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Disasters - Food Storage Basics

Food Storage Basics

Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store

An emergency is not the time to experiment with different foods and recipes you've never tried. If you are going to store wheat or any other unprocessed food grains (I recommend that you do..), make it a part of your normal diet. This will make it easy to rotate your food supply to eliminate waste and of course minimize stress if food storage suddenly becomes critical. Most grains that are unprocessed have a very long shelf life when properly stored. Once they've been ground or otherwise processed, storage life decreases considerably.

The temperature of your storage area also has a big impact on the preservation of food and nutrition. Try to find a locatrion that does not freeze, but where the temperature is cool. A basement is usually a good choice. Root cellars are also excellent, you get the idea..

Food packaging is important because it has an important influence on the shelf life of food. Plastics are biodegradable these days. You may want to repackage foods so that they are safe and healthy longer or so that the portions fit more easily into your meal planning.

Recipes, Home Canning and Bottling

There are great recipe books that can help you take advantage of these unprocessed healthy food storage items and you can save a small fortune in food costs in the process.

Home canning (or bottling) can also help reduce food costs and allow you to build a healthy and tasty reserve of fruit and vegetables. It's alarming to watch the cans grow smaller and the prices get higher when it come to canned vegetables and fruits. Too many fruit trees have the fruit go to waste because people don't know how or are not motivated to can the fruit. You may have a neighbor that would be happy to give you the fruit so it doesn't go to waste and create a mess in their yard!

Here you'll find the best ideas we can find for food storage or at least it's a good information starter that we hope will help you as you start out building your food storage. This is not a set of rules, but a set of guidelines that you should tailor for your family and economic circumstances.

Food drying is a great way to store fruits and are very tasty as either snacks or menu items. Take advantage of fruits and other foods that grow locally. Look for sources that offer you the potential of saving money and increasing the health of your family. Freeze dried foods not only taste great, but retain nutrients that are vital to personal health.

Some home dehydrated (or freeze dried) foods like pears, taste much better than canned. They are sweeter, more tasty, and lighter to store, pack, and save space.

Storage Systems

An effective food storage system should be organized to make it easy to see what food you have, check stock and rotate the food so it remains fresh. A great way to store grains and other food is in #10 cans. These are a standard size that makes a storage system easier to implement. Food storage items are readily available in this size can. #10 can storage racks are readily available.

If a can or container is too large, it becomes difficult to move and hard to use up. Keep the size of your containers small enough to easily manage yet large enough to be useful. Oatmeal is bulky and light weight for it's volume so a larger container works out nicely.

Another important thing to consider is the oxidation of processed food like flour, oatmeal, pasta, etc. If you use oxygen absorbing packets when you can the flour, the food can remain good for a longer time. If you don't eliminate the oxygen, the flour gets to tasting bad after a couple of years. This problem may not an issue if you are doing a good job of food rotation and your storage time is limited to a year or so.

Creature Protection

Another storage consideration is insects and animals. Depending on your climate, cans can provide a real benefit in keeping little creatures out of your food.

We had a problem last year with squirrels. They would dig a tunnel into our storage building, get what they wanted and refill their tunnel so there was no sign of their entry! I was shocked at how clever they were. They're cute and I like having them around, but we're a lot more conscientious now about the need to make sure containers are properly sealed and that the building is as 'critter proof' as we can make it.

Sometimes you can run into issues storing wheat. Make it a point to be sure that the wheat is thoroughly cleaned. If you don't, you could end up with limited shelf life if you are going to keep the wheat in bags. Most commercial suppliers do a good job, but I have heard horror stories regarding really cheap buys on wheat.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements

When you do research for your home storage, pay attention to considerations of health. Not only do you want to be well fed, but you want to enjoy good health. There are some really good ideas like sprouting that can provide a great boost to your nutrition and health. Sprouts can add a significant amount of vitamins and minerals to your diet.

I like Dr. Christopher's herbal vitamins (vital herbs) that we buy in bulk. We then put the powder in 00 capsules ourselves. This saves us money and the dry powder has a good shelf life. I think this is a great way to go. If you have other ideas on supplementation then try to get ahead on the supplements you prefer so that you won't run out right away. Buy on a promotion and save the rest of the year!

Store More Than Just Food

A years supply of toilet paper and other living essentials like soap, cleaners, oil, cooking supplies, wax paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap and all the other little things that make life easier should also be stored. The savings are considerable.

We've saved a lot of money by buying 3,000 sq ft rolls of plastic wrap. The container is easier to use than the little ones you normally buy and it seems to be a higher grade of wrap. We also like the big heavy duty rolls of aluminum foil which has numerous uses and which lasts a long time. The savings are real. We buy these from Sam's Club, but you might have a better local choice. Bulk is really the way to buy these items.

We like to buy big boxes of toilet tissue for the same reasons.

Sites With More Information

The following is a list of links which can provide great information on food storage:

A typical list of storage items recommended, per person:

   STORAGE ITEM        YOUR AMOUNT    
- Wheat                  321 lbs  
- Enriched white flour    29 lbs  
- Corn meal               71 lbs  
- Oats, Rolled            71 lbs  
- Rice                   143 lbs  
- Pearled barley           7 lbs  
- Spaghetti & macaroni    71 lbs      
TOTAL FOR GRAINS GROUP 714 lbs    
- Beans (dry)             50 lbs  
- Beans, Lima (dry)        2 lbs  
- Beans, Soy (dry)         2 lbs  
- Peas, Split (dry)        2 lbs  
- Lentils (dry)            2 lbs  
- Dry Soup Mix            10 lbs      
TOTAL FOR LEGUMES GROUP 68 lbs    
- Vegetable Oil            4 gal  
- Shortening              10 lbs  
- Mayonnaise               2 quarts  
- Salad Dressing      (mayonnaise type)      2 quarts  
- Peanut Butter            8 lbs  
TOTAL FOR FATS & OILS   51 lbs    
- milk, Nonfat dry        28 lbs  
- Evaporated milk         24 cans (12oz net, equiv. to 6lbs dry milk)      
TOTAL FOR MILK GROUP    32 lbs    
- Sugar, Granulated       80 lbs  
- Sugar, Brown             6 lbs  
- Molasses                 2 lbs  
- Honey                    6 lbs  
- Corn syrup               6 lbs  
- Jams and preserves       6 lbs  
- Fruit drink, Powdered   12 lbs  
- Flavored gelatin         2 lbs      
TOTAL FOR SUGARS GROUP 120 lbs    
- Dry yeast                1 lbs (You will want more yeast than this..)  
- Soda                     2 lbs    
- Baking Powder            2 lbs    
- Vinegar                  2 lbs  
- Chlorine bleach          1 gal  
- Salt (iodized)          16 lbs (8lb/person/year)  
- Water                   28 gal (14gal/person/2 weeks)  

When you look at a list like this, use it as a starting point. I don't like rice, but my wife does, so we store less rice and more beans (there's a wide variety of beans and flavor choices here), which I do like. Guidelines can help you be sure you're on the right track, but you should tweak your storage to meet your family needs.

Be sure to store fun foods as well. Some candy, popcorn and other things that the family enjoys eating. You might like to store cinnamon, tvp bacon bits and other spices and treats to make your food taste great. Freeze dried ice cream tastes great! The idea is to have what you need on hand to not only survive, but to thrive.

A few items not found on this list that might be a great choice include: