The Crazy Chapmans
Jordan, Emily, Natalie, and Zachary

Archive for the ‘Food storage’ Category

Food storage advice

Sat ,03/01/2009

Hey, a lot of people have been asking me questions relating to food storage and so I thought I would put some stuff on our webpage to help out anyone who is trying to build up their food storage. Emily and I have recently had a growing urge to increase our food storage, especially with all the recent events in the world. We have a strong testimony as to its importance.

First of all, I have had a great opportunity to learn a lot about food storage. Almost all of my undergraduate work has been doing research in the Long-term Food Preservation Lab under Dr. Pike. Our lab were the ones that helped the church develop their new pamphlets on food storage and through it all, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about food storage. That’s my credentials. Take them for what they’re worth I guess. However, all my recommendations are my own, not my labs or the church’s.

First of all, nothing saddens me more then when I see people spending thousands of dollars on prepackaged one-year supply kits from various stores. They are usually filled with different items, none of which you actually need in a food storage plan. So, let me convince you that what I’m about to say is sufficient in developing a food storage plan that you can live on if you need to.

Three Month Supply

The biggest change that we finally convinced the church to make was the new 3-month supply. What a lot of consumers don’t realize is that most of the food they currently eat (just about anything that is in their pantry) can last a very long time before it goes bad. For example, anything that is canned has at least a 2-3 year shelf life, pasta has a 7-10 year shelf life (yes, even in the packaging they sell in the grocery store), etc. I spent a full four months researching shelf life’s of different products and sending them to the church to convince them of this. So, in a three month food storage, you should have what you eat on a normal day–just simply more of it. Small simple changes can allow you to have this storage; next time you buy a can of beans, or a bag of pasta, or a box of crackers, etc. just buy an extra one or two of the item. Over time, you will realize that you have enough food that, if you needed to, you could comfortably live off of that food storage with mere minor changes to your diet. What comfort that can bring to anyone!!! Once you have this 3-month supply, then move on to the “longer term storage” that the church unfortunately gives little information about.

Longer-term storage

Borrowing from previous counsel from church leaders, Emily’s and I personal goal is to get a one year supply of longer-term storage foods. Look through the current literature about food storage from the church and you may be surprised to notice, they never mention one year anymore. They now state to store as much as you can, or something along those lines. We have just decided to try to obtain one year’s worth of food but obviously feel free to store as much as you can. Remember, the intent of a longer-term storage is not to allow you to live comfortably during the time that you are living off it. It is to help you survive. Thus, I see no point whatsoever in storing items that I’ve seen recently in stores such as dehydrated broccoli, fruit drink mix, dehydrated this and that, etc. Why does one need all that? The answer? They don’t! The three month supply as mentioned above lets you make only minor changes to your diet. The longer-term storage plan requires a great change in diet; however, the advantages are that the different foods in this storage last so long that you don’t have to worry about them going bad.

What foods to store best?

Easy! Wheat, white rice, pinto beans, macaroni, oats, potato flakes, and powdered milk. Other items such as salt, baking soda, etc. should be added in sufficient quantities to cook with. They store indefinitely.

How long will those foods last?

Properly stored (Under the How Do I Store the Foods? Section):
Wheat — essentially indefinently
White rice — 30+ years
Pinto beans — 30 years
Macaroni — 30 years
Rolled oats — 20-30 years
Potato flakes — 30 years
Non-fat dry milk (NFDM) — 20 years
Sugar — 30+ years
Oil — 1-2 years

How do I store the foods?

The number one key in keeping your food last as long as possible is temperature! If you store your food storage in your attic or garage, good luck getting even half the storage time out of them that I mentioned above. Store your food in your basement or somewhere cool. The key is to keep them below 75 degrees. The cooler the better! So, that said, I’ll give product specific recommendations:

Wheat — Walton feed produces a cool double bag to store their wheat in that is meant for long term storage. It is weevil free and works amazing. If you don’t have access to their products, merely storing the wheat in a bucket is sufficient. I would recommend to put the wheat in a bucket, throw in a few oxygen absorbers and put an airtight lid on (usually, the lids that come with buckets are not airtight, you may need to get one that has a rubber gasket on it). While buckets are not capable of maintaining low oxygen over a long period of time, that’s ok because all we are trying to accomplish here is a few weeks at low oxygen: enough to kill all the bugs.

White rice — Store in buckets and treat similar to the wheat

Pinto beans — Store in buckets and treat similar to the wheat. Or, you can also store them in mylar pouches; oxygen absorbers are probably not required.

Macaroni — Store in buckets and treat similar to the wheat. Or for a longer shelf life, store in mylar pouches with oxygen absorbers.

Rolled oats — Store in mylar pouches with oxygen absorbers. DO NOT store in buckets. Oats have an appreciable amount of fat and thus they require a constant low oxygen environment.

Potato flakes — Store in mylar pouches with oxygen absorbers. DO NOT store in buckets.

