Food Storage :Where To Begin?
First thing is first, make a selection and decide what room or space you will use for your food and first aid items. It should be the coolest place in the house. The temperature should be a within the 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit range. The room should stay dry at all times to avoid damage or spoilage to your items. Closets, under stairways, spare bedrooms, crawl space or under beds,any unfinished area of the home will work as well. North facing walls are cooler because they are away from excessive heat exposure from the sun. This room is where you will store the foods you will use to restock your pantry. The room you choose will depend on the space you have available within your home. Whatever space you can spare that will serve to house your food supply will be good. The reasons for having a separate storage are simple. Ever hear the saying “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”? In a true disaster scenario, it is better to lose some of your food , than all of your food! Redundancy is also the key to this strategy. Having the same items duplicated in separate areas will insure that you have everything that you need should an unexpected scenario arise.
To elevate the food up off the floor you can use shelving, wooden planks or pallets. The containers should never come in contact with the ground. The moisture from the ground will rust the cans and can get into the buckets. Platforms can be made of bricks with wood across them to elevate the food up off the floor, if you like. A simple rotation system should be implemented to insure freshness. The best system would be to stock oldest food to be used first and the newest food to be held further back and moved forward as you replace what you have used. The air must be able to circulate around the food to keep it dry so make sure they are properly stacked to allow for this air space. Items with higher oil content or dairy products should be placed lower because hot sir rises and it will be cooler closer to the ground.
To insure proper rotation, always date the cans and put the newest cans to the back and use the oldest dated cans first. If you leave a space under the bottom shelf then you have effectively created a storage space for non food items. Such as cooking equipment, camping equipment ,sleeping bags, blankets, etc. The smartest thing you can do is keep everything you will need for a survival situation together that way you will find it when you need it.
If an emergency arises and you cannot find it , then you might as well not have it . You may not have the time to go searching for something that is not readily available. In an emergency situation ….”Time is of the essence”.
Do not store food in an attic because it will get too hot and your food items will spoil. Seal all cracks and crevices where mice or insects might get in. Mice and insects will ruin any unsealed buckets or cardboard containers. The mice can eat right through the Mylar foil, cardboard and even some softer plastics. Keep these items in buckets with sealed lids. The moth larvae eat through the Mylar also. Heavy plastic containers, jars or metal cans with tight-fitting lids will keep mice and insects out. You can also place a bay leaf in with grains, flour, beans, etc to keep them from being invaded by insects.
Do not leave any food items that have not been sealed properly on the shelves or you will risk insect infestation. Do not store chemicals in the same room as the food or you could face cross contamination.
What To Store.
The best thing to do is focus on the foods that you and your family eat. If you store foods that you normally do not eat then you will not readily use them Rotating your supply is important. However , if you do not eat the food then you won’t be rotating it will you ? Not to mention that it is important for you to know how to prepare the foods that you have stored.
Canned foods make an excellent food storage item. Typically, most canned foods have a shelf life of several years, some even longer.
They come in large varieties such as vegetables, meats, fish, soups and fruits to name a few. Most canned foods, in an emergency situation, will not require that you heat or cook them before eating them. They may not taste as good cold, but they will sustain you. You can also take advantage of great sales on canned foods and stock up quickly.
You can also look into stores in your area that might sell dented cans at a reduced, price. As long as the cans seals have not been compromised there is absolutely nothing wrong with the contents of that dented can. Getting it at a considerable discount for it’s slightly dented exterior is a good deal and an excellent way of building your food storage quickly and inexpensively.
Another choice for food storage are bulk foods. Generally they are more cost-effective because you are buying them in bulk quantities.
One thing you will need to do with bulk items after you purchase them is transfer them to long term storage containers. Such as 5 gallon plastic buckets, #10 cans or Mylar vacuum sealed bags. Many of the items that you can buy in bulk are items such as rice, grains and beans. If you are not familiar with cooking these items, you will need to educate yourself now. Cooking with whole grains takes time and practice. Better to learn now than have to learn when you and you r family are hungry. These items can be very versatile once you learn to cook with them and they are much healthier for you as well.
Please remember that Salt and Sugar are essentials. Salt is necessary for good health and sugar is needed to assist in making things palatable and for energy. Unless you have the money to buy cases of honey. Sugar will be your best asset in providing the necessary calories and energy needed. They are relatively inexpensive in comparison to most other bulk foods. Making it rather easy to stock up on these two very essential items.
**Another thing you may want to consider is that salt and sugar may very well be used as a bartering currency during a crisis when these items might not be readily available.
Simple raw materials for baking, such as flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, oil and shortening, can be assets in a survival situation. With these staple items, you can make everything from pancakes or rolls to breading fresh fish. Powdered milk can be mixed with water. Oatmeal, wheat flour and sugar are other staples with which you can make baked goods.
For those looking for a simpler answer, mixes for muffins, corn bread and pancakes mean you do not need to add eggs or measure ingredients. These ready-made or pre-mixed ingredients can be time and labor saving. However, one must also consider the added expense the pre-packaged items will cost as opposed to bulk foods that you can readily mix to make the same things at a much lower price. If your budget allows then feel free to purchase the pre-packaged .
For long-term survival storage, honey stores for years and can replace sugar in recipes. Rather than storing flour or meal, purchase the raw grain and a hand mill. Then you can mill your own flour whenever necessary. Red winter wheat, golden wheat, corn and other grains can be purchased in 45-pound lots packed in nitrogen-packed bags and shipped in large plastic pails. Or you can purchase your own in the local feed store and package them yourself.
