You Don’t Have to Be a Gourmet Chef to Cook With Food Storage

One of the most common food storage questions, readers ask me, is “what do we do with all those grains and beans you suggest we store in our pantry”. This is a good question and one that I’m sure has been asked by many while facing their buckets of grains and wondering what to do next.

To be honest, when I started doing this, I asked the same, but with the help of several  good books, recipes and a bit of trial and error, I can now whip up a tasty meal from what most people, would think was a bucket of horse feed. It’s not at all difficult, so don’t be intimidated (or afraid to throw out a botched batch of whatever you are making) all you have to do is start.

This is the main reason (aside from saving money) that I stress that you need to use what you store, so you can learn and know how to use what you have when needed. Never stockpile and think you’ll learn what to do with it “when you have to” do it now… You’ll gain confidence and a valuable skill.

Before listing my five favorite recipes here, I would like to suggest three books, that I think will be a great help to you when learning how to use and prepare these basic foods.

The first book is “How to live on wheat” by John Hill this is a great book that I reviewed here. The other two books are by Peggy Layton Cookin’ With Beans and Rice and Cookin’ with Home Storage, these three books will help answer any questions you have about using basic foods from your pantry and are loaded with recipes that you can use in your kitchen.

Below are five of my favorite recipes  using foods from my food storage…

Cooked Pinto Beans

  • 2 cups of beans
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of lard (you can make your own lard)

Sort beans, wash and soak overnight. Beans can be cooked on the stove top, over an open fire or in a Crock-Pot or pressure cooker. Mix everything in an appropriately sized cooker and cook over heat until soft.
If I am going to be home all day I prefer the open fire, gives the beans a unique taste not found with the other methods. The fastest and most convenient way to cook pinto beans is with a pressure cooker.

Pinto Bean Cakes

  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Press beans into a paste with a fork and add cornmeal, salt, flour and chili powder. Stir well. Add the chopped onion and mix until well blended. If the mixture is too dry, thin it with bean juice or a small amount of water. Heat a skillet and grease it with bacon drippings, lard or cooking oil. When the pan is hot, drop in the bean mixture by the spoonful and press each bean cake flat with a spoon or spatula. Brown and serve.

Corn and Bean Pone

Grind ½ cup of whole corn and ½ cup of pinto beans to the consistency of flour, combine in a bowl mixing well, add one teaspoon of salt and gradually add ¾ cup of boiling water. Melt enough lard to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of grease, after the pan is greased, pour the mixture into the pan and blend with the grease.

The mix shouldn’t stand more than an inch thick in the pan to start, rising very little during preparation. (To make it rise like cornbread add two teaspoons of baking powder.) Bake at 350 degrees until done. The pone will develop a brown crunchy crust when done. This can also be fried on the stove top, like pancakes. I like to chop up a batch of wild onion and mix with the batter before baking this adds flavor and texture. Also makes a makes a good breakfast – for breakfast don’t add the onions and instead cover with maple syrup or add a little honey.

Wheat Sprouts

Soak wheat in warm water for 24 hours, drain and pour the wheat into a large jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with a thin cloth or screen – sprouting wheat needs oxygen so be sure it can “breathe”.  Flood the jar three or four times a day, draining off any remaining liquid each time.

The wheat will start to sprout in about two-five days depending on the surrounding temperatures – when the sprouts have grown to 1/4 – 1 inch in length they can be used. The sprouts can be eaten raw or dried and ground into a flour then added to recipes and bread. Drying reduces the vitamin content, so I prefer to eat the sprouts fresh.

With sprouts, you can have fresh greens even in winter and they only cost cents per pound. Besides sprouting wheat you can also sprout other seeds and legumes such as sunflower, buckwheat, soybeans, mung beans, alfalfa, clover etcetera.

One of my favorite sprout recipes is from the afore mention “How to live on wheat”  is cooked sprout cereal you’ll need, 4 cups freshly sprouted wheat, cook the sprouts for a few minutes or until they are soft. Add to a large bowl and add salt and honey to taste and cover with warm milk. Makes a nutritious breakfast or midday snack.

