Let’s say your home is safe but a regional disaster like an ice storm or hurricane has crippled normal electricity, water, and emergency services.
As you hunker down and wait for the amazing people who keep our grid running to repair damage, clear roads, reroute supplies, fix power lines, and generally to the dirty work of infrastructure maintenance, you may get hungry.
Many people who read this blog probably find this a bit inconceivable, but most Americans don’t keep chickens, can their own food, or buy staple foods in bulk. I’ve read conflicting numbers, but the general consensus seems to be that something like half of us have less than four days worth of food on hand at any given time.
I’m pretty sure I could list a dozen reasonable, totally-not-Zombie events that could disrupt the food supply system or regional food supply access for four days or longer in less than a minute. Shall we try?
- Snow or ice storms
- Dam collapse that interrupts regional electricity generation capacity
- Fires that damage electrical overhead conductors, interrupting regional electricity generation capacity
- Any hardware or software fluke that allows electrical transmission lines to overload, leading to grid damage that interrupts regional electricity generation capacity
- Oil price spikes or temporary oil supply disruption sufficient to impact timely transport-truck refueling
- Supply chain disruptions in key shipping ports half-way across the world
- A terror or cyber attack that interrupts the smooth functioning of the electrical grid
- The threat of a threat, resulting in hoarding and empty shelves
Okay that actually took just slightly longer than a minute to type out. My point stands.
Food Delivery, Modern Miracles, Electricity and You
You may notice many of the things I listed are centered around the electrical grid. That’s not really a fluke.
We have an amazing, just-in-time delivery system for our food. It’s a logistical freaking miracle that many urban Americans can buy fresh strawberries from Peru, in November, online and have them delivered in about 90 minutes. And nearly everyone can buy fresh, refrigerated liquid milk any day of the year.
Take a second and just think about how unprecedented this level of integrated global food production and delivery really is. It’s mind blowing.
This system is highly dependent on refrigerated regional warehouses, refrigerated trucks and refrigerated supermarkets. It’s all coordinated over computer systems that require electricity. Anything that disrupts the free and continuous flow of electricity over a wide enough area and for more than a few hours is a painful disruption to the miracle that is the just-in-time delivery system.
Eventually, if there is a physical path (and, uh, the economic demand), supplies will get to you. But there are so many electricity and transportation-dependant potential points of failure in this system that disasters can and do interrupt it’s smooth functioning.
The first goal of hunker-down food storage, therefore, is to simply allow you and your family to continue to eat despite an interruption to the normal food delivery system, without standing in a FEMA or Red Cross line for 8 hours a day.
How Much Should I Store?
The general rule of thumb for disaster scenarios is a minimum of 2 weeks of non-perishable food. There are people who will argue passionately that you need 6 months, 12 months, or even 2 years worth of food on hand.
If that makes you sleep at night, fine. I keep far more than 2 weeks of food on hand at all time, so I don’t see a problem with deep food storage per se.
But you had better not be carrying 5 years of food storage on credit. Be smart here. Purchasing extra food, even cheap food like rice and beans, has both a real cost (say, $20 for a huge bag of rice) and an opportunity cost (everything else that $20 could do for you, including help get you out of debt).
Sane preparedness is about reasonable steps to mitigate disasters – and after the first several weeks of a disaster, in most situations having an extra month of savings to draw from will be more useful than having an extra month’s worth of savings converted into pinto beans.
So, for sure, build up to that 2 week store of food in your pantry, and expand your food store if your time, inclination and finances allow, but before you attempt anything like 6 months or more of food storage, please ensure you are already in a strong financial position and have a savings buffer to draw from.
(Of course, if you think either a financial or worldwide agricultural collapse is imminent and that’s the disaster you’re concerned about, you will probably feel differently. You do you. This is why I asked you to figure out your Zombie Apocalypse Scenario first.)
What Does Two Weeks Mean?
Having two weeks in food storage doesn’t mean you just got back from Walmart with a full cart and everything will last about 14 days before your cupboards are bare again. Keeping a 14 day food storage pantry means 2 weeks is the lowest your food stores ever drop.
