I try to “eat like a prepper” at least once a week. This not only helps us use up and rotate our stored food, it allows us to test our stored food to make sure it is still good. For example, last week I ate a lentil stew MRE entrée that was made in 2014. Yep, it was fine.
For breakfast today, I made eggs over easy and served them over a can of corned beef hash. We usually buy and eat the Mary’s Kitchen brand of has from Hormel, but today I opened a can of Great Value hash I had bought from Walmart. We’d never eaten their brand of has before and I wanted to try it.
I had high hopes for the Great value hash because it has the same ingredients as the Mary’s Kitchen brand, and they are in the same order on the label. More importantly, the nutritional information is identical, from calories to grams of protein to the percent of vitamin RDA. This made me suspect that Walmart’s brand of hash is made by Hormel.
Neither my wife, who I did not alert to the substitution, nor I could tell it was any different from the hash we normally eat. We guessed it was the same product, made on the same production line and place in the same cans, but with a different label. The only difference? It was more than 50 cents less than the branded product. We saved about 20 percent by buying the Great Value brand. That means either more money in our pocket or more food on our shelf.
We have 28 can of corned beef hash in our prepper pantry. That sounds like a lot, but if you eat one per week, it will last just have a year. And if we have guests, which we hope to in a serious survival situation, it will go even faster.
A Simple Dinner
My wife had made rice the other day when we had a pork loin for dinner. She knows I like rice, so she always makes enough for several meals. Today for dinner, we heated a can of Steakhouse Reserve chili and split it. I ate mine over a bed of rice. She had hers plain and made us a salad of mixed greens.
We buy this chili at Costco or Sam’s Club and have at least 18 in the house. We have another dozen cans of chili from other brands, including chicken chili and beanless chili. Any of these are good served over a bed of rice or mixed with macaroni elbows or another small pasta. You could also mix in ramen.
By adding pasta, rice, or potatoes to your canned food, you can extend the meal inexpensively using products that should be in your prepper pantry. The chili adds spiciness to the meal and means you don’t need any sauce. If you are extra hungry as I was, just mix in more of the starchy product.
Meals of this type are great during a short-term emergency. They can be cooked quickly in one pan over an open fire, on our wood stove, on a Coleman or other camp stove, or using the burner we have on our propane grill.
A Late Night Snack
Late last night, I pulled a dozen Ritz crackers out of their sleeve and placed a dab of peanut butter between them. That was my late-night snack, which also counts as my third meal.
In a real SHTF situation, I expect our peanut butter will outlast the crackers, only because we have 15 pounds of peanut butter on hand. We’ll be able to bake bread, so we can have peanut butter sandwiches.
We purchased the jar of peanut butter we are working on back in the summer of 2020, when peanut butter was hard to find, but the crackers are a more recent purchase.
On my “What to buy if we expect a TEOTWAWKI situation in the immediate future” list, it says, “Lots of crackers, all different brands.” What can I say, I’m a guy who can consume a lot of crackers.
Crackers were among the things we ran low of during the initial COVID-19 crisis, along with chocolate and junk food. We are storing more, but because stale crackers suck, we can only store so many at a time.
Practice Makes Perfect
Besides consuming our store products, which forces us to rotate them, eating like a prepper gives us a chance to practice meals and recipes you might not normally eat. Here are some examples:
Make (or heat up a can) of stew and drop dumplings in it to cook in the hot stew. Yes, this is easy to do if you have Bisquick, but practice it with a recipe from scratch so you will be confident you can do it. Like the recipes above, a hot dumpling plucked from the stew pot is a great way to extend a meal.
Practice cooking your dried beans, especially if they have been in storage a long time. We found out that the older the dried beans are, the longer you have to soak them, or you may need to cook them in a pressure cooker. If you are used to cooking with canned beans, learn to substitute dried beans in your recipes now, when you can afford to screw it up.
Test your prepper recipes. For example, I complained that my wife’s split pea soup was too thin. She developed a thicker recipe that is more like pease porridge, or what some might call pease pudding, which we both quite enjoy. Pease pudding and a piece of hot buttered bread make a filling meal and provides a full set of amino acids. I have a few one-pound canned hams on hand, and I expect a portion of each will go into flavoring a big batch of pease porridge in an end-of-the-world scenario.
If you buy your bread at the store or use a bread machine, practice baking a loaf in a traditional oven and then in a Dutch oven. Also practice making flat breads, such as bannock, naan, pol roti, tortillas and other breads that can be made on a frying pan rather than in an oven. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there if you need instructions.
I recommend you give “Eat Like a Prepper Day” a try in your home. It will make you a better prepper and prepare you and your family for eating at the end of the world as we know it.