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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Step Two! Food!

The next step toward survival of any major catastrophe will be the foods you have access to!

Now what does your family eat?  Fast foods, junk foods, preprepared frozen foods that you Nuke, or boxed foods that you open and add a few items and some water and meat and simmer for 20 minutes?

Or are you a gourmet chef who likes to feed your family fancy foods from specialty stores?  Or maybe you are concerned about the health of your family and serve them lots of raw foods and organic foods?  Now what this article will be about may turn you off if you are in the categories above.  Sorry, I will be talking about surviving in a difficult or dire situation after all or most of the above is no longer available to you because they are closed, bankrupt, or just out of your reach financially. 

What would you eat to live another year?  If food was unavailable from outside your home or if all the stores no longer had food and their shelves were bare what would you eat?  Do you have a weeks worth of food in your house?  Do you have a months worth of food in your house?  Or do you have less than 3 days of food and you stop to pick up food everyday or two?

The plan that I am going to describe in here is my thoughts on food storage and an insurance that you and your family will not starve to death and can live quite comfortable without pains of hunger and crying kids just wanting something to eat!  The ideas and knowledge that I have gleaned over the past 14 years suits us but the way I do it is not the only way to do it.  There are other ways to do this and still be comfortable and I will tell you about those as well.  We are not wealthy and I wouldn't even say we are even comfortable financially.  We don't take vacations, we don't travel, we don't partake in the nightlife scene, we don't participate in any sports or theater or even go to movies.  We rent movies from Red Box and we have internet as well as we are big readers.  We don't read a lot for pleasure but we do that some as well.  We research our interests, we read about those things that will help us in a future where there may be very little available to anyone anywhere. 

The lifestyle you live is probably much different than my family's lifestyle.  You may be much younger than I and may be much more educated than I am.  I am not criticizing anyone who lives differently but I am trying to give you an option.  Yes just another option of many to survive the devastating effects of any future natural disaster or economic collapse or a great depression or maybe something as simple but as devastating as unemployment.......

Let me tell you briefly what it is like to live with no income as my family did for a couple of years when I was a child.  This took place in the fifties.  Yes I know most people think that the fifties were all about "Happy Days!"  My hometown didn't see it that way.  There was a county wide and maybe further around depression where few people had work or not enough to pay the bills and eat anyway.
My dad was a general contractor, and when an area is in a depression you don't work much as a builder.  People don't have the money to build or do anything extra in their lives.  Dad's last job was to remodel a house that was very old and had lots of problems.  They didn't remodel for looks but for keeping the house in good order.  When he finished the job and made up the bill and presented it to the owner she broke down in tears and said she had lost her job and she didn't even have money to buy food so she would have to try to sell the house to pay him.  She tried to sell and found noone else had money to buy it. So it sat there for 3 years with no offers at all.

Dad came home that night she had told him she couldn't pay and told Mom what happened.  Mom was mad.   I remember her pacing up and down the living room and then she sat back down and said "Paul what are we going to do?  We owe the lumber yard and hardware store for all the materials you put into that job!  You don't have any other work lined up and we don't have any savings!"  Dad was very quiet.  He looked her straight in the eye and said, "Betty I will make sure we don't lose the house or let the kids go hungry no matter what!"  Mama just cried and cried.  The next day they called us kids to the kitchen table and had a long talk with us.  We had never lived a grand life so it didn't seem very bad to us and we had all the faith in the world that everything woud be allright. 
But there were many changes in our home.  Electricity was used sparingly as well as water.  We would not have money for any "extras" any longer.  So the 3 pack of Cracker Jacks that she would buy us every week when she went shopping was no longer available to us.  No more packs of gum to share.  No more Nestles' Quik. No more pot roasts or any meat from the market on our table any longer.  My grandfather who live about a mile and a half from us had a large garden and my Dad's hobby of fishing became our food supply until Dad could get our own garden started and producing.  We had an orange tree and a Japanese Plum tree and those were our only fruit.  My Grandmother brought us a bag of groceries every week.  This is what was in that bag. 

