The only thing preppers fear more than masses of unprepared people during an emergency, is being one of those people. That’s why our ultimate nightmare scenario would be not having any non-perishable food on hand during a serious disaster. However, there’s plenty of reasons why an otherwise prepared person might not be prepared when the SHTF.
You could be out-of-town or out of the country, visiting family members who aren’t preppers. Or perhaps you’re having financial problems. So maybe you’ve had to dip into your food supply, or if you prefer buying canned food over freeze-dried food, you haven’t been able to restock items that have spoiled. Or perhaps you’re new to prepping, and you haven’t gotten around to building up a food supply.
Whatever the case may be, you should ask yourself, what would you do if you were one of those people who race to the grocery store at the last-minute during a disaster? Before you answer that, you have to consider the very real possibility that by the time you reach the grocery store, the shelves will be at least partially stripped.
The first food items that will sell out mostly consist of things that are already cooked or prepared in some way, including canned foods, frozen dishes, and bread. Fresh meat and eggs would also disappear pretty fast, despite the fact that they need to be cooked.
Ideally, you want to avoid this scenario altogether by prepping beforehand. In The Prepper’s Cookbook, Tess Pennington highlights key strategies for building an emergency pantry. This takes planning, so if you haven’t already done so, start today. Ideally, you want to store shelf stable foods that your family normally consumes, as well as find foods that are multi-dynamic and serve many purposes. These are the 25 foods she suggests that preppers should have in their pantries.
Have a Back-Up Plan For the Grocery Store
If you end up having to rush to the grocery store during an emergency, you should be prepared to employ a different strategy for finding food. If, when you arrive at the store, there are already a lot of people grabbing the low hanging fruit like canned foods, bread, etc., don’t join them. You’re probably only going to find the scraps that they haven’t gotten to yet. Instead, move immediately towards the food items that won’t disappear as quickly, and can substitute the foods that everyone is going to fight over first.
To employ this strategy properly, you only need one thing. Something to cook with that doesn’t require the grid, such as a camp stove with a few fuel canisters. You’ll need something like that, because many of the food items that disappear later in the game, tend to need some preparation.
These Four Emergency Food Alternatives Can Keep You Alive
So with that said, what kinds of foods should you go after when you arrive at a grocery store later than everyone else?
Instead of bread, go straight for the flour. Don’t worry if you can’t find any yeast. You can always make hardtack, tortillas or naan. You might also find that the sacks of dried rice and beans won’t disappear until after the canned foods go. When combined, these two make a complete protein and are perfect for emergency food meals. Keep cooking times in mind with the beans and go for small beans like navy or lentils.
If you find that the produce section is stripped bare, go to the supplement aisle instead. There you’ll find all of the vitamins and minerals that are normally found in fresh produce. Look for food based or whole food vitamins. You’ll also find protein powders that can at least partially substitute fresh meat. As well, look for seeds to sprout. Sprouts provide the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes of any of food per unit of calorie. Enzymes are essential because they heal the body, cleanse the body, prevent diseases, enhance the overall functioning of bodily organs, aids in digestion, and removes gas from the stomach.
If fresh meat or canned meat is gone from the shelves, a substitute for is dog food. Though this may disgust most people, desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s really cheap and packed with protein. The only downside, of course, is that pet food usually doesn’t face the same health standards as human food. If it can be helped, go for the wet food instead of the kibble. Though you’ll probably be fine eating any dog food for a couple of weeks, dry dog food isn’t as safe as wet food. Plus, the cans of wet food will be much more hydrating.
And finally, instead of trying to find butter, which will be one of the first food items to disappear, try looking for alternatives.
Remember, you need fats in your diet. Healthy oils like coconut oil or avocado oil provide healthy nutrition and can be used for cooking, added to coffee, oats, beverages, and other foods. In addition, one of the most nutrient-dense foods that are often forgotten during emergency food planning is in the health aisle. Look for granola and nuts. Nuts are calorie dense and full of fiber to help you stay full longer. Due to the high protein count of this natural food, it can be an efficient meat replacement too. Look for non-salted nut varieties to keep you hydrated longer. It’s packed with calories and can go weeks without spoiling when it’s not refrigerated. Read more about the ideal bug out meal plan here. Alternatively, if all the healthy oils and nuts have been taken, look for some lard. It’s sometimes labeled “Manteca.” It will probably be overlooked, but has just as many calories as butter, and lasts a really long time.
Of course, many of these items aren’t the best tasting or the most healthy. They’re certainly not ideal. But then again, neither is being caught in a disaster without your food preps. If you arrive at the grocery store before everyone else, by all means, go after the good stuff. However, if you aren’t lucky enough to beat the crowds, now you know what kinds of foods you should grab first.
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