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Friday, January 8, 2010

CHENGDU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 28:   A woman shops...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Prepare: Building the One Year Food Supply

With the news being so cheery lately, all of us are concerned about putting some control back into our lives. That means making sure we have the basics covered in these trying times including food and the ability to feed our family.

Job loss or total SHTF, food is at the top of the priority list. Every day, each member of the family eats several times a day. We refill the pantry with weekly and sometimes daily trips to the grocers. But what happens if the Safeway is closed or looted and emptied forever?

Having a food storage plan in place can build a real insurance policy against hunger. However, the task is daunting to even the best of us.

Companies like Nitro Pak sell complete canned meal systems for one month to one year. Many of the foods contained in these packages can be obtained by anyone and stored similarly; its not rocket science. Here are a list of foods you can buy today at the grocers or warehouse store to build your food storage plan with.

Beans - go for red kidney and pinto. I happen to like black beans as well. Get the dry type and store in five gallon plastic buckets. Beans will last for years, provide protein and are filling.

Rice - American, jasmine, or long grain. Get the twenty five or fifty pound bags, put in plastic five gallon buckets and store in a cool, dry place. You can put oxygen absorbers in the buckets as well to ensure long term freshness. Rice is filling, lasts forever and is the best filler or platform to build a meal upon.
Remember, brown rice has more oils and may go rancid sooner.

Soup bases - Chicken and beef. Most warehouse clubs sell the really big containers of these products. Use a soup base for soup or to flavor the rice you stored above. Soup bases must be stored in an airtight container and put in a cool, dry location free from moisture and humidity.

Milk powder - Milk powder is more than for drinking. It can be added to any soup or cereal to provide a thickener and a boost of calcium. Dry milk has no fat so it lasts longer and will not go rancid like canned or perishable milk. But dry milk has to be kept in a cool, dry place in well sealed container. Get the five gallon buckets and add oxygen absorbers for best results.

Honey - While sugar lasts a long time, honey is a healthy alternative with plenty of uses. Honey has been known to last for hundreds of years as it has been found in tombs and forgotten stashes. Get the five gallon containers rather than the little glass jars or "honey bears". Some stores sell honey in the big buckets, but make sure that the honey is real and not corn syrup with honey flavoring.

Dried fruit - Dried fruit like bananas, apricots and raisins last a long time in proper containers. They can be eaten as they are or served with hot cereal, in a dessert or rehydrated with water for a side dish. Store in a cool, dry place in a five gallon bucket. Many types of dried fruit can be found at the warehouse store, but watch the prices. Often, dried fruit is very expensive and is not cost effective for storage. A better idea is to get a dehydrator and dry seasonal fruit yourself.

Wheat - This is a tough purchase for many city folk. For starters, large quantities of wheat such as hard winter red is not available at the standard grocers or the warehouse club. Some organic stores carry it, but at higher prices for smaller quantities. The best bet is to find a grain supply source nearby rather than paying for shipping from one of the big outlets like Honeyville. Another problem with grain is "What to do with it?". Most of us have never had to grind grain to make cereal or flour. But that is where those things come from and having the knowledge to cook and use whole grains is crucial. Grain lasts literally for years in storage (remember the grain story from the Bible with Joseph and the Pharaoh?). Put whole wheat in five gallon buckets and store in a cool, dry place.

Pasta - Noodles are cheap and easy to get. Buy the largest bags you can find at the grocers or warehouse and store in five gallon plastic buckets. Pasta can be a platform for any meal and can be served with almost anything.

Cooking oil - Vegetable or olive. Oils do go rancid and will not last forever even in the best storage. But make sure you have five or more gallons on hand at all times. Cooking oils can replace butter when grilling or cooking over a flame. Also, our bodies need a certain amount of good fats which come only from oils.

Oatmeal - There is no complete food storage plan without oatmeal. Oats are easy to get in large containers from the grocers and you should have several pounds on hand at all times. Store in five gallon plastic buckets and your oats should stay fresh for months if not years. Serve oats with dried milk, dried fruit and honey for a hot, filling and nutritious meal.

There are some long term storage foods which are difficult to purchase from retail stores. Textured vegetable protein, cheese powder, powdered eggs, dried vegetables, and dried meats. These things will have to be purchased online from a company like Nitro Pak. The best part is these products come in long term storage containers which are easy to store and have on hand.

Anyone can start on a one year food storage plan, but you need to get busy now. Go to the grocery store or warehouse club with the list above and buy some of each item, store in proper containers, and start building a real food insurance plan.
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