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This article is part of a series on the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see Discovering the Word of Wisdom.
A whole food, plant-based (WFPB) approach to the Word of Wisdom can be challenging in the short-term, but it makes most things much easier in the long-term. I’ve already discussed how a WFPB Word of Wisdom diet makes it easier to lose weight, avoid disease, reduce food and medical expenses, and be free from food addiction. Today I’ll discuss how WFPB nutrition makes food storage simpler and less expensive.
A WFPB approach makes food storage easy because you no longer need to worry about storing foods like oil, dried milk, powdered eggs, and canned meat. Instead, you can focus on storing the basic items that store well for decades, like wheat, rice, and beans. This is not just easy; it is cheap. And if you are eating a WFPB diet now, you’ll know just how to use these foods in times of need. Just as importantly, your body and taste buds will have adjusted to eating simple wholesome foods so these have become delicious to you.
Before I switched to a WFPB diet, establishing and maintaining adequate food storage felt overwhelming complex. A large part of this was that I didn’t know how to cook. Another was that I did not use the types of food I was storing, so I had no idea how I was going to use them during a time of need. When I switched to a WFPB diet, that all changed. I discovered that I could easily store the same types of food I eat every day, which makes food storage so much simpler. This also makes me feel much more secure because the foods I store now are the same foods I eat every day, so I know just how to use them in times of need.
For me, and for many other people enjoying a whole food, plant-based diet, the Word of Wisdom is the solution to the problem of food storage.
Basic Food Storage Formula
This formula makes it simple and easy to get the foundation of your food storage. You need a little more than one pound of dry food per day per person for about 2,000 calories/day. Store in a #10 can with an oxygen absorber or larger buckets using dry ice.
- Wheat: 200 pounds per person per year
Red wheat is good for cracked wheat cereal and sprouting; white wheat is good for cooking and making bread.
- Rice: 200 pounds per person per year
White rice is less nutritious than brown rice, but it stores better and does provide calories in times of need. Brown rice will actually store well for 6-7 years if stored in a cool dark place. The longer you store it, the more likely you’ll have a rancid oil smell when you open it, but it is still edible (wash the rice, and it will taste fine).
- Beans: 60 pounds per person per year.
There is a huge variety of beans; choose the types you and your family prefer.
LDS Home Storage Centers have these basics packaged and ready to buy at very reasonable prices. If you don’t do anything else, purchase the above basics and store enough water as quickly as your finances will allow.
- Store a minimum of 14 gallons to over 50 gallons (recommended) per person. (Store more if you don’t have a close source of running water.)
- Purchase a water purification method.
Wheat, rice, and beans will provide most, but not all, of the nutrients you’ll need. You need more Vitamins A, C, and B12. Here are various ways to get extra nutrients:
Garden seeds: Store a variety of seeds to plant in times of need. Heirloom varieties are best.
Wild plants: Learn which wild plants are safe to eat. These can be a great source of nutrients in times of need. Here are 52 Plants In The Wild You Can Eat.
Multi-vitamins and Vitamin B12: Store supplements in a cool, dry, dark place.
Foods high in vitamin C: canned apricots, asparagus, grapefruit, oranges, pineapple, spinach, strawberries and tomatoes. Some vitamin C is lost during the heat treatment, much of it dissolves in the cooking liquid and can be recovered by using the liquid. The vitamin C that is retained in the product remains stable during the shelf life (usually two years) of canned food.
Foods high in vitamin A: canned apricots, carrots, pumpkin, spinach and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A is present as carotenes, which have both vitamin and antioxidant activity. Carotenes are very stable during the canning process and little is lost.
Food — Beyond the Basics
After you have the basics, adding additional variety is nice, especially if you can work it into your regular eating plans. Find good places to store the food: basement, closet, under the bed. Heat, bugs and moisture are the killers of food storage.
