HomePosts Tagged "food storage" (Page 2)

I admit that I’m somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to food. No shame in this, only the fact that I’m on round-the-clock freezer and fridge cleaning duty. Yeah, I know it’s kind of a bummer to take a garbage bag and throw away that awfully good food just because you consider your family’s needs nor the fridge’s capacity (true story).

Anyway, after cleaning the fridge this morning, a thought stroke me: what if there’s some magical way of telling if the food’s safe to eat or not? Well, that would spare the trouble of having to clean the damned thing each week, not to mention the fact that I would probably save a lot of money.

As a prepper, you probably know by now that food past its prime is unsafe to eat, no matter how SHTF-ish the situation gets. This is the reason I’ve spent the rest of my day searching for a way to tell apart rotten from safe to eat food. Yes, I needed to ask Google for directions because I’m really bad at colors and, because of this damned cold, my sense of smell is close to nonexistence.

So, before you grab your garbage back to summer-clean your fridge, freezer or both, you may want to take a closer look at my kick-ass list on how to figure out if your food’s still good or packing a six-shooter.

  1. Soggy edges

Could never tell for sure how off my veggies were. I always assumed that as long as they don’t give off a funky smell, they’re good for eating. Dead wrong! Apparently, soggy edges, especially in green-leafed veggies like lettuce, kale, spinach, watercress or cabbage is, in fact, the first sign of spoilage.

Yes, I know that it’s a no-brainer, but as I discovered, people usually disregard this part, telling themselves that the veggie’s safe to eat if you cut around the soggy part. So, if you see any sogginess, brown patches or if the vegetable sort of deflates, it means that it has gone bad and, therefore must be thrown in the trash can.

  1. Discoloration

Of course, nothing spells “spoilage” better than an unnatural color. However, in some cases (red bell pepper) it’s hard to tell if that’s part of the vegetable’s life cycle or a tell-tale sign of spoilage. The best way to see how fresh your veggie is would be to make a small nick on the green part. Pull it aside. If it’s green on the inside, it means it’s safe to safe. On the other hand, if it has a brownish tint to it, do yourself a favor and throw it in the trash.

  1. Molding

While you’re cleaning your fridge and freeze, you may want to take a closer look at the bread and any other pastry you may be hoarding. See, no matter how well you keep your bread, there’s always that chance of mold growing on it. If you see any, throw it away as fast as you.

Heard a doozie some time ago that moldy bread may be safe to eat, at least for a couple of days, if you remove the moldy part and stick the loaf in the oven for 10 minutes. That’s a big no-no, and I would advise you to throw away the bread as well as the other stuff it came in contact with.

  1. Limpness

Veggies such as green beans have a limp-type of aspect after being kept in the fridge for too long. If you see any of that, it means that the legume is way past its prime, meaning that it has lost all nutritional value and could severely compromise your health if consumed. Yes, I know that most of you are in the habit of quick-freezing green beans and other stalky veggies.

Still, the freezer’s not always the best option for long-term food storage. Sure, it can extend the shelf-life by a couple of weeks or even months but, eventually, all of it will go bad. In case of veggies look for paleness and a thick layer of ice. As for meat, ice plus a violet tint equals garbage bag.

  1. Foul smell

The nose always knows! If you pick off any strange odor coming from your food, then it’s more than safe to assume that it really has gone bad. Meat will give off a rotten smell, while veggies will smell just like forest fungi. The same smell can emanate from eggs and eggplants. Keep in mind that eating rotten stuff can result in food poisoning or worse.

  1. To float or not to float?

In some cases, it’s quite difficult to figure out if they’re spoiled or not. Take eggs for instance. If there’s no expiration label on them, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a fresh and an old one. Luckily there’s a test you can use to figure out if the eggs are safe to eat or not. Fill a bowl with cold water and place all your eggs inside. If they went under and lay flat on their sides, it means that they’re fresh. If not, then you should consider going to the store to buy a new carton.

  1. Discoloration in meat

There’s a bit of an argument on this one. While some say that meat discoloration is solely the result of poor packaging and exposure to air and, therefore safe to it, others argue that meat turned grey or brown should be tossed in the trash. Can’t say for sure which side is right, but my humble opinion, it’s not a good idea to begin experimenting on food. Best to throw away anything that has an unusual color.

That’s it for my short and sweet guide on how to tell if the food’s still edible or not. As always, if you feel that’s, I’ve missed something crucial, do hit the comments section and speak your mind.

Before you grab your garbage back to summer-clean your fridge, freezer, or both, you may want to take a closer look at my kick-ass list on how to figure out

There’s nothing more American than bacon, and don’t even try to deny that. We love it, cherish it, and with good reason since breakfast isn’t the same without those mouth-watering, fat-laden pork strips. I know that for the most part bacon’s a big dietary no-no, but what would life be if we couldn’t indulge on simple things like bacon?

Yup, you’ve guessed it – since he’s a big fan of bacon and, to that end, he has searched high and low for all kinds of wacky ways to make those juicy strips last longer. That’s the trouble with bacon I guess – you’ve got to cook it as fast as possible. Otherwise, you will end up with some bad to the bone meat (insert guitar riff here), along with a lot of crushed breakfast dreams and hopes.

Anyway, since yours truly hasn’t better things to do around the house than looking for ways to preserve food, in one of my scavenger hunts, I’ve stumbled upon a kick-ass bacon storage method. Of course, I couldn’t resist the urge of writing about it and sharing it with you wonderful people. What stroke me the most was the method’s simplicity.

Come to think of it; it’s almost elegant. What’s even better is that, according to the guy who recommended it, by following a couple of simple steps you can potentially increase the bacon’s shelf life by at least 15 years if not more.

As far as the ingredients are concerned, I’ve only tried it on a single batch of common supermarket bacon. Still, if you’re the kind of person that fancies pancetta or prosciutto over bacon, you could try canning those as well (as someone who a lot of cooks, I can tell you that there’s virtually no difference between the three types of meats, except for the fancy names).

Well, time’s a-wasting, and you’ve grown tired of hearing me talk about my buds and exploits. So, without further ado, here’s the well-kept, military-grade secret of storing bacon.

Ingredients and materials:

  • Bacon (as much as you can find).
  • Pressure canner (I use a traditional one).
  • Canning jar (be sure they’re sterilized).
  • Parchment paper (use the unbleached kind. I don’t have some nearby, use masking paper instead).

How to prepare

Step 1. Get your pressure cooker ready. If you opted for the no-power version, it would be a good idea to bring it to a boil before placing the canned bacon inside. As for the electric version, plug it in, pour water inside, and set the pressure between 10 and 15 PSI.

Step 2. Take the parchment roll and use a pair of scissors or sharp knife to cut a long piece (it should be at least 18 inches in length).

Step 3. Get your bacon out of the fridge and separate the slices.

Step 4. Arrange the bacon slices on the parchment. Don’t leave any gaps between them. You’ll see in a moment why this is essential.

Step 5. After arranging the bacon on the parchment, fold over both paper and bacon in half. By the way, someone suggested that you can make the bacon last longer in the fridge or even in a space without refrigeration by coating each piece with a very thin layer of maple syrup.

‘Twould be better to do this after placing the bacon on the parchment paper. Otherwise, the pieces will be a sticker and, therefore, harder to arrange on paper.

Step 6. Upon folding the paper into half, grab the other hand and start rolling it. Just like you do with the newspaper when the dog goes number two on your grandma’s Persian rug. Tuck in the excess paper at both ends to ensure that the parchments don’t unravel inside the jar.

Step 7. Put the Bacon Parchment of Absolute Truth and Might inside a CLEAN and STERILIZED canning jar. Regarding the latter part, there are various ways to do it. If you’re just as lazy as I am, fill a tub with hot water, pour liquid detergent, and dump your canning jars inside. Let them soak for about half a day.

Afterward, take them out and rinse out the excess detergent. Still, if you want to take the high road, you can always boil the living Hell out of those jars before using them for canning. The choice is entirely up to you.

Step 8. Put the lid on each jar and tighten them gently. You won’t need to apply too much force as your pressure canner will do all the heavy lifting.

Step 9. If the water inside your pressure canner has reached the boiling point, carefully place the cans inside. Put the lid on, set the pressure to 10 PSI, and let them simmer for approximately 90 minutes.

Step 10. When it’s over, kill the fire, pop the lid off the pressure cooker, and carefully remove each jar. Place them on a wooden support or something and allow them to cool down. Word of caution – don’t try to force-cool the jars. Heard my mother-in-law say that ‘cooked’ jars are liable to blow up in your face if you run them under cool water or submerge them in ice.

