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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Costco Ark 1 is a great deal for those who want to prepare for the obama show

(This is another entry in my survival series. Knowing how to live off the land in an emergency is important but even more important is having some food in storage for an emergency such as the dollar collapsing, martial law, or a natural disaster. The ARK1 1 month supply of emergency food from costco is a great buy. Now is the time to purchase emergency food before obama and his comrades create a crisis that they won't let go to waste. I wanted to share this information with those who don't have their head up their u know what.) Story Reports

330 Total Servings of
Emergency Food Storage ARK 1 Month Supply (Free Shipping Included)
By Chefs Banquet

By Mikie likes it

Yes, I tried it!
Pros: great items: great costco price
Cons: takes time utinsels and fuel to prepare
Model Number: Chef's Banquet Arc 1 Item # 582275 $84.99 (Actural 20 Yr Shelf Life!)

"It always cracks me up when individuals purchase emergency supplies and do not try them before an emergency, then the individual will write a review based on speedy delivery and the lack or presence of dented cans (which Costco will replace anyway). I know we are all trying to help. We prepare for our families because we are a little bit unsure about the future and want our loved ones to be as comfortable as possible in uncertain times. Just like car, home and life insurance, we have them but hope to never need to use them. They are a safety net, just in case, even your life insurance, you will not need it but you plan for your family.

Other than water, which is THE most important resource to have access to, when storing food for uncertain times I like to group my items into three categories; Ready to eat (MREs for example); Needs little preparation (freeze dried items for example); Needs to be cooked (dehydrated items for example). Of course, if you are hungry enough, your could eat most any of the items with minimal or without preparation. For this article I am not discussing pantry, refrigerated or frozen items which are yet another layer that you might try to use up quickly or integrate into your short-medium term storage, depending on the item, like canned soup, etc..

In preparing for a worst case scenario, there may be no services, no electricity, gas or water. There may be no garbage pickup etc. If your house is intact, you are in business, if not you are relegated to the camper, tent, a friends or church, or any public gathering place (hopefully less dense than the superdome during Katrina. Do you REALLY trust that the government is fully capable of taking care of the masses after any event at any time? Really??). I am intentionally not discussing the idea of defense or security; this is leading to a review of this product and that is another subject. Any other scenario will obviously be less than worst case. The next item of concern is how long will the event last and how big (in geographical size) is it. Taking care of yourself, family and perhaps friends is different in an localized event that lasts a few days compared to one that lasts several weeks or into months or more and may be regional, national or greater in scope.

In my mind (simply my opinion, your mileage may vary..., please don't beat me up over it) immediately after an event we may each be very busy making sure our loved ones are accounted for and safe. We may be clearing the debris of a flood or storm, perhaps checking structures after an earthquake, assisting neighbors, etc. We will be on the move and burning calories that we may not normally burn. Here an MRE type item is ideal. It is complete, self contained, designed for the rigors of combat, needs no preparation (although you can heat with the included heater), easy to eat, lots of nutrients, but expensive per meal (we pay for convenience). No whining about their taste, I know soldiers who, after daily use, have gotten tired of MREs. I understand this. However, when you and your children are hungry you will find these very very good.
As things settle and stabilize, we move to layer two of your supplies, fast and easy to prepare, good variety and tastes good, saving MREs for daily outings. Here freeze dried items are an example of what might fit the bill, less expensive or convenient than MREs but more expensive and convenient than dehydrated.

As things return into some form of normalcy, we move the third layer of your supplies. Dehydrated items, needing preparation in terms of cooking abilities, utensils, heat source, ability to clean up, etc. These items are much more economical than the first levels of your preparations. Freeze dried items are easily incorporated into the meals of this category too.