If “my cupboards are totally empty” is 0 days worth of food, then your new 0 is now 14 days. At the point where you hit 14 days worth of food inventory, go get more food. At the point where you have 16 days worth of food in your house, you are now 2 days away from being totally out of food. See how that works?
This idea of a permanent running back-stock is called “Par” in the food service world. I wrote a whole post about how I use the twin concepts of “Par” and “FIFO” to build and maintain a very deep larder of food I actually use. You can read all about that here.
What Should I Store?
Well, that depends. Do you want to build up a deep larder of foods you and your family already cook and eat, and rotate through your deep larder often enough that you never have to worry about special storage considerations or shelf-life issues? Or do you want to just go buy some freeze dried or other long-term emergency food, and put in a closet just in case you need it in an emergency?
One of my favorite YouTube Channels does a great job of explaining the multiple types of “Prepper Pantries.” In this video, Jaime at Guildbrook Farms calls them the “working pantry” and the “emergency pantry.”
I typically used the terms “deep larder” and “emergency food” but the meaning is the same. In any event, Jaime and I are on the same page here: either your food storage is integrated into your normal routines of cooking and shopping, or it isn’t.
What’s best for you? Well, that’s gonna depend almost entirely on how you live now. Do you cook from scratch (or nearly so) most days? Do you eat out far more often than you eat in?
Here’s a totally non-scientific quiz. See which of these statements you identify with.
If you tend to identify more with the statements in the left hand column, build up a deep, working larder. If you tend to identify more with the statements in the right hand column, store bought emergency or long-term freeze-dried food that you buy once and don’t worry about for another 25 years may be more appropriate for your lifestyle.
I’m A Deep Larder Person – How Do I Build-up A Larder?
I’m glad you asked. If you haven’t read it, this post goes into great detail about how I manage my own deep larder inventory.
For a two week pantry, keep it simple. Buy more of what you already eat. Here’s a few key concepts to get you started:
The simplest way to inexpensively build up your food store is to buy two of a shelf stable item you’d normally buy one of, every time you go grocery shopping. For example, if you’d normally buy one can of black beans at the store, buy two.
This technique is called copy-canning, because you are just “copying” the cans you buy normally. Copying one or two cans of food per weekly grocery store trip can help you build up a deep working larder for just a couple dollars a week.
If you have more funds, you can buy more cans. Let’s say you’re going to make chili and you need two cans of tomatoes and a can each of pinto and kidney beans. If money is tight, buy one more of something. If money is a little looser, buy one more of everything.
Any time you buy something non perishable, like canned goods, rice, pasta, tuna, soups, etc., you can use the copy-canning technique to slowly build up your larder. The only thing you need to remember is to not eat that inventory back down to zero.
Once you hit the two-week back stock, decide if you have the space, money, and inclination to go further with your food storage. If not, that’s ok – just maintain what you have by thinking of 14 days worth of food as your new “no food in the house.”
If you have the financial ability, bulk purchasing is a fast way to get maximal food security and deep-larder building in a hurry. You friendly neighborhood warehouse store almost certainly has 20-pound+ bags of beans, rice, lentil, oats and more that you can go buy right now.
Azure Standard, Bob’s Red Mill, and other co-op and natural foods type organizations can get almost any grain or legume in bulk. Purchased in bulk, organic versions of these types of items are only a bit more expensive per pound than their conventional counterparts.
Costco and similar stores also sell canned foods, including beans, fruit, tuna, etc. in packages of 12 or so cans. Often the price per can is not quite as good as you might find if you carefully track sales and/or coupon at a grocery store, but the convenience of one-stop shopping might be worth it for you.
Markets that cater to ethnic communities (Mexican, Indian and Korean markets are pretty common around me) are always a great resource for bulk staple foods. South Asian markets are well stocked with more types of lentils and chickpeas than you probably knew existed plus top quality, inexpensive spices. East Asian markets are typically excellent for various seeds and nuts in bulk, a wide variety of rice, and wheat and rice noodles. Hispanic markets are unrivaled for variety of dried chilis and corn products like masa and hominy. You’ll also find long-lasting lard (although it’s probably hydrogenated), and a wide assortment of dried beans.
