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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

more homemade MRE's 2 of 2


MORE HOMEMADE MRE’S 2

As I was saying before being rudely interrupted by my word count cut-off, previous attempts at homemade MRE’s mostly consisted of Top Ramen and peanut butter.  The original recipe, handed down to me on his death bed by a loyal minion, was peanut butter mixed with oatmeal and Tang drink powder.  This way you got protein, whole grain and vitamin C.  There is nothing wrong with this one, other than the peanut butter being a vegetable rather than an animal protein ( despite what well meaning Birkenstock wearers maintain, your body knows the difference if it is getting bunny food protein, or bunny flesh.  Just because the amino acids are supposedly the same in both grain/legume combination and dead animal doesn’t mean your body prefers/is satisfied with either.  Most of us follow our evolutionary path towards the BBQ pit-our brains developed and are optimized with animal protein.  You can survive off of plant protein.  The wheat survival stash is predicated on this.  But if/when possible, get that animal flesh also ). 

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My addition of Top Ramen packs in no way improves on the original recipe.  White flour replacing whole grain oats is a step down, not an improvement.  The only thing is does better is allow instant consumption with no preparation.  You can dig into your pack on the move and continue eating without stopping ( eating the Top Ramen uncooked ).  Then at night and at breakfast you can eat the peanut butter by itself, as well as cooking the brick of Ramen and adding the flavor pack.  Don’t get me wrong, Top Ramen sucks ( as does oatmeal-but that is just me having been force fed it as a child.  Along with those damn cooked veggies.  Give me a raw veggie, and I’m happy.  Oatmeal, however, I’ve never really recovered from.  I can eat bread for breakfast uninterrupted for years at a time.  Oatmeal, I cannot ).  But it is cheap and filling and can be eaten raw or cooked.  So it is a trail food.  The oatmeal is also, but the Ramen is simply more versatile on the run.  It wouldn’t be the worst idea to have both.  Oatmeal for breakfast, Ramen for your other two meals.  Either can be cooked or eaten raw if necessary ( although you do need to mix the oats with the peanut butter if you can’t cook it ).  But here we are NOT concerned with the optimal survival stores food.  We are just talking about short term field rations.  So variety isn’t as important as a simple calorie rich affordable ration.

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And affordability is very important here.  Which is why jerky is not an option in our homemade MRE.  Whole wheat hardtack ( or its improvement, which I’ll cover shortly ) and jerky, with Tang to drink, would be a far more ideal MRE.  But it wouldn’t be all that much cheaper than a commercial ration.  Oh, sure, you could get a roast on sale.  They just had beef at $2.99 ( at Krogers, the new and improved Low Cost Leader.  Piss on Wal-Mart, those rectal ranger sum-bitches and their higher prices with lowered quality.  Go bankrupt already and stop embarrassing yourselves ).  Then you have about a $5 MRE.  Tastier, and healthier.  Than either a regular MRE or my lower cost alternative.  But, remember, short term rations.  Health is secondary, while I place affordability with minimal quality sacrifice in first place.  So let’s go with a $2 MRE ( you could have a 25cent MRE if you just went with a pounds worth of flour, but while frugal I’m not completely cheap.  Field rations, optimally, need protein.  Hence the higher cost ). 

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Remember those dried hot dogs I was telling you about?  There is your protein.  A ( by now reduced sized container ) jar of peanut butter is about two thousand calories.  You can buy one on sale for about a $1.50.  So, a buck gets you 1300 calories.  On sale, a 12oz pack of chicken/mystery meat hot dogs goes for a buck.  800 calories.  You get 60-70% of the calories per dollar, but it is animal flesh verses plant protein ( okay, I don’t know how much is flesh and how much is filler, such as cellulose as in sawdust, but close enough for government work here ).  In the field, stress and heavy workloads, plus being exposed to the elements, you want to maximize your nutrients, not minimize.  Hence, animal flesh over simple carbs.  Dried hot dogs are the cheapest animal flesh you can pack ( you might find canned fish on sale, or you might not.  I’m sticking to the widely available meat ).  Cut into nickel size pieces, and dry for about a day.  Do NOT use beef dogs.  They are too fatty, and you can’t dry fat.  You just have a food that goes rancid much quicker ( the one thing going for the peanut butter was fat content.  Being hydrogenated, it doesn‘t go rancid very quick ).

