White rice is considered to be a less harmful grain to those eating Paleo. Therefore, I have continued to store white rice because it keeps so well, up to 30 years, and will make a nice source of carbohydrates, especially when physical activity is high. It does not disrupt my gut like wheat and beans do and therefore will not cause another source of difficulty for me in the middle of a crisis. Also, cooked white rice can be fed to my chickens, if their food supply is disrupted.
Starchy tubers, like sweet potatoes, provide carbohydrates and keep well in a cool room. You can also stock up on freeze-dried potatoes and sweet potatoes to add variety and long-lasting carbohydrates to your food storage.
If you have beans and grains already stored, don’t toss them. Get a copy of Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, which has instructions on how to prepare and cook beans and grains in the traditional manner. Soaking and fermenting beans and grains helps reduce the harmful phytates, lectins, and so on that students of Paleo are trying to avoid. So in a survival situation, the long-keeping grains and beans can still be a part of your strategy. You will just have to invest the time to prepare them in the traditional manner so that nutrition is maximized and harmful effects are minimized. Also of course it gives you something to trade or charitably share that you won’t miss much. Just keep the wheat if you have chickens, because you can feed it to them without cooking or cracking it first, and it has a good nutritional profile for them. One source indicated that wheat alone can be used to feed chickens without any other source of feed, if they also have access to a large yard to supplement with greens and bugs. (calebwarnock.blogspot.com) Another reason to keep the wheat is because you can sprout it. The nutritional profile of wheat grass is fantastic. One ounce has an excess of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamins A, E, K, and most of the B’s except B12. It also has 93% of the RDA of vitamin C.
Sugar still plays a minor role in my diet. I prefer honey and maple syrup for a treat now and then, but I would have no problem eating a bit of white sugar in a crisis situation. In modern life, sugar is our bane, but in a crisis we may be struggling to find enough calories. Sugar does one thing really well; it imparts lots of calories in a small package. White sugar of course has a marvelous shelf life, and so a few #10 cans of it are an appropriate part of food storage. However, honey and maple syrup also keep for incredibly long times; so, if cost is not an issue, store honey and maple syrup to get the other health benefits. Honey will crystallize over time, but just warm it up to use it.
Dairy is a borderline food in the Paleo community, some of whom avoid it entirely and others will eat it if they have an individual tolerance for it. You can buy canned cheese as well as canned butter. Ballantyne Red Feather canned butter has an indefinite shelf life. Bega brand canned cheese is packaged in Australia and also has an indefinite shelf life. I have heard that dipping hard cheeses in paraffin will help them keep a long time, but I have not looked into it. Dairy is not part of my diet; therefore, other than butter, it’s not part of my storage strategy. However, I wanted to mention those resources so that you will have a chance to look at them if you are interested. I still have a few cans of dry milk on the shelf. My intention is to use it for trade or to keep my dog alive, but I don’t have any plans to consume it myself.
For supplements, this subject could cover a whole article. Mark’s Daily Apple website has a couple of good articles discussing deficiencies that can occur even when faithfully eating Paleo. You can end up deficient because the soil your food grows in is deficient, such as with selenium and magnesium. Also, a lot of nutrients are found in the offal (liver, heart, kidneys, et cetera) of animals, and many people did not grow up eating the offal (or they did and their mothers cooked the liver into shoe leather). I don’t know how to prepare it and/or think it’s icky. You can also cause deficiencies of a particular nutrient because you have over-consumed some other nutrient that hampers absorption of other nutrients. Another common deficiency is iodine, because of switching over to sea salt without also switching over to pastured eggs and/or seaweed. Read up on this subject and stock up on what meets your needs.
Spices and herbs can be purchased dried. Just rotate them to keep them fresh. Growing as many perrenial herbs as possible is another strategy. If you don’t get around to drying them, they’ll come back next year and the year after, until you do need them. In my area (USDA zone 5) sage, rosemary, thyme, and mint have all proven to come back yearly with very little care, other than water. Apple cider vinegar is a good staple to stock up on. The Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar that is on my shelf has an expiration date five years from now. So I can keep five years worth stored without worry. You can also make your own apple cider vinegar. This website has an easy recipe. (This is another good use for honey or sugar.) Another staple is salt, which keeps well and can be purchased already packed in #10 cans to keep it dry. Commercial baking powder has corn starch in it and doesn’t keep well. Baking soda keeps indefinitely, if kept dry as does cream of tartar. You can make your own baking powder; just mix one part baking soda with two parts cream of tartar. Be sure to stock up on the spices you cannot grow yourself, such as black pepper. (Whole peppercorns keep better than already crushed). Other spices that you can’t grow yourself and that store best whole or in purest form includ cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and chocolate. Coconut flour is a common Paleo baking substitute and keeps for two years. Almond flour is also common but does not keep well at all, so for me it is a treat, not part of the supply.