Most grocery stores with a good bulk section will be happy to order you in a wholesale bag (20-50 pounds) of any of their staple items. You may even get a small price break if you buy in bulk by the full bag. It’s like a case discount, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Think Substitutions For Highly Perishable Foods
Certain foods, like fresh liquid milk, are real staples for many families, but are highly dependant on that fragile, fully-refrigerated distribution network we talked about earlier.
Luckily, there are some “prepper” substitutions you can make. Dried powdered milk, properly packaged and stored, can last up to 20 years. If you don’t use it and it’s getting towards the end of the shelf life, just reconstitute and use it in baked goods.
Deep Larder Things To Remember
Again, this post covers how I personally manage my food storage in even greater detail:
1. Buy What You Eat, Eat What You Buy
Keep it simple – if it’s a food you eat regularly, buy extra for backstock. If it’s a food you were just trying out, or a small jar of something exotic you bought for that one recipe, don’t worry about that from a “larder” perspective.
2. Replenish what you Eat
In order for the deep larder concept to work, it has to stay, well, deep. Which means that as you eat down into your larder, you need to refresh your pantry stores to stay at or above that 14 day minimum.
Done right, you should never actually run out of your staple foods.
3. First In, First Out!
Always eat your oldest staple food first. If you’re maintaining a larder that never falls below 2 weeks worth of food, you shouldn’t end up with anything more than a month or so old in your pantry. If your pantry grows to several months or more, sticking to FIFO (First In, First Out) principles becomes even more critical.
4. Date And Rotate
Just like FIFO, Date and Rotate is a way to ensure you are being smart about your food’s expiration dates. An easy trick is to simply write the purchase month and year on any staple food you bring home as you unload your cans and packages into your cupboard or pantry. Use sharpie and write right on the package.
I’m An Emergency Food Person – What Now?
For a variety of reasons – space, interest, inventory management, etc., you may decide that it’s too much bother to maintain a deep pantry. In that case, you’ll want two weeks of long-term emergency food that can be utilized in the event of a power outage or other hunker-down emergency.
If you go this route you have two basic options:
- Off the shelf long-term grocery items like canned goods that can store for several years, but are not integrated into your everyday food rotation.
- Specialty long-term emergency foods (often freeze dried) that can last for up to 30 years.
Here’s some typical foods in each category:
Grocery Store Emergency Food vs. Specialty Long-Term Emergency Food
Here’s some pros and cons of each type of emergency food, to help you decide which is right for you.
Advantages of Grocery Store Emergency Food
- No special ordering.
- It’s easy to try small quantities before you invest in more.
- Familiar form-factor (everyone knows how to eat canned chili).
- Can be very cost effective.
- Easy to build up over time.
- Many grocery store canned goods require minimal preparation – even heating isn’t absolutely necessary for most canned foods.
- Within reason, many ways of eating can be accommodated.
Drawbacks of Grocery Store Emergency Food
- For a “set-it-and-forget-it” solution, you still have to rotate your food stores every few years.
- Bulky and heavy to move and transport in an emergency
- For longest shelf life, some items like grains, pastas, etc. are best repackaged into specialty longer term packaging like mylar bags.
- Grocery store dry goods like grains or dry beans require a good deal of water and energy to cook.
Advantages of Specialty Long-Term Emergency Foods
- Extremely long term shelf life – a true “set-it-and-forget-it” option – one well known brand, Mountain House, guarantees their freeze dried meals will remain in good shape for 30 years.
- Packed for maximum shelf life, typically with oxygen absorbers and in sealed cans or light and air blocking metalized pouches.
- Often freeze-dried, very lightweight, and packaged in buckets or tubs – which means moving your emergency food is far simpler.
- Most long-term emergency foods require only boiling water to reconstitute, so meals are simple and very low energy to prepare.
- Most options are also good backpacking and lightweight camping food options.
Drawbacks of Specialty Long-Term Emergency Foods
- Often expensive.