Your best choice would be to leave them be for the time being. Another thing I should mention is that the canned bacon will leave quite a lot of fat on the bottom of the jar. Don’t concern yourself with that part, ‘cause it’s normal.

That’s it! You now know how to can bacon, prepper-style. As I’ve mentioned, this method extends the bacon’s shelf life by at least 15 years. Perhaps even more. To store, either place the canning jars inside the fridge or stick them in the pantry you usually keep your emergency supplies.

Works both ways. To eat, pop the lid, unroll the bacon, cook, and enjoy. I personally like to eat plain canned bacon – it’s less smoky compared to the fresh variety, but has a gentle aroma that reminds me of meatloaf.

What’s your take on this awesome canning method? Let me know what you think in the comment section.

What’s even better is that, according to the guy who recommended it, by following a couple of simple steps you can potentially increase the bacon’s shelf life by at least

Food will always be king and the reason we have enjoyed the prosperity we have is because of easy access to food. In America, we waste 50% of the food we produce. That is astounding and gross. To those who survived the great depression of the 30’s the idea that any food could be wasted would be unbelievable.

So, how do we go from food being wasted to experiencing something like a global famine?

We have pressed the soil, resources, and planet itself, to a point where all are ready to break. The breadbasket of America and other massive agricultural areas are operating on soils depleted of nutrients and as the worlds, demand continues to grow there is massive pressure to achieve big yields year over year.

Let’s look at 4 factors that are going to affect a famine that starves billions.

Disease

There are some dangerous diseases affecting crops all over the world. UG99 Wheat Rust is a disease with no known cure that is affecting grain populations in America and Mexico. This disease could affect nearly 20% of all wheat crop is in danger of being infected but nearly all wheat crops could be infected by the disease.

There are other’s out there like Mad Soy Disease which is affecting soy crops in Brazil but has been isolated to the northern regions of the nation. We live in a world where people and commodities spread and diseases with them.

It would seem like its only a matter of time before big cash crops are leveled by disease

Soil Quality

The condition of the Earth’s topsoil is abysmal. It is estimated that 1/3 of all growing areas are losing topsoil faster than it can be reproduced. This means that every year farmers must pump loads of fertilizer and other nutrients into the soil in hopes that the plants will have enough to survive.

This drastically affects the quality of the produce and grains that are grown each year. Ideally, you want soil that is full of nutrition and it will impart that nutrition into your food. Instead, we are left with food that is mass produced but exponentially less nutritious than the food being produced in the past.

Before long, our foods will be more chemical and less nutrient or, worse yet, the crop yields will suffer dramatically.

This will lead to worldwide malnutrition and human disease.

Natural Disasters

We pull hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the ground to water these crops. Around the farmland, we decimate the trees and wild-lands. This land is then paved and is no longer capable of absorbing water.

Massive flooding is the outcome and it’s now affecting our growing areas. Without expansive wild areas to absorb the water from large storms, the water rushed to agricultural areas and worst of all it stays there.

The Earth’s natural disasters and our drainage limitations are putting us at a huge risk. The last bomb cyclone in Nebraska left 1,000,000 acres of land underwater and killed almost the same amount of calves.

With spring rains coming this could have lasting and devastating effects on food production. It only takes a few of these large-scale agricultural areas to be disrupted, plantings reduced or eliminated altogether, before the world has to tighten up on supply and people start going hungry.

Personal Food Security

With these three issues potentially having drastic effects on the food system, its safe to say you need a backup. In fact, you need a few. You want to buy, store and grow your way to personal food security. Of course, this is going to take planning and knowledge.

  • Gardening

Whether you go the route of building a food forest, hydroponically growing food, green housing or traditional food growing.

  • Livestock

From things as complicated and as expensive as raising cattle to simply raising chickens for eggs, you need to consider what you can do in terms of raising food-producing animals

  • Food Storage

Food storage is all about planning and rotation. In order to excel at this, you need to know the basics and remember, store what you eat!

  • Preservation

From dehydrating to canning, you will also want to know the majority of these skills and use them to both extend your harvest in the garden and build food storage

  • Foraging

There are food growing all around us, but you need to understand when and where to find them. These will be ancillary calories, but they will help.

  • Hunting

Though season dependent, hunting and trapping can both be impressive ways to put meat on the table or in the freezer.

Getting Started

There is a bit of a knowledge barrier and a lot of practice that goes into all of these. You need a trusted resource that will offer you information on these topics. You could peruse the internet and read various websites to get information on these topics.

A better move is to have a tangible resource that has all of this information in it. This puts a reference tool at your fingertips whether the lights are out or not!

Wouldn’t it be great if something like this existed? Well, you may want to look for The Doomsday Book Of Medicine. This book includes information about the above info and all the info you will need to reach a level of personal food security.

Oh yea, this is also packed with other information about prepping beyond food. You can find it all HERE.

I am not saying it’s the only resource but it’s damn sure a good one!

Conclusion

As the population grows, we are going to face a greater strain on the food system. Nature is hitting back against our modified mono-cultured crop systems and things like wheat, corn and soy production will be disrupted.

This time of excess cannot go on forever. We simply cannot pull out naturally occurring nutrients and replace them with chemicals as a long-term solution. Its time to take control of your own food production. You can do this.

With the right resource, you will find yourself escaping the coming famine and building your own personal food security. The Doomsday Book Of Medicine helps you all the way.

 

In America we waste 50% of the food we produce. That is astounding and gross. To those who survived the great depression of the 30’s the idea that any food

When Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern board of the United States, it left millions of households without power, and most importantly, food. With preparations for the expected power outage, the food outage would not have been a problem even if grocery stores, crops, livestock, and plants had been flooded, all thanks to proper food storage.

Food is essential for survival. Whether it be an earthquake, hurricane, super typhoon, floods, or any natural calamity, you may lose access to water and food supply. As such, most people go for keeping emergency food storage. While for others, storing food is important for small emergencies. The question is, how do you effectively store food? Reports come in with stored food filled with salmonella, E. coli, and other microorganisms, which, instead of saving you, would put you in the hospital. More than keeping the right amount of food, storing them right is crucial. Here is a survival guide to food storage to keep you and your family safe.

1. Know The Right Types Of Food

Know which foods to store and how to store them. Keep your emergency survival food supply varied but make sure to have honey, salt, milk, and wheat in your supply. To encourage variety in your supply, go for other grains, beans, tomatoes, cheese, and even onion. If you are storing foods in jars, make sure that the jars are airtight sealed to avoid the development of bacteria within. Marinated foods should go into the freezer and kept there until used.

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The types of food you store could go on and on but what you store is extremely important. Go for non-cook foods that could be served even during a power outage. Have MREs (Meal Ready To Eat) stocked as well as canned goods. Keep spices as well to give flavor to the food you will be preparing in times of emergency.

2…And Consider The Size!

Size matters, and so does the quantity. The volume of food should be enough for you to keep in the storage room. Choose containers that can be easily stacked, avoid transparent containers, and do not forget to put labels on everything. The labels should have the contents of what is inside the container and the date it was processed; including the date it was stored. This way, you would easily know when to use it and when to replace it.

3.Timing Is Everything

Yes, you have to get the emergency survival food supply going but you should not rush into getting this done ASAP. Take the time to learn the basics of food storage and keep it consistent. Start from a small food supply and add items to it slowly. You may start by using your refrigerator as your storage area. Utilize your freezer and learn the canning process to utilize your cupboards as well. If you have learned the proper storage and restocking techniques, this is the key to start working on a larger room for food storage.

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4. Find The Perfect Storage Place

One of the many food storage tips you will hear is finding the perfect storage place. Your storage room should be cool, dry, and well ventilated. If you plan to store dried goods, you have to prioritize the temperature you have in your room to avoid spoilage, which is a waste of money. A cool storage room inhibits the growth of ethylene, a ripening agent, along with other decay producing enzymes. The storage room you choose also dictates the quantity of the emergency food supply you will be able to store. Keep your room small, having too big of a storage room makes it hard to do inventories in. Remember that this is your personal emergency food supply in case of natural disasters so keep it properly stored.

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5. Restock!

If you have worked on your emergency food supply, you should know that these would only last for a couple of months up to a year. Create a regular rotation to replace the older items on the storage supply. Remember to replace everything that you have used up and those that are spoiled. Make it a part of your regular routine to keep the food fresh.

Remember that everything that goes in first must be the first to go out, starting from the ready-to-eat foods. Canned foods, which have rust on the lid, are already spoiled so be aware of these signs such as molds, discoloration, and smell.

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6. Keep It Listed

Start a food plan with a checklist of food you need. Not only will this help your shopping faster, this will also help you keep track of the items that have been used up and needs to be replaced, from the canned goods up to the frozen food. Without a list or inventory, your food stock may go down to a single can of beans or to a jam-packed storage room.