Canned olives are a good source of fat and flavor, which I cannot easily can myself. Other commercially-canned options include full fat coconut milk, which is a dairy substitute. Canned pumpkin is so thick it is dangerous to can yourself, so I stock up on it when it’s on sale. The last can of pumpkin I bought had an expiration date three years out. Asian stores sell sweet potato noodles, which are quick and easy to prepare and keep at least for a couple of years.
Here’s a side note on mayonnaise: You can of course buy commercial mayonnaise and it will keep for some months on the shelf, however, if you are eating Paleo, you likely will not want to use the commercial mayonnaise due to the poor choice of oil that commercial companies use. You can make your own with oil and eggs in a mixer, and you can do it by hand if you’ve got the patience for it. There are many handmade mayonnaise recipes available in many Paleo cookbooks, which I’m assuming you have already tried, but if not take the trouble to look at the recipe and try it a few times. I prefer the one found in Dana Carpender’s 500 Paleo Recipes, which has never failed me. Avocado oil tastes best, though it is too expensive to be a regular base oil. Familiar foods like mayonnaise can be really helpful under stressful circumstances to help your family thrive in difficult times. Homemade mayonnaise keeps only about a week in the fridge, so don’t make too much at one time.
All of this leads to the question of “how much”. The advantage of using an established metric, like the LDS guidelines, is that someone else did the math for you, but so far as I know there is no Paleo-adapted food storage metric. So, starting from the 2000 calories a day baseline, I looked to established Paleo experts for guidance as to what percentage of your calories should come from the three big macro nutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Dave Asprey says 30% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 40% fat. Mark Sisson says 20% protein, 30% carbs, and 50% fat. I went ahead and used the metric of 30% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 40% fat.
- For fats/oils: tallow, lard, butter, and olive oil range from 112 to 119 calories per tablespoon.
- For protein: beef, pork, chicken are harder to calculate because it depends on the cut. A fatty cut will have more calories but not from protein. Six ounces of naturally lean grass-fed beef has 324 calories. Eggs are about 74 calories each.
- For carbohydrates: white rice is 158 calories per ¼ cup (dry, which yields about ¾ cup cooked). A medium sweet potato has about 103 calories.
It is worth noting that most foods have crossover. Eggs have about five grams of fat and a touch of carbohydrates in addition to six grams of protein. For a typical day, using a 2000 calorie diet, obtaining 600 calories of protein would be, for example, about:
To obtain 800 calories from fat would be, for example:
To obtain 600 calories from carbs would be, for example:
Adjust this to fit your tastes and multiply it out by the number of persons and length of time to find your goals for storage.
You may ask about the vegetables. The current LDS guidelines don’t include vegetables either. That startled me when I first realized it. Upon reflection, vegetables are good for vitamins, color, flavor, and fiber, but as far as calories go, they are weak. A cup of chopped broccoli has only 30 calories. Therefore, to get the basic fat, protein, and carbohydrates that you need to stay alive and functioning, with the minimal calorie count of 2000 per day, you can ignore vegetables, at least for a time. Hopefully, you have a garden and to the extent the garden can supplement the basics, you will be much happier and healthier. In the meantime, you can forage. Pick up a book or two on foraging, and start opening your eyes when you go for walks to see what is out there in your neighborhood.
Still the basic three macronutrients (fat/protein/carbohydrates) of food storage will keep you going during winter or while the garden is not producing yet. In addition, see above for the nutritional breakdown of wheat grass. Sprout some wheat, and you will have a good dose of the basic vitamins. A couple of bottles of multi-vitamins may also a good idea, but get the ones without iron because the meat will supply plenty, and too much iron is dangerous. If you want to plan for vegetables too, you could simply stock a can a day or a pint per two days per person so that you will have some variety and flavor added to your base. Mix it up. Don’t get 365 cans of peas. Think color variety– beets, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, et cetera. The more variety, the more your taste buds will appreciate it, and the more likely you are to hit all of the micronutrients you need. However,start with the protein, fat, and carb base because you will literally starve to death on just vegetables.
Also, the basic protein/fat/carbohydrate macronutrients above do have some vitamins and minerals. For instance, just 3 oz. of lean beef will exceed the RDA for iron and selenium and hit 71% of B12, 39% of copper, and 24% of niacin. Eggs supply vitamins D, A, and some of the B’s also. They are also a good source of selenium, iron, phosphorus, and have some calcium, among other minerals. As you can see, even without vegetables, sprouted wheat, and supplements, you will last a long time on just the meat/fat/starch list above.
I hope this article will give all the folks eating Paleo/Primal/Ancestral style good ideas for adjusting their food storage to meet their actual diet. For those not eating this way, pay attention to the section on fats/oils because most seed oils won’t keep long on the shelf and you need to have some long-term storage strategies to avoid running out a few months later. Those suffering from Celiac or gluten intolerance as well as dairy intolerance may also find this article helpful because the Paleo way of eating is naturally free of gluten and dairy. The information in this article also would be a way to mix things up, since grains and beans can be pretty boring.