I took a cooking class at my church a couple of weeks ago. The class was less on cooking than preparing a food storage and how to think of it in terms of foods you will eat when the time comes. Their particular focus was using beans and lentils. At the end of the class we sampled some foods that the teacher felt would be great emergency (and non-emergency foods).
The purpose of the class is to get you thinking and open up discussion about food storage. I got to tell you – it’s got me thinking. I’m already terrified about the end of the world (however that may come) but the diminishing pantry at our house has me even more concerned. We live in a fairly rural area and I know we don’t have enough storage to barely make it through the month, let alone a disaster.
As I work on developing a plan for our home food storage, I thought I’d share with you some of the things we are thinking and doing. At this moment, it’s a lot of thinking. We don’t have a lot of money and we live in an apartment which means not a lot of space. I refuse to become one of those people who tuck cans under furniture and use them to prop up false tables. We have no plans to use cans anymore due to the BPA and it just seems like a silly way to prepare a food storage (I tell you they did suggest the weird places in your house you could tuck in food).
What does one need and how long should one prepare for? The standard number is two weeks. Most disasters get support within two weeks – either because it’s over or because emergency aid kicks in. That’s the number I plan on starting with.
The biggest thing is water. The recommended amount of water is 14 gallons per person (for 2 weeks). That’s a lot of water but it’s not only drinking but cooking and cleaning water. This is not bathing water, however. Don’t forget your pets – they need less water because they most likely won’t need it for their food or hygiene so you could get away with half that amount for your pet.
For us – that’s nearly 50 gallons of water. We could cheat and get a 55 gallon drum from the local Pepsi/Coke plant and fill it ourselves. The problem with that – 55 gallons of water is heavy and I’m not comfortable having that sitting somewhere in our third floor apartment. If we had a place to set it outside, I might be more comfortable. I do want to note that if you get containers – be sure they are food grade, you don’t toxins leaching into your water while you’re storing it for emergencies (more on that in a later post).
We’re talking about the 55 gallon drum but in the meantime, I’ve decided that it’s reasonable to purchase 5 gallon containers of water from the grocery store. I only have to figure out where to store one at a time since I’ll be picking one up with my monthly shopping. It’s not that expensive (maybe $5) so it won’t feel like an unreasonable expense. We already have a well put together emergency kit that includes water purification tablets but we are thinking about a filtration system.
As for food, this is the part that is so individual that it’s really hard to tell someone what to get. My mother once said that if she had to live off her food storage then she wanted nothing but canned foods. She hated the idea of trying to cook real meals if she didn’t have power. For me, I’m not tempted because I love “cowboy” cooking. We have a single “burner” camp stove but we don’t have is back-up fuel. That’s something I need to add to the list. We do have a couple of gel fuel cans that we can cook with but they won’t last two weeks.
As I am canning, I’m thinking as well. I want to can some beans, not only for our use but they would be perfect if we need to access the emergency supplies. Beans are my first thought. Sprouts are my second – they will provide nutrients and fresh foods in the case of an emergency.
Dried fruits and veggies are coming next on my list. I’ve started to dry excess “freggies” to preserve them but also to give us emergency food. At this moment, we don’t have much but it’s a start. For me, squirreling away a little bit here and there gives me piece of mind. I’m not going out and spending a ton of money on emergency food and I’m more efficient with the foods we have.
One of my next steps is to start creating jar meals. I saw this on a blog and thought I can do that. Through together homemade instant meals. The blog (which I will link to when I get to that post) is affiliated with an emergency supply company but I figure I can dry my own foods. I had visited with a couple who do that exact thing – a little extra soup goes into the dehydrator for storage, extra cheese, beans or whatever else becomes part of a larger food storage and they already know they like it.
Now the hardest part comes – getting enough canning jars for everything I want to do. Rumor is that jars are going to be my gifts for my birthday and Christmas – talk about the gift that keeps on giving (and the givers get to enjoy the fruits of my labors as well).