Our first post on Real Food Storage got a good response from many of you. In the second part of this series, we’re going to look at what to buy as part of your real foods storage.
In deciding what to purchase, there are two ways of going about the decision making process. You can compile your own list or you can rely on a pre-made worksheet we created that you can customize to your families needs. The easiest option is to use a pre-made worksheet to compile the information for you. This spreadsheet was modified by Cooking Traditional Foods from a Simply Living Smart spreadsheet in a number of ways to be compatible for those who do traditional foods or have food allergies.
After looking at each individual section, you can choose to vary the numbers based on what you expect your family would normally eat, and you can easily add items that your family would need. Amounts for each item are calculated for you based on your family size and approximate intake, and you can customize in it many ways.
The items are suggestions or a guideline for a traditional foods, gluten-optional and casein-free diet including non-glutenous grains. I encourage you to sit down with your menus and customize this based on your family’s eating habits.
The other option is to compile your own spreadsheet. Get out your master shopping list, your menus from the last few months and your grocery receipts. Make a list of estimates of what your family would normally consume in one month of grains and flour, beans, vegetables, meats and staples such as spices, baking powder and salt. Include all meals and snacks that your family normally eats. Don’t forget to vary what you have stored based on the seasons and what you would normally consume throughout the year, including some special items for things such as holidays, birthdays and family gatherings.
Check Your Pantry
Go through your pantry and see what you have on hand and place that on your spreadsheet or subtract that from your list. Now you have an idea of what you need to get on hand. Multiply it out in order to get a list for three months. Do a similar list for each season to get a picture of what your family would consume in one year.
Begin by building one week of food storage on-hand. Then work your way up to three months. Then six and twelve months. Don’t go out and buy a year’s worth of beans and rice and have no seasonings, spices or salt on hand. If something were to happen such as an unexpected job loss, everyone in your family would throw a fit. They would be absolutely sick of beans and rice by the end of the first week, and you’d have a revolt on your hands.
Store What You Eat, Eat What You Store
No matter what the method you choose to compile your list and track what is on hand, you must follow the mantra, “Store what you eat and eat what you store.” Do not list items that your family would not eat under normal circumstances. If your children hate canned sardines, it is a waste of money to purchase some, ‘just in case,’ because they will never get used. You will wind up donating them to the local food pantry or feeding them to your cat after they have expired. It is much wiser to invest that money instead in a different food that fulfills the same need that you know your family will eat.
Items to Consider
Fat is critical. Fat is the most expensive food when resources are scarce. Fat is expensive and difficult to come by. It is also the most difficult to store, as meat can be salted, dried or canned if you can’t freeze it. Coconut milk and oil is a good source of fat. All coconut products are a good idea to store. I have had expeller-pressed coconut oil last two years. When my husband lost his job and we ate all of our food stores, I realized two weeks before he got a new job that the coconut oil we were able to finish up had been manufactured two years before. They are shelf-stable and coconut oil stores very well if kept cool. If you are able to get it, Spectrum palm shortening also stores well in cool conditions. If you have freezer space, butter can be frozen but it isn’t safe to leave out for more than a day or two or to can it.
A source of protein is critical. Consider freezing meat. Consider canning meat if you are not opposed to canning. Storing protein in a non-animal form so that sources can be combined to provide a complete protein is a good supplement to animal products. Ideas include nut butters, nuts and beans.
Some items provide both protein and fat. Canned salmon can also be a good source of fat, and it also is a great source of protein. Eggs also meet both needs, if you are able to store them via waterglass, the freezer or you have hens.
Carbs are normally the easiest and cheapest source to come by. Having a variety of carbs on hand in the form of grains and storable vegetables are the best options. Be sure to get a variety of grains to avoid boredom.
Next time, we will discuss using your extra funds to gather what you need for one month of food storage by using bulk-buying strategies and purchasing items on sale. Once you have gathered enough for one month, then you can accumulate what you need on hand for 3 months, 6 months and one year as you are able.
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