Several times since I started writing in this blog, I have mentioned food storage. It's something that's discussed or checked here at home almost daily as we use things to make meals, snack, or get the occasional pantry raid from the kids. Storing food is very imporant to us, and we watch our stores carefully. In the comments here as well as online forums, and also day to day life, we get a lot of questions. Today I'll go over as much as I can.
As I've said several times, we store for emergencies and disasters, but we store for one main reason-we cook. We never buy any boxed, frozen,or pre-packaged n' ready foods; we cook from scratch. We rarely go out to dinner at a resturant, and I can't rememeber the last time we had dinner at a friends. Everything we store here, or for that matter grow here or raise here, we eat.Sure, we occasionally buy canned spaghetti sauce and some fruits, but most is made here when we have the produce. Our tomato crop didn't do well this year, so we're buying more tomato sauces and juices than we would if we had been able to can more on our own. It was the same with our corn. We did get a lot of ears, but they were all very small. We did freeze the majority of it, but we make up the difference with buying already canned. It's all very simple really, like I said in my last entry, we eat what we store and store what we eat. What be don't buy in cans or jars, we buy in bulk. Lisa does a lot of baking, so we buy flour, bread flour, sugar, and brown sugar in 25 or 50 lb bags. These bulk items are stored in 5 gallon food grade buckets, and we keep a smaller container in the kitchen, just so she isn't lugging around a heavy bucket every time she wants to make bread. Buying in bulk saves money as well. The price of a 50lb bag broken down by the pound is always a lot less expensive than buying the small 5lb bags. It's just a win-win situation. We save money, and it's always there when we need it. When the bucket gets to half-full, we get a fresh bag.
The other items are even easier. For example, I am a peanut butter addict, I generally eat some every day. So, every time we go to the grocery store, we get 2 or 3 jars and put them behind what we already have. There are a few other things we buy this way, but the majority of the others, we stock up when they are on sale. Getting a few items each week, or a few of each when there is a sale, will fill your pantry FAST. If you, for example, eat a lot of mayonnaise, when you go to the store, get 2. The next time you are out, get 2 more. It won't take long to have everything you need on hand, and it saves a lot of time. What I mean by time are those times when you have to run out to the store for something silly that you should have. As the perfect example, lets say toilet paper. It's 8pm, you're tired, and head to the thundermug (my new favorite word lol), you realize that you have 4 sheets on the roll, reach for another one, and ooooops, there isn't any. So, after the awkward 4 sheet potty dance, you head to the store to spend a dollar or two on toilet paper. You've wasted your time, wasted gasoline, and ventured out when you shouldn't have to, to spend 2 bucks. If you don't want to look at all of this from a preparadness standpoint, look at it as convienence. If the last time you went out to the store and they had a good sale on tp, you had bought a case, you wouldn't have to make that trip. Again, it's just common sense. Sure, we don't live out as far as some other people, and there is a store 5 minutes away, but it's just easier to open that case and have it right there. Even worse, you run to the local convienence store or gas station and pay $5 for a $2 roll of toilet paper. It's exactly the same for me. I don't want to run out of peanut butter, so I keep it stored. It's so simple to think about, but I know more people who will make that trip rather than keep things on hand.
Food is so simple to store. Keep it cool, keep it dry, it's that easy. I can sit here and spew off everything I have learned or read in books and online, but it's very easy. Don't store your flour in the room that gets really humid. Don't store your canned goods in a room that gets warmer than the rest of the house. It's just common sense. I shouldn't have to tell anyone reading this where and how to store food.
Now to go on to the "other" foodstuffs that most people don't store, including us. I mean freeze dried, dehydrated, or MRE style foods. There are some dehydrated foods that we plan to get from one of the usual websites, but we just haven't had the money. I have no plans at all on storing MRE's. I know most of the people in the preparadness/survival world keep cases of these things around, but thats not me. They're somewhat sensative to temperature change, and quite frankly, they are, for the most part, awful. Maybe they've changed since the last I tried swallowing one, but at that time I had to mix the meal with the enclosed hot sauce, salt and pepper to even get it to my nose. Yes, I know, it's for emergencies and our troops eat them all the time, but i'm no soldier, and I have plenty of other things to eat. Those things are at the very bottom of my list.
There are a lot of websites and catalogs that sell a years worth of dehydrated food out there; prepackaged and delivered to your house on a pallet. I won't toally discourage these things, but anyone looking at them has to carefully examine what is in those big packages. Are there things you or your family don't or won't eat? Do you really have a use for 5 pounds of dehydrated sour cream or pea soup? Would you want to rely on just these items to get you through an emergency? I will say they are very convienent and easy to buy with just the click of a mouse and your credit card, but look at them carefully. Lisa and I know someone who purchased one of these one year supply packages. The items consist of a lot of things he doesn't like at all, but he insists he can eat them if/when he does. He's just happy to have them there. Oh...where is "there"? In the basement of his father's business 15-20 minutes away from where he lives. He bought this giant $3000 package knowing full well that he didn't have room to store it at home. Sure, it's a nice building with a very dry basement, but it's not where he is. Will he be able to get there during an emergency situation? What if that situation is a storm that hits the area of the business before it hits his place? The building is flooded or inacessable. He may as well have taken that $3000 and flushed it down the thundermug. (see, I used it again!!) Think long and hard before you make any purchase like that. Will you and your family eat it? Do you have space for it? In my opinion, that $3000 will buy a helluva lot of groceries that I can store just as easily, and it will all be things that we normally eat.
Last week, I printed off a really good book on food storage, actually put out by the Morman church. It breaks things down very easily, and even includes a shopping guide for each month to get you to a years supply quickly. Use this book as a guideline, not a guidebook. There are things in thier list that we simply don't eat. Those items are easily substituted with things that we do eat. There is a lot of religion in the beginning, which was much expeceted, but the book makes sense overall. While they make comments about storing for the end of times, they also talk about many of the things I have mentioned....job loss, layoff, weather related, etc. The church even talks about preparadness and food storage in the church! What a concept. The book can be found here: http://www.abysmal.com/LDS/Preparedness/Preparedness.pdf
To a lot of my regular readers that have stuck around since i started this blog, I promise I won't be staying on this subject for long, lol. I'll get back to canning and chicken-killin' really soon,LOL.
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