Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Food Bucket from Costco

The other week I saw an ad from Costco which had an emergency food bucket with 390 servings on sale for $99.  This amounts to about twenty-five cents per serving.  Can’t go wrong with that so I bought a bucket.   I didn’t even read the list of dishes.  I had no idea if it was all main dishes, some sides, some drinks, I just didn’t pay attention.  I was just stuck on the price.  I did know it was vegetarian and also said it contained 30 days of 2000 calories per day servings.  And it came in a large 7 gallon plastic bucket with a gamma lid.  Couldn’t really pass that up. 
I was thinking about 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches, and 30 dinners with maybe some snacks or drinks.  I really didn’t know what I was buying.  I was really surprised when I opened up the bucket.  There were 15 packages of dried or dehydrated mylar packaged foods.  The questions I had were these: 390 servings of what size?  A serving for a child or an adult? How did it taste?  How easy was it to make?  Would I eat only what was in the bucket for 30 days straight and keep my sanity and health? 
First things first.  Each of the 15 bags said it held 30 servings.  All main dish types.  No snacks, no drinks.  This comes to 15 servings per day of main dishes.  So I’d have to figure out if I was going to eat one thing each day or if I was going to eat 15 different things each day.  Or, I suppose, a combination of maybe some each day and alternate on some type of weekly menu plan. 
There are three breakfast type of bags.  There’s oatmeal with brown sugar.  That is not much different than the instant Quaker Oats except it’s in one bag rather than 30 individual little packs.  The second breakfast food was grits with cheddar cheese and green chili peppers.  The third is creamy cinnamon rice (which would be good with raisins added).  A serving of each of the breakfasts, and really almost all the foods were ¼ cup of the ingredients plus water.  Thinking about that, if you were eating oatmeal for breakfast would you only eat one little package?  Not around my house.  Girl wasn’t buying into my experiment.  She would rather have yougert for breakfast.  Fine, Boy and I will try it.  I said up to three servings for breakfast.  After all, if you get 15 servings per day splitting them into three at breakfast, five  at lunch, and 7 at dinner seemed reasonable.  We both had two servings for breakfast.  That means we have a serving in reserve.  It also means we wouldn’t quite be getting our 2000 calories per day.  The oatmeal he cooked in the microwave.  He complained that it tasted just like regular oatmeal.  I guess that’s good.  I made the grits.  I didn’t make it according to the directions.  You are supposed to simmer it for a long time.  If this was really emergency times I wouldn’t want to be simmering and wasting fuel for 15 minutes.  But because I didn’t make it to the directions it was runny and a bit gritty.  But it still tasted good and I was full after eating my two servings.  
When I finished my breakfast I thought about it.  I would not like to have this for breakfast every day. I don’t know if I would like the oatmeal one day, grits the next, then rice the next, and repeat every three days.  I would probably want to skip breakfast.  If this was all we had we could supplement well with the fruits and eggs from the yard.  Otherwise I’d be bored.
I went out to lunch today at work since I had to go out of town.  Hey, if work pays for my lunch then I’m game for eating in a restaurant!  The kids didn’t want to bring this to school for their lunches either.  Not daring enough yet. 
For dinner I got out two of the bags.  Black beans and rice and chicken flavored vegetable stew.  I made six servings of the black beans and rice and eight servings of the stew.  This meant 2/3 cup dried beans with 1 1/3 cup water for each of us for the bean dish and ½ cup stew mix and two cups of water for the main part of the meal.  I put the beans with its water into the rice cooker.  I cooked the stew mix in a pot on the stove.  Dinner for each was a plate of two servings of beans and rice and a bowl with two cups of stew.  Let me tell you, dinner was delicious – at least much better than I’d ever expected! 
I figured seven servings per person for dinner and we were full with four.  Now we did all snack during the day, but I don’t think we would have eaten seven servings no matter how hungry we were.  Although there are 12 lunch and dinner packages, one of the packages is cheese sauce so there’s really 11 different varieties.  Eating two varieties at lunch and two at dinner means a rotation of meals every three days.  Or every six days if one would eat a larger portion but only have one variety at each meal. 
I need to experiment with the cooking.  Each one says to boil them simmer for around 15 minutes.  That’s too long.  I am going to use my cooking in the ice chest method. Remember that?  You fill an ice chest with blankets.  Then you bring your pot of food to a boil on the stovetop.  As soon as you are sure that all the food is really hot you take it off the burner, put on the lid, and put the pot into the ice chest.  Put more blankets on top and close the ice chest.  It will slow cook all day and be ready many hours later.  So if I boil everything up in the morning and placed it into the ice chest it would be ready to eat at lunch and at dinner, with only a few minutes on the stove rather than 15-20 for each meal. 
$25 per week to feed one person.  That’s less than I spend on groceries.  Of course there’s nothing fresh but I would supplement the main dishes with fruit and vegetables from the garden.  I will probably buy more buckets.