This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by Sioux0624
I have noticed that a lot of people storing food are setting themselves up for problems down the road because they won’t be able to prepare and eat what they stored. One neighbor proudly stated that she had 400 pounds of wheat stored. I asked what she would do with it if she had to get it out and use it tonight. She had no idea. She had no clue how to grind, pop or sprout wheat. She knows how to make bread but admitted she has not stored yeast, salt, honey or other items to make bread. She doesn’t even have a grinder to make flour, so is ill prepared to make bread even if she did have all the ingredients. Hopefully she can smash wheat with a hammer and whip up some rough tortillas (assuming she has shortening and salt).
People who store rice must cook it in water, but have they stored water or can they purify water found locally? How about having bouillon, herbs, soups, spices, and other things to mix with the rice? How many bowls of unflavored white rice will family members want to eat every week?
For preppers, the “basic foods” are wheat, rice, beans, dried milk and honey/sugar, but a lot more is needed to make those things pleasantly edible. If you’re stuck on storing just the basics and then calling yourself “prepared,” you are falling way short of actually being prepared. Here are some steps to nudge you up a level:
1) Purchase a food storage cookbook or visit food storage websites and print their recipes. You can purchase used books online at various sites. Some great food storage retail websites with recipes include: beprepared.com, shelfreliance.com, honeyvillegrain.com, augasonfarms.com, and waltonfeed.com. You can type “food storage recipes” in a general internet search – I’ve found entire recipe booklets online to print out. Youtube.com has many videos for recipes and food storage – just type in the key words and you’ll learn something new in no time.
2) Practice cooking ahead of time! Learn to prepare basic stored foods now so you’re prepared later, plus it helps your family get their stomachs and bowels used to the food. Grind wheat and make bread, soak wheat and make cereal, sprout some wheat and make a salad, pop wheat for a snack. Fix rice/beans without fresh meat, fresh produce, fresh dairy or frozen foods. Use dried milk to make condensed milk, yogurt, buttermilk, pudding and whatever you want in the future if grocery stores are no longer an option.
3) As you experiment and gather recipes, you’ll learn which herbs, spices, flavorings, dried or freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, and other cooking and baking items you’ll need. Start storing them as religiously as you store the basic foods.
4) Store non-vital but coveted condiments as well, such as catsup, mustard, mayo, soy sauce, salad dressings, Worcestershire, tomato sauce/paste, cream soups and other items you use in cooking and serving. More extras to add to your storage would include powdered versions of sour cream, butter, eggs and margarine. Cheese is sold in cans and in freeze-dried form, as is meat (save your pennies – the stuff isn’t cheap!).
5) As always, rotate what you store. Wheat and rice may last almost forever, but herbs, spices, soups, condiments and other foods should be used and replaced.
6) When purchasing storage foods, getting smaller cans (not the #10 cans) may be better because once you open a can, you have so many weeks or months to use up the contents before they aren’t so fresh any more. How fast would you use up a #10 can of baking powder or powdered egg whites? Freeze-dried fruits don’t last a long time in any humidity once a can is opened. Plan ahead and purchase smaller sizes if the contents won’t be used very quickly or you’ll be wasting a lot of your hard-earned purchases.
In times of trouble and need, those who are truly prepared will be better off than those who store the basics and consider the job done. Here are some examples of BASIC versus PREPARED when it comes to what foods you have stored:
BASIC BREAKFAST: Wheat cereal with honey.
PREPARED BREAKFAST: Wheat cereal with raisins or other dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, powdered milk, and some homemade bread and jam.
BASIC LUNCH: A bowl of unflavored white rice.
PREPARED LUNCH: Rice pilaf with corn, peas, carrots and onion, along with some reconstituted fruit on the side. (Cook extra rice and make rice pudding for later!).
BASIC DINNER: A small plate of bland beans, perhaps flatbread or a tortilla, and a cup of powdered milk.
PREPARED DINNER: Stew with beans, freeze-dried beef chunks, and vegetables, served with reconstituted sour cream and shredded cheese on top. Side of cornbread and honey. Dessert of cobbler made from freeze-dried peaches or dehydrated apple slices, biscuit mix, cinnamon and some reconstituted whipping cream powder.
I applaud everyone who stores food and I agree we should have the suggested amounts stored of the basics – and don’t forget a grinder. But let’s go beyond that so the food will not be something we dread eating. There is a chasm of difference between just STORING FOOD and actually BEING PREPARED. A good daily meal will do more to hold you and your family together in a disaster or time of need than eating a bowl of beans or rice for every meal, every day.
I’ll end with a question – the same one I asked my friend. If a disaster happens tonight and you have to make your family’s next meal with stored wheat (or beans or rice), what will you do with it?
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:
First Prize) Winner will receive a Stealth Body Armor Level II vest courtesy of SafeGuard ARMOR™ LLC and a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com A total prize value of over $600.
Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution” A total prize value of $28.
Contest ends on June 5 2012.