- Flavor is highly variable and it can be expensive to “try out” various meal options to find a brand and flavor options you like. Mountain House is widely recognized as one of the best in terms of flavor. I’ve tried 8 or 10 different flavors from the Mountain House line of freeze dried meals and they’re…meh. I mean, I’ll eat them in an emergency, but to me the flavor is pretty similar to a typical microwave meal.
- Dedicated emergency food rarely accommodates specialty diets or ways of eating.
- Many freeze dried meals are quite starchy, salty, and contain a number of food additives and/or preservatives. How much you care about this is a personal thing.
- Some freeze dried meal manufacturers are…how do I put this? Optimistic about serving size. In other words, it’s not uncommon for a what’s marketed as “a full day’s worth of food!” to be 1400-1600 calories. If you are a big guy doing physical labor, 1400 calories may not go very far. Conversely, military style MREs can load thousands of calories into a single meal. Just be aware of your caloric needs when assessing emergency food like this. Look at total calories per pouch or meal, not just days on the box.
How Should I Store My Food?
This is totally dependent on your rotation schedule. If you have an extra 14 days worth of staple foods worked into your normal food use routine, no special packaging or considerations are really necessary. Keep the “emergency” backstock of food in the same place you keep your normal food – because it’s all integrated. Just FIFO and Date and Rotate and you should always have fresh food well within it’s best-by date on your selves.
If you opt for specialty long store food stuffs, like freeze-dried meals that last 20 to 30 years, you also don’t need to put too much thought into storage. Keep your emergency food in a cool, dry place. A closet or under a bed are good choices. The garage is a fine location if you live in a mild climate – but if you live someplace like Texas or Florida, heat buildup in the garage can shorten the shelf life of even well packaged emergency food.
An in-building storage unit if you are in an apartment or condo is another option, just think carefully about your likely risks and accessibility in the event of an emergency. Going down to the storage unit to get your food if a hurricane is predicted or if the power goes out isn’t a huge deal; it might be more difficult after an earthquake.
Modern packaging on specialty emergency food is pretty bulletproof, but excess moisture is never good in food storage. Avoid damp areas of your home if at all possible, and store your food up off the ground if moisture intrusion or flooding is a concern.
In some ways, the trickiest storage situation is for standard grocery store foodstuffs that are not integrated into your working pantry. According to the USDA most low acid canned goods will stay in good condition for 2 to 5 years, while high acid canned foods like tomatoes and fruit last 12 to 18 months. (See this link for additional information.)
These numbers are conservative, and in an emergency situation I would be willing to eat commercially canned food far older than 2 to 5 years assuming there were no signs of leaking, bulging or contamination. But the safest way to keep a back-up of emergency food from the grocery store will be to replace it every couple of years. Rotating your emergency food into your normal food-stuffs over the span of a few months, while replacing what you’ve used with new food is a low-waste way to go about this.
• • •
We’ll cover storing water and cooking options in upcoming posts. In the meantime, how do you do emergency food storage in your home? What do you think of keeping 14 days worth of food on hand at all times? Overkill and unnecessary, barely a start, or just about the right amount?
• • •
Preparedness 101: The September (and Beyond) Series
- Preparedness 101: What’s Your Preparedness Philosophy
- Preparedness 101: Everyone Has A Zombie Apocalypse Scenario
- Preparedness 101: Assembling A 72 Hour Bag
- Preparedness 101: Information Preparedness with a Family Reference Binder
- Preparedness 101: Determine Your Evacuation, Meetup and Emergency Procedures
- Preparedness 101: Hunkering Down At Home
- Preparedness 101: Shun Ignorance and Reject Panic – Focus On Readiness
- Preparedness 101: How To Build A Two Week Emergency Pantry <— You are here
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early says
This list, especially “buy what you eat” is really similar to what I learned when I first started canning and pickling. I had so much fun with the process and trying new recipes that I ended up with a ton of food that we didn’t eat. While I’m theory canning is a great way to save money and reduce your need on the grocery store, this is only true if you actually want to eat what you canned! Funny how it took me a couple of years to learn that. Now I mostly make jams, candied jalapeños, a few pickles, and plum sauce, because I know they’ll get eaten. Applesauce doesn’t.