Large canned goods, on the other hand, are difficult to transport. But if you’re stocking up your survival retreat or planning to weather the storm at home, the large canned goods are easy to store and can keep you well-fed for months. While individual cans can be purchased, most popular are sets of multiple items. These are designed to provide a specific number of calories per day (they’ll recommend 1,800 per day, but you’ll probably want more) for a set period of time, often three months, six months or a year. Remember, however, if you have four people in your family or survival group, purchasing a one-year supply of food will only equate to three months worth for the family.
It is recommended that one purchase the largest set of these canned, dried foods one’s budget can handle. Then supplement the set with items tailored to you and your family or survival group. Also, MREs are excellent supplements, as prepared sets of #10 cans are typically vegetables, pasta and grains, while MREs are usually meat-based. Although there are some companies that do have the freeze dried meats available in #10 cans if it is within your budget.
You may also want to add a few special items, such as hard candy, chocolate or desserts, to reward yourself , for quick energy or to stave off palate fatigue.
Don’t forget to add vitamins and mineral supplements. Fruits, green vegetables and other items rich in vitamin C and other nutrients may be difficult to come by and a good multi-vitamin can make all the difference in your nutritional intake. Well worth having in your food storage.
MREs (MEALS READY TO EAT)
With these you will have a nice hot meal without having to cook. A disposable MRE heater provides a chemical reaction which heats the food.
Ease of portability of these meals is also a plus. They are small and easy to store, perfect for an evacuation scenario and keeping some in your car kit. They are also quite tasty. One disadvantage, however, is that they can be pricey and they do not provide as much roughage as you need. (This can lead to digestive problems if you plan to live on them for an extended period of time.)
Beverages Other Than Water
such as powdered milk, cocoa mix, a fortified fruit drink mix, evaporated milk, and some bottled juice. In a winter emergency, having cocoa mix around is a blessing. The milk will come in handy for many things including cooking. However, one important thing you must keep in mind is palate fatigue. If you have the same foods over and over again palate fatigue will set in and in a survival situation it is not a good idea to go without food. Children especially can suffer from palate fatigue and it is important that these situations be taken into account when building a food storage for future use.
Home Made Survival Foods
Canning goods is a tradition that will come in very handy in a survival situation. From spaghetti sauce to your own jam. The types of foods you can preserve with this method is limitless. However, when you are dealing with canning fruits, vegetables or meats, its important to follow the latest specifics from the true experts.
You can also dry, vacuum-pack and otherwise prepare food for storage. Vacuum pumps are available commercially or can be constructed in your own home. You can use them to seal dried food in mason jars and other containers.
When packing foods for storage, you want to eliminate oxygen (which is why a vacuum is so good). Bugs, such as weevils, and other organisms that can destroy your food need the oxygen to live, just as we do. That’s why commercial companies who prepare survival food pack grains, cereals, pasta, beans and other food in nitrogen-filled containers. You can accomplish a similar packaging yourself by using dried ice.
Simply take the 10 pounds of noodles (or 25 pounds of rice or other dried food) you picked up from the warehouse and put them in an appropriately sized plastic bucket with a lid that can create a good seal. Add several chunks of dried ice. As it sublimates, your bucket will fill with carbon dioxide, which will displace all or most of the oxygen (since carbon dioxide is heavier, the oxygen should rise to the top and out of the bucket). Place the lid on the bucket, but don’t seal it all the way until you think the dry ice has completely turned to gas. This is a fine line, since you want to seal it before oxygen starts leaking back into the bucket.
Drying fresh fruit , vegetables, herbs, spices and meats at home is also a good way of preserving foods.
With a good dehydrator you can make fruit leather ( like fruit rollups) and jerky. Some have even dehydrated scrambled eggs. You can dehydrate any type of food that does not have a high fat content ( at can turn rancid and make your food unappetizing). Storing dehydrated foods will be done in the same manner as bulk foods to insure freshness and safety when you need them most. If stored properly dehydrated foods can last for 5 or more years.
Coffee, hard candy and chocolate ( chocolate chips keep well and can be used the same as baking chocolate and is better than a chocolate bar when trying to maximize storage space). Boosting morale with comfort foods can help keep spirits high in an emergency situation.
High Energy Items
You may need to make a special effort to keep your energy levels high, so stock up on items with plenty of protein and fiber. Peanut butter, granola bars and trail mix are recommended. Energy bars and protein bars can also come in handy, if you can spare the expense. Also having peanut butter, flour and honey you can make high calories protein bars of your own.
Don’t forget to store specialty items that you might need. If you have a baby, cans of powdered formula would be good to have on hand, even if you’re nursing. Diabetics who eat certain foods and supplements will need to keep those on hand. Elderly people who use a meal supplement will need to stock that.
Making sure you have an ample amount of cases of Ensure or something like it would not be a bad idea if you have children or elderly family members. This will help to supplement their diet and keep them healthy in an emergency situation.
**Having nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and grains like rice and oats will also give you an advantage aside from the menu aspect. They can all be used to make nut and grain milk to supplement for babies or even lactose intolerant adults. They are nutritious and easily digested.
Many people forget this item. Seeds are a ‘must’ for every prepper in order to grow your own food. In a long term survival scenario it will be the difference between surviving and possibly starving to death. These should be rotated every year or two. Check your packets for an expiration date. As seed packets are inexpensive enough, it’s not a huge endeavor to rotate these. Besides you can always practice with a garden now and use those soon to expire seeds in your own backyard garden and grow your own food. Practice makes perfect. A survival emergency scenario is not a good place to practice skills that you are not familiar with. Focus on Heirloom seeds rather than hybrid as they are stronger and have stood the test of time.
**May also be proven to be valuable as a bartering method during an emergency situation when seeds would not be readily available.