A Meat Freezer As An Emergency Prep
I was scanning one of my favorite blogs today, Shenandoah penned by a very insightful blogger in all things economic, John Galt, when I spotted this article on the coming rise in meat prices: Sticker Shock at the Supermarket Meat Case. Seeing as to how this eerily coincided with my trip yesterday to BJ’s warehouse to replenish our meat freezer after discovering late Saturday night how woefully low our supply had become, I decided to post about my meat storage methods and philosophy – that is, to the degree that one can actually have a ‘philosophy’ about meat storage.
In an emergency situation, one where grocery stores are experiencing irregular, sporadic, or non-existent resupply, you will be forced to dip into your stored supply of foods. When you do so, pat yourself on the back first for being forward thinking and conscientious enough to store an emergency food supply. You are ahead of about 95% of the sheep out there who believed that grocery store shelves are magic things that re-supply themselves. Having stored food is great. But without a little protein to go along with the pasta, rice and potatoes, your diet is bound to become a tad monotonous, if not downright unhealthy. I mean, how many cans of Dintey Moore Beef stew can you stomach until you stat fantasizing about freshly broiled meat – even something as mundane as a freshly grilled burger?
Practical Prepper’s Solution for Boring SHTF Meals: The Meat Freezer!
All kidding aside for a moment, the decision to keep and fully stock a meat freezer for emergency food storage is not one to be taken lightly or done before your other food preps unless you are wealthy and can afford to buy everything at once. I offer these 2 caveats because:
1. As you will see, having a meat freezer and the means to keep it running can be expensive.
2. Meats should supplement or augment your existing supplies of the other essentials like grains, veggies, starches, fruit, and of course, water.
Uh, what’s so expensive about a meat freezer? I’ve seen them at the warehouse stores for around $300.
Well, as usual, the freezer itself is only the first item of many you will need. You will also need to stock it with your favorite meats. You will need a generator or large solar power array to keep it running if the lights go out, and finally, you should have a good vacuum sealer. All of these items are added to the initial cost of the freezer itself. Here is a discussion of some of the items I think you’ll be needing:
1. The Freezer.
It should be as large as you need, depending on your family size. A husband and wife will naturally need something smaller than a family of 5. I always recommend buying a good name-brand unit over a cheaper ‘off-brand’ as the quality and warranty are usually better.. Shop around. Go online and look for reviews of the unit you might like to buy. Ask a neighbor or family member.
Then there’s the decision about whether to buy an upright or a chest-type unit. Although the chest freezers tend to retain their cold air when opened, unlike an upright which spills nearly all of it’s cold air when the door is opened, I prefer an upright freezer for 2 important reasons. First, they usually make more efficient use of space. You see, there is a limit to how deep a chest freezer can be before you can no longer reach what is inside it without jumping in. They cannot be made taller that about waist-high, so all the space above the freezer is basically wasted – remember, you have to leave the space above the freezer clear so you can open it and access the contents. Upright freezers can be 6-7 feet tall or taller, depending on the height of your ceiling. Second, upright freezers, by their design, allow relatively easy access to nearly all stored items, while items stored at the bottom of a chest freezer necessitate the removal of all items above them before they can be accessed. that said, space limitations or other considerations might steer your choice in one direction or another. That’s fine. Don’t obsess over the choice – just get it!
Final word on freezers. Get one with a ‘high-temperature’ warning/alarm. It will save you lots of money should the freezer stop working for whatever reason. The buzzer will alert you in enough time to get your frozen meat on ice while you either have the unit repaired or replaced.
2. An Emergency Power Source For The Freezer.
Before you fill the freezer up with your favorite cuts of meat, you should think for a moment about its purpose. This is not the freezer you will be coming to for a pound of hamburger when you need to make meat sauce, that one is probably sitting in your kitchen. No, this freezer exists for the purpose of keeping a supply of frozen meats in case of emergency. And seeing as to how we seldom, spelled n-e-v-e-r get to choose the type of emergency that will befall us, it is good to be prepared for several of the most likely ones. Most of the emergencies I can envision and have discussed in this blog involve the sporadic or total disappearance of grid electricity. If that happens, your precious and expensive supply of meats will either spoil, or have to be cooked immediately or distributed to your neighbors if you lack the capacity to cook it in a timely manner. All of those eventualities are less than ideal. The solution?
Well, here’s what we’ve done in the PP house: I’ve purchased an extremely economical, quiet and fuel efficient Honda eu2000i generator for the express purpose of keeping my 2 freezers running if TSHTF. To run the genny, I have stored in my backyard 50 gallons of gasoline ( in 10 5-gallon metal Blitz gerry-type cans from Northern Tools )with Stabil fuel stabilizer which I rotate every April. In an emergency, I will run the generator ONLY as needed to keep the temps of the freezer at a safe level and no more. Considering that the Honda generator can do this even on its gas-stingy ‘Fuel Efficient Setting’, I should have enough fuel to keep the meat frozen for at least a month to 45 days or even more. Depending, of course, on the nature of the emergency, 45 days worth of freezer power should be enough to keep us in steaks, burgers, and sausages until the crisis is over. If the emergency is a real SHTF-type EMP burst catastrophe, well then, at least we were able to eat a wonderfully balanced diet for the first 45 or more days before we had to hit the rice and beans and Spam.
If you have a solar power system that has the capacity to power a freezer congratulations. I’m jealous!
3. A Vacuum Sealer.
If you shop for your meats at a warehouse store where you often get 14 pork chops to a package, you’re going to need a means of re-packaging the meat after breaking down the ‘multi-packs’. The best way to re-package the meats is to use a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealers allow you to portion control you meat supply – that is to say, you can make packages of only the number of steaks or chops or sausages you need for 1 meal. Another valuable reason for having a vacuum sealer for your cuts of meat is because vacuum sealing all but eliminates freezer burn – a very important factor when storing meats for long term use.
The vacuum sealer pictured to the right is a Food Saver unit. There are several fine brands that work just as well. By the way, I have also used that same vacuum sealer to seal rice and pasta in airtight packages before i stored them away in white buckets. It’s great for sealing spare gun bolts ( I have a spare bolt for my AR-15 sprayed with light oil and vacuum packed – just in case) or other metal items you don’t wish to have rust out on you – a real problem down here in South Florida due to our proximity to the ocean.
This unit allows you to cut and seal bags of any size with ease. I’ve eaten steaks stored for 18 months using this vacuum sealer and they were great. It’s worth every penny we paid for it.
Well, that’s it. All the preparations have been made. It’s time to fill that freezer with your favorite vacuum-sealed and portion controlled cuts. Just try not to gloat too badly as you grill steaks while your neighbor is eating Spam sandwiches.
Be safe. Be Prepared.
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