Written by Melissa K. Norris –
Everyone knows we should be storing some kind of food in our home pantries for both emergencies and preparedness. But how do you know where to start or which foods to store? I see lots of lists on foods folks think you should be storing for your long term food storage. Some of them I agree with, but a lot of them, they’re not practical.
I don’t believe in storing food you don’t use in your regular life. Why would you invest money and storage on something you’re not using? That makes no sense to me. Plus, if an emergency does hit, you don’t want to be adding to the stress of the situation by trying to figure out how to cook and use something you’ve never used before.
Our goal is to have close to a year’s supply of our staples on hand. This works well with the produce we grow and put up at home, along with the raising of our homegrown grass fed beef, meat chickens,laying hens, and pigs we raise.
These are the 8 foods I believe you should be storing and how to store them. I don’t include fruits and vegetables as most of us can grow or harvest these at home or close to our homes. I firmly believe you should know how or where to get fresh fruits and vegetables and preserve them at home. In fact I have a free Ultimate Home Food Preservation Guide and Heirloom Gardening Guide to help you do this, go here to claim your free copies.
1. Salt- salt can be used as both a way to preserve food as well as flavoring dishes. I put salt at the top of the list because most of us don’t have a way to get salt where we live. We can all grow our own herbs, but most people do not have a naturally occurring salt source in the vicinity of their home. I recommend a true Sea Salt for cooking and baking. Store salt in a dry area as moisture will make it cake together. If doing a lot of preserving and curing meat with salt, you’ll want at least 50 pounds for a year, probably more.
2. Fat source. Our bodies require a certain amount of fat in order to function right… (Which means I should be highly functionable!). Fruits, vegetables, and foraging wild edibles are part of a well-balanced diet, but unless you have access to your own meat for rendering lard (here’s how to render your own lard), you probably won’t have a fat source. We need fat for cooking and baking. I use butter, lard, coconut oil and olive oil. Mark the container to see how much of each fat you use for a few months and then multiply it out. Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer and in homemade creams and salves as well. I keep 10 quarts on hand for a year of Organic Nutiva Coconut oil. (Costco also carries this brand of coconut oil at a slightly lower price) I use about 8 pints of our rendered lard and 1 bottle of olive oil a year. Butter is my darling and I use about a pound a month. Store your fat source out of the heat and light. I put extra butter and lard in the freezer.
3. Wheat berries. You’ll see flour on lots of food storage lists, but quite, frankly, flour is not meant for long term food storage. It will go rancid and can also be a home for pests… Wheat berries and other forms of grains for people who are gluten intolerant, will store for years. Not only can they be ground into flour, but they can also be soaked and cooked into a cereal. We use about 100 pounds of wheat berries a year. I use hard white wheat and spelt as our primary type of wheat berries. Here is more info on choosing a wheat grinder and how to grind your own flour. Store wheat berries in a cool and dry location.
4. Honey. Honey is a non-perishable food. Raw honey is excellent for both eating, cooking, and medicinal purposes. You can make a ginger infused honey for medicinal purposes during cold and flu season. Honey can also be used as antibiotic for wounds and to help with allergies. Honey is excellent for baking and what I use in my whole wheat buttermilk sandwich bread. If honey hardens or forms crystals, simply place it in hot water. Plus, honey just plain tastes good. I love to swirl it in my coffee. Store honey out of direct sunlight.
5. Sugar. Sugar is needed in baking and also canning homemade jams and jellies. However, I don’t use regular processed white sugar. I use organic evaporated cane juice and all of my jam and jelly recipes use about a 1/4 amounts of sugar compared to regular recipes. I’d recommend about 40 pounds of sugar for the year, depending upon how much baking and preserving you do. Store sugar in a dry place in a pest proof container. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go…. oh, we’re not singing, okay.
6. Beans. (You knew this would be on my list, right?) Dried beans are not only inexpensive, easy to store, and have nutritional value, but they can also be your seed to plant in spring for a renewable food source. You need to make sure and have heirloom seed (non-hybridized bean seed) in order for this to work. Here’s my info on seed saving and heirloom gardening. Beans can be used in multiple dishes. I make this easy and frugal bean and ham soup and these 10 minute refried beans. They can also serve as your vegetable if you run out of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Beans should be stored in a dark, cool, and dry place.
7. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is inexpensive and can be used for cereal, in baked goods, or even ground up into a flour. It contains fiber and is easy to flavor with seasonal fruits and spices. We have oatmeal for breakfast at least once a week, if not more. Cinnamon, a pat of butter, and a smidgen of sugar is excellent. We add peaches, blueberries, raisins, and other fruits as they come on in season. I also make agluten-free homemade chocolate chip oatmeal bar. Store oatmeal in a dry place.
8. Coffee. Most of us do not have a source of coffee available to us other than purchasing it. If you’re a tea drinker, then stock up on your teas. But I am a coffee lover. While we could live without coffee, I’d rather have it on hand. Does anyone else just open the canister of coffee and take a big whiff? Whole coffee beans will store much longer than ground coffee. Coffee will also be a wonderful item to have on hand for bartering if goods become scarce. Make sure you have a way to grind the coffee beans such as this off grid manual hand crank coffee grinder. Coffee beans should be stored in a dry and dark area.
Bonus food #9. Chocolate. I realize we don’t need chocolate to survive technically, but really, for the sanity of everyone, chocolate is on my list of must have foods to store. Seriously, contemplate a world without stores and the power of chocolate when you haven’t had any in hours, days, weeks… yea, you’re with me now aren’t ya?
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