Thanks for this! I’ve never really thought about specifically stocking food for emergency preparedness. On the other hand I cannot fathom having only four days’ worth of food in the house. Just… can’t…what?…wow. I have cereal on the laundry room shelves and cans and bulk oatmeal under the stairs ’cause there just isn’t room in the kitchen. So I guess I am already doing some of that deep-larder plan, mostly because I’m just cheap. ?
Nicole A. says
Tee-hee, this sounds a lot like us. We buy a lot because it’s on sale…and then have no where to put it. We also don’t allow ourselves to buy a lot of stuff, but food is necessary, so we often “retail-therapy” with food purchases!
Jen B-K says
I’m a Deep Larder person (the totally unscientific quiz is hilarious BTW). I bought 25 lbs. if pinto beans last week. Any thoughts on the best storage method. The plan is to eat from them, then order another bag when we are down to 10lbs or so. I’ve bought in bulk for years, but more like two gallon jars worth, not a 25lb. Bag.
Our family is on the can and freeze all the food and then have jars and lids to cans the freezer if needed. So with our buckets of wheat berries, oatmeal, sugar, pasta and other dried things we would be good for quite a while. The meals might become an interesting mix of things, but we’d survive. My goal is always to can enough for a year of those things so while we would be down to less than I’d like to have at one point in the year we’d be about to restock so shouldn’t be starving in the midst of garden harvest. I just cannot wrap my head around only having a few days worth of food in the house. Even moving out of my apartment in college I always had extra food and I knew I was moving and I was in college! It is a mentality I simply do not understand and a situation that would cause me serious distress.
This series is simply fantastic and I can’t thank you enough for doing it!
I’ve been following your blog with great interest as I slowly assemble our emergency preparedness supplies. I think 14 days of food sounds reasonable, but it will take time for me to work up to that goal. Even just starting with a 72 hour food stockpile is tricky because we have both Celiac and food allergies in my large family, very limited storage space, and a frugal budget. Our Goldilocks solution turned out to be a Deluxe Sampler of freeze-dried foods from http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com It has small bags of 2+ dozen individual ingredients, so (once I make some dry flavoring packets) I’ll be able to cook a variety of meals instead of being limited to reheating 1 or 2 jumbo tubs of a single kind of meal. The baggies all fit in a single backpack, rather than taking up an entire pantry shelf like cans/jars/boxes would. And I could afford to buy TWO sets – one to stash and one to practice cooking with so I’ll have my recipes adapted BEFORE the zombies attack! There’s nothing worse than debating whether to add 1 tsp of curry or 2 while something gnaws your shoulder… ?
Mary W says
Two. And it’s tablespoons, not teaspoons.
Lol, I jest. But I hear you loud and clear, and thank you for that link!
I’m pretty sure my zombie apocalypse will happen with my home intact (if not, then pretty much it’s cuz the Cascadia fault ruptured and I’m super screwed), so I’m a deep larder girl. I’m a canner, and have tons of chicken stock, beans, grains, jams, and various dried things. What I don’t keep is nn-perishable fruits and veggies. I could can my supply of frozen tomatoes, for sure. But I would do well to stock up on non perishables.
14days’ supply is a good start. For me it may be good to have a portable food option if I feel the need to migrate in a non-motorized way to meet my fam in CA after a disaster.
Steve Tracy says
With several of your non-zombie events, it would seem likely that your home would be compromised or even destroyed. Would you ever recommend storing some of your larder in a separate outbuilding?
Sure, if you have a one and it’s climate appropriate to do so. I’m not an expert on every natural disaster, but if I lived in tornado country, for example, I’d keep my emergency food underground in my storm shelter. So I think there’s a bit of a “know your risks” aspect. I think most non-mobile homes built recently in Florida to code are gonna be more likely to withstand a severe hurricane than, say, a tough-shed. But if you were down on the gulf cost and wanted to hedge your bets with a concrete outbuilding or something, where you could store extra gear, that seems reasonable.
