Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Emergency Meal Kit Challenge!

The first three days of any emergency crisis are always the most critical. It's not that problems can't or won't occur after the initial event, but psychologically, people are dealing with the trauma of the moment and it can be difficult to think about something as simple as preparing a meal. Especially if one has the added challenge of the grid being down... no electricity, no gas, no water.

Imagine for a minute... a hurricane, earthquake, flood, or tornado has hit your town (one of these scenarios should cover just about everyone). Most of the town's infrastructure has been destroyed and mass casualties have traumatized the citizens. Thankfully, your family is safe and your home intact, but the power is down and water isn't coming out of the faucets. The damage is so widespread that you quickly realize help is not coming anytime soon. (Think Katrina and you're on the right track). However, kids are still growing bodies and they're telling you that they're really hungry. You have a lot of food storage, but you mind is a blur right now. You just need time to process it all. If only the world would stop for a few hours...

Are you tracking with me? Three days. That's what the average person needs to process all this and start thinking beyond the immediate catastrophe. Therefore, you need to have an easy to follow protocol for the first 72 hours. A plan that will allow you to take care of basic needs without really thinking a lot. Food that your family finds nourishing, tasty, and is comforting. (And, of course it would be an extra bonus if it were healthy, too.)

Having three days worth of meals ready to prepare would be wise, would it not? I'm not talking about your regular food storage. I'm talking about everything you need for one meal... in a box. A meal that doesn't require anything but a manual can opener and perhaps a bowl and spoon to mix. Also, it would be ideal if the meal did not require cooking over a heat source (since you might not have one right away due to ongoing weather issues or some other reason) nor would it require a lot of water (pasta requires a lot of precious water that may be scarce). And it would be healthy in that it is as free from additives and sugars as possible, but still packaged for long term storage (say 6 months to a year).

Here's an example for a lunch or dinner idea based around tuna:

• canned tuna
• small jar of mayo
• small jar of pickle relish
• jar or bag of spices for tuna
• canned fruit
• a box of crackers
• cans of V-8 or similar vegetable drink
• trail mix packets

Everything would be placed in a box and labeled "Tuna Meal". Once every 6 months to a year, you would actually eat this meal and replace it's ingredients immediately in order to keep it fresh. (Be sure to label it with a "consume by..." date.) Store it in a cool place in your pantry up off the floor for maximum freshness.

Now imagine that you had 3 days worth of these meals, each in their own box, ready to go! Three breakfasts, three lunches, and three dinners. It would give you time to get back on your feet. And the preparation would be simple. Just add one meal to each shopping trip over the next few months until you have what you need.

Meet the Challenge!

For the remainder of the month of October, I am leaving a linky open on this post for you to create one Emergency Meal Kit to share with others; and you can gather ideas for your own meal kits as well. You do not have to have photos, just write up what you would put in the box, add a link to this post, and then come back here and link up. Remember, this is an entire meal not just an entree!

Here's some tips to help you:

• include all ingredients needed to make the meal
• recipes for anything that needs additional preparation
• try to include protein of some kind
• be sure to add a fruit or vegetable of some kind
• note if the meal is gluten free, nut free, dairy free, etc.
• if the meal requires water to prepare, be sure to included it the box
• if it requires a heat source to prepare, please note any alternatives that might work, such as a solar oven, wood stove, dutch oven on a campfire, etc. (and stick some matches inside!)

You might want to purchase a second can opener that is stored in the first box at all times!! That way, you don't have to hunt it down during your hour of greatest need.

I can't wait to see all the creative ideas each of you comes up with!


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