Saturday, January 7, 2012

9 Key Food Storage Tips for a Down Economy

Most folks would agree—the economy really sucks.  Sorry—there’s just no better way to say it.

It is at times like this that we see more people out there coming to the realization that crisis preparedness does indeed make a lot of sense … that having extra food, supplies, household products, and savings to draw upon can really soften the blow of an unexpected downturn in fortune or circumstance.

At this point in the game, it may not be as easy as it would have been a few years ago when there was more disposable income to be had. But the rules say you have to play the hand that you are dealt. If you want to stay in the game, then you need to be determined, resilient, and optimistic. And that means you start getting serious about preparedness because unfortunately, the future is not going to be any brighter for a long time. What you can be optimistic about is that you and yours are going to be just fine, since you are planning ahead.

Food in the Pantry is Priority #1

The number one priority for most beginners in preparedness is to get an adequate supply of food laid away—food that will not expire in the near-term and that will store well without refrigeration. 

Let’s assume you are looking to do some prepping right now, with a limited budget. If that is the case, then my recommendation is that you determine what you can afford to spare every week toward a modest, systematic  food acquisition effort.

1.     1.  Use that budgetary allotment you set—don’t use credit if you can’t afford to or if you are feeling a sudden panic. The fear will pass. The need to prepare and to pay your bills and meet all your normal obligations will go on and on.

2.      2 It’s cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to this: “Store what you eat, eat what you store.” That means, store the kind of food that you are used to eating. If you eat a lot of rice and beans, then you can put away a lot of storage food quite cheaply. If you are like most Americans, you are used to eating entrees, meats, greens, fruits, and many types of processed foods, so you would be best served storing similar foods that you will know how to prepare and you and your family will enjoy eating. The second part of that wise adage refers to rotating your food so that you do not let it spoil. Common sense.

3.      3. Canned foods are an excellent choice for beginning food storage programs. Even wet-pack canned foods will generally store for years (acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus will go bad within about a year). 

4.      4.  Dry foods are great for storage, but if you want to store bulk foods like rice, beans, pasta, grains, etc., for any length of time, then you either need to rotate your food into your diet to keep it relatively fresh, or you want to repack those items (typically purchased in 40-50 pound bags) into food-grade buckets, using mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Doing so can double or triple your shelf life, so you can buy in bulk and store your food well without feeling the pressure to keep rotating those foods continuously.

5.      5. If longer shelf-life is important to you and you want food that is the type of food you are used to eating, then find a reputable online storage food dealer and purchase well-established brands and food varieties that your family will enjoy. Food brands such as Mountain House freeze dried foods have been doing what they do for many decades, and their freeze-dried entrees are certified to store for several decades. So that’s a unique kind of peace of mind you acquire with storage food such as that.

6.      6. Keep your food of all kinds in cool, dry conditions to maximize shelf-life. Don’t expose your storage food to high heat or dramatic swings in temperature—especially freezing and thawing.

7.     7.  Buy your storage food on sale and use coupons when possible.

8.      8. Supplementing your food storage program with home-grown foods can be economical—but don’t think it will be easy. A productive garden requires, work and over time, your acquired knowledge will improve your results. At harvest time, you’ll have some great fresh food to enjoy on the dinner table, but you’ll want to can, freeze, or dehydrate most of the bounty. Each of those approaches to food preservation can be rewarding and economical.

9.     9.  Many people are confused by what a serving means. Disregard serving counts. To get a real sense of how much food you are storing, you need to calculate calories. Figure 2000 calories per adult daily. That is less than what Americans are accustomed to eating, but it is a healthy level and will keep you alive for a good long while, assuming your diet is nutritious and well-balanced.

      By Vic Rantala.

Vic Rantala is the owner of Safecastle LLC and is a leading crisis preparedness provider of emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions.

Thanks go out to my friend Vic for a timely and informative article. 

Thanks Vic.

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

Just a comment on the statement that "acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus will go bad within about a year". That is not quite accurate. The USDA says that highly acidic canned foods are good for 18 months. And the truth here is not that they "go bad" but that the texture of the food begins to break down about that time. In other words, your tomatoes and fruit won't be "bad" after that time, but they may start to get mushy and the flavor can deteriorate. My personal experience is that properly stored home canned tomatoes will be in good condition for 18 months. I've never had any older than that.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 11:56

I think he was referring more to canned products with high acidity. In my own experiences, I've had commercially canned tomato products such as sauce or diced tomatoes go bad very quickly. While tomatoes from the garden that were home canned (put up in glass jars) remained viable for use. Some of our garden tomatoes were also put up frozen and have lasted well over a year.

Even with the special linings that are present inside the cans of commercially available products with high acidity, the contents do eventually deteriorate and lose important taste and texture quality.

Depending upon storage conditions, some may last a bit longer but usually will have less nutritive value.

Good point anon!

Thanks for bringing that to everyone's attention. This is one of the reasons that everyone should learn home canning.


Brigid said...

The rotation is something that you are well to remind people of. I've known folks that bought in bulk and just stored in boxes or tupperware, only to find it spoiled or bug infested years later. My long term supplies are stored in restaurant intended barrels under nitrogen. The stuff intended for the 1-3 year mark are rotated regularly with fresh.

As always,, well done!

riverwalker said...

To: Brigid

Rotation is an important part of any food storage program. Unfortunately, many people forget the saying "Store what you eat and eat what you store." Many are probably storing a lot of items they will probably never eat unless forced into a situation where it's necessary.

Many food items being stored for a long term require extra care and special packaging to avoid food stocks from going bad.

Thanks Brigid.


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