But if your house was literally destroyed like has happened to folks in the wildfires down in Napa-Sonoma recently, you’re in a different scenario than “hunkering down to wait out the storm.” Your preps beyond your bugout bag and a keychain thumb drive are probably gone, unless you’ve got a full bug out location somewhere. Full local SHTF evacuation mode is a bit of a different thing to deal with. Here’s some of my thoughts that kinda relate to that.
I loved your extended article on this topic that this article links to.
I was wondering if you could share with us a list of how much of what for:
1) what you grow and preserve every year. 2) what you can 3) meat/fish bulk purchases?
Also, Storage methods for grains etc.
I also grow a lot and have started canning more but haven’t quite nailed down quantities for those items for a year’s worth.
I am trying to build up the deep larder approach, both for preparedness but also so that I do not have an excuse to eat out simply because I am very tired. So, I’ve got a bit of a three-part approach. 1) good, real-time cooking. 2) quality freezer meals / home-canned meals. 3) Various tinned things that have some sort of nutritional value that are better than eating out….aka various boxes and bags and tins from Trader Joe’s. And while it would be great if I could just build up the good real-time cooking, that just leaves me eating at Starbucks more often than I should. Freezer / canned/ somewhat nutritive Trader Joe’s meals are where I save myself. So, those are what I have been working to build up. So, those are the backup as well as the Food For Very Tired Days That Happen More Than I Would Like.
Mary W says
Between gardening and our food storage (including our freezer), sometimes I don’t go to the store for weeks to months at a time. Once I made it an entire summer without a grocery trip. If the hubs is willing to buy the milk, i see no reason why I should have to leave my house to do things that are less productive. ? I feel your pain.
Having meals in the freezer is a LIFESAVER when you’re tired… I have 3 kids and a lot on my plate (ha ha, sorry, I didn’t do that on purpose). My frozen spaghetti sauce or soup or stew is regularly the difference between eating in and being so tired that I just cannot face cooking. Plenty of slow-cooked stews and sauces are actually *better* when reheated…
Nicole A. says
We have a pretty deep larder, but weren’t really trying to, per se. We tend to shop at outlet markets like Grocery Outlet and when we see things we like to eat at good prices, we buy a LOT. We also only drive to Trader Joes and other stores in the city once a month, if that. So, when we go, we buy a LOT of each of our staples so we don’t have to drive out there. Having two little ones who hate being in the car is great incentive for buying in bulk!
Our main staples (my husband has Crohn’s, so is on the SCD/GAPS diet. We have a 1 year old and a 4 year old and we all avoid gluten):
– Aroy-D tetra packs of coconut milk. Less than $1/each if bough by the case at asian markets. We always buy a case these days!
– Cashews and macademia nuts from Trader Joes
– Organic canned black bean (I know, I know, I should learn to cook beans from scratch, but I cook so much else from scratch I REALLY don’t want to cook beans from scratch, too).
– Salt –bought in bulk through SaltWorks down in Woodinville
– Canned pumpkin
– Lara Bars
– Organic Fruit Snacks: We tend to buy a lot when they’re at Grocery Outlet because they usually cost an arm and a leg.
– Trader Joes Gluten Free Flour
– Trader Joes Coconut Sugar
– Canned salmon and tuna
– Kippers (my husband and son love these things. BLECH!)
– Potatoes from our garden
– Coconut oil
– Palm Shortening
– Chocolate–I need to buy more. Can’t run out of chocolate!!!
– Molasses–great for electrolytes and cooking
– Collagen – bought in bulk to get discount
– Pouches of applesauce (you know, those drinkable baby food things)
We often over buy at grocery stores because we stress buy. But, since everything is non-perishable, we’ve managed to accrue about a 3-4 weeks in non-perishable food. A full month of food probably if you count our chest freezer full of meat and frozen fruit/veggies. I love not having to worry when the power starts flickering, because I know I always have enough food, or worrying about having specific ingredients when I want to cook something. I almost always have any ingredient I need, which saves a lot of trips to the grocery store! Our only problem is finding where to PUT all the food we keep accruing. Our house is only 1,000 sqft!
