Appropriately enough, it seems the zombie craze will never die. Now they’re shambling into your kitchen too, with The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide. It debuts on October 10, just in time for Halloween (and the season 8 premiere of the show, of course), but it’s available for pre-order now at a discounted price. And hey, it’s not too early to holiday shop for your favorite horror fan/foodie, right?
Unless you’re talking about the classic zombie cocktail, the undead are none too appetizing, but after the outbreak, the living do have to eat to stay that way (and avoid getting eaten themselves, of course). It couldn’t hurt to have a zombie survival plan in place; even if the zompocalypse is unlikely to ever happen, a lot of the ideas would be useful in other emergency situations. So here are some basic tips.
And no, drinking pints while holed up in your local pub won’t do. Since you won’t last very long without it, take full advantage of any clean water source you come across. You can carry some with you in bottles or canteens, but your best bet is to always have a portable water filtration system, like the LifeStraw, so you can replenish your fluids even on the go. These are especially handy if you’re in the wilderness and there’s no time to boil water, but always have someone watch your back so nothing sneaks up behind you. If TV has taught us anything, it’s that zombies can go into ninja mode at the most inconvenient moments…
Have A Can-Do Attitude
The most obvious (and probably easiest) source of food after the electricity’s been out long enough to spoil most fresh meat and produce is any kind of canned good. If you’re lucky enough to get to grab your go-bag when the outbreak starts, make sure there’s a can opener included in your supplies so you can actually get at that shelf-stable nutrition. Otherwise, find yourself a suitable tool posthaste and start raiding pantries and grocery store shelves. If you have a moment to settle down with your pickings, you can get fancy and heat up the contents of your cans, even combine them in some approximation of a pre-apocalypse gourmet meal, but in a pinch just scoop those cold beans or peaches out of the tin and be grateful for them. Try checking the larders of abandoned prisons and hospitals too; if you’re lucky, you’ll find a cache of industrial-sized chocolate pudding—although, don’t go too overboard on junk food. You’ll have to stay in fighting (and running) shape, after all. Speaking of running, MREs and foil pouches are fantastic options if you can get them, since they’re lightweight and you can carry more of them with you.
Forage for Food
When you’ve left civilization behind, or if you’re sticking it out in the city or suburbs but the prepared food supply has dwindled, it’s time to forage for nature’s bounty. Since the goal is to survive, safety is paramount. That means watching out for the walking dead, of course, but also making sure you don’t eat anything that’s poisonous. Stick to what you know is edible, and be aware that many safe-to-forage plants have deadly doppelgangers. You might want to familiarize yourself with local wild produce now, not just in case of disaster, but because it’s a fun and rewarding pursuit. In addition to mushrooms, berries, and fruits like apples and pears, you can find edible greens (like chef-worshipped ramps and fiddlehead ferns), roots (like burdock), and nuts (which can be eaten as-is, or turned into flour once you’re in a settled community). If you’re on the coastline, seaweed is nutritious and delicious. Anyone with a backyard garden plot will likely be fanatically guarding their veggies, but if they’ve fled and left their produce behind, those are easy pickings. You could even try taking over a working farm, but that might get boring (and eventually be overrun anyway).
Should you find yourself near a freshwater pond, lake, or stream with a little time to relax before the z-words inevitably catch up to you, why not try to fish? You can attempt to fashion a hook and line from various materials in your environment if there’s no conveniently located outdoor store or empty fishing cabin to loot, but other options include fashioning a spear, improvising a net or seine, and building traps or pens. You could also try fishing with your bare hands, although you’re apt to expend a lot of energy better reserved for making your escape from the moldering horde. And who knows what else is lurking under that water?
Hunt and Gather
Nothing biting? That’s usually a good thing in the zombie apocalypse, but if it means no fish, try hunting. You can use a weapon if you have one, preferably a crossbow since they’re quiet, long-range, and theoretically allow you to retrieve your ammo. Alternatively, you can set snares and traps. Make sure you have a knife or sharp rock with which to prepare your quarry. Or, if you find yourself unable to catch fast-moving, wary mammals or birds, you can eat other, far less appetizing but perfectly adequate animals. Worms, snails, slugs, and snakes are all fair game (pun intended). If you’re by the shore, you can not only harvest kelp and seaweed at low tide, you can nab crabs, clams, limpets, and the like as well. Even more reason to head for an island if you can, assuming zombies won’t in fact be able to swim or shamble along the seafloor!
In a pinch (aka after the zombie outbreak), you can even eat bugs; crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, ants, and termites are all commonly consumed around the world, and can be quite tasty when cooked. Avoid spiders, bees, and centipedes—as if we need to tell you that. And although there are exceptions, generally speaking, anything with very bright colors is probably dangerous to eat. That goes for plants and insects (and frogs, if you happen to be making a go of it in the rainforest).
Avoid a Raw Deal
Always cook your wild proteins if you can, since they’ll not only taste better, but will be easier to break down and less likely to carry parasites and bacteria. After all, the last thing you want to do is get too sick to outpace the shuffling corpses that will relentlessly pursue you. You can devise numerous cooking contraptions, but the most popular set-up is probably the good ol’ campfire + pot or sharpened stick. Bonus if you boil your food: you can also drink the water once it cools so you don’t lose any precious nutrients.
If you’re fortunate, you’ll survive long enough to start rebuilding society, and maybe you’ll even get to bake a batch of cookies again some day!
Although you’re not really likely to encounter any zombies in the flesh (save those that will be lurching around on Halloween), we recommend checking out The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide just for fun—and just in case.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.