I see my need for food through the spectrum of having to serve it in a flavorful way so that my family, especially our picky little 4-year old man, will enjoy eating it. But as one who prepares for emergencies, I envision having to do it without the luxury of electricity to prepare it and the refrigeration to safely store it. After all, without electricity you can not save perishables in your freezer.
Just this past winter, we were with and without electricity on so many occasions I can’t even remember. Most were brief outages, but one in particular went for a week. And we counted ourselves among the more fortunate. Do you remember all the trouble on the east coast with all the harsh winter storms that left some without electricity for over a month? My family did just fine during the week that our electricity was out. We ate well because we cook with natural gas which works even during power outages. We also had our generator and fuel to keep our television, lights and refrigerator working. We actually enjoyed the experience. It was like camping in an expensive RV!
But within a few days, we needed to start replenishing the gasoline we were using in the generator. I want to eventually convert to a solar generator, but that is an expense we have to budget for. So with the courage of a true American settlers’ spirit, Mr. PrepperPenny braved the elements and went down the road in our SUV to the 7-11 to buy gas. He found long lines completely backed up and he wasn’t sure any gas would be left to buy by the time he got his turn at the pump. He said it reminded him of the long lines of people trying to buy gas during the Carter Administration‘s energy crisis in the 70′s. Fortunately, when it was his turn, there was gas and he did purchase some. But we both realized if the power outage went long enough, we were at risk of losing the food from our fridge and freezer. Because I have prepared for such emergencies for a couple of years, I don’t keep a lot of meat in the freezer. Meat is expensive and I don’t ever want to absorb that cost by losing hundreds of dollars worth of food. And if you are wondering, yes. We have alternative sources for cooking and heat. But I will talk about those and show you my very cool gadgets in another post. But I say with pride and confidence, if we ever did lose all perishable foods in our home, we will be fine. I plan for such scenarios and have a beautiful, well-stocked home store. As we sit here today, the food in my storage will feed us for many, many months and provide all my family’s needs without having to rely on the supermarket or even our governments “rescue.” My goal is to have a years supply by the time I harvest the last of the food my garden produces this fall. My eventual goal is to move to Texas and buy enough property to homestead. I dream of owning cows and chickens and growing really large gardens.
Because I am always thinking of ways that I can offer healthy, great tasting food in diar situations, I try to keep food in my pantry that I know my family and I truly enjoy eating. My family loves all kinds of meat prepared many ways. If society were to completely collapse and we were not able to buy food, be it a temporary or long-term delay, what then? I wondered about beef and chicken and pork. How easily or well would my family adjust to a very precious and limited access to meat. I know our limitations. We can grow fruits and vegetables, and powdered eggs, milk, butter and other staples are a no-brainer for us “preppers,” but it’s really frowned upon to have a cow, pig or even a little chicken coop in the backyard in our suburban home. I’m pretty sure the homeowners covenants would ban me from having any of these and my dear neighbors, who I love many and adore few, are probably happy about that.And because I’m always thinking about being self-sustaining, it prompted me to feverishly begin canning things like chicken breasts, pork roasts and meatloaf. I ravaged the supermarkets when meat was on sale until I made great headway in adding it in my home store. Canning it was easy and I felt relief as I began seeing my shelves filling up with our beloved meat. But then, I began using them in my food rotation and realized the limitations of what I could actually do in preparing recipes with them. The chicken is very good and tasty in a quesadilla, omelets and casseroles. The pork with BBQ sauce makes a yummy sandwich. And my meatloaf? What can I say? It’s always the best in the world, either canned or freshly made. But honestly, I was limited on how I could use it. So I accepted that and moved on. Well, not really. You may know me well enough by now to know that if there were other options, I was going to find them. And luckily, I did. I came across information about Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP).
Essentially, it is a soy product which is very high in protein and very low in fat. Yes people, it grabbed my attention because I am, after all, a woman. And as most women are, I am vain enough to always want to lose a little weight without actually having to diet! But I will be the first to admit, TVP is still not meat and lacks its’ appeal. But in shtf scenarios, it probably will look mighty appealing, even to the most outspoken nay-sayers in your family. And one of the big advantages for me is the lower cost than that of freeze-dried meats. A #10 can of freeze-dried ground beef costs around $44.00 while its’ TVP cousin costs only $12.00. That in of itself prompted me to want to try it. If I had to resort to using freeze-dried meats, I would use it in things like chili, sloppy joes, and in some of the hundreds of other recipes I have. There are nearly as many uses for TVP as there are for ground beef, chicken and pork. But if I can replace real meat products with TVP that tastes the same and is sufficiently flavored with herbs and spices to make it pleasing on our pallet, I will do so for the economic benefit of it and use the money I saved on other food or emergency supplies – maybe a solar generator.
At least for those of us who prepare for emergencies, we can appreciate a product that is high in protein, low in fat, and high in fiber, and stores well in our pantry’s, even if it would not be our first choise. We understand how important it will be to keep our bodies as healthy as possible during hard times. If we lose all the luxuries we are used to enjoying and we have to actually work for food – protein, calories and water are three of the life-sustaining elements that could be the difference between life and death. Besides, TVP can’t be all that bad - it would be better that resorting to eating insects as a main source of protein! And with most freeze-dried or dehydrated food, they pack very well in BOBs.I have ordered a can of TVP from Thrive and I will let you know how it works to replace ground beef in at least one of my recipes, maybe in chili or a casserole. If you have experience with TVP products, please share it with us in the comments section. And share any recipes you may already be using TVP in. It is my simple and humble opinion, if you are seriously preparing for any emergency, TVP just seems to me to add another level of assurance and peace of mind knowing you can give your family healthy and live-sustaining foods that taste good.Here is an article I came upon by Shelf Reliance from 2009. I thought you might glean some valuable insight.
VP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is an excellent protein source that is easy to store and use. TVP is made from soy flour where the soy oil has been extracted. It is cooked under pressure and then extruded and dried. Not only is TVP high in protein, but it’s also high in fiber and low in fat. This makes TVP ideal for food storage and for every day use. Because TVP is not made from meat, it does not have the contamination risk that many meats have with bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. Because it is soy based, it is perfect for those on a vegetarian diet.
TVP is very shelf stable and can sit in a sealed container for at least a year. When sealed in an airtight container (where the oxygen has been removed) the shelf life is much longer. TVP is best stored in a cool, dry place.
To reconstitute TVP, pour ¾ cup boiling water over 1 cup TVP and let stand for 5-10 minutes. It can also be added dry to dishes with adequate liquid such as soups or spaghetti sauce. The texture of TVP can be adjusted by the amount of liquid added, so you can experiment to find out just how you like it. 1 oz of TVP is equal to about 3 oz of meat. After rehydration, TVP should be treated like meat and must be refrigerated and eaten within a few days.
TVP is also very convenient for camping as it weighs very little and can be quickly rehydrated or added to dishes. It also makes a great quick dinner as you can make sloppy joes or tacos in under 15 minutes for much less than the cost of ground beef and with more nutrition. TVP is a very economical choice that provides the protein of meat without the fat or the mess that cooking and browning can create.
- Meat Analogue (pbmo.wordpress.com)