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Food for the Collapse: Top 5 to Stockpile

The possibility of Societal upheaval is a solid reason to start stockpiling food for the collapse. Dry staples like white rice, dry beans, grain, canned and freeze-dried foods, and produce preserved from a survival garden will keep you sustained when the supply chain breaks down.

There is a distinct possibility that we will face economic collapse or disaster in our lifetime; if not, the worst-case scenario is stockpiling food in case of job loss or family emergency.

If you like this article, check out Ready Squirrel’s most popular article on societal collapse, “26 Ways to Survive Societal Collapse.”

Let’s move on to the types of food you should store for a collapse.

rice harvest: dry staple
Rice Harvest

#1 Dry staple food for the collapse

The heavy lifter of long-term food storage is dry staples like wheat, white rice, and dried beans. White rice and beans do not give you all the nutrition you need but will sustain you for a significant amount of time. This is why they are considered famine foods.

The bulk of my long-term food storage is hundreds of pounds of hard white wheat, black beans, white navy beans, pinto beans, white rice, low-fat powdered milk, bulk sugar, salt, and condiments like soy sauce and vinegar.

Scott Ready Squirrel

6 Pros of Dry Staple Food

#1 Inexpensive

You can purchase hundreds of pounds of dry staples like white rice, beans, and rolled oats for pennies compared to the other emergency foods.

#2 Storage Life

Dry staples with less than 10% moisture, like white rice, dried beans, rolled oats, and wheat, have a shelf-life of 30 years when stored in Mylar with Oxygen absorbers. If you don’t want to repackage staples, consider purchasing them in #10 cans from the LDS Home Storage Center online. (you don’t have to be LDS.)

#3 Proven Track Record

Civilizations have survived on dry staples for thousands of years. Wheat, white rice, dent corn, and dried beans, to name a few, fed people back to early man.

#4 Bedrock Survival Food

Staple foods are bland, but they are an excellent base for foraged, gardened, or hunted foods you encounter in an emergency. They provide calories, and they are filling.

#5 Sprouting Grains & Beans

If grains and beans are still viable, sprout them for nutritious greens.

Imagine hanging out in a cabin with 4 feet of snow on the ground, and you are out of vegetables. To remedy this, place a cup of wheat berries in a jar, cover it with water, and sprout it for an instant survival garden.

#6 Grow In A Survival Garden

Grains and beans are seeds you can plant in a survival garden. If you plan on doing this, get some experience planting before you depend on it for food.

Let’s look at the challenges of using staples for emergency food.

8 Cons Of Dry Staple Food

#1 Water

Dry staples have to be cooked with a lot of water. If you plan to use them when things head south, ensure you can get clean, potable water to cook.

If you live in the Arizona desert and know you will barely have enough water to survive, dry staples are not a good choice for the bulk of your emergency food.

Up next fuel.

#2 Fuel

Staple foods need a lot of fuel to make edible. In a situation where the grid is down, and you are cooking with canned fuel or wood, you’ll need a lot of it to ensure you can cook the food.

Living next to a forest with lots of deadwood it’s not as much of an issue as living in an urban area without a natural fuel source.

Next, let’s examine the time it takes to cook staples.

#3 Preparation Time

Dry staples take a lot of time to prepare and are not ideal when you are on the move or trying to stay hidden because if you are running from the golden hoard, you won’t want to spend a day cooking rice and beans over an open fire.

#4 Processing & Special Equipment

Certain foods like wheat need special processing to make bread and pasta. You’ll need a manual grain mill to grind wheat to flour; it takes a lot of time and work.

Next up, weight.

#5 Heavy: Not Easily Transported

Dry staple foods are heavy! Based on the amount of food the LDS church suggests to store for one person for a year, you’re looking at roughly 554 lbs per person. That’s a whopping 2,216 pounds of staples for a family of four.

Food weight is a concern if you need to move it or the storage location won’t handle it.

