Real Food and Food Storage

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The past few weeks I have been mentioning my 13 Week Rotating Menu Plan and food storage each week when I post my weekly menu plan.

Food storage is something that I have a slight obsession with. My obsession started before our real food journey did. Switching over to real food actually stalled my food storage obsession for awhile. I wasn’t sure how I could store the kinds of foods that were recommended for a real food kitchen.

Why my obsession with food storage?

I’ll be honest, I do not know what the future holds. We have been very fortunate that with the economy the way it has been the past few years we were not directly affected. But that is not to say that we will not be in the future. I’ve heard/read that the recession is over (I’ll be sure to mention that to many of my friends and family still in Oregon where unemployment is over 10%. I know people who have been unemployed or under employed for over a year) so maybe this isn’t something I should be concerned about. But if something did happen to Joe’s employment or mine it would be a huge comfort to know that we had food on hand and didn’t have to worry about squeezing groceries into our budget. I have other reasons for wanting food storage but that one is at the top of my list.

I’ll also admit that one of my food storage goals is to have as many shelf stable items as possible. Joe and I have a secret (well, I guess it is not a secret any longer) desire to be able to live off grid. I’ll admit that is a huge task considering we live on the high plains of Wyoming. But one step in that direction would be to not need to rely on refrigeration.

One of the rules for eating real food is only eat it if it will spoil. That is a totally opposite concept of having enough shelf stable food to last for 3, 6, 12 or more months on hand. Some of the items that we eat regularly are shelf stable such as beans, coconut oil, oats, and wheat berries. In our real food kitchen we don’t have many canned goods (I do have canned coconut milk, fish and a few cans of tomatoes on hand). Learning to preserve things myself is something I plan to do (I posted about that a last week) but will that be enough?

I’m not sure. I am so new to home preserving that I feel there will be a learning curve. And my choice may not be popular with some but I will be supplementing our home preserved items with a few more commercially canned goods. The possibility of my children having empty tummy’s outweighs my dislike for canned foods. In my rotating menu plan, I have an option for ‘canned’ side dishes or ingredients. I’ll stock those but use the fresh ingredients in my weekly meals. Most of us know that canned goods have an extremely long shelf like. I am comfortable keeping them on my shelf without using them daily. I do mark on the top of each can when I buy it the purchase date and keep the oldest to the front.

An example of this on my 13 week Rotating Menu Plan is Pinto Beans, Rice and Sauteed Greens (weeks 2 and 8). When this comes up on my menu (twice in 13 weeks) I’ll use fresh greens (Swiss Chard, kale, mustard, spinach or maybe even cabbage, whatever I pick up that week) but for my home store I will add canned greens. Since this comes up twice every 13 weeks that is 8 times in a year so I will store 8 cans of greens (these are available in similar varieties as fresh). I’m totally okay with that. As my home preserving abilities increase, I will swap these out for home canned or dehydrated greens. I should note that during the summer we usually do not have sauteed greens but a green salad instead since that seems more like a summer style meal.

Speaking of green salads, an off season salad option that we have been experimenting with is sprouting. So far we usually sprout things like broccoli or radish and add it to other salad style ingredients. I like the combo of apples, carrots and sprouts with a dressing (recipe here). Others (like Wardeh) sprout many different kinds of items and combine them together as a sprout salad. Our off season is very long in Wyoming (short growing season) so utilizing sprouting more is something that I really should do. As a food storage option, sprouting is wonderful. The sprouting items (seeds, grains) are easy to store and the equipment is minimal.

One other thing that I’d like to mention is the importance of having good quality fats included in food storage. While things like Cris*co have a loooong shelf life they do not help our bodies. We use (and store) coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, and palm oil. We also render the fat from chickens and ducks after butchering. Good quality fats help you feel full longer and in times of stress, fats are essential to keeping a body functioning properly. Children especially need to have fat in their diet. Knowing this, I’m probably overstocking on fats but that is fine by me.

What are your thoughts on Real Food and Food Storage?

Photo Credit: maureen_sill on Flikr

Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at


  1. Cody

    >Thank you for sharing your personal journey in food storage. Food storage is on top of my list this year. I am always amazed when I drive by a BestBuy store on the weekend. The parking lot is full. People still seem to be busy shopping for stuff they realy don't need, but that will soon change.

    All the signs are there, we know the storm is coming…the question is just how long we have before it hits, what we’ve done to prepare ourselves for it and how bad it will be, and long it will last. A decade? A generation?

    Visit to get your long term food storage. The food is great, the prices are low and they ship it right to
    your door. They even have a food planner to help you get started.

  2. Mommy Set Free

    >Hi Millie,
    Love this post and LOVE the picture. I was staring at it trying to figure our what you have stocked there. I see peaches, tomatoes, are those pears? Is that broth? I would love the inventory. I think it is so pretty!

    Anyway, We have dabbled in canning in the past, but are determined to get more serious about it this year. There a lots of things I don't care for canned, but (surprisingly) have become very fond of canning meats. I will be blogging and posting a lot more about that this year as we do more as a staple. I have always had a stocked pantry…. We have alote of dried things and I dehydrate too…This year – it is also our goal to have the Root cellar finished as we become more proficiant in that methods of food storage as well.

