Getting started on food storage

sally2_gwSeptember 27, 2012

I've been intrigued by Grainlady's and Tricia's food storage systems, and would like to know more about how to get started. Grainlady, I'm sure you have books to recommend. Can you remind me which ones you like the best? I still haven't figured out where to put the food I store, but I figure I could start small.



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Hi Sally!

I'll let grainlady recommend books. If there's anything else I can answer give me a shout-out.

Glad to read you're considering food storage.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Oh, man. I teach classes on this subject. Have in my library, or have read from the public library, WAY too many books on the subject, so it's going to be difficult giving the Cliff's Notes version (LOL).

No ONE way or method is "perfect" for everyone - so expect to do some research (check your local library for books on the subject, and there is LOTS of free information on-line - do a search on "home food storage" or "frugal home food storage") and adjust accordingly as things evolve and your personal needs, budget, and amount you want to store changes. MY food storage and yours will more than likely be two completely different things. And that's what it comes down to - not what's right or wrong, just choices.

-COMMON SENSE - Store what you use and use what you store. And hopefully you'll purchase it at the lowest possible price (that's one of the benefits of home food storage). Stock-up a variety of foods you normally use, making sure you have food from all the food groups.

If you are on a budget, designate an amount you will use specifically FOR storage. If that amount is $5, then each week find a good sale item/s to invest it in. Tuna is on sale, buy as many as you can with $5. Macaroni is on sale the next week, so buy as much as you can for $5. Up to a point that's an okay plan, but it's best to actually HAVE a plan. Without a plan you may find you don't have a good variety of foods from all the food groups.

"Experts" say - it's better to have 3-months worth of a variety of foods than have 12-months worth of rice and little else.

-BE REALISTIC - If you only use 4 of something per year, then you don't need money tied up in 10 of them. Everything goes on sale AGAIN, sooner or later. If you don't know how many you normally use/need, start dating foods with a marker when you open them to see how long they last.

In her book - A Year's Supply In "Seven Days" - Mary Wilde didn't have a plan at first, and when she did a plan she found she had enough baking soda in storage to last her 25-years. Also noteworthy from her book, for a family of six, her list of foods she purchases consisted of less than 50 items - but she works from a set of menu plans.

I only buy up to 3 of any one item at a time for several reasons - the first is my budget ($125 per month for two adults). Only buying a few ahead keeps the stock fresh and the use-by dates as far out as possible.

If I were to purchase a case (12) of something it would take a big bite out of my budget, I would have to decide if I could realistically store that many, as well as use them by the use-by date. If you have 12 of something, that means you should be using it at least 1 per month - 50 of something means you use it at least once a week - then you have to check the use-by or best-by dates to see when you ACTUALLY need to use them. If you have a large number of people in your family you can probably purchase in case lots, but for the two of us it doesn't work well.

-PRICE (and INVENTORY) BOOK - You really DO need to keep track of things. I keep a Price Book (got the idea from Amy Dacyczyn's "The Tightwad Gazette" - pgs. 31-32 - in 1993) and keep it in a used Day Runner (or small loose-leaf note book will also work) I got at a thrift store. It contains my on-going list of things to purchase, money, coupons and the prices for the items I commonly purchase. It has alphabetical dividers and items are put on one page in the book where I track prices (date - store - size - price - unit price) and on the next page I track the inventory of the item in storage. I put a ( / ) when I add an item and put another slash through it ( X ) when I move it from storage to the pantry. If I also need to track the use-by date (peanut butter is one where I always track dates) I'll write it like this: 11/12 (Nov. 2012). When I remove that item I'll "X" through the date. Keeping a running inventory will save you money. You will be purchasing things you need, instead of duplicates you may not necessarily need and couldn't remember if you had it or not.

This also helps when I go through the store advertisements. On first glance, butter (1# box) is 2/$5 and sounds like a bargain..... I can quickly check the price at Aldi (which is also noted in my price book) and know it's regularly lower than the store sale price so skip the sale because it's not at a stock-up price.

-CHOOSE MULTI-USE PRODUCTS - Less (items) is best! I was able to gain a lot of space and reduce total number of items in storage by storing and using tomato powder. I use it to make tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, red pasta sauce, and pizza sauce - by adding water and a few pantry items (vinegar, spices, herbs, sweeteners, etc.). In a pinch, I can even make ketchup and bbq sauce from tomato powder. The only other tomato products I keep in storage are frozen and dehydrated tomatoes from the garden.

-CHOOSE INGREDIENTS INSTEAD OF CONVENIENCE FOODS - By ingredients I mean staple items you use to cook from scratch. I make my own "convenience" foods for a fraction of the price, and can choose more wholesome ingredients. This is one of the reasons I can stick to a food budget of $125/month. I make all our cereal (cold or hot varieties) for pennies - as just one example. The same ingredients I use to make pancakes (or a homemade pancake mix), I can also use to make cakes, cookies, quick breads.... I would generally avoid a single-use item, such as pancake mix, to my food storage, when I can make it from ingredients in the pantry.

-FOODSAVER (your new best friend) - I vacuum-seal most of my dry goods in canning jars or FoodSaver bags to extend shelf-life and avoid pantry pests.

-FIFO - First in - first out - rotation system. Store your food so you can easily track and rotate it. I had rolling can dispensers and hated them and gave them to a friend who loves them. About the time I purchased a can with a use-by date somewhere in the middle of those already in the unit, I'd have to remove, add, and replace the entire bunch. I like my cans lined up in a single row and now have shallow shelves to accommodate them - and write the use-by date on the front (I have a silver Sharpie for marking labels with dark backgrounds.) Find a method you like - you'll find all kinds of suggestions on-line.

Today I spend about 75-80% of my food budget on home food storage and the remainder on fresh food, so I essentially "shop" at home for meal praparation. As unspent money accumulates in my food budget I'll make large purchase (grain for instance) or an annual purchase. When I find Morning Moo's Whey-Based Milk Substitute on sale - #10 cans - BO get one 1/2 price, I'll purchase enough for a year if there is enough in the food budget. I also purchase a 50# bag and split it with a friend for even more savings. I purchase wheat 50-pounds at a time and vacuum-seal it for storage.

I have three levels of home food storage, plus a bonus level.

Level 1: 72-hour EMERGENCY FOODS
Foods that don't require heating or refrigerating from all the food groups. I also include items that are "add hot water" (homemade instant oatmeal packets, homemade instant soup packets, homemade cocoa mix, etc.) Many of these items are in single servings (fruit cups, pudding, potted meat spread, etc.). We've used these food items during ice storms and extended power outages. I restock this once a year, usually when school starts because that's when I can get some of these single-serving sizes used for kids lunches on sale. These are kept in a storage tub with other "lights out" emergency things.

Foods I use for everyday meal preparation from all the food groups (includes freezer and refrigerator). 6-12-months worth This may be where you stop your food storage.

Foods that have long-term storage capabilities - freeze-dried, whole grains, powdered, dehydrated. All of these items are also rotated into the pantry. 12-months worth

Bonus Level: I increased the "Seven Survival Foods" to 3-years worth (grains, legumes, sprouting seeds, sweetener/s, salt, oil, powdered milk - or milk substitute/s).

One of my favorite sources on this subject is "Everything Under the Sun" by Wendy DeWitt (she has YouTube videos as well as a must\-read booklet you can download/print \- I read her information after I completed my food storage, but still like her plan. She bases her storage on her favorite 7\-14 meals and the amount of foods/ingredients you need for making them for a year, and you store these foods. 

I based my storage on the number of servings from each food group, which is something I can quickly tally based on my inventory sheets. I've followed a simple meal plan using the old "Basic\-4" for decades, so I know how many servings of foods I use each day/week/month.....   
Bread/Cereal \- 4 servings   
Fruits & Vegetables \- 4 servings   
Meat/Alternative \- 2 servings   
Milk/Dairy \- 2 servings 

You can also use a food calculator available on\-line to get an idea of how much food you might need: 

We have a designated food storage room in the basement, but I've had to use creative storage in other homes we've lived in. I've read you can store enough food for one person for a year in the space of a single bed. Which brings me to one family who literally used the bed space for storage in their kids rooms. They removed the bed frames, stacked the boxed foods (most \#10 cans come 6 cans per box and stack nicely) and topped the boxes with a decorative fabric skirt and put the mattress on the top of that. BTW, they had a really detailed rotation system. Make a "bench" at the end of your bed with stacked boxes, cover with a nice throw and top with cushions. How about a window seat? We built narrow shelves in the space between a window and the corner walls and covered the space floor to ceiling with contrasting material to match the window drapes. It made the window look bigger, and those shelves held all my extra canned goods and dry goods vacuum\-sealed in canning jars. 

