7 Ways to Mask Food Aromas When the SHTF

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Sustainable in the City: 7 Ways to Mask Food Aromas When the SHTF

Tess Pennington

Ready Nutrition http://readynutrition.com/resources/sustainable-in-the-city-7-ways-to-mask-food-aromas-when-the-shtf_23102013/


Scenario: It’s been 20 days since the blackout and 3 days since you have eaten. All the store shelves have been cleared out and there is no sign of recovery. The lucky ones already made their way out of the city, but there are some who decided to stay in the neighborhood. After your daily dumpster diving for food and supplies, you are walking past an apartment complex and smell a delicious aroma. Could it be the smell of stew making its way out of the window of the abandoned apartment complex? At this point, you have nothing to lose and your sole thought is on survival. It’s either you or them so what would you do?


Our Smells Will Give Us Away

A fear of many preppers during the beginning stages of a true SHTF event, is how our smells, as well as the aromas from foods we prepare could attract unwanted visitors. Cooking food can be smelled in best conditions up to a half mile or so. Further, those who have gone without food for days on end will have a heightened sense of smell and will use this to their advantage. After all, this is what we do when we hunt, we use our senses to track down food. Animals can also be a security risk. For one, their range of smell is further and could make their way to your residence in hopes of getting any leftovers. This is a very real security issue and one that we must prepare for. Using your outdoor cooking sources such as a Sun Oven, Rocket Stove, outdoor grill or oven could add insult to injury and endanger you due to the food aromas.

As nice as it is to have a fully stocked food pantry, in the beginning of a massive disaster (economic collapse, nuclear or EMP attack, pandemic, massive grid failure, etc.), we must carefully choose the types of foods to eat in order to conceal our whereabouts. Generally speaking, most people have a three day supply of food in their home. After that is when the crazy begins. Remember, you want to use or preserve all the contents in your refrigerator and freezer before you begin using your food stores. Once it is time to use your larder, be thoughtful about which foods you consume.

Densely Populated Areas Will Be Most At Risk

In this type of event, basic resources such as food, water and disaster supplies will be near to extinct if you are living in a large metropolitan area. Those who live in densely populated areas, apartment complexes or sprawling neighborhoods will be challenged with bugging in and trying to not emit smells of food.

If you decided to hunker down and bug in place ensure that you have all supplies stored and ready to go. Plan to keep a very low profile and to stay indoors. Further, invest in black out curtains to conceal any light that may emit from your home. Never underestimate the desperation of the unprepared; they will want what you have. Take steps now to learn how to conceal aromas and learn which ways you can prepare food indoors to protect you location.

To maintain a level of discretion, you may want to look into these tips:

  1. Cook indoors. Finding clean burning fuels such as those found in sternos. Now isn’t the time to break out the outdoor grill.
  2. Cook on the down low. Plan to prepare and cook food in the early morning or late at night when a majority of people are sleeping.
  3. Stock up on MRE’s. These are self-contained meals that will not require long preparation times.
  4. Have meals with quick prep times. Prepare meals ahead and can them for quick preparation such as beans, soups and stews. This will cut down on fuel and keep the smell of food down to a minimum.
  5. Go easy on the spices. As much as we love to add spices to our meals, they will bring added aromas to your food and inevitably could be your worst enemy.
  6. Eat foods that are already prepared and are shelf stable. Shelf stable foods is another solution to cut down on strong aromas.
  7. Use a thermal cooker. This is an insulated crock pot that will allow you use minimal fuel to heat the food and also help insulate the aromas that the food gives off.

In the aftermath of disasters, the main objective of the unprepared is to find food and water. Dumpster diving, rummaging through homes and foraging will become a norm for those trying to meet their survival need. During this time, you must be discreet in your food preparations until the recovery period or the die off begins



I find her articles to be most intriguing.


I don't live in a city, but I do live in an apartment. The rules here forbid BBQs on the property except for established areas, and open flames (think candles and oil lamps) are not allowed. Too bad. I am supplying with these items anyway. However, in light of the theme of this article, I am making sure that any candles I purchase are NOT food or spice fragranced! That means no apple scents, no vanilla scents, not cherry/strawberry, etc! I would think that pine scented, fresh linen scented, and the like would be "safe." What do you think?


I am also investing in "Smoker's" candles. They don't cover-up odors, they eliminate them! I have used them before to eliminate the smell of sauerkraut in the air from when I rented a room from someone who didn't like the smell, but that was post meal. I need to try using one WHILE I am cooking to see if it works. Then I would feel 'confident' enough to use them after SHTF.


I am normally up late anyway (hence the moniker MIDNIGHTmom) so I could cook when everyone else is sleeping, but I don't know HOW that habit would change if the power is out and there is nothing to do once the sun goes down.




