So if you remember the Rule of Threes, you know that it’s time to talk about food now that we have water sorta covered. When you say food storage, most people picture 50 lb bags of rice and buckets of wheat stored in the corner of the garage, and boxes of freeze dried food on top. Please don’t do that. It’s not a good idea.
Don’t get me wrong. Wheat, rice, and other bulk stored items have a place you your expanded pantry. But far too many people just throw it in the garage and call it good. Then the zombies show up and you’re stuck figuring out what on earth to do to make this hard red wheat edible.
Unfortunately this is a path rife with peril yet far to commonly traveled. Wheat and other grains are undeniably critical to proper nutrition. Wheat is hard to digest if your system isn’t used to it. If you aren’t used to eating wheat in more natural forms you’ll get sick, and you can easily develop gluten allergies. Not a good thing. It’s actually frightfully likely that you’d die as a result of that. More on that later! The flour and whatnot that you get at the store isn’t a very good substitute, and 90% of the bread you buy doesn’t help either. You have to use the real stuff.
Great, so what do I do for short to mid term food storage?
Read on, loyal readers! All shall be answered below!
Rule one! Store what you eat!
You have to know what to do with your food storage when you dip into it. This means that unless you have whole wheat as a key part of your diet already, you shouldn’t depend on it. It has a place, for sure, but not to depend on.
Figure out what the staples are for your family. What are those recipes that are the ‘old standby’ for you? What do you cook when you don’t have much time? If you’re like most families, you have a relatively low number of meals that you have on a regular basis. Focus on those first.
The goal here is to have the fixings for these meals in storage. And again, you HAVE to look at things with a certain level of abstraction. So plan out a sample month worth of meals, repeating the things you have often appropriately. Make it look like an average month in your household would look like in ‘normal times.’ Then figure out what ingredients you need for that month. Voila, there’s your monthly baseline. If you want six months of food storage, multiply it by six.
I know you guys don’t need me to tell you this, but for the common sense impaired out there, be sure to be appropriate with what you get here … if something you need has a three month shelf life, you don’t want to keep six months worth of it around.
Rule two! Eat what you store!
Now you have a couple months or so of your families food needs stored, a couple interesting things happen. First, you’ve got a bunch of food in the basement, so if you run out in the kitchen, you just go down to the basement (or wherever) and go shopping there instead of the store. Then, when things go on sale, replenish your basement food storage room. It’s cheaper, easier, and vastly more convenient!
Be sure to keep track of what you have in your storage room. Use a spreadsheet, label boxes, etc. Practice FIFO (First In First Out) for proper rotation. Be sure to keep track of shelf lives of different foods. The last thing you want is to get food poisoning.
The beauty of these two rules is pretty simple. You won’t have a drastic dietary change if something happens and you have to dip into storage, as you’ve already been eating from your storage. Food storage is no longer some foreign concept that Mormons and Camouflaged Survivalist Freakazoids do, but is just a method of getting a deeper pantry to be prepared and be more economically smart. Camouflage fatigues are optional.
What else do I need to know?
Well, I’ll have some posts about longer term food storage (back to the 50lb bags of rice and beans) and food preservation methods such as canning and drying. Need to write those first though!