Survival Stew

August 23, 2015 garden 051


“It is always good to have a few meals tucked away in the pantry to see one’s family through extraordinary times. Whatever the disruption to our normal routine, having something warm, nutritious and delicious to prepare gives comfort when it is needed most.

This little jar of ingredients, cooked simply in water, can feed a family of four in about two and a half hours. This mix is a complete vegetable protein, and will give a lot of energy. You could live on this for a long time in an emergency.  

Add whatever extra ingredients you have at hand, whether broth, vegetable juice, bouillon, fresh or dried vegetables, or meat to make the stew even hardier and more delicious.”


These are the store brand beans I bought at Martin's yesterday for about $7.00. I ended up not using the white Navy beans in the mix.

These are the store brand beans I bought at Martin’s yesterday for about $7.00.  I ended up not using the white Great Northern beans in the mix.  The rice is from Trader Joe’s.  One could probably order all of the ingredients online at a lower price.


These are the opening words of a little pamphlet I have written this weekend, after coming across an interesting article on the internet Friday evening.  The article described this stew mix as a way to store a year’s supply of food for under $300.00.  Do you read those articles, too?

And while I couldn’t eat this, or any other stew, for every meal for even a week; it sparked an idea for a simple and inexpensive way to put aside a few meals for any sort of emergency.

Having weathered two hurricanes in Virginia, many snow storms, illness and family emergency; I know the value of having a little food laid away and ready to use when needed.  And so decided to experiment with the recipe I found online, adapting it for a more practical storage method than five gallon pails lined with Mylar….

You may have read some of the stories popping up on the internet about hard times ahead.  There is a lot of anxiety around this September, especially.  I’m not expecting any of the numerous scenarios we’ve all read about to unfold, any more than I expected the world to end in late 2012 or modern life to grind to a halt in January of 2000.  There is big business these days around creating additional fear in people’s lives.

Yet it feels like a good idea to have a plan in place to feed oneself and one’s family for a week or so without access to the grocery store.  And so I hope to inspire some close friends and family members to think through some basic preparations for ‘extraordinary times,’ by giving them the pamphlet I’ve written this weekend with a jar filled with the makings for “Survival Stew.”


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Peace of Mind

A single bag of each ingredient will make many jars of Survival Stew mix, and costs very little. Why not share a few jars with close friends and family members? Be sure to copy these instructions to accompany your gift of a meal, ready to make when it is most needed.

Storage in glass canning jars, or recycled food jars, will keep the dry Survival Stew ingredients fresh for at least 2 to 3 years. It is wise to use and replace what you store fairly regularly so there is always a fresh supply, and you are accustomed to eating the recipe. You may add or subtract dried ingredients based on your preferences.”

I raided my stash of empty jars looking for enough to assemble the ingredients this afternoon.  Some proved a little too big, others a little to small.  This isn’t rocket science, and so I made do with what I had and adapted.  If I were buying jars for this project, I would buy quart jars even though they’ll be a little too big. 


August 23, 2015 garden 047


Preparing the Survival Stew Mix for Storage

Make this stew once or twice to see how you like the mix and what extra ingredients you wish to have on hand. Then tweak the recipe to suit your family and mix up several jars of the dry ingredients to store for when you need them.

Also store some of the ‘add-ins’ you prefer so this meal is always ready for you to prepare when needed. If access to clean water could become an issue, store several sealed gallons of distilled water for making the stew.  Buy a bag or two of each of the main ingredients, and mix what is needed for a single batch of Survival Stew in each of several clean glass jars:

  8 oz of rice
· 2 oz of pinto or white Northern beans
· 2 oz of pearl barley
· 2 oz of lentils
· 1 oz of split green peas
· 1 oz of chick peas/garbanzos”

I learned that filling jars on a clean tea towel made clean up much easier.  Even using a funnel, the tiny lentils and grains of rice splattered as I poured them from measuring cup to jar.  I fudged the recipe and just used 1/4 cup of everything except the rice.  I used about a cup of rice per jar, removing a little if needed to seal the jar.  For some of the smaller jars, I shook and rattled the jar to pack it all in.  All of the leftovers from the bags and the dropping from the tea towel went into a plastic baggie, which I’ll use for soup making sometime soon.


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Preparing the Survival Stew Seasonings

 Cut out a 5” square of aluminum foil for each jar you have filled. Place a 5”square of waxed paper on top of each square of foil, and measure the seasonings onto the waxed paper:   1 tsp. salt, 1 Bay leaf, 1 TB dried minced onion, 1 tsp. granulated garlic, 1 tsp. dried herbs (such as Parsley or Rosemary), ½ tsp. cumin powder and ½ tsp. ground pepper. If you like spicy stew, add 1 tsp. or more of red chili flakes.

Fold the paper around the spice mix, and then tightly wrap the aluminum foil around the paper packet. Place this seasoning packet in the top of each jar; fold up, before screwing on the lid. Label each jar, including the date. Store the jars of stew mix in a cool, dry place. You may wish to also store dried bouillon, dehydrated vegetables, canned juice or broth, and canned tomatoes with the jars of mix.”