NFDM — Store in mylar pouches with oxygen absorbers. DO NOT store in buckets.

Sugar — Store in mylar pouches (no oxygen absorbers needed). DO NOT store in buckets.

Oil — Store in the containers you buy from the store. Please note that oil has a very short shelf life of 1-2 years. Rotate it with new product and try to use it with your normal cooking. The reason I include it is its hard to replace oil with something else. You need fat to cook a lot of things and so I recommend you have some in your food storage plan. It’s also very calorie dense.

Hold on. Where are all the cans?

I actually do not advise using cans. Let me explain. First of all and perhaps my biggest reason, mylar pouches are reusuable. You cut them open and use the product inside, then, you can just put more product in and seal it back again with a fresh oxygen absorber. Once you open a can, and, well, it goes in the garbage. Mylar pouches are just as good of an oxygen barrier as cans are. They hold more and are cheaper (especially when you consider that they can be reused).

My one disclaimer: cans are essentially rodent proof–pouches and buckets are not. That is the only advantage cans have. I say this because I want to let you know that if you do use pouches like I do, you do run a risk of having rodent infestation of your food. However, I also say that that risk is extremely small. The chances of a rodent eating their way through a pouch or bucket is nill, although they technically can. Just keep your food in a clean location and you’ll be just fine.

How much do I need to store?

The easy answer? 25 lbs of food per month per adult. I prefer, however, to use another way of calculating my need. Remember the purpose of a long-term storage plan is to keep you alive. Studies have shown that humans can actually survive on very small amounts of vitamins and minerals and be just fine (with one exception which I’ll mention later). You don’t actually need 100% of the daily value for the nutrients to survive; actually, a small fraction of them is sufficient. The foods above will supply adequate amounts of nutrients; I promise you don’t need large amounts of probably disgusting and expensive dehydrated vegetables in your food storage. Thus, the one thing that we as humans need to survive is simple calories or energy. So, your requirement actually becomes fairly simple. Count up how many calories you’d like to consume per day if you were to live off your food storage (1500-2000 is a pretty standard number to use) and multiply it by how many days of food storage you’d like (for instance, 365 for one year’s worth). That’s your caloric requirement. Then add up how many calories your food storage is providing you and subract the two. You can then easily figure out how much more food you need. I list below the calories that each food product provides per kilogram (or 2.2 lbs):

Hard red winter wheat — 3270
White rice — 3650
Pinto beans — 3470
Macaroni — 3710
Oats — 3790
Potato flakes — 3540
NFDM — 3580
Sugar — 3870
Oil — 8840 (no, this isn’t a mistake. Oil is very calorie dense)

Do I need all the products listed?

Nope. At a bare minimum you could just store a large amount of wheat, NFDM, sugar, and oil. But I certainly would recommend having rice and oats as well for variety in your diet. You may think you can eat wheat for a whole year but you’ll get sick of it real quick. I don’t have and probably won’t ever have macaroni, beans, or potato flakes in my food storage but they do provide additional variety if you’d like.

What do I make with the food storage?

Very, very good question. This is an entirely different subject. Click on the question for another page to answer this question.

What is the exception that you mentioned?

The foods that are in this food storage plan do not have appreciable amounts of vitamin C. We can die very quickly of scurvy without vitamin C in our diets. Fortunately, while vitamin C is possibly the most labile vitamin in an aqueous environment, it is the most stable in its dry form. Therefore, I recommend storing along with your food storage, some vitamin C tablets that you can pick up from most any store (Costco for instance) for really cheap. As long as it’s stored in the dark (most opaque bottles will be sufficient) and at a cool temperature, you should only have to replace it every ten years or so.

What about pasta?

Someone might ask why I don’t put pasta in the list of foods. Let me make one thing clear: I think pasta is one of the best foods to put in a long-term food storage program. I have many reasons for thinking so. First of all, while few people know how to cook with the foods above (although I do hope to help with the link above to “what do I make with the food storage”), almost everyone knows how to cook pasta. Second, there are a lot more things one can do with pasta then with the other foods. Variety is very important when it comes to living off your food storage. You’ll go crazy eating the same thing day in and day out. Third, it probably requires the lowest energy input of any of the foods listed above. You can cook a pot of thin spaghetti in like 5 minutes. Try cooking white rice or bread or beans in that amount of time. Fourth, pasta stores extremely well EVEN IN THE PACKAGE YOU BUY IT IN FROM THE STORE. I’ve seen people can pasta before and it frustrates me so much! Pasta in the packages you buy in the store will last at least 7-10 years and still have a good amount of vitamins in it. So why don’t I recommend pasta in the list above? The goal with the foods above is to create a list of foods that you can accumulate and then never look back, never have to rotate, etc. Pasta still only has a shelf life of 7-10 years which is small in comparison to the other foods and probably does need to be rotated. So yes, I’ll have pasta in my food storage program, but it’ll be in my pantry, not in my basement along with everything else.