Is this site only for survivalists?

No. You don’t have to be a devotee of long-term food storage to enjoy The Gourmet Survivalist. Maybe you just want to know if you should refrigerate your almond butter. Maybe you’re wondering how to choose a good olive oil. Maybe you take pleasure in examining detailed photos of cheese mold. If so, you’ve landed on the right site. Even though my emphasis is on long-term storage, the info I unearth will maximize the deliciousness and nutritiousness of what you’re eating today. I may also save you money by conducting brand taste tests, price comparisons, storage experiments and recipe testing. Knowing which foods and products to buy and how to store them isn’t just for survivalists.

If you are of the survivalist ilk, I recommend you browse the site for ideas on how to make your existing food-stores taste fresher and better. Search for the tag: Flavor-boost.

What’s a gourmet survivalist?

A gourmet is a person who cultivates a discriminating palate for the enjoyment of good food and drink. A survivalist is a person who makes preparations to survive a widespread catastrophe. Therefore, a gourmet survivalist is a person who prepares for a potential food shortage by stocking her pantry full of the delicious yet storage-friendly foods she already loves and eats regularly. She knows how much to buy of each item in order to make sure there’s enough food to feed her family (including pets and anyone else she doesn’t want to turn away when they come knocking) for at least three months. She also owns the proper equipment and supplies to prepare her meals in case the electricity, gas and clean water services are unavailable.

Who is THE gourmet survivalist?

THE gourmet survivalist is the totally prepared, totally capable, well-informed, kick-ass chef and prepper I aspire to be. Read more in this post.

What’s a Prepper?

Many survivalists refer to themselves as “preppers” because they take action to prepare for a potential disaster scenario. Most preppers stockpile water and food in case their supply source is cut off during any large-scale disaster situation. Many have some expertise in self-defense, self-sufficiency and other arts of adaptability.

What makes you a gourmet cook?

I’m not. For fifteen years I had a husband who was, and he cooked every meal. I was very spoiled. After he moved out I was left with a hankering for delicious meals prepared from fresh local ingredients, but only a vague memory of how he prepared them. So I had to re – learn how to cook. My mom’s not around any more so this time I’m choosing to read, ask and listen to the most reputable books, websites and people I can access. And then I’m testing all this to see what really works for me.

What makes you a survivalist?

I’m not. Even though I come from sensible MacGyver-like stock, (my father can build a tractor out of spare washing machine parts), I have never been all that interested in foraging for my food or living off the grid. I don’t grow my own food. But I’m about to, and will report what I learn.

What makes you a Gourmet Survivalist?

I’m not. But I want to be! I seek the peace of mind that comes from knowing I’ve done all that I can do to ensure the health, safety, and gastronomic happiness of my family and friends. This website chronicles my transformation from an unorganized amateur cook to an informed, well – prepared domestic goddess, (if all goes well and I don’t poison myself with my non-refrigerated chorizo experiments first).

Gourmet cooking sounds fussy and complicated. Who has the time for that, especially during a disaster?

Good point! I’m not recommending that, as a hurricane approaches, you run to the kitchen to whip up a batch of crème brulee. This site is more of a personal quest for foods that are easy to store and nutritious, yet somehow ridiculously delicious. No small feat, if you believe as I do that the best and most delicious foods are fresh, unprocessed and likely to spoil easily. Even if disaster preparedness isn’t your thing, there are lots of tips and techniques everyone should know in order to save money and eat deliciously.

Why must I obsess over nutrition during a food shortage?  Isn’t any food good food in that scenario?

In challenging situations your priorities will certainly shift. However, in order to rotate your food stores and keep them fresh, you’ll be eating them on a day-to-day basis.  Eating wholesome foods helps you fend off disease, lends vitality, keeps you gorgeous and just generally improves your quality of life.

But eating a low-fat diet is so un-fun. Must I?

Did I say low fat? Are you kidding? Butter is my middle name, (but I’m soon changing it to Ghee). If I don’t have something rich in every meal, I keep eating in an attempt to satiate that craving. I end up eating more sugar, more carbs and more junk to get my hit. But like everything else, fats should be consumed with moderation. So when I say “healthy” or “nutritious” I do not necessarily mean low-fat.

How much food and water should I stockpile?

There’s not a lot of consensus on this question. The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas recommends storing at least a three-day supply of food and water. FEMA and the American Red Cross recommend you stockpile enough food and water for at least two weeks. The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Mormon) most recent guidelines call for a three-month supply. Aton Edwards, author of “Preparedness Now!” prefers three months to a year.  Many committed survivalists store as much as several years supply. I would imagine most families already have enough food on hand to last 72 hours, and with one trip to the grocery store would return with enough water. I’m hoping to stockpile at least three months of water and delicious healthy food. This seems to be the average length of time recommended by most “experts” and although challenging, it seems doable within the space I have available in my home and on my budget. Even if a “situation” lasts only a week, I’ll probably need lots of extra food for all of my friends who’ll be knocking on my door.

What good is a three-month supply of food if my house is underwater?

If you’re told to evacuate, get the heck out. Your cache of at least three months of food and water isn’t going to be of much use at the last minute unless you have it stored in your motor home. It’s a good plan to pack a “Food and Water Bug-out Bag” containing a minimum of three days of supplies at least 24-hours before bad weather hits. But what if there’s no warning? Having an always-ready-to-go bug-out bag with a plan for what to add at the last minute may save lives. This isn’t an excuse not to stock up now, however. There are plenty of scenarios where your pantry food stash will come in handy.

I’m not a fancy person. I don’t have a pantry. What do I do?

A pantry is indeed optimal, but not necessary. Most kitchens do have other storage areas, however. In most cases, much of the “stuff” stored in there does not have to be quickly accessible (within quick reach if you’re cooking a meal). Do you have a closet near the kitchen? Can its contents be distributed elsewhere? If so, clean that out and move in the not-so-immediately-needed stuff from your kitchen such as cookbooks, seasonal dishware, extra bottles of water and soda, etc. Although some people store their food under their beds and in other closets around the house, I believe it’s important to keep your essential pantry items as close to your cooking space as possible. You need to be cooking with them every day to rotate through them and keep them fresh.

How do I calculate how much food and water my family will need for three months?

Allocate at least 1 gallon of water per person per day, more for infants, nursing mothers, the ill and the elderly. The food issue is more complex. I’ll address the issue of food and pet rations in upcoming posts.

Is this going to be expensive?

Not necessarily. What’s your food budget now? How much food do you throw away that doesn’t taste so good? How much food do you throw away because it’s spoiled? According to William Rathje, a Stanford archaeologist who ran the University of Arizona Garbage Project for years, the average American wastes more than half a pound of food per day and 25-percent of what enters our homes is not eaten. Armed with just a little forethought and knowledge, you can save significant money over time.

Keep in mind, the ingredients for a delicious meal don’t have to be particularly exotic or expensive, and the techniques to prepare them don’t have to be complicated. Although most of the foods that make my “Pantry Essentials” list are organic, and therefore aren’t the cheapest options, they’re rarely the most expensive, either. If you plan ahead, follow the Color Coded Pantry Rotation System, watch for sales, eliminate waste, and build your stockpile over time, you’ll not just break even but might actually save money while enjoying your food more.

But I’ve already purchased a lot of food from prepper supply outfits. What do I do with it?

By all means, keep the food you’ve already purchased and rotate through it. I’m not suggesting your entire store of food needs to be “Gourmet Survivalist approved.” Foods that are quick, easy and inexpensive make a lot of sense, as well. But if you someday need to survive for a long period of time on your stored food supply, it will eventually become monotonous and unsatisfying if you don’t occasionally [supplement] with something truly delicious. Search for the tag: Flavor-boost.

How do I know someone isn’t paying you to recommend their product?

On the day this website becomes important enough for people to pay me to plug their product, I’m going to throw a party, (after I politely tell them “No thanks”). I will not accept any sort of payment from any food or product manufacturer. I aspire to uphold the same standards as my heroes at Cooks Illustrated and Consumer Reports.

What’s the Color Coded Pantry Rotation System?

In a nutshell, here’s how you start…

  1. When an item you like goes on sale, you buy a bunch of it.
  2. Tag each item with a color-coded date sticker that allows you to quickly gauge which items are the oldest.
  3. Don’t squirrel pantry food away under your bed. Use it. Combining your food-stores with fresh foods , then replenishing what you’ve used at least once per month, is the best practice. (Don’t forget to sticker and place the newer items at the back of the shelf as you restock).

This way, if an emergency strikes, you’ll have a pantry full of unexpired food that you love and know how to cook. If an emergency never strikes, just be grateful! You haven’t wasted your money, and if “the gang” decides to land at your house after bowling night, you’re prepared. Stay tuned. I’ll go into more detail in upcoming posts.

So if disaster strikes and the electricity goes out, what good is this website?

I’m glad you asked. At some point, I hope to compile all that I’ve learned in a book. Until then, I recommend you install a large solar array with a battery and a very tall wall around your property. If that doesn’t fall within your budget, I suggest you simply print out your favorite recipes and recommendations and put them in a binder or folder. And remember to share your favorite posts with friends so they can do the same, (because you can bet your unprepared friends will be knocking on your door when the power goes out . You might even want to copy and paste my taste test winners to your cell phone’s address or contacts app so you can easily reference them while you’re shopping during non-emergency days.

Isn’t the likelihood of a large scale Disaster rather slim?

FEMA, the American Red Cross, The Centers for Disease Control, The Department of Homeland Security, Clint Eastwood, Jamie Lee Curtis, Oprah, Dr. Oz and even Grover don’t think so.  Just because a major catastrophe hasn’t yet happened in your neck of the woods doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Should I be stocking up on guns and ammunition to protect my food stores?

Um, that’s not really my area of expertise (at this time). There are plenty of great websites that provide gun advice, self-defense training, medical training etc. The Gourmet Survivalist deals with food related issues. Think of it as disaster preparedness for foodies.

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