Mary W says
Thanks for the tips! I didn’t know that about aroy-d, but that’s one of the brands I’m willing to buy.
I’d love to give you a tip in return: a pressure cooker is the answer to your bean problem. I cook up a big batch in no time, press them flat in ziploc bags, and freeze them. They heat up as fast as the canned kind, but taste like the fresh cooked kind.
Nicole A says
I love Aroy-d’s tetra packs. They come in 1 cup sizes, as well as larger packs. But, we just buy the little 1-cup ones, because they are perfect for most recipes. Making a smoothie? Add a cup of coconut milk! Making a pumpkin pie? One cup of coconut milk, coming up! We don’t have milk at our house since most of us can’t drink it, so coconut milk is our go-to substitute, and I love always having it available and never having to worry about it going bad.
We actually have a pressure cooker (we got an instant pot before they were cool), so I might just try that with the bean! I’ll still get the cans because they don’t require a freezer, but I’d love to have even healthier/tastier beans, too! Thanks!
If you’re a big user of pouches of applesauce (and I have a 1 year old so we are!) try to refillable pouches. I just froze 10 with applesauce for lunchboxes. Made the applesauce from drops from the tree in the slow cooker. I save the shelf stable ones from the store for tucking into diaper bags/car/backpack for when we’re out and about and too hungry to wait. Look for “WeeSprout Double Zipper Reusable Food Pouch – 6 Pack – 5 fl oz” on Amazon.
Mary W says
I’m loving this series. I’m no expert, but I have viewed quite a few decent prepper sites. I’d say you’ve earned your seat at the table with the big dogs. I’m impressed! *applause*
In my home, we have used a combination of deep larder and long term storage. We packaged grains and legumes in mylar bags and buckets, but also bought double cans at the grocery store. Our goal was a 6 month pantry and a year of long term storage. We also have a week’s worth of mountain house meals in a backpack.
Problem is, how we eat began to change while we were building our stock. I learned to garden, which is a gateway drug into spices and home cooking, fresh ingredients, and DIY meal creation. Which of course has the side effect of feeling like a million bucks once all the crap is out of your body. Then I just started crazy stuff like canning my own food because grocery store canned food now tastes disgusting (probably always did). So our 6 months of grocery larder got really, really expired. By years. How did that much time even pass so quickly? I don’t put much stock in the expiration date system, but we’re talking swollen, leaky cans here. I don’t even want to think about how much money we wasted. *shudder* But I also don’t want to think about eating flaccid commercially canned beans, and potatoes from a can that taste mostly like the can. *shudder again* Maybe not making it out alive from the emergency isn’t so bad, if I have to eat my original plan. ?
So we still have our year of staple foods, but I’m researching where to buy the freshest whole spices and how to preserve them the longest. Looking up how to grind them well with no power, and how much to store before we need rotation. Researching how to grow my own lemongrass and Vietnamese coriander, and how to save hybrid seeds with viability for the long term. It’s a long road, and I hope it’s worth it while at the same time hoping we’ll never have the emergency we’re preparing for.
I just wanted to add a “fun” reason the grid could be interrupted. About ten years ago, a squirrel somehow got into the water treatment facility for my city and shorted out the power. As a result the water was untreated, and the entire facility had to be flushed. A large area of the city had no water for the weekend. Of course we were able to just go to the store and buy bottled water, but that went fast. The area without water happened to include a lot of restaurants, which had to close for the weekend. A lot of people lost a lot of money, and had their plans disrupted, all because of a stupid squirrel.
I would consider myself more of a deep pantry person, but after the floods in Colorado a few years ago, I did buy a bucket of freeze dried food and increased water storage. The next town over had a boil order on water and there was no bottled water in the stores. That put enough fear in me to do some prepping.
Katie Newcomb says
Do you worry about the glass jars breaking in the event of an earthquake? I have this vision of all my food being mixed with shards of glass after the cascadia quake.
