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.
While just throwing money at it does work, there is also the simple DIY approach. In this case, we are looking at Italian noodles.
Italian Noodles From Jars And Cans
The first and simplest is just to open a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli or spaghetti, a can of green beans, and call it done. About $1.50 if you shop the discount stores, $3 if not. This has the advantage of needing no added water and can be eaten cold if fuel is scarce or fire a problem. I have some of this kind of meal in my kit, just in case water or fuel is an issue.
You can buy dry cheese ravioli that store reasonably well, but will want to rotate the stock frequently (every few months, that usually is a feature ;-) For them, you can use any jars or cans of sauce you like. Marinara is very cheap and very good, but I’m also fond of Alfredo. Classico, Prego, several brands are good.
Just boil the ravioli (usually about 10 minutes) heat the sauce, and pour over. Top with grated parmigiana cheese from a shaker jar. This is a dry cheese that keeps very well. Have a few jars of it if you store a lot of pasta!
Again, a side vegetable from a can, or freeze dried and reconstituted.
The same general approach works with regular dry noodles. Just cook to al dente, drain, and pour on the sauce, sprinkle the cheese. Realize that if you are without electricity and refrigeration, sauces will mold quickly. It is better to store smaller jars if that is the case. I store a couple of very big cheap marinara jars for when the ‘fridge is working, and a bunch of small ones for if it isn’t. IFF I ever need to use the big jar without a fridge, either make a big batch and stuff many folks a lot, or you can heat the sauce to the simmer point a couple of times a day.
Note that thicker pasta takes longer to cook and more fuel. Angle Hair is like very thin fine spaghetti. It cooks in just 3 minutes. I keep a couple of pounds of it in storage for the scarce fuel case.
This is a bit advanced for “survival prepping”, so I’m just going to mention it. Folks who bake will like the idea, while folks who are not bakers can just admire that it exists, and make a quick bread instead, or store a bunch of saltines or Ritz crackers. There are lots of quickbreads, and many boxed premix choices on the grocery shelf, with corn bread being iconic in America. 1/2 & 1/2 corn and wheat flours, an oil or fat, bit of salt & sugar, baking powder. Add water, mix and bake. Not exactly Italian, though :’)
Why sourdough? You don’t need commercial yeast. It is traditional. Takes just flour, water and salt. The salt can be left out for a bland bread. There’s a lot of mysticism about it, but only if you want a particular style of bread. Take a jar or bowl, put in 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup water, and stir. Half whole wheat is a bit better, but most flours work, including rye. I have used plain white general purpose. Keep covered at room temperature. Once or twice a day, stir it. By the 2nd or 3rd day it ought to be getting bubbly.
You can make this happen MUCH faster by seeding the mix with a little commercial yeast and a splash of milk at the start. This is making “starter”. Proper sourdough starter is a binary fermentation of yeast and lactobacillus. This will form on its own as people are covered with lactic acid bacteria (as are many fruits and vegetables, so some starter recipes use things like pineapple juice); and wild yeasts are usually floating around. Milk is full of lactobaccillus so gives a quicker start. I keep a package of dry yeast in the fridge for the emergency case. (Yeah I know “emergency sourdough?”, and you know I’m over prepped… but it is so much better than crackers and marinara…)
From this point forward, you feed the starter every day. 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. This gives you excess starter. You either use this to mix into more flour & water, rise and bake, or you have too much. LOTS of folks say to throw out the excess. NO! That’s just extra sour sourdough! Pour some oil in a frying pan and spread out the extra starter in about 1/2 inch thick layer. Put garlic salt, onion granules, or other seasoning on top. Fry it a few minutes unti browned, flip, and fry a bit more. Yum!
IF you don’t have oven facilities, just mix a bit of dough, let it rise, and continue to make fry bread. About equal parts starter and flour, plus salt as you like (I like about 1/4 tsp per cup of flour). Water to a nice dough consistency that is soft but not sticky. IF you have an oven, or even just an open fire and a Dutch oven, form a loaf and bake it. For the loaf, since it rests and rises, use a lot less starter per cup. How much just changes how sour and how long you wait to rise, with changes to crumb. It all is edible.
This is a simple way to turn an uninteresting but very cheap 25 lb. bag of flour from the big box store into something you really want to eat, at about 25 ¢ per loaf. Plus, if patient, you can make starter with nothing but flour and water and less than sterile daily mixing ;-) Store a couple of big jugs of olive oil for that authentic Italian bread and O.O. experience. Or set out a shallow dipping saucer of salt for the traditional bread & salt Russian greeting dish. (Depending on who is invading ;-)