Simple Sourdough Bread

To make simple sourdough bread mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sourdough batter
  • ½ cup legume protein complement
  • 1 tsp salt

Knead dough thoroughly and allow to rise to about twice its original height. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until done.

Have you tried preparing food from your food storage? What worked best for you? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments.


  1. I just ordered a 2 liter pressure cooker. I’m gonna try that method with my stored beans.

    • Anonamo Also says:

      BC I have found that the beans get tender, faster if you wait to the end ot season, salt them…We like to make a rue with garlic, bullion , flour and olive oil/coconut oil and add it to the beans to thicken and season…. Try the peruvian beans In hispanic sections of big stores…. Soooo good.

    • JP in MT says:


      That might get you on another watch list…..

      • No We Didn't says:

        is there a limit to how many lists one can be on?

        • JP in MT says:

          I’m not sure. Some time ago there was an article with something like 72 standards of belief or organizations you are members of that could get you on a watch list. Since I don’t join many organizations I only “hit” on 50.

      • Would you believe I’m typing this from the juror pool at the court house. Even with surgery tomorrow they wouldn’t let me out if it.

        • JP in MT says:


          Yes I do. I was on the jury for a case where someone injured themselves fatally buy trying to go over an obviously damaged sidewalk at 80+ years old. When asked I explained my feelings on personal responsibility, my political party affiliations, and my status as retired military. I was still picked; #2! I still have no idea what they were thinking.

  2. Lantana says:

    The article mentions lard, can anyone speak to its shelf life when refrigerated?

    Any ideas for ways to use lard that’s too old to eat? All I know of is soap, but that doesn’t seem ideal since skin absorbs some of what you use on it.

    MD, the “make your own lard” link just goes to the home page.

    • Anonamo Also says:

      Lard,..Canned, …put in dry sterilized jars with sterilized lids…Friend said she keeps hers at least two years cool and dry..
      Candles/? heating up food? by putting cotton strip in it supported with a pc if wire…Might make one hungry, could change scent some with essential oil tomake less offensive… or put tea tree oil and citronella in and burn for mosquito repellant…

    • I am not sure how long it is edible, but lard is stored on the shelf at the grocery store…should last longer than Crisco by my way of thinking…

      Lard soap is wonderful!!! And lasts a lot longer than store bought–I got some from a friend who made it with grocery store lard.

  3. JP in MT says:

    Last night we had a church group meeting with which we have a meal. My DW wanted to bring soup and I made bread for it. She used Bear Creak Cheesy potato soup mix, added dehydrated potato shreds and FD bacon bits. The bread was made with local honey and butter, and I fresh ground the wheat. We didn’t have any leftovers. (plus there were 3 different deserts, each serving of which was enough calories for a normal meal!)

    My point was every one loved her soup, and it only took about 15 minutes to put everything together and cook, they let is stay warm in a crockpot. Any it all came right off the pantry shelves.

  4. mom of three says:

    Yes, I do cook with what we store beans and rice are so yummy! I would like a grain grinder, but so far I’ve had to dream. I’m going to start to can the different flour, put it away I don’t have a lot of extra room for wheat, but I can squeeze some room for canned flour. Our store started to carry the flour from Wheat Montana, it’s $4.99 for a five pound bag a bit spendy but I feel better at having it than my 25 pound flour for $ 8.99, my daughter feels better when I use the non GMO flours.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      Look for grain grinders at garage sales. I have found 3 of them this way. One of them being a Magic Mill grinder for $2.00 that works great. I think I smiled for an hour when I bought it…

  5. Along with lots of different beans, rice and flour my dw stores box’s of spices, one of the large super markets 50 miles away has a institutional food section where everything is in bulk, we check it out on a regular basis. The only difference between bland and tasty is spices.

  6. Before we put a lot of money into food storage, we bought the starter kit from the local LDS outlet to see what we would actually use. I don’t see it listed on the website at the moment (odd).

