When I went into town the other day, gas was 14 cents a gallon more than it had been the previous week. 14 cents! That is a huge jump in a short amount of time. I was reviewing some of my grocery receipts and in just a few months time, many of the regular items we purchase have went up. Coffee (which I know I should quit but have yet to do) increases almost every time I’m in the store. Peanut butter is another item doing the same thing. My trusty bags of beans from Azure Standard also continue to increase. Where will it stop? I hate to think that it could just go up, up, up.
One way to help with these cost increases is to only buy the food at a price that you are comfortable paying. That is not easy these days! But I do believe bargains are still out there. Finding these bargains and building up your food storage is an excellent hedge against inflation. Even if you start now you will be money ahead as items continue to increase. And yes, I do believe they will continue to increase or at the very least prices will remain where they are.
Recently, I shared an article 8 Ways to Increase Your Food Storage- Real Food Style. As I was writing that article, it became obvious to me that I could share many more than 8 ways. I needed to share many more. But in order to write an article and not a book, I stuck with just 8 ways.
Today, I’m going to share 7 MORE Ways to Increase Your Food Storage- Real Food Style. I’m sticking with just 7 ways this time, even though that number could, once again, be much larger.
If you have not yet read the original post 8 Ways to Increase Your Food Storage- Real Food Style, you should probably do that. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Okay, are you back? Good.
In the original post the focus was not only what to put in your food storage but how to cut costs to afford food storage. I know that the cost of buying things in bulk can be overwhelming to people so figuring out ways to afford the food storage is important. As a quick recap a couple of things I mentioned that we do is eat beans. Most weeks, we have beans for three dinners and leftovers for lunches. Yes, that is a lot of beans. No, we don’t really have ‘those’ issues that beans cause. Properly prepared through soaking and/or sprouting the notorious musical fruit issue is eliminated or at the very least, reduced. By eating beans, we are able to afford higher quality ingredients in our every day meals and still designate some of our food dollars to food storage. Another thing we have really been focusing on is reducing food waste. This means eating leftovers or turning leftovers into other meals. In my eBook, Design a Dish, I offer some suggestions on using leftovers in new ways.
If you were to eat beans for one dinner a week and eat leftovers for a second dinner, how much would that savings allow you to put toward food storage? Something to think about. My first suggestion is another way to free up your hard earned cash in order to apply it toward food storage.
I have actually already mentioned this and I suspect that you are already doing this. A Stretchy Meal is taking one dish and turning it into two or three dishes. One example is a roasted chicken. The first night you have wonderful roasted chicken with all of the sides then for lunch the next day you might take a chicken salad sandwich. That is a Stretchy Meal. My money saving proposal is to think about all of the meals you create in the terms of Stretchy Meals. Yes, that might mean turning that roasted chicken into not just the main dish for one night but three nights. Or it might mean making one big pot of beans and turning it into three different main dish meals. One big thing that is going to be important to help make this happen is to take that original roasted chicken and use it to the full extent. The bones from that chicken are turned into broth and the broth is used as the liquid for cooking the beans and in several meals during the week.
Once you get the general feel for Stretchy Meals, it becomes quite easy and you will really notice that your food budget has more room. One (free-range) chicken, 2 pounds of beans and 2 dozen eggs can be the basis for dinners and most lunches for my family of 5 for a week. Yes, we have to add in other things to round the meals out but usually the higher cost items are your protein items. Other items that work as Stretchy Meals are roasts and ground meats but keep in mind that you really want to make sure you have a source of bones. The bone broth is going to be essential to allow you to consume meat less often and still maintain excellent health. I actually love this style of cooking not just for the cost savings, I also find it to be quite time saving and sanity saving. I can easily put a menu plan together knowing I’m going to be having a chicken or roast one night, a casserole (made out of meat leftovers) the second night, bean dishes the next 3 nights, leftovers the next night and a simple bone broth based soup or stew the final night.
Once again, the money that you save by adding in Stretchy Meals gets put toward food storage. You don’t have to be this frugal forever (although you too might discover you like this style of cooking) but while you are building your food storage, freeing up money to put toward food storage may be necessary.
I really hated leaving this one off of the first list. Sprouts are a super important component to my food storage plan. Not only those cute little radish or broccoli sprouts for putting on salads but also grains and legumes. One item that many people add to their food storage is wheat. Not flour but whole berries (obviously, if you can’t consume wheat this is not a good thing to put into your food storage. Store what you eat and eat what you store). Staring at a big sack of wheat berries you might start wondering how in the world you are going to make that much bread. And considering that the recommended storage of wheat is 150 pounds per person that is a lot of wheat! One alternative to making a bunch of bread with wheat is sprouting it.
