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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

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