Emergency type rations have been around for a long time. Armys have issued standard and emergency rations since the days
of ancient Rome. In the past 150 years most armed forces have had some formal field ration. Many of the items I will be discussing
were encluded in various field rations, or were commonly used by hungry people from about 1860 up to today.
One of the earliest and simplest ration was hard bread. This hard flour, salt, and water cracker has been called ships
biscuits, pilot bread, hard bread, hardtack, and even sheet iron crackers by a few soldiers.Hard tack can still be purchased
in some grocery stores. It is used as a specialty ingredient to thicken clam chowders. Homemade hardtack is simply made. You
just roll out a flour and water dough with a sprinkle of salt, cut to what ever shape you want, and bake in a cool oven until
they are as hard as rocks and lightly browned. Hardtack can be eaten as is, or it can be soaked in water and fried in
fat, crumbled into soups, or even crumbled into coffee.
Coffee is another staple ration. Simple ground coffee can be made into a good cup of joe with nothing in the way of equipment
besides an old can and a fire. Most people prefer one to two tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup of coffee. Just add the
right ammount to a quantity of boiling water and let steep for a few minutes. Once the coffee is black enough, take the boiling
pot off the fire and let it settle down. Adding a shot of cold water to the coffee pot helps pull the grounds down to the
bottom. Some people use egg whites or ashes, but cold water works fine. Pour or dip off a cup of coffee, add some sugar if
you have it, and enjoy.
One ration that is still available and cheap in the grocery store is the famous Bully Beef. Bully Beef is any type of
canned corned beef. Most corned beef comes from Argentina today, which is fine because they do inspect their cows now. It
can cost as little as $1.50 per can if you shop at places like Big Lots. Never ever try to cook this stuff though! The best
way to serve corned beef in a can is to make sandwitches with it. A little mustard goes a long ways towards improving the
flavor. Canned goods like this are a tad heavy, but do provide a quick lunch for one or two people. Traditional brands are
Rex and Madagascar, but their modern counterparts are almost identical.
Baked beans were common in the trenches of late WW1. The Heinz brand was popular, as it still is in Britain. The british
tradition of beans-on-toast is centered on the teal and white can of Heinz navy beans in tomato sauce. B&M brand boston
style baked beans are good also, as are Bush's which come with a chunk of saltpork in the can. Beans on toast is quite good,
and eating the beans straight either hot or cold is also acceptable practice.
Boulion cubes are often found in emergency rations of WW1. OXO was a common british brand. Knorr is pretty good as far
as taste goes. Several other dehydrated soups were used. The germans had a sausage shaped tube filled with little hockey puck
like disks of dry pea soup. These are still available from foreign grocers.
Chocolate is another common emergency food. Big bars of Bavarian chocolate are available in Wal-Mart at a discount. The
added richness and nuts add to the calories and make them a more viable emergency energy source. During WW1 ROLO candies were
issued in rations to allied troops. Hersheys standard chocolate bars were also common. For a less tempting ration, semisweet
bakers chocolate still packs plenty of calories.
Canned stews and chile's by Castelburrys, Dinty Moore, and Heinz all make good quick meals on the go.