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Everyone knows we should be storing some kind of food in our home pantries for both emergencies and preparedness. But how do you know where to start or which foods to store? I see lots of lists on foods folks think you should be storing for your long term food storage. Some of them I agree with, but a lot of them, they're not practical.
I don't believe in storing food you don't use in your regular life. Why would you invest money and storage on something you're not using? That makes no sense to me. Plus, if an emergency does hit, you don't want to be adding to the stress of the situation by trying to figure out how to cook and use something you've never used before.
Our goal is to have close to a year's supply of our staples on hand. This works well with the produce we grow and put up at home, along with the raising of our homegrown grass fed beef, meat chickens, laying hens, and pigs we raise.
These are the 8 foods I believe you should be storing and how to store them. I don't include fruits and vegetables as most of us can grow or harvest these at home or close to our homes. I firmly believe you should know how or where to get fresh fruits and vegetables and preserve them at home. In fact I have a free Ultimate Home Food Preservation Guide and Heirloom Gardening Guide to help you do this, go here to claim your free copies.
1. Salt- salt can be used as both a way to preserve food as well as flavoring dishes. I put salt at the top of the list because most of us don't have a way to get salt where we live. We can all grow our own herbs, but most people do not have a naturally occurring salt source in the vicinity of their home. I recommend a true Sea Salt (affiliate link) for cooking and baking. Store salt in a dry area as moisture will make it cake together. If doing a lot of preserving and curing meat with salt, you'll want at least 50 pounds for a year, probably more.
2. Fat source. Our bodies require a certain amount of fat in order to function right… (Which means I should be highly functionable!). Fruits, vegetables, and foraging wild edibles are part of a well-balanced diet, but unless you have access to your own meat for rendering lard (here's how to render your own lard), you probably won't have a fat source. We need fat for cooking and baking. I use butter, lard, avocado, coconut, and olive oil. Mark the container to see how much of each fat you use for a few months and then multiply it out. Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer and in homemade creams and salves as well. I keep 10 quarts on hand for a year of Organic Nutiva Coconut oil. *affiliate link (Costco also carries this brand of coconut oil at a slightly lower price) I use about 8 pints of our rendered lard and 1 bottle of olive oil a year. Butter is my darling and I use about a pound a month. Store your fat source out of the heat and light. I put extra butter and lard in the freezer.
3. Wheat berries. You'll see flour on lots of food storage lists, but quite, frankly, flour is not meant for long term food storage. It will go rancid and can also be a home for pests… Wheat berries and other forms of grains for people who are gluten intolerant, will store for years. Not only can they be ground into flour, but they can also be soaked and cooked into a cereal. We use about 100 pounds of wheat berries a year. I use hard white wheat and spelt as our primary type of wheat berries. Here is more info on choosing a wheat grinder and how to grind your own flour. Store wheat berries in a cool and dry location.
4. Honey. Honey is a non-perishable food. Raw honey is excellent for both eating, cooking, and medicinal purposes. You can make a ginger infused honey for medicinal purposes during cold and flu season. Honey can also be used for wounds and to help with allergies. Honey is excellent for baking and what I use in my whole wheat buttermilk sandwich bread. If honey hardens or forms crystals, simply place it in hot water. Plus, honey just plain tastes good. I love to swirl it in my coffee. Store honey out of direct sunlight.
5. Sugar. Sugar is needed in baking and also canning homemade jams and jellies. However, I don't use regular processed white sugar. I use organic evaporated cane juice (affiliate link) and all of my jam and jelly recipes use about a 1/4 amounts of sugar compared to regular recipes. I'd recommend about 40 pounds of sugar for the year, depending upon how much baking and preserving you do. Store sugar in a dry place in a pest proof container. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go…. oh, we're not singing, okay.
6. Beans. (You knew this would be on my list, right?) Dried beans are not only inexpensive, easy to store, and have nutritional value, but they can also be your seed to plant in spring for a renewable food source. You need to make sure and have heirloom seed (non-hybridized bean seed) in order for this to work. Here's my info on seed saving and heirloom gardening. Beans can be used in multiple dishes. I make this easy and frugal bean and ham soup and these 10 minute refried beans. They can also serve as your vegetable if you run out of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Beans should be stored in a dark, cool, and dry place.
7. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is inexpensive and can be used for cereal, in baked goods, or even ground up into a flour. It contains fiber and is easy to flavor with seasonal fruits and spices. We have oatmeal for breakfast at least once a week, if not more. Cinnamon, a pat of butter, and a smidgen of sugar is excellent. We add peaches, blueberries, raisins, and other fruits as they come on in season. I also make a gluten-free homemade chocolate chip oatmeal bar. Store oatmeal in a dry place.
8. Coffee. Most of us do not have a source of coffee available to us other than purchasing it. If you're a tea drinker, then stock up on your teas. But I am a coffee lover. While we could live without coffee, I'd rather have it on hand. Does anyone else just open the canister of coffee and take a big whiff? Whole coffee beans will store much longer than ground coffee. Coffee will also be a wonderful item to have on hand for bartering if goods become scarce. Make sure you have a way to grind the coffee beans such as this off grid manual hand crank coffee grinder. *affiliate link Coffee beans should be stored in a dry and dark area.
Bonus food #9. Chocolate. I realize we don't need chocolate to survive technically, but really, for the sanity of everyone, chocolate is on my list of must have foods to store. Seriously, contemplate a world without stores and the power of chocolate when you haven't had any in hours, days, weeks… yea, you're with me now aren't ya?
Update: Bonus food #10 Rice. I hadn't originally included this in my list, but we're using and storing rice and quinoa. Rice is a great way to stretch a meal and I add it in with beans for tacos and into soups. One caveat to storing rice for long term food storage is brown rice has a higher oil content and will go rancid and bad faster. I store a 25 pound of Jasmine rice from Costco and smaller bags of quinoa. All foods will store longer when kept in air tight and cool conditions. I prefer glass when possible, but food grade storage buckets with lids will help keep dust and bugs out.
Awesome Deal Alert: This organic raw cocao powder is on a really good sale at the time of this post. I just purchased 2 pounds to add to my food storage.
Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape.
Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.
Day 1 – Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 2 – The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 – I'm Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 – Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 – Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 – The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 – It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 – It's a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 – Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 – Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 – The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 – The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 – Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 – How We Choose The Right Gear – (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 – Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 – Food and Water for a 72 Hour “Go Bag” from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 – 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 – Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 – Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 – Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 – Pressure Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 – Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 – KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 – Â Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 – Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 – How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 – How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 – Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 – What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 – How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.