How many times have you heard that prepper’s advice?
It’s repeated all the time because it is excellent, practical advice. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, however. While many of us store dehydrated foods, for example, do we know how to turn this into a delicious healthy meal? No one wants to survive on MREs and Tang. We don’t want to gnaw on 4 year old beef jerky and a cold can of green peas. A disaster situation is bad enough without adding unpalatable food to the crisis.
And that’s where The Prepper’s Cookbook comes in.
I’ve been chomping at the bit, waiting for my copy of the book to arrive in the mail. I’m a big fan of the Ready Nutrition website, and when I heard that Tess Pennington, the owner, was writing a cookbook, I just couldn’t wait to read it. I can think of no one more qualified to write a book like this. Tess has been educating folks on topics like disaster preparedness, homesteading, emergency food pantries, food storage and self-reliance since 2007, through her website, and before that, she was trained in emergency and disaster management response with the American Red Cross.
I spent an evening pouring through the book. Usually with a cookbook I flip through it, bookmark a few recipes I want to try, and then put it on the shelf for future reference. This cookbook was very different – there is actually a great deal of information in it. What makes it especially unique is that there are very few prepping books published and marketed to the general public. I hope that this helps stimulate an awakening.
The first 41 pages are Prepping 101. I was very impressed that the author managed to cram in a crash course on food and water storage into only two chapters. This makes the book appropriate for complete prepper newbies (and puts it on a gift list for a few friends that might be positively influenced!) The information is not presented in a “Doom Porn” kind of way. It is realistic, calmly delivered advice.
Even if you’ve been prepping for a long time, there is still plenty to learn in the book. There are so many great ideas that my copy is full of sticky notes and page corners that have been folded down.
Here are a few of the sections that really appealed to me:
In Chapter 2, there is a section on extending meals to make them go further. Tess recommends techniques like using less expensive items like rice to help a more expensive food source go a bit further. There is even a list of 28 ways to extend a humble can of food to feed a family.
There are lots of “how-tos” for prepper staples that might be less familiar. Tess explains how to use TVP, how to cook with wheat berries, how to make quinoa, and the basics of food storage.
Chapter 3 is full of food preservation methods. I’m an avid canner, and have been canning for quite some time. I was happily surprised that there were some excellent recipes and instructions in the canning section that were new to me. For example, Tess talks about how to make your own pectin, something I’d never even thought about before. The canning section even has directions for off-grid canning in the event of a long term situation in which there is no power. There are some nice charts to help you can whatever might be coming out of your garden.
Also in the food preservation section is information about dried foods, including a rehydration chart and instructions on how to dehydrate meat, make jerky, and even how to make your own instant noodles in the dehydrator.
Something that I really liked about the recipe section is how the recipes gave numerous options for ingredients, depending on your personal food storage. For example, a recipe that called for garlic offered the choice of fresh garlic, dehydrated garlic flakes, or garlic powder. This is a common theme throughout the book and it makes the recipes far more versatile.
There are recipes for lots of familiar, comforting foods that might not be available in a post-collapse world. The book teaches you how to make things like saltines, graham crackers, ketchup, and vanilla wafers, to name just a few of those items. This makes the book useful well before an actual disaster for me, because we don’t buy foods like this because of the additives.
My personal favorite part is the awesome lists. Tess took several different prepper staples and provided lists with numerous ways to use them. The Prepper’s Cookbook includes:
- 15 ways to make a meal from Ramen noodles
- 25 ways to turn a potato into a meal
- 20 ways to eat the prepper standby of beans and rice
Another useful section is towards the end of the book. In a disaster scenario, it is a given that you’re going to run out of certain supplies. Tess provides substitutions for ingredients like brown sugar, sour cream, sweetened condensed milk, self rising flour, and more.
Initially I noticed that most of the recipes used conventional cooking methods. At second glance, I realized that in the first chapter there was an overview on off-grid cooking methods and off-grid refrigeration. Using that information, the recipes can be easily converted to off-grid cooking methods like dutch oven cooking over an open fire, grilling,using a sun oven, or woodstove cooking, making them useful in any situation.
Some recipes include store-bought convenience items, which we don’t use and don’t stock in our long-term food storage. However, all of those ingredients can easily be replaced with a homemade version of these items. (Thanks to the book, I can now even make my own “instant noodles”!)
The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals is only about $10 on Amazon – it will be the most worthwhile $10 you’ve spent on preps in a very long time. I highly recommend it.