Frugal Tips for Disaster Preparedness

As we noted here previously, September is, ironically, disaster preparedness month. Throughout the month we’ll be posting some ideas for preparing an emergency kit without sending the budget in cardiac arrest.

Today I’ll be listing a few foods that do not need to be cooked, although you will need a tool or two.

Nonfood item to add to your kit: A decent can opener. If possible, get a good pocketknife/leatherman tool for your purse, too. Some utensils, especially spoons or forks to scrape out contents of cans.

1. Ramen Noodles. Yes, Ramen Noodles. I had to laugh when I read some Katrina coverage where a reporter, wanting to illustrate how desperately hungry a man was, told how he was eating dried ramen noodles. The reporter claimed that ” ‘It tastes like chips,’ the man said hopefully.” I suspect that the ‘hopefully’ was the reporter’s opinion substituted for straight reporting. I wish he’d asked the man if he’d ever eaten Ramen noodles that way before the storm. I bet he had. Some 13 years ago or so friends of ours from Hawaii told us that raw, uncooked, crunchy ramen noodles are a popular snack for school children. You gently crunch up the noodles while still in the bag. Then you open one end of the bag and pull out the foil seasoning packet. Sprinkle about half of the seasoning packet over the dry noodles in the bag. SAve the other half packet of seasoning- you can add that to bean soups, instant mashed potatoes, and use it for seasoning soups, broths, and meat if you are so lucky as to have meat to cook. Eat the dried ramen noddle bits with your fingers, just like chips.
Ramen noodles are cheap, cheap, cheap. They are not terribly nutritious, but they will serve to keep your belly full, they are a comfort food for many, and they are lightweight, which is a plus if you have to carry your emergency supplies.

Tuna Fish- watch for sales and use coupons to do this frugally. Drain the liquid and use it to reconstitute dried onions or to add to liquid for soups- unless you hate fish. But then, if you hate fish, you won’t want tuna anyway.

Peanut Butter- watch for sales and use coupons. Also if you are on WIC you are eligible to get free peanut butter. PUt a jar or two in your emergency stash.

Dried fruits- these do not need to be reconstituted. Raisins are cheapest. Dried tomatoes taste great. You can dry your own or buy dried fruit in bags and boxes. I notice in our areas the local pharmacies have very good deals on boxes of dried fruit in the fall. Also try a local dollar store if you have those.

Jars of nuts- peanuts will probably be the cheapest, but you might score a good sale.

Granola bars, fruit bars, breakfast bars, poptarts- these things are fairly self explanatory. Again, watch for sales and use coupons whenever possible.

Tofu in asceptic packaging- I know a lot of people think soy is really bad for you, and I know a lot of people wouldn’t touch tofu with a barge pole. But we like it. This is an item that is very frugal if you buy through a cooperative grocery warehouse such as Blooming Prairie or at a military commissary. Some asian grocery stores adn market may have it at a reasonable price, too. Here where we live, the local grocery store marks it up so high that it is not a frugal food.

beef jerky- this is another item that can be quite pricey. You can sometimes find it inexpensively at the dollar store, or you can make your own.

Landjaeger sausage – keeps very well and does not need refrigeration. I believe the German Army travled on these for decades. How expensive it is depends largely on being in the right place at the right time.


Canned fruit- never throw away the juice from canned fruits and vegetables. Drnk it or bring it with you. Do not throw it away.

Instant pudding, powdered milk, and water (or liquid from canned fruit- stir together to make the pudding.


Candy- this will depend on where you live. In Alaska chocolate is just fine. In LA, I imagine it’s a sticky, nasty mess.

A few boxes of crackers

Caned (sheesh) Canned Veggies.

There are others, I ‘ma sure. I am equally sure that those of us who live in earthquake prone areas will need to prepare and store prepoarations differently than those who live in Hurricane country. Know your area, know the types of needs you are most likely to have, and stock with your family in mind.

Remember to rotate through your supplies, replacing them and eating the older stock. This is important for two reasons- one is to keep your supplies in good order. The second is because it is important to be familiar with these foods. In an emergency you don’t want to be experimenting. You want to be serving meals that are familiar, and even comfortable, to all.


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  1. Posted September 7, 2005 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I love Ramen noodles dry. I always have a few clusters when I’m cooking the soup. I’ve also always thought it would be fun to try crunched up Ramen noodles in milk like cereal, but I’ve never done it. I couldn’t believe the reporter thought eating dry ramen noodles was a problem. They are so drenched in fat they are wonderful!

  2. Posted September 7, 2005 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Your mention of a can opener reminded me — for those sending food to Katrina victims, keep in mind that can openers may be hard to come by. We were getting some provisions for evacuees and had included some cans of tuna until I realized this, and switched them out with pouches, which are a bit more expensive but require no equipment to open.

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