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7. Consider The Humidity

Consider the humidity in the room. Have the foods properly stored in their original packages. This packaging is designed for the food to be in great condition given a room temperature or even too much humidity. Humidity also increases the probability of molds to appear on your stored food.

8. Avoid Sunlight

To keep the longevity of food, avoid storing them in direct sunlight. Exposing food in direct sunlight promotes oxidation, decreases the nutritional value, and most importantly, spoils it easily. To keep this from happening, cover the windows and other areas which may allow sunlight to go through. Watch out for foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K because they are quick to degrade under sunlight.

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9. Clean, Clean, Clean

Storing food effectively is based mostly on the proper handling of food when you store them. Wash your hands, clean the room, clean the containers, and don’t let any insects get inside the storage room. Keep the fresh produce, raw foods, canned goods, and ready-to-eat foods separated from each other.

Nowadays, having food storage is not a choice but an essential part of every household’s survival plan. This list will help you start your food storage right.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern board of the United States, it left millions of households without power, and most importantly, food. With preparations for the expected power outage, the

 

Food storage has generated a lot of controversy over the decades and will do so over the next decades if SHTF fails to arrive.
How do you tell if someone is a vegan? They tell you!!!

[Disclaimer: I have been a vegan for the last five years and I was a vegetarian for twelve years prior to that].

Meat canning/storing is not my thing nor my focus. That said I have zero intent to be 100% vegan in SHTF but frankly the concept of not being mainly vegan in SHTF for everyone who is prepping is likely unachievable and unhealthy. In SHTF I plan on eating meat, fish, and eggs but not dairy other than goat cheese (I am serious anti-casein- the protein in dairy). In fact I would eat anything to avoid starvation in SHTF and I plan to.

I store what I want to eat and so should everyone. This article is just looking at my specific case and specific circumstances here outside Toronto. Obviously if you live in warmer climes you can plan on a mixed farm and enjoy fats from pork and cattle. This would not really work in an area with a growing season of six to seven months maximum so here are my thoughts on long-term food storage issues in places like Canada.

Fat

Living in Canada one thing I always worried about when storing food for SHTF was fat (fat is oil). I am nowhere near walrus or seal meat so what could I do? Nuts are a possible idea and certainly I have black walnut and acorn near at hand and have experimented with both as a source of fat as well as protein. They take time, effort, and knowledge. Harvesting might be dangerous or impossible depending on the scenario. Squirrels and rodents I should be able to get but they have little to no usable fat. Same with deer but I think they will be very rare near any city for years after SHTF.

Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Storing nuts and oil seems pointless given the really short shelf life of both. Of course, with notice, I’d hit Costco and buy bulk cooking oil, olive oil, and nuts but five years into SHTF those supplies would be gone or be rancid.

My answer is currently storing coconut oil. Not just any coconut oil but extra-virgin. A little goes a long way in supplying calories and essential fats. Storage is as simple as buying a small bottle or tub (I prefer glass) and placing one in each 5 gallon bucket.

How long does coconut oil last?

This supply can be used and stored relatively easily in most temperatures provided you keep the container size small. Once opened it will go rancid the same as other sources of fat. It can be frozen, heated, and repeat without any issues provided the container is unharmed.

The link above also gives useful information on telling if the coconut oil has gone off. I had expired peanuts and experimented with various methods of cooking and spicing to get rid of the horrible taste. Nothing worked. Expired oil is truly awful!

Protein

This is worth storing in small amounts. Nothing like a tin of SPAM added to white rice and beans for taste and protein in the apocalypse. Yet really the amount of protein should be very, very small. The SAD (Standard American Diet) truth is most people eat far too much protein for their own health. Excessive protein leads to kidney failure and a lot of other avoidable diseases.

Protein for me is in the category of condiment or small requirement. I mean small here! In SHTF one tin of tuna would be added to one week’s worth of meals per person. Would this make me as weak as a vegan? In SHTF I hope so and you can look up how weak vegan athletes are yourselves. As an ex-ultarmarathoner I can tell you most endurance athletes long ago went vegan or vegetarian.

Most of my added protein would come from beans and quinoa. Long term they are easily stored and reasonably priced. Quinoa in bulk is often available at Costco for $34 Canadian. Yet honestly protein from my garden will supply almost all of my needs and protein is the least important issue in SHTF yet the one many preppers are storing the most aggressively. They would be healthier and better off financially storing kale seeds!

Carbohydrates

I do not use sugar and have not for years. Still I like to think about my preps and it dawned on me a few bags of sugar would actually make a lot of sense in SHTF. A bit added to flour really helps the taste of bread and it is very cheap and stores easily. Again most of my carbohydrates would come from the garden and home-grown potatoes are wonderful! For storage I have lots of white rice and some pastas. This area I am not very worried about.

Of course being Canadian I also store maple syrup which is the best carbohydrate in the world, eh! I have spiles and tubes (food grade) to harvest maple syrup in SHTF once the ability to move around becomes safe. Anyone living near maple trees really needs to think on this and also other sap trees.

Smart Long Term Stores

Can you sprout? It is very easy and very helpful in many SHTF scenarios. Make sure you can do it and have the equipment to do it daily in SHTF. Why not store grains and seeds long-term that you can eat, sprout, and plant? This is as easy as buying organic chia seeds (they need clay pots for sprouting) and putting them in a Mylex™ bag inside some of your food buckets. Most dried beans are easier to cook and healthier to eat after sprouting for a couple of days.

Pink Gourmet Himalayan Salt

Vitamin C is a key ingredient for us all to live a good and healthy life. Storing it is an issue. Sure have lots of vitamin tablets but consider canning or strong lime and lemon juices. I cannot grow oranges up here but if you can then start now. I plan on using apples a lot in SHTF and storing blackberries and raspberries. These skills will be essentially long-term in SHTF so I have started now. Basic good quality bottles of jam is another essential and smart long-term storage item that I’d have in every food bucket. I cannot stand marmalade but I can added it to white rice easily enough so I store marmalade.

Salt

I am guessing everyone has salt but what about iodine? Those of us who live a long way from the ocean or on land that never was ocean will become iodine deficient in SHTF. Is your salt also a supply of iodine? It needs to be unless you live near the ocean.

I add very little salt to my diet at present but I have a small package of iodized salt in all my buckets for long-term use. I am expecting convenience foods to disappear in SHTF and the large and excessive amounts of added salt we all eat at present will be a memory. Plan for a lot of salt and make it iodized. If you check your preps and it is sodium chloride with nothing else listed and/or does not say “Iodized Salt” then put that aside and use for barter.

Dried Spices

Pepper, garlic, onion, turmeric, etc. are all easily available and store well enough for years If you have not put one in each of your storage buckets you might regret it after a year or more of living off your stored rice and beans. You can also store a lot of small plastic bags (UK coin bags are great for this) and divide up very small amounts for barter in SHTF. There are many spices available and buy one each time you shop. Variety is the aim once salt and pepper are dealt with. Hot spices are great but bottles tend to go off over time so grab handfuls at fat food places. Put them in a Mylex™ bag with lots of oxygen absorbers as their packaging is fast food not apocalyptic! Basil and arugula should be available to you via seeds as should mustard. A quick survey of your local area would find many greens available that will spice up food and help you stay healthy. Purslane and Dandelion are weeds for me but a snip them frequently to add to my salads now. Avoid harvesting near rods, polluted rivers, and dog walking areas!

stockpiling challenge

Conclusion

What do you store as long-term food and why? If you mess this up there’s no quick trip to Costco’s available in SHTF to fix it. Take a hard look at what you have now and think about how you will use it in SHTF. Can you make different textures and flavors easily? Will this food supply vitamins, fiber, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in variety? Can the food stored be easily extended by wild foraging and/or gardening? When you open it will you be using the entire amount before it goes bad? Sure 5 gallons of X in the bucket makes you feel secure but can you use all 5 gallons before it goes rancid? Pack small Mylex™ bags inside the big buckets so you have both choice and shelf life after opening.

Hopefully my errors and mistakes here will get picked up in the comments section. I am not going to explain or justify my current diet nor why I feel casein is not a great thing to eat. This is about food storage and SHTF not current nutrition! Bon appetite!

  Food storage has generated a lot of controversy over the decades and will do so over the next decades if SHTF fails to arrive. How do you tell if someone is

Our last article; the first in this series of 5 things you need to go off grid now, began with the concept of preppers looking for an ideal life of untethering ourselves from “the grid” in an effort to enjoy a more self-sufficient life. To that end, many of us only consider moving to rural land and building homes that depend less on some of the interconnected systems we rely on today. But even if that isn’t possible for most of us currently, we might be wise to plan on going off grid anyway. In a disaster scenario, we might not have any other choice. If the grid goes down due to any one of dozens of possibilities and you aren’t at your perfect survival retreat in the woods, what do you need to consider now that could impact your family’s survival?