Most of my meats are already cooked and canned. I suppose I could eat them straight from the jar--like chicken and turkey; probably even the ground beef............except for the taco flavored stuff. Can't imagine eating that cold. Ugh. The other canned meat that I would prefer to eat fried and hot is this............................




The only SAFE way to eat 'canned' bacon!!!


So, what are YOUR plans for keeping your food odors from giving you away???

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I'm not too worried about food odors. I live on a farm and nobody is so close that food odors would be a problem. Other things, like my roosters crowing, ducks and geese carrying on, dogs barking, goats calling...............



I was thinking that if you had the seal-a-meal boil-in-bags that you could put food in one, seal it and drop it in a pot of water. That would eliminate the cooking odors. They can be sealed with any smooth metallic object you can heat first. I've used a clothes iron when I didn't want to damage my vacuum machine with wet foods that were going in the freezer. If you had an old fashioned flat iron, that would be ideal, but experiment.

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I like the seal a meal idea -- kind of the lines of those "boil in bag" meats in gravy that they used to make and sell in the freezer section (freezer quuen brand, maybe ... I am thinking so, we used to eat those a lot when I was little).


I wonder if the plastics are safe for heating. Boy I sure wish I paid more attention to the FoodSaver infomercials, for some reason I'm thinking they may have addressed this on one of them ... never thought I'd be wishing I had paid more mind to an infomercial, but it would have been helpful.


I'm thinking thermal cooker too.


Where we intend to go (if all works out right, that is), it's less populated, but if food smells travel that far, it's still an issue for both people and animals it may attract :/ not as bad as here in our apt. but still not without concern.

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Aiiiieeeee! Though we've had this topic in previous years, the hair on the back of my neck was tingling as I read this. Thanks for an excellent reminder! I'm afraid I did automatically think....BBQ and propane BBQ devices on the porch.


Having an electric stove...I'm not holding my breath on that. :campfire: Being surrounded with woods, woodsmoke is going to continue to be a really common smell...at least in winter. In summer, smoke will cause this reaction in our region: :runcirclsmiley2: Honestly, it's often not safe to try to have a :campfire: due to wildfire conditions in summer/fall. [this year's fall a notable exception!!! ]


Food smell with that woodsmoke, however, is entirely different tho.


Definitely agree on using up your apple pie candles now. Most of mine are unscented due to sinus and ....stink. I don't appreciate most smells. :shrug: Vanilla and apple pie are nice tho..... Dang! Pine scent wouldn't be noticed here. :lol:



:o ....just thought of another smell you might want to hide! :0327: Tobacco. If some smoker [like DH] happens to still have tobacco when others are in their frenzied state of withdrawl...... Thought of that cuz we have a few of those Smoker's candles and that is another gooood idea! [sheeesh....I just don't think of smelling things!]


Another thing I remember reading is that your clothes can carry a smell of food. So if post-hooey, you are going out among folks, with large baggy clothes as tho you're starving like the rest, make sure your clothing does not rat you out. It should smell strongly of .....human-in-distress. Not food. Not nice soap.



What else besides food would smell like prosperity? :scratchhead:



Boiling bags -- you can make scrambled eggs [with a variety of fixings] in them. I've used freezer ziplocks but they aren't really rated for that. EZ!!



MtRider -- having no sense of smell due to chronic sinus....but others are not so handicapped....duh!

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We can smell whenever anyone in the park is BBQing. I've smelled lasagna before too.


Quite the coincidence because when my husband came home the other night he could smell exactly what dish I made when he got out of the truck and mentioned that although the dish was mainly food storage ingredients it probably wouldn't be a good idea to make if everything was down.

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You can always smell a wood burning fireplace in my neighborhood in the fall/winter and a cookout in the spring/summer even if you don't see any smoke. I can smell cigarette smoke from a car in front of me at a drive thru. And I can smell alcohol across a room. If I'm in a checkout line I can smell tobacco, alcohol and firewood on someone's clothes even if they aren't right behind me. The smell of a bar can permeate clothing too; even if you aren't drinking. My grandpa used to go to a bar every now and then for lunch. My uncle was a bartender and he'd visit him and have lunch. I could always tell when he went because of the bar smell he brought home.


I suppose the same would hold true if someone smelled especially fresh and clean in a SHTF situation. People might wonder if they have plenty of soap and extra water to use/waste washing clothes. Some professions have a certain smell too. Although probably not a dangerous alert type of smell, but an auto mechanic can smell heavily of oil and machine parts. Hairdressers might smell of hair care products, shampoo or perms. Cooks can smell like food. I think I veered off topic.

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