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I asked for advice on in-auto rations, and received some excellent advice. You can read it in comments (here).

I wanted to expand the situation without going on endlessly in comments.

There are two things going on. One is personal long term food storage and I have that problem in hand, with a cool, dry, cellar location. The other was the issue of a food ration in the rig at all times beyond the basic power bar or Pay Day candy bars. 

In normal times, when I left the house with the intent of putting ‘civilization’ in the rear view mirror, I packed food for the trip. Now I live in a place where civilization is ALWAYS in the distance. And I need some sort of ration that includes enough for four people for four days stashed in my passenger car, my Ford Raptor and my Toyota FJ. Two is one and one is none – and there needs to be enough to also feed unfortunates I may come across. These need to be separate from my go-bag.

And for reference, I have full first-aid, recovery gear, tools, and tools to defend myself in my 4×4’s separate from the go-bag, etc. There is some emergency food there but it isn’t sufficient to deal with the present situation. (4 people for 4 days)

This winter in the Arizona highlands set all records for snow and moisture (we’ve also had significant rain when it’s too warm to snow), and I’ve been snowed out (being out of town) and snowed in – once each since December. Power bars in the go-bag really aren’t enough if I’m marooned in the rig somewhere where 4×4 and chains are insufficient. That is RARELY the case in Arizona, but this year taught me a lesson. As I mentioned twice above, there also has to be enough food to help others. No man is an island.

The MRE solution was raised and while I don’t dislike the current MRE’s, they don’t last that long in packaging and I need food I can toss in a bag and more less forget about. If I was a better prepper, I’d be rotating food through my rigs, etc. but I’m an inadequate prepper and tend to go with store-and-forget until needed. (The long term storage in the house is 20+ year food that I could rotate but likely will not) I will likely die before the use-by date expires.
Those who suggested that you store what you like to eat are 100% correct and where the storage at the house is concerned, I have it covered. In the rigs, the problems are different. 
I now live  in a place of extremes. AZ in the summer gets up in the 120+ degree range and in the winter, it drops below zero. Stored food in the rigs MUST be able to handle that 130 degree swing without blowing up or freezing in the can/bottle/bag. Which means no pop-top cans. I’m going to experiment with canned peaches, pears and fruit cocktail and see how they weather the weather. Spam isn’t a bad choice either, but it’s salty and you need to drink water to compensate. I’ll throw a couple cans in and we’ll see. Granola bars are always a good idea, as is jerky. There is a brand of Jerky that I like above the others and it’s packed for long term storage. I plan to pick some up for the kits the next time I drive through Quartzsite, AZ.
And we’ll see. Hopefully I’m not marooned in snow too deep to get out of in Arizona… (that darned ice age). Unlike others on this blog, I’m unlikely to travel into Colorado or Wyoming during winter. I’m not a winter sports guy. I moved to the White Wolf Mine because it’s close to warm. I can be in the Phoenix valley in an hour and a half. But with this last storm, Scottsdale received 9″ of snow. (yeah, ice age, global cooling, we’re all gonna die) And at the same time, I can be home in the summer and it doesn’t usually get over 90 and that’s rare. And the house has A/C.
I read all of your comments with great interest and appreciate the fact that you care enough to comment more than you know.

45 thoughts on “Rations

  1. I keep SOS Emergency food ration bars for much the same reason. 5 year expiration, don't freeze,


  2. Granola bars? Good call but I'm looking forward to your final solution.

    Speaking of food, I've been taking the Lenten fast pretty seriously and it's resulted in more energy and more shooting. Weissmann's also resigned from the Mueller team.


  3. If you got Weissmann out with prayer, there are a lot more deep state actors that need to leave the stage — pray harder.

  4. Your previous blog set me to thinking (very dangerous according to those who know me). My vehicle preps are centered around shelter, fire, and hydration but I've given no thought to food. Having done several fasts in my life, one thirty days, I always had energy and could do my daily tasks without a problem. Selfish, I haven't considered others who might be with me as to their comfort and morale.