A bag of grits
A gallon of milk
A box of corn flakes
A box of oatmeal
A bag of flour and cornmeal
A bag of rice
A bag of beans
A jar of peanut butter
A dozen eggs

We were a family of five.  My Mom, Dad, my brother and sister and myself who was the youngest of the kids and I was the most scared I think.  Because I was closest to my Mom and she was the worry wart I got to hear her talking about stretching the food and tried to help her by cooking by her side.  Yes I was pretty young, only about 7 at the time. Those next two years I learned a great deal about stretching the food out and how to cook from scratch.  By the time I was 9 I was able to cook any meal from scratch without supervision from anyone.  You see my Mom had Multiple Schlerosis even though they didn't have a test to tell her what was wrong she was ill or totally exhausted most of the time.  So I was the one who learned to cook and feed the family.  My older sister was in high school and was an honor roll student and studied all the time.  Mom and Dad were very proud of her and she took on the job of keeping the house clean and would clean it thoroughly every Saturday.  My brother did the son's job of mowing grass, burying the garbage and taking out the trash.  He got a job delivering papers to help mom and dad.  His money was there to pay for gas for the car.  Dad got odd jobs that would pay the interest on the house and utilities,  he had gone to the bank and negotiated an agreement to put the principle on the end of the loan and just pay the interest.  We lived in Northern Florida and the one thing I remember most was the winters it wasn't horribly cold but it did get below freezing many days in January and February.  We couldn't afford the fuel oil so we burned wood in the fireplace.  We couldn't afford many things.  Not even a newspaper for Dad to look for work.  So when my brother would get the papers to fold and get ready for delivery Dad would look at the Help Wanted Ads and copy out any info on jobs available.  One thing I remember that was a cardinal rule in our home was that none of us were allowed to talk about our financial situation outside of our home and then it was talked about in hushed tones in our home.  We could see it hurt Dad to talk about it and I guess he felt like a big failure.  There was no government assistance back then that I know of except for the elderly that were destitute who could get Social Security. So we didn't have food stamps, or medicaid or welfare or fuel assistance or anything else that they have today and even if they did Dad would never have accepted help from any agency.  He said it was his responsibility to provide for his family and he would do it come hell or highwater. 

Dad gave up his 2 eggs and bacon, toast for breakfast every morning that he was used to and had corn flakes and an orange every morning.  He did get one cup of coffee every morning but it was instant and it was the most they could afford.  We took our sandwich to school and drank water.
Supper was the fish that Dad caught off of May St. bridge or the mullet he could catch in the spring and summer with his net at the beach.  We had grits, some vegetables that came from the garden such as squash, string beans, spinach or turnips.  Mom would make fresh pickles with cucumber and vinegar to give us a little treat.  Boy was that sour! but we couldn't get enough of them.  Mom made bread for our sandwiches and the only other bread we had was cornbread once in awhile or cornpone, and biscuits.  If we were out of bread for our lunches mom would send peanut butter biscuits for us if we had peanut butter.  If not then she would send a scrambled egg biscuit.  Sometimes we had fried fish filet leftover from supper with a little tartar sauce on it for lunch. We actually had kids jealous of us that "had" to buy their lunch.  They hated the cafeteria food!  So we didn't feel totally poor.  All of our clothes were homemade except for my brother who only had shirts homemade.
He bought his own jeans with his income from the paper delivery. But he only had 2 pair of jeans.  He wore homemade shorts to play in at home in the summer. 