So here is what this is all leading up to, the Chef's Banquet ARK 1 Month Food Storage Supply from Costco. I purchased this item try it out. It comes in a nice 6 gallon bucket and contains a number of sealed Mylar bags. Each bag has an O2 absorber and can be resealed like a zip lock bag. Most of the bags contain about 30 servings of the contained item. Chef's Banquet advertises 330 total servings and touts this as a one month supply for one at 2100 calories per day, working out to about 10 servings per day (the oatmeal throws off the ratio a bit). So far I have tried the soups and stews, the veggies and the potatoes (no mac and cheese, mine has pasta and Alfredo sauce instead). I have not tried the oatmeal or pasta although I can't imagine Chef's Choice messing these items up. I first tried each item simply following the directions.

For example:

I tried the Hearty Potato Soup I made 4 of the bag's 30 servings, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of mix. It does take about 20 minute time for all of the dehydrated items to become tender. This is nearly 40 ounces of prepared food, or roughly the volume of two 20 oz Mountain House entrees. A little salty but not bad at all. For the next test I added some of the dehydrated veggies. Those will plump up a lot when hydrated and they take a bit longer to all get soft so, after that experience, I put about a cup of veggies in hot water as I prepared the other items, giving veggies about 30 minutes of total hydration time; less salty and more interesting too. I took some chicken and diced it up, adding this to the mix (BTW each of these were separate batches). This added body and substance and now I did not notice the saltiness at all. Last, I added some cheese and pepper to taste, this was really getting good. I tried a batch with some diced ham too (yes from Costco) and it was great! In this example I was able to vary ingredients from the basic mix using almost a "stone soup" approach, varying the variety of the mix depending on what is on hand. This is a great base to build on. I had similar experiences with the other items.

Now for the costs:

A military MRE is a great and complete self contained meal. cost, about 100.00 per case of 12, or nearly 10.00 each after shipping. Life 3 to 10 years. I have stored MREs for up to 7 years in a closet near the floor with no problems at all.
Mountain House Freeze Dried Entree 20 oz prepared, cost from 6.00 to 9.00 per meal. They make a 16 oz package too. Easy to prepare, self contained (except a spoon), great variety, a tiny salty for me, 7 year shelf life.

Mountain House or Easy Meal Freeze Dried #10 cans. Shelf life about 30 years (hence you buy this item once!). One can contains about 10 or 11 servings that are about 8 oz each. This works out to just over 4 entrees that are 20 oz each. More expensive (about 1.2 to 1.5 times the aggregate pouch packaging depending on the item) than the entrees but packaged for long term storage. Not as convenient as the pouch as you now need a rehydration or cooking container (unless you prepare the entire can at once) spoon and bowls or plates, can't just eat from the convenient pouch.

Dehydrated Chef's Banquet (many other suppliers too with great individual variety), less variety, great base for adding other flavors, etc, compact storage, needs cooking time!! Two servings of the Hearty Potato Soup is about 20 oz prepared. Cost per 20 oz serving: about 60 cents (plus whatever you add), shelf life about 15-20 years. The oatmeal serving size is smaller and offsets the cost a bit higher from the 52 cents when calculating the cost of 330 equal servings. I know, it is actually about .26 cents, remember this is based on 20 oz servings prepared. (Hard to beat Costco's prices)

Final Thoughts:

While planning for each layer, they are easy to separate into a given category (we did not even speak about using up refrigerated, frozen or pantry items first), however, in practice, the layers will overlap considerably. You might use the freeze dried meat or veggies to add to a soup base, etc. You may need the convenience of ready to eat over not having the time or resources to prepare meals and clean up. Again, your mileage may vary. This item fits nicely into my planning and is at a bargain price. With a little planning and creativity it can be as nutritious, interesting and tasty as anything you might cook from scratch and certainly anything you buy in a can. If you are a Tabasco fan, well, it all tastes the same

Start preparing and stay ahead of the curve. Once disaster strikes, the time to prepare is over....."

330 Total Servings of
Emergency Food Storage ARK 1 Month Supply
By Chefs Banquet

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