Monthly Archives: September 2013

grain storage

Let’s begin this section of food storage by talking about grain. Grain includes wheat, barley, rice, corn, oats and pastas. Of these, it is suggested you store 400 pounds per person per year.  When you consider children, it is best if you go ahead and count them as adults, because how old will they be when something happens and you need to be able to feed them.  Also if they are still young then this will just give you more food that you could share with someone else. This 400 pounds is a total of all of the different types of grains per person, not of each grain.  If you do not like wheat then you need to add more pounds to the other grains that you do like. Or if you are allergic to rice then you need to add to the other grains to make up the 400 pounds without rice.  Wheat is the way that you store flour for long term usage. You can store some flour; it just does not last as long as whole wheat does. Researchers have actually taken wheat from the pyramids and have sprouted it and it grew. That is how long it will last.  Also you can not store cornmeal very long either, so you store whole corn. Oats are also stored whole and you can roll those to make oatmeal. I have stored oatmeal for over 10 years in cans and pop bottles with no spoilage, but if you need to store for longer than that store it as whole oats. The added advantage to storing whole grains is that you can use some of it to grow more. Also, whole grains can be made more nutritious by sprouting as discussed earlier. Pastas last for years but you can make pasta also. There is a non electric machine that will make pastas pretty easily. And there is a roller for the oats to make oatmeal, or wheat meal too. You can also make rice flour and barley flour. You can also store other grains that are more of a specialty item such as buckwheat, spelt, rye, Amaranth, quinoa and flax.  There are some others but you get the picture. This is all you choice as to what type of grains you want to store and how much you want to pay for it.

Along with this grain you will also need a grain grinder. Grinders come in many sizes and electric or not electric. And yes, if you have no power you will need a non electric grinder, however, if you will be using the grain now [which you should be] before anything happens an electric one sure would be nice.  For smaller amounts you can also use your blender but wheat and especially corn is tough on a blender and if you are using the blender on a daily basis it may not last very long.  You can purchase blenders pretty inexpensively at garage sales but then you have to find them first. I have also used coffee grinders, they work pretty well because coffee beans are tough also and the coffee grinders are made for daily grinding of the beans. But grinders do work the best and most are not that expensive. I have seen non electric grinders for as little as $21.70 through Amazon and as much as $200-$300 for an electric. And they are all good; it is just what type of grinder you will be using and how much you want to pay.  Some of the manual grinders can also be turned into electric with an extra few parts.

Also along with the grain you will need yeast, baking powder, baking soda and spices. I have said in another blog that yeast does not last a real long time.  You will need to go to unleavened bread aka tortillas or sourdough bread. Shelf life is 18 month for baking powder and 2 years for baking soda according to ‘the book’. How long you store is up to you. The amount you put up of these items will depend on how much you will bake bread and cakes.

Spices are another matter.  Spices will really help make plain food taste different.  Depending on the different type of food that you have in your storage spices will change it us and help make it more palatable. Also spices can be used as trade goods. If you have any questions about how much people will pay for spices, research the spice trade.

Seed storage

Your food storage should include seed storage and not just any seeds, but heirloom seeds.  Most of the seeds that are out there in our favorite box stores are hybrid seeds, which means that if you keep the seeds from year to year you will not always have the same kind of plant produced true to the parent plant. Only heirloom seeds are true to being able to keep the same product year to year when you save the seeds.  They produce hybrid seeds so that you have to buy seeds every year to keep the seed companies in business. And if a disaster is one that there will not be any seed companies afterward then you will not be able to replace the seeds.  Heirloom seeds are slightly higher priced in the beginning to purchase, but they will save you money later because you can save the seeds from your plant and grow year after year. It is best to start the process of growing plants early long before you have to, because you will learn by making  mistakes or the weather will not cooperate and you won’t be able to harvest or gather seeds. It takes practice and work to save seeds and mark them, so start now. Also go out into the forest and if you see a plant that you like take a cutting off or take a seed pod from the plant and try to grow in your yard, AKA wildcrafting. Look up plants in your area that you can eat and get cuttings or seed pods from them and save the information on your computer or on paper in a notebook. Also you will need seeds for spices and seeds for herbs for healing, not to mention any flowers that you want to save.  There are some flowers that you can consume and add to soups or salads like calendula and nasturtiums.

