Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Institutional food, Yes or No?

We don't have the big warehouse stores around here, like Costco or Sam's, but one of the local chains has an aisle with #10 cans of 'institutional' food, like beans, fruit, spaghetti sauce, strawberry gelatin mix, beef chunks -- you get the idea. Depending on your situation, a few of these may be a reasonable option for your preparedness stores.
These provide several benefits. They are usually ready to eat, provided you don't mind them at room temp. There is usually no need to re-hydrate or cook unless it is a dessert or gravy mix. Two immediate downsides arise: 1. they are heavy and 2. You will probably need to eat the contents of a #10 can of ready-to-eat food -- possibly as much as 6 pounds -- within a few hours, as refrigeration may not be an option.

If you anticipate that 'shelter-in place' is a likely scenario, and you have a large family or a neighborhood preparation group that would share the meal, ready-to-use institutional canned food may be a good low-cost option.

Another great item I've found on the institutional aisle: 1 lb yeast bricks. These are compressed and vacuum-packed. They cost about $4. I can cross the street and buy a 4 ounce jar of the same stuff for $7 or more at the unnamed chain grocery. The brick store well at room temp for a year or more if the vacuum is in tact. Once I open a brick, I empty the package into a glass or plastic container, label it, and stick it in the fridge. It will last a long time in there-- again, probably up to a year. Every couple of months, proof it in warm water with a sprinkle of white sugar or flour. If it bubbles up in a few minutes, it's still good for bread.

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