Being well-nourished during a disaster can mean the difference between powering through the event with strength, stamina and energy or plodding through the situation barely able to put one foot in front of the other.
One often overlooked component of the prepper’s pantry is protein. This vital nutrient:
- Helps with the repair and building of muscle tissue
- Helps the body heal from injuries
- Provides long-lasting stamina
- Helps boost the immune system
Protein is stored throughout the body. It can be found in muscles, bones, hemoglobin, myoglobin, hormones, antibodies, and enzymes. In fact, protein makes up nearly 45% of the human body. Without a steady supply, body functions will cease to operate effectively.
Protein is often thought of as one of the more challenging items to stockpile for an extended period of time. Most people think of a freezer full of juicy steaks and roasts when they contemplate protein. They feel that the next resort is tins of highly processed meat pieces. The good news is, there are many ways to add muscle-building nutrients to your long term food storage without resorting to a sodium laden closet full of Spam.
To see a breakdown of protein amounts in food sources, click here.
Although pantry basics such as dry non-fat milk powder and powdered cheeses offer protein for the diet, there are other food sources to consider. Here are the top 5 healthy (and tasty) protein sources to add to your stockpile:
Beans are more than just a vegetarian staple. While beans can stand on their own as a delicious protein source, adding beans to a dish that contains meat can stretch your budget by providing lots of protein while using less meat.
Due to their high fiber content, beans prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making this food source an excellent choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. Having a high fiber food source also helps to slow the rate of absorption of carbohydrate thus making it a more energy efficient food source.
Dried beans provide the most bang for your food storage buck. They are one of the most low cost food sources on the market. The canned variety will prove to be more fuel efficient. Canned beans can often be purchased on sale. Plain canned beans and beans in barbecue sauce can provide instant nutrition in the event of a power outage. If you don’t want to eat beans that have been processed, it’s easy to can your own. Click here for directions on preserving homemade pork and beans.
Store dried beans in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, then placed the sealed bags inside large plastic food grade buckets for added protection. Click here for details.
The Chia seed is a tiny little powerhouse that can add a lot of benefits to your long-term food storage while only taking up a small amount of space. The word “Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength. In ancient cultures, they are considered the food of the warrior because of their nutrient density and ability to sustain running messengers for long durations without other food.
Chia seeds have double the amount of protein found in other seeds, as well as many other nutritional benefits.
- 2x the protein of other seeds
- 5x the calcium of milk
- 2x the potassium of bananas
- 3x the antioxidants of blueberries
- 3x the iron of spinach
Chia seeds can be sprinkled dry on top of other foods, they can be sprouted or they can be soaked to create a tasteless gel to stir into soups or sauces.
Chia seeds can be stored for 2-4 years in a cool, dry place. They can be stored in large glass jars or Mylar bags.
Click here to learn more about the nutritional value and uses of Chia seeds.
TVP stands for texturized vegetable protein. This is the soy flour that remains once the soybean oil has been extracted. The flour is then processed and dried.
TVP is 50% protein and it has a very long shelf life, making it a perfect addition to your long-term food storage.
TVP can be purchased in two forms: chunks that are equivalent in size to stewing beef, or in crumbles that are equivalent to ground beef. TVP is best (and less detectable for picky eaters) when mixed with real meat, to stretch the meat instead of replacing it.
Don’t try to reconstitute with water alone. This gives you a bland tasteless bowl of mush. To reconstitute TVP you simply add a boiling liquid. You should make the ratio just slightly under 1:1, with the liquid being the smaller amount. Try rehydrating your TVP with broth, tomato juice or water with onion soup mix or herbs. After adding the liquid, place a lid on the dish and allow the granules or chunks to soak it up and reconstitute. The TVP will approximately double in size. Once it has been reconstituted, stir it into the ground beef you are mixing it with.
Store TVP in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.
You can have your meat and eat it too if you consider adding canned meat, freeze dried and dehydrated meats to your food storage. These products don’t require refrigeration or special storage and can go on the shelf of your pantry with your other goods. You can invest in meat proteins for your emergency food supply through making or buying canned meats, dehydrating meats and purchasing freeze-dried meats.
Canning – Canning meats is a low cost way of adding to your food supply. Another aspect of using this method is since you are the one canning the food, you know exactly what is going into the food source and how fresh it is. Another route is to simply purchase your canned meats. A variety of canned meats are available at grocery stores and have long shelf lives.
Dehydrated Meat – Dehydrated meats can be jerkies or meats that will require rehydration before serving. You can learn to dehydrate your own ground beef here. You can also purchase packaged jerkies which have the benefit of being light, traveling well, and providing instant gratification.
Dehydrated foods are among the easiest to store. All you need is to find an air tight container to hold the dehydrated food. Many preppers use what they have on hand – glass canning jars, Tupperware or even cleaned soda bottles are among some of the popular storage choices. You want to ensure that your food is 95% or more dehydrated because the more moisture your food has the more likely molds and microorganisms can grow. Like all emergency food sources, ensure that you keep your dehydrated food away from natural elements.
Freeze Dried – Investing in freeze-dried meats will allow you to make all of your normal recipes with only some slight adaptations. The comfort of a familiar favorite meal can go a long way towards bringing some normalcy to a difficult situation.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are tasty, high in protein and healthy fats, and require no preparation, making them an excellent addition to your food storage pantry.
The only downside to nuts and seeds is the relatively short shelf life. Because of the high oil content in nuts and seeds their shelf life is usually affected. Nuts and seeds typically last about 12 months. Therefore, planting your own or learning to forage in a natural environment can help you get some additional fats in your survival diet.
Peanut butter can also be stored for approximately one year. It is a great source of instant nutrition when spread on some crackers, bread or a piece of fruit, making it the easiest thing to grab if the power goes out. It’s generally a kid pleaser, too.
Click here, to calculate how much of these foods you need for your pantry.
Load up your pantry with protein, and be sure to store your acquisitionsproperly. Look for these items the next time you go to the store.
- Dried beans such as navy, pinto, black, or kidney
- Canned beans
- Bean soup mixes
- Dried black-eyed peas, split peas, and lentils
- Chia Seeds
- Texturized Vegetable Protein
- Freeze dried meat such as chicken breast, turkey breast, ham, ground beef, beef strips, and sausage crumbles
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Squash seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Peanut butter
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Contributed by Tess Pennington of readynutrition.com.