I Need that to Prep: Canned Meat Survival Food

In this article, Lisa Vargas at I Need That to Prep gives a pretty thorough discussion on Canned Meat Survival Food. While it is pretty common in our area for people to have experience raising or hunting meat animals, there are still a large number of people who do not. The human body needs protein every day to produce essential acids and will die without them. While proteins can also be found in lentils, beans, and whole grains, meat is what most people think of first for protein. In order to get all of the required essential acids that your body needs, you must consume what is referred to as a “complete protein.” Foods that contain the nine amino acids which a body must consume are called complete proteins. All animal proteins are complete proteins. A very few plant foods contain complete proteins — soybeans, quinoa, buckwheat, hempseed, and blue-green algae. Other than those, you need to combine incomplete proteins, like whole grains with beans (i.e. beans and rice, beans and tortillas, etc). Meat is more difficult to store long term than dry foods like beans, rice, and whole wheat berries, which is why most long term food storage plans focus on vegetable matter proteins than meat. That said for variety and psychological health/comfort it’s good to store what meat you can.

In our community there is this strange idea that we are going to transform from burger eating desk job dawdlers to hunters and trappers that feast primarily on wild food.

I think if you are not currently eating lots of wild food, you killed or raised, then you will really struggle in becoming a hunter or farmer that survives off of these kinds of animals. That is the reason canned meat for survival is such an important topic.

In this article, we will dive into the subject of canned meat. Whether you realize it or not there is a wide range of canned meats to choose from and some are better than others.

Why You Should Stock Up on Canned Meat for Survival

Protein is key to any preppers pantry and it is also what most pantries are lacking. Some of us keep chickens and hunt to assure we have access to protein outside of the home. These are both great answers to the protein issue, but you can also stock your pantry with great protein options if you know what canned meat to stockpile.

Canned meat for survival does not eat, it doesn’t need to be killed and it is always in the same place. You cannot say that about other sources of meat protein. You do not want to depend on the outside world for all of your meat for this very reason.

Canned meat has a long shelf life and if you know what to buy you can add these meats to meals or even eat them straight from the can! The landscape of the canned meat market is a lot wider than you think. From things like quality canned fish to something as obscure as canned pork brains, it’s all out there!

The canning process is pretty flawless and removes air from the can that prevents bacteria from growing. This is why you can have such a great shelf life out of canned meats. Industrial canning is an incredible technology that changed the world! Why not take advantage of this in your own prepper pantry.

Keys to Look for in Quality Canned Meats

Canned meats are quite possibly one of the widest ranging canned products on the market. Perhaps soup would be the only meat product to compare. Meats are varied and really are broken down between two main categories.

Meat – These meat items are those which are still, mostly, in their original form.

Force Meat – Force meat is a category of meat that is highly processed and reformed into something either resembling meat or takes the shape of the can itself.

If we are talking about quality canned meats, you are looking for those that have been minimally processed. Things like canned salmon, canned chicken and canned mackerel are all minimally processed.

Meats that are highly processed like Spam and Vienna Sausages are tasty, but they are loaded with salt, sugar, and nitrites. While it is not a bad thing to have these on the shelf, you would not want them to be what you eat each and every meal.

Another good tell is to look at the ingredients list on the canned meats you enjoy. Canned meats with the smallest ingredient list are going to be the best.

Shelf Life of Canned Meats

To understand the shelf life of canned goods you have to know what makes them go bad. You see, canned goods are fully cooked, processed with salt and citric acid, placed in sterilized cans, and then vacuum sealed. The cans feature a lining that protect the food from direct contact with the metal.

Overtime the can takes damage from moving around and this can allow micro punctures in the can to allow air inside. Once air gets inside you are going to have bacterial growth. You could also have an acidic food that will wear out the inside lining of the can. This will create a heavy metal poisoning issue over time.

The wonderful thing about canned meats is that they are a non-acidic canned food. Unless they are canned in a tomato sauce you are safe with canned meats.

In the survival community we hear a lot about use by dates and there is much debate about how long you can keep food. Having worked in the food banking industry for 5 years, as a food safety manager, I became an expert on quality and use by dates on canned goods. You see, we had to be able to tell what was useable and what had to be discarded for safety reasons.

Our guidelines were to keep canned meats for 5 years past the best buy date! This low acidic food has no problem extending an already generous best by date by as long as 5 years. That is pretty impressive and gives you one more reason to store canned meat for survival.

Safety of Canned Meats

best canned food for survival

The canning process is incredibly safe and has a tremendous benefit. There is a reason it has been so widely accepted and we still have cans in every home in America, nearly. However, the process is not flawless and there are some things that we need to consider.

When you remove oxygen from an environment it stops the growth of bacteria. That is why this process is so effective. However, there is one bacterium, Botulinum Clostridium, that really enjoys the low oxygen environment.

The bacteria make the botulinum toxin that can be extremely dangerous to the nervous system. This bacterium likes a low sugar, low acid, low oxygen environment and thus canned meats make for a perfect home.

In the worst cases a person can experience muscle paralysis as the nervous system is affected. It is best to react to symptoms of an infection early.

Symptoms can include the following:

  • double vision
  • blurred vision
  • drooping eyelids
  • slurred speech
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • a thick-feeling tongue
  • dry mouth
  • muscle weakness

At home you can avoid botulism by practicing safe canning practices and using a pressure cooker when canning low acid foods, like canned meats. However, when you are buying already canned meats it is hard to know what has happened to that meat in its own process.

There is one telltale sign when it comes to identifying canned meats that could pose a threat from botulism: SWELLING.

When you see a swollen can where the top or sides are bulging there is some kind of bacterial growth affecting the contents of that can and you should avoid any canned meats that have this kind of bulging. You may notice this at the store or at home in your own prepper pantry. Either way, that can should be discarded.

How to Properly Store Canned Meats

A canned meat is just like any other canned food when it comes to storage. There are optimal conditions for storing canned goods and you want to be sure that all of the items in your prepper pantry are in those conditions.

You want to avoid extremes of temperature at all cost. Tin and metal alloys that are the base of these cans can expand and contract rapidly in extremes of temperature. This could compromise the seal on your canned food. Once air gets inside bacteria will begin to grow.

Store your canned goods off the ground and in an area that will not experience a lot of movement. When cans fall the damage can be minimal on the surface but, again, if your seal is compromised then you will have a better chance of opening a can and finding it spoiled.

How to Cook with Canned Meats

Cooking with canned meats is quite simple. There are two things to consider when you add canned meats to your meals.

  1. Canned meats are cooked all the way through. That means that you do not need to cook them for a long time. They should be added at the end of the process and just warmed through. The only exception here is if you are using canned meat to make a meatball or stuffing of some kind.
  2. Canned meats flake and breakup easily. When you add them to a dish you do not want to mix or stir it excessively after the meat has been added. Too much stirring and you will wind up with meat flecks in your meal rather than pieces.

Consider these two important principles when using canned meats in your cooking food.

Facts About Dehydrated Meat Products vs. Canned Meat Products

There are lots of questions when it comes to dehydrated meat products versus canned meat products. Most people are still up in the air about dehydrated foods. They just haven’t eaten them and don’t really know much about the process and its effect on food. To be honest, the process of dehydration is very gentle on meat and preserves a lot of its integrity and nutritious makeup.

Even if you have eaten many dehydrated meals you may be eating TVP or textured vegetable protein, so you need to go after freeze-dried meat to really understand the flavor and texture of dehydrated meat.

Canned meats are rapidly heated and cooled and this affects the quality of the meat. However, these meats are easier to eat and prepare. They are also cheaper and easier to stock up on because of their location at your local market.

DEHYDRATED MEAT

  • It lasts longer
  • It is more nutritionally sound
  • It can be stored as part of other meals that are easy to store and rehydrate
  • It is lighter and can be stored more effectively

CANNED MEAT

  • Easier to buy
  • Exponentially more affordable
  • Quicker to eat
  • People are simply more comfortable with it

Nutrition Facts of Canned Meats

All forms of canned meats are nutritious in some ways. However, some are better for you than others. Again, don’t forget that preference is a huge part of food storage and while canned sardines are much healthier than canned Spam, if you hate fish you are still going to be hungry!

Canned fish is probably your most healthy option and has the lowest sodium content. Salmon is going to provide you with 23 grams of protein per serving and that is impressive.  Of course, fish are going to give you the most bang for your buck in terms of Omega 3s in canned form.

Canned chicken is very low in sodium, when it is not canned in salty broth, and contains a whopping 30 grams of protein in a 5oz serving. Its deep in B vitamins, Selenium and Niacin.

Canned beef is king when it comes to protein and you are going to get 88 grams in a 14.5oz serving. That is just a serious punch and why people turn to beef. You will also get some great b vitamins and a nice iron boost, as well.

Eating meat is massive uptake of nutrition no matter what type you choose. Having a variety of canned meat will give you access to easy digest protein in large amounts and the nutrients attributed to those meats.

Packaging

When it comes to canned meats you are dealing with a few different kinds of packaging. Most are canned but the canning can be a little different. You will be dealing with thick mylar for some tuna and salmon options, too.

The absolute best option is the sturdy cylindrical can. It is designed for stacking and durability. Most meats can be found in this kind of packaging and it the very best for long term storage. These types of cans can only be opened using a can opener and that is how you know the most durable of all the other options.

Some canned fish, like sardines, are packaged in the rectangular can. These are designed to be opened by hand which means they are less durable and less reliable. If they are stacked to heavily or sustain a fall the thin top could open from the damage. Worse yet, it could open a little and you wouldn’t know it.

I still store things like canned sardines and mackerel in this kind of can, but I just keep them separate and understand we have to be careful with them.

The final type of packaging is the Mylar bag that contains tuna and salmon. These are typically 4oz packages and are zip top after you eat them. This type of packaged meat is tasty and convenient but not something you would store for the long term. They are too small to feed a family and are really designed to feed one person away from home.

Stick with the traditional tin can for the bulk of your canned meat packaging.

Meat Canned in Oil or Water: Which is Better?

canned meat for survival

Canned meats can be canned in all kinds of things from sauces to mustard to spring water. Remember, if your canned meat is packed in tomato sauce or some other acidic sauce than it will cut short the shelf life of your canned meats.

However, certain meats are delicious when they are canned in oil and other meats are better just canned in water. You should also look at this choice based on how you plan to eat and use the canned meat. Are you going to eat the meat right out of the can, or will it be an ingredient in something else?

Consider this: If you are adding canned meat in oil to a soup you are going to create an oil slick on the top of your soup. That could be a problem for you. You should also consider the type of oil the meat is canned in.

Canned meat in extra virgin olive oil is a much different food than canned meat stored in soybean oil. Know your oils!

That said, one of my very favorite canned meats is a canned mackerel that is packaged in olive oil. I will bite into that any day of the week, right out of the can! So, when it comes to meat canned in oil or water much of it has to do with use and preference.

Canned Meat Survival Food

While the supermarket shelves are filled with a wide range of canned meat products there is one company that stands out as THE canned meat for survival headquarters. They are called Survival Cave Food and they do one heck of a job with canned meat.

While the supermarket features 8oz, 4oz cans and some 1lb cans of meat Survival Cave Food offers a higher quality meat in larger portions. They offer all meats in 14oz and 28oz cans!