Free on\-line:   
\-Stockpiling Food for Small Spaces and Small Budgets 

\-What to Store in a Food Storage \- 


\-Food Storage 101 \- Where Do I Begin? \- Peggy Layton   
(add to this book her book, "Cookin' With Home Storage" for recipes using the food storage suggestions. 

\-100\-Day Pantry \- Quick and Easy Gourmet Meals \- Jan Jackson   
(Interesting concept. Includes too many processed foods and canned foods high in sodium for my taste, but a good read and some user\-friendly recipes.) 

\-NOT Your Mother's Food Storage \- Kathy Bray and Jan Barker   
Requires careful meal planning but is based on the food YOUR family already eats and grocery shopping you already do. 

\-It's In the Bag \- Michelle & Trent Snow   
A novel idea for storage. They place an entire meal or days worth of meals in a storage bag (they use cloth bags) \- even down to the spices and bottled water needed for the meal. They have storage shelves 16'x4' that contain 422 bag meals. 


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:05PM
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A good place to start might be to get an idea of what you already have & normally keep on hand. Here's a link to a food storage analyzer that will help you see what you've already got and it's nutritional value. It's a bit of work but it's something that would need to be done anyway if you decide to pursue a more formal plan. It's also a good eye opener. The vast majority of Americans could not feed their family a nutritionally balanced diet for 30 days without a trip to the store.

I do less than 30% of my food storage shopping at regular grocery stores. For instance, I use few canned goods and pay detailed attention to rotation. Store what you eat and eat what you store.


Here is a link that might be useful: Food Storage Analyzer

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:54PM
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I have been curious about this ever since I first saw Grainlady's posts. Why do you do it ? I guess I don't understand. Is it just to save money? Do others in your community know that you are doing this ? I am just wondering what precipitates the urge to store such a large amount of food...unless you are miles and miles from a store or have no transportation on a regular basis or really bad weather much of the year. Would love to have some insight. c

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:20PM
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I've wondered the same thing. But I have often thought that I should be better prepared for a week or two of survival in case "something" happens.

Another question I have for Tricia and Grainlady is, have you altered your eating habits in order to consume more pantry foods and support this rotation? I just looked in my pantry to think about what I go through with any regularity: Rice, pasta, cereal and canned tomatoes. Perhaps canned stock. There's peanut butter and Nutella in the kitchen, so I could add those to the list. But that's really about it.

If I were to get serious about food storage I suppose I'd stock up on tuna which has a very long shelf life and which we do eat on occassion, and I should probably familiarize myself with powdered eggs and milk. But what else? Canned vegetables? Beans? Other meats? Sure, I can store those and other such items but the turnover would more likely be via the garbage can as they approach expiration than by voluntary consumption... unless I changed my eating/cooking habits significantly.

One thing that I definitely feel I should be prepared for is a contaminated water supply. I've been meaning to look into storage options for larger volumes of potable water.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 12:21AM
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Q. "Why do we keep a food storage and commodity program?"


I'm lazy but enjoy eating well and hate to shop for life's pesky necessities like new jeans, socks, shoes, batteries, etc. It so much less work once you get organized and come out the other side of the learning curve.

It's cheaper. So, we have more money for other things. With planning and over time, our food storage helped us attain our dream of a little cottage here in Mystic and our Nordic Tug. For us, that's more fun than grocery shopping.

Self-sufficiency. DH has lost a job twice since we've been married. The first time, it was 13 months before we got the next paycheck and had to move across country. The entire situation was stressful enough for us and our 3 young children without having to ask ourselves at night after the kids were down, "How are we going to make breakfast, pack lunches, and prepare a healthy, nutrional, dinner?" We lived on our food storage. I don't know what we'd have done without it? The second time he lost his job was just 3 years ago. I'd had a stroke and he was denied family leave to care for me. Instead, the bank he worked for fired him. DH had to take over running the household in my place. Food storage greatly simplified that process for him and continues to make meal planning & prep easier.

IMO, it's smart. A comfortable life is tenuous for a lot of reasons. Food storage gives a bit of security in an unsecure world. We think & problem solve better with a full stomach.

Q. "Do others in your community know that you are doing this?

A. We don't have a sign in the yard but I, obviously, share here.


Q. "...have you altered your eating habits in order to consume more pantry foods and support this rotation?

A. Our food storage includes all food groups and nutritional requirements not just what you'd consider "pantry" items.

You wrote...

"I just looked in my pantry to think about what I go through with any regularity: Rice, pasta, cereal and canned tomatoes. Perhaps canned stock. There's peanut butter and Nutella in the kitchen, so I could add those to the list. But that's really about it.

If I were to get serious about food storage I suppose I'd stock up on tuna which has a very long shelf life and which we do eat on occassion, and I should probably familiarize myself with powdered eggs and milk. But what else? Canned vegetables? Beans? Other meats?"

Why does canned tuna come to everybody's mind when they think of food storage?? (big grin)

Yes, we have canned tuna. DH fishes. Once a year, he & a few buddies go on an extended tuna trip. We have part of the catch canned for us. The rest goes in the freezer. But, again IMO, nobody NEEDS 214 cans of canned tuna hanging around no matter how many coupons might be available. You need a wide variety of protein sources in a nutritionaly balance food storage program.

Q. "... turnover would more likely be via the garbage can..."

Wasted food is the most expensive you purchase. But you already know that.


Our eating habits are pretty mainstream. We certainly don't eat weird. Storage is different for every family. Lars, just as example, eats very different foods than us. So, any storage program he might have would contain different items. People don't like change. A food storage program will do ZERO good if it's not used and then suddenly becomes necessary but family members won't eat the meals because they are different than what is usual.

I store mostly whole foods so I can prepare anything I wish from those ingredients. I do plan meals but a change in plans is not disaster.

I use a combination of frozen, dehydrated, freeze-dried, powdered, home grown, sprouted, and fresh foods. We are now eating about 80% organic. There are no foods in my storage program that you'd think we unusual or weird. I have several levels of storage, same as grainlady, with some packaged for 10-20 years. Others are in the freezer - so those are short term. I keep a fully stocked regular pantry with back-ups packaged for longer term storage. We keep fully stocked short-term emergency bags as well as bug-out bags since we live just a few feet from LIS.

It doesn't happen overnight. You can purchase "One Year Basics" but you still have to build from there. And, yes, you do need water - lots of water and a way to preserve that water so it's fit to drink. We use a multitude of water storage so in case one fails we are not left without. Water is necessary for life.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:52AM
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"Why does canned tuna come to everybody's mind when they think of food storage??"

Well it came to my mind because I looked at the cans in my pantry and they have an expiration date of May 2017. Which is years longer than the tomato products and stocks have, or than the expired sauerkraut, creamed corn, water chestnuts and unsweetened condensed milk ever had. :) (Darn it, the garbage came already this morning!)


Hence my dilemma. I grocery shop several times a week, and I shop "around the perimeter" for fresh produce, meats, dairy, etc. The cereal aisle is the only aisle I'd say I visit with any great regularity for something I'd think of as a high turnaround product. So I think it's safe to say that I would have to change my eating and cooking habits significantly if I were to start a rotation of stuff that stores longer.

I'm just trying to think how I could fit such a program into my life, relatively comfortably. Definitely worth a thought - I'll be watching this thread!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 8:53AM
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Thanks, Grainlady and Tricia, for your advice. I will look at the websites, and look for the books on the subject.

I'm interested in food storage because we are planning to move to the country, sort of semi-country, in that we'll be just outside of city limits of a smallish town. There's good potential of power outages due to tornadoes or ice storms. Plus, I think it's just plain common sense to be prepared. I don't expect to have much of an income when we move, so saving money will be very important.