    Neither of us had cooked with dry beans before, so I was a bit dubious. Turned out that even I could make good food with them. Fancy that. We stocked up on white rice, pinto beans, and quick oats, which I like because I don’t bother to cook them: just add cold milk, fruit, and let them sit a couple or three minutes. No need to use up any fuel unless one wants to.

    Since the LDS #10 cans are packed for about 25 year shelf life, we don’t use them in normal cooking, but they are the same as what we do use. That way there would be no transition stress from normal foods to emergency storage food: they are the same thing.

    Our favorite pinto bean recipe, which brings jaded teenagers in from other rooms shouting “YOWZAA!” and begging for more:

    Pinto Beans Mexicana

    2 cups dried pinto beans
    2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
    2 12 ounce Portuguese sausages, sliced lengthwise and cut bite size
    1 onion, any color handy, we’re not prejudiced, chopped
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 bulb of garlic, chopped, or a couple teaspoons of garlic powder
    red pepper flakes, a dash, if you like spicy. If not, don’t. I won’t report you.
    1 big bunch fresh cilantro, chopped


    Soak the beans overnight. Or not, if you don’t feel like it or it’s already 2:00 PM and you just now decided to make it for dinner. It may add a little cooking time, but not much. Like about 16 seconds. Don’t sweat it: Overnight soaking is a chronologically gifted spouse’s oral tradition. If you don’t believe Good Ol’ Penrod, try it yerself. The world as we know it may come to a grinding halt, but it won’t be because you failed to soak the beans.

    Drain beans if you soaked them, and barely cover with water -dry beans may take a wee bit more water, but don’t worry: the other ingredients provide plenty of liquid: you really can’t screw up; add diced tomatoes, sausage, onion, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.

    Bring to a boil then simmer for 3 hours, more or less.

    Stir in the cilantro and simmer until beans are soft: maybe another hour but probably less.

    You can serve this by itself, over rice, or with corn bread.

    Portuguese sausage seems to be a Hawaiian thing, but they are descended from Portuguese smoked pork sausages. Basically any spicy sausage should work fine. Google ’Portuguese sausage’ for more info.

    It takes a fair bit of cilantro to make an impression, but you don’t need it. If we have it, we use it. If we don’t, we don’t. Sweateth not thy brow.

    If you are careful about stirring, you can double this recipe in an 8 quart stock pot, especially if you don’t use giant onions. One and a half times is easy. We freeze the extra in serving size portions.

    Flameless Cooking: From time to time I will get the whole concoction good and hot -say bubbling for 15-20 minutes to be sure everything is hot through- then wrap it up in a big comforter, with a pillow underneath and another on top, all held together with a towel, and let it cook without fire. After four hours it should still be steaming, and done.

    This is a good way to do it if you are short on fuel or…um…forgot that you had to take yer spouse to something or ‘nuther and didn’t want to leave the stove on. Not that I would know about such a situation, mind you, but I have read that that happens to people.

    • PS: You can make this without the sausage, but it is a lot less flavorful. I’d probably add quite a bit more garlic and some paprika as those seem to be the major spices in Portuguese sausage.

    • The Portuguese sausage is called “Linguica”. It’s hard to find in some states. Hawaii and California have it . It is great stuff.

      • Hi Garmo, yep. It really is great stuff. I think chorizo is similar, as well. Actually, I think chorizo and linguica both are a bit softer than proper Hawaiian Portogee Sausage as it is called here, but for our purposes I don’t think the difference matters. I don’t think I’d substitute liverwurst, tho.

        I look at most recipes as recommendations for starting points. No need to obsess about the details. So long as one doesn’t poison the entire family things will likely be OK. This recipe would probably be fine with ground beef, but I’d probably want to add some spices.

    • There is a third(or hundred and third) way to fast cook beans; If you cover them well with water in a large pan and bring to a boil–I add baking soda or vinegar to this water to reduce gas–then leave covered on the stove top for an hour, then drain and cover and cook as for soaked beans. But it does take twice the energy to heat them twice.

