Frugal Guide To Disaster Preparedness

Today we will suggest four more easy, frugal items that will help improve the taste and comfort level of the bean flour soups and dried bean stews we’ve already talked about:

1. Salt and pepper (okay, that’s two)
2. dried, minced onion flakes
3. garlic powder
4. instant mashed potato flakes
5. Powdered Milk

These are all already dehydrated for you.=) Just add some potato flakes to the boiling water of any bean dish, and the two flavors blend well. It will slightly thicken the broth, and it will be a bit like a potato soup in flavor. These items are readily available at your grocery store, and if you watch for sales and use coupons, you can get them very inexpensively. Use them to thicken and flavor soups and stews. Or just use them for comfort foods like mashed potatoes- just boil liquid, add mashed potatoes and powdered milk, let stand, season to taste. Or add some minced onion to the boiling water at the same time as the potatoes for a more flavorful mashed potato dish.

Store these in ziplock bags or airtight cans or jars. Make sure you keep your emergency supplies together so you don’t have to hunt them down. If you keep some in your freezer, keep a box or plastic tote nearby with other supplies. You should also keep some emergency supplies in the trunk of your car, and some in backpacks for each family member in case you need to evacuate quickly.

Minced onion flakes are available in the spices and herb section of your grocery store. But they are also available in the bulk section of many health food stores, and that will be much cheaper. Cheaper still would be to be a member of a natural foods co-op and buy one pound at a time- although this is a larger chunk of money to lay out in one transaction, and thus will still be out of reach for many. You can dice onions in uniformly sized squares and dehydrate them yourself, although this useful website suggests that it’s not worth the hassle. Sometimes it might be, though.

Slice the onions into rings, then slice the rings into evenly sized squares. Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet (you might want to lightly grease it if it is not a teflon sheet). Preheat your oven at 150 degrees and leave the onions in there for about three hours. They should be brittle when done. The stronger the flavor of your onion, the more flavor the dried pieces will have. To reconstitute, ideally you will want to soak the onions in about the same amount of liquid- so 1/2 cup dried onion would soak in 1/2 a cup of liquid. Ideally it would soak for an hour or two and then you’d use it just like chopped onion- but an emergency seldom gives us ideal situations. You can just add it to your meal, mash it with a brick to make onion powder (it will reconstitute more quickly), of, if necessary, eat it as is for ‘onion chips.’ If you can store it in a dry, airtight jar or bag in a cool area, it will keep about four to six months. If it is stored in a warmer location, replace with freshly dried onions and use it in your cooking after two or three months.

Thus far all we have discussed are water sources (water in bottles, and a bottle of bleach you can use to purify contaminated water), bean flours, soup broth powders, dehydrated beans, salt, dried minced onion, garlic powder, and powdered milk.
If you are going to be able to cook any of these things, you need to make sure you have matches and a lighter or two- these are also things you can add to your supplies without spending much money.
You may end up cooking on the grill, or you may have to cook over a campfire. Or maybe you won’t be able to cook at all? Then what? That’s for next time.

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6 Comments

  1. jdavidb
    Posted September 6, 2005 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Dried minced onion and dried minced garlic are already two staples in our cooking. :) We use the minced garlic instead of the powder. There’s hardly anything I cook that doesn’t get these added, or occasionally one of the corresponding powders, even if I’m fixing some premade convenience food. (Dad used to gripe at me for adding garlic to chili.) We buy the minced garlic in bulk from Sam’s.

  2. My Boaz's Ruth
    Posted September 6, 2005 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Note that bleaching water does not take chemical contaminants out of the water (Such as what are often in flood waters) In cases like this, that water you put in jars is the best deal.

    Medpundit has some links to things to do in a flood situation.

  3. B. Durbin
    Posted September 7, 2005 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Get a backpacker’s water filter. While they are not equipped to deal with heavy contamination, they are good for treating supposedly “pure” water sources for nasty little bugs like giardia.

    Hmm. I would suggest bouillon cubes as part of an emergency kit. Add one to your family’s rice portion and you suddenly have rice with savor— and more flavorful food means both higher morale and better-fed family. (And it’s simple, for those of us who aren’t used to cooking in, shall we say, monochrome.)

  4. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted September 7, 2005 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    We have a backpacker’s water filter, but it was not a frugal purchase. We bought a largish Katadyn, and we have used it well.

    Broth powder I’ve already mentioned- although I think in a post that is saved as a draft and will come up in a few days.=)

    Dried green onions and dried cherry or grape tomatoes are also good additions for those tired of the endless array of white.

  5. B. Durbin
    Posted September 17, 2005 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    Dried anything is good, though when my dad dries fruit he overdoes it a bit and ends up with hurt-your-teeth sweetness. (Sacramento; good place for fruit trees. He doesn’t dry veggies because they all get eaten!)

  6. Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I dehydrate fresh onions…the flavor of mine is much stronger and more onion-y flavored than that of the grocery store. Its also cheaper to buy a bag of onions and do them yourself than a container of already dehydrated onions.

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