I, too, am used to shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, but to me that just means not buying processed foods. I want to get more into processing my own food. I do eat some canned and frozen foods. I want to learn more about preserving my own foods I process.

Water is a good point, though. The house we'll be moving to has a well, so when power goes out, so does the well. Of course, a generator is a must, but I still think you're right to think about storing water.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Here's something that might get you thinking differently about how you prepare food.

These are delicious. I eat them direct from the can...sorta like blackberry popcorn. I also use them as just a side dish of berries, cobblers, pies, tarts, sauces, syrups, jams, smoothies, etc. They don't spoil in my refrigerator if I don't get around to making that pie today. They are always available when I want them.

Try the smaller size. Shipping, of course, is cheaper when ordering in quantity. This is not the only source and may not be a rock bottom price at any given time. But, this company's products are good and they have a nice selection. There's lots of companies available. So just consider this a suggestion. Check out the nutritional information and ingredients. Pure blackberries - picked at peak freshness. Not weird. Nose around the site at veggies.

Here's a picture of blackberry tart made in the dead of winter with these berries.


Here is a link that might be useful: Marion Blackberries

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Riverrat used to say that if there was a disaster, she wanted to live in my basement, LOL. Farm families have been doing it for decades, centuries, probably, squirreling away the bounties of harvest against the winter when there is none. In addition, rural areas are sometimes many miles from the grocery, it's not a quick "run to the store" for milk or bread. Storage was economic in part, convenience in part, necessity in part.

We eat what we store because what I store is what I grow or get at local farmer's markets. I can things because the freezer is full and because they don't spoil when the lights go off, which happens here with regularity. (sigh) Dehydrated is good, as long as you like the result. Sometimes I do (apples are great). Sometimes I don't. (Tomatoes, not so much)

I can't grow coffee, of course, or sugar cane, and I haven't grown much grain yet, but I will. I like to know what I'm eating, how it's grown, who handled it. I especially have an issue with the treatment of animals which provide commercially available food, including milk, cheese, eggs, not just meat products.

Sally, if you're worried about water, get an old "pitcher pump". No electricity required, just pump the handle and you get water, plus a great workout, LOL. We still have one at the farm and it still gets used. When the pond is frozen and the tank heater isn't running because the power is out, the animals still need water. Plus, you don't get cold while pumping it. (grin)

FOAS, people actually can water, although I haven't personally explored that option.

Food storage doesn't have to be on the scale of two years or whatever. Frankly, in case of a nuclear holocaust I hope I don't survive to have to protect my food supply against neighbors. (sigh) It's smart to keep a few months, at least, though, in case of natural disaster, unemployment, illness, etc.

It's cheaper, even if it only cuts down on a lot of impulse buying which results from trips to the grocery store. However, many people enjoy grocery shopping and have more will power than I do. I enjoy it, but too often hear the siren call of exotic ingredients, LOL.

The trick is to actually use what you've stored, so you need an inventory and a plan. I try to take stock weekly of what I have in the basement and freezer, so old stuff gets used up. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not. Sometimes I'm so successful that stuff gets used up and I wish I'd made more. That's what I can more of the next year.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:41AM
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BE PREPARED isn't just for Boy Scouts.... ;-)

I grew up in the middle of farm country where our family, and everyone around us, were fairly self-sufficient, and that was considered "normal". They were people who went through the Depression and WWII and food rationing, and knew why you should be self-sufficient and be prepared - be the ant rather than the grasshopper (in the old fable). I learned those lessons well.

During the economic downturn several years ago, the building industry was hit hard in our area (hubby is V.P. at a cabinet manufacturing company). They cut production from two shifts to one and laid-off half of the workers. Not knowing what the future had in store for us, I pulled out the LDS food storage information and I filled in the blanks for what I thought was a complete food storage plan that consisted of the 3 levels I outlined above. By having food in storage, I knew we could make our savings go farther, if necessary. There is no such thing as job security. For those who have experienced loss of income, unexpected medical expenses, natural or man-made disasters, interrupted food supplies, power outages, you understand the benefits of home food storage. During an ice storm a few years ago, our neighbors couldn't go 24-hours. When the peanut butter and bread were gone and all the scented candles were burned up, they risked their lives to drive to mama's house.

I've stored whole grains/seeds/beans and milled my own flour and made all our baked goods for a couple decades now for the health of it, and buying in bulk amounts it's also cost-effective - it stretches the food dollars. I can still purchase 50# of wheat from a local mill for $20 which is a lot of flour, wheatgrass, sprouts, cereal and lots of other things.

We've been able to share a lot of food as well. Our adult children "shop" when they visit us, which makes them the ultimate rotation system .... We've been able to help people we knew were unemployed. We donate regularly to the Food Bank and a local ministry has received cases of food from our storage to use in their kitchen where they feed hundreds of people free of charge. And there are more people now than ever getting those free meals.

Powdered Milk - We've used powdered milk products since 1981 and I can't believe all the money we've saved compared to grocery store prices. I've always purchased enough for a year at a time. It dawned on me the other day that we've never run out of milk and you'll never see us at the store when a winter storm warning is issued.

Powdered eggs - I've used powdered eggs for many years when the price per egg for fresh eggs was more than the price of powdered, so each winter I usually go through at least one #10 can (which equals between 80-90 eggs). Powdered eggs are GREAT when you need half an egg (when I make 6-muffins in a toaster oven) and when I make my homemade mixes and convenience foods. I now prefer OvaEasy Egg Crystals - even though they are more expensive. They come in a #10 can and are divided into packets that contain 12-eggs. I wish OvaEasy Egg Crystals would have been available when my parents and mother-in-law were alive. They would have loved the convenience. They threw out so many eggs...

I wish I would have known about and used freeze-dried fruits and vegetables years ago. What convenience, great taste, less waste, and more nutrition. I noticed the other day the label on a can of sliced pears - the total weight was 15.25 oz. but it only contained 9.4 oz. of pears - think how much you pay for liquid you toss out.

I'm also converting to powdered peanut butter. I LOVE THE STUFF! I stocked up when peanut butter prices were supposed to increase last year, so it's paying dividends this year.

This is our "normal". I don't even think about it anymore and I don't worry about rotating food from storage into the pantry because it's second nature. I have a friend who goes to Sam's Club and purchases enough food for a year at a time. She hates grocery shopping and does it once a year and grows a huge garden for her fresh food - that's her "normal". I have several other friends who go to the grocery store every day, or even more than once a day, and other than a couple boxes of cereal, jar of peanut butter, loaf of bread and some baking ingredients in their cabinets, they keep very little else on hand - that's their "normal".


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:18AM
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Just this week, we've made our winter batch of mixes from long-term stored whole ingredients. I made homemade Bisquick-type mix for a multitude of uses, brownie mix, oatmeal/triticale muffin mix, cornbread mix, homemade brown sugar instant oatmeal packets, cheese sauce mix from powdered Cabot cheese and organic powdered milk, and white sauce mix (to use in replacement of those "can of" soup things). In those various mixes I've used organic powdered butter so the mixes are shelf-stable. I keep many different kinds of freeze-dried fruits so to toss in a handfull of raspberries to a batch of oatmeal/triticale muffins is easy. I make all of my mixes "just add water" capable. Last week, I made veggie soup mixes for fall/winter lunches using all food storage ingredients.

Last week, we ground 30 lbs. of chuck and made meatballs, taco filling, pasta meat sauce, and meatloaf mixture for the freezer. Easy dinners.

Like grainlady, we like dehydrated tomato products so I also store tomato powder to make sauce, paste, ketchup, seafood sauce, or other tomato based products. I don't store any canned tomatoes.

We buy superpails of kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, lentils, split peas, popcorn (for snacks & also to grind into cornmeal), rice, oats, triticale, and a few others. I no longer grind wheat because we just weren't eating enough but do store hard red wheat "just in case". I have all the equipment to start again at a moment's notice. For now though we store KA Organic Unbleached Flour & I keep 50 lbs. at any given time. Plus White Whole Wheat, Pastry flours, etc. Probably in total 200 lbs. of various grains.

We eat fresh veggies/fruits during the growing season & store frozen and freeze-dried for the remainder of the year.