Our Christmases were all homemade.  I can remember my parents counting out all the pennies that they had saved and the soda bottle return money (not ours we never had soda but what they could find in the ditches and at the beach) and they went to the Dime Store and bought $2.00 worth of little toys for our stockings.  I got pick up sticks and jacks that year and my brother got marbles and my sister got a lipstick.  I must say though that that was the best Christmas I can remember ever having.  Mom made us all clothes, pajamas, and a robe.  I got some doll clothes for my old doll that she sewed and crocheted. We all got crocheted slippers and hats for winter. Mom and Dad only got homemade cards and I owe you booklets from us kids for doing chores for her on demand.  My sister and I made oatmeal and sugar cookies for us all.  My brother bought a box of hooks for my dad for his fishing.  My sister baby sat neighbors kids for a quarter or fifty cents for a whole evening to get the money to buy Mom and Dad a jar of coffee.  Those things were very precious to us all.  We didn't feel poor and we were super excited about what we got.  I can remember Mom pulled a fast one on us and hid our stockings in various places around the house and made us find them.  It really made it fun and made the stocking full of homemade items, oranges from our tree and those little gifts they bought absolutely memorable.  By the way Dad made my brother a slingshot and a few other things like some fishing flys and lures for his fishing pole.  We of course cut our own tree in the woods and it was a fun time for us to traipse with Dad carrying his saw out in the woods.  We usually didn't spend any time in the woods because of the rattlesnakes and coral snakes but we felt safe with Dad.

Now let's get back to my article.  As you see I have lived through a rough time that could be considered a local depression and survived it.  We lived near the ocean and bay and could get crabs, fish and oysters.  We had gardens, our own and my grandfathers and an Uncle who had different vegetables and fruits that we traded for some of our vegetables or fish when Dad would catch too many.  We ate seafood every single night for 2 years except for Christmas and Easter.  My Grandparents would bring a ham or turkey to Mom to cook and we all ate together.  My other Grandmother would bring cranberry sauce and homemade candy or fruitcake depending on the holiday.  Those were our great times with treats and excitement!  We never and I mean never asked for money for anything for fun or treats, we never expected anything special or asked for anything for our birthdays or Christmas.  We thought about what we could do for our parents or grandparents not what we could get from them.  Kids today are very spoiled and so are we for that matter.  Families were closer and better off during bad times than they seem to be during times of plenty.  We need to revert to that way of living and spending quality time with our family doing chores together, playing games together, learning skills from each other, reading aloud, and just listening to music together. We had no television.  We had one radio that was in the living room and we would sit and listen to shows like Gunsmoke, Amos and Andy, the Lawrence Welk Show and many other shows that I can't even remember.  Mom would listen to soap operas in the daytime while doing her chores or crocheting.  We played games as a family as well such as cribbage, checkers, and a game called Pay Day which was similar to Monopoly.  It was a gift to us as a family from a relative because they had two of them so we had that one store bought game.  We did own a deck of cards and Dad made the cribbage board and we used matchsticks in it.  Mom made the checkers board by painting a piece of wood and Dad cut a dowel into the checkers and Mom painted half of them.  During the day we kids played with the neighborhood kids and there was lots to do.  We had foot races, tree swings, we played baseball, Mother May I, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, and we played in the dirt playing marbles, tic tac toe, or making mud pies.  In the summer we would go pick blackberries to bring home to Mom and she would make blackberry pies for us.  MMmmmmmm........
Try doing these things if we go through another depression like we did back then.  But we now KNOW we are heading to those rough times again.  Why not prepare and then things will be easier than they were for my parents?  How about having those staples in our pantries, and maybe can up some produce and meats for lean times?  What about buying some of those things that you can never produce on your own in the world we live in today?  Let's talk about what we can do to prepare and give us some peace of mind.

Let's start with pantry staples.  They will always be needed and necessary for our survival and comfort. What will you need to maintain your normal diet?  Bread? Starches such as potatoes, rice, pastas? Vegetables?  Fruit?  Meats, seafoods, poultry?  Dessert fixings?  Eggs? Beverages?  Let's talk about each one individually.

Bread - Now you may ask how do we store bread?  We don't, we store the staples to make bread.
What do you need to make bread?  Flour and cornmeal, sugar, oil or shortening, salt, yeast and or baking powder depending on the type of bread. 

So now you will need to figure how many loaves of bread do you eat a week?  How many corn muffins or cornbread?  How many biscuits?  How many sweet muffins such as blueberry, bran, or applesauce cinnamon, etc.

How long do you want to store for?  I believe 6 months should be everyones minimum length of time to store for and you would be much better off storing for a year or more.  But the decision is yours and you will be the one to thrive and survive or be hungry and begging if you run out before things get better.  So it is completely a personal decision. 

