I recommended Knowledge as one of the first things you should try and gain in part 1, so in part four we will look at another basic category of Items or Stuff I believe is needed for emergency preparations to keep yourself and family safe and secure and today that is Food.
- Water that’s clean and drinkable
- Shelter, could be your home, a tent, or proper clothing for your area.
- Food, canned goods, freezer stocked up, garden growing or freeze dried.
- Energy, be it heat to cook your food or warm your shelter or electricity for lights & radios.
- Security / Self Defense
- Reliable transportation
- Low or No Debt
- Trade Currency, i.e. cash (or Barter items), to acquire the things you need from others.
I know some of the audience will be thinking why not guns and ammo higher on the list? Fact is typically everybody and every living plant and creature on our earth, everyday needs to eat to survive and thrive. The probability that an invasion of, pick your imagined enemy, will require you to take up arms and defend your life, family and property at any second is fortunately for the majority of us, a low percentage possibility. At least it is in most of the United States in 2016, what the future holds is yet to be seen.
Probably most of you have heard the old saying, You Are What You Eat so in thinking about long term food storage, Raman noodles and Spam is not a good plan for emergency food supplies.
So let’s have a brief review on basic emergency food storage and supplies.
First decide how many days of food do you want to keep on hand starting out with, keeping in mind you can gradually increase that over time? Our United States FEMA recommends every family store at least 3 day’s supply for every family member as minimum. Decision is yours on how much more you feel it is prudent and affordable for your family and circumstances, but at least come up with a starting number of at least 3 days’ supply per person.
The absolute number one guideline on any kind of food storage plan to is Store What Your Family Eats, and Eat What You Store. This is going to require some work on your part but in the long run it will pay you back more than double.
If you do not already do so, use a shopping list for trips to the store. Best method our family has found is to have a notebook and pen to keep track of the meals and ingredients our family eats at home for a couple of weeks. If you take the time to do the same this will give you a good baseline and starting point to analyze what your family’s food tastes and requirements are on average. From these notes creating a shopping list to be used on next grocery store trip will be a simple matter.
Depending on your budget, a slow and steady method of purchasing more items on your list for storage is by using a technique called copy canning. Say you have a can of corn or can of green beans on your shopping list for this week that was eaten at some of last week’s meals. If it is something your family likes and enjoys regularly then buy two of that item, one for next meal and one for storage. Do the same for each item on your shopping list as funds and room to store is available. Continue to do the same thing on subsequent trips to the grocery store and you will gradually increase your storage.
For your canned goods, do you have a mechanical can opener that works in case the power is out? While it’s possible to open cans with a pocket knife, it’s not the safest way to do things. Especially if the power is out and medical assistance for stitches or an infection might not be available quickly.
After a power loss unless you have some backup power sources your frozen and refrigerated foods will need to be used before they spoil.
What about preserving food by canning, dehydrating or smoking? Water bath canning is fairly simple, does not require a pressure cooker and works well for high acid foods like tomatoes. The library or your local book store will have reference books to learn recipes and techniques from if you don’t already have the knowledge.
Pressure canning is required for low acid vegetables like potatoes, beans, corn and meats. This is another skill set and requires more expensive pressure cooker / canner and reference books on methods and cooking time that varies buy jar size and product being canned. New, quality pressure canners are not cheap but they will last for generations. We picked ours up at a garage sale, and I’ve seen them from time to time at Goodwill and other thrift stores and there is always Craig’s list and eBay.
Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to preserve them and there are relative inexpensive models of dehydrators available to get started with. As you gain experience and if you feel the need there are higher end models like those made by Excalibur that hold larger quantities and have better temperature controls.
Meats and fish can be pressure canned, smoked and sugar or salt cured to preserve them. Your library, local book store, Amazon or google are available at the time of this post.
Have you got room for a small garden or room for some containers? Having a stash of emergency seeds stored in case things go bad will not do you much good if you don’t have experience in growing a garden during the good times. Even if you live in an apartment or small urban house you would be surprised how much food you can grow in pots or containers. The other advantage to growing some of your own food is you know it is fresh, typically will have more vitamins and nutrients so it is healthier for you. That and a little exercise and fresh air is good for you too.
In our area there are several groups on MeetUp.com that from time to time offer classes on food storage methods many times for free or a small fee to cover materials. This is another knowledge item that would be good to learn and practice while these resources are available.
Staple dried foods like wheat, rice, corn and, beans are cheap right now and can be stored in Mylar bags and plastic buckets. You tube is full of videos on this technique, food grade buckets are available at most bakeries and donut stores for free in my experience or a couple of dollars at most. Properly stored these food types can last for 20+ years and contain lots of calories.
Don’t forget to store spices that you use for your families meals. The right combination of spices is the difference between a satisfying and enjoyable meal or bland and tasteless. At least salt and pepper at the very minimum.
Lastly freeze dried food while more expensive lasts for years, is light weight and highly nutritious. Our preferred brand is Mountain House but there are other high quality manufactures out there like Wise, Legacy, Augason Farms and Thrive that I’m familiar with and there may be others. I strongly recommend buying small samples and doing a taste test with your family before buying a large quantity of one particular brand because there are a lot of variations between the manufacturer’s menus and recipes.
As always you are welcome to add your comments, ideas and suggestions below.