I use mostly organic powdered butter, milk, sour cream, and again like grainlady we like powdered peanut butter. It's delicious, easy, and also easy to store.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 12:18PM
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Why do we do it?

1. Because I despise shopping! Take a bag down to the pantry, and I'm good to go.

2. Work for DH is sporadic in the winter. We never know if he'll be off for two days or two months. Self employed, so there is no unemployment check.

3. Saves us a lot of money to buy 1/2 a cow, a whole pig and a bunch of chicken for the freezer every year. It absolutely kills me to purchase beef or pork at the grocery. No comparison in flavor.

4. Also saves to buy in bulk. I only shop for dry goods, cleaning and paper products, canned goods, etc. once a year.

5. Emergencies. Ice storm of '96, we were only without power a few hours. Some folks were without power for up to 5 weeks!!!

6. There's a sense of security seeing that full pantry and freezer, especially for DH, that no matter what happens, we're not going to starve to death.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 2:02PM
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and, (because I just saw the news about the ground beef recall)

7. I don't have to worry about returning all my beef to the store for fear of E. Coli infection

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:18PM
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This thread really interests me, especially the references to homemade mixes. My purpose would be to control the salt level in baking mixes. Tricia, you refer to dried butter. I bought some a couple of months ago but really don't know how to use it in making up baking mixes. Could you and Grainlady guide me to recipe mix resources that use dried products like butter, peanut butter, and sour cream?

I also have a question about the dried cheese sauce mix. I bought some dried/powdered cheddar cheese a couple of years ago but found it was too sweet. Everything I used it for had an unnatural sweetness to it. Tricia, you mention Cabot brand. What's your opinion? Does it taste more like real cheese?

Thanks for your help. This is not exactly about long-term food storage: My dad was born and grew up in a small village on the Greek island of Kalymnos. He was one of 17 children and had distinct memories of always being hungry. After coming to the United States, he became a barber. He never made loads of money, but he always knew he was a rich man. The proof -- All he had to do is open our refrigerator and see it packed with fruits, vegetables, and leftovers!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:25PM
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Shambo, here's some info...


To reconstitute: Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of water to 1 tablespoon butter powder. Mix well. When used in baking it is NOT necessary to reconstitute. Simply add to dry ingredients and increase liquid. Add 1 tablespoon additional liquid for each 1/4 cup butter powder.

Cabot Powdered Cheddar IS real Vermont Cheddar Cheese. It's not at all sweet, to me. It's got a sharp cheddar bite to it. I've linked below...

I don't really have recipe books using powdered eggs, butter, sour cream, etc. I just follow the label instructions for converting amounts. I do NOT RECONSTITUTE for the dry mixes.

Eggs: Mix 2 tablespoons of whole egg powder with 3 tablespoons of water. Yields the equivalent of 1 extra large egg. Use for any recipe that calls for eggs. When using with other dry ingredients, it is NOT necessary to reconstitute the eggs. Simply add whole egg powder to the other dry ingredients and increase the liquid measurements by necessary amount.

All my baking mixes are shelf table for storage. I vac-pack.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cabot Powdered Cheddar Cheese

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Great thread.

Just a thought: Any time that you have such a long term shortage of food can also mean a shortage of fuel to run your generator.

May be you should also invest in a solar panel.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:42PM
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shambo -

-"MIX-A-MEAL" Cookbook - Mixes and Recipes - Deanna Bean & Lorna Shute
This book uses lots of dry ingredients for mixes, including powdered vanilla, powdered margarine/butter/shortening, powdered whole eggs and egg whites....

-"I Can't Believe It's Food Storage" - Crystal Godfrey
This book includes a recipe for "Magic Mix" which was developed by the Utah State Extension Service, and you will find different versions of the recipe on-line. This base mix recipe is used as a gravy mix, fudgsicles, pudding, white sauce, Pesto Alfedo Sauce, Condensed Cream of _________ Soup (chicken, mushroom, broccoli, celery, tomato). Detailed information about using food storage basics like powdered eggs, powdered milk... A great food storage cookbook.

-"Dinner Is In The Jar" - Quick and Easy Dinner Mixes in Mason Jars or Mylar Bags - Kathy Clark
Premix your dinners and store them in canning jars.

-"Make-A-Mix Cookery" and "MORE Make-A-Mix Cookery" - Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward & Madeline Westover.
These two books have been "friends" seemingly forever. Great mixes that are time and money savers.

-"Natural Meals in Minutes" and "Country Beans - Rita Bingham (a personal favorite author)

-"Cookin' with Powdered Milk" and "Cookin'with Dried Eggs" - Peggy Layton (food storage expert).


Here is a link that might be useful: Saving Money with Homemade Convenience Mixes

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:22PM
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Y'all are providing so much information, it's going to take me a while to soak it all in. I'm excited to start reading and learning and putting to use all this information. Thanks for the help.

Annie, Jerry wants one of those hand pumps for our well up there. You've made some great points about the benefits of having one.

Dcarch, you make a good point. It would be an excellent idea to have a way to store extra fuel.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Grainlady, thank you for the book titles. I'm going to start looking for them tomorrow. I really like the idea of convenience, good quality ingredients, and controlling salt content. I know I'll have lots more questions once I read a couple of the books. Just warning both of you in advance.

Tricia, thanks for the link. I'll order some of the Cabot and give it a try. I think the cheese powder I ordered before was from King Arthur. As I said, I was not happy with the sweetness. But I'd like to have a cheese sauce mix for vegetables, etc. I would cut the amount of cheese and omit salt altogether, but still a creamy sauce on vegetables makes my husband happy.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:37AM
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Really interesting info. I did look up a number of the books and quite a few of the products. I fear that like FOAS I would purchase many of these things listed...the powd milk etc and then donate it near its expiration to a food bank. I have no desire to change the way I eat and the only way I would cook to use most of this stuff , except the dried beans and dried fruits and making all my own breads etc is if I was in desperate circumstances.

I have made everything from scratch for 42 years of marriage. I never use anything in a can or box if I can help it. I canned my own stuff for years but don't have much interest in that anymore with just 2 of us. My DS and DIL are chefs and my DH and I eat almost exclusively Chinese stir fry with very minimal meat and lots of fresh vegs. We also eat a lot of vegetarian meals which do incorporate dried beans but I use only fresh seasonal vegs and lots and lots of really good cheeses. Our grocery bill is high but not what a lot of folks spend as I do not ascribe to " organic" or whole foods or Trader Joe items and as I said I never ever buy anything that is pre-made.

If/when the time arrives when the stores are empty and there is a city wide or country wide situation in which I need more than what I keep in my home I am going to be in the same boat as millions of others , I guess, hungry. Not a situation I am going to want to be in but also not one I am going to plan for by the above methods. I do find the whole issue very very interesting and thank you for posting such amazingly detailed info !! c

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 4:28AM
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A list of foods that have an indefinite (or nearly so) shelf-life - under proper storage conditions.

I use wheat for flour (and everything I make using flour), sprouts, wheatgrass, cereal, snacks, roasted wheatberries makes a nice coffee substitute, extract the gluten from freshly-milled flour and make "wheat meat" (aka seitan or gluten), I make my own bulgur and cracked wheat, pasta/noodles. I store many different varieties of wheat for their baking and milling qualities or general uses (hard wheat for bread, soft wheat for pastry, durum wheat for pasta/noodles, etc.) Even without a mill you can make all kinds of great things with wheat - like Blender Waffles/Pancakes ( A great little booklet by Cindi Van Bibber - No Wheat Grinder Wheat Recipes ( With the use of a blender make cooked wheatberries into cookies, cakes, biscuits, muffins, desserts.

I'm not a big fan of white rice, but I do store it and use only occasionally. One interesting thing you can make from white rice is rice "milk", which would come in handy for people who are lactose intolerant in an emergency situation.

I don't store a lot of dry pasta because we don't use it very often. I generally make pasta/noodles fresh from wholegrain flour and dehydrate the extra to use later.

If you store iodized salt it can turn yellow during long storage, but it doesn't effect the salt. If you do home canning be sure to include canning salt in your storage.

