A guest post by Gayle from Gainesville
[This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win - First Prize a 10 Person Deluxe Family Survival Kit, Second Prize an Herb Seed Bank or Third Prize a copy of Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat. For complete rules and list of prizes see this post.]
Formulating a workable food storage plan seems such a daunting task. We have all seen the online food storage calculators—that we should all have X amount of wheat, X amount of rice, X amount of beans, and X amount of dried milk per person.
But what can you really make from these staples? Bead, well yes. Beans and rice, well, yes. But this seems so bland. And the recommendation to store spices is a great idea, but spices can only do so much. None of this is enough.
Beans and rice with homemade bread is good eating, but not for every meal. I want to go beyond the minimal recommendations suggested by the food storage calculators. And it is important to emphasize that the food storage calculators represent a basic minimum for survival. I don’t want my family just to survive. I want them to flourish. I want them to sit down for dinner and feel satisfied.
What I have been searching for is a systematic approach to meal planning using shelf stable foods. I don’t just want a year’s supply of wheat for my family, a year’s supply of rice, a year’s supply of beans. I want enough supplies on hand that I can prepare meals for an entire year. One solution would be to purchase a year’s supply of freeze-dried food. But the price tag for this option is prohibitively expensive and the nutrition questionable. So I needed an alternate strategy.
This week I read an interesting tidbit—that the average American family eats the same dozen or so meals over and over again, month after month. I thought this was odd but when I made a list of the dinners I fix most often, the list wasn’t that long. So that’s when it hit me. Instead of just storing staples, I should be storing ingredients for the meals I prepare most frequently.
The difference might seem trivial at least at first glance. But it’s actually very important. I want to be secure in the knowledge that my family can sit down to dinner and have something good to eat each night and that I don’t have to feed them the same thing over and over again. Eating the same thing every night would lead to food boredom, and as I am sure you all have read, during WWII people throughout Europe, especially France, starved to death while they had plenty of grains in their barns.
So my plan is to come up with at least ten meals I can prepare from shelf stable foods, and then to acquire enough of these foods to last for a year. I plan on interspersing these meals with dinners prepared using fresh foods. So one night we can have steak, sweet potato and salads; the next night we can have beef stroganoff made from shelf-stable foods.
Here is a list of meals that can be fixed from shelf stable foods. Some of these, like chili and cornbread, I prepare regularly using shelf-stable foods. Others, like beef stroganoff, will need a bit of testing to make them from shelf-stable foods. So here’s my list:
- Beef Stroganoff
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Chili with Cornbread
- Chicken Soup
- Red Beans and Rice
- Chicken Burritos with Refried Beans
- Tuna Casserole
- Ham and Scalloped Potato Casserole
- Shepherds Pie
- Pasta e Fagioli
My plan is to make a list of ingredients for each meal, and then multiply each ingredient for each recipe by 30. I figure that will give me roughly 300 meals. Since we eat off many of these dishes for several days, I will have a year’s worth of dinners.
To break this strategy down further, here is the ingredients list for Pasta e Fragioli:
1 cup red beans
1 cup white beans
1 pint canned ground beef
1 quart spaghetti sauce
1 pint stewed tomatoes
½ cup dehydrated onion
¾ cup dehydrated carrots
¾ cup dehydrated celery
2 cubes beef bullion
dash of oregano
dash of garlic
1 ½ cup elbow macaroni
So given this ingredient list, I can determine a one-years supply of this soup by multiplying each ingredient by 30. Once I do the same for the other meals, I will be well on my way to having a year’s supply of dinners for my family.
I aspire to have a year’s supply of dinners by the end of the year. (Once I am finished here, I will work on the breakfast menu. Right now, I have a six-month supply of cold cereal, oatmeal and pancakes. I will worry about lunch after that. But since dinner is the main meal of the day, that’s where I am starting.)
To implement this plan fully, I need ten good recipes. I consider the above as a rough draft. I would like to see what kinds of meals you all plan to prepare using shelf-stable foods.
Please post your recipe. I bet the Wolf Pack could come up with a great list of recipes. We could even publish a book, Cooking with the Wolf Pack. And M.D. could keep the royalties as payment for keeping this site up and running.
Much thanks M.D. Your service is appreciated.