Yes, I do. It’s definitely one of the reason I’ve diversified my food store to include other dry goods in non/less-breakable packaging. Ideally I’d have some kind of closed-door, bolted-to-studs type shelving, with dividers between jar rows to limit damage in a quake, but that’s not something I see happening for awhile. All this stuff is a process and you just do the best you can until you can do better.
Katie Newcomb says
Well I wish we both had a super easy solution but at least I know I’m not overlooking something simple. Thank you for the reply!
Susan Drake says
FYI, Number 8 on your list of non zombie problems is just not going to happen. Utility grids are just not organized that way. Great food prep info though.
Northeast blackout of 2003: “The blackout’s primary cause was a programming error or “bug” in the alarm system at the control room of FirstEnergy Corporation, an Akron, Ohio-based company. The lack of an alarm left operators unaware of the need to re-distribute power after overloaded transmission lines hit unpruned foliage, triggering a “race condition” in the energy management system software, a bug affecting the order of operations in the system. What would have been a manageable local blackout cascaded into massive widespread distress on the electric grid.” More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003
Happy to learn more if you let me know what sources you recommend.
Susan Drake says
So much has changed since 2003. I guess I should say it wouldn’t happen in the NW now. The systems in place currently are so more advanced and redundant. This article is long but it good.
I’m struggling with my larder as my family as shifted from a lot of putting up and cooking from scratch to eating out more and struggling to even get to the grocery store (thanks to long commutes and very small children who eat dinner at an unreasonably early time). 5 years ago there would have been no question that we were deep larder people. Now, we identify with a lot of items from the emergency food column. So I’m working on a balance. Luckily, our hobbies include a lot of time outdoors (camping, backpacking, mountaineering, hunting, etc.) so we are no strangers to dehydrated meals and always have a small stash of Mountain House for unplanned weekend trips. I think that for us, we would actually benefit from having a large stash of dehydrated meals that we could use for adventures and replenish as needed. That being said, I wouldn’t want to eat Mountain House Pasta Primavera in the long term after a disaster, so I think getting back to building a nice larder would useful and may even help with my current struggles with getting a decent meal on the table with my limited time.
Erica, you’ve taught so many good skills and techniques over the years and I have to thank you that you’ve helped me go from baby steps of canning to maintaining a good deep larder. Learning to pressure can this year has been so freeing, instead of paying to freeze low-acid foods (and letting them get forgotten in the freezer and then buying more and more because I’ve forgotten) I’m nearly down to emptying one chest freezer. Now I have a really satisfying deep pantry built up of ingredient canning of foods hubby and I actually eat. In an emergency we’d be just fine food and shelter wise and also able to help our loved ones. The water is still a work in progress and it also may take a few years to get in the groove of knowing how much to grow so that we have enough but not too much.
This series has been wonderful. Oh and I love the videos over at Guildebrook Farm, too.
Nicole S. says
I am a culinary school grad, so the par system works really well for me and my brain. It has become obvious to me, though, that I do not have an adequate 14 day food storage system or storage space at all. Right now I have big bags of rice and cases of milk, pasta and applesauce piled under my desk….because my small pantry cupboard is full. Definitely an area for improvement!
Question for you: I have a deep pantry with lots of dried beans and whole grains, and, I hope, enough water to cook them. How do you envision cooking items like these. I have a gas range and gas grill, plus electric cooker ( instant pot), but, in the absence of utilities, no way to make them edible. Plus, with electricity out, frozen stores would spoil quickly. Interested in your thoughts. Thanks.
We have backup propane and an adapter to allow that to work with our camp stove. We also have a…I guess you’d call it a rocket-style cook stove for outdoors and camping, and keep charcoal and some firewood on hand.
I am forever indebted to you for this inrnomatiof.
car insurance says
Hey Martina. Ma come le mandi le mail all’URP di Metroroma. Ho scritto piÃ¹ di una volta per segnalare il degrado della Stazione Montebello sulla ferrovia Roma – Viterbo e mi hanno completamente ignorato. 😉
car insurance quotes says
Okay, now I have to check out Walking Dead. Sounds like a cool show.I had no idea that zombies derived from super natural forces. I’ve also never heard the term Draugur. That toe bit made mine ache!