Successful Food Storage in 7 Easy Steps
Successful Food Storage in 7 Easy Steps
Welcome to successful food storage in 7 easy steps. I am your host, Blue Jean Mama. Join me on this trek to food storage preparedness.
You have probably heard the term, “Prepper”. You may have thought, there is another dooms day nut job. Well… let’s see if your thought may be off base. If modern day preppers are nut jobs then all our ancestors arriving in America and all the families who had victory gardens during the war must have been crazy. Perhaps they were actually practical, hard-working individuals who wanted a better life and some insurance that they would be able to provide for their families should hardship strike. As we all know, hardships strike families on a continuing basis.
I prefer to think of individuals who prepare for situations that may surface out of nowhere to be more of a visionary with protective attributes. If a crisis should arise, you can bet your bippy family members will be extremely thankful you cared enough to want to make sure the family stays intact. To me, this is the total opposite of a dooms day mentality but rather an optimistic outlook, life will get better.
Successful Food Storage in 7 Easy Steps
First, don’t think you have to do it all in one day. This is the beauty of becoming prepared. You do it a step at a time over a period of time. You don’t want to be like the people seen on television. You have viewed the news when a hurricane, fire or even a 911 type situation occurs. Everyone who is unprepared jams into the nearest store and starts to grab everything in sight out of desperation. Many of these people don’t have the funds to buy all the things they need even if they can find the items to buy. Most people don’t have the means to stash money in case a crisis occurs. I know I would never want to be in the hordes of desperate and panicked individuals grabbing whatever is left.
Begin by thinking about the types of food your family enjoys. Being prepared, aka prepping, is not about eating MRE’s all the time. In fact, I don’t want to eat them at any time. Here is how you can get your game plan going. Buy a few extra items each week. Think about what you need in the way of staples to make meals tasty. Everyone will be happier in a bad situation with foods that comfort rather than the thought of eating military field food.
- Begin purchasing ingredients such as stock, rice, pastas, barley and lentils. Just with these items you could have various soups. With other items you will accumulate, you will be able to provide a decent meal.
- Add protein rich canned food such as tuna, chicken and beef. Jarred peanut butter and jelly will be appreciated too.
- Include condiments and spices you use on a regular basis, baking items such as baking powder/soda, salt, pepper, soy sauce, salad dressing (mayo is great but does not last as long), mustard, ketchup, sugar, powdered milk and eggs, yeast and honey. Make sure you have some nonstick spray and oil – olive oil in dark cans will last the longest.
- Make sure you include a variety of grains including oatmeal which is low cost and a comfort food. If your crisis is short lived, you will be fine if you have some flour stashed in your freezer where it will keep fresh longer. If the situation is long term, you will want to have number 10 cans of whole grain that you can grind. Bread is known as the staff of life, don’t be without a means of preparing it. The canned wheat berries, as they are called, will stay fresh for many years. Start saving your pennies so you can purchase a hand grain mill (not very expensive) or an electric grain mill which will cost more. It is actually a great idea to have at least two of everything. If one breaks you might not be able to obtain another. The thought is, one is none, two is better but three is magic.
- Purchase a wide variety of canned vegetables and fruit. Select the varieties you know your family will enjoy. It is VERY important to only have the foods you know your family will eat. There is something called food apathy. This is when people can’t stand the thought of eating certain foods even when it is all there is available. They will starve rather than eat the food they find objectionable.
- Candy, yes candy, is also important. During stressful or fearful times, candy can bring a bit of joy. The best time to purchase your candy for storage is after a holiday. The stores no longer give shelf space to pink bunnies after the Easter holiday. This is when you can purchase it at huge discounts. Bring the candy home, put it in a Mason jar and use the FoodSaver (or other similar appliance) vacuum attachment on the machine to remove the air. Your candy will stay fresh for well over a year. It may last longer. I have eaten candy over a year old and it tastes just as fresh as it did when purchased.
- WATER, lots of water. This is actually the most important item to store. You can live longer without food than you can without water. Death can occur in 3 days without water. Make sure you have plenty on hand and also have alternate sources to obtain more. If your secondary source is not as pure as you would like, consider purchasing a gravity fed water filter such as the Berkey Water Filter. We have one and love it!
Stockpile Your Food Storage Items
I like to keep my extra food in a separate area. Make sure to keep an inventory of what you have and where it is located. If you need something from your “store”, no problem. This is one of the conveniences of having food storage. It saves you time and money. It eliminates running to the store for a quick pick up which really isn’t all that quick. It keeps you from spending more money because you eliminate impulse buying which eats up major dollars.
Finding places to store your food takes a little imagination if your space is limited. Now would be a good time to eliminate the clutter in your closets. This is really a plus. In many situations we all tend to hold on to things that we haven’t seen or used in years. Begin in one area that can provide a dark and cool environment. Make this your target area for your storage. You can make it really cute with nice labels or you can just keep it organized. Personally, I find I just want to be able to find things and would rather spend my time preserving more food than making pretty labels. (Not that I have anything against pretty labels, but…) The choice is yours.
Mistakes to Avoid
In the beginning, I made a huge mistake that you can avoid. I had this nagging fear that if something happened, I wouldn’t have enough food put away. I didn’t use items from my storage. Guess what, I wasted it. Most food will last a long time but not everything. Crackers and cereal are some foods that do not last for years. You can extend food storage life by using Mason jars and a FoodSaver to extract the air out. This will certainly help but some types of food just won’t last as long as others. The real key is to use and rotate your food storage, don’t try to horde it.
The Learning Curve
The learning curve for food storage is quite rapid. If you want to limit your food items to supermarket purchases only, you just need to learn how long foods last. Do not go by the “Sell by date”. This is used to notify supermarket staff when foods are at their ultimate freshness. Depending on the type of food, the actual life of products varies considerably. In a crisis type situation, food that is older may not provide the same peak freshness as it did 6 months earlier but it will still be perfectly fine for consumption. .
According to the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic:
Those “sell by” and “best by” dates on the food you buy have no relationship to safety and aren’t even federally regulated, contributing to Americans throwing away 160 billion pounds of food each year—at a time when one in six people doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from.
WebMD has a great article, Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter?, you may want to check this out.
How to Extend Your Food Storage’s Life
There are several ways you can extend the life of your food storage. I plan to expand on each of these areas in future posts. For now, here is a listing of the ways:
- Pressure canning meat, vegetables, butter, nuts, soups and more
- Water bath canning tomatoes, jams and jellies and more
- Dehydrating vegetables and fruit
- Vacuum packaging
- Oxygen absorbers to remove air, similar to vacuum packaging
- Purchasing long term food from retailers with shelf life of 5 – 25 or more years
- Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to aid in keeping food pest free
Food storage is an insurance you don’t have to pay a policy premium for. You are in control. You provide the foods YOUR family enjoys. If a crisis should arise you can avoid panic and know that your family will eat and eat very well. You can’t depend on “the system”. In any crisis, there will be an overwhelming number of people who are not prepared in any way. In a major catastrophe government cannot be everything to everyone. The first responders generally cannot even start helping immediately. They need to mobilize and make provisions to respond in areas that may not be close to where they are located. Every capable person should take the responsibility to prepare for the unexpected to assure food and water will be available in any given emergency. You can make a difference. You can be the visionary that saves your family.