Survival Question Number Two: Food (part two)

As mentioned in the first part of this portion of the Survival Question discussion, there are a number of ways that your food storage can be all wrong.  To cover most of them, I’ve come up with a list of seven strategies.  Feel free to add your own, or tweak them.  I list them here in no particular order:

  1. Store the things you would normally eat.  (Or, at any rate, the things to *make* the things you would normally eat.)  As mentioned in part one, it is probably not the best idea to change up your habits during a survival scenario.  It also makes no sense to store things you wouldn’t normally eat; you quite probably don’t like them.  (If you don’t like lima beans, why on earth would you keep 25 pounds of them around?)  Exactly what you store will likely depend on how long you think it’ll have to keep.  For example, I’d advise against storing loaves of bread for more than a few days (a few weeks, in the freezer), since they have a fairly short shelf-life.  Storing flour is somewhat better; storing wheat is better, yet.  (And don’t forget the salt, sugar, and yeast.  And the grain mill…)
  2. Store things properly.  Even though you may have the “right” things, you want to make sure to store them in the way that will maximize their shelf-lives.  Generally, for longest-term storage, that means cool and dry, plus appropriate packaging.  The variety of ways to store things can fill an entire post, or series of posts; it probably will do so, at some later date.  There is abundant information out there; it would pay to research it.
  3. Store a variety of things.  While dining on steak and potatoes every night might sound marvelous, even I quickly begin yearning for something “green and leafy.”  Variety is, as they say, the spice of life; this can’t be emphasized enough, when it comes to food.  Having the same thing, day in and day out, becomes a psychological drain; it can actually become difficult to motivate yourself to eat enough calories.  As a rule of thumb, I recommend being able to come up with a different dinner each day of the week.  Another reason for the variety, and one more thing to think about:  are you getting all of the nutrition you need from your food?  A stock of good multi-vitamins might not be a bad idea for a supplement.
  4. Use your stored food (rotate the inventory).  This is probably one of the biggest issues I have with most “food storage” plans.  Even the Mormons/LDS, who have a great program in place to amass a food stockpile, don’t address this one well.  The best way to ensure your food stock is still within its use-by date is to continually use and replenish it.  My family’s food storage is–wait for it–the pantry.  We pull cans from it on a near daily basis, and replace them with our normal grocery shopping.  This is also a good way to evaluate #1, above: if there’s a stack of things in the pantry that simply isn’t getting used after a few months, we re-think why we have that stuff to begin with…  And remember: first-in, first-out.  Put the new stuff in back, and eat your way down to it.
  5. Store the makings of comfort foods.  Let’s face it, just about any sort of survival situation is going to be psychologically stressful.  You may be well-grounded enough (or deep enough in “emergency mode”) to go through a day or three without issues, but there’s going to come a point–probably towards dinner time, about a week or so into things–when you just want something warm and filling, so you can go curl up under a blanket somewhere and feel (at least momentarily) secure.  This is where the comfort food comes in.  Whatever it may be–mac-n-cheese, or beef stew, or whatever–have the fixings for some of it on hand.  Your mental health will thank you later.
  6. Store the makings of “quick-energy” and “quick-prep” foods.  There will likely be times when you won’t have the time to cook something.  Or when you need an energy boost, and you need it now.  (Or, you’re looking ahead and planning for those times that you will need one.)  It would probably be good to have a few things around for that purpose.  Something as simple as trail mix, or gorp.  Something you don’t need to heat up, or to cool down.  Pre-prepped “snack food” type things, that you can just grab and go.  Need a quick something to eat between waves of zombies trying to overrun the compound?  There you are.
  7. It’s probably better to have a little of everything than a lot of one item.  So, you know how much you’ll need for a year.  You only have some of the money to get it.  I advise getting a little of everything on the list, or as best you can.  If the unthinkable happens, and the world ends before you’re fully stocked, the variety (there’s that word again!) will probably serve you better than having 100 pounds of wheat, 50 tins of spam, and some salt licks.  (Those are better than nothing, granted, but you won’t survive long on them.)

And now, back to the original question: how much food do I need?  Well, given all of the above, my suggestion is to get “a little extra” on your next shopping trip–say, enough for two or three extra days.  Wash, rinse, repeat, and after a couple of months, you will have at least a couple of weeks worth of food–and before you know it, you’re set!