You can store seeds up in jars, plastic bags, Mylar bags or paper bags. Just make sure you let them dry well before you put them up so that they don’t mold.  This saves money on the seeds that you store.  There are a few large seed storage banks, one in Greenland and another in Norway that I have heard of that are trying to save all the different types of heirloom seed in the world. This is one of an estimated 1400 seed banks around the world that collect seed and store them. The largest is the one in a NorwegianIsland just 700 miles from the North Pole.  They claim to be able to hold 4.5 million samples and the building is suppose to be earthquake and flood safe. You can go to Wikipedia: Svalbard Global Seed Vault to read about it.  You can also go to to read about saving seeds. You can get some heirloom seeds from your local big box store and you can also purchase heirloom seeds from a variety of nurseries such as,,,, are just a few. There is also a , and to name but a few that focus on veggie gardening instead of flowers.

Some survival seed companies offer a package deal and offer a variety of seeds to be able to start a garden after a disaster. I prefer to pick my own seeds so I can get the variety that I want, it may be a little bit more expensive, but you can take more time to purchase them and know that they are right for your climate.  I take like $20.00 a month and go online and purchase that amount of seeds, then the next month I do the same.  Don’t forget to purchase spices and herb seeds also, this will make your food storage taste better by having spices to change up the flavor of the food.

800 year old seeds found! STILL viable ;]

New link added 2016-11-28


When you hear the words “bean sprouts”, what picture comes to mind?  If it is the white bean sprout you buy at the store to use in Chinese or Japanese cooking, that is normal, as it is all that most of us have seen. These white sprouts are made from the Mung bean and are grown in darkness. But all bean sprouts are not created equal. You can have yellow or green sprouts depending on the bean or pea that you use and how much sunlight you expose the sprouts to. You can sprout all kinds of dry beans such as pinto, black, kidney and navy.  You can also use peas such as black-eyed peas or the green English peas, grains such as alfalfa, wheat and sunflower seeds. Mustard, Radish, Almonds also make good sprouts.  Bean sprouts are a food rich in amino acids (proteins), vitamins and minerals, and fiber.  The vitamins that are in bean sprouts are all types (A, B, C, D, E, and K). Folic acid along with minerals iron, potassium, copper, selenium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Sprouts, being alive have needed enzymes too. I bring up bean sprouts because with long term food storage you may not get the required vitamins you need, but when you add the bean sprouts to your diet it makes your diet more complete and nutritious than without them. Have you ever heard of scurvy? It is what the sailors use to get when they were out on the ships for months or a year at a time. By 10 weeks their stores of Vitamin C in their bodies had been depleted and they would start showing signs of scurvy. They did not have fresh fruits or veggies and had never heard of sprouting. By 10 weeks all of the fresh fruits and veggies would either be eaten or moldy. And scurvy was a fatal disease.  As time progressed the sailors did learn about citrus fruit juices and started stocking that which helped treat scurvy. The English often stocked lime juice and from that we get the term ‘limeys’.

Bean sprouts have a crunchy texture and a nutty flavor.  They can be put in salads, on sandwiches, in soups and in stir fry or you can add them to breads. For best results eat the sprouts raw.

This will add freshness to your food storage and variety to your meals, plus many of the all necessary vitamins you need.

It takes about 1 week to sprout beans to the size that you will want to use.  But then they need to be eaten rather quickly to avoid mold.  So it is best that you grow in small portions and start at various times in rotation.  You have to have a bottle or a tray that is just started and then in 3 days start another and in 3 more days start another.  By the time you start the 3rd tray the first should be eaten. Plan on using about 1 to 2 ounces dry weight per day per person, start with less and see how well they get consumed.

Sprouting trays and jars can be bought as a special purpose item. Or you can re-purpose items. What you are looking for is a container which will hold water [and the seeds] to soak them at the beginning AND such that you can drain the water out, reserving the sprouts along with letting air circulate too. Do not discard the sprout water! Instead use it to water your plants or for use in soups and stews OR as the basis for drinks.

How to Store Food Safely part 4

Fruit is an important part of your diet, remember the sailors who had scurvy when they were on the ships for long periods of time.  They found out that they needed fruit to keep them healthy.  That is an easy fix if you have grocery stores or live in California or Florida. Or if you were smart enough to have planted an orchard.  So, there are freeze dried fruit that will last the longest, but you can purchase some dried fruit from the store that will last for quite a while.  I have also dried fruit myself on an electric food dryer.  You can also make solar or air dryers that can be quite large.  If you have a garden this might solve a big problem with the ability to dry your own veggies and put them up. Sprouts also help prevent scurvy.

