Sometimes we forget that protein is found in many other foods besides meat. Most proteins are less expensive, healthier, and store longer than meat products. A stable shelf life allows you to stock up on protein-rich foods and then rotate them into your family's daily meals.
Beans: A versatile, low-fat protein
Who could resist a steaming bowl of chili, a fresh 3-bean salad, spicy burritos, a mexi-pita sandwich or grandma's carrot cake? And all these food items and more can be made with beans from your food storage. The fact is, beans taste delicious! Use them whole, pureed, chopped or ground into flour for more healthy cakes, breads and cookies. Beans can be added to hundreds of foods to enhance texture and nutrition. Did you know beans can save you money? It's true. When preparing meat dishes (such as tacos, burritos, Hamburger Helper, gravies, soups, casseroles, dips, stroganoff, etc.), substitute 1 part chopped cooked beans to 1 part ground hamburger or turkey. Cook both together to allow the beans to absorb the juices and seasonings. Family and guests will never know. One lady only had 10 pounds of meat to serve 75 people tacos and burritos. When she added beans to the meat, she fed all 75 as much as they could eat. By storing and using beans in your meals, you can combat the higher prices of meat.
Beans are very nutritious! They are high in fiber and protein. Best of all, they are very low in fat which means you can eat more delicious meals without counting calories and fat grams. Most bean varieties have only 2-3% fat content (soybeans have a slightly higher fat content, but are the only beans that have complete proteins). By adding bean flour (ground small white navy beans work best) to thicken gravies and sauces, you increase the nutrition and make your dishes virtually fat-free. Bean flour of any kind also makes an excellent "instant" creamy soup base. Simply grind some dry beans, add water, and cook for 3 minutes! Then you can add your own pasta, vegetables or more beans to have a quick homemade soup that's healthier. When making breads or rolls, substitute 1/4 of the flour required with fine-ground bean flour to add more protein and flour. As you can see, beans are great!
What about gas? Beans have a reputation for unfortunate side effects. You can avoid those problems by eating beans in small quantities, then gradually increasing the amount you eat. This will allow your digestive system to adjust to the increased fiber and develop the friendly bacteria needed to aid in the digestion of fiber.
Textured vegetable protein: A meat substitute your family will love!
Textured vegetable protein isn't the friendliest name for a food product, but it is much more user-friendly than it was 15 years ago. Textured vegetable protein is a by-product of soybean oil. Textured vegetable protein is the fiber and protein of soybeans without the fat! It comes in chunks that, when reconstituted, closely resembles ground meat. Still sounds scary? Don't worry, you've probably eaten it many times before at fast food restaurants and in canned pasta meals. Textured vegetable protein comes in many flavors such as sausage, taco, chicken, and beef--your meal possibilities are endless!
Low fat! With textured vegetable protein, you can lower the fat content of your favorite soups, casseroles, and main dish recipes. Simply reconstitute it and cook it as you would regular ground meat. Each serving of textured vegetable protein has approximately 5 grams of fat.
Economical. You can also reduce the costs of your homemade meals by substituting 1/2 or all the meat called for in the recipe with textured vegetable protein. One cost analysis said that on average, textured vegetable protein costs 86% less than store-bought hamburger!
Is there any reason not to have textured vegetable protein in your food storage? You can use it in your daily meals in a snap, get less fat and more fiber while you're at it, and feel reassured that in a crisis situation, you can still cook normal dinners your family will feel at peace eating. What more could you want?
Real meat! Yes, if it were economical and practical, most would have real meat in their food storage. Real meats, however, don't store well in long term food storage. The processes they have discovered to extend meats' shelf life are very expensive (i.e., freeze drying). Meats do provide complete proteins--legumes and grains must be combined with each other to form complete proteins. So if you would like to supplement food storage with meats, do the following: store meat in your freezer or buy thermostabilized meals such as " Meals, Ready-to-Eat." Frozen meats and MREs can supplement and vary the meals you can serve from your food storage.
Dairy: A logical source of protein and other nutrients
Dairy and egg products can also be combined with grains or legumes to form complete proteins. Give variety to your food storage by storing powdered milk, cheese and eggs. Dehydration technology has taken the taste of these products to new heights! Many families can't tell the difference between fresh dairy products and those that have been reconstituted. Storing dairy products is essential for children who need the calcium for growing bones. Cheese powder will reconstitute into a creamy sauce that will make dehydrated or home-grown vegetables easier for anyone to swallow.
Eggs come in a variety of dehydrated forms. Whole eggs are dehydrated and make excellent additions to homemade just-add-water mixes. Scrambled egg mix will make your food storage breakfasts a breeze with instant omelettes or scrambled eggs. Any way you look at it, dairy and egg products helps your food storage have the protein it needs as well as giving you foods you'll find very easy to rotate into daily meals.
*Information found in Country Beans by Rita Bingham and The Tightwad Gazette II by Amy Dacyzyn