Survival Cave Food can provide you with options in the following meat categories:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  • Ground Beef
  • Mixed

The mixed 12 can option is a great way to kickstart your canned meat stockpile. This will put 21lbs of ready to eat canned meat on your shelf!

If canned meat is a concern, do yourself a favor and look into Survival Cave Food.

Final Thoughts

You cannot substitute the nutritional value and morale boosting effects of meat in a survival situation. Like all things in preparedness you should have a tiered approach to solving the problem of meat and protein in a disaster or emergency. Canned meat for survival should play a huge roll.

Canned meat is a high quality survival food that lasts a very long time and can be purchased in a wide variety of forms. Do your best to buy quality canned meats that are minimally process but you can have some forcemeats around, too!

While food safety and product quality are essential to a good, canned meat stockpile don’t forget about preference. There is no point in storing a bunch of canned tuna if you hate it! Even though it can be cheap.

Find the meats you really like to eat from companies like Survival Cave Food and build out a stockpile that works for you and your family.

Christian Prepper Gal: Prepping 101 – Long Term Food Storage

In this article, Christian Prepper Gal gives some basic information on types of foods for long term food storage. I’ve also included links at the end to some more advanced/involved food storage articles.

 

When someone says, “long term food storage” what do you think of? I used to think of canning, simply because years ago I had a huge garden and did a lot of canning. Now, I think of the closet in the basement of our house that has shelves of a different variety of foods that are preserved in many different ways.

There are so many options out there for preppers regarding long term storage! Where does one even begin? Well, the first place to start is to educate yourself. You want to get the best bang for your buck and one way to do that is to research what is available. Some important things to keep in mind are: what is the most economical; what you will need to use to prepare it, i.e. water, camp stove, etc.; and what is going to last the longest (shelf life). This can take a lot of time and research to find what the best choices for you and your family are, and that’s why I’m here to help! I will share what I have found in my research (and experience) that may be helpful to you in yours.

Store bought canned foods

Store bought canned foods are a good, economical choice. One thing that makes canned foods economical is that you can pick some extras up when you’re buying your normal groceries. That way you aren’t spending a whole wad of cash on them at one time.

Canned foods usually have a “Best By” date of 1-1/2 to 5 years. However, they will last long after their best buy date, as that simply means that they will taste the freshest until that date. After that date they will lose some of their flavor from having sat in the liquid for that long of a time. But, they will still be good for eating. Be sure to check the cans and don’t buy any with dents in them. If they have dents, or are leaking any food they can be contaminated and could cause botulism. When you are ready to open the can, make sure there are no dents, leaks, rust, or corrosion on them; as air may have gotten inside them and spoiled the contents. If there are not dents, rust or corrosion and you open the can, make sure are no small bubbles in the liquid inside the can, no bad odors, the food hasn’t become mushy, and the liquid isn’t cloudy. Any one of those would indicate the food has gone bad; don’t eat it. Also, if you open the can and the contents explode, don’t use it or eat it.

Make sure you rotate your canned foods to keep your stock fresher longer. Simply take out the ones that may be close to expiring and replace them with newly purchased ones. Then you can use the ones you took out with your normal family meals. This will just ensure that if your food stays stored for a number of years you will have the freshest selection you can.

If you have the space, canned foods are the best choice for long term food storage because you can eat them right out of the can if you don’t have the means to warm them up and you don’t have to have an abundant supply of water on hand to cook them.

Home canned foods

Does anyone really can their own foods at home any more? Yes, there are those who still do! If I had a garden, I certainly would. Most home canned foods will last up to 10 or more years. Just make sure the seals are still tight, there are no dents in the seals, and there is no mold or cloudy liquid inside the can. Home canning is probably the most economical in long term food storage! But, how many of us have the time or the resources to can our own food?

Freeze dried foods

Freeze dried foods have a very long shelf life; some up to 25 – 30 years if properly stored! However, they are not the most economical; whether you are lucky enough to afford a freeze dryer or purchase the food from a company that uses commercial grade freeze dryers. I know you can freeze dry foods at home without a freeze dryer just using your freezer and dry ice, but I haven’t gotten into that as of yet and don’t feel qualified to talk about it at this time.

Freeze dried foods are a good choice if you don’t have a lot of space, if you go camping a lot, or for use in your MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, which I will talk about at a later date). Do keep in mind you will need to have a good and plentiful supply of water on hand to cook them. I have some freeze dried foods mixed in with my canned foods in my storage, mostly to have a variety of choices as well as saving space. I will use those when water is more plentiful.

Freeze dried foods come in a variety of packaging. There are small individual pouches that will feed one, larger pouches with 4 or more servings, and the number 10 large sized cans that have enough to feed several people for several meals. Pouches are usually packaged in tubs or boxes and some companies offer individual pouches for purchase. The pouches are convenient in that you can add hot water directly into the pouches to heat them up and don’t need additional cookware.

Here is a list of three of the most reputable companies that sell freeze dried foods. You can easily purchase their products on their websites. All three companies also sell some of their products on Amazon, and shipping charges can be avoided if you have Amazon Prime. Plus I think delivery is quicker through Amazon. (I always check to see if what I want is available on Amazon before I purchase directly from the company.) Some of their products may also be available at local stores such as Walmart.

Wise Company (They have gluten free foods available)

Augason Farms (They also have gluten free foods available)

Mountain House (I did not see any gluten free foods available)

Dehydrated foods

I will be honest with you here, I have not had that much interest in dehydrated foods until recently. In my research for this article I was unable to find any companies that dealt strictly with manufacturing dehydrated foods and the sale thereof. Although, I did find that Augason Farms offers some dehydrated foods as well as their freeze dried foods.

Recently, for some reason (I believe it was God) I was prompting to look up and research how to dehydrate food. I’ve thought about it a couple of times in my lifetime, but never really felt like it was something I wanted to pursue. But, it was brought to my attention that now that I’m a prepper it might be something that would be of benefit for me and my family. So, I started watching YouTube videos on dehydrating food. They really grabbed my interest!

I always thought the only things you could dehydrate were fruits and beef jerky. Boy, was I wrong. One of the things I discovered was that I could make the meals that my family likes to eat and dehydrate them and store them! And, let me tell you, there are some pretty picky eaters in my family! I discovered I could make my homemade spaghetti, hamburger stroganoff, hamburger vegetable soup, chicken alfredo, fruit roll ups, and a plethora of other things that I make on a regular basis (minus the fruit roll ups, I’ve never made them). So, lo and behold, after watching dozens and dozens of videos I decided to take the plunge! I’m looking forward to receiving my food dehydrator from the UPS man this coming Monday! Yay me! I found what looks like a pretty good and reliable dehydrator on Amazon for only $60. Of course, that was after researching them for at least three days.

Getting back on track…dehydrated foods are another type of food that have a pretty good shelf life, and aren’t overly expensive if you make them yourself. If the foods are dried and stored properly they can last up to 10 years. They do need water to re-hydrate them, but I figure since they won’t be my main source of food storage they will be worth the effort of finding enough water to cook them. They would be primarily for eating once or twice a week at the most. I’m sure dehydrating your food is something I will post a lot more about once I actually try it and see how well it goes, so stay tuned!

Beans and Rice

Dried, uncooked, beans are a good addition to have in your long term food storage. However, I wouldn’t plan on having a ton of them without other foods to go with them as I’m sure even a hangry person would grow tired of them over time. They are definitely inexpensive and if prepared and stored properly will last up to 10 years, maybe longer. The best way to prepare them for storage is to put them in mylar bags in family meal sized portions (depending on the size of your family) along with an oxygen absorber and seal the mylar bag. I will have more on how to properly prepare and store beans later on.

White rice is another good addition to have in your inventory. The same would go for rice as beans, it shouldn’t be a primary staple as you will grow tired of eating only rice or beans after a long period of time. Rice is also relatively inexpensive food item and when prepared and stored properly it can last anywhere from 25-30 years. It should be prepared and stored in the same was as the beans.

Thank you for hanging in there and reading this entire post. I know it’s longer than my usual ones (thus far) but there was a lot to cover in it. Please bare in mind these are only the basics of prepping and we will delve into some of these subjects much deeper in the future.

If you have any tips or insights that you think would help others regarding long term food storage please feel free to comment below (you will need to be signed up and logged in before commenting). Take care, and God bless.

Also see her article on Food Storage: The Basics if you’re just starting out.

For more on long term food storage, see also:

The Provident Prepper: Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset

Money Crashers: How to Start a Long-Term Home Food Storage & Prepare for Emergencies

Self-Reliance: Basic Long-Term Food Storage

Crisis Equipped: The Complete List of Long-Lasting Survival Foods

Church of Jesus Christ: Longer-Term Food Supply

EZ-Prepping: Food Storage Calculator

Economic Collapse Blog: UN World Food Program Warns Of “Famines Of Biblical Proportions In 2021”

This article comes from Michael Snyder at the Economic Collapse Blog – UN World Food Program Warns Of “Famines Of Biblical Proportions In 2021” As Some Americans Wait 12 Hours For Food

The UN World Food Program was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020, and the head of that agency is warning of the potential for absolutely devastating famines around the globe in 2021.  The COVID-19 lockdowns that were instituted all over the world this year created tremendous hardship in many wealthy countries, but in poorer nations the economic devastation has created alarming waves of hunger.  There was hope that things would get better when lockdowns were being lifted, but now a new round of lockdowns is being imposed, and many experts are warning about what this could mean for those living in deep poverty.

David Beasley was absolutely thrilled when his agency was given the Nobel Peace Prize, because all of the attention has given him more opportunities to ask for money.  Because without a massive influx of money, he says that we are going to see “famines of biblical proportions in 2021”

The head of the World Food Program says the Nobel Peace Prize has given the U.N. agency a spotlight and megaphone to warn world leaders that next year is going to be worse than this year, and without billions of dollars “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.”

As I have previously explained to my readers, widespread crop failures along with the economic shutdowns brought on by COVID-19 have put a tremendous amount of stress on global food distribution systems.  Food prices are rapidly rising all over the planet, and this is hurting the people at the bottom of the economic food chain the most.

According to Beasley, many areas of the globe are potentially facing a major food crisis “in the next three to six months”

According to a joint analysis by WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in October, 20 countries “are likely to face potential spikes in high acute food insecurity” in the next three to six months, “and require urgent attention.”

Of those, Yemen, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso have some areas that “have reached a critical hunger situation following years of conflict or other shocks,” the U.N. agencies said, and any further deterioration in coming months “could lead to a risk of famine.”

Here in the United States, the good news is that nobody is facing starvation at this point.

But the bad news is that we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and some Americans are waiting in line for up to 12 hours for handouts.  If you don’t believe this, here is an excerpt from a news report about a food distribution event that just happened in Texas

Thousands of families lined up to receive groceries at a Texas food bank this weekend, some queuing for as long as 12 hours as the on-going coronavirus pandemic continues to inflict hunger and economic hardships on the state.

The food bank distribution event, held by North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) in Dallas on Saturday, saw 600,000 pounds of food given away – including 7,000 turkeys.

You have to be pretty desperate to be willing to wait in a line for 12 hours.

But when you are very hungry and you are very short on money, all of a sudden you will be willing to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.

