Pros and Cons of Long-Life Foods: From any point of view you face the preparation for an emergency, water and food must always be present and, for obvious reasons, the solution to this need are long-life foods .
Creating your emergency supplies requires careful planning in two aspects:
- Composition: the choice of the composition of the foods for your pantry is a fundamental step because it defines the availability of the products you can rely on.
- Budget: here the speech is much more linear: avoiding wasting money is as important as having stocks, unless your name is Jeff Bezos.
Each pantry should be well equipped to support the consumption of a family for more than 6 months and the key word to keep in mind when composing it is variety , because food not only fulfills physiological but also psychological needs .
Nowadays, there are a lot of long-life products on the market that lend themselves to building a food supply base. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages, but regardless of whether we want to buy them or self-produce them at home, we should know the distinguishing features before storing them in our pantry.
1. Freeze-dried food
In recent years, freeze-dried food has become very popular. You can buy it on Amazon or in some specialized online stores.
These foods are obtained by sublimating the water and have two truly incredible characteristics: food safety (by sublimating the water all pathogens are eliminated) and duration. In fact, the expiry date of these foods is out of the ordinary: on average it ranges from 5 to 10 years depending on the food , but the fact remains that it can be even higher.
Advantages of freeze-dried food
As already mentioned, freeze-dried products have a long shelf life and, in my opinion, are among the must-haves in your pantry. Foods can be reconstructed (or rather, rehydrated) easily and used as raw materials in the same way as fresh foods. In my opinion, freeze-dried foods are an ideal solution for storing animal and vegetable proteins for a long time, without having to rely on freezers, refrigerators or other preservation methods.
Although in appearance it may seem identical to dehydrated food, from the point of view of conservation of nutritional elements and properties, the difference is felt!
Disadvantages of freeze-dried food
For us preppers, this is perhaps the most expensive food storage option. In fact, these machines cost thousands of euros and it takes a little familiarity to use them effectively. Consequently, even buying them already packaged involves a considerable cost .
Another downside is that when you have to prepare freeze dried food, you will need water and as we all know this can become a problem during a SHTF event.
Finally, if the flavor and nutritional properties remain unchanged, the appearance can affect the psychological satisfaction of those who consume it. Better to use it as a transitional solution!
2. Dehydrated food
Food dehydration is an ancient method of food preservation, widely used by our ancestors. In every house there is an oven with which it is possible to dehydrate the vast majority of foods, otherwise there are small appliances, domestic dryers, thanks to which it is possible to dehydrate fruit, vegetables as well as meat and fish.
Benefits of dehydrated food
Dehydrated foods are much lighter than other foods as almost all of the water content is eliminated. It is perhaps the cheapest food storage alternative for your pantry as you can start a small home production without large investments or skills. In addition, operating costs are reduced as you can use a solar dehydrator or naturally dry the products as is still done today on the roofs of houses.
Disadvantages of dehydrated food
Just like in the case of freeze-dried foods, the consumption of dehydrated food requires water, and in some cases a lot. And water could become a luxury in an emergency, so you’ll need to find ways to cook food with as little water as possible.
As with freeze-dried foods, appearance is the sore point. Also, once reconstructed, most dehydrated foods will lose their original taste and the nutritional value will drop dramatically compared to fresh counterparts or freeze-dried foods.
3. Meals ready to eat
I have to be honest, this food literally drives me crazy: well rationed, packaged and well ordered. I’m talking about MREs, in particular the United States Army, which for some years has also been available for purchase by civilians on various online stores. Gone are the days when to find these MREs you had to turn to some surplus on eBay, hoping not to spend the days in the bathroom, anchored to the toilet.
An MRE contains almost everything for a full meal (including dessert) and is packed with nutrients needed to support your body during emergencies that require a lot of physical activity.
Advantages of MREs
The main advantage of an MRE is its composition: ready to use, high caloric intake, portability and durability. You literally need nothing to prepare your food and you won’t have to rely on your impromptu cooking skills. They are perfect to put in a Bug Out Bag or in the car because they are almost indestructible. You can eat them straight from the bag and they are a good meal “on the go”.