  5. Medication expires, but thought should be given in that direction for people who take it. Sometimes that's wrapped in the rubric of first aid, but it's something quite apart.

    As I mentioned in the previous blog, friends of mine who live in the area (Strawberry, AZ) who are in their 80's weren't able to get home and spent 4 days in a motel. No food, no grocery stores open (shelves cleaned out by hoarders), no restaurants open. Some people who were also staying at the hotel managed to get food to them on day 3 when they heard of their plight.

    In some locations where this sort of weather is more common, I guess there are snowmobiles that deliver food. Not in Arizona, where the ice age hadn't hit (yet).

  6. After one go round in the back of beyond with the Cowman when the kids were little, I swore to never again be caught out like that. Friends laugh about my stache (not that one), but I've noticed they watch after me because of it…

  7. Exactly. It's not a joke.

    This part of the country usually doesn't get that much snow. Flagstaff does, and some other areas do, but I'm in a microclimate that is more moderate. I knew that when I bought the land. When We had 30" of snow, Flagstaff had 41" of snow. But 30" here is rare. With the coming ice age, maybe I need to accept that Arizona will be arctic…

  8. I know you don't want to rotate but I would suggest MREs in cold months and freeze dried in warm months

  9. It is unlikely you will find food for 4 for four days (that is a lot of 4's) that will be better than some version of MRE's,
    considering caloric value, compact packaging, storage life and variety. Perhaps supplementing them with other items would be good.
    The big question is the temperature swings- there may be foreign MRE's that are better- no doubt the Norwegians or Finns put cold weather higher on the decision list.
    How about the water? Probably best to add a 50% whiskey to keep it from freezing…
    The suggestion about different food packs for changing climate conditions is very good. Also, it would allow (force)a quick twice a year assessment- it is easy to get complacent with what is in the tote ,only to find out something has gone bad or disappeared.

  10. Thanks for the jerky link. We do love it. Just inconvenient to make in the hot, humid summer here.

  11. I've read through all of the suggestions. I keep 3 Military grade MRE's in each of my 3 vehicles and rotate them every Xmas. Guess what the UPS, USPS and Fed Ex drivers get for Xmas? They actually love them and leave a note thanking me for them. lol

    Anyway, surprised no one has mentioned this. I also keep 10 cans each of Costco chicken, beef and 24 cans of Solid Albacore Tuna in each rig with a can of (100)Pilot Crackers which are good for frigging ever if not opened. I use clear tape to tape them all together (not the crackers, too damn big) I slip the whole thing into a rifle bag that hangs from my seat backs (screwed in on the Excursion and Jeep) along with another rifle bag of 40, 1 liter water bottles in another bag just below. We've tried this rig while Elk hunting and NO one goes hungry.

    I can have anywhere between one to five people in each vehicle at any one time so that would last us a long time. Cheap, easy and never on my mind. I live on the US/CA border so this is essential for me as I have been snowed out back in 2011.

    Don't forget TWO Can Openers, three is better.

    The pilot crackers tend to taste like unsalted crackers but the added meats will take care of that.

    I also have a few other items like Tabasco sauce, a water kettle, Trioxane stove, Trioxane fuel, tea and instant coffee packs. Don't forget a fifth of Makers Mark. lol

  12. Solution: C-rats. I was eating C-rats in 1984 that were surplus from the Korean War in 1952: still good. That fruit cocktail never goes bad. Unless Aunt Sally gets her mitts on it, then it's over.

    If you can find some packaged towards the end of their production in 1983, I would bet they are still edible, and will be for another 50 years. I have MRE's in my tornado shelter, haven't checked them in 15 years, no need.

    C-rats last forever. MRE's nearly as long. Buy 'em and forget 'em.

  13. The house, in my case, is usually well stocked with can and dry goods. The cars are usually (when I remember and in your case who could forget) stocked with can goods and tons of bread and sweet rolls. The breads have to be rotated but that works at grocery runs. My favorite accessory is of course the credit card and cash … LOL.