A favorite storage food of mine. I generally sprout lentils to increase the nutrition in them and then you can lightly cook them or you eat lentil sprouts without cooking (add to salads or use as a substitute for pasta in a pasta salad). Dehydrate sprouted lentils and when you go to cook them they will cook in a fraction of the time. Add some seasonings to sprouted lentils (Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime or Southwest Chipotle salt-free seasoning blends) before dehydrating them and you have a nice snack food.

A vegetarian substitute for ground beef:
1 c. lentils
1 c. rice
4 c. water
Cook like you would rice. Use alone or as a meat extender along with ground beef. Add beef flavoring. Add taco seasonings and use it in your favorite Mexican entrees.



-VANILLA (real, not imitation)




-DRIED DENT CORN (used for milling into meal and flour)



-INSTANT COFFEE (if you prefer fresh ground coffee, store vacuum-sealed green coffee beans and roast them as needed)

-NON-FAT MILK POWDER (20-years if hermetically sealed - #10 cans)

The "Vital Four" foods referred to in the Bible as foods of prominence: WHEAT "the staff of life", "land flowing with MILK and HONEY, and SALT.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 8:03AM
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I've had sugar develop an off taste when stored in a glass canister with a metal lid, one of those old fashioned, sort of octagon shaped canisters. I guess that's not the best way to store sugar.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 9:31AM
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For those wondering how freeze-dried foods compare nutritionally to fresh, frozen, or canned here are a few articles.

"Unlike some produce you buy at the grocery store, freeze dried produce is not picked before it is fully ripe, there are no hormones used to force it to ripen quickly, nor it does not sit in a truck or at the store or in your fridge losing nutrients before you eat it. It, and all its nutrients, are flash frozen. Then, you can enjoy it, and those nutrients, up to 25 years later any time of the year!

Even better, freeze dried foods require no additives, preservatives, salt or sugar to retain that 25 yr shelf life. What goes into the can (fresh produce) is exactly what comes out!"


One more...


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Once you receive the Cabot cheese here's a quick recipe for making cheese sauce with good quality ingredients.

CHEESE SAUCE (this is for a single 1-cup batch of sauce)

1/3 Cup Dehydrated Cheddar Cheese Powder
3 Tablespoons Organic Milk Powder
3 Tablespoons Dehydrated Organic Butter Powder
3 Tablespoons Unbleached AP Flour (I use KA Organic AP)
S/P to taste (you probably won't add any salt since cheese contains salt)

Directions: Combine dry ingredients in small saucepan. Add one cup hot tap water. Bring to a boil and stir using a wire whisk. It will only take a couple seconds and it's done (I've got an induction stove so it's really fast!).

Optional Add-ins: 1/2 Teaspoon dried parsley flakes and/or 1/8 teaspoon onion powder.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 1:47PM
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Check out the video making Asian Chicken Stir Fry with freeze-dried vegetables. -Grainlady

Here is a link that might be useful: Asian Chicken Stir Fry

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Tricia, thanks so much for the cheese sauce recipe. Also thanks to you & Grainlady for the info on using freeze dried vegetables. I bought some freeze dried peaches, strawberries, and raspberries last year. I loved munching on them. They tasted wonderful! However, we ate them before I ever got around to using them in anything. So I have a few questions.

I make muffins regularly to freeze for our breakfasts. If I wanted to use freeze dried fruit instead of fresh, do I need to do anything other than just throw in the freeze dried product? Do I need to adjust liquid at all?

I'd like to make some of my own soup mixes for quick meals. Can you give me your honest opinions about the following freeze dried vegetables: corn, green beans, carrots, celery, and bell peppers. I've bought both dehydrated celery & bell peppers several times but don't like their texture even in long-cooked dishes like soup or chili. That's why I'm wondering about their freeze dried versions.

I agree that it's a total waste of time & money to buy things you know you won't enjoy and therefore use. I'm willing to experiment and purchase smaller quantities for trials. Perhaps this winter will be nothing more than a period of research. Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Manufacturers say to reconstitute the fruit before adding to your muffins. That said, I'm lazy so I don't. I increase the liquid and toss whatever fruit I'm using in the batter. I use a bit less additional liquid than recommended for reconstituting. Our favorites for muffins are blueberries, apples, & raspberries.

Understanding that your mileage might be different, here's my opinion on the freeze-dried veggies for soup mixes.

Green Beans - Yes
Carrots - Yes
Cabbage - Yes
Spinach - Yes
Peas - Yes
Tomatoes - Yes
Broccoli - Yes
Corn - Yes
Potato Dices - Yes
Green Peppers - No (I HATE green peppers so I'm not a good person to ask.)
Celery - No, for soup. I think it's a little tough. Yes, for aromatics in braises.

Have I forgot any?

Shambo, there's a big difference between dehydrated and freeze-dried. You'll be amazed.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 6:48PM
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Tricia, thanks for your insights. The texture thing is why I don't care for dehydrated peppers or celery. Perhaps freezing is the way to go when just using for soups and long-cooked dishes. I'm eager to order some more freeze dried fruit for experimenting with muffins. I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 7:11PM
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I have been researching freeze dried foods. This company makes very good products.

They are not just tomatoes by any means.

Here is a link that might be useful: Just Tomatoes.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:26AM
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OK, I know this is probably weird beyond belief. But I was adding Grainlady's book recommendations to my Amazon Wish List and decided to do a general Google search for "Homemade Mixes." Somehow I veered off into a search for "Homemade Mocha Coffee Mix" which finally landed me at a site where I found the following recipe for homemade powdered creamer. It uses instant milk, powdered sugar, and coconut oil. What do you think? Could it work?

"It's very easy to make a good, dairy-powdered creamer. The secret is to add some fat to get the same mouth-feel you expect from, say, half and half or cream. I don't prefer this recipe over straight cream, but it's a good substitute if you run out, is shelf-stable and versatile. Use it also for making cocoa, chai and other mixes.

8 parts part skim milk powder
1-2 parts powdered sugar (I don't like my coffee at all sweet, so you can use even less, but there is a little sweetness in natural cream)
3 cereal spoonfuls of coconut oil, melted (I stick the glass jar in micro for a few seconds)

Combine first two ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Slowly add coconut oil, drizzling it over the top with a spoon. Mix well with a fork. There should be no clumps. Store in a jar with a lid in the pantry. To use, try a few spoonfuls in a cup then add your coffee while stirring until you get the color/flavor you want. The oil adds the mouthfeel that you expect from cream. Coconut oil is a healthy fat as well. It stays solid in the powder mix but will melt into your coffee as soon as you pour it. I would make mine with less sugar next time, but I would say 1 part sugar to 8 parts milk powder is about right :-) Enjoy"

Here is a link that might be useful: Thrifty Fun thread about homemade powdered coffee creamer

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:04AM
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barnmom & shambo-

Are "Just Tomatoes" products dehydrated (dried with heat and air) or freeze-dried? I only saw "conventional", which I took to mean dehydrated. And didn't see any information for rehydrating them. Freeze-dried foods are dried quickly with cold temperatures to maintain color, texture, flavor and nutrition. There is also a big difference when you want to use them - it takes only a few minutes and warm or hot water to rehydrate FREEZE-DRIED foods, while dehydrated usually take much longer and often need to be cooked to rehydrate. Small packets are generally more expensive per serving than when you buy a #10 can.


Thanks for sharing the link, I MUST give it a try. 

What I would do differently... I would use a tip for mixing I learned from Rita Bingham in "Natural Meals in Minutes". When incorporating fat into dry ingredients, use your hand\-held electric mixer. It works better and quicker than a pastry blender or the fork method. I would use solid coconut oil, not liquid, when using a mixer for blending. 

For a sugar\-free or low\-glycemic version I would substitute powdered sugar with powdered SWERVE (an erythritol product). I've blended Palm Sugar in a blender until it was powdered and might try it. Here's where powdered vanilla would be a nice addition if you like vanilla\-flavored creamers. 

I'll have to dig out my handouts for a class taught on using powdered milk. I had a bunch of recipes on it. 

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:12AM
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In this case conventional means not organic. Some of their products are freeze dried and some are dehydrated, depending on what it is. Their website is a bit clunky. Once you choose a product you can choose the size of the packaging. One can buy in bulk and wholesale. I ordered over the phone. It was so much easier.

"Welcome to Just Tomatoes, Etc.! where our fruits and veggies are always in season. We Do Not Fool with Mother Nature...

Our products are exactly what they say they are - absolutely nothing has been added!

No Salt, No Sulfur, No Fat, No Sweeteners, No Preservatives It's the next best thing to eating out of your garden.

Our sliced dried tomatoes were our first product when we started our business 25 years ago. Our tomatoes are grown on our family farm in the fertile central valley of California. Many of our products come from neighboring farms.

Our Process
Just Tomatoes, Etc.! dehydrated fruits and vegetables are vine-ripened (or tree-ripened), hand-picked at peak condition, washed, cut and then placed in specially designed dehydrators and dried at low temperatures to preserve color, flavor and nutrients. Both dehydrated and freeze-dried products are an excellent source of nutrition.

This line of unique dried fruits and vegetables have been carefully selected and combined for your ultimate enjoyment... as great snacks and terrific ingredients for culinary treats.

We hope you enjoy and delight in our offerings."

They are a local business and I can buy their products in many stores here in snack sizes. I don't think they are the cheapest source for freeze dried and dehydrated fruit and veggies. The friend for whom I ordered is pleased with these products over others. They do have a recipe link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Just Tomatoes.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Thanks so much for the "Just Tomatoes" link. They offer some fun products. They are a bit expensive for large bulk food storage, at least for us, but I'm going to order a couple things...freeze-dried pommegranate seeds and freeze-dried red grapes as treats. I'll love the pommegranate seeds sprinkled on yogurt and I'll have to hide the grapes or they'll be gone in a flash! Fun stuff.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:40AM
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After I placed my order, I was browsing through their recipes and they've got some fun and different recipe ideas. First up is going to be a peanut butter and freeze-dried red grape sandwich on our homemade bread. P&J with a crunch! How good does that sound?!! :)

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Grainlady, I was thinking you have posted before the brand or source of your powdered milk. Can you repeat that information here, please?

I've copied and pasted this thread, and will continue to do so. It's quite useful and very helpful.

Thanks to all for your help.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Best flavor and the one I like to use for homemade kefir -

Grandma's Country Cream -

I purchase this in #10 cans (store the longest) as well as for everyday use in a 25# pail. This is an instant NON-fat milk powder and mixes with cold water. A #10 can = 20-quarts.

-Morning Moo's Whey-based Milk Substitute - good flavor, low lactose. Our lactose intolerant family members use this brand. You can find it at Augason Farms - I also purchase it through Sam's Club (on-line) and have it dropped shipped - often less expensive than ordering from Augason Farms. We love the chocolate flavor Moo's, it's my milk-loving hubby's favorite nightcap - we mix chocolate 50/50 with the white Moo's or it's too chocolatey for us. This is a NON-instant milk powder and must be mixed with hot water. A #10 can = just over 5-1/2 gallons. Best price per gallon of milk is when you purchase a 50# bag (I share one with a friend about once a year). We've used Morning Moo's for about 20-years and some version or other of whey-based milk and dried milk products since 1981.

You might enjoy the link below. I've tried, or have in storage, every milk product in this test.


Here is a link that might be useful: Great Powdered Milk Taste Test and Review

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:59PM
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We do a large food storage (1 year worth). I can and dehydrate...a lot! I supplement with couponing. We grow year round. We buy grain in bulk and grind it ourselves. We have a few chickens and barter for meat and goat's milk...then I coupon my butt off haha. I think if you are looking to cut corners to save money learning a back - to - basics lifestyle works well for us. We have one income and 5 kids. My children are unschooled so fashion is not really valued in our home ;) our kids help out with daily food prep, which includes homemade bread and greens from the hoophouse. My kids know how to can and dehydrate...even sew. All of this helps beyond food storage.

Thanks for letting me share :)


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:25AM
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How do you all store water? I don't much like the thought of water sitting for a very long time in those plastic gallon bottles.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:25AM
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And don't forget guns and ammunition.
In the event of a national catastrophe,
there will be hungry people that are
desperately looking for food, and if they
know you have some, they will do anything
they can to take it from you.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:28AM
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lbpod, shame on you!

I am not a survivalist living in a cave on 500 acres. I live in a village where I know most everybody. If someone is hungry and needs a meal, I'm glad to feed them if I can. We already give our local food bank a helping hand because many are already hungry. I am more concerned with life's personal emergencies than "national catastrophe". :)

CC, there are many safe ways to store water even for those living in smaller spaces.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:35AM
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As Tricia mentioned, there are many safe water storage methods. If you do nothing more than save fruit juice bottles or 2-liter soda/pop bottles, clean and fill them with tap water treated with unscented liquid bleach, that's a good start. You can store them behind your sofa, along the back of your closets....

Make sure you treat each bottle with the appropriate amount of unscented liquid bleach - which keeps algae from growing in the bottles and you will find those amounts in the link below from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

We have water stored in the basement in 3- and 5-gallon water bottles (PBA-free bottles are now available) and have added a few bottles each year. The 3-gallon bottles are on sturdy racks designed for storing three 5-gallon bottles each (we have 4 of these racks). There are shelves that hold the 3-gallon bottles (5 bottles per shelf), and I squeeze in recycled bottles anywhere possible. I prefer sizes I can easily handle, but there are water barrels available in a number of sizes (15- 30- and 55 gallons). There are plastic bladders available that fit under beds.

Some of our bottles are filled with tap water + bleach, and others are filled with water I distill at home. The distilled water is used in the humidifiers in the winter, so it's always rotated. I do renew the contents of the bottles on a regular basis. You can always filter your stored water if you are uncomfortable using it for drinking.

Avoid using recycled milk jugs. The plastic is actually fairly porous and can absorb odors or chemicals. This type of plastic is designed to degrade, so after being in storage you might find them leaking. Another problem with recycled milk jugs comes from the milk fat bonding with the plastic, and it's impossible to wash it out. The fat can go rancid during storage.

I would also avoid storing commercial bottled water because it hasn't been treated with bleach, so after awhile in storage you'll find it turns kinda "funky" smelling from algae growth. Store water in the dark.

We have a system of rain barrels outdoors for outdoor watering and when they are full we have 1,000 gallons of water - so that's another source for water in an emergency. Don't forget your hot water tank is a source in an emergency.

We have a method for filtering the rain water and can make it potable or purified for drinking. For drinking water we have a Berkey Water Filter, 1-gallon electric water distiller, and a non-electric water distiller, plus a couple different Katadyne water filters.

We've distilled or used a Berkey Water Filter for our home drinking water for nearly 3 decades - so this isn't a new process for us.


Here is a link that might be useful: Emergency Drinking Water Supplies

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:58PM
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Thank you for the information and the link. I find I can taste something in the bottled water we occasionally buy, something I believe is the plastic. We get the small bottles for car trips, and I always pour the water out of mine and fill it from the tap. I must check on the different types of plastic that can be used to store water.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 2:21PM
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We store emergency water in extra canning jars. Fill them from the tap, boiling water bath them for 20 minutes, and you're good to go. I'm storing my glass jars anyway so why not fill them up with something useful when there's no more produce to can? They're not taking up any more room LOL.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:11PM
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you do not need to use bleach if you are filling with tap water if your state treats your water with chlorine. filling juice bottles and 2 liters is what I do and I store them just under my sink and they will stay for years although I do change mine out yrly. if the water taste "stale" just puring it a few times will add back in the oxygen that makes it taste like water. a really good book for this is Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis by Peggy Layton. She explains all about how to store water with your food storage and how to use your food storage with everyday meal plans on a budget. It was the first book I ever bought on the subject and still use it a lot. I would google "urban homesteading." Urban homesteaders live a back to basic lifestyle some are also called homestead preppers.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:46AM
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Thanks again for all the information. I'm going to check out all the websites, and look for the books.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:35AM
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At the link below you will find instructions for boiling water bath processing of drinking water. It does not require the addition of bleach and results in a bacteriologically safe product with an indefinite shelf life.