I cut my papers a little smaller than 5″, and had to give up adding seasonings to the piles before adding the pepper or herbs.  The papers I had cut just barely wrapped around the spices.  I stuffed them seam side up into the top of each jar before sealing the jar.

The beauty of this stew is it allows one to prepare the meal on a single burner, or on a wood stove.  The veteran campers could make it over an open fire.  In fact, this might be a good thing to take along on a camping trip.  Packaged in plastic, it could fit into the proverbial “bug-out bag.”


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Survival Stew Recipe

  1. Rinse the beans and rice in cool, running water until the water runs clear.
  1. Place them in a large soup pot and cover with 4” of water. Allow everything to soak for twenty minutes.
  1. Put the pot over a medium high heat and add another 6 cups of clean water. Bring the mixture to a boil for 3-5 minutes, and then turn down the heat to simmer.
  1. Add the flavor packet and vegetables such as chopped celery, carrots, and potato if you have them.
  1. You may also add a can of diced tomatoes or tomato puree after the first hour of cooking.
  1. Simmer the soup until all of the beans are tender and the stew has thickened, which will take about two hours.
  1. Add vegetable juice or broth if you have it. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Add cooked meat if you wish during the last half hour of cooking.
  1. Garnish with yogurt, sour cream, or chopped fresh greens if you have them. Serve with hot cornbread or rolls.

Remember: Adding salt or tomato juice early in cooking prevents many beans from growing soft. Let the beans soften before seasoning.”


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It has been months since I’ve simmered a pot of soup on the stove.  And I’m not about to make this anytime soon, until we get a real fall day.  So please excuse the fact I can’t show you a photo of how it turned out.

But I’ve made many bean soups over the years, as you probably have as well.  It is a straight forward process, as it should be.  A bowl of this will give one energy for whatever the task at hand may be, whether shoveling snow or clearing fallen trees.

If this inspires you, please give it a try.  The whole project ended up costing a little less than $15.00, including the giant containers of Badia brand herbs and spices I stocked up on today.  Most came from the pantry, but I bought fresh Bay leaves, Parsley and fresh Cumin.  Those are most likely to loose their pungency as they get older.  I counted the price of the organic Trader Joe’s rice already on hand, too.  That investment will yield nine full pots of stew.  Each pot would feed us for several meals.  That is a pretty thrifty investment in good quality nutrition any way you calculate it.

But this “Survival Stew” could get a little boring if you were eating not much else.  I’ve come up with a list of “add-ins” you might want to add to yours.  All of these things can be stored fairly easily, and keep for a long time.

More “Add Ins” you might want to store:

-Dehydrated mushrooms, peppers, carrots, parsley and tomatoes;  Bouillon powder or cubes;  Canned broth or tomato juice; Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Protein; Quinoa for added protein; Chinese chow mien noodles for a garnish”

Bon Appetit!

If you would like a copy of the “Survival Stew” brochure, please ask for it and leave your email in the comments.


August 23, 2015 garden 052~

Woodland Gnome 2015

Source for the original recipe:

Note: The original version of this recipe called for red kidney beans. Undercooked red kidney beans can cause nausea and vomiting. Red Kidney Bean Poisoning is an illness caused by a toxic agent, Phytohaemagglutnin (Kidney Bean Lectin). While some other beans also contain this substance, it is strongest in red kidney beans. Proper cooking eliminates most of the bean Lectin, but kidney beans can still cause stomach upset. Never eat undercooked beans, or beans which have been soaked but not boiled.


August 23, 2015 garden 001



About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

8 responses to “Survival Stew

  1. It sounds like a hearty meal but makes me think of ice storms and snow-blocked roads. I’m not ready for that yet!
    Sure wouldn’t mind a bowl of it now though 🙂

    • As hot as its been here today, a stray thought or two of an ice storm seems almost pleasant 😉 Not a soup day, though. We love soup and eat it all winter. It is a consolation prize when the fresh produce disappears from the stands in autumn. Thank you for visiting today 😉 WG

  2. jamiespurs

    Wow this brings back memories , We have 6 kids and when times were tight in winter months I used to make something very similar and use a ham hock for meat, add dumplings or make bread and the kids loved it and justa few years ago one of them commented and said do you remember that big pots of thick soup you used to make it was yummy..thank you for sharing and invoking that memory 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing that special time when your kids were young . We eat a lot of soup all winter, and it is so nice to have it ready to warm for a quick meal. Thank you for visiting Forest Garden today .

  3. This is a good idea and I think it would make great Xmas gifts. I might add that if you have a pressure cooker, the cooking time for the beans would be much shorter. (I love using the PC for beans especially.)
    I see those swallowtails have been making babies! 🙂

  4. Love this! Great idea! I always have dried beans, rice, etc. on hand and stored in sealed jars or canisters in case of emergency.

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