Now take the amount of each thing such as bread and figure out how much flour it would take to keep your family in bread for each week.  Example:  We eat 2 loaves of sliced sandwich style bread a week so I would take all the ingredients and multiply them by 52 for a one year supply and by 26 for a six month supply.  Put your amount of flour you need on a tally sheet and the amount of yeast, also the amount of all the other things you may need for your recipe on your tally sheet.

Now that was just for bread, what about the muffins you may want to make to have with breakfast or dinner.  Do the same thing and when you have done your multiplying add the totals to your tally sheet that you already started.  Let's say you needed 200 lbs of flour for the six month period for bread now you need to add the amount of flour you will need for your muffins and then for your biscuits and for your cakes and for anything else you will need like pie crusts, cookies, and dumplings.  After you finish figuring all your ingredients you will total all the tally sheet and you will know how much to store.  I would suggest you always buy more than the minimum in case you have relatives or friends showing up at your door hungry.  We should share what we can and when we can if we are good Christians, Jews, or just a caring person.  Since the tithe is 10% why not have as minimum 10% extra and if you are pretty sure you will be helping several people store even more.

Now I will be talking about storing staples and talk about flour, cornmeal etc. that doesn't mean it needs to be in the form of flour it could be in the form of wheat, whole dried corn, or whole grains of other kinds.  This is another discussion.  You will need to have a grain mill to grind it if you keep whole grains which is a little expensive but flour really only has a shelf life of 6 months to a year I am told.

You will need to buy yeast in bulk to be able to afford it but then you will need to keep it most of it sealed and frozen to extend its life.  It definitely can lose its ability to leaven foods after a time if it is not stored properly.

Next we will talk about eggs.  There are 2 methods of storing eggs that should last you from 8 months to 5 years depending on what you get.  There is dried egg powder which comes in the form of whole eggs, egg whites, or egg yolks.  You can also get scramble eggs which have ingredients add to the egg powder.  Powdered eggs will last the longest and are the best for long term storage.  But if you want real eggs you can figure on about 6  month storage by taking very fresh eggs and rubbing them in mineral oil and keeping them in a cool dry place which I would use the refrigerator for as long as I had one operating to store them.  Use these eggs and replace with fresh that you have coated in mineral oil at the back.  Mark you cartons with date of purchase so you will always use the oldest first.  Now I must admit I have not tried this method personally.  But I do plan to try it and if it works I will be buying eggs on sale and stocking up.  That way I will use these eggs for my husbands easy over eggs once a week and for deviled eggs and egg salads.  The powdered eggs will be used exclusively for baking, scrambled eggs, french toast,  and custards etc. 

Vegetables will be next.  Preferably you will grow your fresh produce if you have the ability to do so.  You will also need vegetables in a more stable form as well.  There are many forms of these as well.  Fresh from the garden, commercially canned vegetables, home canned vegetables, dehydrated commercially, home dehydrated vegetables or commercially freeze dried.  This gives you choices.
I personally started with home canned because they are better tasting and I know exactly what is in them and where they came from, my second choice was commercially canned because they were easy to get and have a decent storage life, thirdly I bought some dehydrated vegetables and I home dehydrated frozen vegetables because they are blanched before freezing they are easy to do but you need to have a good dehydrator to do it yourself.  I have an Excalibur which is a really good one but it is not the only good brand.  I found that I could not afford Freeze Dried but if you can it is supposed to be the best tasting and best in texture etc. 
Next will be fruits,  these could be in some other forms than the vegetables such as in jams, jellies, pie fillings and juice as well as the canned, dehydrated, or freeze dried forms. Some fruits do much better as canned for eating straight from the can or dehydrated like craisins or raisins, banana chips, apple chips and apricots.  I have about 20 half gallon bottles of juices and rotate them as I use them. I have dehydrated apple chips and banana chips that were commercially canned but most of the others I bought and dehydrated further and preserved them in mylar with O2 absorbers for long term storage such as the raisins and craisins.  Pineapple, pears, peaches, and fruit cocktail I have in regular canned forms.  I have made homemade peach sauce and syrup, pear sauce and pear butter and canned them for the storage.  They will last approximately 2 years but if they are in good shape and seals are intact and they smell good they will probably be good for 3 years or longer.  Make sure you don't ever eat something that came from a jar that has a bad seal or is foaming or smelly because you will get botulism and may die!  Learn to can properly from a Ball Canning Book or from your state extension service.  Keep your family safe from bad foods.

