December 10, 2023

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Imagine a scenario where you’ve meticulously prepared for six months’ worth of provisions, complete with an ample supply of water and essential supplies. You’ve taken every precaution possible, ensuring you’re well-equipped to face any unforeseen challenges that may arise. But amid all your preparations, did you remember the power of comfort foods? Here’s why I recommend that you include in your emergency food storage planning foods that make you feel better.

Why are Comfort Foods Important?

Now, picture a sudden shift in circumstances. A catastrophic event has unfolded, leaving you and your family with no option but to rely solely on the resources you’ve carefully accumulated. Trips to the grocery store are a distant memory, dining out is no longer an option, and fast food is a luxury of the past. Your family’s survival hinges entirely on the provisions you’ve stockpiled.

Consider the events and circumstances that could cause this to happen. A total collapse of our economy, perhaps? A horrific natural disaster or civil war? A complete and abrupt end to your income flow? Whatever the case might be, when the time comes that you must rely solely on what you have stored, you can count on overwhelming levels of stress and anxiety. Regardless of the trigger, the emotional upheaval that follows remains a constant. During these trying times, the simple pleasure and emotional reassurance that comfort foods provide can be a game-changer.

In the midst of the trauma, it’s dinner time. The family sits down at the table for their usual dreary meal of beans and re-hydrated vegetables, and what do they see? Why, a pan of hot, fresh-from-the-Sun-Oven brownies!!!! This rare treat brings smiles, laughter, and in a matter of minutes, the pan is empty. That is the power of comfort food and why I recommend that it be part of your food storage.

(Check out this recipe to make a phenomenal rice and beans meal. So good!)

The Science Behind the Foods that Make Us Feel Better

The science of comfort food delves into the intricate relationship between our brain chemistry, emotions, and the foods we find emotionally soothing.

Food Ingredients

Comfort foods are typically high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates, which can trigger the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in our brains. These neurotransmitters are associated with pleasure and reward, creating a sense of emotional well-being when we consume comfort foods.

The Emotional Connection

Comfort foods possess a unique ability to offer solace and reassurance when everything else is uncertain. These are the foods woven into our personal histories, linked to cherished memories and moments of happiness. It might be a steaming plate of your mother’s signature meatloaf, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes and rich gravy. For someone else, it could be the indulgence of homemade apple pie, evoking the warmth of simpler times. For my husband, it’s the less conventional fried Spam and rice. (No joke.)

The combination of the neurochemical response and the emotional associations makes comfort foods a powerful tool for improving mood and providing a sense of comfort during times of stress or distress. Makes more sense, now, why we turn to specific dishes in moments of need, doesn’t it?

Here’s the Comfort Food I’m Sure to Keep Stocked

Mac-n-cheese.

Yup.

Good ol’ creamy, cheesy noodles of deliciousness.

In the world of comfort foods, personal preferences reign supreme, and I’ve stocked up on macaroni-and-cheese specifically because it’s my kids’ favorite meal. In the short term, readily available Kraft macaroni and cheese serves the purpose well. For long-term planning it’s #10 cans of macaroni and cheese powder. Plus, a dozen or so boxes of brownie mix are tucked on a back shelf in the pantry, hidden because we love being comforted by brownies more often than we really should!

How to Add Comfort Foods Into Your Food Storage Plan

Create a list of these cherished dishes and their essential ingredients, and gradually incorporate them into your emergency provisions. Pay close attention to the storage requirements of these ingredients. Some may be suitable for short-term storage, while others may need special packaging for extended shelf life.

If cookies are on your family’s list of comfort foods, this article will help you properly store cookie ingredients.

You could keep chocolate chips and M & M’s in canning jars vacuum-sealed with a FoodSaver.

If meals with pasta make you feel better, try out my marinara sauce topped with freeze-dried cheese. Yum!

In cases where your favorite comfort food components aren’t conducive to long-term storage, explore alternatives that can replicate the taste and emotional connection. And as with all of your food storage, rotate your comfort foods as well.

Other Comfort Food Suggestions

  1. Chicken Soup – Here’s a no-recipe soup that allows you the freedom to use whatever you have on hand to make a comforting pot of soup or keep a supply of dry soup mixes handy.
  2. Pizza – This is doable if you think through the shelf-stable options for your favorite toppings and can make your own pizza dough from scratch.
  3. Survival Mom’s Macho Mexican Rice – Ok, it’s a shameless plug, but it’s really good and rice is a great meal stretcher. Let me know what you think if you try it!
  4. Pancakes with maple syrup – Not everyone is lucky enough to have maple trees, but if you are here’s our guide to tapping for maple syrup.
  5. Chicken Pot PieFreeze-dried chicken is a shelf-stable option.
  6. Biscuits and Gravy – Here are recipes for biscuits and gravy using food storage ingredients.
  7. Beef StewBuy beef from a farmer and then can the meat to have a shelf-stable supply for this filling treat. You already know how to make the biscuits from the biscuits and gravy to sop up all that stewy goodness!
  8. Tacos – If you think life without Mexican food is no life at all, then stock freeze-dried ground beef, the ingredients for your own taco seasoning, and learn to make homemade masa and tortillas.
  9. Peanut Butter and Jelly SandwichStock jars of peanut butter for the short-term and store peanut butter powder for the long-term. Make sure you have yeast for making homemade bread. Then all you do is pull some of the jam from the freezer you made yourself, too!

Final Thoughts

So, have you thought about the comfort foods that hold significance for you and your loved ones? It’s a question worth considering. While practicality and preparedness are crucial, it’s equally essential not to overlook the emotional aspect of readiness. In times of crisis, the power of comfort foods transcends mere nutrition. They become a lifeline to normalcy, offering moments of respite and psychological nourishment when they’re needed most. So, did you remember the power of comfort foods in your survival plan?

What comfort food do you stock in your food storage pantry?

Originally published March 7, 2012