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The difference here from the old homemade MRE’s is that you now have a commercial food air dryer.  At $40, they are almost a requirement.  Granted, if this is all you use it for they are not worth the cost.  But if you have access to cheap fruits in season they are well worth it.  Another item you can dry is slices of bread.  They will not be reduced in volume, but they will last a very long time without moisture.  They are like a giant crouton.  If the thought of Top Ramen sickens you, just go with dried slices of bread.  At around 100 calories a slice for whole wheat, it doesn’t take too many, added to the pack of hot dogs ( at 100 calories a link ), to make a 1500 calorie MRE.  If space is a consideration, just beware Top Ramen is almost 400 calories a brick so it won’t take up as much room as the bread.  But dried bread is a much better carb filler ( whole wheat and white have the same calories, but whole wheat is far more filling and satisfying to your body.  It is the animal protein to peanut butter of carbs ). 

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The author that introduced me to dried hot dogs maintains that they have about a two year shelf life.  I have no reason to doubt this, but to make sure you can just replace them every year.  Just take them for lunch one work day and replace.  It was a friggin buck, for goodness sakes!  MRE’s at room temps really don’t have much more of a shelf life anyway ( as far as nutrients go ).  And I know you could argue that with the cost of a food dryer, the homemade MRE’s are just as expensive as commercial units.  Which is why I said not to buy the dryer unless you’ll get extra use out of it.  Just like you don’t add the cost of your car mileage to the price of a case of MRE’s you go pick up at the UPS depot.  If you are unsure if this is right for you ( if you are unsure if you should invest in a dryer ), slice up a pack of hot dogs now, in the winter when running the oven costs nothing extra ( it will fill in for your heater running ), and place in the stove at the lowest temperature with the door cracked open.  After drying for a day, allow to cool and taste.  To my mind, they taste nothing like the nasty budget hot dogs they actually are.  It is like the taste difference between a fresh and a dried apple.  Enjoy.

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25 comments:

  1. Sir Lord BaltimoreJanuary 25, 2017 at 8:36 AM

    Lord Bison,

    If you want to Gucci up and add a bit of flavor to those homemade rations...you might want to choose the Indian alternative (dot not feather).

    https://www.amazon.com/Kitchens-India-Dinner-Variety-Ounce/dp/B002GQ6OEM?th=1

    These meals are packaged retort style like MRE's (That heavy pouch that can be boiled to cook the contents in the package).

    I've been able to find these at my local indian/nepali grocery for about 2$ a throw( other varieties and manufacturers too). A little more expensive but these might serve to augment the more bland peanut butter, oatmeal, tang alternative.

    Used these while camping. No issues and the package seems to be sturdy enough.

    On the subject of "ethnic" groceries. Asian markets, Middle Eastern markets and Mexican markets make great places to buy cheap staples and other odds and ends (Vietnamese markets always have canned butter for instance). Because many of these cultures also don't have a long history of refrigeration their cuisines might be worth looking into for some of your larder.

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    1. One of the old wives tales you hear about Vietnam ( relating to our occupation there ) was the government cheese given to them not being looked at as food. So I never associated butter with Viet food. Thanks for the idea!

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    2. Sir Lord BaltimoreJanuary 25, 2017 at 5:42 PM

      By virtue of their previous occupation by the French the Vietnamese were big fans of dairy...ice cream in particular.
      Their coffee is the best I'll send some your way some time. They use sweetened condensed milk lighten it up...Again no refrigeration needed. The butter I've seen on the shelves is actually from Europe. Speaking of cheese...For breakfast they would smear that Laughing Cow Brand shelf stable cream cheese on a baguette with jam...Ah man the food ways of Victor Charles...the best.

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    3. I had Indonessian coffee once-putrid foul tea-like swill.

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  2. Trader Joe's has the Indian fare, too, but more expensive. Tastes OK... Jim, I seem to recall you recommending Vienna Sausage for MRE protein - $.50/can (dollar store) gets you about 600 cal per buck - no dehydration or cooking... think of it as your hot dogs, canned... (did you ever try drying cheap chicken or turkey bologna? about the same stuff (and price) as the hot dogs..

    BTW, Alton Brown has a design for a DIY dehydrator; a box fan and furnace filters - cheap if you have the fan..

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    1. I would imagine all of us have a fan for hot weather. I'll check that out. You have a better memory than me, I didn't think about the Vienna sausage until you mentioned it.

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    2. I prefer potted meat. the large is 69 cents has 300 calories and 20 grams protein.

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    3. Almost twice the price, but it does eliminate the need for a dryer.

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  3. To keep cost low one would have to make these themselves but parched corn/corn nuts and jerky is the oldest trail food MRE. Peanut butter is my weakness love it. My kids think its funny I keep jars in the truck.

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  4. What's wrong with regular energy/granola bars? It might be less of a hassle, as long as you carefully read the ingredients and get one with a decent amount of protein.
    Peace out

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    1. Again, not animal protein. They also don't fill me up, and are expensive.

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  5. Oh Great Bison! I humbly beg to differ with your conclusions on jerky vs. hot dog slices.