Next up, moving out in a vehicle or on foot.

#6 Not Ideal For Bugging Out

Using staple foods for bugging out is an option. As already mentioned, the staple food is heavy, making it more difficult to keep your pack weight within 20% of your body weight, but it’s also a challenge to stay hidden from a threat using dry staples.

If you are on the run and trying to stay hidden, there are better foods for this purpose. For instance, SOS lifeboat bars, granola bars, and freeze-dried foods would be a better choice because they are so quick to make and wouldn’t require camp set-up or a fire.

#7 Not Ideal for Short-term Emergencies

Dry staple foods are not ideal for short-term emergencies like hurricane preparedness because they take too much time and resources compared to shelf-stable canned foods or store-bought packaged goods like freeze-dried meals.

#8 Basic Cooking Skills Required

Staples food requires you to boil water. I’m not sure if that is cooking or not. But you must let dry ingredients simmer or boil in hot water. Needing to cook these foods shouldn’t deter you from storing them if they fit the survival scenario.

Each staple is easily made if you follow simple directions.

You’re going to need a bug-out location to store your emergency food. Look at the Ready Squirrel article “Survive Societal Collapse: Guide to Picking a Bug-Out Location.”

Let’s take a look at what a year’s worth of staple food, for one person, looks like.

canned food for the collapse
Canned Food

#2 Canned food for the collapse

Canned foods help round out the nutrition of dry staple foods and cut down on pallet fatigue (eating the same food day after day.) My family eats canned beans and the occasional can of sauerkraut, but we mostly avoid eating out of a can, so rotating canned food is a challenge. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of canned food.

5 Pros Of Canned Emergency Food

#1 Inexpensive

Canned food is relatively inexpensive compared to freeze-dried and professionally packaged emergency food.

#2 Ready To Eat

Canned food is ready to eat without additional action or ingredients. Most of us will want to heat canned foods, but it’s not necessary.

#3 Shelf Stable

Canned foods are shelf-stable, so they don’t require refrigeration until opened. The shelf life of canned food is somewhat controversial.

#4 Short-term Emergencies

Eat canned food without electricity, fuel, or water. Open the can and eat. Canned foods are excellent for short-term emergencies like FEMA’s 72-hour emergency kit and a solid supplement for hard-to-get foods such as high-fat meats, fruits, and vegetables in the off-season.

#5 Canned Meals

Purchase canned foods as a whole meal, like Dinty Moore stew, canned pasta dishes, or as hardy soups.

4 Cons of Canned Emergency Food

#1 Rotation Required

Canned foods have a limited shelf-life, so rotate them into your regular diet to always have a fresh supply.

Rotation is easier if you only store the canned foods you like to eat, but this poses a problem for some.

My family eats mostly fresh perishable meat, fruits, and vegetables. Rotating these canned items is challenging. but canned goods will last for years as long as the can is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling).

Scott, Ready Squirrel

Most preppers rotate canned foods stored for emergencies using FIFO, or first in, first out, where the first can of food you purchase is eaten before the newer cans.

Though the best-by date is not a “safe to eat date” for canned food, the date is used as a guideline for rotating foods out of emergency storage. Using the date ensures you won’t have stale, poor-tasting cans of food in your emergency storage.

#2 Refrigerate After Opening

Once opened, canned foods should be refrigerated. The only option is to eat the entire contents of an open can. Avoid getting the super-sized cans unless you have a big group to feed.

#3 Heavy

Canned food is heavy, so it isn’t ideal for moving around. Avoid using it for bugging out on foot, and limit how much you plan to take in a bug-out vehicle.

#4 Limited Shelf-life

Commercially canned food has a “best by date,” which is somewhat controversial. The best-by date does not indicate if the food is safe to eat. It indicates when canned food is beyond peak freshness.