Next will be staples such as peanut butter, butter, cheeses, and condiments.  Peanut butter is usually bought in jars or cans and has been done commercially.  There are different kinds such as crunchy, smooth, or organic.  Peanut Butter doesn't have a super long shelf life because of the peanut oil will go rancid eventually.  You can buy peanut butter powder which I haven't bought but it would be good to add to recipes such as muffins and cookies.  I don't know if you can reconstitute it to use on sandwiches but you could try reconstituting it with a little oil and using it for pbj's.  The next item is butter.  You can buy butter powder which is great for recipes and popcorn and for flavoring food in general.  If you want spreadable butter I don't know how well it would work but might work fine if you  added a little vegetable oil to it and make a paste of it. You can freeze butter and keep it for long periods until you have no electricity and then it will have to be used or canned.  You can preserve butter in jars and can it by following very strict directions and it  'must' be pressure canned to be safe from what I have read.  This is something else I plan to try.  I happen to like butter in my cooking instead of margarine.  But for most recipes I will use butter powder or substitute shortening when possible.  Now for cheeses.  There are many cheeses and I will only talk about a few because most can be treated the same way.  Parmesan is the easiest that you can buy from the grocery store or warehouse clubs.  It is powdered and dehydrated and will last for a year or more.  If you keep it very cool and dry it should last even longer.  Other powdered cheeses are available dehydrated and dried and then powdered, the American or cheddar style is similar to what you get when you open a packet of powdered cheese in Kraft Macoroni and Cheese Dinner boxes.  It can be good for baking, for popcorn, and for casseroles.  If you are a cheese connosieur then you might want to buy whole cheese that has been packaged in cheese wax.  You can buy these cheeses from online sources especially around Christmas but you can get them from Hickory Farms and even warehouse stores can get them.  Some cheeses come this way anyway such as gouda and some cheddars.  They are more expensive to buy this way so let me make a suggestion to you.  Buy 5 pound blocks of Cheddar cheese from a warehouse store and have on hand Cheese Wax that can be ordered online.  Take cheese wax and melt it in a double boiler on medium low heat then cut your cheddar block into one or two pound blocks and dip into the wax.  Turn it over and dip again to completely cover the cheese.  If their is any spots that are too thin then dip again.  You want the cheese to be completely covered and sealed with the wax.  The last two things that are possibilities are freeze dried cheese which again are very very expensive and commercially canned and homecanned cheese.  I saw a lady doing it on you tube.  Looks feasible but I have no idea if the taste and texture would be good after the canning process.  If you would like to look it up the lady's name is shechef.  Next is condiments, they are the easiest to store.  You may keep mustard and ketchup for quite awhile a year or more so stock up on them and then replace and rotate them as you use them.  Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip salad dressings will be good up to 6 months or more past their expiration date as long as they are kept in a cool area not near the heat vents.  Once you open mayo or salad dressing you should use it within a week and keep it as cold as possible when there is no electricity, in the winter it will be easy by putting it in an ice chest outdoors to keep it cold but don't freeze it.  If you have to insulate it better then  towels wrapped around it inside the cooler should help. Relishes and pickles don't have to refrigerated but will need to be used within a reasonable time like 2 or 3 weeks for sweet relishes.  Sour, dill and kosher dill will last for 7 months or so open as long as they are kept cool. Salad dressings will depend on the type.  Don't store too many creamy dressings because they will have the shortest shelf life.  Oil and vinegar type or vinegrets will last the longest.  But why not store vinegars and oils for making your own.  Just Oil and vinegar are really good on salads.  You can make homemade thousand island by mixing mayo or miracle whip style dressing with ketchup and relish and a few spices like paprika and garlic and onion salt and pepper. My last suggestion for salad dressing is the dry packets like Good Seasons or Hidden Valley.  You can make great dressing with these and oil and vinegar or milk for Hidden Valley.

