Letter Re: Healthy Eating and Food Storage Rotation

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I started my weight-loss/lifestyle change journey four months ago.  I found myself unable to sprint a flight of stairs without feeling lightheaded at the top.  My older, but thinner lunchtime walking partners didn’t appear to have this issue.  I have been reading about the need to get into shape should a SHTF scenario happen in the near future.  This convinced me that I need to make a healthy lifestyle change including weight-loss and more physical activity.

As I started this endeavor, I wondered if the food preparations I stored would work with my new eating habits.  You’ve probably heard the motto “store what you eat, eat what you store”.
My prepping began a few years ago.  I learned canning from my mother and I took up dehydrating just recently.  I’ve been to the local LDS cannery twice and have loaded up on pantry items.  We also bought a few MREs for meal variety.  This was all before my decision to change the way I eat.

I joined Weight Watchers (WW) to help guide me on my weight-loss quest.  (I don’t work for WW, nor make any money from writing this article.  There are probably other great weight-loss programs out there.  This happened to be the program I chose.)

I knew that whatever program I followed, it would have to work with my food storage items.  I don’t typically buy the frozen pre-measured meals that WW or other companies sell.  After SHTF, these won’t be available anyway, so I need to learn to eat what I have.  My ultimate goal is to lose weight while rotating our food storage.
Here is what I found so far:

Canning:
WW recommends eating fruits and vegetables over processed food.  Canning supports this since a wide range of fruits, vegetables, soups and stews can be stored and rotated easily.  You know exactly what goes into these foods.  Perfect are tomatoes, string beans, broth soups, pickles, and salsas for a few.  Canned corn, potatoes and beans add a few “points” (the WW food measurement system), but these foods make you feel fuller and are most times worth the trade-off in points.  Fruits like apples and peaches are another great choice too, but I’m careful to use the lightest syrup when canning.  Jams and jellies are high in sugar so I use these sparingly.
 
Dehydrating:
If you’ve ever participated in WW or lived with someone who has, you’ve heard of low-point/zero-point soup.  This soup is a life saver for someone who is running out of the weekly point allowance and wants a filling meal.  I make the soup different each time, but I start out with vegetable broth and then throw in handfuls of different veggies I have dried.  This could include string beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, celery, zucchini, etc.  Add a small amount of basil and oregano.  For protein, add some dehydrated salad shrimp.  I make this about every other week (yes, I frequently am running out of WW points!) and I cook it in my sun oven so I don’t have to heat up the house.  Simmer until the veggies are re-hydrated.   An extremely easy meal to make and it is satisfying. 
Fruits can be a little bit different when dehydrated.  Zero point bananas and grapes suddenly become snacks with points attached to them when turned into dried bananas and raisins.  This is because the sugars in the fruits change when heated.
 
LDS Cannery Items:
We bought 25 pound bags of wheat, oats, beans and rice.  What am I to do with all of this?  Another of the WW guidelines is to add fiber, whole grains and legumes to your daily intake.  I ground some of the whole wheat and made wonderful wheat bread in the sun oven.  Instant oats are a low-point alternative for a quick breakfast, while the rolled variety is great in recipes such as muffins.  Beans are a protein filled low-point legume that can be used in a wide range of dishes.   White rice, on the other hand, is a bit challenging for me to use and this lags in our rotation.  Rice has a similar amount of WW points as pasta, which for me is pretty high.  You have to decide if the benefit of eating rice outweighs the point value.  There might be some alternate food you might want to eat instead (spaghetti squash, for example is zero points and can be used as a bed for whatever you might top rice.  Spaghetti squash will probably not be available after the SHTF so I’ll keep my rice on hand).
 
MREs:
I don’t typically eat the MRE meals until near their expiration date.   An average MRE meal contains  1,100 to 1,300 calories.  While I haven’t figured out the WW point values, I’m sure that one MRE meal with all its extras would keep me sated for a full day.  For example a fruit bar I pulled out of an MRE recently measured at 4 WW points (equal to a reasonable breakfast), and a large cracker with jelly equals 6 WW points (equal to a reasonable lunch).  So there would be an easy way to split up the meal need be, although a nutritionist would probably balk at the quality of what is being ingested.  Of course, with the stress of a SHTF situation, I’d probably eat the whole MRE meal and extras in one sitting.  J 
 
In conclusion, I have discovered that my food preps do support a healthy change in lifestyle.  While I still have a ways to go to make my weight and physical activity goals, I am well on my way.  With portion control, I am able to balance both my weight loss goal and rotation of my food preps. – Wendy Q.

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