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THRIVE Express Meals: A Tutorial

What kind of food should I put in my 72 hour kit? This is a question I hear a lot. A lot of people get a pack of granola bars and some jerky and call it good, but generally speaking this is not a very good strategy. Granola bars and jerky are great snacks but won’t make you feel full nor will they provide the nutrition and energy you will need in an emergency. There also comes a point when you’ll be utterly and completely sick of snack foods and will want something more substantial, a real, hot meal.

In the past, if you wanted something other than C-rations (which, incidentally, while not exactly gourmet fare are still not terrible), you had to be able to fit cooking gear and a large variety of ingredients in your B.O.B. Lucky for us, modern technology has given us Just Add Water (JAW) meals and THRIVE Express meals, in particular! These are some of the least complicated convenience foods currently on the market. Just add the requisite amount of hot water and you’re good to go.

Yes, just-add-water (JAW) meals can be made from scratch, although the shelf life won’t be as long. The advantage of DIY meals, though, is that you can omit ingredients according to allergies, food sensitivities, or preferences. Check out this article for information to create your own just-add-hot-water meals.

JAW meals are available from many sources and include a wide variety of cuisines. Like all food storage-type food, not all are of the same quality. Some people feel that some kinds are too high in sodium and thus taste too salty. Other kinds, however, taste absolutely amazing – you won’t want to wait for disaster to strike to eat these all the time. Or, alternately, you could keep them on hand for “every day” emergencies: sometimes the emergency has nothing to do with a hurricane or evacuation and everything to do with the fact that the family has to leave for Bobby’s soccer game in 20 minutes and his uniform is still in the washing machine.

I’ll never forget the night my own family was in just such a circumstance and I pulled out a couple of packages of military rations, heated water, and served them up!

THRIVE Express meals

In a crisis, these meals are great to have on hand when you just don’t have the time, space, fuel, or work area to make a meal from scratch. I recommend:

  1. Having these meals make up around 15-20% of your total food storage
  2. Set 14 days worth of these meals aside in buckets or a large bin and keep it stored by one of your home’s exits. In an emergency evacuation, that food will be there at the ready.
  3. As part of this prep, add a pot for heating water as well as a small stove and fuel.

If possible, add fresh ingredients to “doctor up” the basic meal. This will allow you to serve the same dish more than once but with different variations. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Baked Potato Cheese Soup
    1. Add a handful of Sausage Crumbles for extra flavor and protein.
    2. Add freeze-dried Chopped Chicken and freeze-dried corn for a delicious chowder.
    3. Sprinkle baked potato toppings over the soup, such as sour cream, bacon bits (TVP or the real thing), and chopped green onions.
    4. When adding any additional ingredients, keep in mind that anything freeze-dried or dehydrated will soak up some of the liquid, so you might need to add a little extra.
  2. Chili Lime Chicken Rice
    1. As is, this is just a side dish, but by adding extra rice or cooked quinoa, you can turn it into something more filling.
    2. Add extra freeze-dried Seasoned Chicken for more protein and/or Instant Pinto Beans or Instant Black Beans, rehydrated.
    3. Top with rehydrated freeze-dried cheddar cheese (or fresh), cover the pot with a lid, and allow the cheese to fully melt. Yumm!
    4. Any additional ingredients will take away a bit of the original seasoning flavor, so use spices such as garlic powder, cumin, salt, and chili powder to taste.

Get the idea? Make these dishes your own by adding fresh ingredients if/when possible as well as other Thrive Life foods. There’s no excuse for THRIVE Express meals to become boring!

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Sourcing Hot Water In An Emergency

As you begin adding JAW meals to your food storage pantry and emergency kits, you’ll need to make sure you have additional water on hand as well as supplies for preparing the meals.
JAW meals are perfect for emergency kits because in a real emergency, heating some water to boiling may be the only “cooking” your circumstances allow. But unless you are one of those people who loves uncooked spaghetti, a just-add-water meal isn’t going to taste very good if you don’t have any hot water to prepare it. Here are a few ways you can get around that when you are away from home:
  1. If you have room for it in your emergency kit, invest in a small cooking kit and a portable stove. Mess kits range from inexpensive aluminum models to fancy ones wit ah anodized non-stick coating. This is what I have in my own emergency kit. I have had very good luck using the fuel cells to heat water in this fashion.
  2. If you are evacuating to a cheap motel, use the coffee maker. Almost all cheap motels that I have visited in the last two decades have had an in-room coffee maker. Turn it on, heat the water, add it to your entree. Easy-peasy. In the event there is not a coffee maker in the room, some motels have a hot water/ coffee station in the lobby.
  3. Most gas stations off major roads offer water (hot or cold) at no charge. I’ve seen many that also have microwaves available for public use.

The important factor is to make sure, if you stock up on Thrive Express meals, or any other brand, that you also make sure you have a way to heat up the water (enough fuel, at least two different types of stoves, matches, etc.) and a pot for boiling that water.

I also highly recommend having these types of meals as just a small percent of everything you have in your stocked-up pantry. The meals are great in a pinch, but over time, I promise you that even the most delicious and flavorful varieties will lose their appeal if you eat them week after week.

3 thoughts on “THRIVE Express Meals: A Tutorial

  1. Gigi

    It woul help to know amount of ingredients to feed four adults as a get away meal and what kind of stove do you use? We are not new to preparing just not there on get home bag. Enjoy your info more than the other sites I review. Thank you for the simple approach. Take care. Gigi

  2. Shane

    7-11 keeps hot water available at all times. They’re pretty good about letting people use it even if they’re not buying anything.

    1. Lisa Bedford Post author

      That’s a very good tip, one that might help people who don’t have access to hot water, otherwise.

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