See summary parent article on short-term disaster resilience and prepping for other priorities.
Food storage. See this good site for all things related to storing water and food. Also, see this food storage calculator.
In general, there are two approaches to storing food: (1) The deep pantry: Store what you already eat and rotate the food so it doesn’t spoil, and (2) Store it and forget it. Store food you think will be palatable but make no effort to rotate it through. Obviously, you will have to replace old food from time to time. In practice, if you eat a lot of fresh foods, you will have to change the way you eat (during an emergency) to be able to do the deep pantry method. Of course, that’s very likely true about the “store it and forget it” route as well. The only other question is how many weeks or months of food do you want to store? One month, three months, a year?
Our family has chosen method #1 and we’re starting with a month of food storage and working our way up to more storage as time, energy, money, and rare journeys away from denial allow. The picture to the left is our deep pantry but not currently stocked with all of its food yet. There’s a First In First Out Sign posted to remind all of us how to maintain this system reliably. Even using this method, it may make sense to use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and dessicants to preserve some food. For example, if you eat rice at the rate of 25 pounds per 3 months during your normal diet, but think you will eat more rice in an emergency when other foods are not as available, you obviously need to store enough rice for the emergency-rice-eating-rate. Our solution is a 5-gallon bucket with a gamma lid for rice we will use relatively soon (within months) with the longer term rice stored in mylar bags in a larger rubbermaid container (rodent proof-ish?), to be transferred to the gamma lid container one bag at a time as part of the rotation. For the longer-term storage:
One to two individual 1 oz. [28 grams] packets of desiccant should be placed in the bottom of your MylarFoil™ bag prior to filling with product. The oxygen absorber [2000 cc per bag] is then placed on top for sealing. Note: This is the recommended procedure for the 20.0? x 30.0? bag (P/N: 20MFS30) that is designed for 5 and 6 gallon pails.” (according to Sorbent Systems, source)
For a very traditional option that can be used in combination with these, you can make and store pemmican, a mixture of dried meet, dried berries, mixed with tallow (and sometimes honey). Pemmican will keep for years, is highly nutritious, and full of calories (pdf with recipe and amounts needed per day for various levels of activity), but I don’t think my family would touch it with a 10-foot fork even in an emergency.
Here are some traditional long-storage approaches:
- Mormon Basic Four
- Benefits: cheap, long shelf-life
- Disads: low variety; low vits A, C, D; not as palatable as one might wish
- Information on storage times by food type
- The Church of Latter Day Saints has worked on food storage for a long time. They have food storage centers that anyone can use to load up on food storage options (summary overview). These are available in many states (see list here).
- 7-plus plan (source = Crisis Preparedness Handbook)
- Advantages over Mormon Basic Four
- 20% more calories
- Better nutritional balance (vitamins A, C, D)
- More variety and increased palatability
- What are you actually eating?
- Beans & Rice
- Can also add sprouting seeds
- Foods & quantities (per adult)
- Salt (1/2 table, 1/2 pickling & canning) – 8 lbs
- Milk, nonfat dry – 60 lbs
- Oil (2 gal liquid, 6 lbs shortening) – 21 lbs
- Sugar – 65 lbs
- Grains (wheat, rice, corn, etc.) – 375 lbs
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) – 60 lbs (don’t forget sprouting seeds)
- Leavening agents (3/4 lb yeast, 1 lb baking powder) & seasonings (herbs, spices, flavorings, bouillon, etc.)
- Multi-vitamins – 365
- Family of 4 with 2 kids (boy=7; girl=3.5) + 5% for waste = 1 year worth of food. 17 cubic feet per person to store (3′ x 3′ x 2′ per person. 5′ x 5′ x 5′ = more than enough for 4 people.) Total of 70, 5-gallon buckets ($5 x 70 = $350) with gamma lids (airtight; $4 per lid = $280).
- 30 lbs salt
- 235 lbs non-fat dry milk (stores for 7 years)
- 82 lbs of oil (23 lbs shortening & 8 gallons of liquid)
- 255 lbs sugar
- 1455 lbs grain (oats, wheat, corn, rice, pasta)
- 235 lbs legumes
- 1460 multi-vitamins (1 per person per day)
- 3 lbs yeast
- 4 lbs baking powder
- Storage method:
- Store and forget [Long-term (e.g., 30-yr) dry-goods food storage with food-grade containers with mylar bags w/o O2 and moisture. See this helpful video on sealing bags with an iron. ]
- Store, use, rotate (becomes part of a lifestyle and involves foods we actually want to eat)
- Get 1 year + 3 months of food. Other thoughts: feels like big leap so what about just starting with getting more (e.g., 25 lbs) of whatever we already order (e.g., rice, beans)
- Buy 3 months of food every 3 months to replenish
- Use 5-gallon food buckets ($4.37 each; but can pick extra ones up at grocery stores)
- 2 inches, then dry ice, then fill rest of container, then seal. If rotate food and don’t want to keep for 30 years.