More grains and beans
- Bulgur (steamed cracked wheat, shorter term storage)
- Dent corn (to grind into cornmeal)
- Barley, hulled or pearled
- Oat groats (whole oat grain; this is good for breakfast)
- Rolled oats
- Whole wheat pastas
- Various types of beans, including soybeans (to make soy milk)
- Dried apples
- Dried raisins
- Dried cranberries
- Dried apricots, etc.
- Dried onions
- Dried potatoes
- Dried carrots
- Dried celery, etc.
- Salt, yeast
- Sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and/or honey. (Keep liquid sweeteners in original airtight container—preferably dark glass—in a cool dark pantry, away from sources of heat and changes in temperature.)
- Other flavorings: a variety of spices and seasonings, vegetable bouillon, soup bases, salsa, peanut butter, ketchup, hot sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc.
- Plant-based milks. You can use any type of bean, grain, seed or nut to make plant-based milk. Store a filter or nut bag to strain the pulp.
Plant a garden
- Church leaders have counseled us to plant gardens.
- Gardens provide inexpensive, fresh, nutritious plant foods “in the season thereof.”
- Gardens provide greater variety to our meals.
- Gardens help us develop self-sustainability and growing heirloom vegetables provides seed for a sustainable garden.
Cooking Equipment and Fuel Basics
You need fuel to cook food, but to make the best use of your fuel, get equipment that will allow you to cook food without fuel (or to extend the cooking time after the food is heated). Practice using these items now so you’ll know how to use them in times of need.
- Butane stove and box of canisters: safe to use indoors.
- Wonder box (great way to save fuel at any time): short video on how to use it.
- Apple box cooker & charcoal: short video on how to use it.
- Sun Oven: There are many varieties; this is one good brand.
For example, to cook rice or beans with minimum fuel, use a sun oven or first bring them to a boil and put them into a Wonder box to continue cooking.
Preparing Basic Foods
One important key to making food storage easy is to develop the ability to thoroughly enjoy and savor simple, wholesome foods. This is what eating a whole food, plant-based diet does for us. It adjusts our taste buds. We stop craving the unhealthy, convenience foods that are not readily available during times of need and starting loving the simple wholesome foods that are the base of a sound food storage strategy. Fortunately, these same foods are the foundation of good health in times of plenty. If we embrace them, we’ll receive the blessings of health now and be prepared for times of need when they come.
Once your family’s taste buds have adjusted, it is easy to find meals they can enjoy. Most families eat the same 7-10 meals rotated throughout the month. If you can find even 3-5 meals you can prepare with items from food storage, you’ll be doing well. Use the meals you’ve chosen to calculate how much to store so you’ll have what you need and what your family will enjoy. Incorporate these meals into your regular menu now. A financial crisis or emergency situation is not the time to begin learning how to appreciate and prepare basic foods.
Here are very simple meal ideas. For a few recipes see: Food Storage Recipes.
- Breakfast: Cracked wheat cereal with fruit and non-dairy milk (plant milk can be made from stored grains or beans).
- Lunch: Rice, beans, veggies, with added flavorings
- Dinner: Beans and veggies with added flavorings and some whole wheat bread.
There are so many ways to use wheat. Here are some examples:
- Sprout it (soak for 12 hours, change water frequently, drain water, sprout)
- Soak it (soak for 24–36 hours, change water frequently, it can be very chewy—the more you soak the more edible)
- Crack it (use a wheat grinder or just a hammer if nothing else). Boil it.
- Grind it and make bread.
- Use it as a meat substitute (make “wheat meat” by using the gluten as a kind of meat substitute)
- Roast it
As Essential as Boarding the Ark
Elder Ezra Taft Benson gave this counsel in the 1980 General Conference:
The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah. (“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation” General Conference October 1980)
In order to board the ark, someone had to build it. Fortunately for us, creating and maintaining food storage is so much easier than building an ark. Let’s not make it too complicated. Let’s focus on the basics and make sure we have at least enough grains, beans, and water to sustain our entire family in times of need.
For help getting started on a healthy Word of Wisdom diet, see: “Getting Started.”
Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. Watch the video “Discovering the Word of Wisdom: A Short Film.”