A couple of years ago, my family spent 2 weeks camping around the beautiful and very cold country of Iceland. (You can read about our adventures in this article.) We had a cozy camper van with a propane stove, a small sink, table, and bunks, and as you might imagine, coming up with plans for hot meals every day became an interesting challenge!
There’s something deeply satisfying about a hot drink or hot meal on a cold day, but have you ever thought about how you could manage that on a long, winter drive or if you were stranded in cold weather? A Winter Survival Food Kit might save the day, and you can put one of these together quickly and frugally.
The basics of the Winter Survival Food Kit
This very, very simple, inexpensive, and very portable Winter Survival Food Kit will provide you and your family with warm drinks and small, hot meals, and it all begins with a $12 gadget, the immersion heater. (see image)
An immersion heater like this one heats up almost instantly and if you were stranded in the snow, which happens to thousands of people every year, having the ability to melt snow into drinkable water could be life-saving. Although it might seem like a good idea to eat clean snow if you don’t have water, the fact is, that icy snow will lower your core temperature, making it even harder to stay warm and avoid hypothermia.
With an immersion heater in hand, you’ll next need a metal container that can hold at least 16 ounces of liquid/food. The one I have in my kit looks something like this pot. In a pinch, you could use an empty, clean aluminum can but without a handle of some kind, you would need to have a potholder or something similar.
You now have a heat source and a container for food and/or water, so the next step is to think about what you could pack that wouldn’t be affected by very cold temperatures, and here is where small packets of food, like oatmeal, are the perfect solution.
Foods for your Winter Survival Kit
Some of the foods I’ve found to be perfectly sized for a Winter Survival Food Kit are:
- Packets of dry soup and bouillon
- Hot chocolate and cider packets
- Packets of sweeteners and honey
- Teabags of different varieties (Teas containing ginger, lemon grass, and lemon verbena are very good for fighting colds.)
- Instant oatmeal packets
- Ramen (bulkier but more filling)
- Packets of instant coffee and lemonade mix
- Emergen-C (You may lose some of the nutrients when added to hot water but you will still get a healthy jolt of the ingredients, including Vitamin C, electrolytes, and zinc. It comes in a few different flavors as well.)
- Theraflu Flu and Sore Throat Powder (There is also a nighttime version that will put you to sleep. Avoid that one if you’re driving!)
- Protein powder — You will probably have to make these yourself.
- Small bottles of energy shot drinks, such as Liquid Focus
You’ll be surprised by how many of these packets can easily fit inside your kit’s metal pot. If you store them in a Ziploc or, preferably, a vacuum-sealed pouch using a Food Saver, it will help keep the packets dry.
Also, check out Minimus.biz for even more travel-sized packets of foods. It’s a very handy site!
One final and necessary ingredient for all these foods and beverages is water. If snow is your only source, then choose snow that hasn’t been plowed, appears to be clean, and, preferably, is snow that has fallen during the middle or toward the end of a snow storm. That snow will have fallen through cleaner and less polluted air.
You can store water in your vehicle using the tips in this article to keep it from freezing. I always have a case of water bottles in the passenger area of my SUV and even if a few get partially frozen, I’ve never had the entire case freeze — but then, I don’t live in the most frigid parts of the country, either!
Purifying melted snow is possible, and the easiest way to do that is by using a Sawyer Mini Water Filter. It’s super compact and can filter thousands of gallons before needing to be replaced.
Your Winter Survival Food Kit is now complete! Is there anything else you would add? If so, add it in the Comments section.