  3. Millie

    It is a lovely inventory of food. Unfortunately, it is not mine 🙁 It is a picture from flickr. I put a link to the photographer at the bottom. I believe she posts other pantry pictures.

  4. Carrin Family


    I just discovered your blog recently and I LOVE your stuff. This article was great! I too love food storage and was stumped at what to store now that my family and I are changing over to a real food diet as well. Thanks!

    I just wanted to put in a blurb about needing a food storage that you'd actually want to eat. My husband has recently started a new sales job that isn't paying much at all. It will be that way for some time until he builds his client base. His salary just barely covers the utilities, mortgage, and gas for him to get to work. It doesn't cover any extra debt that we have.

    In budgeting these last two months I've left off the food budget completely. Gasp! Yep, we've been working through our meager food storage and the Lord's been blessing us with an odd $200 or $300 here and there that we use for grocery items.

    It's not a long term solution for us obviously, but if I had a beefed up store of real food it certainly could be. Like you said, "it would be a huge comfort to know that we had food on hand and didn't have to worry about squeezing groceries into our budget."

    You're totally thinkin' outside the box! Thanks a ton for sharing.
    God Bless.

  5. Millie

    >Carrin Family,
    Thank you for the nice comment.

    I absolutely agree with your blurb about needing food storage you would actually eat. That has been a huge goal of mine. I do have to admit that I'm sort of conditioning my family to enjoy foods that are easy to store. My husband would prefer a steak any day but understands that beans are more within our budget and is on board with my food storage goals. I really am spending a lot of time trying to find recipes that are satisfying and being sure to add herbs and spices to our 'store'. Spiced up beans taste much better than bland beans 🙂

    I hope your husband's new job goes well and praise YHVH for the grocery money!

  6. Anonymous

    >Having a food storage has given us peace of mind. It also saves us time and money buying in bulk. Since having food storage, we only shop once a month. I don't ever want to go back to shopping every week.

    In case you haven't heard of him, Russ silver gives excellent lectures on real food storage. I listened to his audios and really enjoyed them.
    WAPF has a article

    Millie, I love you rotating menu plan. I will be watching to see how it works out for your family. 🙂

  7. Millie

    I had forgot that I read that review. Thanks for the reminder. Do you use his suggestions/WAPF guidelines for your food storage? If so, I'd love to hear more about how you have incorporated it all together.

    I'm loving the rotating menu plan too! It is so nice to have much of the menu plan completed each week (I'm still tweaking so it is not 100%).

  8. Anonymous

    >Yes, we follow the WAPF guidelines for our food storage.
    I buy in bulk and dehydrate/freeze everything I can.
    Dehydrated carrots, potatoes, and celery come in handy for stew in the winter.
    We buy massive amounts of apples in the fall, they are so good dehydrated plain or in snack mix,
    I even make cobbler with dried apples.
    Plan to learn to can food this summer.
    We store 5 gallon buckets of honey, coconut oil, himalayan salt, ghee, jars of lard and tallow.
    Russ talks about using a root cellar to store food, I hope to someday have one.
    I found this great blog post covering what Russ talk abt,
    Lots of good info I have not found anywhere else. His family had to live off of their food storage for a long time, so he has experience.

  9. Millie

    I love that podcast. I found it after I did this post by searching Russ Silvers name from your comment (assuming you are the same anonymous:-)) I've listened to it several times since then.

    I do plan to try canning more this summer. I have a water bath set up and have been reading reviews on different presser canners. They do scare me a bit but I think it is necessary to learn. I really want to can some of the wild game that we get.

    Joe bought me a dehydrator a few months ago and I've been experimenting with that. We love the apples done that way and I did some oranges which are pretty good especially added to tea. Do potatoes need to be treated in order to dehydrate? Like the apples?
    I'm running out of room for 5 gallon buckets. Must find more storage space!

  10. Anonymous

    >Glad you found the podcast and liked it. 🙂

    Yes, the pressure canner makes me nervous too. I hear you abt the wild game, I visited Wyoming once and was amazed to see all the deer and antelope. Just beautiful.

    I will have to try dehydrating oranges, love orange slices in tea.
    For the potatoes I just sliced them up and throw them on the dehydrator. Same with the apples. It might be healthier to take peels off though? So far all of the food has came out great dehydrated without any special prep. Minus onions, they always turn out burnt for some reason.

    I've been thinking abt burying some of the 5 gallon buckets after listening to the podcast, just don't have room. ha
    A root cellar would be so nice…

  11. Katie

    >You can have real food food storage! I can a lot of in season, organic fruits and veggies. And I dehydrate even more! Almost anything can be dehydrated and it takes up less space and contains more nutrients. Fruits, veggies, and even meat can be dehydrated. Although I prefer to can my meat because it's so convenient that way and it allows me to make a meal in no time flat. It's possible, it can be done. People for thousands of years only harvested food for a few months out of the year and ate their stores the rest of the time. Look into old storage methods and preserving methods.

    Katie @

  12. Pingback: The Pantry Principle – How to maintain your pantry – Part 5 — Mrs Dulls Nourished Kitchen

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