The last article covered water primarily because more than almost anything else, water is needed for survival. The average human person can only go for three days without water so in a grid down situation, this will need to be one of the top if not your first priority. If you have water taken care of, the next thing you will need if the grid goes down is food.

Food

After water, our bodies need food for energy and nourishment. When I started prepping; food and water were the first two items I began to consider for the obvious health related requirements, but unlike a survival bunker, stocking up on extra food is an easy thing to do. On top of that, not too many people look at you with a weird expression when you simply purchase a little extra food each trip. I just blamed my children for being pigs… “Man! You just won’t believe how much spaghetti my 6-year-old puts away.”

Each and every one of us eats food every day so it isn’t like we need to plan clandestine trips to the Army Navy store to avoid letting our neighbors know we are prepping. The concept you need to remember is planning for the Grid down scenario where you won’t be able to load up the car and drive over to the local supermarket. If the grid really does go down in a major way, you will need to already have a plan in place for taking care of your food needs both short and long-term. You will not be able to begin your food storage after a disaster.

Stocking up on groceries

Easy food storage start is to simply buy a little more each week of what you already eat.

There are many ways you can begin to think about food after a collapse and the simplest short-term solution is to simply stock up on the foods your family already eats. When you go to the grocery store; if you buy 3 jars of spaghetti sauce normally for example, just buy one more. I won’t lie and say that purchasing extra groceries will not cost you more money, but it is the easiest way to build your supplies. For a lot of us, we have more money than time right now. In our imaginary grid-down scenario there will be no power so I would recommend against stocking the freezer only or buying dozens of microwave burritos. In addition to planning your food storage, you have to consider how you will cook this food if the power is no longer working, but I will deal with that in another article.

Long term food storage

When we think about planning for long term food storage, we routinely consider canned foods or foods that have been sealed to prevent spoilage for a long time. You can purchase bulk items like rice and beans and seal them with oxygen absorbers in 5 gallon buckets. This will allow you to store a lot of food for a really long time. Optionally, there are dozens of companies that sell freeze-dried food where they have done the job of protecting the food for you. Of course, this food will cost you more than what you can spend if you do the work yourself, but there are some advantages. You can assume that most of these companies know what they are doing more so than you starting out which may give you comfort in knowing that when you need to use the food you are storing it will have been properly stored and you won’t open up a 5 gallon bucket of rotten rice.

Growing a survival garden

Even if you spend $10,000 on food and you have it locked in your basement, eventually that food will run out. What if the grid is still down when all your food supplies are depleted? To really be in the best shape you can be in when the grid goes down you need to have your own source of renewable foods. The most obvious and understood option is to have a garden. Gardens are not a cure-all though and require a significant amount of up front work, planning and there is a learning curve.

A garden is simply a prepping must-have to live off-grid.

Many preppers I know plan to start their garden when the grid goes down and that is not a good strategy in my opinion for a few reasons. First, simply making a garden plot takes a lot more than a shovel and a rake unless you already have tilled soil that is ready. Most of us have a spot in our backyard where we imagine that beautiful little garden with nice neat, weed-free rows of fresh vegetables. That doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly doesn’t happen without some hard work.

Secret Garden gives excellent tips on growing your own camouflaged food forest to reduce the threat of anyone stealing your food.

Assuming you have a nice plot of land without any grass or weeds, you may need to amend your soil to give it the right nutrients. Composting and adding natural fertilizers help with this but again, that isn’t something you will have on day one. And, probably the best reason against this plan is that those beautiful vegetables take time to grow. You can’t wait until you are hungry and expect to go dig a hole and plant your survival seeds. You could be waiting months for the first fruits of your labor. I recommend starting a garden now. The Farmer’s Almanac says that a 16 x 10 foot garden will feed a family of four with a little left over for canning and freezing. What if your crops fail? I would plan on a much larger garden even though that is more work and the reality of it is you may be looking to convert every single square inch of dirt you have into food production. You will also need to plan on canning supplies and all that goes with that. Gardens do not provide food all winter so you will need to grow enough to eat and put away to last you during the winter months.

Something else to consider is your garden will be visible to anyone walking past your property. A really brilliant alternative would be to use the food forest concept to grow a camouflaged food forest so that your food supplies are less likely targets of wandering hungry people. Rick Austin has a book that introduces these concepts called “Secret Garden of Survival” and I think that is a great place to start.

Raising Livestock

OK, so you have a full pantry and even have a stash of freeze-dried foods under the beds and in the closets. Your garden is underway and you are already seeing the first fruits from your plot of dirt. What about protein?

Rabbits are a low footprint option for raising a lot of meat.


Assuming you aren’t a vegetarian, meat is on the menu or it would ideally be in a grid down scenario. Sure you could plan on hunting but you will be in competition with everyone else in this grid-down world that is hungry too. I believe in a massive collapse, any wildlife would be quickly depleted and the chances of getting wild game would be slim. Sure, legumes and some grains have protein, but for those of us who like to eat meat there are a couple of relatively simple options to consider in a grid-down world that you can even use now.

Chickens are incredibly easy to raise and take care of. They just need some basic protection from the elements, good quality food and water. In return you will get delicious fresh eggs. At our house I have fresh eggs every morning for breakfast. Raising rabbits is another great option for protein but they will need to be slaughtered and butchered. Rabbits are prolific breeders – a single female has on average 8 kits per litter and their gestational period is about a month. Assuming you start with three rabbits (2 females and one male) you could have well over a hundred rabbits in the first year.

Aquaponics is another option that I think lends itself to an off-grid lifestyle, but it does require power. Raising chickens and rabbits does not.

Tomorrow we will get into the third thing you need to go off grid. Water and food are checked off our list. Can you guess what is next?

Our last article; the first in this series of 5 things you need to go off grid now, began with the concept of preppers looking for an ideal life of

One of the biggest hurdles to actually doing something that can save your life is getting started. I know many people who research topics, watch movies, create lists and pages and pages of bookmarked websites that they can pull up at a moment’s notice. For every idea they have a source. For every plan, they have written information, sourced in binders with color coded tabs. This could be the same for you and your food supplies that are all written neatly in a binder or on a downloadable excel spreadsheet or parked on a DVD you bought online from a survival expert.

My question is what if the world as you know it ends tomorrow? What if the proverbial poop hits the fan and all your lists are just that; worthless words on pieces of paper. What if your highly organized blueprint for survival is nothing more than electrical impulses burned to a hard-drive that will never run again? What if in your efforts to be thorough, you didn’t actually do anything and now you family is looking to you for guidance? Since you have been talking about Prepping for 3 years, you have something prepared for this day, right?

I know that this isn’t the majority of people who read Final Prepper, but there are those out there that become overwhelmed by information and keep thinking over the details in their mind of what they want or need to do until it’s too late. We call this analysis paralysis and in the world of survival, this can get you killed. If you haven’t begun storing food for your family because you haven’t finished watching a DVD or your excel spreadsheet isn’t completely accurate with the quantities and current prices for all 1000 food items you need, you should try something else. What I want to give you is a simple food supply plan that can feed a family of 4 for a month, can be purchased in about one trip out and will cost you a few hundred dollars. Use this plan if you haven’t started anything yet or simply need a jump start on your emergency food supply list for your home. Trust me, your family will appreciate this if something terrible happens and you will be able to look them in the eye again.

What Foods to Buy?

Rice is a cheap and easy emergency food supply

Rice – Rice is one of my favorite storable foods because it is relatively easy to buy even in big quantities and I don’t know if I have ever met anyone who wouldn’t eat rice. Rice stores easily as long as you keep it cool and dry just in the bag. For longer storage you can seal your rice in Mylar bags, throw them in buckets and you are looking at years of shelf life. For your emergency needs though I would go to Sam’s or Costco and by a 50 lb. bag of rice or two. A 50 pound bag contains 504 servings of rice and will lay flat on your shelf for years. We use our rice though so it is always in rotation. Cost – Approximately $20

Beans – Beans, beans the magical fruit. Beans are another food that has a long storage life and is relatively cheap. Beans are the first part of Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids for a good reason. Beans don’t need too much care and like rice store easily for years. You can use them for a good source of fiber, but you should make plans to deal with excess gas if everyone is going to start eating beans once a day… A 10 lb. bag of beans costs around $7 and makes 126 servings. Buy several bags for your pantry and don’t forget the chili and soup mix.

