Day 12 – National Preparedness Month Challenge – Long Term Food Storage, Part 2 – Inventory, Plan and Purchase
In yesterday’s challenge, we talked about why having food storage is a great buffer against life’s storms. Today we begin to talk about how you can put a Long Term Food Storage plan into motion – and it will take some forward motion on your part to make it a reality.
Remember this will not be accomplished over night! You probably do not have the time or money to get your long term food storage together today, or even this week. We can promise it will be worth the effort you take to analyze what your family eats and look for the best place (s) to make your purchases. It will save you headaches and waste in the future, because it is simply a waste to purchase split peas if your family won’t eat them.
What Type of Food Should You Store?
Grains are usually the foundation of a long term storage plan. There are so many different types of grains available to us today, wheat, rice, quinoa, chia or oats, the possibilities are endless, so take your pick. You will be able to purchase just what your family likes and take into account any family allergies.
Mix and match to reach the recommended pounds per person. Browse the catalog of Bob’s Red Mill, Azure Standard or Rainy Day Foods to get ideas about what is available then look for co-ops, warehouse stores or bulk buying groups in your area to determine the best price. Don’t forget to check prices on a grain mill while you are looking around!
Rolled oats. These are the ultimate prepper food to have in your Doomsday pantry. They are highly nutritious and are very easy to turn into a filling and delicious meal. If you’re out of fuel, you can use cold water to prepare oats, which is big bonus, especially if you want to keep your position concealed or you are worried about hungry criminals knowing about your food stash.
For big savings, get a big bag of rolled oats for horses (yeah, you’ve heard that right – many animal food and medicine are just as good if not better than human-grade products). Store the oats in mylar bags, add oxygen absorbers to the mix, vacuum seal the bags, and place them in food-grade plastic buckets (a tin box is even better to keep rodents and other pests at bay).
As an extra step you could freeze the oats for a couple of weeks in their mylar bags to ensure that you kill off all bug larvae that might ruin your batch. However, oxygen absorbers should be enough to kill the bugs.
Pasta. Pasta is a versatile and budget-friendly pantry staple with a ginormous shelf life. For instance, dry pasta doesn’t really go bad (it usually has a “best by” or “best before” date, not an expiry date.) And if it is stored in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, dry pasta can last for decades.
Ramen noodles are a great backup option to have in a preppared pantry as well. They might not be the healthiest food out there, but they’re filling, versatile (you can make a zillion things out of them) , and they’re perfect if you want to save on fuel when the grid goes down, simply because they cook so fast – let them sit 2-3 minutes in boiling water.
Instant noodles should last up to a couple of years if not removed from the original packaging.
Egg powder. You could freeze dry eggs on your own and turn them into a fine powder to store them away or buy them ready-made in #10 cans. Augason Farms have some of the most delicious dried eggs out there. Each #10 can contains 96 whole eggs.
To reconstitute use 2 tbsp egg powder to 2 tbsp water or according to packaging instructions. Augason offer a 10 year shelf life for unopened cans. For more trusty powdered egg brands, check out our related post: The Best Powdered Eggs for Your Emergency Food Supply.
Legumes consisting of dried beans, peas, barley and nuts are the next item on your long term food storage list. These will last for up to 30 years if properly stored. Beans are a source of protein and can be ground and used as thickeners.
Plan on purchasing beans and seeds for sprouting – if you can’t grow a garden this will be a way for your family to get fresh greens, even in winter. Sprouting is fun, easy and healthy for you, give it a try! If you are storing beans in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, make sure that you set aside some beans for sprouting as the oxygen absorbers will render the seeds useless.
Dairy. How much milk can you store and for how long? Fresh milk will only last about 10 days. You can freeze milk for up to a month but expect some huge changes in texture. We keep a supply of powdered milk on hand to meet the dairy requirement for long term food storage and we use it exclusively for cooking. For long term-storage pick only non-fat powdered milk brands. For instance the non-fat powdered milk by Kesler below has a shelf life of 10 years if unopened.
Check out my other post on storing powdered milk: How Do I Store That? Powdered Milk and here are some recipes for powdered milk use. Do some taste testing and find a milk product that your family will actually drink. It might cost more but it will be worth it. You can still use the less expensive brand for cooking.
We store several kinds of Sugars at our house and although white sugar is getting a bad rap right now and we limit the amount we use, I still have it in my long term food storage. We also have honey (which NEVER goes bad), molasses, Splenda and agave.