Disadvantages of MREs
Sore point, the taste. You have to get used to it. Even if it provides everything a meal should contain, the doubt that you are eating anything other than what is written on the package may arise.
As for the homegrown K rations this problem is less evident, but in any case they are super-processed foods and therefore you have to come to terms with your palate (and your gut). Furthermore, for this very reason, long-term consumption of MRE is not recommended, limiting its use to short periods of time .
Finally, considering this food as “technical food” the cost is not absolutely negligible, quite the contrary.
4. Canned food
The food considered long-life par excellence, whether we are preppers or not. Most people start with this type of food when they approach the theme of stocks: with a few euros of monthly budget we can accumulate legumes, purées, soups, vegetables, fish or meat with an average maturity of about 3 years . It is a good solution and an alternative to building homemade stocks without having to neglect the variety of foods.
Benefits of canned food
Canned food provides us with a good variety of flavors and nutrients . It is, after all, an economic solution, especially if we take advantage of the promotions to buy. (NOTE: however, pay attention to the expiry date. Often foods that are about to expire end up in promotion)
Canned food is safely canned so the risk of having to throw away our stocks due to contamination is very low.
No problem also with regard to availability : it is very easy to find almost anywhere.
Most canned foods have a shelf life of 3 years, others even have a longer shelf life. Thanks to this feature, we have plenty of time to rotate our stocks with new, more advanced maturity foods.
Do not forget also the waste materials of the cans as they can be used for other purposes. The metal can be reused and melted, if we are able, or simply bent to make tools. Without any particular transformation, it is useful as a vase or container.
The liquids of some foods can be used as an alternative to cooking water.
Disadvantages of canned food
Canned food is heavy and takes up space. It cannot be frozen and cans can cause problems when exposed to sudden changes in temperature.
On the other hand, exposing them to water and humidity can cause them to rust and corrode them, leading to contamination of the contents.
Try not to buy canned foods from the worst sub-brands and pay attention to the ingredients on the label. You can get help from websites to make a better choice for your health and not risk getting sick during an emergency.
5. Energy bars
Initially designed for athletes and explorers. now it is common to find them in any backpack. They are a quick alternative to a full meal and have quickly become many people’s favorite snack. Some buy them, others prefer to produce them independently
Advantages of energy bars
Generally speaking, energy bars are a slightly less expensive alternative to survival food such as Convar or emergency ration .
They are designed to ensure a correct calorie intake, for adults and children.
Based on the different physical activities or the association with other elements, we may need even more than one bar per meal.
Energy bars are ideal for bugging-out scenarios and some of the bars on the market have a really considerable shelf life!
You can store this type of food when you have to deal with little space available at home. Plus, some of them have pretty good tastes
Disadvantages of energy bars
Energy bars have low nutritional values and are not recommended for a daily diet, so try to buy them in combination with other foods and not rely on them alone.
Also try not to stock up on them if you’ve never tried them: you may not like the taste at all as well as the effect it has on your body.
You can consider them a “stopgap food” until you can find something for your long-term survival or something hot.
6. Food created in the laboratory ( lab food)
The food created in the laboratory has experienced an incredible surge in recent years thanks to some types now also widespread on a large scale and falling within the engineered or synthetic foods.
Companies like Soylent have been pioneers in this field. Initially developed for the Japanese market to reduce lunchtime and increase productivity, they soon spread around the world.
The idea behind these products is to eliminate the time wasted preparing and cooking food and replace all the nutrients an adult needs in the form of liquids (water or milk) and powders.
Disadvantages of lab food
Food created in the laboratory is a good alternative for those who can afford the prices: even if they have dropped considerably, they are still expensive compared to others. They are easy to store and do not require large space so they are great for an urban bugging-in.
In powder form alone, they have a rather long expiration date and are often vegan.
Disadvantages of lab food
The taste may not appeal to everyone, so try it first.
Often they are not gluten-free or allergen-free so it may not be a viable solution for some of us.
Preparing a pantry for survival is an activity that takes time and constant effort. In addition, it requires good planning if the budget we have available is tight.
Research, trial and purchase are key to being successful in this type of preparation.
Test, test and test again before you buy and stock up!
In the meantime, we hope this article may have helped you make a more informed choice. Good preparation!