There’s a lot of overpriced “Emergency Food” sold. Between the $8 / bag single serving freeze dried alpine camping meals, the $12 / meal MREs, and the $5 / pound “rice with flavor” in it, you can do a lot better.
Now IF you have a lot more money than time, and just want something NOW, sure, buy that $300 Emergency Food Supply arriving via UPS tomorrow. But if you do regular grocery shopping, there’s a way that just as easy, and a lot cheaper, while only taking a little more time. Basically, while doing your regular grocery shopping, you but some extra of foods that keep well, and store the extras.
I’ve been doing this for years and it works great. Along the way, I’ve come up with some “Prepper Cuisine” meals that I rather like. In some cases they are basically just a regular food that keeps well. A can of ravioli and side of canned peas. A small canned ham, some canned yams, and a can of green beans. Some brown sugar or molasses to flavor the yams, and maybe a bit of coconut oil (light salt added to get a more buttery effect) instead of butter on the yams. Only thing missing from my regular “ham and yams” meal is bread and butter. But other cases are perhaps less obvious.
For those cases, I’ve decided to post my recipes from time to time. This is one of them.
This is a noodle dish, often made with rice noodles, a soup base, some bits of vegetables, a spicy oil, and some kind of meat. The particular meat varies a lot. My favorite is a sea food version, but there’s also pork, beef, chicken and more. So if you are not fond of Sardines or other canned fish, you can just as easily substitute a bit of canned chicken or pork. SPAM ought to work well.
In this case, I bought a big package of Pho bowls at Costco. IIRC it had something like 6 bowls and was just a little over $12?. Something like that. Amazon has them at $4 / bowl:
https://www.amazon.com/Snapdragon-Premium-Vietnamese-Pho-Box/dp/B06XFNQ729/ as does the Snapdragon site:
So I can only figure COSCO “got a deal” as I’m sure I didn’t pay $24 for the box… At most $16 as at that point I’m off to look at the Lamb Chops ;-) The local Marina Asian Foods Grocer also has several brands of similar stuff and often at very low prices. They also sell bundles of “Rice Noodles” for very cheap (about like other noodles in the ‘almost but not quite’ a buck a pound range) and you could just add your own seasoning and vegetable mix for a very low cost approach.
The Pho is Snapdragon Brand, product of Vietnam. Net Wt. is 2.1 oz. / bowl, mostly rice noodles. It also includes 3 other small packets. A soup base powder, some small dehydrated vegetable chips, and a flavored oil packet. The normal process is to heat 1 1/4 cups of water to the boil, while that’s happening, open the little flavor packets and dump the bits on the noodles, then pour over the hot water. Put the lid back on the bowl and wait 5 minutes.
This is fine and all, but at 220 Calories and no real protein source, rather limiting. So we “plus it up” with the addition of what’s missing. As I’m fond of the seafood pho, I use a fish in a can. You could also use dried fish if that is available in your area (or you dry your own). I also get a large package of sardines while I’m at COSTCO.
The sardines I use, mostly just because it is what is sold at COSTCO, is the Season Brand of Sardines in 100% Olive Oil, skinless & boneless. I do think these will work better in this dish than regular sardines, though. I grew up eating whole sardines, heads, fins and all, so I’m fine with them (and the local Mediterranean Grocer sells some Baltic Sprats that are wonderfully smoked with all parts included that I just love, but at $4 / can not “survival food”… besides, they never last long once in the cupboard… if they make it to the cupboard…) You could also use chunk tuna but it will tend to break up into the soup, or larger cans of salmon, mackerel, whatever. But since I’m mostly making this for “just me”, I use the small cans. And the sardines from COSTCO are about the best price I could find. Somewhere around $1.5 / can IIRC (but things will be cheaper anywhere out of California, I’m fairly sure ;-) Looks like $22 for 12 cans at Amazon:
These are listed as 200 Calories / can. I don’t know if that includes the olive oil, or if it is drained weight, but they list it as 12 grams of fat. In any case, in a real AwShit, you would use all the oil, too. I typically just drain off what runs out quickly, so get about 1/4 into the dish. I break the sardines into fork sized chunks, and add it to the Pho after that has soaked a while.
So all up, this is 420 calories of a nice light lunch that is also very healthful. Rice, fish, olive oil: a classic combination. It also has the benefit of a bit of “bite” from the Vietnamese seasoning, though folks who are used to it will want a bit of Tabasco or other hot sauce to jump it up.
It’s a very satisfying and tasty meal, made from components that will store for years. It’s a nice sized portion for a daily total Calories intake of about 1800, that assumes you will have a couple of 700+ Calorie meals as bookends to the day. If used as a dinner, you would want to add some sides to bulk it up. Lentil curry, for example, or a can of chili beans. As a light lunch it is just about right.
I typically keep at least one, and sometimes 2, boxes of both the Pho bowls and the 6 packs of sardines in the pantry. That’s about a dozen meals on standby. Since I go through more than one of these a month, inventory just naturally turns over about every 6 months. I don’t always use both, so sometimes I’ll have an excess of one or the other; and I could easily put 4 or 5 boxes of each on the shelf and still have inventory turning at least once / year. The Sardines list a “Best By” date about 4 years from when I bought them, and will still be nice long after that. The Pho noodles list a Best By date about a year after I bought them, but really, the stuff in it ought to last almost forever with only minor loss of flavor.
Now consider that this meal runs all of about $4 to $5. With alternative brands, you ought to be able to get this down to $2 / meal (one could always use ramen at 30 ¢ each as the soup / noodle base) Isn’t that a lot better than an $8 bag of freeze dried chicken rice stuff? BTW, if you really want that chicken rice stuff, check out the Knorr sides:
$2 / package from Amazon and cheaper at Walmart. Keeps nearly forever too. So why pay someone an extra $5 / package to put it in a plastic bucket?
But that will be for another day and another recipe ;-)
Well, I’m off to make some hot “green” tea to savor after my “survival” Vietnamese Pho w/ Sardines lunch. I’m not feeling at all hungry, but maybe could use a little caffeine lift for the “afternoon” fade ;-) That’s another thing that keeps darned near forever (especially if you put it in a glass jar to keep the air out). It also is a very nice traditional accompaniment to the Pho lunch. This particular tea is from China and is a light brownish more than green, but not like English black tea. I’m rather fond of it, but don’t know what to call this “not like Japanese green” semi-green tea…