What are the Gaps in Your Stockpile?
Perhaps you’ve been working on building a good stockpile for a while, combining coupons and sales. Your pantry is looking full and so is your freezer. You wonder how long you could go without shopping if you couldn’t.
What if you couldn’t go shopping?
What if you knew your family would be living off of your food storage for 6 months or more? What would you make sure that YOU had on hand?
If you’re going to the store every week for milk, bread, and fruits and vegetables (which most people are), then these are the most noticeable gaps that you have. These are the things that are going to be difficult to do without. Being without an income or on a reduced income is stressful enough for a family; worrying about what you are going to feed your family shouldn’t be. A few additions to your stockpile will help things to be less stressful, more delicious, and more nutritious.
Sure, you can freeze milk, but you only have so much freezer space, and once you open a gallon of milk, it needs to be used before it goes bad. It would be impossible to store six months or more of milk in your freezer.
The solution to this is to buy powdered milk and evaporated milk.
Perhaps you don’t like the taste of powdered milk and can’t see why you should store it. That’s okay. Use the milk in cooking, and drink water with your meals.
Powdered milk has a great convenience factor to it. If you need ¼ cup of milk for a recipe and are out of milk, you don’t have to go to the store. Simply pull out your powdered milk and mix up what you need. Nothing is wasted, and you’ve just rotated your powdered milk.
While powdered milk is skim milk (it stores better longer without fat in it, which can cause it to go rancid quickly), sometimes you need something more creamy. Perhaps you have toddlers and want to get that important milk fat in their diets. Maybe you want to make a dessert and have no cream. Evaporated milk is whole milk with half the water removed. You can add equal amounts of water to make whole milk, or you can leave it undiluted and it is equal to light cream. Evaporated milk can be expensive, but will start going on sale in the fall and continue through the holidays. When our local grocery store has a case-lot sale twice a year, I buy evaporated milk at .69 a can.
I use powdered milk in oatmeal (added while cooking), to make crepes, in pancakes, etc. I use evaporated milk in creamy chicken enchiladas, in creamy pasta sauces, and in desserts.
Whether you like whole wheat, white, a mixture, bagels, biscuits, English muffins, flatbreads, or an artisan loaf of bread, having the ingredients on hand to make bread are important. Bread flour, wheat berries and a wheat grinder for grinding fresh whole wheat flour, yeast, baking soda, salt, oil, honey, and anything else that you use in your bread recipes are important to have on hand. I buy most of these items in bulk from Sam’s Club (except for wheat berries).
Another thing that you need to have more of, when you’re making bread and other things from scratch, is that you’re going to use a lot more hand washing dish soap for all of the bowls and pans that you’ll be washing. I didn’t plan for this, and I quickly ran out of soap! Don’t think you can have too much dish soap!
Along with dish soap, more baking creates another need—more oil. Have oil for baking (it can be used in place of margarine and butter in many recipes) and non-stick spray for the waffle iron and your bread pans. You may not use a lot of oil now, and think that you don’t need this. Having lived on our storage for 2 years, I have seen how necessary it is to have more oil on hand than I ever used before.
Fruits and Vegetables
A good way to see what fruits and vegetables you need to have on hand is to try shopping every other week for produce. Buy fresh for the first week, and eat frozen and canned the second week. Some things can last you a few weeks in the fridge, such as apples.
When it comes to living on your storage for a couple of months or more, having a variety of fruits and vegetables is really important. The first year we were living on our food storage, I had canned corn, green beans, black olives, mandarin oranges, home canned peaches and pears, applesauce, canned tomatoes and sauce, and dried apricots, raisins, cranberries, carrots, potatoes, onions, and celery. We quickly tired of the lack of variety and I wished I had stored even more fruits and vegetables. We gave the applesauce to our baby after I ran out of baby food (we also broke up peaches and pears after I ran out of home-canned baby food). If you have a baby or are expecting a baby, don’t forget to store food for the baby!
Another thing we had on hand was beans. We sprouted lentils and mung beans. We ate pinto beans, black beans, cannellini beans and kidney beans.
When we were able to work on building back up our food storage, I added canned pineapple, dried apples, applesauce, canned mushrooms, and more varieties of dried beans to our pantry shelves. I added more home-canned baby food. I also worked even harder in our garden (which had done poorly the first year). Having a garden really helped give us some variety. Our second year was a little better, and this year (our third) has been the best so far. We harvested over 100 artichokes! We ate asparagus, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, Swiss chard, blackberries, grapes, apples, peaches, plums, pears, figs, apricots, tomatoes, zucchini, green onion, fresh herbs, and more. We are looking forward to our fall garden and our first pomegranates, as well as our citrus fruits.
Perhaps you have a freezer full of meat right now. Should the time come that you have eaten it all and have no money to replenish it, you may find that you really, really wish you had some canned chicken and beef on your shelves. Whether you can it yourself or buy it pre-canned, canned meat can be a great blessing to your menus. In an extended power outage, canned meat can be eaten straight from the can, or warmed up with an alternate cooking source for a quick meal.
What if you’re a vegetarian? If you weren’t able to go to the store (in the middle of winter, perhaps) what would you store so that you could have fresh food? If you like tofu, consider storing dried soy beans and investing in a soy milk maker (this is also important for those who drink soy milk, and can save you a lot of money over store-bought soy milk). Have beans for sprouting, but also consider what else would work best to keep some variety in your diet so that you can avoid appetite fatigue.
One of the most important things you can do is to plan your breakfasts, lunches, dinner and snacks now while you are not under the stress of living off food storage completely. By making sure your family has balanced meals, you will be healthier and happier should unexpected financial difficulties arise.
Brandy has graciously offered to stop by and answer our questions for us. If you have questions for her, feel free to leave them in the comments section here. Just click the word "Comments" below this post.