Friday, September 25, 2009

72 hour food kit

My goal was simple. I wanted a 72 hour food kit for a family of four. First, it had to be kid friendly. Second, it had to have a minimum of a one year shelf life. Finally, it had to be easily transportable and inconspicuous.
My first concern was what to use as a container. This would let me know how much space I had to work with. I had thought about backpacks, plastic kitchen containers, metal drums, and even large plastic storage containers. I decided to use a new five gallon plastic bucket with a new lid. The bucket is printed with an Engine oil label. This fulfils my desire for a low profile appearance. Who expects three days worth of food to be in an oil bucket?
My second concern was what to use for food. Anybody could throw rice and beans into a Tupperware container and call it good. I wanted more, planned meals, and food that the kids would eat. Compromises had to be made in regards to meals. I wasn’t just going to pack three days worth of Chef Boy R Dee and Chicken and Stars into the bucket just to appease the children. On the other hand, three days worth of Mountain House meals would not have fit into allotted budget. In the future, I am going to attempt to supplement a two serving mountain house meal with either noodles or rice.
The main meals are:
Roast beef with rice and brown gravy
15 bean soup
Chicken with rice
For breakfast we have several choices:
Corned beef and hash
Instant oatmeal
Hash browns with Spam
I had mentioned earlier that I wanted a kid friendly kit. To accomplish this I have added Kool-aid packets. These will keep help encourage them to drink and stay hydrated, not to mention that the sugar will be a morale booster. My kids love Nutrigrain bars, I have added eight of them. I personally believe that they have good nutrition for low weight, and can be considered a fruit serving. Following this logic, I have added two 30 oz cans of Del Monte fruit cocktail. I decided that peanut butter would also go over well, not to mention being calorie and protein rich. I didn’t want to go overboard and only added a small 17 oz jar. In order to make this more palatable for my wife, I added some seasonings. Six chicken and six beef bouillon cubes, a small bottle of salt and pepper, and some crushed pepper.
Originally I had wanted to add plastic utensils and some cheap cook ware. Unfortunately, it would not fit into the fifty dollar budget, or the 5 gallon bucket.
I packaged everything into small zip lock baggies, or vacuum sealed into airtight containers to make the most of all available space. I filled all the crevices between cans with hard candies. To fend off any unforeseen problems, I duck taped a P51 can opener to the lid of the bucket. I also included some iodine tablets to aid in water purification. Several assorted plastic bags and a box of matches rounded out our kit.
The one thing that I learned from this project was that some serious compromises had to be made in regards to space and shelf life. Three days worth of food uses up more room than you might think, especially when you are making an attempt to appease your children. This project was centered around a five gallon bucket, its low profile appearance, and ability to be sealed.
This kit has limitations, all of them do. I do not suggest that this be your only source of food storage. Without a ready supply of water, this kit will fail. Without a heat source, or a pot to cook in, this kit will fail. However, assuming that these two conditions are met, you should be able to eat, and eat well, for at least three days.

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