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In the ideal situation, every member of your family would be strong enough to carry their own food if it came time to evacuate from an area. But the ideal doesn’t always happen in the nitty-gritty of life, so what are you to do when it comes to the entire family needing to evacuate from an area on foot, and you’re the one who is predominantly responsible for carrying the bulk of the gear?
While I don’t think there’s any doubt that MREs are the most convenient means of preparing a meal while out in the woods with as minimal fuss as possible (e.g., you can eat them almost immediately, they don’t require fuel per se, and the amount of water you need to cook them with is about the same amount as the spit I’ve seen tobacco chewers generate), I think that there are potentially times or arenas where you don’t want to just load up on MREs.
Normally, when backpacking I’ve always traditionally carried all of my food with me in a waterproof bag. That way, all the food stays in one place, and I can easily hang that bag up in a tree over the course of the night as my bear bag.
I’ve been researching Mors Kochanski quite a bit of late, though, and one of the things that he constantly harped on was the need for a metal pot with a hanger. If you saw my posts on the Dakota fire hole (here and here), this was one of the main lessons I learned here. I have always taken a backpacker’s metal pot set with me when I go out to spend the night in the woods, but if you’re trying to cook without some type of propane or alcohol backpacker’s stove – say, you’re trying to cook on a campfire – just using a regular metal pot is a pain in the butt and takes forever.
So I got a metal pot with a hanger.
So I picked up a metal camping pot with a hanger that is large enough that it could be used to cook a meal for a family.
There’s zero way that you would ever want to pack something as large as this in your bag without filling it up with stuff as well, though, so I started to think about this serving as a small, backpackable family food bucket of sorts. We’ll call it the lunch pail.
If you’re going to cook for your family while you’re out in the woods, ideally, you’ll be able to do it all with one pot, especially if you’re trying to be quick about it. For this reason, I think that Legacy meals are a good option here. They’re a one-pot meal that typically contain 1300 or so calories per pouch. I stuffed in a stroganoff pouch and a pasta primavera pouch here. This gave me 3000 calories on the dot.
I then stuffed in half a box of Bisquick (I’ll show you why in a future post). This was 14 servings, coming out to 2100 calories.
You have to have snacks when you’re out in the woods. If you just wait until mealtime to eat, people tend to get pretty short-tempered. If you add in the stress of not being in the woods for fun, then that adds a whole other element to the game. So because of this, I stuffed in four Larabars and three fig bar pouches. The Larabars were 880 calories in total, and the fig bars were 600 calories in total.
I had a little bit of space left where I stuffed in a bag of freeze-dried oranges on a whim, but I think this was a waste of space after I started looking at the nutrition information on the bag later. You really don’t get much out of eating them. I would have been much better served stuffing in 3-4 bags of instant oatmeal.
But, with just the oranges in there, I was able to squish in around 6620 calories for a total weight of 5 pounds 4.5 ounces.
It most certainly wouldn’t want to be the only food that I was carrying on my person, and each member of your family that can walk would want to at least carry some food with them as well, but the lunch pail idea, I think, does give you a few advantages.
Yeah, you obviously have the food that’s stuffed inside, but you also then have a means of cooking and boiling water as well. Whether you’re making squirrel stew or for some strange reason all your Sawyer Minis broke, this would give you a way to deal with it that you likely wouldn’t have otherwise.
Could you use it as a bear bag of sorts?
If you had a dry bag large enough to handle it, I suppose. I don’t think that’s really a great use here, though, honestly. I would still pack a designated dry bag if you intend to hang a bear bag while you’re out in the woods, too.
While the pot I have holds water, it’s not going to protect your food against rain if you just hang a pot with a lid from a tree. I suppose somebody could make the argument that being in a metal bucket would protect your bear bag food from rodents, but I’ve literally never had a problem with a mouse that was smart enough to climb up a tree, find the appropriate branch, and then climb down the paracord to get to my food.
What do you think about all this?
(Also, for what it’s worth, I’d just like to point out that the amount of carbohydrates in this lunch pail is 67% of the total calories. Check out my recent post on the golden ratio to see the point I’m making here. A hazy fit?)
Do you like the lunch pail idea for family bug-out situations? Is there stuff you’d add? Stuff you’d take out? It’s still an idea I’m tinkering with, so I’d be more than happy to hear what all y’all are thinking. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.