Canned Meat – The best way to cheaply store meat is in cans and for a little variety and additional flavor for your meals, we stock up on canned tuna and chicken. Depending on the size you will need about 35 cans to cover your family for 30 days but these stack nicely and you can always work them into your weekly meals. Canned chicken will easily store for longer than a year so rotation shouldn’t be a problem.

Canned Veggies – 40 cans of your family’s favorite vegetables will give you the nutrition they need and something they will eat. Make sure you aren’t buying mushrooms or olives (unless your family loves them) if you don’t want to see turned up noses when the power has been out for a week and you are trying to get creative with dinner. 40 cans of vegetables will cost roughly $40 and like the meat will store for years.

Canned Fruit – Some people purchase other items for dessert, but canned fruit has a long shelf life and I have to recommend this for your sweet tooth over most other things outside of fresh fruit. I purchased 5 big #10 cans of pears, peaches, and mixed fruit. Each has about 25 servings and will be a nice addition to the rice, bean and chicken stew… 5 cans will cost around $25.

Oatmeal – Breakfast is served, unless that is you are raising chickens and already have fresh eggs everyday which I also highly recommend if you have the ability to do so. Oatmeal is great for breakfast cereal, its cheap and will store a pretty long time. Oatmeal needs a little more care than your rice or beans, but if you have this stored in Mylar you would have breakfast for years. The old cardboard tubes of Oatmeal has 30 servings, costs about $2 each. Buy 4 and you only need water to make this edible. Unless you have the next item.

Honey – Honey as you probably know has been called the perfect survival food. This is because it has an infinite shelf life. That isn’t something we usually have to worry about though because it gets used as a sweetener to replace sugar in tea, over that oatmeal above and you can even use honey to treat wounds. The normal 5 lb. jar of honey is about $15 right now and has 108 servings. Buy two of these.

Salt/Seasoning – Salt is another good storage item because if you keep it dry it will also last forever. Salt is needed by your body and in my opinion; it makes almost everything taste better. You can buy a case of salt in 4 lb. boxes for about $12. Buy a case and you will have enough for a year of seasoning. You can also purchase pepper and other spices you normally use to make that soup or chili above taste better.

Vitamins – The experts say vitamins don’t help you but I tend to believe that some nutrients even in vitamin form are better than nothing. If you aren’t able to maintain perfect nutrition, a simple multivitamin could keep you healthier than not. If you have kids get them some chewable gummy vitamins to keep their health up too. A bottle for each of you would cost about $8.

Water – I know this list was about emergency food supplies, but I will throw water in here too because if you are going to the trouble of taking care of food, you should knock out water at the same time. Each person needs about 1 gallon per day (assuming you aren’t working in the heat all day) for normal hydration and hygiene. A family of 4 would need 120 gallons of water to live for 30 days so you can either buy a whole bunch of bottled water or get 5 gallon plastic water storage containers. If you have the space, a fifty gallon water barrel would be easier, but you won’t be able to move that once it is in place.

What Next?

If you purchase all of the food supplies above it will set you back around $500 buy will cover your family as far as food and water for 30 days. Is this enough to weather any disaster? No, but it is that start you were looking for and you can really knock out all of these items in one day. One day of shopping and storing water would give you the peace of mind you need to ensure your family is taken care of. Can you go out and buy a 30 day supply of freeze-dried food just as easily? Maybe but the key is to do something now. Act before you need this food and take care of your family.

Next steps would be to work on medical supplies, and security. Once you have those, there is also other lists of prepper supplies you should consider. If you want to read a more comprehensive plan, you can also check out our Prepping 101 – Step by Step plan for How to get started Prepping.

One of the biggest hurdles to actually doing something that can save your life is getting started. I know many people who research topics, watch movies, create lists and pages

If you are reading this article, I would imagine that you have never eaten an MRE before. Why do I say that? Well, for anyone who has eaten MREs you probably already have a strong opinion about them or at the very least, your experience might be based upon military service years ago. I had eaten more than my fair share of MREs when I was in the Army, but things have changed as you would expect with the passage of more years than I want to think about so I decided to take them up on the offer and while I was at it, share my opinion on what if any place MREs have in the food storage plan for preppers.

My military experience was let’s just say in the last century and MREs have gone through some pretty decent changes and updates since the time I was chowing down. For those who don’t know what an MRE is, the Acronym stands for Meal Ready to Eat and this is what is given to our soldiers when they aren’t near a mess hall. When I was in the field we would usually get an MRE for lunch. Breakfast and dinners would be a hot meal, or it started out as hot when we crowded around the mess tent or the insulated containers they drove out to us on the back of a jeep. By the time you got somewhere to eat your meal it was usually cold. We would only go to the field in the winter time naturally.

MREs at the time were pretty much like they are now, but the menus have improved and some minor details have made this meal in a bag much more palatable if you can believe that. I served before they had things like M&M’s or skittles for dessert and hot sauce to flavor your food. We also didn’t have a built-in heater like they do now. If you wanted your MRE warm you were limited only by your creativity. MRE food packets are foil so they are both waterproof and allow you to heat them on almost anything. We would use the heater vents in our trucks, lay them on our stoves in the tent or on the block of our engines.

MREs come in boxes of 12 and each MRE is a different meal. You quickly learn which meals you like and which ones you don’t. If you were unfortunate enough to be the last one to the box you got what everyone else passed over. When I was in the service I think the worst meal was the beef patty. There are some similarities between the meals. They all come with an entrée, some side and a dessert. You get crackers and peanut butter or cheese, a condiment packet and usually a drink mix. We would even come up with our own names for meals that displayed our disdain for the contents. One meal, Meatballs with barbecue sauce was affectionately called ‘Meat nuts with Barf A Shoe’ sauce by myself and the guys in my unit. I am sure there are millions of other creative renames. I actually liked that MRE and I think it was pretty much my go-to meal as long as I could beat everyone to the box.

I opened up a box looking for some differences in the contents on the bag and searching for my old favorites because I was definitely getting the best MRE and I wouldn’t be stuck with the Beef patty. I was surprised at the options. For starters we didn’t have anything vegetarian when I was in the service, but this box had Vegetarian Ratatouille, Vegetarian Lasagna and Apple Maple Rolled Oats. Breakfast?? They also had the old standbys of Pork Sausage Patty and it looked like my Meatballs with Barbecue sauce was changed to Meatballs in Marinara sauce. That is what I decided to taste first.

What do MREs taste like?

Before I get into what the MREs from Meal Kit Supply tasted like, I wanted to set expectations here. When you tear open a bag like this, you aren’t getting fresh ingredients from the garden prepared by a classically trained French chef. You are getting food that was designed for the military to pack enough calories in there to keep them alive, be waterproof, tolerate being mistreated and last for 5 years sitting in a warehouse most likely. If you are expecting Ruth’s Chris here or maybe even Golden Corral, you might be in for a surprise.

Everything in the bag.

I opened my MRE and noticed that everything was still pretty much the same. You have food in foil packets although my packets weren’t in separate boxes. They did include the nutritional insert though and I never understood why they had the extra boxes anyway. Another thing we didn’t have when I was in was the handy ration heater. The ration heater is activated by placing a little water in a bag. The water mixes with an element and causes a chemical reaction that generates heat. You wrap your entrée in the bag,  and in 10 minutes you are supposed to have a hot meal. It didn’t work that way for me.

Everything you need plus a big long spoon to reach the bottom of the bag.

I followed the instructions or so I thought but my heater didn’t warm up. I waited the 10 minutes but finally decided to eat my meatballs cold. They weren’t bad at all, but I know they would have been so much better warm. My survival dog certainly loved the taste too when I gave her one of the small meatballs to taste. When I finished eating, I noticed that the warmer was finally getting warm so I placed my Au gratin potatoes in there. Yes, they had Au gratin potatoes and although they didn’t have the slightly burnt edges from being in the oven but they were cheesy and filling. They only needed a little salt and pepper to doctor them up. The heater worked just fine after-all.

The Ration Heater instructions say that it works best if you place a heavy object on the packet.

So far so good. I broke out the crackers; literally because they came apart in my hands. This wasn’t the fault of the manufacturer I don’t think. I was just clumsy. Regardless, once I had my peanut butter on them they were great. I finished up with the dessert, Vanilla pudding which to prepare you needed to mix a little water in the bag and shake the bag for 60 seconds before it was ready. This was definitely good!

How do MRE’s fit into a Prepper Plan?

Any prepper plan has to take into consideration what food options will be best in various situations. Usually we recommend different types of food for different scenarios. If the power goes out you look for food that doesn’t need to be cooked. Canned tuna, MRE’s and snack bars fall into this category of course so do a lot of other foods. You want to store foods that your family will eat but there is also a need to have long-term storable food that you can take with you in a bug out bag. Frequently I will recommend freeze-dried foods for bug out bags, but those do require some preparation. For starters they need hot water or else you are eating rocks. MREs do not need water (except the pudding) and you don’t even need to heat them up.

My dog was a big fan of the Meatballs.

There are some weight considerations in that MREs weigh more than freeze dried food but they do have their advantages. I have a few boxes stored as part of my food storage plan because they are an easy way to get the calories you need for survival. I also have food stored in buckets, canned food and freeze-dried food. I am an equal opportunity food storage person and there is something to be said for having variety. Are MREs the the best prepper food? I don’t think there is ever a single best food for all prepper situations, but MREs are proven reliable. If our military uses them you can bet that you could find reasons to use them too. They are more expensive than other options but you don’t have to prepare anything, they even throw in the salt, pepper and a little moist towelette to wipe your face and hands when you are done. They used to come with toilet paper and chewing gum but apparently that is not part of these MREs.

You can get a box of 12 MRE’s yourself and try them out or just place them aside for an emergency. MRE’s are another good food option that will store for a long time and could save your life.

If you are reading this article, I would imagine that you have never eaten an MRE before. Why do I say that? Well, for anyone who has eaten MREs you

What will go first in a SHTF scenario?

I totally agree with all of you about the importance of storing food, water, medical supplies, knives, weapons, and ammo. What I see as a discrepancy is that some are forgetting about the ‘looting masses”. The idea of “trade” or barter resembling near what everyone thinks will happen,  wont exist for a long time. The looters will not have a lack of guns, ammo, knives, or food for at least 3 to 6 months and when that runs out, they will be stealing from every store that sells guns and ammo. Granted, the food will probably run out first because they are either too lazy or they aren’t smart enough to plant gardens or can their food if they do. The ones who weren’t prepared will be looting or killing for food and water.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself

Medicine will run out after the pharmacies are looted dry. Drugs will be a hot commodity. Beer and liquor will last only as long as the looters allow. Paper money will be good for starting a fire. Rather than being in short supply, I believe that clothing will last a very long time just because the “looters” will be going from home to home and taking what they want and there are so many clothing stores. If they run out of bullets, they might try to trade for it. Silver and gold might hold some value but we have to remember that any place that sells or trades precious metals will be on their list to knock off. Wedding rings, diamonds, ear rings, gold teeth, or necklaces will be stolen from the less fortunate.

Gas will only last for a very limited time, even with the proper additives and stored properly. Diesel will last longer and there are many homes that have “fuel oil” heat that can be used in diesel vehicles. I’m not sure what the life expectancy of propane is. That will run out also.

Everything will run out eventually

Do I sound like the “grim reaper”? Sorry. Just trying to keep it real. If you’re going to prepare, Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Preparing like you are going on a camping trip and being caught in a real major TEOTWAWKI catastrophe is going to leave you a statistic. You won’t be any better off than those who didn’t prepare. In my opinion trying to survive alone is the worst case scenario and is not an option. The “looters” won’t come around knocking at your door and asking if you can help them and they won’t be alone.

If you want my opinion, get as much ammo as possible and learn to reload. Start growing your own food, collect water from natural sources and learn skills now that can help you protect your home or bug out location. You also need to get as many like-minded people with skills to join you. The only people to consider are those that you can trust and know will have your back no matter what.

It’s always a good idea to have the 5 basic weapons. There is another posting on here for that. Having the ammo and the skills to use those firearms are just as important as having them in the first place. I would like to add 1 more, the air rifle. To be exact, you should consider an Adult Air Rifle. Don’t discount its possibilities. It can save your life in more than one way.

Nothing brings a person to his or her knees like a dental emergency – be it an infection, a lost filling, or fractured tooth.

Having extra seeds to plant your garden (or trade) is or can be a life saver. Buying the right seeds are just as important. Heirloom seeds are seeds that are taken from mature vegetables. They will grow the same plants and give you the same vegetables year after year. You can also use those same seeds to trade or plant new stock.

Fishing and hunting skills are necessary by someone in your group and could prove not only to save you, your family, and group, but to barter with if you have a “good day” and can’t preserve it. You don’t need expensive fishing poles and reels. You don’t need a lot of lures. You will need hooks, sinkers, and bobbers. Remember, you’re not trying to win a fishing tournament; you’re trying to supply food. Small fish taste just as good as or better than big ones. Nets, fish traps, trout lines, hand lines and a stick with a string, hook, and worm will catch you a meal.

Rain catchment barrels are a must. They can give you many gallons of water even in a small rain fall. The water still needs to be purified but a simple boil can make it ready for drinking. I would strongly suggest getting food grade barrels and converting them to your gutters. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this. Very easy and very cheap.

 

The final piece of equipment I would strongly recommend is an M-67 Immersion heater. They can heat your water for showers, heating food, and cleaning dishes and they are not expensive. (under $200) You will need a metal trash can (35 gallon or larger) and PLEASE, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. It runs off of gas, diesel, kerosene, or any flammable liquid.

What will go first in a SHTF scenario? I totally agree with all of you about the importance of storing food, water, medical supplies, knives, weapons, and ammo. What I see

1 – VARIETY

Most people don’t have enough variety in their storage. 95% of the people I’ve worked with only stored the 4 basic items we mentioned earlier: wheat, milk, honey, and salt. Statistics show most of us won’t survive on such a diet for several reasons.

  • Many people are allergic to wheat and may not be aware of it until they are eating it meal after meal.
  • Wheat is too harsh for young children. They can tolerate it in small amounts but not as their main staple.
  • We get tired of eating the same foods over and over and many times prefer not to eat than to sample that particular food again. This is called appetite fatigue. Young children and older people are particularly susceptible to it. Store less wheat than is generally suggested and put the difference into a variety of other grains, particularly ones your family likes to eat. Also store a variety of beans. This will add variety of color, texture and flavor. Variety is the key to a successful storage program. It is essential that you store flavorings such as tomato, bouillon, cheese, and onion.

 

Also, include a good supply of the spices you like to cook with. These flavorings and spices allow you to do many creative things with your grains and beans. Without them you are severely limited. One of the best suggestions I can give you is buy a good food storage cookbook. Go through it and see what your family would really eat. Notice the ingredients as you do it. This will help you more than anything else to know what items to store.

2- EXTENDED STAPLES

Few people get beyond storing the four basic items, but it is extremely important that you do so. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze-dried foods as well as home canned and store bought canned goods. Make sure you add cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast and powdered eggs. You can’t cook even the most basic recipes without these items. Because of limited space I won’t list all the items that should be included in a well-balanced storage program. They are all included in the The New Cookin’ With Home Storage cookbook, as well as information on how much to store, and where to purchase it.

3 – VITAMINS

Vitamins are important, especially if you have children, since children do not store body reserves of nutrients as adults do. A good quality multivitamin and vitamin C are the most vital. Others may be added as your budget permits.

4 – QUICK AND EASY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FOODS

Quick and easy foods help you through times when you are psychologically or physically unable to prepare your basic storage items. No cook foods such as freeze-dried are wonderful since they require little preparation. MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), such as many preparedness outlets carry, canned goods, etc. are also very good. Psychological Foods are the goodies – Jello, pudding, candy, etc. – you should add to your storage.

These may sound frivolous, but through the years I’ve talked with many people who have lived entirely on their storage for extended periods of time. Nearly all of them say these were the most helpful items in their storage to normalize their situations and make it more bearable. These are especially important if you have children.

                                                                              Store a variety of beans. This will add variety of color, texture and flavor.

5 – BALANCE

Time and time again I’ve seen families buy all of their wheat, then buy all of another item, and so on. Don’t do that. It’s important to keep well-balanced as you build your storage. Buy several items, rather than a large quantity of one item. If something happens and you have to live on your present storage, you”ll fare much better having a one-month supply of a variety of items than a year’s supply of two to three items.

6 – CONTAINERS

Always store your bulk foods in food storage containers. I have seen literally tons and tons of food thrown away because they were left in sacks, where they became highly susceptible to moisture, insects and rodents. If you are using plastic buckets make sure they are lined with a food grade plastic liner available from companies that carry packaging supplies. Never use trash can liners as these are treated with pesticides. Don’t stack them too high. In an earthquake they may topple, the lids pop open, or they may crack. A better container is the #10 tin can which most preparedness companies use when they package their foods.

7 – USE YOUR STORAGE

In all the years I’ve worked with preparedness one of the biggest problems I’ve seen is people storing food and not knowing what to do with it. It’s vital that you and your family become familiar with the things you are storing. You need to know how to prepare these foods. This is not something you want to learn under stress. Your family needs to be used to eating these foods. A stressful period is not a good time to totally change your diet. Get a food storage cookbook and learn to use these foods!

It’s easy to solve these food storage problems once you know what they are. The lady I talked about at the first of the article left realizing what she had stored was a good beginning, but not enough. As she said, “It’s better to find out the mistakes I’ve made now while there’s still time to make corrections.” This makes a lot more sense.

If you’re one who needs to make some adjustments, that’s okay. Look at these suggestions and add the things you’re missing. It’s easy to take a basic storage and add the essentials to make it livable, but it needs to be done. As I did the research for my cookbook I wanted to include recipes that gave help to families no matter what they had stored. As I put the material together it was fascinating to discover what the pioneers ate is the type of things we store. But if you have stored only the 4 basics, there’s very, very little you can do with it. By adding even just a few things it greatly increases your options, and the prospect of your family surviving on it. As I studied how the pioneers lived and ate, my whole feeling for food changed. I realized our storage is what most of the world has always lived on. If it’s put together the right way we’ll be returning to good basic living with a few goodies thrown in.

1 – VARIETY Most people don’t have enough variety in their storage. 95% of the people I’ve worked with only stored the 4 basic items we mentioned earlier: wheat, milk, honey,

When it comes to long term food storage, there are several obvious candidates. In Prepper and Survival circles, we talk about storing grains in Mylar bags packed in 5 gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers, creating a pantry and canning fresh foods from your garden, MRE’s and freeze-dried foods. I have some of all of these options stored for our family, but some foods are great for other reasons, not just surviving doomsday.

You can probably take your 5 gallon buckets of rice, beans and grains to your survival retreat with you provided you have a car and aren’t walking on foot, but you can’t hike cross country with them. Canned food is great for storing and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables without the need for refrigeration, but you don’t want to take them camping with you. MRE’s are designed to feed troops in combat, but they aren’t the tastiest meals and are much heavier than other options. Freeze Dried foods excel both in storage life and they are incredibly light-weight. Not to mention, they won’t break if you drop them. Sorry canned tomatoes.

I was sent several packets of Mountain House Freeze Dried foods. I had meant to write a review last month, but life has a way of throwing obstacles in my way some times and in the chaos, I completely forgot.

Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System

Freeze-dried food usually comes in meal form although you can get Mountain House individual foods if you are looking at making your own meals. When it comes to camping or a bug out bag, I want simplicity and like I said, light weight. Taste and nutritional value are definitely important too, but if they can’t meet the first two requirements, the last two don’t matter to me. My family has carried Mountain House freeze dried foods with us on several backpacking trips and they are usually my go-to meal when I am camping during hunting season.

The two meals I started cooking up were Spaghetti with Meat sauce and Chicken Teriyaki with Rice. Both meals as tested have 230 calories and are designed to feed one person.

The only thing that is required to make these dusty granules into a warm meal is hot water. You can either boil some over your fire, or use a camp stove. My favorite so far is the Jetboil Flash personal cooking system. This can cook larger meals with a bigger pot, but since I primarily use it for coffee and freeze-dried foods, it’s main duty is boiling water. I tried cooking an apple dumpling type meal one time for my daughter and failed to judge how quickly it would get hot, then burn… That is what I get for not reading the directions. The last thing you want to do on a backpacking trip miles from civilization is try to get burnt apple turnover mess off the interior of your main water boiling device.

Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – before water.

Another great thing about Mountain House meals (and probably all the other vendors), is that you don’t really need any cookware either, except for a spoon. You can eat the meals, once rehydrated right out of the bag. Preparation is so simple that anyone can do this. Just open the package, remove the bag of desiccant, add the required amount of hot water, stir and close the bag up. For these two meals, I only had to wait 8-9 minutes which gave me time to work on boiling the water for my coffee.

How do they taste?

The question everyone wants to ask, is But how do they taste? I’ll be honest and tell you two things. First is that I was in the Army for a long time and didn’t meet too many meals (if any) that I could not eat. Secondly, I am not a food snob. Now, that being said, I won’t eat just anything and I am not afraid to say something doesn’t taste right, but you will never find me gagging if the leftovers are a few days too old if you know what I mean.

Cooked and ready to eat.

Every one of the Mountain House meals I have tasted have been great considering what they are. The Spaghetti had plenty of flavor and I really only wished I had about two packets instead of the one. Of course, I should probably only have that much food for a single meal, but if you are hiking all day and need to replenish calories, one of the other meals or a larger packet might work better. It is also the case that I received samples, so the real meal might include more food. Actually, it only stands to reason they would.

The Chicken Teriyaki was not as good (personal taste) as the Spaghetti, but as food goes, it tasted perfectly fine and I wouldn’t ever turn my nose up to either meal if I was offered them. Are they beautiful to look at? No they aren’t but this isn’t fresh food prepared by a chef. This is freeze dried food that tastes much better than it looks and can last on a shelf for up to 25 years. One of the great things about Mountain House is there is so much variety so if you have some favorites, stock up on those and leave the less desirable ones to someone else. My favorite breakfast meal from Mountain House is the Breakfast skillet. Loaded with potatoes, eggs, sausages and onions, it is my choice for cold mornings around the campfire.

I like Mountain House for camping but like I said, they are in my Bug Out Bag too because they are light and only require hot water. Some people will say, you may not have time to boil water so you need to take foods that don’t require anything to eat. I can see that point, but I say if you don’t have time to boil water, maybe you shouldn’t be eating either. Throw a snack bar in your pocket and go, but if you are being chased through the woods by the zombie hordes food is probably the last thing on your mind anyway.

If you are looking for a tasty freeze-dried vendor for your next camping trip, long term storage plans or Bug Out Bag, Mountain House gets my vote.

When it comes to long term food storage, there are several obvious candidates. In Prepper and Survival circles, we talk about storing grains in Mylar bags packed in 5 gallon

 

A Colorful History

There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. We have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana, plantain, sugarcane, avocado, acorn, dandelion, purslane, podocarpus, papaya, lychee, lemon grass, garlic grass, hickory, chestnut, coconut, cattail, coontie, cactus, cassava, Jimaca, and cabbage palm. They are all edible, all delicious, and each can be found growing throughout much of the Sunshine State, if you just know where to look. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

I grew up in South West Florida, just below Tampa Bay, and all my life I’ve loved studying the rich history of our Sunshine State. Florida has been home to many colorful characters throughout its history, from the pre-Columbian Chatot, Timucua, Tocobaga, Tequesta, Ocali, Apalachee, Asi-Jeaga, and fierce Calusa tribes to formidable Spanish Conquistadores like Hernando de Soto and Ponce de León to blood thirsty pirates like Jose Gaspar and Caesaro Negro to the wily Seminole and Miccosukee warriors like Osceola and Holatta Micco to Confederate blockade runners like Captain Archibald McNeill.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Florida’s history has always been the Seminole Indian Wars, partly because the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes are the only Native American tribes to never lay down their arms in abject surrender to over whelming Federal forces. Even the indomitable Comanche and Apache ultimately surrendered, but not so the Florida tribes who melted into the Everglades where Federal troops dare not follow. These two tribes were part of the Civilized Nations; they wore spun calico shirts, smoked clay pipes and were fond of their smooth bore muskets. They survived forty years of warfare (1817-1819, 1835-1842, 1855-1858)1 against a modern and well equipped army, not because of any technological superiority—although the Seminole and Miccosukee were excellent marksmen with bow and musket—but because they were adaptable and were able to live off the land in the wilds of Florida’s untamed swamps, wetlands, mangroves, and hammocks. As it was for the Seminole and Miccosukee, living off-grid in a SHTF scenario means having to live off the land.

Long-Term Scenario

We all pray that SHTF events never happens in our lifetime, but we prepare for them anyway. The Seminole and Miccosukee survived their own SHTF; will we survive ours? Our SHTF, when it comes, may come upon us slowly or suddenly. Regardless of the cause, we owe it to our children to survive, so we pray for the best and prepare for the worst.
I don’t have a cabin in the mountains. I don’t own a cattle ranch. I don’t have a fortified bunker with motion sensors and early warning systems. I am forbidden by our home owners association from installing claymores in my yard. Heck, I don’t even own any night vision optics. I just a private citizen who wants to see his family to survive. Faced with a SHTF event, I know that the acquisition of security, shelter, food, and water will be imperative to ensuring my family’s survival.

Most coastal Floridians have already faced SHTF scenarios—we call them hurricanes, and we take our hurricane preparedness seriously. Since Hurricane Andrew destroyed the southern tip of Florida in 1992, many households have maintained a family sized “hurricane box” containing enough gear and supplies for the home team to survive for at least a few of days. That may not seem like a lot by Prepper standards, but the hurricane box is not part of our Prepper provisions. It’s just a seasonal precaution. We stock the hurricane box in spring, watch the Weather Channel from May (Caribbean hurricane season) through October (Atlantic hurricane season), consume our hurricane supplies through winter, and restock the following spring. This rotation keeps stock fresh and it beats having to run to Publix for a last-minute can of green beans so my wife can whip up one of her tasty casseroles.
Preparing for the future requires forethought; the more you accomplish before an emergency event, the less you’ll need to accomplish during or after one. Stockpiling alone, however, can only carry you so far. You must be able to find renewable food sources. Once the SHTF, it will be too late to harvest Ramen at Walmart. Even if you could get your hands on that last brick of tasty noodles, fighting a gang of thugs for looting privileges is not sound tactical advice. If the gangs control your local Walmart, what then? Wouldn’t you rather be able to safely feed you’re your family from home than having to wander the means streets of some post-apocalyptic city scavenging for a nice clean dumpster? So, let’s assume you’ve already taken care of your short-term physical needs. You’ve got plenty of Evian and MRE’s on hand, your storm shutters are up, and everyone on your team who’s tall enough to ride the bog rollercoaster is strapped. No gun fight at the OK Walmart for you, but what about long-term survival? What about replenishable provisions? Have you considered that once your MRE’s run out, you will need to restock your larder with what you can hunt, fish, or grow?

Florida waters are teeming with fish, crabs, shrimp, crawdads, and turtles, not to mention the abundant squirrels, and various fowl that populate our area—with the notable exceptions of birds of prey and carrion eaters, pretty much most fowl are edible. For deer and hogs, we would need to go further afield. Barring a catastrophic decimation of wildlife, protein will most likely not be a problem for Floridians, especially for those of us living along the Coast. Carbs, however, will be much harder to come by.

The average healthy adult requires approximately 200-300 grams of carbohydrates daily.1 My favorite carb is rice, but what we’ve stored won’t last forever. We could try growing our own, but growing rice is a complete mystery involving paddies and some kind of water buffalo. We could try going native by harvesting acorns—a good source of carbs: 1 oz dried acorn (2-3 acorns) contains 14.6 gr. of carbs2—but the acorns in South Florida tend to be rather small, and harvesting them is labor intensive, requiring patience and lots of water for blanching out the tannic acid. Acorns are a great supplement—my wife makes a mean acorn-raisin cookie—but they are not a staple food.

The Lowly Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous.

To resolve to the how-to-get-enough-carbs-so-I-don’t-starve dilemma, I would recommend the same carbohydrate-rich staple that was grown by the Seminole and Miccosukee and helped them survive as a people while they waged a forty-year long guerilla war. This same tuber was consumed by escaped slaves who filtered down from plantations in

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Georgia and Alabama to hide in the trackless Florida wilderness, and it was eaten by early white fishermen, farmers, and ranchers who settled Florida; the sweet potato (Boniato Rojo). The sweet potato has been a staple in Central America since about 8,000 B.C.2

It grows wild (and I do mean wild) in many parts of the South, not just in Florida. The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous. A store-bought sweet potato weighing approximately 7 oz. contains about 3 gr. of carbs while the same amount of rice has almost three times as many carbs (11 gr.), rice is labor intensive. Have you ever tried hitching a water buffalo to a rice plow? Though it lacks the carbs of rice, an average-sized sweet potato does possess many other essential nutrients including: potassium (48 gr), Vitamin A (2,026 IU), and Beta-carotene (1,215 mcg).3

 

Even if you’re able to fight off the first wave of spam-starved zombies, a single-family dwelling can suffer an extensive amount of damage from a break-in, let alone a firefight. During a SHTF event, we must be able to survive off-grid inconspicuously. This means living under-the-radar. It’s your choice; you can hang a “Welcome” sign over your green house door, or you can hide your food source in plain sight. Because they are so well camouflaged, the only true enemies of these delicious uber tubers are mice, floods, and weed whackers (just ask my wife).

The Growing Process

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length.

When germinating sweet potatoes, I employ the “science project” method. It is the skin that produces the buds or “eyes” that become roots, so all you will need is the outer portion of the potato. Slice out one-inch wide slips of skin from the potato. Make them about as half as thick as a pencil (1/8 inch) to lend support to the skin. Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down. Each slip should have its own container; too many slips in a confined space can cause the delicate sprouting roots to tangle. Direct sunlight can quickly bake young sprouts, so store them in indirect sunlight.

In about two weeks, you should see several healthy root tendrils sprouting downward from the slips into the water. When the tendrils grow to about six inches in length, it’s time for planting. Gently remove the sprouted slips from their containers and plant them about 4-6 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.4 Much of the soil in South Florida tends to be sandy and poor, so you may need to prep your soil before planting. My property is sandy and wonderful for growing sandspurs—they are the reason Floridians don’t walk around bare-footed. I do not prepare my soil before planting sweet potatoes. The whole point of the exercise is to establish a renewable food source that will grow well without any help from me. After about three to four months—depending on the variety of sweet potato, rainfall, soil, soil prep, pests, etc.—the crop will be ready to harvest. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow on the vine, and the growing tubers cause the ground to bulge as though there were moles tunneling beneath the soil. I live in Hardiness Zone 10 (South Florida); your results will definitely vary.

Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down.

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length. The potatoes grow close to the surface and can be harvested easily with bare hands. I don’t use my bare hands because Florida is home to the dreaded Brazilian Fire Ant, six different venomous serpents, and an ever-growing population of pythons. This is a genuine concern when weeding or harvesting because sweet potatoes attract rodents which in turn attract snakes, and the ground cover from the leaves can be so dense that you would never notice a coiled pygmy rattler until too late. All the prepping in the world won’t save you from a coral snake bite either—they are part of cobra family—with no way to refrigerate rare anti-venom serum during a SHTF scenario. “Don’t stick your hand in there!” is a good rule to live by in Florida, so use a little common sense and employ a small cultivator rake carefully to avoid damaging your crop.

For my first attempt at sweet potato gardening, I cut eight slips, but two failed to germinate. I planted the remaining six slips in a three-foot by five-foot patch of well-drained sandy soil. My little garden yielded 14 medium-to-large sweet taters. These were germinated from one store-bought potato. Not too bad for a first attempt considering the small size of the plot and the fact that I did not water at all. The Florida August monsoons did the watering for me. The rains come so regularly in late summer, between 3:00PM and 5:00PM, that you can practically set your watch by them. That particular crop of even survived a record-breaking three-day freeze just prior to harvest. A three-day freeze might not impress most Northerners, but it is big news in South Florida.

After my first crop, I let the vines continue to grow on their own, hoping for a second picking from the same planting. Unfortunately, the potatoes did not survive my wife’s attempt to clean up the back yard with the weed whacker. The best sweet potatoes are the large ones near the original slip planting. The further away from the original plant that the nodes take root and become potatoes, the smaller the tuber will be. The stunted golf ball-sized sweet potatoes, though still technically edible, are rough and not very tasty. These became seed crop for the next planting.

Another nice thing about the sweet potato is that it can be grown almost anywhere: apartment window boxes, small backyard gardens, empty lots downtown, power line easements, around the edges of county parks, or the woods behind your house. With their dramatic purple blossoms, the attractive broad-leafed vines are used as an ornamental plant. They make such great ground cover that they are regularly incorporated into landscaping around buildings, mailboxes, lakes, canals, trees, and other shrubbery.

There is a storm canal easement behind our property. Like Johnny Apple Seed, I’ve started planting germinated slips on this property. Several plantings have taken root and are growing well. When the summer rains begin, they should really take off. The early success of this off-property experiment has encouraged me to try other locations. I’ve germinated and planted sweet potatoes at my mom’s house, my brother’s house, and at a friend’s house. They’re going to enjoy the attractive ground cover around their shrubs, and I will enjoy helping them establish a prolific and renewable emergency food source.

I’ve started scouting other areas as well for strategic planting locations that will be self-sustaining. Anticipating future fuel shortages, I’ve kept my scouting to within bicycling distance from my property. There is a long tract of scrub woods along the river near our home which will make a good planting zone as the average non-agricultural zombie wouldn’t know the difference between potato vines and kudzu. My plan is to hide a strategic and productive potato pantry in plain sight. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Resources

1. http://www.semtribe.com/
2. http://www.carb-counter.net/nuts-seeds/1027
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
4. http://www.organicgardeninfo.com/growing-sweet-potatoes.html

  A Colorful History There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. We have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana,