April 13, 2011

Food Storage

So I mentioned yesterday that I had been working on my food storage a little bit. Here is the long version of that: I've been thinking a lot lately about my food storage, and how minimal it is. It's one thing when it's just Justin and I. If we aren't prepared, it's our own fault, and we'll have to suffer through it. But now that we have Ollie, it's a different thing. I would just feel terrible (understatement) if anything happened, and we couldn't provide for Ollie because we hadn't prepared.

We've been warned and warned and warned again, and I can see the wisdom in those warnings, especially with all of the things that are happening these days.

I've been trying to learn how to use my wheat more, lately, grinding my own flour for almost all of my cooking/baking, sprouting, and trying to find recipes that use it beside bread. I've been talking with our ward preparedness specialist, and getting excited about it. I want to learn more about sprouting other things, but for now I've just stuck with the wheat.

The preparedness specialist, Sister Pearson, announced on Sunday that they were going to host an informal discussion at their house that night if anyone wanted to come. I went, and since have been on a kick with the food storage. I want to just kind of tell you what I'm doing, and if you have any ideas, expertise, questions, or insight, please please please let me know.

I kind of feel like getting into food storage is like taking a proverbial plunge into a very deep end of a very big dark and scary pool. Blindfolded. With your hands tied behind your back. But I guess it doesn't have to feel like that. With things like a bad economy, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, flooding, etc., there's a lot to worry about. Not having my food storage is something that looms over my head a bit. I was talking to Sis. Pearson on the phone yesterday, and she said that someone had told her once that he viewed "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" as a commandment. Once you're prepared, you aren't allowed to be afraid any more, because you've done what God has asked you to do to prepare, and the rest is in His hands. I thought that was a pretty amazing thought! If I can just get my things in order, then I no longer have to fear; nay, I'm not allowed to fear anymore!

So that means I need to get my stuff together, right? We talked on Sunday about a few different methods that people use to plan out how much food they need. Some make a meal plan for 7 days, and then multiply it by 52 weeks to get their year supply, others plan meals for a month, etc. Once I started thinking about this, it kind of clicked and made a lot more sense.

So last night I wrote down 15 meals that we like and make on a regular basis that can be adjusted to be made from mostly shelf stable (canned/dried) food. Just so you have an idea, here are the meals I chose:
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chile with Rice
Beef Stroganoffe
Brazilian Beans and Rice
Chicken Supreme
Blackbean Soup
White Chile
Sloppy Joes
Fried Rice
Chicken Haystacks
Chicken Pot Pie
Shepherds Pie

So we would plan to eat each of these things twice a month for a year. Next, I plan to write down the ingredients with measurements for each of these meals, and multiply them by 26 (times eated in the year), and then I'll know how much of each ingredient I need to have stored to have a years supply. You would do this for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks as well. I know this is common knowledge for the Food Storage Guru, but for me, this was a bit of a lightbulb moment. It seemed so overwhelming, but now, with a bit of simple math and a food scale, I can figure out exactly what I need.

Yesterday I found a chart online (<-- link) where you can write what you need, take inventory of what you have, and just keep track of everything. Does that make sense? Am I just so incredibly behind that everyone else is already doing this? I think that's probably the case, but everyone has to start from somewhere. In my case, that's zero.

SO. There's a few things that I need to do to get started. I'll list them so this doesn't turn into an incredible ramble:

1) Figure out how much flour my wheat is going to make. To do that, I plan on measuring a pound of wheat, grinding it, and seeing how much flour it makes in cups. I know that I buy the wheat in 45 lb. buckets, and since I bake bread once a week, and know how many cups of flour I use each time, I can calculate how many loaves I'll be able to make from each bucket.

2) Things like spices, baking powder, yeast, etc. are sold in ounces, but recipes are in teaspoons/tablespoons. I guess it would be beneficial (also neurotic) to measure out how much a teaspoon or tablespoon of each weighs, so I can know in ounces how much I'll need for a year. I'm not afraid of having too much as much as I am of falling short.

3) According to several people I've talked to, canning meat and beans is very easy, as long as you have a pressure canner. Meat is definitely the most expensive thing to have in storage, and frankly, canned meat kind of scares me. But if I canned it myself, buying the meat when it's on sale, I know exactly what's in it and when it was canned.

Beans can cost anywhere for 50 cents to 1 dollar per can. I bought two 20 lb. bags of pinto beans for 9.99 each, and the same size bag of black beans for 16.99. I'm thinking that if I could can 12 jars or so of beans at a time, and just keep them on my shelf, I can use my beans with the same convenience as canned beans, but the price of dry. Has anyone done this? Do you have a relatively inexpensive pressure canner that you love?

4) Did you know you can grind beans in a wheat grinder?!? I had no idea. So that means you can have refried beans in under 5 minutes. Or blackbean soup in the same amount of time. Now, I know you're supposed to soak beans because it is supposedly bad for your digestive system to eat beans and grains that haven't been soaked, but once in a while, when you're in a hurry, or in an emergency, I think it's fine! So I want to try grinding beans. I'm kind of excited about that.

5) I order 50lbs. of millet and 50 lbs. of popcorn, so I need to learn how to use millet. I've heard you can just use it like rice, as a thickener in soups, or even like couscous, depending on how much water you add to it in cooking. With the popcorn, I want to try grinding that also, to have my own cornmeal.

Does anyone eat millet regularly?

I'm going to keep working on this, and hopefully start checking off some of the things on my list. I'll try to keep you posted on my progress! I would seriously love if anyone wanted to jump into this with me a bit- I kind feel like it would be more fun to not do this by myself. Even if you're not interested in doing the exact same things, I'm open to ideas and suggestions. And my plan is to try, once again, to get into couponing to slowly start chipping away at my years supply. If anyone does this or has some good insight on that, let me know!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda. I follow Emily's blog and found you on hers. I have been slowly buying food storage as well, been doing it for a few years. You have some great ideas. I found a "cooking with food storage" cookbook that is also helpful with different meal ideas. If you want to swap ideas let me know on Facebook.

Amanda Weatherston

Rachel said...

I really should jump on board with you! But you know way more than I know. Question--What kind of wheat grinder do you have? I've heard not so great things about the way the flour turns out, but maybe a good grinder would make all the difference. Please keep posting about this. I know very little.

justin mcdaniel said...

Don't forget the guns and ammo...they play a very important role in food storage. It's actually a three part role, 1. Killing Zombies during the Zombie Apocalypse. 2. Protecting all of your storage. 3. Creating or obtaining "new" storage. I think we need more guns and ammo because the prophet said so. Thanks for the okay!

ma said...

Boy am I in! I want to improve mine as well and right now we have the same number of people in the family... so our numbers could match. My other idea is to store a whole lot of choclate and toilet paper and just trade for everything else!