For those that wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner otherwise, this food distribution event was “a real big deal”

“I see blessings coming to us cause we all struggling. And I appreciate North Texas helping us out,” resident Samantha Woods said while waiting in her vehicle.

“I haven’t been working since December, can’t find a job, they cut my unemployment, it’s a real big deal,” said Cynthia Culter.

Elsewhere, millions upon millions of impoverished Americans are facing the possibility of being evicted from their homes right after the holiday season is over.

A national moratorium on evictions is scheduled to end on January 1st, and it is being reported that we could see a record number of evictions in January 2021…

An estimated 11 to 13 million renter households are at risk of eviction, according to Stout, an investment bank and global advisory firm. It predicts there could be as many as 6.4 million potential eviction filings by January 1, 2021 if the CDC moratorium is lifted.

Since the order does not cancel or freeze rent, all of the tenant’s back rent will be due come January 1. Without rent relief or an extension of the protection, many struggling renters will — again — face eviction.

I have a feeling that the moratorium may be extended, but that will just put even more financial stress on landlords.

And at some point there will be no more moratoriums, and all of that back rent will be due, and most of those households will not be able to pay it and will be evicted anyway.

…(continues)

Bubbling Brook: Should a Christian Practice Food Storage?

Here’s an opinion on preparation from Like a Bubbling Brook – Should a Christian Practice Food Storage?

The Survivalist Blog: Rice Storage – How to Store Large Amounts

This article at The Survivalist Blog caught my eye because I’ve been adding rice variety to my food storage. Previously I mostly just stored jasmine rice as it was our go to staple for regular (non-emergency) cooking. Jasmine rice can be purchased rather inexpensively from various local and remote sources. Recently I’ve been exploring more Japanese cooking and was impressed with the flavor of some short-grain rice varieties and, because we now use it more day-to-day than the Jasmine rice, have added some to storage. Here’s Rice Storage: How to Store Large Amounts.

As the saying goes… Rice is nice!

The world uses rice. The world needs rice. In some parts of the world, the majority of a person’s calories come from rice. This is their main food and they use extensively. Or it’s their only food.

In times of need, rice is the first food brought by aid workers. They do this because it is calorically dense, good for delicate diets, and it stores and transports well.

Preppers love rice. It’s one of the perfect prepper storage foods. Put simply it’s cheap, it stores, and it’s an absolute chameleon in the kitchen. For these reasons, rice is one of the first bulk foods preppers add first to their kitchen cupboards. Then to their deep pantry. Then to their long-term storage.

It seems that the most difficult thing about rice is taking that first step into storing large quantities of it. As you will see in this article there’s nothing to fear about taking that step!

Let’s get to it.

Why Rice?

At the risk of over-glamorizing rice, we first need to understand why rice. What makes it such a great survival food? Why should it form the foundation of your long-term food storage?

Rice (Oryza sativa) was domesticated by humans around 10,000 years ago. Rice was such an important grain; humans began the process of understanding ways to control its growth rather than leave the valuable harvest up to chance and mother nature.

Today the world produces over 700 million tons annually. With it, we feed our ever-growing population. Many cultures depend on it as a staple of their diet.

Nutritionally, rice is approximately 80% carbohydrates by weight. The grains are mostly starch and are flush with calories. The result is that 1 cup of uncooked rice has 700 calories. At 6.5 ounces per cup of uncooked rice that equates to 1600 calories per pound of uncooked rice.

1 cup of uncooked makes between 3 and 4 cups of cooked rice. That’s a pretty big serving. From this, it’s easy to see how a bag of rice keeps bellies full.

It’s not just the calorie count that makes rice attractive to preppers, although it helps. The second benefit is how long it stores. Properly packaged, white rice has a shelf life exceeding 30 years.

Next, is rice’s price. Pound for pound, calorie for calorie, it doesn’t get much cheaper than rice. At about $0.06 per ounce or $0.96 per pound, rice is affordable on any budget.

Adding a 5-pound bag to the grocery cart each week is obtainable to any prepper. That 5-pounds adds up quickly over the months. Especially considering at that rate you’re adding 32,000 calories per month (16 – 2,000 calorie days) to your panty.

Finally, you must consider the flexibility of rice. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all have a spot on the plate for rice. We all know it as the traditional side dish. A little salt and butter and there it sits. It gets more exciting than that though.

How about rice porridge aka congee? Boiled low and slow with extra water until silky smooth is the foolproof recipe for Congee. Congee forms the base of a savory side with the addition of chicken or pork. It can be breakfast if you stir in an egg. It can even be dessert if you boil it in sweetened milk or coconut milk.

As rice is normally bland – it absorbs the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. Growing up it was used as a meat extender. My mother added it to chili, meatballs, and several soups.

In my house, we use it as a thickener for chicken soup. A bit of rice allowed to boil for a while transforms soup into a rib-sticking stew.

When more exciting food is at a premium, rice will be the ultimate addition. A large portion of the world lives on it and so can you. With the benefit of a few spices or protein, you can add rice in infinite variety to your prepper meals.

How Much Rice to Stockpile?

So how much should you store? Let’s start with calorie counts. A pound of uncooked rice has about 1600 calories. Note: I prefer to estimate low when working with food. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than starve. Let’s look at a quick recommendation.

I realize that every person and every case is unique. If you want to get an exact break out, a basal metabolic calculator and fine-tune these estimates.

Assuming a daily requirement of 2,500 calories it is recommended that half of that comes from carbohydrates. This is 1,250 calories from carbs. That equates to about 12.5 ounces of uncooked rice per day. This assumes that rice is your only carb.

Depending on your storage goals we now get the following:

  • 30 days – 25 pounds (rounded up from 23)
  • 6 months – 150 pounds (rounded up from 140)
  • 1 year – 300 pounds (rounded up from 285)

Assuming a 4-person family, that’s 1200 pounds of rice for a year of carbs. Naturally, you will be reducing it based on your other long-term storage items.

Just as a side note wheat berries, pasta, oatmeal, and beans all have about 1600 calories per pound. This makes the math easy. If you have a combined 300 pounds per person of these staples then you have your carbs covered. Next, you must focus on fats and protein. But that’s another article.

Rice Selection

For your bulk storage, you also need to consider the selection of rice for the longest available term. First, let’s look at the rice that should be avoided for long-term storage.

Brown rice for all its flavor, complexity, and nutrition is not a good candidate for long-term storage. The same goes for wild rice. Each of these retains an amount of the natural oils. These oils eventually turn rancid. As a result, their shelf life is measured in months, not decades.

The next option is instant rice. Instant rice is pre-cooked and then dehydrated. Cooking times are greatly reduced (only a few minutes compared to 20-45 with other rice varieties).

The biggest benefit is the fuel needed to cook instant vs normal rice. While you can store it for the long-term there are several disadvantages.

First is the cost. Instant rice can cost up to three times as much as white rice. Shop around, you may find deals. Secondly, instant rice can have fewer nutrients as a result of the cooking process.

Finally, the cooking process can lead to an inferior cooked product. I’m not sure you’ll be judging post-apocalyptic meals based on the number of broken rice kernels, but it is a consideration.

Your attention should therefore turn to good old fashion white rice its variants. Long grain white rice is the prepper staple. It can be found in bulk and cheap. Considering variety, you can also add jasmine, basmati, and sushi rice.

No matter how you treat it, rice can get a little monotonous. The subtle differences in taste and texture of jasmine and basmati can help to avoid food fatigue when relying on your long-term storage goods. It costs very little extra to add 25-30 pounds of each in the name of diversity.

Sourcing Rice in Bulk

Rice, being one of the staple crops of the world, is widely available in bulk. While the biggest package you get from your local grocery store may only be 5-pounds. Don’t fret. There are numerous other places to source this valuable grain.

First are the big box stores. Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s are the first that come to mind. My local Sam’s carries several varieties of white, basmati, and jasmine, all in 25 and 50-pound bags.

Then check local ethnic stores. Look for Asian and Hispanic specialty stores. Both cultures use rice heavily in their cooking. They are sure to have 50-pound bags as well as a much greater variety.

Asian cuisine is known for its use of specialty rice for dishes. Make use of their variety for adding change up to your own shelves.

The next option is restaurant supply stores. These stores cater to the hospitality community. They carry food mostly in bulk.

If you need 40 pounds of chicken or 50 pounds of cabbage, this is the place for you. They also carry rice. Lots of it and in many different variations. They also tend to be the most economical.

One warning, they may require a membership. Most, however, have open days where anyone can come in and purchase. Keep your eyes open and stock up.

The final option is the ubiquitous Amazon. A quick search yielded several options at good prices.

Enemies of Rice Storage

There are several enemies to look out for when putting up large quantities of rice for the long-term. Namely light, heat, oxygen, moisture, and critters. Let any of these variables into your storage equation and you are bound to lose food.

Light and heat will eventually rob stored food of flavor, nutrients, texture. Oxygen leads to rancidity and associated spoilage. In bad cases, moisture contributes to mold. Finally, insects and rodents can wreak havoc on food stores.

The last thing you want is to open a bucket of rice after 15 years to find if filled with weevils or half-empty from rats. Let’s look at ways to manage these risks.

Light and Heat

First, light is easy to manage. With the proper container (e.g. 5-gallon bucket) then light is kept to a minimum. Heat is straightforwardly overcome if you have a basement or other climate-controlled storage area.

Oxygen

Oxygen can either be removed or displaced. The most common method is removal via oxygen absorbers. These small packets contain iron powder that, during the rusting process, absorbs oxygen out of the atmosphere.

In a sealed container the process also creates a vacuum. They are sold by the volume of oxygen they absorb. We will talk a lot about 5-gallon buckets in the next few sections.

Here’s a little math to help out with your O2 absorber calculations. The volume of a 5-ballon bucket is about 19,000 cubic centimeters (cc). With our air being about 20% oxygen, that means an empty bucket will contain about 3,800 cc of O2 to remove.

By placing O2 absorbers rated at a total of 4,000 cc you will remove all the O2 and have room to spare. That’s two 2,000 cc absorbers per bucket. The fact that your food will take up significant volume also gives you room to spare in your calculations.

The displacement method is a little more complicated but just as effective. To displace oxygen in a container you must push it out, generally with something heavier. This includes Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

Unless you have a ready supply of Nitrogen, skip right to Carbon Dioxide. The easiest method is to place a few chips of dry ice (solid CO2) into the bottom few inches of your rice. Then fill up the bucket within a few inches of the top and wait.

As a test, you can place a tea light candle on the rice. When the flame goes out ,you know it has been robbed of oxygen and that the bucket is full of CO2. Make sure that the dry ice has fully sublimed before you seal the bucket. Otherwise, you may have an overpressure explosion on your hands.

Moisture

Water promotes mold and mildew growth as well as a host of other nasty outcomes. The good news is that as long as you are not repackaging your food in a very humid environment you are probably OK.

If you have flexibility, pack your food when it is dry. For example, in northern climates, the best time is usually in the winter.

If you don’t have the luxury of time add a few silica gel desiccant packets. The silica in each packet absorbs water vapor out of the air making the environment dry and safe from mold.

The packets linked here are good for approximately 600 cc of volume. For our 5 gallon buckets, we can assume that 90% of the volume is taken up by rice which leaves 1,900 cc of air space. Three to four packets per bucket should be sufficient.

Pests Big and Small

Unless you are sourcing your rice from a pretty sketchy supplier it is doubtful that you will have visible insects in your rice. If so – change suppliers.

More likely you will have eggs within the rice. This is normal, they are everywhere, in everything, and 99% innocuous. Occasionally they will hatch, eat, and make more insects. To be honest, these bugs are more psychological than physical. That being said, I’m not a fan and therefore prevent them.

If you plan on packing with O2 absorbers you are removing the critical component to the insect’s survival. They won’t hatch without air. Problem solved.

If you are not using O2 absorbers you can utilize a second method. Freezing. Storing your grain in the freezer for 5-7 days will kill off all the eggs in your rice. As long as you immediately package them, they will be free from re-infection.

Finally, you can add Diatomaceous Earth to your rice. Diatomaceous Earth is simply the fossilized remains of diatoms. Diatoms are microscopic creatures that died and fossilized a few million years ago. Their fossilized skeletons are murder on insects.

The saying goes something like “death by a thousand paper-cuts.” The Diatomaceous Earth cuts then dehydrate any insects it contacts.

Diatomaceous Earth is a powder and does not affect humans unless you inhale tremendous amounts of it. Mix it in with your rice before packaging. If you wish, you can quickly rinse your rice before cooking.

Diatomaceous Earth is perfectly healthy to eat, and may even help eradicate intestinal parasites. While you do not want to breathe it in, as it may irritate your lungs.

The next concern is vermin outside your containers. This includes ants, mice, and rats. Ant’s are easy to prevent. Seal your package, and if you happen to see ants in the area, wipe any containers down with Clorox wipes. This removes traces of rice as well as the scent trails left by ants leading others to the food source.

Mice and rats are a different matter. Once they get it in their head that they have found food, little will stop them. Rats especially can chew through a plastic bag, bin, or bucket.

The best course of action is prevention. Sealing properly limits scents that attract rodents. Secondly, store your long-term supplies in rodent-free areas. This means to seal up any access points and set ample traps to immediately kill any that get in.

5-Gallon Bucket Primer

I’m talking about your standard 5-gallon utility bucket from your local big box store. Buckets are a modern wonder in the prepper world. They are sturdy. They can have a remarkable seal. They take a substantial amount of abuse.

For rice storage, you want to use clean food-grade buckets. You can tell a food-grade bucket by the recycle symbol on the bottom. The triangular recycle symbol for a food grade bucket has a 2 printed inside the triangle:

HDPE food grade buckets' bottoms

Usually, these buckets are High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE and also labeled with HDPE above or below the triangle. These are your best bet!

While you can order these at Amazon, there are much cheaper and readily accessible options.

If you want new buckets, I highly recommend Home Depot. Their buckets are everything a bucket should be: heavy-duty, well made, and orange. For about $4 per bucket and another $2 for a lid, you will be able to store about 30 pounds of rice.

If you are on a tight budget or want a little color variety I recommend heading to your local baker. They receive icing in 5-gallon buckets. A quick wash and rinse, as well as a new lid and they are good as new:

washing food-grade bucket

A note about buckets and color selection. I have found that I can take advantage of different colored buckets. White are for bulk goods. Orange are for freeze-dried components. Blue are for complete meals. It makes identification quick if I need to “grab and go.”

I honestly would avoid the lids sold at Lowe’s. Nothing against the company, just their lids. They are too flimsy and don’t have a good lock around the edged for my long-term storage goods.

Regardless of where you source buckets, give them a good wash. If you are not using Mylar (we will touch on that in a few paragraphs) wash the inside with a 10% bleach solution. When you are done packing them place a label on the outside.

Method #1: Storing Rice in Bags and Totes

The first method for storing large amounts of rice is relatively simplistic. Use totes with well-fitting lids. Before packing them away place each bag of rice in the freezer for a week, and then stack the bags in your tote. No need to repackage. Fill the tote, then start on a second.

If you want a little extra protection, place each bag of rice in a giant zip lock bag. Add a few desiccant packs to each bag before you zip them up.

This is a great way to store large amounts of rice, however, you may only get 4-5 years of storage. This is a better solution for periodic rotating. Check your rice each year, and look for failures of the totes, Ziploc bags, and original packaging. Replace or recharge your desiccant packs each year during the inspection.

Method #2: Storing in Buckets with Diatomaceous Earth

Our second long-term storage method for bulk rice is 5-gallon buckets and Diatomaceous Earth. Add Diatomaceous Earth to the rice to destroy eggs and kill any insects that happen to hatch or wander through. You’ll need ½ cup of Diatomaceous Earth for 5-gallons of rice.

First, add a thin layer of Diatomaceous Earth to the bottom of the bucket. Then add 4 inches of rice and another layer of Diatomaceous Earth. Repeat until the bucket is within an inch or two of the top then hammer on your lid and add a label.

It’s best to roll the bucket around about to distribute the Diatomaceous Earth. Alternatively, you can dedicate a bucket to mixing and fill it ½ way with rice and ¼ cup Diatomaceous Earth. Mix thoroughly, then pour into your storage bucket. Remember to wear a mask as Diatomaceous Earth can be irritating to your lungs.

This method is not airtight as a 5-gallon bucket doesn’t form a perfect seal. This type of preparation gives a little more than 5 years of storage.

 

rice with oxygen absorbers in Mylar bag
Rice with oxygen absorbers in Mylar bag

Method #3: Buckets and O2 and Mylar, Oh My

Time for the prepper-approved method for long-term storage of bulk grains. Mylar, O2 absorbers, and 5-gallon buckets. The buckets provide durable storage. Mylar bags provide an airtight seal, and O2 absorbers provide the environment for long-term preservation.

Mylar bags are the perfect prepper accompaniment. They are non-porous, flexible, yet tough. This allows them to when sealed, hold a vacuum for a long time without the risk of failure. The metallic coating also adds additional light blocking above and beyond that provided by your bucket.

Finally, they seal with a little heat. I’ll cover that in a minute.

To prepare your perfect long-term storage bucket put a Mylar bag into your clean 5-gallon bucket. Drop in an O2 absorber and start filling with rice. Add your other absorbers as you fill.

One bucket should hold about 30 pounds of rice. When filled within 2 inches of the top of the bucket, fold over the Mylar and press out as much air as possible.

To seal the Mylar bag, you have two options. The first is to use a food saver or other impulse sealer. You may not be able to cover the entire width at once. In that case make two diagonal seals (one on the left, one on the right).

Then make one last seal bridging the gap between the two. I always make 3 seals in each direction for a little added protection:

Three Mylar Seals on one bag
3 seals on one Mylar bag

In 20 years of prepping I have yet to lose a bag to this method.

The second option is to lay the bag over a dowel, small square wooden stake, or metal level then run your iron (on low setting) over the bag.

The ideal temperature is about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You can measure this with a thermometer, or just make a few practice passes on a scrap section of Mylar.

Once you are done packaging add labels both inside and out. Make sure to include the contents (rice), the method (Mylar and O2), and the date.

Given a good seal, you will see the bag collapse and pull into the rice in a day or so. Once the O2 absorber has done its job, the bag will be completely pulled in. If this doesn’t happen after 3-4 days, open the bag, add a new absorber or two, then reseal.

Expect more than 20 years with this method. You may even get many more. Periodically pop the lid and check for seal failures or other damage.

I have used this method for years, and have yet to see a bag fail. Every few years I pick up another 100 pounds of grains or pasta and fill up three new buckets.

o2 absorbers in sealed glass jar
Store O2 absorbers in sealed glass jars for later use.

Conclusions

Rice is cheap. Rice is flexible. Rice stores for ages. If there are three better reasons to store large quantities of rice, I can’t think of them. Rice should be the center of your long-term food storage plan. Over the ages, it has earned its place there.

Storing large amounts of rice is not only cheap but it’s easy. Regardless of the best method for your situation, there is little reason not to put up many, many pounds of it.

Even if you just put the bags in totes today and then move to Mylar and orange buckets later, there is no time to start like right now!

Practical Self Reliance: Storing Fresh Eggs in Limewater (Keeps 12+ Months)

Ashley Adamant at Practical Self Reliance has a good article on preserving fresh eggs – Storing Fresh Eggs in Limewater (Keeps 12+ Months)

The practice of storing eggs in lime water goes back centuries, and it’s still one of the best ways to preserve eggs without refrigeration.

Anyone whose kept chickens knows that egg production doesn’t always line up with demand.

In the spring months, you’ll be buried in fresh eggs, right when you’re excited to be outdoors planting the garden and couldn’t care less about baking.  Production stays strong all summer when it’s too hot to run the oven and you’re too worn out in the evenings to bother anyway.

Then in the fall, right as cozy weather starts, production starts to slip.  By winter, when the days are short and you’re ready for some comfort food baking, they may have stopped laying altogether.

These days, industrial chicken operations turn on banks of lights to keep the ladies cranking out eggs year-round (and just replace the chickens at 2 years old as they wear out from laying nonstop).  That’s a relatively new thing though, and the option of a steady year-round egg supply has only really existed for the past few decades.

Historically, how did people preserve eggs to ensure a steady winter supply?

The answer is, they had literally dozens of methods to preserve eggs.  They stored them in wood ash, wheat bran, and straw, or coated them with butter or lard, or kneaded them into homemade pasta that was hung to dry.

Most of the methods rely on a few simple principles:

  1. Start with clean, fresh eggs.
  2. Don’t wash the eggs at all.  That removes their natural “bloom” that prevents bacteria from entering through pores in the shell.
  3. Keep the eggs cool, but not too cold.  An egg is a living thing, and it’ll stay fresh best unwashed and at around 50 degrees (root cellar cool).
  4. If possible, seal the pores off further to prevent contamination within the egg.  Oil, ash, and lime are the most popular choices.

Simply storing fresh, unwashed eggs in a cool environment (around 50 degrees) will buy you a lot of time.  We’ve taken our fresh eggs and stored them in the basement dependably for up to 4 months, and occasionally as long as 6 months, no treatment required (so long as they’re not washed).

If you’d like to dependably store eggs for longer than 4 months, like if you’re trying to store an overabundance of spring eggs for the next winter’s baking, you’ll need a bit of help to get them to keep that long.

While many different methods work, most have drawbacks.  Storing in ash, for example, makes the eggs taste a bit musty and smokey.  Storing in salt draws water out of the egg, and makes them taste a bit salty.

Storing eggs in sodium silicate, known as “Waterglassing” was really popular for a time.  Incredibly dependable, the eggs didn’t spoil for years…but they changed.

Sodium silicate is used for sealing tile these days, and it softened the shells and penetrated the eggs…changing their flavor, and even their structure.  Waterglassed eggs whites won’t whip, and there’s never really been any testing on the impacts of eating a boatload of sodium silicate for breakfast.

So what does work?  Storing eggs in a food-safe lime solution made with pickling lime (calcium hydroxide).

The calcium solution seals the eggshells and effectively preserves the eggs for a year or more.

Though it’s called “pickling lime” it doesn’t make pickled eggs.  The process keeps the eggs in their same state, and once you pull them out of the solution they can be used just like a fresh egg.  They fry up beautifully, and the white still whip to stiff peaks.

It’s called “pickling lime” because it’s used to firm up veggies before pickling, namely dill pickles, and old fashioned watermelon rind pickles.  It works the same way to firm up the eggshells and seal them at the same time.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s someone cooking with eggs after a full year in lime water:

How to Preserve Eggs in Lime Water

Preserving eggs in lime water starts with making a lime/water solution.  The ratio is one ounce of lime powder (by weight) to one quart of water.

(That’s about 28 grams per quart of water or about 2 heaping tablespoons.)

Lime for Preserving Eggs

I’ll measure out the solution in a quart mason jar, and one quart of the solution is just about right for filling a half-gallon mason jar once the eggs have been added.

Give the jar a shake, and you’ll have a milky white liquid.  Much of the lime will settle out to the bottom over time (that’s normal), but what you’re doing here is making a saturated lime solution.

Some sources say that as little as 1 part lime to 700 parts water creates a saturated solution, but other sources say that the lime may not be completely pure and you need to use a bit more to be sure.  Still, others recommend as much as 1 part lime to 2 parts water.

At a rate of one ounce to a quart, there’s a lot that settles out of solution, and it’s a good middle ground that ensures that the solution is saturated (without wasting a boatload of lime in the process).

lime water solution

Carefully select eggs that are super fresh and clean, without cracks or issues, pulled from clean nesting boxes that day.

Fill a clean jar with the eggs, and then pour the lime-water solution over the eggs.  Be sure that the eggs are completely submerged and then cap up the jar.

Pouring lime solution over fresh eggs

Cap up the jar, and store in a cool place, like a basement, pantry, or cool closet on the north side of the house.

A half-gallon mason jar will hold roughly 14 to 18 eggs, depending on size.  You can also use something like these one-gallon glass jars, which will hold about 3 dozen eggs.

Historically, they would have been stored in wooden barrels or ceramic crocks (like this one that I use to make sauerkraut a gallon at a time).  Alternately, a food-safe plastic bucket will work if you want to store them in bulk.

We keep our jars of eggs in the basement, right next to my home-canned goods and root cellared apples.

Once you’re ready to use the eggs, simply remove them from the solution and give them a rinse before cracking.  Rinsing ensures that the lime solution doesn’t get into the egg as it’s cracked, which will impact the flavor.

Then, just cook with the eggs as you otherwise would…(continues)

See also:

Practical Self Reliance: 30+ Ways to Preserve Eggs

and this video from Homesteading Family

Economic Collapse Blog: More than half “plan to stockpile food and other essentials” for the months ahead

Michael Snyder at The Economic Collapse says that More than half of all Americans “plan to stockpile food and other essentials” for the chaotic months ahead

There was a time when preppers were relentlessly mocked, but nobody is laughing now.  Today, most Americans are thinking about stockpiling food, and this massive shift in our national mindset has been sparked by concern about what is going to happen in the months ahead.  Many Americans believe that another wave of the coronavirus pandemic is coming, others believe that our ongoing economic depression will get even deeper, and yet others are convinced that the upcoming election could produce widespread violence.  Of course there have always been people that have been deeply alarmed about future events, but we have never seen anything quite like this.  In fact, a brand new survey has found that over half of all Americans are currently planning “to stockpile food and other essentials”

Slightly more than half of Americans in a recent poll from Sports and Leisure Research Group say they already have or plan to stockpile food and other essentials. The chief reason: fears of a resurgent pandemic, which could lead to disruptions such as new restrictions on businesses. On Oct. 2, the number of COVID-19 cases in the USA was its highest in almost two months.

People still remember the shortages that we witnessed earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic first erupted in this country, and those that ended up being stuck at home without enough toilet paper would rather not repeat that experience.

So as the mainstream media continues to hype a new wave of the pandemic, we should expect to see Americans hitting the grocery stores really hard.  And according to data company Envestnet Yodlee, there is evidence that this is already happening

Already, there’s some evidence that grocery sales are rising, according to data from industry sources. The typical bill for a trip to the grocery store rose to $72 for the week ended October 6, or 11% higher from the week before, according to data company Envestnet Yodlee.

“That’s the highest we’ve seen since the first week of June and the second-highest since we started tracking this in January,” said Bill Parsons, group president of data and analytics at Evestnet.

Fortunately, many grocery store chains anticipated a spike in demand in advance and started stocking up ahead of time.  The following comes from CNN

Grocery stores across the United States are stocking up on products to avoid shortages during a second wave of coronavirus.

Household products — including paper towels and Clorox wipes — have been difficult to find at times during the pandemic, and if grocery stores aren’t stocked up and prepared for second wave this winter, runs on products and shortages could happen again.

During a time when other retailers all over the nation are failing at a pace that we have never seen before, many grocery store chains are actually experiencing booming sales.

And of course I have been warning that this would eventually happen for a very long time.  During a time of crisis, demand for food and other essentials tends to go up and demand for non-essential items tends to go down.

Needless to say, this is something that is not just happening in the United States.  All over the world we have seen demand for food on the rise, and this comes at a time when global food production has become increasingly stressed.

As a result, food prices all over the world are starting to escalate quite aggressively

Food prices continue rising during the coronavirus pandemic, jeopardizing food security for tens of millions worldwide.

On Thursday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said world food prices rose for the fourth consecutive month in September, led by surging prices for cereals and vegetable oils, reported Reuters.

FAO’s food price index, which tracks the international prices of the top traded food commodities (cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat, and sugar), averaged 97.9 in September versus a downwardly revised 95.9 in August.

Sadly, this is just the beginning.

Global food supplies will continue to get even tighter, and global demand for food will just continue to shoot higher.

So I would stock up while you still can, because prices will never be lower than they are right now.

Meanwhile, our society continues to unravel right in front of our eyes.  You would think that the Lakers winning the NBA title would be a time to celebrate for the city of Los Angeles, but instead large crowds of young people used it as an opportunity to riot and attack police officers

A crowd of more than 1,000 revelers descended into the area around Staples Center after the game. Unruly individuals mixed within the crowd began throwing glass bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers. That is when an unlawful assembly was declared, and only a limited number of people complied and began to disperse. A larger portion of the group broke off and began vandalizing businesses while continuing to engage in violent behavior, some aimed at responding officers.

In Portland, protesters just toppled statues of Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln during a “day of rage”, but the mainstream media didn’t seem to think that this was any sort of a problem.

And in the middle of the country, the violence never seems to stop in the city of Chicago

Five people were killed and 48 others were injured by gunfire this weekend in Chicago. Five of those wounded were teenagers.

Last weekend saw 37 people shot throughout the city, five of them fatally.

Of course things could soon get a whole lot worse.

According to one recent survey, 56 percent of all Americans expect “an increase in violence as a result of the election”.

Isn’t that incredibly sad?

Many are still hoping that such a scenario can be avoided if one of the candidates is able to build an extremely large lead on election night.  A large enough lead could potentially cause the candidate that is behind to concede fairly quickly, and that may ease tensions.

But I wouldn’t count on that.

At this point we are about 500 hours away from the election, and both sides are indicating that they are prepared to fight until the bitter end.

And the side that ultimately ends up losing is likely to throw a massive temper tantrum, and that won’t be good for our country at all.

So it makes sense that so many Americans are making extra preparations for the months that are ahead, because it definitely appears that they could be quite rocky.

Six Figures Under: What We Learned from Our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge

Stephanie at Six Figures Under has an article about What We Learned from Our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge during the first few months of the pandemic.

After three months of eating from our pantry, freezer, and long-term food storage, our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge is coming to an end.  Today I’m sharing some of what we learned. Hopefully something will be helpful to you as you plan to be more prepared with your own food.

First we’ll cover the three reasons we decided to end our open-ended challenge now. Then I’ll go over lessons we learned and what we plan to do about it!

For those of you who look forward to these updates, this won’t be the end of talking about food storage!  In the coming weeks, I will take the focus off MY food storage and start talking about YOUR food storage (how to get started, what to store, how much to store, how to keep track, how to use it).

As I’ve started reading through hundreds of responses in the 2020 Six Figures Under Reader Survey, I see that many of you are interested in building up your own food storage and would like some guidance.  (If you haven’t shared your thoughts, I would really love if you would take a couple of minutes to complete the survey).

Why we are ending our food storage challenge

When we started our challenge, we weren’t sure how long it would last.  I know some of you will be surprised or disappointed that we’re concluding it now, and I want to explain why we are deciding to go back to grocery shopping.  Essentially it’s because we accomplished what we set out to do. Let me break that down into specifics.

The primary reason we started the challenge was to keep ourselves and others safe by not going to the grocery store during the pandemic.  At the outset of this, there wasn’t a full understanding of how this novel coronavirus was transmitted.  Now that we have a better understanding, we feel like occasional trips to the grocery store are generally safe. Thankfully the outbreak in our area hasn’t been too terrible.

The secondary reason for undertaking a food storage challenge was to give our food storage a test drive.  While we have stored food for years, we really didn’t have a grasp of how much we would really need and what things we would wish we had more of.  We’ve figured a lot of those details out as we have monitored what we have used during the last three months challenge of not grocery shopping.  Now we have a better idea of what and how much we should store for our family.

The third reason for ending our food storage challenge now, rather than continuing the challenge indefinitely, is so we can make the effort to restock and update our food storage.  The future is uncertain in many ways, including potential continued disruptions in the food supply chain, so while we have the ability to stock up, we want to do so. You will see us implementing changes to our food storage in the near future.

What we learned from eating from our food storage challenge

How much food storage our family needs

As I’ve learned about food storage from a “scholarly” perspective, I learned how many pounds of this or that that you need per person for a certain length of time, but I had no idea how that would play out in real life. The suggested amount of 150 lb of wheat per person age 8+ (and half that for kids under 8) for a year supply doesn’t come with a menu or even a recipe book.

I had no idea if this was a low ball or high ball estimate.  I wasn’t sure if that was a “keep us alive” amount or a “life as usual” amount.  That’s about 12.5 lb per person per month.

Our family has 5 people age 8+ and 2 people under age 8 (I’m not including the baby in this count).  With that estimate, we would use 75 lb of wheat in a month.

I would have to say that estimate is nearly spot on.  We ate about 80 lb of wheat per month during our challenge.  Essentially that was just used for bread, pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods.

I’m still working on recording everything in our spreadsheet so we can calculate our own family’s consumption rate and create a customized food storage plan just for us.

What surprised us

If you followed along with our weekly updates during the challenge, you may remember that in the beginning I was having a little panic attack about some essentials that I thought we were low on like yeast, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, salt, and oil.

In the beginning we had no idea how long the quarantine/lockdown phase would last and what shortages there would be.  We didn’t know how long we would choose to continue our challenge or if at some point it would no longer be our choice.  Either way, I wanted to be prepared, so I purchased some of these staples online.

As it turned out, I haven’t opened the 5 lb bag of yeast.  We have used only about a pound and a half of yeast in the past 3 months.  That is partly due to reducing the yeast in all of our recipes by half (with no problems).

We also haven’t had to open the 5 lb bags of baking soda or baking powder!

Of the 4 gallons of oil that I bought at the beginning of the challenge (knowing that they were essential for all of the baking I would be doing), I still have 3 left.

What we NEED to stock more of

We are probably good on wheat, powdered milk, beans, applesauce, etc, but there are some areas where our food storage is lacking. We’ll use a one-year supply as a measuring stick because that’s how many food storage recommendations are made. Feel free to divide by four if you want to build up to a 3-month supply or divide by two for a 6-month supply.

Salt– Salt is such a simple ingredient, but it’s essential!  It’s literally the cheapest food storage item out there.  And we didn’t have enough stored.  In fact, we were nearly out!  Right at the beginning of the challenge, I bought a few packages of salt from Walmart. Otherwise we would have been completely out!  That’s embarrassing!  For a year supply, it’s recommended that you store 8 lbs per person (that’s 4 regular salt containers per person).

Oil– We used just under 1 gallon of oil per month.  That means we would need roughly 12 gallons for a year supply.  This is one of those things you don’t just buy and tuck away for a disaster. It’s important to rotate through your stored oil or it will eventually go rancid.

Sugar– It’s recommended to store 60 pounds of sugar (in some form) per person for a year’s supply.  We don’t have anywhere near that, so this is definitely an area for us to work on going forward.

Oats– Oats are a major staple for us, but we haven’t stocked up for a while so we were low when the challenge started.  My MIL gave us a 25 lb bag of oats that she had, which is what we’re currently eating.

Rice– We didn’t run out of rice, but we are low and don’t have anywhere near what we would need for a year supply.

Pasta– We generally eat a lot of pasta. It’s fast, easy, and everyone likes it. We had quite a bit on hand at the beginning of our challenge, but we would have run out during the second month if we weren’t being careful with it. Of course, with an abundance of wheat and eggs, we could decide to make our own pasta, but while that would be delicious, it would no longer be fast and easy.

Peanut butter- We typically buy peanut butter for about two months at a time, but we definitely need to store more.  Peanut butter an jelly sandwiches are a staple in this house!  As long as we rotate through what we have, there won’t be a problem with spoilage or waste.

Jam/Jelly– As an important ingredient in PBJs, we need to store more jam!  In the past when we’ve had easy access to free blackberries, we’ve made loads of our own jam.  It’s been a while since we’ve made jam in large quantities, so we’ve been buying it.  We have both blackberries and raspberries growing on our property now, so hopefully we can get back into making our own jam.

Cocoa Powder– We have around 10 lb, but we need more for a long-term supply. And yes, cocoa powder is an essential storage ingredient for us!

What we WANT to stock more of

Some of the things we want to stock more of in our food storage are:

Cheese– Over the next few months, we’re planning to store more cheese.  We’ll keep a reserve in the freezer and rotate through it.  By no means will it be a year supply, but if we need to live strictly off our food storage again we can ration it.  During this challenge we stretched about 5 lb of cheese to last for two and a half months, which, for a family with cheese habits like us, is impressive.

Butter– Butter is our fat of choice when it comes to baking and cooking, but throughout this challenge we had to rely on alternatives like canola oil and shortening because we only had 5 lbs of butter in the freezer at the outset of this challenge.  We actually still have a pound of butter left because we were being careful to ration it. Like cheese, I plan to store more in the freezer.

Raisins– We eat a lot of oatmeal, cream of wheat, and other hot breakfast cereals and raisins are a favorite add-in.  We should definitely store more of them!

Chocolate Chips– For baking and for mom snacks when there isn’t anything else sweet around.

Salsa– We are fortunate to have hens that keep us well stocked up in eggs (at least in the warm months).  We love having salsa to make fried eggs more exciting.

This obviously doesn’t include the normal everyday staples that we’ll be buying when we go back to the store next week like milk, sour cream, tortillas, chicken, ground beef, or pork (if it’s available and not crazy expensive), lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, strawberries, apples, bananas, and other fresh produce.

Other things we learned during the food storage challenge

Understanding  the practical implications of eating from our food storage has been very valuable and will help so much as we go forward.  But a clearer picture of how long our food storage will actually last isn’t the only good thing that came from this challenge.  Here are a few other things we learned (or re-learned).

Eat all leftovers so nothing is wasted

We’ve always been pretty good about eating leftovers and not letting them go to waste, but during this challenge we were especially conscious of not wasting food.  Our food supply felt more finite that it normally does since we weren’t shopping to replenish it.  That made us more aware of not wasting any food.

Don’t overeat just because something tastes good

Another way to waste food is to overeat.  We don’t usually think of overeating as wasting food, but that’s really what it is. Mike and I were careful to stop eating when we were full instead of continuing to eat just because something was tasty.

Try new things

We took advantage of the extra time during quarantine to experiment and try making and eating new things. A lot of you thought it was funny that I had bever made split pea soup before.  Well now we’ve had it several times and really like it!  We’ve made tortillas from scratch.  We learned a few ways to make cheese.  And now that the older kids can make bread by themselves, we’ve been enjoying delicious homemade bread even though I haven’t made any for the last month!

Whew!  That was a lot!  Thanks for sticking with me!

Like I said, next week I will take the focus off MY food storage and start talking about YOUR food storage.  I’m excited to help you get started on or improve your food storage situation.  Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to make sure to cover!

Prep School Daily: Basic Food Storage–An In-Depth Discussion of Dry Milk

Here’s an article from last year at Prep School Daily on options for dry milk – Basic Food Storage–An In-Depth Discussion of Dry Milk. When the lockdowns first started, milk was a bit scarce at local stores so we used the dry milk in our food storage to supplement the regular milk we already had. Even if you don’t have the best tasting dry milk, it can be pretty good if you mix it half and half with some regular milk — so you’re using it to stretch your fresh product, rather than completely replacing it.

Is this really what my life has come to?  While I never pictured myself becoming famous (zero desire for that) or rich (security has its advantages) or saving the world, somehow I guess I thought I’d be doing something a little more exciting than writing about dry milk.  Something a little juicier.

But alas, here we are.

Last week I taught a class all about dry milk for about a dozen people at church, and in the process I learned a few things and thought I should share that bit of knowledge with my readers.  And before doing that, I thought I should review what I’d already written.  And to my shock I found that I’d never actually written anything about dry milk!

So without further adieu, let’s delve into the mysterious world of powdered milk.

First off, we have to define each of the kinds of dry milk.

Non-instant nonfat milk is not sold by a lot of companies.  I found one seller on Amazon and non-instant nonfat is also what is sold by the Home Storage Center (HSC). It is processed by drum drying, where the milk is sprayed on a heated drum and then scraped off.  The drum is heated and the resultant dry milk has a cooked flavor to it.  It is generally much less expensive than instant nonfat.  As the name suggests, it does not mix instantly, but takes a bit more stirring.  It has a reputation of being less palatable than instant.

Instant nonfat milk is far more popular, easy to find through all preparedness vendors and at grocery stores.  It is processed by evaporation and spraying into a heated chamber where the milk dries almost immediately.  It is a more expensive process.  There is a wide range in price and palatability.

Instant milk drink is promoted as being the best-tasting.  And it is!  BUT IT’S NOT REAL MILK!  In fact, if you take a look at the list of ingredients, milk is number 3 on that list (at least, for Morning Moos).  It can’t possibly be more than 33% milk.  Kinda disturbing.

There are also instant lowfat and whole milk options.  These are not packaged for long term storage, and even if they were, they don’t have the shelf-life of long-term storage.

In the process of preparing to teach the class last week, I decided to take a look at the nutrition information label for the instant milk drinks to compare with the dry milk powders.   And I discovered that there is quite a range in the vitamin and mineral content of the various products.  Because milk is the primary dietary source of vitamin D for most people in their food storage, it’s something we really need to pay attention to.

However, it doesn’t really matter how much more nutritious one brand is over another if it doesn’t taste good, unless it is only being used in baking and cooking.  If your child refuses to drink it, it won’t matter that it’s got the most vitamins and minerals, right?  And you know you can’t blame them, because you remember pretty well how nasty some dry milk can be.

So doing a taste test is pretty important, especially before forking out a significant chunk of change.  Milk is definitely not cheap.  I’m including the results of three taste tests here. All are for pretty small groups.  One is from a group in Utah that posted their results online.  Another is from a class I taught in Missouri about seven years ago.  And finally, there are the results from my class last week.

For the Utah group, they tested the following milks and milk drinks:  Emergency Essentials, Country Cream, Walton Feed, Augason Farms, HSC, Walmart store brand fresh nonfat milk (control), Honeyville,  and store brands.  All were mixed according to directions and chilled well.  Sugar and vanilla extract were not added to any of their samples.  In their taste test (which was held nine years ago), the HSC milk (from a freshly-opened, freshly-canned can) scored the worst.  Provident Pantry (now Emergency Essentials) was rated the highest.

In my class in Missouri, seven years ago, we had five different samples.  I’m working from memory here, so please bear with me.  We had the Provident Pantry brand (which now carries the Emergency Essentials name), Grandma’s Country Cream, a brand I can’t remember for the life of me, one sample from the Home Storage Center that was mixed according to directions, and another sample from the Home Storage Center to which sugar and vanilla extract were added.  In our small-ish group, choices for the best milk divided pretty evenly between Provident Pantry, Grandma’s Country Cream, and the one I can’t remember.  Everyone put the milk from the Home Storage Center, unadulterated, in last place.  What was surprising to all of us was that everyone picked the milk from the HSC to which we added vanilla and sugar as the second best.

In my class last week we had seven different milk choices. All of the milk products that were acquired years ago have been stored at recommended temperatures since purchase.  The cans from the HSC, Provident Pantry, and Grandma’s Country Cream were all opened last week.  Except for the sample with vanilla and sugar, all were mixed according to package directions.  All were well chilled.  Taste testers ranked the samples from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best and 1 being they’d rather die than drink it again.

I was surprised by some of the results.  I will note that most of the taste testers this week were over the age of 50, and I really think there is some change in the taste buds when we get older.  It’s so important to taste and see what we like best.  We have our ideas of what tastes good, what something is supposed to taste like.  I’m pretty happy to eat store brands of most foods, but my graham crackers better be Honey Maid, and my saltines better be Premium or Krispy.

My cans of Provident Pantry and Country Cream were ten years old.  The cans from the HSC were from 2001 and 2010.  Carnation, Kroger, and WinCo bulk were all fresh purchases.

Coming in at a solid last place was Carnation, with an average of 2.1.  I’d have thought they would have figured out the milk business by now.  Kroger scored 2.9.  Provident Pantry, 3.3.  WinCo bulk bin, 3.4.  Country Cream, 3.9.  HSC without any additives, 3.6.  HSC with sugar and vanilla, 4.1.

For the nutrition analysis:            Vit A   Vit C  Vit D  Calcium      Cost        Servings     Cost/Serving
Carnation                                      10%      2%     25%      30%       $0.99             4                  $0.25
Kroger                                           15         —       15          20             2.31           12                   0.19
WinCo bulk                                      (not noted)
Provident Pantry                            0          2          0          25
Country Cream                              0          0        10          30
HSC (2001, no additives)             10        4          25         35
HSC (2010, sugar and vanilla)     15        4          40         35

For comparison, what’s currently available
HSC                                              10        4          25         35            4.00           29                   0.14
Country Cream                               2        2          10         30          18.99           64                   0.30
Augason Farms                             15        2          10        20           22.99           39                  0.59
Thrive                                             0        0          10         20           10.49          15                   0.70
Emergency Essentials                   10        4          25        30           18.95           45                   0.42
Augason Farms Morning Moo     10        0          15         10           23.99           93                 0.26
(Carnation and Kroger remain the same)


As you can see, the various milk products different dramatically in nutrition and cost per serving.  All servings are eight ounces each.

The clear winner for cost per serving is the HSC milk at 14 cents per serving.  Even factoring in the cost of sugar and vanilla extract (at $4.00 per ounce currently), it’s 22 cents per serving to make a milk that tastes as good as the more expensive brands.  If you look at the nutritional content, the HSC is the winner again, just barely surpassing the Emergency Essentials brand.  The others just don’t even hold a candle, especially when you factor in how important vitamin D is in the diet, and even more so for children.  In case you don’t remember, where else can you get vitamin D in your diet?  Fish, beef liver, eggs, and cod liver oil.  Or supplements.  Keep in mind that 42% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D.  And in the early 1900s, before milk was fortified, 90% of children in Boston and New York had rickets.  Make sure you plan well for the children in your life.

Another method for improving the taste is to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more milk powder per quart of milk.  We didn’t try this for the class and I have no experience with it.  It’s just something you may wish to try yourself.

For the class last week, we didn’t just taste test milk, though that was a really important part of the class.  I also showed participants how to use the inexpensive HSC dry milk in their everyday cooking.  We taste tested instant oatmeal, cream of tomato soup, survival bars, and chocolate pudding.  Even if people prefer the more expensive milks for drinking, it’s important to see that less expensive milk can successfully be used for cooking and baking.  However, it is very important to note that the measurements of dry milk for baking are not necessarily interchangeable.  It takes anywhere from 2/3 cup to 1 1/3 cups of powdered milk to make a quart of liquid milk.  All recipes on this blog, unless otherwise noted, are made using HSC milk, which uses of a ratio of 3/4 cup dry milk to 3 3/4 cups water.

Yanasa Ama Ventures: Is a Global Famine Coming?

Yanasa Ama Ventures is a video company run by a ranching couple, focusing on agricultural, wildlife, and conservation videography. Besides offering such services, they also have a wide variety of ranch tutorial, tips, news and opinion pieces on their Youtube channel. Below they talk about a variety of food problems occurring across the globe, and what they may portend for the future. The novel coronavirus and its effect on global supply chains is pretty well known at this point, but there are a host of other issues as well. If you’re not keeping track, China is dealing with droughts, pestilence, and historic flooding, parts of Africa are dealing with droughts and locust plagues, and Russia has been limiting their exports of grains whether to protect domestic supply or for political power. Yanasa Ama talks about some of these topics in the video, as well as the effects of a solar minimum. You can also find articles like this one from NPR, saying there is no need to worry about food shortages, but it relies on computer models which say that because food supply has increased for many years, it will continue to increase for many years. While that may be true over time (much like holding stocks), it doesn’t account for bad years, or deny that there could be famine in some years.

“Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping’s call for an end to food waste is a sign that the communist country is facing a shortage of grains and pork after months of flooding, insect infestations, the African swine fever (ASF), and the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).” – Taiwan News

“In 2020, locusts have swarmed in large numbers in dozens of countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia. When swarms affect several countries at once in very large numbers, it is known as a plague.” – BBC

“Southern Africa is suffering through its worst drought in several decades and perhaps a century. Drought and its associated impacts have been causing critical problems for agriculture, vulnerable communities and overall development for many years in South Africa. This year they need to import more than 100,000 tones of cereal to survive famine. “ – Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital

“The coronavirus has revealed how risky it can be to rely on Russia for grain imports. Despite warnings from the WHO and WTO, Russia imposed an export quota on critical grains such as wheat, barley, and maize as the virus swept across the globe…Whether for domestic food security or international hybrid warfare, Russia’s behavior in 2010 and now during the coronavirus foreshadows new dangers in a warming world. ” – National Interest

 

Seattle Times: Washington State Stockpiling Food

Derek Sandison, director of the Washington state Department of Agriculture, tours a Fife warehouse Friday that’s packed with nonperishable food the state can tap if demand at food banks and other distribution centers soars amid the pandemic and resulting economic collapse. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

From the Seattle Times, From peanut butter to applesauce, Washington state stockpiles tons of food for the need ahead. Note that even The Seattle Times references the “resulting economic collapse” as a reason for having food stockpiled.

In Washington state’s new food warehouse, there’s enough Jif peanut butter to make nearly 3 million sandwiches.

Barilla pasta boxes stretch to the ceiling, 100,000 in all. Large stacks of TreeTop applesauce, pancake mix and canned green beans sit on pallets, like soldiers waiting to be sent into duty.

Since the coronavirus crisis first rocked Washington in March, nonprofits and state agencies working in food assistance have been forced to draw a completely new road map for getting food to people who need it.

The warehouse in Fife is part of that new model. After seeing food banks struggle to meet demand once the pandemic hit and the economy tanked, the Washington state Department of Agriculture (WSDA) began preparing to buy and stockpile tons of food to ward off a shortage in the months ahead.

The new stockpile is driven by two major factors: A nearly doubling in demand for food assistance across the state and a national food supply chain that is bogged down amid an overwhelming surge in demand.

As many as 2.2 million Washingtonians — about 30% of the state’s population — are facing food insecurity, according to Katie Rains, WSDA food policy advisor. That’s more than double the 850,000 state residents who sought help from food assistance programs last November, before the pandemic. 

We’ve been in this very desperate situation starting toward the end of March,” said WSDA Director Derek Sandison. “This [warehouse] is a continuation of our efforts to make sure we have fusions of product that will help us to continue to weather the storm.”

The storm took hold in mid-April, Sandison said during a tour of the warehouse on Friday. That’s when the state’s three main food bank distributors — Food Lifeline, Northwest Harvest and Second Harvest — told the WSDA that based on the spike in requests for food assistance, the organizations had roughly a two-week supply of food for hunger relief.

“We went into panic mode,” Sandison said. “That’s not an exaggeration. … So we jumped in with both feet and started active procurement on our end.”

But as the WSDA was trying to buy as much nonperishable food as it could to increase the state’s emergency reserves, so was everyone else.

Not only was the WSDA competing with other states and large national food-assistance programs, it also faced competition from grocery stores as national supplies of products such as pasta and peanut butter were becoming increasingly hard to come by.

“Peanut butter was a very highly wanted and needed commodity,” said Gary Newte, sourcing and product director for Northwest Harvest. “Peanut butter prices have probably tripled in the last three to four months.”

These high costs are having significant effects on the big food bank distributors’ bottom lines.

“Over a seven-month span during this crisis, we’ll spend more on purchasing food than we have for the previous four years combined,” said Thomas Reynolds, CEO of Northwest Harvest.

And six months into the pandemic and economic crisis, those costs haven’t gone down, Newte said. Many food distributors are still waiting on food they ordered months ago, he said…

Click here to read the entire article at The Seattle Times.

 

Christian Prepper Gal: Proper Storage of DIY Emergency Meals

Christian Prepper Gal has a thorough article on How to Properly Package and Store Homemade DIY Emergency Meals.

Vacuum sealing vs mylar bags

When I first learned that we could dehydrate food and keep it for long term food storage I was so excited!! I immediately bought an inexpensive, but good, dehydrator. While looking for recipes and such as to what to do with my new dehydrated foods I ran across what are called meals in a jar. I wasn’t really looking for meals in a jar because the emergency meals I had were for us to use if we had to “bug out”. So, I didn’t get too excited about them. That is, until I ran across a YouTube video of what this lady was calling a “meal in a bag”. Hmmm. Now that was something I could get interested in!

I already had some military MREs in our food storage, and was aware of emergency foods such as Mountain House and Wise Foods meals. I even had a couple of sample kits of emergency meals. So, I knew that not only would these meals be cheaper to make myself, but they would also be healthier. And, I could make food that my family would actually eat! (I have very picky eaters here.) So, I started looking for other recipes because I like to have a variety of foods and choices. But, recipes were not that easy to find. So, I started experimenting with how I could make up my own recipes. And, that’s how I started making my own meals in a bag!

However, upon further research for meals in a bag I became confused. I thought you could store the meals in either a mylar bag or a vacuum sealer bag. Well, actually you can store in either. But, what I discovered along the way is that the mylar bags will last longer than the vacuum sealer bags. I’ve even done videos and written recipes using and suggesting you could use either mylar bags or vacuum sealer bags to store the meals. And, that’s why I decided to write this article to explain the difference as well as the way you should store meals in a bag or jar and other dehydrated/freeze dried foods.

Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are deemed to be by far the best way to store meals in a bag. Apparently mylar bags are made for long term use. I do not personally know how long they will last because I’ve only been using them for a couple of years. Supposedly, they are good for 25 plus years. And that’s what makes them superior to vacuum sealer bags. Although, that does not mean you can’t continue to use vacuum seale bags if that’s what you are using. I will explain that in just a bit.

When storing dehydrated or freeze dried food in a mylar bag you will need to place an active oxygen absorber inside the bag before sealing the bag. The oxygen absorber draws all of the oxygen that is in the bag. It usually takes 3-4 hours to do so; however, I’ve had some take as long as overnight.

Not sure what size oxygen absorbers you need? Since I use either pint or quart size mylar bags for my meals I use 300cc oxygen absorbers. Although, a 100cc size is recommended as a minimum. I’ve also read that the 300cc is what is recommended for the gallon size. My first mylar bag purchase included the 300cc so that’s what I’ve gone with since.

It is easy to seal mylar bags. They have to be sealed with a high heat. Most vacuum sealers do not have a high enough heat to seal mylar bags properly and it is recommeded that you do not use the sealer on them. But, not to worry. All you have to have to seal mylar bags properly is a flat straightening iron that is used for straightening hair. That’s right! Just clamp one half of the top portion of the bag with the straightening iron, hold it there for around 20-30 seconds, turn the bag over and do the same to the other half. Easy and simple! Oh, and vacuum sealers will not draw the air out of a mylar bag propery either. They weren’t made for mylar bags and mylar bags were not made for vacuum sealers. You can also use an impulse heat sealer to seal the mylar bags if you prefer and it is within your budget to buy one.

A quick note: The mylar bag above has a zipper at the top. Just so you know, that does NOT mean that you do not have to seal the bag. You just seal it above the zipper. The zipper is so you can open the bag and zip it shut, or re-use it. It does not keep air completely out of the bag like heat sealing it does.

Vacuum Sealer Bags

As stated above, I started out using vacuum sealer bags for my homemade emergency meals. However, upon learning that they will only last for around two to five years before air will start to seep back in through the pores of the plastic, I stopped using them for my meals. They may last longer than said two to five years, but I did not want to take that chance.

The vacuum sealer bags are epecially susceptible to leaking when storing rice or other sharp dehydrated foods in them. So, if you are or did use these you will need to check them once in a while to make sure they are not leaking. One way to help avoid this is to place rice or other sharp foods inside a brown paper bag before placing them into the vacuum sealer bag. I’ve also used thick paper towels to help protect food from poking through. All it takes is a tiny pin prick size hole to allow enough air in to spoil the food.