The next staple that I want to talk about is MILK.  Milk is going to be non fresh for most of us.  Most people in this country will not have cows, goats, or sheep to milk so we will not worry about fresh milk for this article.  Powdered milk will be the best long term keeper.  You can get powdered milk in #10 cans from online sources, LDS canneries if they are still accepting non members in your area or online from Emergency Essentials or Honeyville or many other sites like Thrive or Auguson Farms.  You will need to check the different sites out and look for sales.  Dehydrated real milk is what I have stored.  I have both the LDS non instant and boxed Instant Non Fat Dry milk.   The next way to have milk is in evaporated form.  It is great for cooking and making baby formula but it is an expensive way to have milk stored and has a shorter shelf life than dry milk.  The last way is to buy the retort package shelf stable milk to keep on hand and if things start getting really iffy on the economic front I would suggest you buy as much of this as you can.  But it only has a 6 month or so shelf life from what I can remember.  Condensed milk is a combination of milk and sugar and is used for cooking certain dishes and is not a drinking milk.  There are other substitutes for milk such as Morning Moo which is a combination of things and I believe it has whey and non dairy creamer and corn syrup solids.  There is soy milk which also comes in retort packaging as well as Almond milk does as well.  I have family members who are allergic to milk so I have bought extra rice to make rice milk which you can use for cooking and drinking.  Rice is cheap to buy in bulk and about 2 cups of rice will make about a gallon of milk.  You can get recipes for this on the net.  You can improve the flavors of instant milk and rice milk by adding sugar, honey or pancake syrup and vanilla in small amounts to make them more pleasant to drink and to get kids to drink it you should consider having chocolate and or strawberry syrup or powder or add a half a teaspoon or so of  Jello or Royal gelatine mix to flavor it. 

Starches will be very necessary to fill us cheaply and to give us energy as well as keeping us from losing too much weight.  Potatoes, rice and pasta are the starches that come to mind commonly.
It is easy to buy large quantities of pasta and put away which would include spaghetti, fetucinni, lasagna, macaroni, rotini, and egg noodles are some of the most common pastas but their are others such as orzo and couscous.  They are all good and will store as long as they don't get wet or bugs in the packages.  Next is potatoes, which come in several varieties but for this article I will talk about white potatoes and sweet potatoes.  The easiest way to store potatoes will be in the form of dehydrated potatoes such as diced, shredded, sliced, or flakes for mashed potatoes.  The sliced is what the packages of scalloped and augratin potatoes package are in the grocery stores, shredded can be used for hash browns and diced make good stew, potato salad, and just casseroles.  Instant mashed potatoes are easy to find in the grocery stores or you can buy #10 cans from LDS canneries or online from the food storage companies such as Honeyville or Emergency Essentials.  Sweet potatoes are probably easiest to buy canned from your grocer.  Next we will talk about rice but not in too much detail as I will add that to my bean post when I write it.  Rice is a staple through most of the world just like beans.  It is very versatile and can be used with beans as a complete protein, it can be used as a breakfast food, a side dish for dinner, or as  a dessert.  You can make a very acceptable milk out of it to serve for a beverage, on cereal or in many recipes.  It is limited on a few levels such as you wouldn't make cheese, or sour cream or yoghurt from it.  You can make those from your dry milk but you can make puddings, ice cream substitute, or use it as milk in most baking recipes.  You can also grind it in your grain mill and make a non gluten flour out of it to stretch other flour or to substitute for flour for those with Celiac disease.  The other starches are in the root vegetables such as rutabagas, turnips, carrots, beets, etc.  These you should be able to grow and then they would give you a break from rice and instant potatoes.  No one ever seems to complain about pastas so just keep as much variety in your life and for your family as possible and you will get less food fatigue and a happier family.