Beans become an important part of your protein when you don’t have meat put up and there are lots of different types of dried beans that you can get at the grocery store.  Again if your children do not like beans, start introducing them now, change up often until you find a way that they like them.  We have put soy sauce, salsa and butter on them to change up the flavor, and of course there are lots of different types of spices.

Canned meat will last for a while and then there is dehydrated or freeze dried meat, but this gets expensive. If you can cook a little bit of meat in with pasta, rice or potatoes then it will make the meat go farther.  You can can your own meat using a pressure cooker. And you can find lots of canning jars at garage and estate sales.  If you don’t already know how to use or have a canner, it would be a good thing to have because you can use it on an open fire and can meat if you get a large animal and need to put it up.  Look at what you have in the freezer right now, what would happen if the electricity went out suddenly.  If you did not have a way to put the meat up then it would probably spoil before you could eat all of it up. Pressure cookers also save energy and shorten cooking times. See post on autoclaves.

Getting chicken and beef bouillon cubes, being able to make gravies, having spices to change the flavor up are all extremely important when storing food for any type of disaster.   The difference between a disaster and an inconvenience is which side of the conversation you are on.

How to Store Food Safely part 3

Dried potatoes come in flakes, sliced and pearls. Your family may not like flakes, but if they don’t have fresh then they probably will eat flakes if you add things to it.  If you use can chicken stock instead of water or add powdered butter to them and put spices on them and they will taste almost just like real potatoes. A variation is powdered ranch dressing or cheese. They can be put up the same way that rice is. One lbs of dry potatoes is equal to about 10 lbs of fresh and you do not have to worry as much about spoilage.

On eggs, you can break them into a bowl, lightly salt, stir and place in ice cube trays to freeze. After they are frozen you can place into plastic bags, double bagged is best and put back into freezer.  These will last for a few months. If you are concerned about the power going off, you need to look at either having chickens or getting powder eggs.  Again, they won’t taste like the fresh but if you make them into omelets then they will taste fine.  On any of this if your children do not like say omelets, start getting them use to it by adding bacon and cheese and work up to more veggies. Also, if you can purchase some powder eggs soon and start getting them use to it, powdered milk would be the same.  One thing about powdered and dried food, you don’t have to worry about spoilage of fresh and having to throw something out. Also you are not taking up space by storing egg shells or orange peels, etc.

On flour, cake mixes, cornmeal, pancake mix, and things like this, there are fats in the mix and flour and they will not store long without refrigeration. Instead you will need to find whole wheat, barley and rye, whatever you use to make bread. This can be stored like the rice, you can even take and put the whole wheat in a non-garbage bag liner and put in a large, new plastic garbage can on rollers preferably so you can move it around to where you will be cooking. Baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch will be needed if you bake. Yeast does not last too long, only about a year if you have it in a refrigerator. So, look into making sourdough for your bread, it lasts longer than yeast.

With sugar, as long as it is kept clean and dry, it is supposed to have an indefinite shelf life. If you want brown sugar just add molasses to white sugar, because brown sugar will not last as long. You can also put up honey. Molasses does have a long shelf life, however, again if it changes color, has a different odor, has mold or taste different throw it out. Molasses would be good to have for cookies (comfort food for children).

Oil will not last long either, without refrigeration and in air tight containers. There is shortening and butter or margarine powder that can be purchased for longer storage time. Also there is baking cocoa, dough enhancer, buttermilk powder, cottage cheese and sour cream. There is also freeze dried cheeses, yogurt bites and even ice cream bars.

How to Store Food Safely part 2

Of course milk does not last very long and when frozen the water content starts separating, so powdered milk becomes the food storage of choice.  When you have refrigeration if you mix the powdered milk with warm water, mix well and refrigerate by the next morning it will taste better than just made.  Our children also liked it if we used chocolate or strawberry powder mix to add to the milk, it makes it taste better than just plain. Depending on where you get it, milk usually comes in a box which is not safe to leave in very long as it reacts with air and can attract insects and mice. We are a firm believer in 2 liter plastic bottles, especially if you like to drink pop or ready-made juices.  You can store milk safely in 2 liter plastic bottles for quite a while, we have had some that have been stored for up to 10 years and the milk is still okay to drink. You can also put up in #2.5 or #10 cans if you have a canner available.  Masson or ball jars work well too.

