In any emergency or survival situation food is a primary necessity. So naturally there are many discussions and advice here and on other forums concerning food and food storage. There is a lot of great information and products available for long term (10-15 year) food storage. I have read many articles comparing the various MREs available, poured over blog posts about the best freeze dried foods, and watched Google videos on the proper storage of whole wheat grains. Popular vendors such as CampingSurvival.com and other SurvivalBlog sponsors offer freeze dried meals and canned food with extended shelf lives such as the Yoder’s line of products. While these options can be a good investment, the acquisition of a ample supply can pose a challenge to those new to prepping and to families on a fixed budget. It can certainly seem daunting (and perhaps financially impossible) to a newcomer to buy the large amount of food needed to sustain a period of extended crises. And while its nice to have 5 gallon buckets stacked full of red winter wheat, many do not have the equipment or knowledge for preparing and cooking storage foods like wheat, should the need arise. In addition, an important aspect to any food storage program is the regular rotation and use of your storage food as part of your regular diet. The average family exploring preparedness for the first time is not going to make major changes to their eating habits overnight.
Since most sound advice suggests having at least one year supply or food on hand, there is no apparent reason to stockpile foods with a storage life of 15+ years. When properly integrated into your daily diet, foods with a storage life of 1-to-3 years can form a good base for your food storage program. (An excellent resource for determining the storage life of certain foods has been mentioned here before: http://www.stilltasty.com ) One of the best ways I have found to build up a convenient, usable food supply in a cost effective manner is the bulk purchase of rice, pasta, and various spices. Dry goods such as spices, rice, and pastas generally have a shelf life of at least two years when stored properly. These basic ingredients can be combined in different ways to create a foundation for a wide variety of healthy, delicious meals. Additionally, mixing up recipes in advance can make it easy to include them in your daily diet. The principal is based on the popular Lipton and Rice-a-Roni side dishes found in your local grocery store. However, rather than paying $1.25 to $2.00 each, you can make these sides for less than 25 cents when properly purchasing ingredients. Additionally, you do not have the added colors and preservatives typically found in the store bought packages. As an added benefit, the ease of preparation of these prepackage meals makes their use in an emergency ideal. Simply add water and cook them on a gas grill, propane camp stove, or similar heat source. Immediately following a SHTF event, the less time and energy spent on food prep frees one to focus on improving your situation. Below are a few examples of recipes you can make with the dry ingredients:
Chicken Onion: 3-Tbsp Chicken Bullion Base, 3?4 Tbsp Minced Onions, 1 Tsp Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes, 1?2 Tsp Garlic Powder, 1?2 Tsp Celery Salt, 1?4 Tsp Black Pepper, Mix with 4 oz of pasta or 5 oz or rice. Add 2 1?2 cups of boiling water, cook over medium heat until noodles or rice is done. (Add 1?2 Tbsp of Evaporated Milk for a creamier taste)
Italian Beef: 3-Tbsp Beef Bullion Base, 1?2 Tbsp Oregano, 1?2 Tbsp Onion powder, 1 1?2 Tsp Minced Garlic, 1?4 Tbsp or Basil, 1?4 Tsp of Black Pepper, 1 tbsp Parsley Flake, Mix with 4 oz of pasta or 5 oz or rice. Add 2 1?2 cups of boiling water, cook over medium heat until noodles or rice is done. (Add 1 Tbsp of Powdered Tomato Paste for an alternative taste.)
Use a wide variety of rice (white, brown, wild) and pastas (bow tie, fettuccini, rigatoni) for maximum flavor and texture combinations to help reduce the chances of appetite fatigue. For other flavor variations and extra nutrition add dehydrated carrots, broccoli, peas, or corn. Experiment with the above ingredients or add your own until you find several combinations your family likes. Once you determine a few recipes you like, take out one Saturday and mix up a few big batches. Include everyone for a fun family event. You can package individual servings in Ziploc bags or vacuum seal them for a longer shelf life. As an alternative to individual servings, multiply all ingredients by 20 or more but leave out the pasta/rice. Now you have big jars of your spice mix that you can just scoop from, to mix with your pasta or rice when you are ready to cook it. Just keep track of the proper combination (for example, 1?2 cup or spice mix per 6oz of pasta).
These cost effective mixtures can be eaten by themselves, used as a good side dish, or serve as a basis for a full meal. To extend its meal potential and increase nutritional value consider adding fresh vegetables from your garden or your favorite meat for extra protein. I like to roast a whole turkey or chicken a few weekends a month. I simply add the precook turkey/chicken to various combinations throughout the week for a fast, easy, nutritious meal. This type of storage and preparation can fit well with today’s busy suburban life. It is also a good idea to include cans of Tuna, Chicken, or Yoder’s Turkey Chunks, in your food storage for use in your recipes now or post-TEOTWAWKI situation. Canned meats like this generally have a shelf life of 3-5 years. Another good option now or after the SHTF would be to experiment with the addition of fresh sprouts. Sprouts are cheap and easy to grow and add a lot of flavor and nutrition to your dishes. I use the Sprout Garden Kit available over at Ready Made Resources. Broccoli, radish, alfalfa, and bean sprouts are packed with nutrients and the sprouting seeds have a shelf life of 4-5 years.
Acquiring the Ingredients
For the purchase of your ingredients, the best advice is to shop around and buy in bulk. Buying spices off the spice rack of your local grocer is not advisable. Places like Sam’s Club and Costco carry large containers of spices for restaurants. A 6 oz vial of garlic powder might run $3.00 at the grocery store but you can buy a 7 pound bottle at Sam’s Club for only $17.50. One good resource I have found is BulkFoods.com. You can buy a 5lb bag of chicken base for less than $15.00. They also carry Broccoli flakes, dehydrated, carrots, peas, tomato powder and more. Many times they have better pricing than Costco or Sam’s on some items. Northbay Trading also carries dried vegetables in bulk. When making purchases just remember that the bigger quantities offer better pricing. A 50lb bag of rice at Sam’s is only $22.00. Another idea is to search for wholesale or bulk food suppliers in larger cities near where you live. For example, I found a wholesale grocer near me (Leon H. Lewis, in St. Louis, Missouri) where I can buy 20 lb and 30 lb bags of pasta for $10.00. They also carry Parsley by the pound for $5.50 and pound bags or oregano for $3.90. Most of these bulk food suppliers and food manufacturers target schools and institutions but many will sell to the general public.
By pursuing this type of food storage program you can reduce your family’s current food expenses while developing an emergency store of food that you like to eat. I hope this information helps you ramp up your food storage program and save time and money on everyday meals. For more information and tips on bulk food purchases, our gracious host offers the excellent “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course. – Travis A.