Following my last article: Why You Should Get Prepared Right Now I received a note from a reader and when I replied I asked if there was anything they would like to see me write about. They responded. ” I think my biggest questions are how to go from building 72 hour kits, to 3 month supply, to longer storage. It all seems so unwieldy!”
He got me thinking about the fact that we haven’t talked about a real step by step plan so please join us for the next few months as we do just that. Let’s begin with a three-month supply of the foods we eat.
Food storage is often characterized by worldly critics as eccentric — just steps away from building a nuclear bomb shelter under your house and stocking it with guns, ammo and dehydrated rations.
If you have held back from applying your imagination and effort to storing some necessities for a rainy day, let me ask this: Have you ever saved for your child’s education? Have you ever hurried to buy airline tickets a month in advance of Christmas, because you knew that available seats would disappear if you waited longer?
Do you pay for health, disability, auto, or life insurance, even though you are healthy and able, you don’t plan to be in an auto accident, and you are indeed alive and well? Then you are a candidate for food storage and a provident lifestyle.
Even if you never use your food storage for an emergency if you store what you eat and eat what you store and you will always be eating at last year’s prices. You will never have to pay full price for food in the future. Even food goes on sale. It is really that simple. Who wouldn’t love that?
Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store
Begin to create a plan, if you don’t already have one, or update your present plan. Watch for best buys that will fit into your supply. We are not in a situation that requires panic buying, but we do need to be careful in purchasing and rotating the storage that we’re putting away. The instability in the world today makes it imperative that we prepare for the future.
Far too many throw away their storage because they do not use it and are tired of it taking up space or having to move it every time they relocate. There are a large number of people who are tired of wasting food they have stored, who want practical alternatives to storing foods they don’t know how to use.
My recommendation is to be careful when storing commercially dried foods, because they are often thrown away. Commercially dehydrated foods require a great deal of water for reconstitution and are inedible unless they are reconstituted. Foods that are not properly reconstituted will cause dehydration when eaten. Many commercially dehydrated foods are high in salt, thus increasing thirst. This food also takes a much greater time to prepare. Many foods need to be soaked first and then cooked before they can be eaten.
Dehydration is a process through which the use of heat removes moisture from foods. This retards the growth of molds, yeast and bacteria. Because heat is used in the process, foods can be burned and the nutritional value and taste destroyed.
A few years ago I was given several cases of dehydrated foods from a commercial food storage supplier to be used in teaching a class. Upon opening a can, and after 45 minutes of preparation I discovered the food had been burned during processing and tasted awful! I repeated this process with the other meals I had been given and I had to throw away every case. There were several foods and they were all burned.
Freeze dried foods are processed differently and are slightly more nutritious. Fresh or cooked foods are placed in a dryer where they are frozen to -40° F or colder. After the food is frozen, the dryer creates a vacuum around the food. Foods are warmed slightly so the ice crystals begin to turn into a vapor and they are vacuumed off. Freeze-dried foods are then sealed in moisture and oxygen proof packaging to insure their freshness and stability.
If you decide to add dehydrated or freeze dried food to your storage plan, be wise. Purchase just one can, incorporate it into your normal meal planning and make sure it is a product you will use.
Some have said that dehydrated and freeze dried foods will keep indefinitely. That is not true. Like all foods, they have a limited shelf life. In fact, certain chemical reactions proceed at a much more rapid rate when water is removed from a food substance. Foods can become rancid and darker in color. Flavor and, in some cases, nutritional quality, are affected when these chemical changes occur. To minimize these changes, opened foods should be packaged in an airtight container. A cool, dry place should be selected to store them.
As with all stored foods, these foods should be rotated. If they are part of your storage plan they should be consumed as part of the regular diet. Regular use dehydrated foods will help your family become accustomed to them and help when they need to become a more prominent part of your diet.
Your Food Storage Could Make You Sick
If you don’t normally cook with wheat and beans and are forced into a position where you have to eat your storage to survive, you and your family will likely become very ill. If your body is not used to processing these foods, they may do you more harm than good. I have a wheat grinder and store some wheat but definitely rely more on the other foods I have stored to provide the needed vitamins and calories required to remain healthy during a time of crisis. Concentrate now on introducing more fiber into your family’s diet so they are more prepared to survive on whole grains and beans, if that is your food storage strategy.
Children and the Elderly will Starve
Children and the elderly will starve before they will eat foods they do not like. Numerous studies have been done by government and relief agencies that confirm this. We have all had the experience of being hungry and after several hours that hunger goes away. When children or elderly persons reach this point they will refuse food, while not understanding they are starving themselves. Why? Because they no longer feel hungry.
When my elderly German grandmother lived with our family she would often refuse dinner, saying she didn’t like what I was serving and wasn’t hungry. This from a lady who was a great cook and loved to eat when she was younger. When I would serve her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which she loved, she would eat. If you are living on your food storage I guarantee you that your family will be undergoing some serious stress. Whether this is due to a national crisis, family crisis, or natural disaster, familiar foods will be a comfort to your family.
Don’t let anyone, including me tell you what to store. Store what your family eats!
Always Eat at Last Year’s Food Prices
I mentioned this before but it is worth repeating. You never have to purchase food that is not on sale so you are always saving money that can be used to help you prepare in other ways. With so many of us recognizing the wisdom of becoming debt free, food storage should be a serious part of achieving that goal.
Where to Start?
This is a great time to decide which new skills you may need to learn. Do you know how to bake bread or make tortillas? This may be a great time for you and your family to discover some new talents together. I bet you have a friend or family member who would enjoy learning with you.
We are going to break this down into manageable small tasks. This week prepare for our next step in two weeks. This does not have to be overwhelming and I will help you discover that for yourself.
- What are our family’s favorite menu items? You will want to ask them for their input with this.
- Which foods do you have access to for free or nearly free? Is there a farm where you can glean? Do you, or a friend or family member have fruit trees? Are the vegetables and fruits available to you good candidates for preserving, canning, drying?
- What if you plant a garden and harvest your own foodstuffs? Not much room to plant? Do you have friends you can share a garden with? Perhaps you will grow the tomatoes and they will plant and harvest the green beans. Now you are learning the skills of provident living. Caring for your own needs while helping others, strengthens both giver and receiver.
- Is there a food co-op in your town or nearby where you can purchase meats and grains more cheaply?
- Have you checked out the food available through LDS distribution? Items can be purchased and picked up at local storehouses or ordered and shipped to your home. Food purchased through the church are great quality, always fresh, packed for long term storage and a great price. We will talk more about this when we get to long term storage but I purchase all my oats, rice and a few other things through this avenue and use them as part of my three month supply.
- Ask friends their opinion on purchasing food inexpensively.
- What is your budget? Are you willing to eat breakfast for dinner and other inexpensive meals to free up more cash for storage?
To summarize by July 1st you will have a list of your favorite meals, have a list you have brainstormed of where you can obtain food either for free or purchased and you will know your weekly budget.
After you have completed this step, what is left? You now have the beginning of a plan. We will begin by getting a one-month supply of foods from each of the food groups. Financial resources are limited for all of us and most of us cannot just purchase a three-month supply of food.
“Our Heavenly Father created this beautiful earth, with all its abundance, for our benefit and use. His purpose is to provide for our needs as we walk in faith and obedience. He has lovingly commanded us to ‘prepare every needful thing’ (see D&C 109:8) so that, should adversity come, we may care for ourselves and our neighbors, and support bishops as they care for others.”
“We encourage members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise, and do not go to extremes. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” providentliving.org
Emerson said, “Most people would rather die than think. In fact they do.” Together we will think and succeed.