Why is One of the Best Prepper Meals Ignored?

A family enjoying porridge for breakfast.
A family enjoying porridge for breakfast. (AI generated image with some weird artifacts.)

In the four weeks since I posted about the dangers of starvation during a grid down scenario, I’ve covered how to build your prepper pantry in three easy steps and how to get the most out of your canned meat. Today, I am going to discuss what I believe to be the most ignored option for a survival meal: porridge.

If we bother to think of porridge at all, most of us equate it with oatmeal. That’s accurate, but it is also a limited view of porridge.

Porridge is any grain or mix of grains prepared by boiling it in water or milk. This makes it a simple prepper meal. Oatmeal may be the example we are familiar with, but you can make porridge from rice, quinoa, wheat berries, cracked wheat, buckwheat, corn and other grains. Cream of wheat, grits, and congee are all examples of porridge.

Humans have been eating porridge for more than 10,000 years. Sometimes called gruel or mush, porridge was a common breakfast for centuries, and during difficult times it was served for dinner, too. In the past, the peasants or serfs would glean fallen grain from the field and take it home to eat as porridge. We may need to revisit that when the grocery store shelves grow empty and your canned foods run low.

Porridges can be plain, but are tastier if you add edible fruits or nuts from storage or that you have gathered in the wild. Honey is our first choice as an amendment because we harvest gallons of it every year. Apples are another good option, as is apple sauce once the fresh apples are gone for the season. We have also picked blackberries and blueberries on our mountain to use fresh in oatmeal or frozen for use later.

Buying Oatmeal for Storage

I buy a box of single-serving packets of instant oatmeal for use in bugout bags and car survival kits. These are often flavored and include sugar for an added kick. Just add boiling water, stir, wait a couple minutes, and you have breakfast.

For day-to-day use, we buy the ten-pound box of “old fashioned” Quaker Oats at Sam’s Club for $11.24. The box provides 113 servings, which works out to ten cents per serving. Even if you doubled up and ate twice as much, you’re still talking 20 just cents for breakfast.

You can also find 25 or 50-pound bags of oatmeal and put it up for long-term storage, or buy it pre-packaged in five gallon pails. It’s a good addition to any long-term food storage plan because it is inexpensive, filling, and will stick with you as you go about your morning.

Grits are Cheap and Filling

My wife’s porridge of choice is oatmeal, but having lived in the South, grits are my favorite. I think they taste great with just butter and salt, but I also like them with a fried egg or two on top. You will often see cheesy grits on restaurant menus at breakfast and shrimp and grits for lunch or dinner. It just goes to show you don’t have to limit your add-ins to fruits and nuts.

In a survival situation, I recommend cooking a large batch of grits for breakfast and then packing the leftovers into a bread pan. The next day, you can plop the congealed grits out of the pan, slice the loaf thin, and fry it up. It’s not unlike polenta.

Right now, you can buy 15 pounds of grits at Sam’s Club for $9.34. That’s 180 servings of grits, or just a nickel per serving. At $0.0004 per calorie, you would be hard pressed to find a better deal. So pick up 30 pounds of grits at Sam’s Club and pack them in a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber and seal them in a 5-gallon pail. That will give you 360 servings of grits that should last in storage for more than a decade.

Last week, we picked up five-gallon pails two for $8 at Tractor Supply. Of course, the lids were a couple of bucks more, but it was still a good deal. If you don’t like 5-gallon pails or don’t want to deal with Mylar bags, then pick up some half-gallon Bell canning jars at Walmart ($2.74 each when you buy six). Fill them with grits or oats, toss in an oxygen absorber, screw on the lid, and you’ve got grits for the end of the world. Just be careful not to break the jar.

Rice, a Staple for Survival

Some would say risotto is rice porridge, but I have Italian friends who would be offended by the idea. But go to AllRecipes.com and search for “rice porridge” and you will find chicken rice porridge, brown rice breakfast porridge, Scandinavian-style rice porridge, Chinese rice porridge (congee), and more.

As stated in our last post of food storage, rice should be a staple in your prepper deep storage. You can be forgiven for not having grits, but you darn well better have rice on hand if you consider yourself a prepper. And with rice starting at 50 cents per pound at Sam’s Club, there’s no excuse not to. So stock up.

Wheat’s not Just for Flour

Even as a newbie prepper before Y2K, I stored buckets of wheat berries. My main interest was in baking bread, but I also had the following recipe for making wheat porridge in a Stanley Thermos. I figured it would be good road food when bugging out. (I still have two thermoses and wheat in my prepper storeroom.)

  • In the evening, fill the thermos with boiling water to pre-heat it
  • Wait five minutes and pour the water out
  • Add 1/2 a cup of wheat berries and a pinch of salt
  • Fill thermos three-quarters of the way full with boiling water
  • Cap tightly and shake
  • Stir and eat the next day for breakfast or lunch
  • This can also be made in the morning at eaten at dinnertime

Of course, you can make hot wheat berry cereal without a thermos. Just simmer wheat in plenty of water for an hour. Cracked wheat will work, too. Barley can also be cooked in much the same way.

Although buckwheat is not wheat, you can also make buckwheat porridge, but you should soak the groats 24 hours beforehand and then rinse before cooking.

Note, if you are not used to eating whole grains, I suggest you work up to a full serving of wheat berries in steps to give your digestive system time to adjust.

It’s Better than Starving

Porridge may not be as exciting as your freeze-dried chicken ala king or even a can of Chunky soup, but it will keep you alive and healthy when the good stuff runs out. It fed generations, so don’t be bashful. Indulge in the rich, nutty taste of … boiled mush.

All kidding aside, Porridge will give you the nutrition you need to live while you raise your garden, hunt for that wild game you crave, or wait for the supply chain to start working again. And when people are starving, you will be thankful for your porridge.

Plus, on a dollar-per-pound or dollar-per-calories basis, it’s hard to find a better buy than grains, so stack ‘em deep, be sure to store some beans as well, and consider porridge your last-ditch emergency meal. The day may come when you are glad you did.