    If I were into that off the map living I WOULD OWN A SNOWMOBILE! I've had many and they will get you out of there if needed. You could even store one at a lower altitude.

  14. I like Mountain House. The food is decent, but you do need water, and I 'think' it meets your temp requirements. I keep a 72 hour box in the car all the time.

  15. Costco Tuna…absolutely. Slipped my mind entirely. And I can hermetically seal crackers in a food saver so they don't get stale. Great ideas all the way around.

  16. I don't know if you can buy C-rations anymore, but you're right. They last at least 50 years.

  17. Odie, we usually don't get that much snow. We're not Tahoe. This year was an exception. Most years, there's nothing much to ride a snowmobile on. They require more than a 3" base. But with the looming ice age, who knows?

  18. I have Mountain House at the mountain house… I was thinking of something lighter in the rigs. The Costco tuna idea (above) is genius. I need enough other things to go with it, but a good idea.

  19. I may have to get exotic and swap the ration bags out seasonally. I'm going to play with it and will report back on the solution that I settle on. Again, I like the taste, variety and composition of the MRE's.

  20. In the old days, and still available today, dried meat in a variety of tasteful dishes and the famous Norwegian Krotakake will last for years and years. If you have it you can feed a family and you do not need anything else than a knife to prepare the portions. I guess the "modern man" has long forgotten how they did it in the old days. But today you can pay a fortune at exclusive restaurants to have it served. In the past it was something people made as part of the routine to have food during the winter and the years to come.

  21. We dirt bikers, being an odd bunch, carry tinned sardines, kippered fish or smoked clams in our packs for lunch break on the trail. I have no idea how they would last in a hot vehicle, but paired with the aforementioned vac-pac'd crackers and a jar of brown mustard and washed down with exquisite mountain springwater run through a pump filter, they're a delicious snack. And after being joggled in ones stomach after a couple more hours of rough-ass singletrack, the burping up of mixed flavors won't leave you feeling the slightest pang of hunger.

  22. And the Rattlesnakes will eat the peas and grow big and strong and then you're in BIG trouble, LL!

    Chow Mein? I prefer Fu-Kin Peas.

  23. Thus the needs for a Willys or a Pinz, as you've mentioned before. Both can handle snow pretty well.

    Something to consider for your house bug-out-vehicle would be a set of those tracks that replace the individual wheels. Treads handle loose dirt, sand and snow better than wheels.

    Snowmobiles are for serious snow, but then, if you were getting serious snow one of those Haggelunds tractor-trailer combos would be manymore better, with a serious coolness factor besides.

  24. I recall eating some Norwegian specialties with your friend in Oslo. It was delicious, and exotic, but getting that in Arizona would be a challenge.

  25. I ride dirt and street. My go-to lunch snack was and possibly will always include oatmeal cookies with nuts and raisins. They're delicious, provide energy and the afore mentioned spring water is critical.

  26. The Willys is coming. I'll post some photos when it arrives. It's not much to look at, but a ranch ride seldom wins showroom awards.

  27. Jules, I like peas. I love split pea soup (with ham), I just refuse to eat British mushy peas, even if it is a cultural icon. I will eat the fish and chips and will donate the mushy peas to YOU. You'll grow big then (along with Kevin, who I expect does eat his mushy peas).

    Beef chow mein, LSP…

  28. LL,

    @ Experiment Elk camp (7 days but we got our first Elk on day two and our fifth and last on day five, eight hunters so all was divided equally) we found that eating just Tuna and crackers, we had food fatigue by the next morning with the Tuna only and broke out the Chicken and crackers for lunch on day two, a welcome reprieve even for me as I love tuna.

    Of course, dinner (day two) consisted of Elk liver and heart as well as some ribs. We tried to stay consistent with the Costco Tuna and Chicken (we didn't have the beef cans but have since added due to food fatigue) for the whole seven days but food fatigue and smoked Elk caused our "absolutely going to do this experiment" to go sideways as the argument was, "We got all this Elk and we're still eating Crackers?' Of mice and men I guess.