It is nice when you have only water to drink if you have some powdered Kool-Aid, lemonade or tea (black, green or herbal) to go along with it for the children as well as adults. Don’t think that you won’t need it too add variety. These can be purchased on sale for a reasonable price and should last for quite some time.  If you get the kind that is already in the small plastic bottle with a measuring cup as the lid, they will store safely that way for quite a while.

Okay, now let’s talk about pasta.  On dried products they last a long time, we have some that have been in 2 liter pop bottles for 10+ years and when we moved to a lower altitude they crunched in some.  But that was fine, it means the seal is good and that was just a 2 liter pop bottle that we drank out of, washed and let dry for a few days and then put the pasta in and tightened the cap back on as tight as we could by hand.  Even spaghetti can go into 2 liter pop bottles. Make sure that you have a variety of kinds of pasta, of course spaghetti & macaroni and cheese are favorite comfort foods and are good to have lots on hand.  But there is also a twist kind of pasta that is made out of veggies that adds to your healthy eating.

Rice is a big one for us, we love it and eat rice probably 3 to 4 times a week.  Rice can be put up in 2 liter pop bottles or cans or Mylar bags which are the foil type bags that you heat seal. Another way you can put up rice is by putting it in zip lock bags and then placing them into a clean bucket.  We have bought buckets at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc and have successfully used them for years and have not had any problem with spoilage, also it helps keep the mice out.

How to Store Food Safely part 1

Okay now as you start purchasing the food that you are going to keep for years how do you store it.  For the #2.5 cans for the most part can just be placed into your food storage as they are. You do need to date them with a permanent marker with at least the year on them. We like to put the year and month that we purchase them. But you need to remember the cans went through being packaged and shipped to the warehouse, then probably shipped again to the store. How long did that take before you purchased the can? There are a few products that are canned that do not last very long one being green beans, and the other is anything with tomato sauce in it. Tomatoes are very acidy and will destroy the can if left in too long. Once you mark the date on the can, make sure that you rotate them so that you use the oldest first.

Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, barbeque or cocktail sauce and salad dressings don’t last very long. Look at the expiration date, this is what by law the manufactures have to say the earliest possible spoilage. The other things that make a difference is the  1)temperature at which it is stored, 2)light from outside or fluorescent lighting and 3)humidity. If the color starts changing, if the odor is different, if the ingredients start separating, these are all things to watch for. It would be best to put those products into active use and maybe consider reducing the stock level of that particular item because you are not using it fast enough. This is where you will need to look for powdered replacements for the long run.  All of these have fats in them that will turn rancid and there is nothing worse than to have lots stored up and you open one up to find it bad and the rest are the same way.  There is some money down the drain. [There IS a use for spoiled food that we can talk about later] Mayonnaise and salad dressings are made with powdered eggs and or powdered milk and ketchup, barbeque or cocktail sauce are made with powdered tomato sauce. You might want to get some powdered eggs, milk and tomato sauce to try some before you have to make it or have none.

On to A-1, Soy Sauce, Worchester Sauce and such unopened according to manufacturer has an expiration date of 2-3 years, if stored in cool, dry, dark place. However, it can change color or have an odor to it. So use your own best judgment. These can add flavor to dishes.  When you cook the same things over and over spices began to become very important in changing the taste of food and making it different, which is good.

Rodents chew

A while back a friend, Cindy, discovered the mice / rats had chewed through several of her plastic and cardboard food containers. The rats had even chewed up her stash of bar soap! ‘Why would they eat soap?’

Rodents chew… it does not have to be food that they chew on, wood or soap, they just crew on anything regardless, even if they can not smell food on or in the object.

The best thing to do, is store your provisions and supplies in metal containers. Metal trash cans and wall lockers work well. Number 10 cans stack well and are hard for rats to chew through. The next best would be expanded metal lined walls configured such that the rat would have to chew through the mesh before they got to the wood structure of your stage closet. Yes, I know that is not practical. Another design is to have a room made of concrete or cement blocks and a well fitting metal door. While that would be nice on several levels, but most homes are just not made that way.

The most practical thing to do is keep the pantry area clean and tidy without hiding spots. Outside keep the grass cut and the hedge trimmed to limit hiding spots. Have a couple of cats around. