How to add protein to your emergency food storage plan

A pantry full of canned rice and vegetables is still incomplete if it doesn’t contain enough protein to maintain the health of you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, it is possible to become malnourished on the typical food storage checklist found on many survival and preparedness websites if it does not contain enough essential nutrients.

The body needs protein to build and maintain muscle mass, cell repair and generation, and satiety (the feeling of fullness). Additionally, protein contains essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own, is necessary for healthy hair, skin, nails, bones and ligaments, and even helps regulate hormonal.

A sedentary 60-year-old woman needs about 55 grams of protein per day. In contrast, a physically active young man needs almost 80 grams of protein per day. The USDA’s online calculator ( can estimate the amount of protein needed per day, to help you assess your supply of foods high in protein. proteins.

While canned rice, beans, and vegetables are easy to store, protein sources such as meat and fish require a bit more planning and money. But in times of crisis, when your mind and body are stressed, having these foods in your emergency stash can help keep you healthy, strong, and able to guide your loved ones.

One of the many benefits of buying directly from a reputable farmer or breeder is that you will know how their animals are fed, treated and slaughtered. (Jenoche/Shutterstock)

Buy fresh meat

When we think of sources of protein, fresh meat tops the list, whether it’s beef, pork, poultry, or fish. Hunting, fishing, and raising animals for food can help a lot, but even in times of rising prices, you can still find great deals on fresh meat at the grocery store by comparing weekly food ads.

Local farmers and ranchers often sell direct to consumers, which is one of the best ways to stock up on plenty of fresh meat quickly. Find a source of meat by searching online with the name of your city and “fresh beef near me” or “fresh chicken.” is a site where you can search for nearby meat sources.

One of the many benefits of buying directly from a reputable farmer or breeder is that you will know how their animals are fed, treated and slaughtered. In addition, you will receive a “cut sheet” showing the different cuts of meat available and the price per pound. Whether you’re buying a “whole cow”, a “half cow” or a selection of cuts, between steaks, brisket, ribs, stew meats and roasts of all kinds, you’ll likely end up with cuts you’ve never tried. .

The initial investment can range from $1,500 to over $3,000 for beef. Once you recover from sticker shock, remember that this meat can last for several months or more. You can lower the price by buying it with friends or family, but be sure to designate which cuts of meat you want and how many of each, so each person gets exactly what they paid for.

A Steel Stainless Pressure Cooker Lid With Pressure Gauge Reading
Since meats are low-acid foods, they should be canned using a pressure canner, a one-time investment that is well worth it. (LisaCarter/Shutterstock)

Learn to pressure

The next step will be to load your freezer. However, in the event of a power outage, this expensive investment will go bad quickly. A generator can run a freezer as long as you have a fuel source, but there are also other ways to preserve meat so it’s stable and safe at room temperature.

One way is to go home. Meat canning is a skill that once you learn, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before. Beef, freshly caught salmon, meatballs, sausages and chicken pieces can all be canned in glass jars. It’s a delight to open a jar of canned cooked chicken breasts, ready for enchiladas, a casserole, or a quick stir-fry. It’s super easy meal prep.

Since meat is a low-acid food, it must be canned using a pressure canner. The pressure cooker can heat food to minimum temperatures of 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy the most dangerous food poisoning bacteria that cause botulism. A pressure cooker is a one-time investment that is well worth it. Two reliable pressure cooker brands are Presto and All American. Depending on the brand and size, you can expect to pay between $150 and $400. A pressure canner differs from a pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot, which should never be used for canning food.

“The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning” by Diane Devereaux is an excellent resource book complete with instructions and recipes. SimplyCanning’s three-lesson video course “Pressure Canning Confidence” also provides easy-to-follow instructions.

You can make your own beef jerky using a food dehydrator. (Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

Make your own jerky

Another way to preserve meat is to make your own beef jerky using a food dehydrator. Jerky is an easy and convenient way to have protein-rich foods ready for snack time or camping, or to include in an emergency kit.

Jerky can be made from thinly sliced ​​steaks or roasts; the leaner the cut the better, as the (marbled) fat will not completely dehydrate and eventually go rancid if not refrigerated or frozen. You can also use lean ground meat with seasonings and salt.

Whichever method you choose, be aware that once dehydrated, your harvest of jerky will weigh about one-third the weight of the fresh meat used. The shelf life of jerky is about two months at room temperature and up to six months if refrigerated. A vacuum sealer can help extend the time.

Canned tuna fillet meat in olive oil, on black background,
Just adding cans of tuna, chicken, roast beef, or even deviled ham to your pantry adds that essential layer of protein. (Ilia Nesolenyi/Shutterstock)

Buy canned and freeze-dried meat

Sourcing meat doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Just adding cans of tuna, chicken, roast beef, or even deviled ham to your pantry adds that essential layer of protein. Keep an eye out for the expiration dates on these cans, as in my experience canned tuna can get mushy after about a year.

All kinds of meats can be found in the freeze-dried food realm: shrimp, pulled pork, diced beef, seasoned chicken strips, sausage crumbs, and more, all ready to eat once hydrated with a little water. These are expensive, but between watching discounts and using them sparingly in recipes, they can add a truly stable, lightweight form of protein to your stockpile.

Thrive Life’s high-quality freeze-dried meats have a shelf life of up to 25 years when stored in a cool place (50-75 F), and they have one of the best selections on the market. Mountain House and Honeyville are two other well-known companies that sell freeze-dried meats.

Dried Beans,In,Wooden,Spoons,On,The,Table,,Close,Up
Properly packaged and stored, dried beans and pulses have a shelf life of 20 years or more. (FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock)

Instant and dry beans

Also in the freeze-dried category are instant beans, another good source of protein. Instant Refried Beans, Black Beans, and Pinto Beans are ready to eat with quick rehydration, and there’s no need to soak them overnight or boil them for long periods of time. This could be crucial in a serious emergency when you have little time to cook, let alone prepare complicated meals. Compared to canned beans, instant beans have the advantage of being light.

Dried beans with the highest protein levels include kidney beans, lentils, split peas, black beans, and navy beans. Properly packaged and stored, dried beans and pulses have a shelf life of 20 years or more. Combine dried or instant beans with your favorite type of rice, vegetables, and seasonings, and you have the perfect, complete protein meal.

protein powder
A scoop of protein powder can contain 20-30 grams of protein. (Obak/Shutterstock)

Additional Sources

A form of vegetable protein that you may not be familiar with is textured vegetable protein (TVP). It comes in standard flavors like “beef” and “chicken,” but you’ll also find taco and bacon flavored TVP. If you’ve ever eaten Bac-Os, you’ve eaten TVP. TVP is made from soy flour, so it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but a small amount added to a soup recipe provides extra protein, and a little is enough. Some moms I know have combined cheap, rehydrated TVP with ground beef on taco Tuesday night to add to the meat filling for more tacos.

In my own pantry, I’ve included a few large containers of protein powder because one scoop can hold 20-30 grams of protein, or about as much protein as four ounces of a cooked roast beef or a cooked chicken breast. Protein powder can help bridge the gap between more expensive stored meats and the protein needed to keep you and your loved ones healthy throughout an emergency.

A large container of high-quality protein powder can easily cost $50 or more, so look for one that has at least 20 grams of protein per scoop to maximize your purchase. Read the ingredient list carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain anything that could trigger a food allergy or sensitivity, or artificial flavors or sweeteners that you want to avoid.

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