When preparing for a disaster you must consider how you are going to store food and for how long. While stocking food bars in your 3 day kit is okay, eating that long term is not. What if the bread winner of the family lost his/her job, what would you do? How long will you be able to survive? What if you were able to stay in your home for 3 more months? How would you eat without any income coming in?
The solution is to prepare a head of time. Here are several ways you can do that.
Buy Extra Food
The first thing you need to do is start buying in bulk. Go get you a Sam’s Club card or a Costco card or whatever bulk buying store you have in your area and start buying some of your food there. If you can’t afford both, use a friend’s of yours and them her use yours.
I found there are some things I can get from Costco that I can’t get from Sam’s Club and vice versa. Yet, there are some things I find even cheaper at my local LDS Canary.
Sometimes, the local supermarket will have a sale and that’s better than all three. So it pays to look around and get what is best for you and your family.
All the extra food you don’t use right away, store it for later. You can use air-tight containers, Mylar bags with or without buckets, and food saver packages. Depending on how long you are storing your food you can add oxygen absorbers to your containers.
Dehydrate Your Food
What if you have a garden or got a good sale on fresh produce, how can you store that? One method is through dehydration. There are several good dehydrators out there, but according to my most of the people I’ve met through my dehydrating group on Facebook the Excalibur and the American Harvest dehydrators are the best. These people are extremely helpful and there are no dumb questions. You got to love them.
I actually bought the Excalibur from Amazon and love it. It is a huge piece of equipment, but it holds a lot. One of my daughters asked me why I have it. The other daughter replied, “So she can stock up on some food.”
My oldest daughter smirked and said, “She eats everything she dehydrates. What is she saving?”
I had to laugh because I was doing that. I can no longer eat potato chips and I love the crunchiness of them. I had to find an alternative. My solution: dehydrate fruits and vegetables to make my own chips. Now I’m trying to eat more raw foods and the dehydrator allows me to do that. Sorry, I digressed.
The dehydrator can save you a ton of money. You can now dehydrate your leftovers or make soup mixes that will save you time and money. One day I needed some mushrooms for a meal I was preparing and I didn’t feel like going to the store. Happy me, I remembered I dehydrated some a few weeks before. I didn’t have to leave home and I could still have the meal I wanted. Hooray me!
If you buy the Excalibur it comes with a great book to help you through your learning curve. It gives you a way to figure out how long it will take your food to dehydrate based on humidity. It has recipes in it and how to prepare certain foods before dehydrating. I love, love, love the dehydrating method. When I get some extra money I will buy the American Harvest to see how well that works.
Oh yeah, for those who eat meat, you can make jerky.
The downside to dehydrating is the turnaround time. For some foods it can take a long time to finish like 24 hours or more. Thank God, this is not the case for the majority of foods. Depending on the machine you buy and the space you have available, it can be too large for you. If you are in an emergency situation and are low on water, then some of your food cannot be used. It needs water to rehydrate in order to be used.
The upside is you can store a lot in a small amount of space. You can eat fruit and vegetable chips right out of the bag. You can have the ingredients you need for recipes on hand, even when it is out of season.
Can Your Food
Another way to preserve your food is through canning. Before I started canning I joined a canning group in Facebook. These are some of the nicest people ever. They are very helpful and patient with new comers. They told me what I needed to buy before I started.
I went to Walmart and bought a canner, book, 2 dozen of pint jars, a starter kit, an extra funnel, measuring cups, and labels for about $50. The canner I got is for water bath canning. It’s used for high acidic foods like fruits and tomatoes. I wanted to get started and at the time this is what I could afford.
My first attempt was making applesauce and canning it. I chose this only because it seemed like the easier thing to do. I don’t really like applesauce. Now after making it and tasting it I found out it’s the store brand applesauce I don’t like. The applesauce I made tasted great. I made regular and spiced, which I have used in my oatmeal. My grandson loved it. He will not eat oatmeal without it now.
Then I decided to make strawberry jam and apple butter. Now I great thing I like about canning is ready to eat foods. I use the jam and apple butter for my grandson’s sandwiches instead of store bought. I know what’s in these and don’t have to worry about all of the extra stuff. I used the strawberry jam in my yogurt, ice cream, pastry filling, and anything else I think strawberries can go. I guess the truth be told I really don’t have a storage supply, but I will be working on it.
If you can afford a pressure canner, you can do almost any type of food – vegetables and meat included. You can make your favorite soup and can the leftovers. Or do like most canners do – make a double batch to can. That way if you’re ever in a lazy mood, you can just pop a top and heat up, like you do with store bought soups, but without the extra ingredients of stuff you don’t why they put it in there in the first place.
The downside to canning is the cost of the jars, the space you need to store them, and the possibility of breaking or chipping them since they are glass. Also, waiting for the jars to cool and seal takes awhile.
The upside is the jars are reusable and depending on the type of lid you use, so are they. It doesn’t take a lot of extra time to cook extra food, fill jars, and put them in the canner. Once completely sealed, you can now eat that food whenever you want. It’s just a matter of open, pour, heat, and serve, if it’s a complete meal.
I like both methods because they offer two different ways of storing and eating your food storage. They both offer me convenience of having what I need on hand without it spoiling.