Just-Add-Hot-Water Meals: A Tutorial

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add water mealsWhat kind of food should I put in my 72 hour kit? This is a question I hear a lot. This is, in fact, the #1 question I hear. 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. 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! 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.

They can be made from scratch, although the shelf life won’t be as long as those meals bought from “survival food” companies. 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. There are even natural, non-GMO options on the market. 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.

Sourcing Hot Water In An Emergency

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.

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Beth Buck lives in Utah with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Middle Eastern Studies/ Arabic, a black belt in Karate, a spinning wheel, and a list of hobbies that is too long to list here.

9 thoughts on “Just-Add-Hot-Water Meals: A Tutorial”

    1. No, there are a couple of articles on the blog for DIY dehydrated meals. This article is to inform readers about the commercially packaged meals, and I included a brief review of one brand who sent me samples to try.

  1. “Tutorial” implies instructions on how to make your own. I was disappointed to find out otherwise, too. I typically love your site, though!

    1. HI Mindy. We have a series of articles here on the blog that cover different categories of foods purchased from “survival food” companies. Virtually all of these sites sell just-add-water meals, so this “tutorial” is one I’ve had planned for months! Thanks for mentioning that you thought the article would be more of a DIY article. You might find this article more useful to your needs: https://thesurvivalmom.com/dehydrated-dinners-part-2-20-tips-for-getting-started/

  2. You mentioned high sodium in most of the ready made/pre-packaged meals…SO in your opinion (or anyone else reading this) what brand has the lowest sodium count???? Aug. Farms seems to be horrendously high in sodium–the Asian Style Beef Teriyaki has 1,230 gms per 1/3 cup! So ironic that in an emergency situation when water is critical to our survival, that we could all be suffering from dehydration due to TOO MUCH SODIUM!

  3. Hi Lisa…I’m still hoping to hear your thoughts on what add-water-meals, you could recommend that have the LEAST amount of sodium. 🙂

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