    I don't have a Krogers locally but I do have a Walmart, so my data is based on their products. The only chicken dogs they had at a reasonable price today were the "Bar-S" brand 3lb package of chicken dogs for $3.98/lb. The nutritional info shows that they are 10% protein by weight, so the hot dog protein costs $39.80/lb.

    I then went over to the fresh chicken section and found boneless/skinless chicken breasts at $1.99/lb. The nutritional info shows that the fresh chicken is 20% protein by weight, so this protein costs only $9.95/lb.

    Conclusion - fresh chicken protein cost 1/4 what chicken dog protein costs. It is also a higher quality protein source unadulterated by the myriad of preservatives, colors, sugar, salt, etc., added to dogs. The fresh chicken can be made into jerky using the same drying process used to dehydrate the dog slices, and a wide variety of marinades can be used for flavoring the chicken jerky. Teriyaki, smoke, spicy, sweet, BBQ.

    Another option - pemmican. Made using ground beef or ground turkey. 80/20 ground beef at $2.18/lb works out to protein at about 1/3 the cost of chicken hot dog protein. Pemmican is handy since it allows using fattier meat than jerky and the final product includes the fat for a higher calorie/energy product. While cooking the ground meat, break it up into small bits and pour off the grease for rendering. Dehydrate the nearly fat free meat bits and grind to powder. Render the grease/fat and recombine with the powdered meat. Add other dry ingredients like dried fruit or berries.

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    1. I can't disagree with your math. However, that said, even if a lower protein, it is still meat, and is only a buck for 800 calories. Anything else is a better product but at a higher cost. In the end, it is about calories on the cheap, doing the best you can with quality. So, a mid grade, above PB but below real meat. Your way is much better, both jerky and pemmican, if you can afford it. My way is better if you can't. Long term dried food? Your way. Short term, mine. Last thing you want with stress and deprevation is six months eating nitrates and filler. I did that once and you can notice a decrease in health.

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    2. I hear what you're saying, but my concern is that so much of the caloric content is fat. That's normally good, but what happens to the fat when the dog slices are dried? Does it drip away, or does it stay to go rancid? Guess I need to try it myself. Tho not a fan, this is why I suggested pemmican. The fat is rendered so that it doesn't go rancid as quickly. But easy? Dried dog slices wins hands down!

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    3. I was just reading on an old timey method of meat preservation ( I think the link was on Rawles ) which slow cooked the meat in fat. Slow cooked, not fried. I wonder if the 24 hours on drying heat does the same with hot dogs. I can't say for sure. Mine are a bit over a year old now ( I had to look-can't believe it has been so long so fast ) and I'll test them out after this comment is posted. I'll report in tomorrows post.

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  6. I have found ham makes nice jerky. Get it during Christmas or Easter on sale under a buck a pound fully cooked and cured. Put it in the dehydrator and it is tasty cheaper than hotdogs. Pork loin is good too cut it thin brine it smoke it if you can or use liquid smoke and dehydrate. My Kroger often has it for under Two bucks a pound.Lake Erie Pirate

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    1. I never thought of a ham. Good idea.

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    2. I dried spiral sliced ham after holiday sale 99 cents a pound in a nesco dehydrator. I vacuum sealed it in canning jars. Opened a jar today from 1/2011 perfect still. Great hair!LEP

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    3. I finally got a case of small jars to try to can butter. I really want to try that out. The kerosene survival dude shows the way, just stove top, oven and fridge needed.

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  7. And how many of those homemade MRE are you storing ?

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    1. I'd say around two-three weeks worth of meat and about the same with peanut butter. That's just those two items with Top Ramen. I could scare up more with other items. Spam and white flour would last a few more months, for example. But then we get into excessive weight and cooking.

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  8. Ramen for us is a very reasonable proposition for us. In cold, hot soup warms the soul and body (tip: inhale over top of warmed food to for extra warmth). When its hot, the salty powder is welcome for the body which has sweat out the nutrients.

    Besides that - extremely lightweight, long shelf life, very inexpensive. Add meat and/or veggies for extra nutrition (baby carrots works really well here) to it for extra bulk and keeps the 'train rolling', if you know what I mean.

    Thanks for the post.

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    1. I can easily leave all my Ramen for the collapse. No craving to eat it now. Cup O Noodle, now, that I enjoy.

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  9. Bears, Coatimundi, Raccoons, etc love the smell of dehydrated hot dogs. Bears will follow that smell for miles.

    Family Dollar stores have canned bologna, chicken, for a dollar a can. I stock up on it and share it with the homeless folk. I have not tried to dehydrate it though.

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    1. Just when you think humans are stupid, wildlife craving hot dogs makes us seem smart again.

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