With prices hiking all over the place, I decided to research the "how to's" on food storage. This article caught my attention. I found it here on the Prepare and Share Blog (which I trust you'll also find helpful).
Seven Major Mistakes in Food Storage
by Vicki Tate
Sunday, August 12, 2007
“Considering conditions in the world,” a woman once told me, “my husband and I decided to put away some food storage. I bought twenty bags of wheat, some 60-pound cans of honey, and now all we have to do is get a couple of cases of dehydrated milk.”
“Do you know how to cook with your wheat?” I asked. “Oh,” she chuckled, “if we ever need the storage, I’ll learn how. Anyway, my kids only like white bread, and I don’t have a wheat grinder.”
She had just admitted every major misunderstanding about storing food (other than not storing anything at all). She’s not alone.
Here are seven important concepts to remember when planning your food storage program.
Many people only store the four basic items: wheat, milk, honey, and salt. Most of us could not survive on such a diet for several reasons: a) Some people are allergic to wheat and may not be aware of it until they eat wheat meal after meal. b) Wheat may be too harsh for young children. They may be able to tolerate it in small amounts, but not as the main staple in their diet. c) Appetite fatigue—we get tired of eating the same foods over and over. Young children and older people are particularly susceptible.
The solution? Store wheat, become familiar with using it, and be sure to add other grains, particularly ones your family enjoys eating. Also store a variety of beans to add an array of color, texture, and flavor. Both whole grains and beans store well for long periods of time and are very inexpensive. Store flavorings such as tomato, bouillon, cheese, and onion. Put away a good supply of the spices that you like to cook with.
Flavorings and spices allow you to do many creative things with your grains and beans. Without them you are severely limited in the dishes you can create. Buy a good food storage cookbook, read it, and decide what your family really would eat. Notice the ingredients. This will help you know what to store.
2. Extended Staples
Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze-dried foods as well as home-canned or store-bought canned goods. Makes sure you add cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast, and powdered eggs. You can’t cook even the most basic recipes without these items.
Vitamins are especially important if you have children, since children may not be able to store reserves of nutrients in their bodies as well as adults can. Most vital to your storage program are a good multivitamin, minerals, and vitamin C.
4. Quick-and-Easy and “Psychological Foods”
Quick-and-easy foods can help you through the times when you may be under too much stress to cope with preparing food, such as times of illness or in situations when you cannot safely make a fire. “No cook” foods such as freeze-dried foods are wonderful since they require almost no preparation. Other quick-and-easy foods are MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and canned foods, such as chili and soup. “Psychological Foods” are goodies such as Jell-O, pudding, and hard candy. These may seem frivolous, but they can raise your spirits.
Too many people make the mistake of buying all their wheat, then buying all of another food storage item. Keep balance in mind as you build your storage. Buy a variety of items rather than a large quantity of one. If you suddenly needed to live on your present storage, you would fare better having a three-months’ supply of a variety of items rather than a year’s supply of two or three things.
Always store your bulk foods in food-grade storage containers. So often food is thrown away because it was susceptible to excessive sunlight, moisture, insects, or rodents. Use a food-grade plastic liner or metallized plastic bags—never use garbage bags—to line your plastic buckets.
7. Use Your Storage
Not knowing what to do with food storage is one of the biggest problems. It is vital that you and your family become familiar with the things you are storing. Learn to prepare these foods. This is not a skill you will want to acquire during a time of stress. A stressful situation is the worst time to dramatically change your diet. Learn how to prepare these foods and begin eating them!
If you have a limited budget, here are some things you can do that may cost you little or even nothing.
· Set aside a plot of land to grow some of your own food. For examples, tomatoes don’t take up much room. If you live in an apartment where gardens are not allowed, make a deal with a friend who has some idle ground in his or her yard or someone who owns a vacant lot. Share part of your crop. You can also grow plants in pots in a windowsill.
· Sprouting seeds cost pennies yet yield big dividends in quantity and nutrition. Sprouts make tasty additions to salads, sandwiches, soups, and stir-fry recipes. Sprouts are your fresh greens while you are waiting for your garden to mature.
· Cut down on waste. Plan a menu and stick to it. Buy in bulk. The extra is storage! Make sure you store extra or bulk items properly to avoid expensive waste.
· Budget a comfortable amount of money each week to use for your family’s preparedness and food storage plan. You’ll be amazed how fast your reserves grow.
· Can excess fruits and vegetables from your neighbors’ unwanted crops.
What have you learned about food storage or stock piling that would be useful for other home makers.