    As for crackers, give it a try but I've food savered sealed at least a dozen boxes of Saltines and Ritz crackers with abundant Oxygen reducers and every single package tastes moldy and stale after seven and ten months. I have thought of Nitrogen but I don't have any. That is why I got a couple dozen cases of Pilot Crackers. Cheap enough and bland but they do last.

    I also have a buddy that has a home freeze dried rig ($3100 so not that bad price-wise) who has freeze dried a number of commercial crackers and after six months, they still taste stale to me. I'd encourage you to try it yourself as life lessons learned are the best. Don't listen to some nut on the Iwebs. lol (except about the Makers Mark)

    And to the readers, YES, we have freeze dried a Ton of Elk, Moose and Deer which ends up like Jerky but not as you can add H2O and it comes up nice enough to throw on the grill. Heavy seasoning is required but it tastes damn good.. I wouldn't spend the bucks on the rig but my friend has a crap load of family to feed, more than thirty, so they went all in on it. He lets me use it and I give him some meat in return.

    Good luck with the cracker experiment. Side note: I have since added 24 packages of Top Ramen Chicken to the packs as of today. They last forever in the bag, they fill you up and stay with you all day as studies (which I read somewhere) say that it takes about four to five hours to digest the noodles in you GI Track. Hell, I even still have them for Brekie still today, forty years out of college. I prefer the ones that come with the styrofoam cup but they are too bulky for the vehicles. lol

  29. I don't know how I forgot about Ramen. Been eating that since the military TDY days. And there are so many different brands and flavors now.
    Middle son hits the local Asian market weekly and even found some with noodles made out of potatoes!

  30. What about that neat yellow Power Wagon from that friend of yours with a foot in the grave? That oughtta be available any day now.

  31. I'd go with a "hybrid" approach. 4 people, two meals each per day for 4 days, adds up to 32 MRE's. Last I looked (last night) the ones I bought from Major Surplus in Gardena had 12 meals per case, so your'e looking at 2-1/2 cases. Mine were packed kind of loosely, so I know I could easily get two more meal bags per case. Then supplement it with some pilot crackers, tinned meat, treats, and you might not want to be 'rescued'.

    On the subject of longevity of MRE's, I had some ideal test specimens, and I broke into them this last week.

    The two cases of meals I have were purchased in 2008, and up until we moved here in September of 2107, they sat in the garage in Long Beach. It easily hit 120+ in the summer unless the doors were open, so these things have been repeatedly 'heat soaked' over the last ELEVEN years. The sealed pouch entrees and side dishes are still fine. The cookies were definitely stale, but edible. The reason I mention the cookies is that Major Surplus sells "Civilian" MRE's, and while the sealed-pouch items are identical to the "GI" meals, the accessory packs are different. All the "GI" cookies and treats I've seen and eaten were foil-packed, much like the entrees and side dishes. The ones from Major had commercial items tossed in a polyethylene bag and sealed. The cookies looked like ones you'd buy at a gas station, and were "cellophane" wrapped. After 10 years they just don't make it!

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about storing them a summer (or two) in the car. Rotate them in the fall, and use the 'old' ones for lunch.

  32. I haven't eaten noodles made from potatoes, but maybe it's worth a try. I love Top Ramen. It's cheap, you can whip it up quickly and if you add crackers or a slice of toast, it works for lunch.

    Then you can get creative and using Top Ramen as a base, can add all sorts of things to "elevate it". It's not much of a survival food, but it's good for every day fare.

  33. I have the '48 Willy's coming by the end of the month. The Power Wagon is still out there. Still a contender. The Willy's fills the need for a ranch Jeep. The PW, restored is actually too nice to use in that role.

  34. Hubby always adds an egg to his ramen. Ends up poached while the noodles are "steeping".

    If you look in the Asian markets, son said the noodles are from a company called Samyang. He believes they are Korean as the name is not in English; but it does say on the packet "potato ramen". He also mentioned they are pretty spicy.
    I mention that because I am not sure your level of heat.
    He often adds sliced ham, sausage or shrimp to his ramen.

    As you say, creative.

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