Now we have made it to BEANS! This is really exiciting isn't it?  Beans should be exciting and are exciting to most people in the world and is the most commonly consumed protein in the world but we as spoiled Americans think of beans as an ingredient to add to other dishes or as a side dish to a meal.  Many of us don't ever eat beans as the main protein in our diets ever.  I also know many people who hate beans as well.  Well I am here to tell you that unless you have a true allergy to beans you should change your attitude toward them.  There are a large variety of beans and legumes.  They are the most solidly nutritious proteins that we can have in our food storage.  The are super versatile in our diets and a great substitute for meat and oil in many recipes.  I will do a whole post on beans later but I will just talk about what you can store now.  Most beans come in both dried and canned forms and some even come in freeze dried form but are not very common.  I would suggest you look at what beans your family already eats.  I think most people eat refried beans with their Mexican style foods.
Refried beans are nothing but Pinto beans that have been cooked and then mashed and reheated again.  So have plenty of Pinto beans in your storage they are very versatile and can be used in chili and for rice and beans and just as cooked beans and cornbread.  I think if you looked up recipes with Pinto beans in the recipe you would find loads of recipes.  Next is the different varieties of white beans such as navy beans, great northern, garbanzo, and cannilini beans and even butter beans could be in this category.  You can make soups from these, casseroles and use them ground in your bread to add protein and stretch your flour.  You can use mashed cooked beans in recipes instead of oil to keep your quick bread or cookies or what ever moist and add protein to them.  The last two major groups of beans are red and black beans which can be great with rice, and in soups, stews, chili or as an oil substitute in chocolate cake or brownies.  Now we will talk about lentils, split peas, and dried whole peas.  These are good as protein substitutes as well.  Many people will make split pea soup or lentil soup or stew but have you thought about making lentil burgers?  You would be surprised at how similar they taste to hamburgers if you add beef boullion and rice to them.  There are many recipes on the net.  Make sure you add all the condiments you usually use like mayo, mustard, ketchup, and pickles and you may not be able to tell from the taste that they are bean burgers.  It would give your kids something close to normal when they are tired of beans made as stews and over rice all the time. You can be creative with beans.  You will get more on this later as I write a more detailed post on the subject.

Meats, poultry and seafoods are the most expensive foods to store.  You can buy freeze dried meat if you are wealthy but for most of us that will not be an option.  I know everyone knows about canned meats and fish and chicken but most of us eat either fresh or frozen and only use something like tuna fish in our regular diet.  Obviously our diet will have to change and we can make do with canned foods.  Home canning ground beef, beef, chicken, pork, turkey, and corned beef is extremely easy to do and I would suggest it for everyone.  That way you know exactly what is in your jars and it will actually be healthier than most commercially canned meat and is the closest in flavor to fresh meat..  The other meats you can store will be commercially canned meats. Canned one pound hams are a great resource because they can be used like you would a cured ham usually.  Treet, luncheon meat, and Spam are full of all kinds of bad things for you such as nitrates and nitrites, lots of salt, fat and preservatives.  Now that I turned you off of these I still suggest you buy plenty of them.  When beans taste bland and no one will eat them add a little of these meats to your beans for flavoring.  You have seen recipes for salt pork or hog jowls or fat back etc. use these canned meats for flavoring just like you would the other pork products.  If someone really misses bacon you can give them a slice of Spam fried up with their scrambled eggs.  It will possible satisfy their desire for awhile.  Bacon can be canned but to do enough to last a year or more would be an expensive proposition with the price of bacon now and the commercially canned bacon is like 15 dollars a pound.   There are acceptable canned chicken products at reasonable prices but not nearly as cheap as canning it yourself. Turkey is harder to come by canned in the stores and also more expensive than chicken.  If you can buy turkey or turkey breast on sale then can as much as you can afford.  Beef  is also easy to can yourself and it is hard to find good canned beef at reasonable prices.  Just buy the very cheapest cuts of beef such as round roast or chuck roast and cut it up and put into very clean jars add 1 tsp. of salt put clean lids and rings on and pressure cook the raw meat for right amount of time and at the right pressure for your area.  That will have to looked up on the net or out of a canning book.  Fresh pork and corned beef as well as poultry are canned the same way.  Ground beef is done differently.  Ground beef should be cooked until no longer pink in water or broth and then drained. Place the cooked ground beef in your jars and then separate the fat from the broth and place the broth only into the jars to the top of the beef.  This ground beef can be used in sloppy joes, spaghetti, chili, stew, stroganoff, cheesburger macoroni, goulash, tacos, enchiladas, burritos or anything else you use cooked ground beef in.  Sausage can be canned the same way as ground beef and then can be used in breakfast casseroles, pizza's, omelets or any other way you would use sausage usually.  It can be especially good in country gravy to serve over biscuits. 