This topic could go on an don an don forever; again, there is a lot of information out there.  Read!  Learn!  And most importantly, use that new knowledge…

In a future post, I’ll try to remember to plumb my wife’s brain for tips on meal planning, which is another great food prep/storage/use tool…


About leftwingsurvivalist

I'm a survivalist and prepper with a difference!
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9 Responses to Survival Question Number Two: Food (part two)

  1. The only thing I would add would be something you sort of already mentioned – variety is the spice of life. So don’t forget the spices. They might be hard to come by and can make even the same thing day in and out just a little different.

    • Yes! I knew I was forgetting something. Can’t forget the spices–and again, store what you use. (Look in your cupboard–see all those unopened jars of spices? Ditch ’em. All the ones that are less than half-full? Those are the ones you’re going to want.) Salt, in particular, is important; I’d recommend against worrying about things like “garlic salt” and “onion salt” and the like–garlic and onions are a breeze to grow, and store for a long long time… Thanks for the reminder!

  2. synger says:

    I would also add things like oil and vinegar, and a bottle or two of each of the sauces that you use regularly (stir-fry sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire, ketchup, mustards, salsas, pesto, even salad dressings (though they may go rancid after you open them), etc.) With various sauces and spices, you can dress noodles and canned chicken up a multitude of ways.

    • Great suggestion! Here, too, is where a bit of knowledge comes in handy. Of the list you gave, the only one that’s particularly problematic is oil; it doesn’t like to store for long (goes rancid quickly). Everything else can be made from scratch, with a bit of effort. Worcestershire and soy sauces are difficult, but doable. Ketchup is a snap, as is mustard and hot sauce. Vinegar I’ve made on my own–better than anything I could buy. I’ve seen an ad for a low-cost oil press; I’m thinking that a plot of high-oil sunflowers could provide. Hm… I’ve got a series of columns planned for making various things (oil lamps have been mentioned, and there are others); I’ll have to add recipes to the list. Thanks!

    • …And my wife reminded me of something last night. Let’s not all get caught up in the “don’t forget this, or that, or the other” bit. Let’s not get stuck in the details; keep the big picture in mind. Do you normally use those spices, or those sauces? If so, you should be storing them already, right? If you don’t, there’s no reason to think that you’ll start. Store what you already use…

  3. centennialgreenconsultingblog says:

    There seem to be two lines of thinking on food. One was to buy one of those “year supply of food for 4 people” packages and stash it away in a closet somewhere. They taste like crap, and cost a fortune, but i would not turn my nose up at those meals. The other was to “buy what you eat and eat what you buy.” This seems really picky. I don’t know about you, but I can live off lentils with rice, and eat oatmeal every morning if I know there is an emergency going on, and I know that I am lucky to have 2,500 calories a day sitting in my cupboards. I buy staples for pennies a pound when times are good, and use them gladly (such as much of the last two years off and on) when things are difficult. Boring and cheap, but flexible, I can live with. as i told my dad when I served him lentil and brown rice with carrots and cilantro from my winter garden the other day, “This is what poor people in France eat.”

  4. Seven says:

    I’m late to the party, but I’d like to address something that doesn’t get much play: minimizing the use of water for cooking. Many, many people advocate storing white rice and on the surface that seems like a good idea. The problem, though, is that when you cook rice all the water is used. However, if you were to cook pasta instead the water could be reserved and used again for the same purpose. Culinarily (is that a word?) speaking, reusing pasta water is a sin. However, in a scenario when a water shortage can be expected, it would be a way to stretch your supply.

    Btw, I came here a few weeks ago via the link on reddit.

    • Welcome! The water issue has to be one of the ones that irks me the most when watching various prepper shows on TV. Sure, you’ve got dehydrated and freeze-dried food for three years–but you’ve only got enough water for a month. What are you going to cook with?
      Thanks for the input, and I hope you enjoy the blog!

  5. wyndwalkr says:

    I have the equipment for rainwater catchment, filtration and purification. I supose in the end it will still taste like crap…literally…bird crap off the roof!! 😀

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