- 35 lbs of wheat per 5-gallon bucket
- Seal with gamma lid ($6 each; $5.50 for 12) — Because normal lids crack and hard to get off, these are 2 piece lids, outside attaches to the bucket and there’s an inner threaded lid that you can use for active access (but don’t need for long-term). Last for a long time, air tight. So, could use gamma lid for one bucket you’re accessing regularly and cheap lids for other.
- Gluten-free & dairy-free options?
- 72-hour Gluten-free kit (not vegetarian and not dairy-free) and a yahoo group focused on allergy-centered food storage
- Gluten-free food storage with adult suggestions for a year. They also note the need for a separate GF grain mill.
- This company sells a line of stored foods that is gluten-free
- Random ideas on GF grinding and flour recipes are here
- You can also go with military-style Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). At this site, you can get “48 cases (with heaters) X $64.95 = $3,117.60 before shipping which, depending on where you are, should run somewhere between $200 to $600.” Each case contains 12 meals or 1 day of food for a family of four.
- Advantages over Mormon Basic Four
- Mormon Basic Four
Grain Mills: Our group decided on the Country Living Food Mill ($429 but they have slightly blemished but still with lifetime warranty = $359). This is the one we bought with 7 households = $58/household. Different settings for grinding. But, extra auger suggested for grinding corn and beans ($40). Cost ranges for grain mills $60-$1200. Neighbor has Family Grain Mill = $129: has plastic parts. Ranked high for function but doesn’t grind as fine as Country Living Food Mill. Larger than Lehman. 2.5 lbs of flour in 10 mins. Lehman Food Mill ($277). Plastic hopper; Diamant Food Mill ($1,000); Grain Maker Food Mill ($725).
- Why are we buying a grain mill? (1) No longer need to buy flour. (2) Can buy wheat berries or groats which store much longer. (3) You can also make your own blend (rye, wheat, etc.) (4) Some people say there’s nutritional benefits, saying that 80% of flour you buy in the store is rancid and therefore bad for you. (5) Can grind nuts but big mess.
- How much can we make in one batch? Takes 22 minutes to grind 10 cups of flour. Can hook it up to a bike.
- Pressure cooker
- Why would one want a pressure cooker? Much more energy efficient, more flavorful, cooks things more quickly. Mostly good for beans (10 minutes from dry to cooked) and meat (10 mins for 4 people for 1 lb beef; 2 lbs spare ribs = 7-8 mins heat; whole 8 lb chicken = 8 mins).
- Disads: pain to clean; scary (but reviewers say it’s safe)
- Cook’s illustrated tested & reviewed pressure cookers. 8 quart = good size with wider being better than taller. Out of 9 tested, best choice was $280 (Fissler Vitaquick 8 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker), with 2nd choice = $110 (Fagor Duo 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker) — “a little lighter and a little less smooth to latch” but scored full stars in all categories as with the 1st choice model
- Buying Bulk Foods
- Willy Street Coop: >= 25 lb bags = 10% off bulk section price. So, 25 lbs wheat berries is $27 (25 lbs organic flour = $ = $ per lb); Long grain brown rice = $45.
- Azure Standard carries everything: Not in WI yet, but a trucking company considering coming into WI by end of Feb, 2013. Each family would put in own order. Unsure of costs relative to Willy Street Coop.
- Plans for Do-It-Yourself food can shelving unit (for automatic can rotation – First in, first out).
- Bucket Blitz — See if we can get buckets from bakery and delis and those departments in grocery stores (how many, what day do they get them, how long willing to hold, and at what pace do they arrive, e.g., 1 per week): (1) Jake: HiVee, Willy West, Willy East; (2) Justin: Hilldale Mettcaffe’s — brought in samples that are smaller buckets (4.25 gallons and 2 gallons); (3) Sato: Metcaffe’s far west side; Gardner’s bakery; CostCo; (4) Kathryn: Fresh Market at University Square (will all Kathryn every time they get a stack: 12 every 3 weeks) & Whole Foods — got 14, 5-gallon buckets from Whole Foods (come by during slow time); (5) Lael: Pierce’s; (6) Kat: Copps
- Everyone: How many buckets does your family need? JM: 5, 2-gallon & 5, 4.25-gallon for now; J&KH: 25, 5-gallon buckets;
- Need rotation plan
- Research details on storage (buckets and lids) JH
- Wood stove – research (1) condo doc bylaws; (2) fire codes; (3) condo assoc insurance; (4) personal unit insurance
- Price out at Coop: thinks pretty good pricing in bulk
- Verona group? LS
- How do we use and eat the food? (e.g., grinder; recipes)
- Resilience Weekend: Community spends a weekend pretending (e.g., no electricity; cooking, etc.)
- Storage Methods
- Root cellar
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