If you plan on storing some extra honey, don’t do it in tin cans or other metal containers as it will acquire a nasty metallic taste and turn black after several years of storage as some preppers have learned the hard way. Honey might start corroding the metal can.
If the honey has crystallized, which is absolutely normal over the long haul, don’t throw it away. Put it in a mason jar, line a pot with a heavy bottom with a kitchen towel or a thick layer of newspaper pages, add the jar into the pot, fill with water up to the jar’s rim (don’t let any water get into the honey), and let simmer until the honey turns liquid again. Do not boil the honey as it will lose vital nutrients and become toxic.
Also, store sugar in plastic or glass containers as sugar too might corrode some types of metals. Here’s a handful of tips on storing sugar (both white and brown): How Do I Store That? Sugar
Don’t forget Leavening Agents or your bread will be flat! Have on hand enough yeast, baking powder and powdered eggs for your baking needs. You could also try mastering the art of baking with sourdough since sourdough starter is a lot more healthier than other leavening agents and you can dry it out and store it indefinitely in an airtight container.
Salt is another necessity and very easy to get but many preppers overlook this essential ingredient. Salt does not only make (stored) food taste better, but it also keeps our muscles and nerves going. Without itm we would be dead in less than a week. Do you want sea salt, canning salt and salt with or without iodine?
You need to store some Fats for cooking and health. There are many debates going on right now about the “right” kind of fats to use and we won’t get into that today. You will need some kind of vegetable oil (we have olive and coconut) and shortening (yes even Crisco and lard) as part of your long term food storage plan. Most of these will not last more than 2 years, so plan on rotating.
Butter is a delicious type of fat which can be stored in the freezer for up to one year without noticeable changes to taste or texture. You could also can butter if you’re preparing for an emergency where power is out for days if not weeks. Properly canned butter should last up to 5 years.
However, many of the prepping videos on canning butter lack the USDA’s seal of approval. Pressure canning should be safest method but no testing has been done at federal level when it comes to canning dairy yet. So, when trying any other methods, do at your own risk.
Butter offers us essential fuel to burn especially in the cold months. Add some butter to your tea just before bed or the first thing in the morning if its freezing cold outside. It will help keep you warm and give you enough fuel to push through the night or the day. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can clarify butter at home to make the so-called ghee.
You could buy ghee at your local grocery store or health food store, but it is infinitely more budget friendly to do it at home. Indians have been doing it for millennia without fancy equipment. Here’s a step by step guide by The Pioneer Woman. For the lazies among us there are always the commercial options.
Ghee should last indefinitely in a cool dark place if made correctly at home. I haven’t tried storing it outside the refrigerator, though.
And finally, don’t forget to plan for dried herbs, spices, and sauces. They will help you create variety with your long term food storage and avoid food fatigue. My husband could not exist without them!
PS: Add some vitamins and minerals to your long-term food storage stash as well. In desperate times, you might not manage to cook perfectly balanced meals for your family, so vitamin supplementation is a must. Vitamin C should be the shinning star in this case, as scurvy or severe vitamin C deficiency can prove fatal during a societal collapse accompanied by poor diets.
Today’s Challenge: Plan, Inventory and Execute a Long Term Storage Plan
GOOD: Plan – you must determine how much you need for your family. The following are recommendations for one year of Long Term Food Storage for one adult or one child. These are only recommendations because you know if you have small children (more milk maybe?) or teenagers (more sugar or cooking fats?!)
|Food||Adult 12 and up||Child under 12|
|Grains||400 Lbs||260 Lbs|
|Legumes||60 lbs||40 lbs|
|Dairy||30 lbs||20 lbs|
|Pasta||42 lbs||30 lbs|
|Sugars||60 lbs||40 lbs|
|Leavening Agents||6 lbs||4 lbs|
|Salt||3 lbs||4 lbs|
|Vitamin C||33 grams||17 grams|
|Fats||30 lbs||20 lbs|
BETTER: Inventory your current Long Term Food Storage – those items that will last more than 10 years – so you know where to go from here. Download the spreadsheet to begin.
BEST: Begin to execute your plan by budgeting and purchasing one month at a time. Every little bit helps, even if it’s only $5 per week. Include a way to rotate your Long Term Food Storage into your daily or weekly meals.
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