call spicy.
One of the things that I liked best about this Tortilla Soup is that the flavor was well saturated. What I mean by that is that the next day I served some of the leftover soup over a bowl of rice and a relatively small amount of soup flavored the rice exquisitely. This is hugely important in an emergency food situation. Having something that flavors and stretches an inexpensive base like rice, pasta, or potatoes is an enormous plus. This takes the number of servings per pouch of the more expensive soup mix up and the cost per serving way down.
Both Sandy and I loved eFoods Direct’s Tortilla Soup mix. We both gave it five stars. A week or two later we took a stab at their Creamy Potato Soup. It was also very good, about on par with a good store-bought dried potato soup mix from a company like Bear Creek. It didn’t ring our bell quite the way the Tortilla Soup did, though, but it still scored a solid four stars out of five. Not too shabby. We would never turn our noses up the Potato Soup.
Wise Food Sample
eFoods Direct Sample
Creamy Pasta &
Tortilla Soup Mix
|Overall Rating||2 Stars||5 Stars|
|Ease of Preparation||4 Stars – Easy-peasy||4 Stars – Easy-peasy|
|Fuel Required for Preparation||4 Stars – Boil 4 Cups water||3 Stars – Boil 4.5 cups water, simmer 15-20 minutes|
|Eye Appeal||4 Stars – Yum! Let’s eat!||3 Stars – Reddish-gray|
|Aroma||0 Stars – Hold your nose!||5 Stars – Makes your mouth water!|
|Taste||0 Stars – Too salty, bland & starchy||5 Stars – May I have some more, please?|
|Bonus||5 Stars –Great over rice or to add flavor to other dishes|
In a Bit of a Quandary…
Like I mentioned near the start of this review, we received another sample from Wise Foods a couple of years ago. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I would guess a Pasta Alfredo. It was just plain awful. Those who know me know that I’m not a picky eater – actually, I tend to be an adventurous eater. I’ve eaten from sidewalk food carts in Tiajuana, Mexico and lived to tell the story. That first sample we got from Wise was so bad that neither of us could eat it. Worse still, I gave it to our dog and even she wouldn’t eat it. There was nothing about it that told your body that it was a food product.
I have an acquaintance who writes an excellent prepper blog. I won’t name the person or identify their website in this context because of what I’m about to say here. This blogger recently did a head-to-head comparison of LTS food from eight companies, all at the same time, using as close to identical entrées as possible. I would have loved to know who all eight companies were and how they ranked, but I didn’t want to press my luck with this person whom I know only slightly, so I just inquired about the winner and the loser. The winner was another small company that I haven’t tried yet — Food Insurance. The clear loser was (…wait for it…) Wise Foods.
These results have placed your humble correspondents in a bit of a quandary. We run ads on this website with two goals in mind. First, we want to make it easy for our readers to find products that will help them get themselves and their families well equipped to face whatever emergency situation might come their way. I do a lot of reading and shopping so you don’t have to. We haven’t purchased from every vendor whose ads we run on this site, but we screen them all as carefully as we can for quality and value. We never want to give any of our readers a bum steer. That’s a great way to make someone a former reader.
Our second goal with the ads is to make money. Both the missus and I spend many hours every week working on this website to make it a worthwhile resource for beginning preppers. We don’t get paid for it. The purpose for this website is to sound an alarm about the delicate condition of the world we live in. We are in danger from the threats of warfare, terrorism, the economy, and ecology. We are under a relentless cyber attack by our enemies and we could get sucker punched by a solar flare or a stray asteroid. How many times have you heard the phrase “the storm of the century” in the past few years? We really want you to be as well prepared as possible if any of these potential calamities becomes a reality in your neighborhood. But we can’t afford to do it for free, so we run ads on our website that pay us a small commission on each purchase that you make when you click through to the vendor’s site from ours.
The Verdict Is In
We’ve been running ads for Wise Foods on our site. They are a leading company in their field. They are one of the two best known players (along with Mountain House Foods) in their industry. A lot of people are buying Wise Foods for their LTS needs. So should we continue to run their ads because some people seem to like their product, even when we and the other blogger I mentioned can’t recommend them?
I can’t do it. Even if I don’t personally endorse Wise’s products, running their ads still promotes them. I have nothing against the folks at Wise. They have been nothing but nice and helpful to me. But when it comes to a sizeable investment in LTS food, you can (and should!) do better than that. You can buy Wise through almost any other prepper site, but as of today you won’t be able to buy it through ours. I endorse eFoods Direct based upon my limited (but crazy tasty!) experience with them. FYI, I’ve also been very happy with the foods I’ve bought from Emergency Essentials and The Ready Store. Both of those are good, one-stop superstores for all things preparedness. But as of today, Wise Foods is gone from this site.
In the words of one of my favorite foodies, I bid you good eating.