Here is a link that might be useful: Canning Drinking Water

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:45AM
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I keep reading the title of this thread as "Getting started on food shortage" and I open it to add my condolences, maybe offer to send a fruitcake. Then I see what the topic really is. My condolences. Would you like a fruitcake?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:26PM
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No condolences necessary. I don't know about the others who contributed to this thread, but I already have the ingredients in STORAGE with which to make fruitcake ('tis the season after all), and know of no SHORTAGES. Or perhaps you prefer a less threatening phrase like "at-the-ready". I am, however, very sorry the information shared seems to insult your sensibilities somehow. That, indeed, is very sad.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 6:56AM
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If you anticiapte a long term water shortage is a possibility, a DIY solar distiller is very practical.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 7:51AM
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Ditto what grainlady said & I also have the ingredients for fruitcake in STORAGE.

The organic apples here are terrible this year because of a late freeze and a nasty July hail storm. Whatever good local ones I can find are expensive & I don't want to trapse all over the state searching. Darn, I really like good apple pie. What to do, what to do??? Oh, that's right - I had the foresight to plan ahead in case something like this happened. I've got those delicious apples in STORAGE at much lesser cost than this year's crop.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:05AM
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Don't worry, John, I laughed, even though I am somewhat interested in the topic. (Which is why I keep coming back to read.)

Tricia - Is that a general statement about this year's apple crop? My daughter went apple picking yesterday with her kindergarten class and what she came home with are horrible, mushy apples. I'll probably use them for cooking or baking something that she'll like, but they're not edible raw.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:21AM
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No, it's reality this year unfortunately. I tried about a month ago to buy organic apples but they were terrible and I just made some applesauce and packaged for short-term use in muffins, quick breads, etc. Organics are always MUCH less common and more expensive but this year's crop just isn't worth buying. Remember those July storms? The crop looks like Nellis AFR in Nevada near where I lived as a kid. Craters everywhere! :) So, this year I'm going to use the freeze-dried organic apples I squirreled away for such events that I can't predict.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:34AM
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John, I thought what you said was funny, and I laughed, too, which, I'm sure was your intent. I've misread many a title here. But no thank you, John, I'll pass on the fruitcake. Too many carbs, you know.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 9:41AM
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I also thought it was funny and I'm one who actually stores quite a lot, although it's not for any reason other than I like to know what I'm eating so I grow it and can it myself.

Can't stand fruitcake, though, that nasty candied citron makes me shudder and I'm too lazy to candy my own fruit, so thanks anyway. (grin)

I also have dried apples that I can use, we had a bumper crop last year, also some frozen cider left for brining pork loin. Funny about apples, though, I'm relatively apathetic, apple pie certainly is not my favorite. Instead, I mourned over the loss of the cherry crop here, though I have some still in the freezer. I eat them fresh by the bowlful when they're ripe here but any local cherries this year were $6 a pound. Nope, don't like them that much....


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 2:51PM
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When I get around to making a pie with the freeze-dried apples, I'll post a picture so everybody can see the difference from dehydrated. It's remarkable.

We're busy this afternoon making crab-stuffed shells for the freezer. Filling is made, sauce is simmering, pasta water is on to boil. We'll assembly line it and make 4 trays plus dinner tonight. Sounds good to me...haven't had them in a couple years.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Tricia, I don't even care for fresh apples all that much, so the difference between freeze dried and dehydrated would make little impact on my choice. (shrug) I like pears better, thankfully they are equally nutritious. Actually, I'm not wild for fruit, I like vegetables better. Yeah, I know, I'm odd...

Since I've never learned to cook for one or two, I often make extra and freeze it. My stepmother is often the recipient, as are my girls. Yesterday I put 6 pints of Ann T's green stacked enchilada sauce in the freezer, minus the cream. We'll see how it freezes, but the remainder that remained unfrozen will be tonight's supper, along with a vegetarian chili that Elery is making from Cook's Illustrated.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 3:26PM
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I got the first of several packages of "stuff" I ordered. Some freeze-dried fruits, sour cream powder, & peanut butter powder. I already have tomato powder & butter powder. Now I've got some questions:

Do you happen to have a recipe for "instant" cream of tomato soup using tomato powder?

Same question but for "instant" cream of mushroom soup. I bought some freeze dried mushrooms.

I'm not much of a dessert maker, and anything that requires creaming butter is almost certainly crossed off my list. If I wanted to use powdered butter in a coffee cake, muffin, or snack cake type application, would I need to reconstitute it first?

Finally, I saw some Bob's Red Mill "Sweet Dairy Whey" at Whole Foods yesterday. I was sorely tempted to buy it, but I have no idea how I would use it. The package info says it's good in baked goods, and the website's recipes are for baked good too. But I couldn't quite figure out if it was being used as a substitute for fat or sweetener. Is it similar enough to the typical protein powder that it could be used in smoothies? Just curious...


Here is a link that might be useful: Bob's Red Mill Sweet Dairy Whey

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 7:27PM
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The only things I'll add is if you're just starting, try not to be overwhelmed and don't be intimidated. It's taken Grainlady a lifetime to learn everything she knows and develop her system - a system that works for her. Yours will likely be different. I'd be amazed if it wasn't.

Then, start slow. I think everyone who wants money should make/use a price book unless you have a good memory. Start monitoring and learning prices on 5 or 10 or 20 prices. One or two is a start. Then you won't be fooled by the endcap "sales" that aren't a good deal.

Be creative in storing. You don't need a warehouse. You have space under a bed? In the basement? Garage? It doesn't have to be right in the kitchen, especially for longer term storage.

Last suggestion, I highly recommend the Tightwad Gazette books for learning. I'm not saying you should do everything she does or even her recipes necessarily. But reading these books help you get the mindset on a goal. Your goal will be different than hers. It's light reading and fun reading. You can pick it up and continue at any time. There's lots of great resources.

Well, ok, one more suggestion: Keep a pen/pencil and paper with you at all times or as I do now, a digital recorder. When I'm out and see things, I note prices, AND SIZES (they can fool you) and include them in my price notes.

Good luck. And have fun with it.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:38PM
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If you like, and normally use, Condensed Canned Soup, you should include them in your food storage rather than trying to replicate it. Condensed soups are common food storage items and used in lots of food storage recipes.

However, if you are trying to avoid the high-sodium content and "odd-ball" ingredients found in most commercial canned soup, or want a reasonable substitute from storage ingredients, then there are recipes you may want to try - just don't expect the same thing (taste-wise) as Campbell's Soup. There is a number of Cream of _______ Soup base mixes to choose from if you are trying to avoid canned soups (see the link below). Augason Farms even has a #10 can of soup base, which is probably similar to what we make in our mixes.

Creamed soups are really nothing more than white sauce plus added ingredients like chicken and bouillon, cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, etc. - just like we learned to make in Home Economics all those years ago. We've just gotten out of the habit of making it from scratch and reach for a can of soup instead.

I like to use "Magic Mix" (a mix developed by the Utah State Extension Service), and I use the gluten-free version that uses cornstarch instead of all-purpose flour. I use cornstarch because I don't store all-purpose flour, but I DO store cornstarch - which has a long shelf-life. I also use coconut oil instead of butter called for in the recipe so it's shelf-stable and doesn't require any refrigeration.

2-1/3 c. dry NON-instant powdererd milk* (I use Morning Moo's Whey-based Milk Substitute)
1 c. all-purpose flour, OR 1/2 c. cornstarch
1 c. butter, at room temperature (I use LouAna Coconut Oil)

Combine dry milk, flour or cornstarch, and butter into a large bowl. Mix with electric hand mixer until it looks like cornmeal. Keep mix tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 8-months. Yield: 5-cups.

*If all you have available to you is INSTANT non-fat dry milk, you can blend the dry milk powder until it's a fine powder, and then it will measure the same as NON-instant dry milk powder.

To make Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup:
1 c. Magic Mix
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 t. dried parsley flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine Magic Mix and diced tomatoes. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Blend in blender until smooth. Serve immediately, or use in any recipe calling for canned cream of tomato soup.

Cream of Mushroom Soup - using Magic Mix
1 c. Magic Mix
1 can (4-5 oz.) can mushroom pieces and stems, undrained (you can also use rehydrated freeze-dried or dehydrated mushrooms + the water used to rehydrate them
1/4 c. water
2 drops Kitchen Bouquet (optional, for color only)
dash onion salt
dash pepper

Combine Magic Mix, mushrooms and liquid, and water. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Add Kitchen Bouquet, onion salt, and pepper. Use in any recipe calling for canned cream of mushroom soup.

