Those of you who aren’t too caught up in the trivialities of life or Hollywood, and are actually paying attention to what is going on in our economy are hopefully coming to the realization that things just aren’t right in our country. There is a feeling of impending turbulence, whatever form that may come in.
More and more people are beginning to wake up and realize how fragile our system really is, and how dependent and they are upon it for their most basic needs. Many are starting to think about what they can do now to get prepared for an unexpected disaster. I have found myself answering a lot of questions and lending a lot of advice to those considering food storage, and I am encouraged to know that so many others are getting their houses in order. The more people who can feed themselves without outside assistance, the better off we’ll all be.
Since it seems I’ve been giving out a lot of the same advice and information to those who are asking (and maybe even loved ones who aren’t asking), I thought it would just be best if I wrote an entire series on the subject for everyone to read, and you can ask me any other questions you may have as we go. I’ll have to write in several parts, as there is a lot to cover, and I will probably miss some stuff but will do my best to be thorough.
Today, we’ll talk about Food Storage.
How Do I Begin Storing Food?
If you are new to food storage and don’t really have anything set aside as of right now, I understand how overwhelming this can feel. Especially if you feel a sense of urgency, like you need to have it all right now! Try to take a deep breath and build your home store a little at a time, as your budget allows. Here are some baby steps to help you decide what to buy first.
Baby Step One: 2 week’s worth of food. This is bare minimum of what you should have in your emergency food storage. If you don’t have enough food to get your family through at least 14 days without going to a grocery store, this needs to be a priority.
Put together a menu for two weeks worth of meals, and buy shelf stable ingredients to make them. Think of stuff you and your family would normally eat. This is especially true if you have children, as it’s extremely important that they maintain nourishment during a crisis. Now is not the time to be introducing strange new foods to kids.
Here are some simple meal ideas for 2 week’s worth of shelf stable foods:
The following suggested meals are designed around items you can grab at your local grocery store. You can find organic or natural versions of each of these foods. Be creative to supplement for food allergies.
Day 1: Oatmeal (packets), freeze dried fruit*; canned tomato soup; canned chicken salad on crackers
Day 2: Granola bars, applesauce; mac ‘n cheese and beenie weenies; chili
Day 3: Pancakes (just-add-water mix), syrup, fruit cocktail; beef jerky, instant rice; canned beef stew
Day 4: Instant grits, trail mix; canned chicken noodle soup; spaghetti (noodles and a jar of sauce)
Day 5: Breakfast bars; canned tuna salad and crackers; Ramen noodles
Day 6: Granola and milk (dried or canned), canned mandarin oranges; beef and noodles (just-add-water); black beans (canned), instant rice, seasonings
Day 7: Powdered smoothie mix (something like this); peanut butter or cheese crackers, freeze dried veggies; just-add-water meal
Don’t forget to include drinks: powdered drink mix, tea bags, coffee, etc.
*Freeze dried foods last MUCH longer than dehydrated foods. We’re talking years vs months.
Baby Step Two: A month’s worth of food. You can follow the same basic idea as above and buy shelf stable foods from the grocery store, or you can buy raw ingredients in freeze dried form and create your meals from scratch. Buying raw ingredients (onions, potatoes, carrots, corn, diced chicken, apple slices, etc) is the most cost effective way to store food, and gives you the greatest flexibility in the meals you prepare. Plus, you can avoid preservatives, additives, and unnatural ingredients this way.
Freeze dried foods are very simple to cook with. Look at your favorite recipe, make an ingredients list, then buy what you need in freeze dried form. When it’s time to make the meal, soak the dried ingredients for a few minutes, then cook just as you would if it was fresh. No other special treatment or preparation needed!
Baby Step Three: 3 month’s worth of food. At this stage I would recommend that you move beyond the basic staples and start adding some comfort foods. If the emergency has lasted long enough that you’re into 3 months of food storage, you’ll be grateful to have some special treats mixed in with your regular meals.
Some comfort food ideas:
Baby Step Four: 6 month’s worth of food. Now you’re getting serious. A membership to a buying club, such as Sam’s or Costco… or taking advantage of their ‘open to the public’ days… will help you buy in bulk at premium savings. Start thinking about buckets of shelf stable foods you can store.
Some items that you can buy in bulk and store well in buckets are:
- instant milk
- TVP (soy based) meat
- whole grains (wheat, quinoa, millet, spelt, amaranth, pearled barley)
Do some price comparisons before buying in bulk. Some food co-ops can get these items for less than buying clubs. When buying in bulk like this, you’ll need to store these foods in food safe plastic buckets with oxygen absorbers to prevent weevils from hatching. (You can read more about storing food in buckets here.) Mylar bags are optional, but ensure safer storage. I’ve started using mylar bags after several of my buckets got cracked in storage.
Thrive Life also carries all of the above mentioned foods in buckets with gamma seal lids (easy on/off), mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers for 10-20 years of storage.
Baby Step Five: A year’s worth of food. This should be everyone’s goal- to have enough shelf stable food stored up to sustain every member of your family for an entire year. This might sound crazy in our day and age when convenience reigns supreme and all of our needs are just a grocery store away. Our modern mindset hinges on a dangerous illusion that it will always be this way. It was only two generations ago when the average household had cellars packed full of home grown foods- plenty to get by during the “lean times”. You would have been thought a fool if you didn’t have provisions stocked away in those times. That wisdom was lost with the Industrial Revolution, as more and more housewives traded their skills for convenience. We need to get back to that survival mindset so that we don’t have to depend on somebody else’s (or the government’s) generosity when times get hard.
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