Editor’s Note: This article was written by one of our community members here at Askaprepper, who over the years has helped countless others with his thoughtful insights and reality-based opinions. He selflessly shared his life experience so that others may learn and prepare before it is too late. Thank you for everything Left Coast Chuck.
“I have been prepping since either 2005 or 2013 and have found supplies from both dates.
I always kept my bug-out gear in my Ody van, but recently sold it and had to clean out all my emergency supplies.
There, I had lots of medical supplies, food, water, extra clothing, extra blankets and a varied assortment of goodies. However, I will only deal with the food.
I keep my food supplies in my favorite storage device, a styrofoam ice chest. Everything is wrapped in saran wrap with the exception of the New Millennium bars. I put everything away before I acquired a vacuum sealer.
I found I had essentially five kinds of emergency food. Clif Bars, Quaker Instant Oatmeal, some bars entitled, “New Millennium Energy Bar,” Franklin’s Best Instant coffee and a Jar of Tang.
As the NME bars were vacuum-sealed, they were not wrapped additionally in saran wrap. Franklin’s Best had been placed in a plastic peanut butter jar. The Tang was still sealed in its original packaging.
The first Clif Bar I opened had an expiry date of 2013, so it died according to the Clif folks 8 years ago. The first one I opened really didn’t look appetizing and I tossed it. I decided in the interest of science to man up and eat one.
The next one also had the same expiry date. A close examination of the bar itself revealed that it appeared somewhat shrunken over what I remember a fresh bar looked like. I didn’t see any obvious signs of deterioration although I thought it looked darker than what I remembered. It tasted quite dry. Chewable, but required effort to chew. It would have been better if I had a cup of coffee to aid in chewing. I ate the whole bar.
While it wasn’t dinner at the House of Prime Rib, in an emergency situation such as the sun has just exploded, it would assuage the pangs of hunger. I am going to replenish my supply of Clif bars because they contain more fiber than the NME bars. However, in addition to the Clif original wrapping, I am going to vacuum pack them in packages of two bars per pack.
New Millennium Energy Bars
I next decided to try the NME bar. Noticed that they were manufactured by the same folks that make S.O.S. lifeboat bars. I am familiar with them and also have them as my emergency food supply.
The S.O.S. bars are wrapped in a very heavy layer of newspaper to ameliorate extreme temperature swings in the trunk of my car. I have eaten S.O.S. lifeboat bars long long past the 5-year shelf life and they were still palatable and not bad.
NME bars come in a variety of flavors and I selected the lemon-flavored bar to try. It tasted just like an S.O.S. bar. It was crunchy and dry but this time I was armed with a cup of coffee and the experience was okay. Again, not a baked potato with sour cream and chives and a huge slice of prime rib, but we are talking about survival reality here.
Quaker Instant Oatmeal
Next, I tried the Quaker Instant Oatmeal. I sampled the cinnamon and brown sugar. I followed the directions on the package, packet of oatmeal and filled the paper container the oatmeal comes in 2/3 full of water and microwaved for 2 minutes. The oatmeal was much dryer than I normally like my oatmeal.
I think that I would use a whole package of water as opposed to 2/3. Of course, if I am using shank’s mare to get home, I would have to stop and heat water. I think bringing the water to a boil and adding it to the oatmeal and letting it sit for a few minutes would be a satisfactory way to prepare the oatmeal in a get home situation.
The oatmeal was, again, okay considering that we are talking about a survival situation. Would I prefer Red Mill Old Fashioned Oat Meal with a 1/3 cup of raisins heated in the oatmeal? Well, yeah.
Franklin’s Best Instant Coffee
Next, I looked at Franklin’s Best instant coffee. Franklin’s Best really looked the worst of all the foodstuffs. The outside was a foreboding black with a layer of grey on top.
I examined the layer of grey to see if it was mold. But a 5X glass wasn’t sufficiently strong enough lens to make that determination. I had to break the lump of instant coffee with an ice pick in order to get it out of the jar.
When I broke the black lump open the contents inside the black/grey layer more nearly resembled instant coffee, albeit still kind of dark. I did not have the courage to try a cup of the former Franklin’s Best coffee.
I did not open the Tang container to see how it fared. Without any reason to base my supposition on, I think Tang is probably like Cheez Whiz. Left in it’s original container, unopened, it probably has a shelf life of 5,000 years.
Three days after consuming the eight-year past expiry date Clif Bar and a package of who know how old oatmeal, I am still alive and have no untoward symptoms regarding my digestive tract. Someone not accustomed to eating as much junk as I might exhibit some sort of digestive tract irritation.
I have determined to update all my supplies with newer supplies. I am going to keep the out-of-date New Millennium Bars but dump the oatmeal and also the Clif Bars. Ordinarily, I would keep the Clif bars, but when they are on sale locally they are less than a buck a bar and so replacing them is not a major financial investment.
I ordered more New Millennium Energy Bars yesterday and they arrived today. A chance to compare the older bar with the new bar. The new bars have different manufacture dates. The lemon bar I am looking at has a manufacture date of 12/20, and an expiration date of 12/25, so it is almost a year old already.
I ate a raspberry bar which had a manufacture date of 3/21. The lemon bars are the oldest with a manufacture date of 12/20. There were five flavors in the shipment: vanilla, lemon, raspberry, orange and blueberry. The lemon was the oldest at 12/20. The other bars were dated 01/21 and 03/21.
The raspberry bar I ate out of the new selection was just a tad more moist than the old bar which was dated with an expiry date of 2018, only 3 years past expiration. It tasted about as I expected, not much difference in composition from the S.O.S. lifeboat bars. I don’t know what the ultimate shelf life of the S.O.S. bars is (or the NME bars) but it is well past the use by date.
These foodstuffs have been in the cargo area of my van through summer and winter. They were stored in the styrofoam ice chest which fit inside a custom-made cardboard box. Certainly, while our summertime temps don’t reach anything like some of the warmer climes in the U.S. My van sits out in the driveway day and night. So, anything in the van is subject to the temperature swings in this locale and places to which we had traveled.
Now that I have a vacuum sealer, I intend to vacuum pack all the bars and the new oatmeal. I have ordered a new supply of Franklin’s Best and I am going to have to figure out some way to preserve it so that it is actually able to be used as a beverage and not a missile to be flung at some bad guy.
Vehicular Emergency Bag
Our needs for a vehicular emergency bag have changed considerably since I put these supplies in my vehicle. At that time we regularly drove the 350 – 400 miles to the San Francisco area to visit our children and grandchildren. Alas, those days are behind us now. The limit of our excursions is 15 miles away and closer.
From the ultimate destination of our present journeys, I figure I could reach home in 3 days pushing my wife in her wheelchair. As a back-up, I intend to carry at least 2,000 calories a day for each of us for seven days. I may add some Mountain Home freeze-dried meals to get the daily calorie count up.
Mountain Home is really overrated in my estimation. If you go by their “servings” you will lose weight rapidly. A “serving” is not a meal unless supplemented by other foodstuffs. I may add a small amount of canned fruit for morale purposes and quick energy. I will try to buy fruit in heavy syrup.
If I am pushing a wheelchair five miles a day, my worry will not be overindulging in too much sugar. It will be in consuming sufficient calories to offset what I am burning up. I would rather arrive home with food leftover than have to go the last day and a half with just water.
If there is enough interest in the rest of my get-home supplies, I will write an article detailing just what I consider essential to cover 15 miles as I described above.
I would add one final note: If we really have to leave home, I will be making up a totally different list of items to go in the car if we are leaving by car and with great reluctance, by shank’s mare if motorized transportation is not an option. That is a whole different article in itself.”
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