Other recipes using Magic Mix found in the book - "I Can't Believe It's Food Storage" by Crystal Godfrey...
-Pesto Alfredo Sauce
-Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
-Condensed Cream of Broccoli Soup
-Condensed Cream of Celery Soup
-Magic Mix Gravy
-Magic Mix Fudgsicles
-Magic Mix Pudding
-Magic Mix White Sauce

Recipe found on\-line. 

Tomato Soup Mix \- Single Serving   
by: Budget101 

4 T. Non\-fat dry milk   
2 T. Powdered dry tomatoes (you may want to start with 1 T. and add more if needed)   
1/8 t. Basil   
Salt , Dash   
Pepper, Dash   
Measure all into jar or ziploc bag, shake to combine. 

Add mix to 1 Mug of Hot water, stir, let set 2 minutes, enjoy.   

(source: Jan's Fabulous Food Storage Recipes - Converting Stored Foods into Useable Meals - by Jan LeBaron)

3 T. dehydrated chopped onions
1 t. dried garlic granules
1 t. dried basil
1 c. tomato powder
4 c. water
1 c. diced freeze-dried tomatoes (optional)

In a large pan add 4 c. water, bring water to boil, lower heat and then add garlic granules, basil, whisk in tomato powder until smooth, if you are adding tomatoes dices add last 5-6 minutes.

(source: "Use It or Lose It" (food storage cooking school) \- by Rebecca Low and Deloy Hendricks \- Utah State University Extension) 

2 c. INSTANT dry milk (or 1\-1/4 c. NON\-instant)   
3/4 c. cornstarch   
1/4 c. chicken bouillon granules   
2 T. onion flakes (dried)   
1 t. basil (dried)   
1 t. thyme (dried)   
1/2 t. pepper   
Combine all ingredients and mix. Store in air tight container until ready to use. Equivalent to 9 cans of cream soup. 

To substitute for 1 can condensed soup:   
Combine 1/3 c. dry mix (use 1/4 c. if made with NON\-instant dry milk) and 1\-1/4 c. cool water or liquid from vegetables. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened. Add thickened mixture to casseroles as you would a can of soup. 

Do a search and you will find many more recipes on\-line for creamed soup substitute mixes to try.   

Powered butter can be reconstituted to make a spread, and I add a little coconut oil to it to add back some fat. When used in baking it is not necessary to reconstitute. Simply add it to your dry ingredients and increase the liquid the amount it would take to reconstitute.

For home food storage I prefer coconut oil for cooking and baking to powdered butter, and that's the main source of fat I store. I store some powdered butter, but I only occasionally rotate it into the pantry and use it mostly for homemade mixes and baking. I also store grass-fed organic ghee (mostly for it's nutrition) and commercially canned butter (Red Feather Pure Canned Butter).
Sweet Dairy Whey-

I worked with Sweet Dairy Whey years ago as a substitute for some of the sugar in recipes. I've never used it since..... I do, however, store and use whey protein powder (and as you suspected, they are not the same thing). I often increase the protein profile of baked goods and snacks by adding protein powder - especially when we have a vegetarian day. I also use a whey-based milk substitute (Morning Moo's) which has a shortening-like effect on baked goods, so you can often use less fat in a recipe. I've made low-carb cream cheese frosting using Morning Moo's powder instead of powdered sugar and sweetened it with a little agave nectar or stevia.


Here is a link that might be useful: Making Magic Mixes

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Grainlady, thanks for your help. I'm not so much planning a food storage program as trying to get some convenience mixes in my pantry for those days when I'm not feeling well enough to cook much. And as everyone knows, the convenience products available in local grocery stores are filled with weird ingredients, are too salty for my use, and often simply do not taste that good.

My interest in the so-called "instant" or near-instant soups is to help both me and my husband get past the mid-afternoon doldrums that always hit us. I don't do well with sweet snacks nor do I enjoy creamy sweet drinks like smoothies or even fruit flavored yogurts. But I enjoy broth-type soups or creamy soups. That's why I'm really interested in the Magic-Mix soup recipes you've listed above.

I've already started making "instant" potato soup with dried mashed potato flakes. I know it doesn't compare to "the real thing," but it helps me get past the late afternoon doldrums. The advantage is that it's shelf-stable so I don't have to worry about refrigeration or freezing it in individual portions. For some reason, my husband has always liked canned cream of mushroom soup as a soup. So I thought he might enjoy a homemade Mushroom Cup-O-Soup.

I've ordered some black bean and green pea flour from Bob's Red Mill with the hopes of perfecting instant bean soups. I also ordered a couple of the books you suggested and will probably spend much of the winter experimenting with homemade mixes of all sorts. Unlike me, my husband likes smoothies every once in a while, so I'm sure he'll enjoy adding some peanut butter powder to his concoctions. I followed the recipe for homemade coffee creamer powder and have been using it every evening with my nightly cup of decaf. The coconut oil does give it the mouth-feel of powdered creamer. It's not perfect but close enough. It's another project for experimentation.

Anyhow, thanks for your help. I'll probably have plenty more questions as my purchases start coming in.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 5:58PM
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I mill my own beans and peas into flour to make "instant" refried beans and "instant" soup mixes (recipes found in "Country Beans" by Rita Bingham). Make "instant" split pea soup really thick, add some seasonings or even some salsa, and use it as a spread on crackers.

I made almond milk Friday and added coconut oil to it (BTW, inspired by your powdered milk "creamer" recipe) and thought it was a lot smoother and it could also be used for a dairy-free creamer. I'm trying out recipes using the almond pulp (both damp and dried) remaining after you strain the almond milk, and made spicy crackers and dehydrated them. A nice high-protein, low-carb snack. Next time I'll make something similar to graham crackers from the pulp. I finally put pencil to paper - I can save money making my own almond flour instead of buying it from Honeyville Grain - plus the 3-4 cups of almond milk I get from 1-cup of almonds.

How about small pancakes (pikelets) topped with peanut butter or applesauce as a snack. This recipe makes 6 small pancakes, enough for breakfast and reheated for a snack. They freeze well.

In a small bowl (I use my 2-cup glass measuring cup for easy pouring) mix: 1/2 c. oatmeal and 1/3 c. buttermilk (I use homemade kefir). Cover the container and let sit overnight (room temperature or in the refrigerator - your choice).

The next morning add:
3 T. whey protein powder OR hi-maize flour
1 T. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
[I mix the dry ingredients in a small container the night before to save time.]
1 T. melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 egg


    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Grainlady, I've saved your bean flour recipes for instant bean soups and refried beans. Bob's Red Mill has a few recipes too, so I'll be trying all of them. It's funny that you should suggest using thick split pea soup as a spread. When I was teaching, one of my favorite lunches was Rye Crisp crackers and the split pea spread from Laurel's Kitchen. That was definitely on my mind when I ordered the green pea flour.

Thanks for the recipe. Along a similar line, I make either whole wheat or cornmeal waffles regularly. We never eat them freshly made though -- only frozen. My husband likes them toasted with peanut butter & jam for breakfast. I like them just plain, eaten out of hand. I grab one when I'm heading out in the morning and know I need something quick.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Thanks again for all the answers, and additional good questions, everyone. I'm saving all this information.

I used to subscribe to Tightwad Gazette, and had her books, which were a reprint of the newsletter. I gave them all away to people I thought could use them. I loved them, but had to make space. I wouldn't mind re-reading them, just as reminders. I wonder what she's up to now.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 9:48AM
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There was discussion in 2008 (I believe it was in Money Saving Tips) about "The Frugal Zealot" - Amy Dacyczyn. "The Simple Dollar" did an interview with her and the link for the interview is below.

I still read the books at least once a year. Sure, some of the tips are rather out-dated, but there is still plenty of information and inspiration in them.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Simple Dollar - Interview

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Fantastic thread! So much info I'm going to be studying it and following links for a few days.
Many thanks ladies. I'll be back :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:34AM
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This is such a good thread that I thought I'd do the bumpity bump up for it.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 6:19PM
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