One last staple that I didn't mention would be sweeteners, flavorings, spices and herbs.  Keep the ones on hand that you like and in large bottles like they sell at the warehouse stores, sugar should be kept at a hundred pounds per person that you are storing for.  Salt you should have hundreds of pounds as well.  You can imagine what food would taste like without it and you cannot make salt.
Salt will be useful as a medicine, preservative, to preserve meat and to pickle with and to use for seasoning your foods as well.  Sugar is a category that include pancake syrup, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, white sugar, confectioners sugar, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, agave, and probably a bunch I have forgotten.  Vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, alspice etc. will be important for baking and making treats as well as cooking many savory dishes.  Herbs such as cumin, basil, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic, onion, peppers hot and mild, and many more can be useful to you for cooking the many bean dishes, soups, stews, casseroles, Mexican foods, Italian foods, southern foods, or any other type or style of cooking will require spices to make them homemade from you food storage so think about the type you like.

This is a long post but I think the idea of food storage scares some people and they don't even know what questions to ask much less know where to start.  The packaged foods such as mac and cheese, hamburger helper, and mixes of any kind can be stored as well but remember that they need to be rotated often because they won't hold up too well due the kind of packaging they are in. Oxygen is an enemy and heat and sunlight are even worse but humidity or moisture is the absolute worse.   Pre-made foods such as cookies, granola bars, puddings in retort packaging and the like should be bought in small quantities because they won't last too terribly long into a timeperiod that you will be living from your food storage.  You need to have your recipes down with the ingredients to make these things for your family and that will be the best way to make your family happy.  Suggestion for treats would be to keep lots of baking cocoa on hand to make them treats. 

Remember! Every journey begins with the first step and you must make that first step to reach any goal you want to reach.......


  1. Wow Gram! I really enjoyed hearing about some of your childhood. Maybe those tough times were to prepare you for what could be ahead of us all.

    I too believe families and neighbors do come together during tough times. But today, like you said, we are spoiled, some of us more than others, and we just have too many distractions. We are so busy tweeting, texting and even blogging with complete strangers that we spend less and less time with those closest to us. Sometime I too wish for simpler times and days gone by. But as they say, careful what you wish for.

    On a different note, I just wanted to ask if you have heard about pink slime? If not, it's as bad as it sounds; a cheap filler found in 70% of the ground beef at most grocery stores. Avoid it if you can by purchasing ground beef that is stamped USDA organic or buy your own cuts of meat and grind it yourself. Also, Costco claims all their ground beef is "pink slime" free.

    Well that's the only tip I've got. But thank you again for enlightening people like me who are very new to the whole "Preparedness Plan". You truly are an inspiration and a survivor!

  2. Mary, No I haven't heard of pink slime but I will start researching it today. Sounds like I need to get my hand meat grinder out and start buying round and chuch roasts to grind for ground beef now. I will have to dig for it because I bought it years ago and got lazy and it is buried in the back of my corner cabinet. So I guess it is time to clean and organize that cabinet. Uhg..... I hate crawling in that cabinet.... But I need to get all of my hand operated kitchen gadgets together anyway. By the way We all need to have several Swing a Way hand can openers in our kitchens. I haven't owned an electric can opener since 1999 when I started prepping. I still have several non-electric kitchen items to buy. Think about what you have in appliances and how you could substitute non-electric items. Lehmans Non-Electric store on the net is a good place to look for substitutes. By the way Mary do I know you personally? I have a friend named Mary who frequents here but it is a fairly common name so I just wondered.
    Have a blessed day.