Today we’ll be talking about something far more pleasant than usual, but no less important.
Much like the water post last week, I want to dive deeper into a basic prep that will, luckily, require much less overhead than water storage. When we first discussed food, it was a matter of budget and ease—beans of your preference, and rice to pad that out. Now we’ll go deeper. Today we’ll discuss:
- The basics
- A balanced shelf-diet
- The bugout menu
Don’t be so preoccupied in the canned food aisle that you forget to roam elsewhere. Make sure you have salt, pepper, curry powder, onion powder, cinnamon—whatever you use a lot of at home: get more. Spices are gold, and will help you keep these repetitive meals palatable. Buy up jars of minced garlic. Don’t get caught during the third week of Mega Quarantine without your Tony Chachere’s. Make sure, if you’re a baker, that you have flour, baking powder, etc. Even I make a really simple vegan frybread for one of my favorite meals at home (1-pot golden curry lentil soup). It got my fiancée and I through the early months of the pandemic. Something to keep a couple bears-full of is honey, which is the ultimate shelf-stable food and plenty versatile—in a pinch, you can use it on minor wounds in addition to, obviously, cooking.
A Balanced Diet
If it hasn’t already occurred to you, your Leftist Prepper Pantry should reflect a rounded diet of the three apocalypse food groups: canned, freeze-dried, and buckets. (I’m obviously kidding. If you’ve ever visited a survival website, or seen late-night Fox News, you’ll see a lot of MRE-type, bucket-of-powdered-eggs prepper food that is…kind of intense.) In reality, there’s no reason for you to stop buying what you normally buy, with an eye toward a maximized shelf-life.
My fiancée and I are vegan at home (I can’t be kept from grilled cheese or deer in the wild), so protein is always sourced from plants for us, and that’s why beans are important in our pantry preps—but you don’t want to forget about vegetables. My pantry has one shelf stocked full of canned beans, and a second stocked with canned vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, and potatoes. Go ahead and stock up on soups, Chef Boyardee, or what have you, too. There’s no reason for you to stop eating what you want, what’s easy, and what’s good. So long as you keep them stored in a rodent-proof container, pasta is an easy food to keep back and store. Add your prepped stock to what’s already sitting in your kitchen cupboards and you should have a few weeks of good eating. Remember that variety is important, so I highly recommend that you diversify by whatever means you can. Meat eaters—I know it sounds gross, but buy canned chicken, ham, spam, even if sparingly, just to break up the monotony. Vegans, vegetarians, I cannot stress this enough: go to your Asian grocery. You will find cans of imitation meat that are far cheaper (and probably tastier) than any other shelf-stable meat substitute (and you’ll also find a lot of bulk deals on rice and beans, soy sauce, etc.). My fiancée and I now pig out regularly on canned seitan and fake duck.
The Bugout Menu
When bugging out, you do not have room for an elaborate meal. You're going to want your bag light, and you can't do that if it's full of normal food. My recommendation for you is to buy a 3-day supply of emergency rations. These will taste like if La Croix made drywall, but they are full of calories and vitamins, and they take up very little space. The rations linked above are decent, but be careful if you stray away, or click on a "recommended for you" link. Amazon frequently hawks survival rations that turn out to be little more than vitamin gummies. We can talk about more food-on-the-go options at a later date, and we will. For now, make sure that you get enough rations for yourself and your family, and stow those rations with your bugout bags—whether that’s still just a plastic bag, or you’re working on a permanent setup.
Things certainly seem dire right now, and I’m not going to downplay the problems we may face in the coming days. But prepping does not mean that everything has to be viewed through a do-or-die lens. Your refrigerator does not need to be full of vials of antibiotics and IV bags of your own blood, with your food kept in a deep freeze (I don't think people do this—I'm exaggerating). As the pandemic has surely already taught you, food can be a great morale booster. Cooking and acing a new dish can be a source of pride. Do not deny yourself this just because you saw Carl try to eat dog food once on The Walking Dead. So long as you're prepping for the long haul, you can eat well along the way. Make use of civilization, of the supply chain, while it’s stable. Until the power goes out, eat ice cream. Get some chocolate. Buy coffee. Do not assume that because fire and blood rain from the sky you will not crave comfort food, or that it will be gauche or overindulgent to eat said food. Beyond the immediate morale boost it can provide you and your family or friends, a lot of food makes for good bartering—chocolate and coffee will quickly become rare items, and sought after, if we have to live through a long disruption. So don't think that out of some preordained austerity you have to live off only rice and beans. Eat up, drink up. There's more work to be done.
The next few days might wind up being scary. Along with this letter, I've opened up a thread for comments and questions. Reach out to me there if you have a lingering worry, a question about prepping in general or specific, or just want to talk to some like-minded people. I’ll be paying attention to it, and I’m here to help.