Protein is an essential part of any survival diet, and one that you will hear mentioned frequently by many experts when they are scarfing down a slimy grub for sustenance. As someone who is preparing ahead of time, you will have an opportunity to stock up on a variety of protein-bearing foods as well, though if you plan appropriately you can probably forgo stocking up on grubs! Let’s take a look at the wide variety of protein-rich foods that you can have prepared and ready for any event that may come.
The value of protein
Protein is essentially a delivery device for a number of essential amino acids that your body uses to build and maintain most of the structures in your body, including your muscles and organs. This is why many muscle-building shakes and powders boast about their incredibly high protein content. Without protein, you will be unable to rebuild muscles, repair damage to organs, and generally maintain proper bodily function over time. With all of the extra physical activity you’ll be going through during an emergency, you’ll definitely need plenty of protein to stay strong and mobile.
Complete and incomplete proteins
Before we dig into individual kinds of foods let’s clarify what is meant by a complete or incomplete protein. You see, some proteins in certain foods do not provide all of the essential amino acids in their proper proportions which necessitates eating another source of protein that provides whichever acids weren’t present in the first dish. Rice and beans are often eaten together, for example, because although neither of them provide a full complement of amino acids alone their combined amino acid values do provide a complete protein. As you can imagine this is very important for someone stocking up to understand, since you wouldn’t want to stock a bunch of foods that lack a decent complement, denying you certain essential amino acids.
Foods containing complete proteins
Generally speaking most animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs etc. contain complete proteins which makes things easier for those who are not vegan/vegetarian. For those who do not consume animal products (and preppers who find the longevity of grains and legumes useful) a mixture of several kinds of products are usually required to attain proper amino acid balance. Here is a list of common preparedness food items that contain complete proteins:
- Canned, dehydrated or freeze-dried meats, including fish or chicken.
- Powdered Milk (if properly stored to avoid nutrient degradation)
- Canned meals that mix legumes such as beans with grains. For example, canned Mexican corn and beans provides complete protein by combining several foods into one canned dish.
- Powdered Eggs and Egg Whites
- Edible Seaweed
Although I will provide a list, generally speaking almost any unrefined natural item has at least some protein in it and classifies as an incomplete protein source. For simplicity, I’ve listed only common items found in a prepper’s larder:
- Peanut butter and other peanut-based products
- Nuts and nut mixes
How to acquire protein-rich foods
Raising any kind of meat livestock such as beef, pork, poultry, or even having a stocked fish pond would give you access to fresh protein sources on a regular basis, as would a flourishing survival garden. Alternatively, you can also keep an eye out for deals on various kinds of canned beans, nuts, peanut butter and even meat from the deli counter when it is on sale. For proper storage, simply can the deli meat and you’ll have plenty on hand to work with. For vegans/vegetarians, bulk amaranth, quinoa and other complete protein sources can either be found in local health food stores or from certain retailers online.
Depending on your location, Mormon canneries can sometimes be very helpful places to find powdered milk on the cheap: the one we went to still allowed you to can your own for a lower cost though many have been moving away from that over the years. The people there are also quite knowledgeable in many cases and can offer additional info on finding good sources of beans and grains for individuals and families. Just be sure to check and see if they require an appointment first, since some canneries can be quite busy and scheduling helps keep everything organized for them.
Protein is invaluable during an emergency owing to the extreme increase in physical exertion compared to your normal lifestyle. Make sure you have plenty on hand, with lots of complete or complementary protein foods available.
What kinds of protein-rich foods would you store? Do you think it would be better to invest in having some fresh protein in either livestock or gardens even if you had to reduce your purchased stored food amounts to afford it? Let us know in the comments below!