High acid [canned] foods such as tomatoes and other fruit will keep their best quality up to 18 months; low acid foods such as meat and vegetables, 2 to 5 years. If  cans are in good condition (no dents, swelling, or rust)  and have been stored in a cool, clean, dry place they are safe indefinitely.

United States Department of Agriculture

Did that USDA quote say that canned foods could be safe indefinitely? Yes, as long as they are stored in a cool, dry location and don’t show any signs of damage, leaking, or bulging. When in doubt, throw it out. That said, nutrition value will decline after the “best buy date.”

Read the Ready Squirrel article, “What Would Societal Collapse Look Like: End Game.”

freeze dried food
Freeze-dried backpacker meal

#3 Freeze-dried food for the collapse

Freeze-dried food is an outstanding emergency food, it can be purchased as individual ingredients like meat, fruit, and vegetables or as whole meals.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of freeze-dried foods.

5 Pros of Freeze-dried Food

  1. 30 Year Shelf-life
  2. Lightweight
  3. Retains 97% of its nutritional value
  4. Maintains color, texture, and taste
  5. Available as individual ingredients or meals

3 Cons of Freeze-dried Food

  1. Expensive
  2. Requires fuel and water to prepare
  3. Food can be freeze-dried with a home unit, but the units are expensive (Harvest Right)

When I hiked the Vermont leg of the Appalachian trail I ate a lot of Mountain House freeze-dried meals. They are excellent for occasions when you are bone-tired and need fuel, use them for bugging out, camping, hiking or extended hunting trips.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

#4 Preserved food for the collapse (Survival Garden)

A survival garden combined with food preservation techniques gives the survivalist the means to get from one season to the next by preserving produce and meats by canning, pickling, and fermentation.

Having a huge survival garden and being totally self-sufficient is a pipe dream for most but that doesn’t mean you can’t supplement your food by learning how to preserve fruit and vegetables from the produce you grow yourself.

Next up, how much garden space do you need to feed one to ten people?

Chart #1 Garden Space Needed To Feed one to ten people

When planning a survival garden, you need 100 sqft of gardening space per person for a year’s fresh food supply. If you are canning to store over winter, bump that up to 200 sqft per person. Keep in mind you can grow food in pots, bags, boxes, old bathtubs, or on stands under green lights. Be flexible, adapt, improvise and overcome.

# Of PeopleSQFT Of Garden Space With CanningGarden Dimensions With CanningFresh Eating GardenGarden Dimensions Fresh
120010′ x 20′10010′ x 10″
240020′ x 20′20010″ x 20′
360020′ x 30′30015′ x 20′
480020′ x 40′40020′ x 20′
5100025′ x 40′50020′ x 25′
6120030′ x 40′60020′ x 30′
7140035′ x 40′70020′ x 35′
8160040′ x 40′80020′ x 40′
9180040′ x 45′90030′ x 30′
10200040′ x 50′100025′ x 40′

To learn more about which foods to store in long-term survival food storage, check the Ready Squirrel article “Top Foods For Long-term Storage (preparing for societal collapse).”

#5 Water for the collapse

Air is the only thing more important than water for human survival, so don’t forget about emergency water preparation.

If you need electricity to source water, it is not survival water unless you use a solar system to power the pump. Emergency water sources depend on manual operations like a hand pump, a self-contained power source, or a bucket.

3 Types of water storage

#1 Rainwater Catchment

Store survival water in 55-gallon barrels, using water catchment (rainwater), or build a more involved water system beyond the scope of this article.

#2 Natural Water Sources

Natural fresh-water supplies like a lake, stream, or river are optimum water sources when society goes belly up. Make sure you have the supplies necessary to filter and boil water to make it safe to drink.

#3 Store-Bought Water

Pre-packaged water is good for short-term emergencies but insufficient for long-term events,.For many, this type of water storage may be the only option, for example, for someone living in an urban area.

Thanks for stopping by Ready Squirrel. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

Keep on prepping!

Best Regards, Scott

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