Creative Recipes with Emergency Food

How to Cook with Emergency Food: Creative Recipes and Ideas

How to Cook with Emergency Food: Creative Recipes and Ideas

In times of crisis, having a well-stocked pantry of emergency food is crucial for survival. However, keeping meals exciting and nutritious can be challenging when relying on non-perishable items. In this article, we'll explore creative recipes and ideas to turn your emergency food into delicious, satisfying meals. We've compiled a list of 10 recipes that make the most of pantry staples, ensuring you stay nourished and satisfied during long-term emergencies.

1. Breakfast Ideas

a. Emergency Porridge with Dried Fruit

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (e.g., raisins, apricots)
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)

Combine oats, water, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Stir in dried fruit and sweetener, if using, and serve.

b. Crunchy Granola Bars

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (optional)

Combine oats, nuts, and seeds in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together honey and peanut butter. Pour the honey mixture into the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Press the mixture into a lined baking dish and refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

2. Lunch and Dinner Ideas

a. Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 200g dried pasta
  • 1 can tuna in oil, drained
  • 1 can sweetcorn, drained
  • 1/4 cup canned peas, drained
  • 1/4 cup canned carrots, diced and drained
  • 1/4 cup salad dressing

Cook pasta according to package instructions. In a large bowl, mix together tuna, sweetcorn, peas, and carrots. Add cooked pasta and stir until well combined. Fold in salad dressing and serve.

b. Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 can black or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 150g dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 tortilla wraps (wheat flour, baking powder, salt, water)

Cook rice according to package instructions. In a saucepan, sauté the onion until soft, then add spices and cook for an additional minute. Stir in beans, tomatoes, and cooked rice. Cook until heated through. Spoon the mixture onto tortilla wraps and fold into burritos.

Note, to make tortilla wraps:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring to form a soft, non-sticky dough. Adjust with flour or water as needed.
  2. Knead the dough until smooth, then divide into 10 balls. Cover with a damp towel and rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat a cast iron pan or nonstick pan on medium heat.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out each ball thinly. If needed, allow the dough to rest longer.
  5. Cook tortillas on the hot pan, flipping once they bubble and brown lightly. Adjust heat if necessary.
  6. Place cooked tortillas under a damp towel or in a closed container with paper towels to soften. Repeat with the remaining dough.

c. Hearty Lentil Soup

  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 150g dried onion flakes
  • Half can chopped carrots
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, sauté onion and carrot until soft. Add lentils, tomatoes, vegetable broth, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

d. Chickpea and Vegetable Curry

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 150g dried onion flakes
  • 1 cup mixed canned vegetables, drained (e.g., peas, carrots, green beans)
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt, to taste

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion until soft. Add curry powder, cumin, and turmeric, and cook for an additional minute. Stir in chickpeas, canned vegetables, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and serve over rice or with flatbread.

e. Quinoa and Vegetable Stir-Fry

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup canned mixed vegetables, drained
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Cook quinoa in water according to package instructions. In a large skillet or wok, heat oil and stir-fry canned vegetables and water chestnuts for 2-3 minutes. Add cooked quinoa, soy sauce, garlic powder, and ground ginger. Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes and serve.

3. Snack and Dessert Ideas

a. Cinnamon Apple Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 can apple slices, drained
  • 1 cup powdered milk mixed with water (or evaporated milk)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Combine rice, apple slices, milk, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through and slightly thickened. Serve warm or chilled.

b. Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk mixed with water (or evaporated milk)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups rolled oats

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and oats until well combined. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a lined baking sheet and let cool until set.

c. Savoury Popcorn Mix

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup mixed nuts or seeds (e.g., almonds, pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (e.g., rosemary, thyme)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Pop popcorn kernels in oil using a large saucepan with a lid. In a large mixing bowl, combine popped popcorn, nuts or seeds, dried herbs, and salt. Toss until well coated and serve.

d. Instant Coffee Granita

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Powdered milk mixed with water, for serving

Dissolve coffee granules and sugar in boiling water. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish and let cool. Place the dish in the freezer and stir every 30 minutes until frozen and slushy. Serve in a glass topped with reconstituted powdered milk, if desired.

The above recipes are all created using ambient foods with a shelf life of at least 1 year, and are displayed below:

Ingredient Typical Shelf Life
Rolled oats 2-3 years
Water Indefinite (if properly stored)
Salt Indefinite
Dried fruit 1 year
Honey Indefinite
Maple syrup 1-2 years
Nuts and seeds 1 year
Peanut butter 1-2 years
Dried pasta 1-2 years
Tuna in oil 3-5 years
Sweetcorn 2-5 years
Canned peas 2-5 years
Canned carrots 2-5 years
Salad dressing 1-2 years 
Rice 1-2 years
Black or kidney beans 2-5 years
Chopped tomatoes 2-5 years
Dried onion flakes 1-3 years
Ground cumin 2-3 years
Chilli powder 2-3 years
Paprika 2-3 years
Dried lentils 1-3 years
Vegetable broth 1-2 years 
Dried thyme 1-3 years
Pepper 2-3 years
Chickpeas 2-5 years
Coconut milk 1-2 years 
Curry powder 2-3 years
Ground turmeric 2-3 years
Quinoa 2-3 years
Water chestnuts 2-5 years
Soy sauce 1-2 years 
Vegetable oil 1-2 years 
Garlic powder 2-3 years
Ground ginger 2-3 years
Canned Apple slices 1-2 years
Powdered milk 1-2 years 
Evaporated milk 1-2 years 
Cinnamon 2-3 years
Sugar Indefinite
Cocoa powder 2-3 years
Popcorn kernels 1-2 years
Dried herbs 1-3 years
Instant coffee granules 2-20 years
Wheat flour 1 year
Baking powder 1-2 years


With a little creativity and the right ingredients, you can turn your emergency food supply into delicious and satisfying meals. These 10 recipes demonstrate that even in times of crisis, you can maintain a varied and enjoyable diet. Remember, staying nourished and satisfied is essential for maintaining both physical and mental well-being during an emergency. By utilising your pantry staples in versatile ways, you can continue to enjoy diverse and flavourful meals, even when fresh ingredients may be scarce. Keep experimenting with different combinations of ingredients and spices, and don't be afraid to adapt recipes to suit your tastes and preferences. In doing so, you'll ensure that you and your loved ones stay well-nourished and resilient throughout any long-term crisis.

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