Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sensible Food Storage

There are a few different approaches to food storage. As long as you're doing it at all I don't care how you do it. Just make sure that you're actually doing it and you don't just think that you are. It's really easy to make mistakes and assume that you've got "enough". What if you couldn't leave your house for a week? A month? If the power went out for more than a day or two how much of the food in your house would go bad? If we're talking worst case scenario how long could you really hold out? Your food storage strategy will go a long way towards answering that question.

If you've got the money then the easiest solution is just to buy a freeze dried food supply. Mountain House is the most recognized name in the industry and you can get it from several reputable dealers. Nitro-Pak is an excellent source. They ship free if you order $100 or more. I do have some Mountain House in my supplies. It's very convenient, lightweight, stores easily and never goes bad. They claim that the shelf life on their #10 cans is 25 years. If in 50 years I'm wandering the wasteland and I stumble across a case of Mountain House #10 cans that are dated 1970 I won't even question whether or not they're still good. They don't go bad. They just lose their "nutritional value". A vitamin D deficiency probably won't kill you. A calorie deficiency will. Mountain House meals will continue to provide a source of calories and a lot of the "nutritional value" long after they're "expired". If you can afford it, a supply of Mountain House really is the best "get it and forget it" solution. Keep in mind that a lot of people have come to this realization, including the US government. Supplies are tight because so many people are freaking out.

Then there's the budget "get it and forget it" option. Lots of beans, rice and wheat sealed in mylar bags inside of 5 gallon buckets is by far the most economical solution. Pinto beans and rice are both easy to find in big box stores for around $.50 a pound. Combined, they also provide a complete protein. Some say that you could survive on it indefinitely if you had to. I have no intention of trying. One thing you have to keep in mind when going with this approach is that you need to have a way to process the food. Rice is easy enough. A stock pot and a heat source will get the job done. Technically, you can also cook beans in the same way but it takes several hours and if they're not fresh then you can count on them being hard, chewy and nasty. Get a pressure cooker if you want to get serious about cooking some beans. If you want to store wheat then you need to get a grinder. Some people recommend a Corona. I have one and after spending a bit more on a Back to Basics grinder I will never use the Corona to make flour again. I would also HIGHLY recommend baking bread with your preps often enough to get comfortable with the process. Making bread with freshly ground whole wheat flour is tricky and you might need to implement some tricks of the trade to end up with an edible product consistently. At the end of the day, though, wheat, beans and rice will probably stay wholesome longer than we do if properly stored. They have found wheat in Egyptian tombs that actually germinated. That tells me that there is still some nutritional value packed away after a couple thousand years.

The other food strategy is the one that I use. I have some bulk rice, wheat and beans. I also have some #10 cans of Mountain House. Then there are the cases of MREs and CRATs. The bulk of my preps, though, is what I eat every day. My cabinets are packed with canned vegetables, soups, tomato sauce and pasta. If the power goes out I have plans to use everything that's in the (packed) fridge and the freezer. As I use stuff I replace it. I use my wheat storage to make bread. I eat a lot of rice. I even break open an MRE every now and then. My Mountain House is really the only thing that I never touch. Use what you eat. It's the best way to rotate your preps.


Meg said...

I'm new to the concept of "prepping" and all the rest, but came here because I read teh book The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist by Brian Weiss (I thought you were him). I realize now I've been a bit of a prepper my whole life, but never read anything about it formally. I've read through all the posts and I'm ready to "join up". I have a couple of questions; how can I email you?

Adventures in Self Reliance said...

are you back and good for a couple of posts a month? I want to put you back on my blog roll.
Meg being a prepper or survivalist isn't a club you join. It's simply a recognition of reality. You all by yourself can make a garden, store some fuel, buy generator or go solar. It's based on what you want and need. I'm sure any site can tell you what you need. But what do you want? perhaps an understanding of basics from simple sewing to a garden.
1st off is attitude. I will survive. Next is the hard expensive part
I will survive by.....
#1 you need shelter and heat
#2 water
#3 security
#4 food
#5 sanitation
If you need help with the top 5 I'm sure you will get many ideas reading though the archive of sites.

The Urban Survivalist said...

Thanks for the interest Meg. I encourage you to read some of the other blogs in my blog roll. I don't endorse or even encourage some of the ideas that are posted on other blogs but you can always decide for yourself what makes sense for your situation. Feel free to email me at artyboy at gmail dot com and I'll answer what I can.

Adventures, I'm going to try for a minimum of one a week. Go ahead and add me and I'll reciprocate. Thanks a lot.

Meg said...

Adventures, thanks for the thoughts and thanks for the welcome.
I live in a 900sf home on 1.5 acres within 2 miles of the Dallas city limits with a PITI of $510 a month, so it's very affordable. In the past two years, I've gotten a small dose of SHTF when ice storms and downed trees closed off our dead-end street and knocked out power for 3-5 days. In this old house, the water lines freeze at 27 degrees no matter what I do to protect them, so I was also without water those days. It wasn't major, but it was good practice. I lived through a close encounter with the Whittier quake in California; I was more than a little prepared for that, but learned how I could have prepared better. I store 1000 gallons of rainwater and have a water purifier. I have about a month of food stored (will work on that, to take it to 2 months) and have removed my flush toilet to make room for my permanent sawdust toilet. I use less than 300gallons of water a month and normally less than 300KWH of electricity a month (except in summer, when I use about 750 a month). I have a CHL but no handgun yet, a Mossberg 12ga shotgun, a .22, a 30-06 and a .243 (but I need to build up my supply of ammo). I have a freezer full of deer meat (but no generator backup-I realize that's a weak point in the system). I have natural gas, but am getting a propane tank, too. I keep hens and rabbits; got rid of my goats. I can make all kinds of soft cheeses and know how to make hard cheese but it's too much work. I can raise vegetables, but I'm not good at it and I'm annoyed that I can't raise salad fixin's or salsa fixin's in TX all in the same season :-). I consider myself a generalist; I can do woodworking by hand, but haven't yet learned how to weld and have less than no mechanical ability. The thing I haven't yet figured out is how to join up with neighbors of dubious backgrounds who prefer to keep to themselves. And also am trying to figure out if they'd rather shoot me if they decide they want what I have. My family is WAY not prepared (for even a power outage which spans one meal period) and thinks I've gone off the deep end just because I conserve water and electricity so much. Now that I've read about EMP and realize that most solar systems will be fried if we have one, I'm wondering if I HAVE gone off the deep end because I'm pondering long-term "EOTWAWKI" scenarios. I'm not sure I would want to hang with them in case we were in any kind of wide-spread problem. So I have a good attitude and am already pretty far down the prepared road even though I just started reading blogs like this. I read The Urb Surv. archives cover to cover and am catching up on FERfal's blog, and others. This is great; I feel like Dorothy. There's no place like home.

Y'all Ready said...
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millenniumfly said...

I think your strategy of stocking what you already eat is the best strategy for most people. If the pantry is packed full to the brim then maybe one should consider expanding, perhaps into bulk rice, beans and so on. The only problem I see is being diligent enough to rotate your canned goods. Thank goodness for Shelf Reliance.