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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Food Storage Basics

Before you think about anything else you should stock up on food and water. A few weeks worth of extra food in the pantry will get you through almost anything. The average person needs around 2000 calories per day to sustain themselves. Less than that and you can count on being hungry. Even with a 2000 calorie diet you can die or be seriously affected by malnutrition if you're not getting the proper nutrients. That will take a really long time, though. If things get to that point then you'll have more important things to worry about. Just make sure that you stock food that everyone in your household will eat. It doesn't do you any good to have a case of spam in your closet if your family hates the stuff. You'll also need at the VERY MINIMUM 1 gallon of water per person per day. If you think that you can get by on that then I suggest you try it sometime. After a few days of it then you'll probably be convinced that you need at least 3-5 gallons per person per day.

Canned goods are a good place to start. They're very cheap and in a lot of cases they last for years. I stay away from things like canned stews and spaghettio type stuff. I like things like canned beans, tomatoes, vegetables, meat, mushrooms, etc. They're cheaper, almost as easy to prepare and you've got a lot more options. Vegetables go on sale for 2 for $1 all the time. Tuna is $.50 a can. Tomatoes are around $.50 a can. Having a few cans of vienna sausages, chicken and spam doesn't hurt, either. If the power goes out for an extended amount of time then you won't have fresh meat for long. Meat in a can is better than nothing.

Rice is ridiculously cheap and takes up relatively little space. It triples in size when it's cooked. It's loaded with calories. It can be added to any meal to fluff it up. The shelf life is amazing. If you store it correctly it can be good for 30+ years. You can get a 20 lb bag at Wal-Mart for around $8. Go to the wholesale stores like Costco and Sam's Club and it's even cheaper. Rice is hands down one of the best "survival foods" available. Instant rice is ok, too, but it's already been cooked so it's lost a lot of it's nutritional value and it takes up more space. Learn how to properly cook it and keep several pounds of it handy all the time. Nothing does a better job of stretching out the rest of your food supply.

Beans are another good one. Canned beans are fine but they're kind of expensive and they don't have the nearly indefinite shelf life that dried beans have. They're convenient, though, so they've got their place. I like pinto beans because they're so cheap and lentils because they're loaded with nutrients. Stored correctly dried beans can last practically forever. One thing to note about old beans is that the older they get the harder it is to soften them up. Normally you can just leave your beans in a pot of water over night and then cook them the next day. Old beans might require a pressure cooker to get them edible. You use your preps, though, so your beans won't get that old right?

Next we're going to look at staples. Flour, sugar, salt, pepper, cooking oil, etc are all very very cheap. Vegetable oil can be used in just about any recipe that calls for any type of cooking oil. A gallon of it will last you for months. Sugar is another cheap one that has a lot of uses. Keeping at least 10 or 20 lbs in the cupboard doesn't hurt. Salt doesn't go bad so why not have extra? Once again, a few extra pounds won't hurt to have around. Things like baking powder, baking soda and corn starch take up very little space and they're used in small doses in a lot of different recipes. There's no reason not to keep a box of them handy. Flour is invaluable and is used in several different recipes. Keeping at least 10 or 20 lbs handy is always a good idea. An even better idea is to get a grinder that can make flour. Then buy wheat in bulk and grind your own. Wheat is another one that stays good indefinitely. They've found wheat in Egyptian tombs that actually germinated after thousands of years of storage.

There are some other non perishables to think about as well. Ramen is cheap and easy to prepare. So is pasta. Dried potatoes are quick, cheap and simple. Powdered milk is a great milk subsititute when you're cooking with it. Instant meals in a box like Hamburger Helper and macaroni are nice to have for a quick and easy to prepare meal.

Everything that I listed is really cheap and it's all shelf stable for at least a year or two. If you spend a few extra bucks every time you go to the grocery store you'll have a hefty stash in no time. Making a special trip with a decent amount of cash to kick everything off isn't a bad idea, though. If something bad does happen would you rather be fighting the crowds at the grocery store to ensure that your family can eat or would you rather be safe and secure in your home knowing that you'll be fine for at least a month or two?


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