Throughout the world, natural disasters happen that interrupt the power supply and leave people without working appliances. Manmade disasters, such as the North Eastern US blackout in 2003, which left 45 million people without power for several days. Food spoiled and rotted in refrigerators and freezers, forcing people to try to find food that didn’t require refrigeration or cooking. Those with gas stoves were more fortunate, but light is required to adequately prepare, cook and serve the food.
This pantry will not only work for disasters, but for camping, RV’ing, traveling and more. I used it when I lived in a tent for over a year from 2012-2013.
Make A List Of The Foods In Your Refrigerator
You will need this list to create an off grid pantry for disaster preparation, camping or recreation.
Make A List Of Foods That Do Not Require Refrigeration
Research foods using books and online information to make a list of the items that do not require refrigeration. It is important to note that if you find an item listed as not needing refrigeration online, double-check by further researching the item itself. This would have saved me more than a few dollars; I opened jars to see mold growing inside several items. It could also spare you from being sickened or poisoned.
Make a mark (I use “NR”) next to each item that does not require refrigeration. When a blackout hits, you do not want to use these foods for more than a couple of hours. That’s because they have been kept at a cold temperature and the change is going to affect them. For your pantry, keep new, unopened items in place.
Write down the items that are left- they, too, can join your non-refrigerated pantry, but in different forms. Items in dried form can be found at a wide variety of websites and in the camping section of big box stores. Powdered and dried items can include:
- · Milk
- · Eggs
- · Soup
- · Flour
- · Potatoes
- · Rice mix
- · Camping dinners
- · Natural grains and vegetables such as peas, beans, rice, pasta
- · Meat
- · Various vegetables such as broccoli, onions, tomatoes and more
Instead of trying to obtain and cook fresh meat every day, used canned instead. Chicken, ham, turkey, fish, beef and pork are available in canned form. Canned soups, stews and more can be stocked for a quick meal. Packaged dried bacon bits are terrific in mashed potatoes, salads, soups, scrambled powdered eggs and other dishes.
Crackers, dried fruits, trail mixes and more are available in grocery stores. Bread mixes such as “just-add-water” pancake mix, biscuit mix and so on are also available. Allow a store-bought loaf of bread to dry out a little by leaving the end untied for a few hours; most will keep up to a week or more without the extra moisture.
I keep peanut butter, strawberry jelly, mustard, pancake syrup and ketchup out of the refrigerator without trouble. I use small sizes so food is replaced quickly and has no time to spoil.
Vegetables can be purchased the day they are prepared and cooked, or they can be purchased in dried form and reconstituted before cooking.
It’s easy to prepare dried foods for cooking. Soak them in just enough water to cover them and drain before adding to soups, stews or casseroles. Do not toss the water out; it can be used as soup stock. Follow the directions on mixed foods such as camping meals, rice and past side-dishes and so on.
Extra Equipment You May Need
A recipe book or two geared for using dried foods is very helpful when you begin to use a pantry tailored for non refrigeration. Eventually, you will discover recipes of your own and write them down.
A butane camping stove burner can become indispensible when gas lines fail. If you have an electric stove, this will save the day. Remember to have a few stainless steel skillets, pots and pans to use, as non-stick coatings were not meant to be used on gas stoves. I bought a Coleman butane stove from Wal Mart for less than $20 and two bottles of butane for less than $3 each. They do last a long time with careful use. Be certain never to leave the burner unattended when you are cooking. Conventional camping stoves will work as well.
Containers of clean water can be stored in case city water pumps fail. Figure a half gallon for each person per day and enough additional water for washing and cooking. Also include enough water and food for pets.
Keep your pantry in easy to lift containers that you can move quickly if needed. For camping, just load them and go. For disasters, set them up in the kitchen and have a good meal.
Buy purchasing items a few at a time, you’ll have your off grid pantry stocked in no time.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.
Source: Linda Lin, “Foods for Camping, No Cooking, No Refrigeration!” Ezine article webpage, 25 May 2008