Sprouting the wheat is an excellent way to reduce the Phytic acid and other anti-nutrients plus it produces an almost entirely new product. I love the end results of sprouted wheat. It is excellent to use in salads, stir-frys and even for making bread or cake. Sprouting also changes the nutritional component of wheat. The same wheat that you sprout can also be turned into wheat grass to end up with something completely different. While I haven’t actually used wheat grass in the kitchen, my chickens and cats sure do like it! Wheat isn’t the only thing that sprouts great. We sprout many of our beans. Once again, sprouting beans creates a different product than a regular soaked or cooked bean. We love sprouted legume (lentil, pea, garbanzo) salads. Here is a terrific article from KerryAnn at Cooking Traditional Foods on why she no longer soaks beans.
Sprouting doesn’t really require special equipment. For the smaller sprouts like radishes, you are starting with a super small seed so you want something that will contain that. I have a couple of sprouting screens. One that fits a wide mouth jar and one for a regular mouth made for me by a friend. These work well. You soak your seeds in the the jar and then after soaking just put on the screen and drain. Very easy. I’ve read that it is possible to use old pantyhose as your sprouting screen. I’ve never tried it since I chucked all of those uncomfortable things when I stopped working in an office. But it may work. For the larger items like beans, I soak them in a bowl and then drain in a colander. The colander then becomes my sprouting vessel. Of course, there are many other sprouting options that are worth looking into. We find sprouting to be such an easy thing to do, that we even sprouted last summer on our vacation! It is an easy way to continue to provide real food while on the road.
Along with sprouting, this is an important part of my food storage plan. We already talked about all that wheat that is a recommended component to food storage. Sprouting it will work great but you really may want to turn some of it into bread. Sourdough bread is my choice. Not only does it taste great and the health benefits of sourdough far surpass yeast style breads but sourdough is a smart idea for food storage. You can store commercially available yeast but to keep it performing at it’s optimum it should be kept in the refrigerator. Plus once the yeast is gone, it’s gone. On the other hand, if you have a sourdough starter as long as you have something to feed it with (some sort of flour and water) you can keep it reproducing. Have you read the book Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer? It is a book directed toward teens about life after an asteroid (or was it a meteor? I forget) collides with the moon. In the story, the mom starts making bread with a few packages of yeast she found in the pantry. They are all extremely happy with this bread until the yeast runs out. She still has flour but since she is out of yeast (and apparently doesn’t know how to catch live yeast to make a sourdough starter) the happy days of bread of over.
Learning how to work with sourdough can really broaden a person’s food options. Not only do we make loaves of bread out of sourdough we make flatbread, pancakes, waffles, crepes, tortilla,cakes and many other things. Having a variety of options to fill hungry tummies is nice. Plus, if you are gluten free, you can even learn to do gluten free sourdough items!
Sourdough really requires no special equipment different from your regular baking items. The basis of sourdough is a sourdough starter. You can create your own starter with just flour, water and time, you can purchase a sourdough starter, or you can get a free starter from a friend or Carl’s Friends. Once you have your sourdough starter, you are ready to experiment. A quick Internet (Swagbucks) search will yield several recipes (I linked 4 above for you). Of course, if you really want to learn about sourdough, I highly recommend the Sourdough eCourse or Sourdough A to Z eBook both from GNOWFGLINS. I thought I knew a fair amount about sourdough but the eCourse taught me so much more! Something to think about… Those wheat berries won’t grind themselves into flour. An electric grinder is wonderful but what if there is a power outage? You may wish to consider a manual grinder. We have this very simple grain mill. It takes a bit of muscle to work it but it is not too bad. Plus will your oven/stove work if an event has occured the knocks the power out? If not, an alternate cooking source should also be considered. We’re planning to add a solar oven to our cooking supplies in the near future.
Spice it Up!
We have made a point of adding a variety of seasonings and spices to our food storage. I already mentioned the importance of salt in the previous post but it bears repeating. You want to store salt. Sea Salt. Your body requires salt plus it makes things taste good. After salt think about the basic things you use each day. Pepper, I’m sure, immediately comes to mind. When I was thinking about spices to add to storage I made a list of the meals we love and specifically looked at the seasonings added. We love Butterscotch Rice. This is a yummy breakfast, snack, or dessert made with brown rice. For seasoning it uses cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. If I want to make Butterscotch Rice, I’ll want to store these three seasonings.
Having a variety of different flavors will go a long ways toward enhancing your everyday meals. The Stretchy Meals we talked about earlier, rely on different seasonings. I can take one pot of beans and turn it into three entirely different style meals just by changing the seasonings. I’ve read about appetite fatigue which is the belief that people will refuse to eat even when hungry. They just can’t stand the idea or taste of the same thing day after day. I don’t kow if this is a real thing but I choose to error on the side of caution and keep a variety of spices and seasonings.
