As part of our general prepping, my family has started including “survival food” in our normal diet. This gives us a chance to decide what we like to eat and to stock up on more of it for the future, rather than having to live with what we have when the SHTF. We all know that when food becomes scarce we will be thrilled to have a bowl of rice, beans, etc., but with a bit of experimentation we hope to be able to stock up on tastier foods in addition to commonly stocked staples. Rather than buy large quantities of foods we are trying for the first time, we are buying what is available locally at common grocery stores and super-stores. Since times are tough for many now, I also included some products from discount ‘dollar’ stores. These have the additional benefit of being very-well pre-packaged, so long-term storage should be good. This article describes our experience so far, and I am not in any way affiliated with any of these companies or and food distributor or retailer.
Bear Creek Soup Mixes
The Bear Creek brand soup mixes are excellent! My wife, two kids, and I have tried each of these mixes and love them. They have fair nutritional value by just adding water, but if you were in TEOTWAWKI mode adding some meat would boost the protein levels to a sustainable level. As with lots of pre-packaged meal products there is higher salt content, but no more per package than many people eat on a single large order of fries! Preparation could not be any more simple, just add water (usually 8 cups), boil a bit, let simmer and stand. The mix becomes adequately thick and ‘souply’. One thing to keep in mind is that many of these products contain very low amounts of (or no) fat, so living on this stuff alone will be unhealthy as you need a certain amount of fat to be healthy.
The minestrone is very good. When you eat a bowl you are full, end of story. The flavor is full and not at all watery or pasty. These are not ramen noodles! (although I am not knocking ramen, I eat ramen all the time). I found the soup to be great with no additional seasoning added. My wife and kids are garlic-salt addicts so they added a little and we very happy with it. Each package makes about 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 110 calories, 4 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbs, 2 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 870 mgrams of sodium. Additional nutritional information can be found online.
This is a good soup for everyone. It’s not as rich as the minestrone with just water, but if you add the optional tomato sauce it is quite rich. My kids prefer it to the minestrone. Preparation is about the same, as is the number of servings per package. Each serving has about 110 Calories, 850 mg of Sodium, 22 grams of Carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
This is another family favorite. If you let it sit and simmer per the directions it becomes very creamy and full, not watery at all. We add a little salt and black pepper when we make it. Preparation is about the same, as is the number of servings per package. Each serving has about 150 Calories, 860 mg of Sodium, 27 grams of Carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
“Darn Good” Chili
The kids like this, I like it, but my wife prefers canned hands-down. The flavor is mild, although the packages says ‘mildly spicy’ my family thinks it’s just mild. This mix requires a 6-oz. can of tomato paste and 3.5 cups of water. Each package makes 4 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 120 Calories, 520 mg of Sodium, 23 grams of Carbs, 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.
I like this mix, the rest of the family doesn’t, but they don’t like any kind of cheese or broccoli soup. The flavor is good, and is quite acceptable as a cheese soup. I add some red pepper to mine and it’s awesome. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 170 Calories, 960 mg of Sodium, 24 grams of Carbs, 1 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
The family likes this soup mix very much. The flavor is good, and it cooks quickly. We add a small can of Swanson’s white chicken to it, along with some black pepper. It’s very filling. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 120 Calories, 760 mg of Sodium, 22 grams of Carbs, 1 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
This is my favorite, although the rest of the family wont touch any kind of gumbo. The flavor is good by itself, but is fantastic when you add some small chunks of sausage. I add some red pepper and paprika sometimes too to kick it up a notch. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 130 Calories, 990 mg of Sodium, 26 grams of Carbs, 1 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
This mix is very good if you like bean soup. I do, my family does not. It cooks up nice and soupy, not watery or thin. Although I have not tried it yet, I am sure a few small chunks of ham would probably add a tremendous amount of additional flavor, not to mention some additional fiber. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 130 Calories, 940 mg of Sodium, 26 grams of Carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.
This was a bust, none of us liked this, but to be fair we don’t eat split-pea soup at all, it was just an experiment. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 110 Calories, 810 mg of Sodium, 20 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
This is another tasty soup mix that is on the lower end of the dietary scale. Cooked as directed it’s a little thin, but no more than many tortilla soups I have been served when dining out. Maybe ideal for food you can drink on the run from a thermos bottle. I add a little cayenne pepper to mine, and I think some Swanson’s canned chicken cooked and added would make this a complete meal. Each package makes 8 1-cup servings. Each serving has about 90 Calories, 830 mg of Sodium, 22 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Alessi Soup Mixes
I had the Zuppa Toscana and it was great. The packet makes 1 quart of soup. Each serving has about 150 Calories, 660 mg of Sodium, 28 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Compared to other mixes this soup packs a bit more nutritional punch. I found it a bit more expensive as well.
Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes
My kids love these! They eat them like ice cream! Sometimes they add a little garlic salt and sour cream, but just as often as not they eat them as-is. Prepared as directed they are very good. They get thick and creamy and actually taste like mashed potatoes, not sawdust or chalk. Since you mix these with hot water and don’t boil the mixture, I tried an experiment by putting the mix and hot water in a 1-gallon freezer bag to mix them. With a little gentle shaking motion they mixed up just as well as in a pot.
Idahoan Instant Mashed Potatoes
The kids didn’t like these as much as the Betty Crocker’s, but I did. They have a bit more ‘potato’ taste (you know, like dirt). Same as the others, they are better if you add a little garlic salt and sour cream, but it’s not a must. Prepared as directed they are very good. Like the betty Crocker, these get thick and creamy and actually taste like mashed potatoes, but I had to cook them a little longer than directed. very good instant potatoes.
All in all, these seem to be decent products that I would eat on a daily basis, not just in an emergency situation. With a little care and planning, you should be able to buy these both locally at retail stores and in bulk from distributors. They will store well as packaged, and fit well into backpacks and fanny-packs. I have already started stocking up on these mixes, and I actually look forward to eating them.