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Food is important both for physical as well as emotional reasons.  During any type of emergency hungry children can make anyone’s life very difficult.  Who can look into the face of a starving child and not be touched.  Now what if that child is yours and the situation is there because of your neglect?  Preparation is important and the time for procrastination is past.

 

What type of food

What types of food should you store?  Storing the food that you normally eat is best, if you can afford it.  The grocery stores where we live have case lot sales twice a year.  During these sales we try to buy 6 months of the food we normally eat.  This accomplishes two things.  First, at any given time we have about 3 months of food on hand.  Second, during case lot sales the food is 30-40% off which means we get more food for the buck.  As inflation drives up the cost, I mean as package portions shrink for the same price, spending wisely on food is something everyone should start doing.  There is only so much money left at the end of the month.

An alternative to the normal food we eat is the freeze dried foods.  They are not too expensive, but more so than the normal food.  They have the advantage of having a longer shelf life and take up less space.  We provide both Mountain House and Wise freeze dried foods.  The mountain house food is  good tasting but slightly more expensive than wise and has a lower shelf life of 7 years.  Freeze dried food from Wise comes in protected 4 gallon buckets and is less expensive.  It also has a shelf life of 15-25 years depending on if you get meat or vegetarian.  The taste is pretty good for the ones I tried.  This type of food is the easiest to store and use.  Just add water.  There are breakfasts, entrees, fruits, and vegetables, easy to store, transport, and use.

Another type of food is the basics: meaning wheat, rice, beans, corn, etc.  This is probably the cheapest route to acquiring food, and it has the longest shelf life.  Most of this type of food will store well over 30 years if stored properly. This type of food will require practice to use.  If you have 500 lbs of wheat stored for emergencies, what will you do with it?  Do you have a grinder?  If so you can make cracked wheat cereal, scones, bread, pancakes, etc.  But you need a wheat grinder.  I have tried the hand powered type and decided that is for the birds.  I have a nice electric grinder and a power system in case the grid goes down.  Whatever food you store you should learn how to use it.

Which type of food is best for your family?  This will partly depend on your budget.  If money is important it is recommended that you start by getting three months of normal canned food that you eat.  This enables you to buy food when it is on sale, saving you money for other items you need.  You can then supplement this by getting either the freeze dried and/or basics.

You are preparing for an emergency.  No one has the responsibility to provide for your family during this time.  If an emergency happens do you really want to eat gross food or be hungry all the time because you are on half rations?  You will have enough stress without hearing complaints about being hungry or how the food is nasty tasting.  Prepare decent food and enough of it for as long as the emergency may last.

 

How much food?

This is a perfectly valid question.  How much food should you store?  How much is enough?  This depends entirely upon what you are preparing for.  For an earthquake you might need 1 month.  For a pandemic 3 months is recommended.  For a zombie apocalypse you should have at least 1 year.  Figure out what you want to prepare for, determine the types and quantities of desired foods, then go for it.  Here is a Food storage calculator to help determine how much of the basics you need for your specific family and length of time to prepare against.

If you miscalculated and run out of food here is a useful chart reproduced from Iowa State University’s web site. It shows how some insects as food compare to lean ground beef and broiled cod.  Gotta love those insects 🙂

Insect Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs Calcium (mg) Iron (mg)
Giant Water Beetle 19.8 8.3 2.1 43.5 13.6
Red Ant 13.9 3.5 3.9 47.8 5.7
Silk Worm Pupae 9.6 5.6 2.3 41.7 1.8
Dung Beetle 17.2 4.3 .2 30.9 7.7
Cricket 12.9 5.5 5.1 75.8 9.5
Grasshopper 20.6 6.1 3.9 35.2 5.0
Grasshopper 14.3 3.3 2.2 27.5 3.0
June Beetle 13.4 1.4 2.9 22.6 6.0
Caterpillar 28.2 N/A N/A N/A 35.5
Caterpillar 9.7 N/A N/A N/A 1.9
Termite 14.2 N/A N/A N/A 3.5
Weevil 6.7 N/A N/A N/A 13.1
Beef (Lean) 27.4 N/A N/A N/A 3.5
Fish (Cod) 28.5 N/A N/A N/A 1.0

 

Keep it safe

All food should be stored in a cool dark place.  If you have a basement this is the perfect place.  Without a basement avoid the garage or external shed.  Temperature extremes are really hard on the nutritional content of food.  Any food purchased in bags should be transferred to #10 cans or plastic 5 gallon buckets.  If you are doing this yourself be sure to use dry ice in the bucket first.   After washing the bucket place a piece of dry ice the size of your last thumb joint into the bucket, then pour the wheat, rice, or beans in.  Place the lid on but do not seal it tightly.  As the dry ice evaporates into CO2 it forces out the lighter O2.  After 24 hours it should be safe to seal the plastic lid.  Driving out the oxygen makes sure no insects will hatch and eat your food before you do.  This will also protect it from mice, animals, or water damage.

 

How to prepare it

Now you have all your food.  What are you going to do with it?  How do you prepare it?  How do you cook it.  If you have 500 lbs of wheat stored that is awesome – but what are you going to do with it?  Do you have a grinder to turn it into flour?  Do you have a way to cook bread if the power is out, such as a solar oven?  If you have canned food do you have a non-electric can opener?   Do you have a camp stove to heat or cook your food?  I have been on camp outs with 12 yr old boy scouts and seen them eat cold spagettiO’s from the can and uncooked ramen noodles with the flavor pack sprinkled on it.  Yuck.  I prefer to cook or heat my food.

 

Neighbors and Family

Another thing to consider are your neighbors and family.  You need to talk to them and get them to prepare something.  If these people are not prepared, guess who will come knocking on your door asking for help?  Do you have enough for all of them?  What are the consequences for not helping?  A natural disaster may only last a week or two, your relationship with neighbors and family will last a lot longer than that.  There are a couple of things you can realistically do:

  1. Help educate and motivate them to prepare.   That is the purpose of this website – to help you do this.  Share it with your family and neighbors.  They need to get prepared just as much as you do.
  2. Store enough food for all of them. Right, as tho that is doable.  However, if money is no object and you have the space then go for it.  And please move closer to me 😉
  3. Get out of dodge.  And go where?  If things go south and things get really bad, where are you going to go?  This ties into having a prepared zombie plan.

Unprepared people will come knocking – how will you handle it?  It would be wise to think this through.  Charging them a fair price for items they need might be the way to go, gouging them for items they need or refusing to help will bring resentment that could last a long time.  Trading is also a good option.  In all your sharing try to be fair or the consequences after it is all over will be hard on you and your family.

So how do you rotate and use your food so it does not go to waste? I found that having two storages works well for us. The first one is a 3 month storage of caned and other foods that we eat on a normal basis. When food goes on sale we buy more of it, bring it home, date it, and rotate it on the shelves. This is the one we use and rotate in our day to day cooking. The second storage contains food that stores for 30+ years. This includes: wheat, rice, all kinds of beans, corn, oats, honey. This is food that will keep us alive, and we don’t bother to rotate it. We do use it, we make oatmeal for breakfast, home made granola, whole wheat bread, chile beans, etc, but I don’t worry about rotating it. This system works for us, you should experiment to see what type of system works for you.

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