R. Ann Parris on Calorie Boosters


Calorie Boosters by R. Ann Parris

Whether our food storage is based around 1# bags or big ol’ buckets of basics like beans and rice, or we’ve ordered #10 cans and pouched-food kits, we may discover our calories are a bit shy.

Deficient calories have a whole slew of considerations, and many of us could shed some pounds without harm. However, do remember that “hangry” is a real think, and weight-loss levels of eating are going to start sapping energy and affecting performance just as much as our attitudes.

Many actually expect to be more active in a disaster. Fueling that activity makes it even more vital that we gauge off the correct total of calories rather than the 1600-2000 that are common among food storage goals and even the USDA baseline.

Happily, there are plenty of options for boosting our calorie count (and serving sizes). Most let us do it without breaking the bank.

Fats & Oils
I actually consider Crisco — especially butter flavored — to be a general prepper “must have” item. It’s affordable, has about the longest shelf life (better even than palm oil), and has numerous uses beyond cooking and seasoning, lip balms and salves to lamp oil and gear sealant/lubricant.

Liquid oils pretty much across the board eke past it in calorie count per serving, though, and we can use them in spray bottles for broiling, grilling and when Pam runs out instead of being limited to things we can dust with flour for nonstick baking and cooking.

Powdered Milk & Substitutes
We have to watch what we’re buying closely here. One, calorie counts vary wildy. Two, so do the servings and the ease of mixing.

A lot of real-dairy for long storage are fat free (it boosts shelf life to remove fats). Fats are important on their own, and with the fats goes calories on a regular basis. From the calorie-boosting front, on average, the substitutes usually have more, but it is possible to find whole milk in dry formats. They’re going to be more expensive than the other options, though.

We also have to watch each individual product’s serving sizes (“instant” milk is air puffed to make it faster/easier to mix up, and has fewer servings than regular “dry” milk).

Check the natural sugars, any added sugars, and sugar substitutes, since they’re regularly sources of sensitivity. Total proteins and the calories from different types of proteins, fats and sugars are also things worth looking over.

Dairy isn’t just for drinking — Powdered milk can be used to thicken and boost any instant potatoes or creamy soups and casseroles. We can also add powdered milk and even the flavored substitutes to oatmeal, cold cereal, or boiled breakfast grains.

Sports & Health Drinks
I absolutely consider drink mixes a must-have for numerous arms of preparedness. However, due to the cost and the number of sports drinks that have started seriously decreasing calories, they may not be the best option for this particular case.

Instant Mashed Potatoes
I’m not a super huge fan of making them the way they’re called for and eating a bowl, no matter how “complete” a company swears they are. However, they do make a fast, easy base for a number of common storage proteins.

We can also turn them into potato pancakes to serve a number of ways, create potato dumplings, serve them with soups like runny shepherd’s pie, use them to thicken soups into stews and boost the calories and-or serving size of in any creamed soup, or use them as the base for chowders of our own.

Boost the Basics
One of the cheapest, easiest and most compact ways to bulk calories is to add rice or wheat to our storage. Pastas, too, are cheap, and regularly, so are dehydrated potatoes.

Whether we’re assembling that storage ourselves or buying kits, chances are good somewhere in there we already have meals that are based around macaroni or rice. It may dilute flavor, but adding more to them is a simple way to increase both the serving size and calories.

Wheat can be added to any soup, the way some of us really only see barley, and most of our whole grains can be cooked for hot cereals akin to oatmeal. Adding any of them can turn soups into casseroles, or we can use soups to “just” flavor them. They’re also easy to make a variety of meals around on their own — even for non-cooks with a few simple ingredients we use differently each time.

The same goes for any bean dishes we might have — adding our own, canned or pre-cooked or parboiled dry, to increase serving size and calories.

Incredible Edible Egg
Eggs have the benefit of boosting not only calories, but also proteins and healthy animal fats. Like milks, we have to watch what we’re getting. Some types cut fats for extended storage, some are truly “whole”. Some count 1 egg as a serving, some 2. Some are instant scrambled egg mixes that include dry milks.

Even so, eggs can help us with planning varied menus on top of being great energy sources, regardless of the type we buy.

Calorie Baselines & Boosters
It’s one thing to go light for a few days or even a few weeks, but once our food storage starts expanding beyond about a month, we need to seriously look at the calories and the serving sizes of our food storage.

Being hungry isn’t going to help any stressful situation — like, when we’re leaning on food storage due to an incredibly big bill, job loss, hurricanes/blizards shutting down roads and shipping, skyrocketing national or regional food/fuel prices, or for-sure any of the beloved Big Thing disasters that various preppers ascribe to. Eventually, it’ll also start affecting our mental and physical performance — even beyond crankiness.

There’s too many options for inexpensively and easily expanding our food storage to risk it.