Let’s do a quick review of food storage:
Two Kinds of Food Storage
There are two types of food storage: The first type is short term or sometimes called a Three-month supply. Everyone should have a short term food storage of the foods you regularly eat every day. Ideally your “super pantry” should be stocked with enough food to last three months, but even a three or four week supply of food is a good start.
I’ve written about all the reasons a short term food supply is a good idea. regardless of how “prepper” you want to be. It’s just a good way to cushion yourself from everyday problems like cutbacks in your paycheck, winter storms and temporary food shortages, just to name a few.
A short-term food storage should not strain the budget. Just buy 3-4 extras of everything you get
when you do your regular shopping. Write the date on the package and put it in your pantry. After a month or two, you will have enough reserve put aside to last three months, give or take.
Rotation is the key
It’s important that you keep track of the dates on the food. Most commercially packaged food has a limited shelf life. If the packaging becomes damaged, (which can easily happen with cardboard or plastic packaging) food quality and safety is quickly compromised. Take regular inventory of your food, checking for damage or other signs of deterioration and bring older food to the front.
But if you are regularly replenishing your pantry, you should have no problem with rotation and quality control.
The Second Kind of Food Storage
Once you have acquired your three-month food storage, you may want to have a long-term food storage. This is the second kind of food storage and is definitely more prepper-y than a three-month supply. While the short term storage is designed to be used in a minor crisis (job cutbacks, major car or appliance repairs, etc.) a long-term supply is a year’s supply of food that
can be stored for several years before needing to be replaced. That makes it good for a disaster that interrupts the food supply for more than three months.
A long-term food storage consists of five components: grains, beans, dairy, salt and honey. These foods will ensure that your family has a nutritionally sound diet should a food crisis persist for a long time.
Make it interesting
Now a diet consisting of five ingredients sounds like it might be a little boring. That’s only sort of true. In the category of “grains” you have a lot of variety. Wheat of course, will be the main component. You’ll use that to make bread, rolls, pastry, pasta and all sorts of other baked goods. But you’ll also want to include rice, corn, oats, possibly barley and maybe some other varieties of grain.
Your goal is to store 150-200 lbs of grains per adult per year. Store 1/2 to 3/4 that much for younger family members.
Legumes doesn’t just mean pinto beans. There are all sorts of beans: black, lima, red, navy, garbanzo and lentils, just to name a few. Each variety of bean has a different flavor and can be the foundation of a variety of tasty dishes.
So, if you can, get 25-50 lb bags of several different types of legumes. The goal is to have 100-150 lbs of legumes per adult per year. Younger family members will need 1/2 to 3/4 that much.
There’s another way to keep this food from getting too boring: Grow a garden and preserve the fruits and vegetables from your garden. Tomatoes are a natural accompaniment to many bean dishes. Properly stored, root crops like onions, carrots, potatoes and turnips can last almost all winter-long and are an essential ingredient in many yummy bean soups.
You can also stock up on herbs, spices and other condiments to ensure that the menu is flavorful and not too boring.
Proper storage is key
Rotation is important to your long-term supply, but correct storage is even more important. This food will likely be put into the garage or other storage area that you will not check as often. If there is damage from pests or the environment, the loss will be far more disastrous than the loss of a case of canned soup. That’s why I’ve written separate posts on how to safely store this food so that it will survive a long-term storage.
Long-term food storage is designed to store for several years without any attention from you. But that doesn’t mean you should just store it and forget it. If you never use whole grains and legumes in your diet, you may be in for a shock when you do.
Here are three reasons you should periodically use food from your long-term storage:
First: There’s a bit of a learning curve to using these types of foods. It may take a bit of practice to produce a loaf of whole wheat bread that family members will like. Not everyone is crazy about the taste of dry beans in a main dish. So you’ll want to learn how to incorporate these foods into the family menu now so that, if the need arises, you don’t have wholesale rebellion.
Second: Whole grains and legumes are high in dietary fiber. That’s one reason they’re so healthy for you. But if you’re not accustomed to a lot of fiber in your diet, it can be a bit of a shock to your digestive system if you all of a sudden start eating food with lots of fiber.
So it’s a good idea to experiment now with this food. Start practicing using whole wheat in your baking.
Start experimenting with bean dishes to see what the family likes. Get a feel now for how these ingredients can be used during a long-term crisis. I have a whole page full of recipes using whole grains and legumes as the main ingredient(s). Check it out.
Third: You can save lots of money. Whole wheat and beans are super inexpensive, so using them in your cooking can make a big difference in your food budget. Use that savings to put more into your short- and long-term food storage.
As you map out your preparedness plans, a short-term, three-month food storage should be at the top of your list. But you may also want to include a long-term food storage in your plans. It’s a smart (and relatively inexpensive) back up plan.