As long as you check the bags often and rotate them (cooking the food in the bags and replacing them with new meals in a bag) every couple of years you should be just fine using the vacuum sealer bags. I didn’t throw out the ones I have in vacuum sealer bags because I know they will be good for a couple of more years and I just plan on rotating them out.

Canning Jars…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Christian Prepper Gal.

Food Preservation

Our tomato plants are starting to produce an abundance of paste tomatoes. We’ve just finished canning our first excess of tomatoes for the summer. We dehydrate our goji berries in batches as we harvest the ripe berries. We’ve previously canned up elderflower cordial earlier this summer and enjoy refreshing and healthy spritzers in the heat. Blackberry and blackberry/apricot jams have been stored up in jars. The first ripe watermelon was devoured this afternoon; will we preserve some rind?

Food preservation has become something of a lost art in this day and age, but a lot of people still express an interest in the practice. Where can you learn more about it if you don’t already have a friend who has been preserving food? One way is through books. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving are stand-bys that have been updated over the years. They mostly just cover canning, but have very reliable recipes and instructions that are easy to understand for beginners. If you can learn through reading, but don’t want a whole book on the topic, Instructables has a free online course on Canning and Preserving which lets you work through six topics at your own pace.

For a more visual approach and covering more topics, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Extension has a video series on Youtube called Preserving Alaska’s Bounty which gives you an overview of several preservation topics, including water bath canning, pressure canning, sausage-making, fruit leathers, sauerkraut, dehydrating, and more. The videos are a bit dated, but still have good basic info. Youtube user Homestead Heart also has a playlist for food preservation. English Country Life’s Youtube channel has a food preservation playlist which includes things like curing bacon, smoking food, lard, and more. A more technical or science explanation of food preservation can be found with FoodSci with ProfVigeant.

The WSU Extension normally has an online, food preservation program called Preserve the Taste of Summer, but it appears to be closed for the year. Click here to download a PDF flyer with details about the course cost and syllabus. Similarly, the University of Idaho Extension has a Preserve @ Home online program, which next airs in January 2021. Click here for a past Preserve @ Home flyer.

Other web resources include:

National Center for Home Food Preservation (Univ of Georgia) and its related website Preserving Food at Home.

Healthy Canning

The Home Preserving Bible

FoodPreserving.org This one is Australian. Weights are giving in both grams and pounds, while other volume measurements are in the familiar cups and teaspoons.

Now, go forth to a new life, rising through food preservation methods to self-sufficiency, peace and plenty.

Survival Mom: The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why

Survival Mom has written an article about her experiences with a few well known food storage companies in The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why. I’ve made purchases from almost all of those mentioned as well, and my own experiences mirror hers – Thrive and Emergency Essentials are my top go-tos, but I’ve used the others for bulk purchases that I have packed for long term storage myself. Mountain House has good quality, but we prefer ingredient-based storage to complete meal storage.

The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why via The Survival Mom

Over the years I’ve purchased “survival” food from a dozen or so different companies, and believe me, not all companies that sell that type of food are the same. In a couple of instances, the food was so bad that even I, a pretty damn good cook, couldn’t salvage the end result.

If you’re going to invest money in freeze-dried and dehydrated food, then it’s worth the time to research and try sample-sizes of a company’s product before stocking up.

Some of the brands I’ve used and purchased are Thrive Life, Legacy Foods, Honeyville, Emergency Essentials, and the one widely-marketed brand that was the worst and which will remain nameless. (Wise consumers will be well-advised to steer clear of that particular brand.)

Currently, the company I use most often is Thrive Life.  Over the years and hundreds of cans of their food, I’ve found their quality, taste, and variety to be the best. Disclaimer: I like their food so much that I am an “independent consultant” for their company and earn a commission for any sales generated from my link.

Thrive Life foods

Thrive Life has an outstanding, user-friendly website, and a huge array of mostly freeze-dried foods that can be incorporated in thousands of recipes. This is my recommended form of food storage — individual ingredients that give you unlimited recipe options.

Just-add-water meals come in handy for events like power outages and quick evacuations but they do limit your meal choices to just the varieties you have on hand. Thrive Life offers the opportunity to earn money and have foods auto-shipped, which has helped me stay on track with food storage goals and build a supply of freeze-dried food. In short, they have some unique features similar companies do not offer. I’ve been a Thrive Life consultant for 8 years and most of my own food storage comes from this company.

The Best Food Storage Company?

So what about other companies such as Emergency Essentials, Walton Feed, Augason Farms, and Honeyville?

None of these companies are inferior, they just don’t rise to the top in the various categories that I personally find to be most important — most helpful website and resources, an auto-ship option, consistently high quality, and the largest variety of products.

Years ago, I’ve visited the main Emergency Essentials store in Salt Lake City and found the manager there to be friendly and helpful. Their site offers survival products that are priced well along with freeze-dried food, and I’ve purchased MREs there as well.

For a year or so I taught classes at the Honeyville Farms retail store in Phoenix and bought quite a few food items each time. One thing I noticed was that the food purchased in the store was very nicely priced but the price increased dramatically online. They advertise a low shipping cost, but obviously, the price of shipping has to be made up elsewhere, thus the increase in their online prices. This made it difficult for me to determine which of their products were priced well and which might be more expensive than other brands, whose shipping charges were higher.

A couple of years ago I priced a 50-pound bag of hard white wheat at the Honeyville Farms retail store and back then it cost $19.99, but was $43.99 online. That’s quite a difference and is typical of all their food products. The $8.99 shipping charge becomes meaningless, and it also makes it very difficult to truly compare Honeyville’s cost and value with other companies. One thing I do like about Honeyville are their baking mixes for things like cornbread and brownies.

Augason Farms is very well-known in the food storage community. It’s family-run and offers generally lower prices. However, what I’ve found is the quality of food is a mixed bag. In some cases, it’s as good in terms of appearance and flavor as Thrive Life, but too often, the quality is lower. I sampled some of their soup mixes, and they aren’t something I would feed to my family without major improvements on my part.

Rainy Day Foods/Walton Feed was the very first food storage company I encountered, and the ordering process, at least back then, was quite confusing and complicated to a newbie. It really helps to know what you want and will use before perusing the site. Eleven years ago when I first began my food storage project, I had no idea what adzuki beans were or whether we would ever eat a #10 can of ABC soup mix! Their website is functional but offers little additional help or support, unlike Thrive Life.

Rainy Day products are good quality, we used the cocoa powder I bought years ago. If you want to take a look at their products and pricing, it’s best to place a huge order with other people, if possible, in order to save on shipping. When I did this, an 18-wheeler delivered the order to my friend’s house (she was the coordinator), and she divided up the orders for each person.

Two other well-known brands I’ve tried are Mountain House Foods (Read my Mountain House review.) Legacy Foods. I tried several of their freeze-dried entrees — very good!

All that food is surprisingly similar. Here’s why.

One factor many don’t realize is that all this food, whether it be wheat, strawberries, corn, and everything else comes from only so many farms! Just as food processing plants package food and then place different labels on them for different brands, these farms and packing plants do the same thing. So wheat purchased from Emergency Essentials just might come from the exact same farm as Augason Farms wheat or vice versa.

There are very few plants that freeze-dry massive amounts of produce, so it’s just logical that the food itself is the same from one company to the next, and only the label and, possibly, the packaging process is different. Exactly where the food comes from is highly confidential, and you will probably only find out the country from which it originated…

Click here to read the entire article at Survival Mom.

TMIN: Get Prepared for Coming Food Shortages

The Most Important News writes about existing and forecast food shortages in You May Not Understand This Now, But You Need To Get Prepared For The Food Shortages That Are Coming

I was going to write about something completely different today, but I felt that I needed to issue this warning instead.  Even before COVID-19 came along, crazy global weather patterns were playing havoc with harvests all over the globe, the African Swine Fever plague had already killed about one-fourth of all the pigs in the world, and giant armies of locusts the size of major cities were devouring crops at a staggering rate on the other side of the planet.  And now this coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented worldwide economic shutdown, and this has put an enormous amount of stress on global food supplies.

On the official UN website, the United Nations is openly using the term “biblical proportion” to describe the famines that are coming.  Even if COVID-19 miraculously disappeared tomorrow, a lot of people on the other side of the world would still starve to death, but of course COVID-19 is not going anywhere any time soon.

Here in the United States, our stores still have plenty of food.  But empty shelves have started to appear, and food prices are starting to go up aggressively.

In fact, we just witnessed the largest one month increase in food prices that we have seen since 1974.

For a long time I have been warning my readers that eventually a loaf of bread in the U.S. will cost five dollars, and one of my readers in Hawaii just told me that “my wife came home with ½ loaf of bread for $2.99”.

So it appears that the day I have been warning about has already arrived for some people.

Of course the price of meat is going up even faster than the price of bread.  The following is an excerpt from an email that one of Robert Wenzel’s readers in Alaska just sent him

Our local Costco as of now, beef hamburger is $9 a pound, and steaks are $18 a pound. Hamburger was at $3.50 a pound before all this.

Our local butcher shops, that butcher and package the little local beef that is raised here, are all out of meat.

Luckily, I have a couple moose in our freezers, and plenty of canned smoked salmon, and salmon season is coming soon again.

Hopefully the price of hamburger has not nearly tripled in your area yet, but without a doubt meat prices are going to just keep heading higher.

Ultimately, it is all about supply and demand.  Meat processing facilities have been shut down all over America due to COVID-19, and this is starting to create some really annoying shortages

If you go to Wendy’s this week, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get a hamburger. Go to the supermarket and you’ll probably see some empty shelves in the meat section. You may also be restricted to buying one or two packs of whatever’s available. Try not to look at the prices. They’re almost definitely higher than what you’re used to.

This is the new reality: an America where beef, chicken, and pork are not quite as abundant or affordable as they were even a month ago.

But as I keep reminding my readers, the only reason these meat shortages are so severe is because many farmers are unable to make their normal sales to the processing plants that have closed down.

As a result, a lot of these farmers have been forced to gas or shoot thousands of their animals

For farmers in Iowa, Minnesota, and other Midwestern states, they have had little choice but to euthanize the backlog of animals, which means gassing or shooting thousands of pigs in a day, according to The New York Times.

The financial and emotional repercussions on the farmers are profound. Some farmers lose as much as $390,000 in a day, said the report. So far 90,000 pigs have been killed in Minnesota alone.

In the end, a lot of farmers may have to go out of business after being financially ruined during this crisis, and we will seriously miss that lost capacity in the days ahead.

Because the truth is that global food supplies are only going to get tighter and tighter.  As I have discussed previously, UN World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley has warned that we are facing “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two”, and he insists that we could soon see 300,000 people literally starve to death every single day…

“If we can’t reach these people with the life-saving assistance they need, our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period”, he upheld. “This does not include the increase of starvation due to COVID-19”.

And did you catch that last part?

He specifically excluded the effects of COVID-19 from his very ominous projection.

So the truth is that the number of people starving to death each day could ultimately end up being far, far higher.

In wealthy western countries, starvation is not an imminent threat.  But what we are seeing is an explosion of hunger that is absolutely unprecedented.  All over America, people have been lining up “for hours” at America’s food banks so that they can be sure to get something before the supplies run out…(continues)