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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tips: Keep Emergency Rations Fresh with Pantry Challenges

If you live in Earthquake Country (or Hurricane Country) you know about stocking up on the basics in case of an emergency. For earthquakes, the San Francisco Chronicle recommends including the following food stuffs in a preparedness kit:
  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Canned juices, milk, and soups.
  • Sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • High energy foods, such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix; foods that will not increase thirst.
  • Comfort/stress foods, such as cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags.
They also caution to avoid foods like rice, pasta, and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that almost everything in your kit has an expiration date. So, once you've created your kit, how do you remember to replace the items every year so that they're not past their expiration when you need them? Easy, a Pantry Challenge.

My Pantry Challenges started in college as a way to stretch the food budget. When I moved to Austin (Tornado Country), the challenges helped to keep emergency stores fresh. Here are the basic rules:
  1. Your meal must be created from food already in your house. This is important; you can't run to the store for a missing ingredient.
  2. Your panty should have been stocked at least a month before. It's not a pantry challenge if you've just gone grocery shopping in the last week.
  3. Fresh ingredients can be used, but the majority of ingredients should be canned or freeze-dried.
  4. Be creative.
You can see why Chicken Chili Soup is a good choice for a Pantry Challenge. It uses a lot of canned food and doesn't require a great deal of water to prepare. Depending on how much chili pepper you add, it might fail the does not increase thirst criteria; but, that was why we had popovers - another Pantry Challenge entry.

Do you have an emergency preparedness kit? What are your tricks for keeping its contents fresh?

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