The cost of adding seasonings and spices to your food storage varies depending on the seasoning. Some are relatively inexpensive while some are extremely high. I was looking at one spice I wanted to add and the price was something like $40 a pound! I choose not to add that spice at this time. I usually get my spices from Azure Standard since I can get quantities of 4 ounces to 1 pound. I started with what I considered the basics; salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, powdered garlic and curry powder. I’ve added more variety since then and actually have many more spices that I would now consider basics. 🙂
Variety, Variety, Variety!
Just like having a variety of spices on hand can help to keep your meals interesting, you want to keep a variety of food items. I’ve read that people will buy only one item, such as a years supply of wheat, and then not add any other food storage until the money comes in again. What happens if you need to live on your food storage before you can add to that wheat? While we’ve already talked about some great uses for wheat you need other items to make that wheat palatable day in a day out.
Remember before when we looked a the Butterscotch Rice recipe? I did something similar when first getting serious about food storage. I made a list of 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners that we enjoyed. I then listed out the ingredients in each dish to determine what I would need to store to make those 21 dishes. Looking again at Butterscotch Rice, I would want to store the seasonings, brown rice, honey and molasses. All of these ingredients store great! However, the dish also calls for milk and eggs. The eggs should be okay since I have laying hens but we don’t have a milk cow in our backyard so… I need a milk substitute. I’m not comfortable with adding dry milk to our food storage because of the way it is processed. My milk substitute would be coconut milk either in cans or powdered (I like to keep both). I also know that in this recipe, I can substitute water for half of the milk/coconut milk with no ill effects or I can make it strictly with water for a slightly less rich but still delicious dish. Experimenting with different ways of making your favorite recipes now could become helpful in the future.
Storing a variety of items as opposed to concentrating on one category should not increase your food storage costs, in fact you may save money. For our family, we may buy more of a certain item that we know we will store when we can get it at a great price but we do still try to maintain a variety in order to be able to prepare actual meals. My 13 Week Menu Plan is a reflection of how we have been concentrating on our food storage. We figured out several meals focusing on one item, say pinto beans, and then made sure that we had all of the ingredients necessary to prepare those pinto bean meals. Ideally, I wanted to be able to have a 13 Week Rotating Menu Plan that could be the basis for an entire years worth of meals and a food storage guideline. It hasn’t quite evolved to that at this time but that is still the goal.
Water, Water, Water!
No food storage system is complete without thinking about water. I know, you turn on the tap and there it is. What is there to think about? In December of 2007, my family lived in the Pacific Northwest. One Sunday, our power went out. It stayed out until Friday. In fact, almost everyone in the county we lived was without power for at least part of that time. We had a series of severe wind storms that knocked down trees and took out power lines. The town nearest to us had many windows blown out. The grocery stores were only open for people with cash and only certain isles. The gas stations were not operating. And many people were without water either due to being on a personal well system or a malfunction of their public water system. Turning on the tap didn’t work for these people.
How much water should you store? According to FEMA, a 3 day supply of 1 gallon per person per day. This preparedness blogger recommends one gallon per person per day for an entire year. I guess somewhere between 3 and 365 days sounds about right. 🙂 We approach water storage by thinking about what our goals are. Example: if your storage goals are strictly as a hedge fund against inflation then perhaps the FEMA recommendation is adequate. Same if we are looking toward food storage strictly in case of loss of employment. If you live somewhere that a storm could knock the power out for a week (or more) and your water supply along with it, then you might wish to take that into consideration.
The cost of adding water to your storage is relatively inexpensive. The FEMA link offers water storage suggestions that are worth looking at. If you buy containers (such as the one in the picture) to store your water in, then you need to take that cost into consideration.
And Finally #7
Whew. This is a hard one. There are so many more ideas that come to mind on ways to build/increase food storage. In fact, I couldn’t decide on #7 -really #15 if you take the previous article into account. So I’m leaving it up to you. What would you add to your Real Food Storage?
This could be actual products/foods, a method (such as sprouting or sourdough mentioned above), or maybe you think more long term and look at food storage as an interim item while you strive for self-sufficiency (check out this great eBook from my friend Jill, Your Custom Homestead, to learn how to homestead where you live today). Or any suggestion you have for building up food storage.
Before I turn it over to your recommendations, I want to leave you with a great link. KerryAnn at Cooking Traditional Food really knows food storage. Her family lived on theirs for 11 months during an unemployment situation. She has this great post that outlines a 90-day food storage plan for a family of 4.
So how about it? What do you suggest for #7?
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