Welcome to our world. Here you'll find out about our family life, our alpaca ranch, our explorations in healthy cooking, and anything else that strikes our interest.
It's been hot a lot this summer. It was 96 degrees on the day that our alpacas were sheared. We've had unusually hot days since then, so they're probably very glad that they lost all that hair, although Erik looks regal when he has a two year coat on him.
It's hot enough that I've temporarily abandoned my experiment of eating food storage style foods. You need to boil water and it's a process that creates a lot of heat. That's another consideration when you're storing food for emergencies - what do you do when it's too hot to cook?
Say hello to our new arrival! We haven't given her a name yet, but her parents are Sydnee and Protege. She already warmed our hearts, and we hope that you'll enjoy these pictures of her.
Today I wanted to go over dehydrated food a little more. I think that people should try different brands before committing a lot of money to one particular kind of emergency food. For instance, the only snack provided in the Augason Farms kit is banana chips. I'm fine with banana chips, but my mom doesn't like them, so I wouldn't recommend the Augason Farms kit to her. Besides, there are only two packets of banana chips, and they go quickly. The moral of the story is that you should carefully review the contents of whatever you are buying and decide if that is something that you want to eat.
Of course, if you get hungry enough, you'll eat anything. People in famines have been known to eat boiled boot leather or even dirt. But if you're paying the premium for dehydrated food, you might as well purchase something that you like.
I'm a snacker. Certainly that contributes in some ways to my weight problem, but I also believe in healthy snacking. For instance, I'm trying to eat fruit more as a snack. I don't know about other food kits, but the one I ordered is not for snackers. As I pointed out, it only has two packets of banana chips. Everything else you have to prepare.
The dishes in the the Augason Farms kit, almost without exception, require cooking time. You have to boil water, then add dehydrated product, then let that cook for 20-30 minutes. There is no instant gratification, or "grab and go" meal. So you have to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate that. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. If you have time in your schedule for cooking, then you've opened your diet up to a lot of nutritious and delicious foods.
For me, the cooking thing gets a bit sticky regarding lunches. The break room at work is not equipped for that sort of thing. I did try to "cook" a soup mix in a thermos with very hot water added. But even after an hour the hard parts of the soup, such as pasta and rice, were still very much al dente. So really, for me, the only thing that works is preparing the food beforehand and bringing it in to work. But that's pretty much the way it was before, so I haven't lost much.
There are exceptions to any routine. For instance, once a week my employer brings in food for everyone. For me, that is a welcome diversion from dehydrated foods. As I said in the first post, I never intended to eat strictly only what I got out of the bucket. For instance, in addition to my breakfast today I had a banana and a few slices of cheese.
However, here's the thing: I get cravings anyway. There are times when I feel that I'd love a hamburger. The Augason Farms package doesn't include any meat. It includes meat byproducts, such as chicken fat. It includes enough protein to keep you going. But the entrees that have anything chicken related only claim "chicken flavoring". There is no actual chicken meat in there. So omnivores beware.
Because of the meatless nature of the entrees, I often get cravings for meat. Since I'm not on a "diet" per se, just a suggested eating plan, I do indulge in eating meat when the cravings get strong or my wife serves it to me.
Besides nutritional needs, supplementing is necessary because the meal plan (and this applies to all emergency food suppliers, as far as I can tell) does not provide enough calories per day for most of the population. For instance, if you are a 147 pound male (Just picking a number of a list), depending on activity level, you need about 2000 calories a day or more just to maintain where you're at. The kit I'm using provides 1900 calories a day. Since I am significantly bigger than 147 pounds, that means there is a huge gap between what I need to maintain my size and what the kit is providing me. That's fine; I'm ok with not maintaining my current size. But neither should you starve yourself, because the body finds magical ways to maintain it's current level of fat repositories when it has put you in famine mode. So I add calories not only to balance out my nutrition needs and my cravings, but to bring me up to the level where my body doesn't feel that I'm trying to starve it.
Three weeks ago I started heavily supplementing my diet with dehydrated, emergency style food. You may ask yourself why. After all, I'm eating other foods as well; I'm not exclusively on a dehydrated diet. I'm not doing it to cut calories (although that is one side effect). Mostly I'm doing it to ensure more nutrition in my diet. After all, I have these meals that are made to help sustain life in a nutritionally balanced manner for a month.
So how has it been going so far? Both badly and well. From basically the second day I abandoned the meal plan in the kit, eating as I felt hungry and as I've had nutritional cravings. I've eaten a lot of oatmeal for breakfast, which is good for me. But I've been supplementing those oatmeal breakfasts with things such as bananas.
Frequently my wife has been preparing healthy, yummy dinners, and I'd be a fool to pass those up, even though I have healthy options available to me from the month's dehydrated supply.
I've been using one of Augason Farms' month supply of food in a bucket. It is literally a 7 gallon bucket with foil packets of food. There is, of course, oatmeal, but there are other options such as cheesy rice and creamy potato soup.
To be honest, though, the variety isn't too great. I'm not especially surprised. This was a bargain kit that I had hoped would help me cut down on my food bill. But for those of you who have dehydrated food sitting around for an emergency, let me stress this. You need to get used to that sort of food now, and not when a flood hits or a hurricane makes its way through town. It'll be another stress in your life to change our diet that drastically when you're working on cleaning your house up from a disaster. There are foods in the kit that I like more than others, such as the cheesy creamy rice. But the honest truth is that not one of the included packets is what I would eat for fun.
I have found universally with each provided dish that it needs more salt. In some cases, it needs much more salt. You may look upon this as a good thing, since it is wise to limit your salt intake. But in the case of these dehydrated foods, they've either cut the salt way too drastically or just not included any. You need some salt to stay alive. You can add your own, and I've found myself doing just that. A little bit of salt and pepper will go a long way.
The oatmeal is the easiest dish to fix. You can add some dehydrated milk substitute, for instance. But you also have to be careful with the oatmeal. The package says to really shake it and they mean it. Even though it's labeled "maple brown sugar oatmeal", there is actually very little maple flavoring and brown sugar in there. It tends to settle. Plus, the brown sugar tends to clump. If you haven't shaken the package, then whisked it well while cooking, you could get portions of your oatmeal devoid of any flavoring at all. I'm a fan of oatmeal, but I don't eat it straight.
So, I cannot stress this strongly enough. If you keep long term storage food in your house for emergencies (they happen; we had a massive flood a few years ago where it was very helpful to have some food and water on hand), then you owe it to yourself to live off the long term storage food beforehand. Even for a few days. At the very least you'll get used to it and it will be less of a shock.
While I am not an expert on gardening, I have done it many years and most years had at least a modest crop.
We're a family of three. We raise alpacas and chickens. We explore different ways of living healthier and happier. We love to share what we learn and to learn what you care to share.