5 Things I Wish I had Known About Food Storage When I Got Started
#1 - Wheat is just FLOUR.
Photo Source: Annie Mole
I was really intimidated by long term food storage in the beginning because I didn't even know what wheat looked like, let alone how to use it. One day I was at a friend's house and saw her wheat grinder sitting on her kitchen counter. I asked her about it and she gave me a demo and sent me home with a baggie full of wheat flour and a great whole wheat bread recipe. I made homemade bread for the first time in my life and had an "aha" moment when I realized that if I know how to cook with FLOUR, I already know how to cook with WHEAT. A few months later I was able to afford to purchase my own wheat grinder and my food storage life changed forever.
#2 - You don't have to store everything a calculator tells you to store.
Photo Source: Leonid Mamchenkov
In the beginning I was obsessed with getting the exact right pounds of everything that the typical food storage calculators said to get. As my shelves started filling up with legumes like split peas and lentils, and I faithfully tried to learn new recipes to actually USE those items ... I finally admitted defeat. I just do NOT like split pea soup or lentils. I even tried sprouting lentils and sneaking them into foods but I still did not like them. It is not a sin to store more of something else that you and your family will actually EAT.
#3 - You need more water than you think ... and even more than that!
photo source: Dottie Mae
Most sources say to store somewhere between 3-14 days of drinking water and assume 1 gallon per day per person. I initially thought that 14 gallons per person was a TON of water and I would be all set with that amount. As I have done more research and practiced living through different emergency situations, I have quickly realized how important water is, and how many things we use it for beyond just staying alive.
There are things you can store (paper plates, sanitation kits, etc.) that can reduce the amount of water you use for things like washing dishes, flushing toilets, etc. but it is still a good idea to store as much water as you possibly have space for. Stick juice and pop bottles EVERYWHERE in your house. You will be glad you did!
#4 - Beans are an AMAZING food!
photo source: cookbookman17
If you think beans are just for chili so you don't need to store very many, think again. Over the years I have learned so many ways to use beans and my storage has grown to reflect that. White beans can be ground into a bean flour that can be used as a healthy, low-fat thickening agent. You mix bean flour and white to act as a white sauce base for soups, homemade mac n cheese, etc. You can add a little chicken bouillon and make a fantastic cream of chicken soup for casseroles.
If you cook up and then mash your beans, they can become a fat substitute in tons of baked goods. Don't replace your oil with sugary applesauce, add a little fiber to your cakes and brownies by using beans! You can even match the color of beans to the color of the food you are making and no one will ever know the difference.
One of the best purchase I ever made was getting an electric pressure cooker to make my bean cooking super easy and delicious. I now have the confidence to use beans in so many different things, and if I ever have a powerless emergency I can easily transition to cooking them using alternate methods and using them in all the foods I've been practicing with this whole time.
#5 - Starting small is better than not starting at all.
photo source: Yoni Lerner
This was an approach that I took with starting to get my food storage in place. Julie and I developed the ten babysteps on Food Storage Made Easy to make it very easy to get started without getting overwhelmed. However there were many things we were really intimidated by that we just ignored for the first little while. Powerless cooking was one of the biggest examples. Instead of starting small with a small camp stove, I just chose to ignore the topic and worry about it later. Looking back, I wish I would have jumped in and started at least researching and learning a few small things back in the beginning. It would have given me a lot more confidence for emergency situations and I would have had a lot more years of experience with that topic. So if there is something you feel overwhelmed about, just jump in and at least do something SMALL!