      My recent favorite way to cook beans is to sprout them for three days first, covered with water and changed twice a day–I use an easy sprout for one cup of pintos– then cook as regular. No gas, sweet and very tasty. Got the idea from someone on the web–do not know who or I would give them credit. My DH said they are the best beans he has ever had!!!

  7. AK Grandma PJ says:

    Is the “legume protein complement” in the Sourdough Bread recipe just bean flour? If it is not, what is it?

  8. tommy2rs says:

    There’s also refritos, aka refried beans, that can be mixed with eggs and topped with salsa or hot sauce or rolled in a tortilla with grated cheese (you do have Bega canned cheddar cheese stocked right?) for bean and cheese tacos, mixed with mexican chorizo and cheese for tacos. You can easily make chorizo with any meat, the trick is in letting the meat soak in vinegar before adding spices to get that distinctive flavor. No meat grinder? Just put it in a shallow bowl and use two knives to mince it fine by drawing the two knives across it (one in each hand) over and over until it’s minced fine.

    For dessert there’s pinto bean pie, this one starts with canned pinto beans but I use fresh cooked instead:

    Pinto Bean Pie

    1/2 cup hot pinto beans
    1/2 cup melted butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup coconut
    2 eggs
    1 9 in unbaked pie shell

    Heat the beans till they are hot – not boiling. Drain juice from beans and mash. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

    Just in case there’s no ice water around to make a pie crust

    Water Whipped Pie Crust

    3/4 cup shortening (not butter, margarine or oil)
    at room temperature
    1/4 cup boiling water
    1 tablespoon milk
    2 cups, sifted, all purpose flour (whole wheat works fine)
    1 teaspoon salt

    Put shortening in bowl add water, milk. Whip with mixer (whisk or manual egg beater) till light and fluffy, like whipped cream. Sift in flour and salt. Stir till dough cleans bowl and then divide in half. Roll on cloth covered board or between sheets of wax paper.

    makes 1 8 or 9 ” two crust pie or 2 pie shells or 8 medium tarts.

    For deep dish pie;
    Use 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon shortening, 3 tablespoons boiling water, 1 teaspoon milk 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

    There’s also recipes for cornmeal pie crusts out there.
    For cornbread without an oven, double plus because its pan fried…. 😉

    Hot Water Cornbread

    2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon bacon drippings
    boiling water
    shortening or drippings

    Mix cornmeal, salt, bacon drippings, and just enough boiling water to make a stiff batter that can be shaped.

    Pat the dough into thin cakes. Heat shortening in a heavy skillet. Brown cakes in hot fat on both sides.
    Makes about 8 corn cakes.

    Good with some added chopped wild onion and wild garlic (or other herbs to taste) as well.

  9. Maud'Dib says:

    I have made beans in many ways from Refried to soups. One of the most tasty ways is to brown up a batch of bacon and onions…then add the cooked drained Pinto Beans to the mix. Stir while gently heating until beans break down and the bacon/onions get mixed through. Make sure you keep the bacon fat in the pot as well as that flavors the beans…Make some fresh tortillas from Masa Harina and you have a low cost very good meal.

    An easy soup consists of chicken broth… beans bacon and onion.

    Heat up cooked beans in some good chicken broth.
    Blend with stick blender until beans are incorporated.
    Add more or less beans to suit your desired thickness…
    Add chopped cooked bacon and onions
    Done in about ten minutes.

  10. test dummy says:

    we eat beans at least once a week. my favorite way is to brown up some cheap bacon end pieces add pre soahed beans, water to cover, onion ,cumin,garlic,chilli powder,green pepperand salt and pepper. cook on the stove in a heavy pot on low with lid slightly ajar. serve with rice or cornbred. leftovers can be added to scrambledeggs add some canned greens and cheese on a tortilla and you have some good eating. oh dont go light on the hot sauce!

  11. Chuck Findlay says:

    I want a good book about cooking beans, but I want something with recipes that won’t burn the roof of my mouth off. Does “Peggy Layton Cookin’ With Beans and Rice” have some mild recipes that are somewhat mild as far as being spicy? And how good of a book is it? I have one of her other books and like it.

    And what other bean cook books do you recommend?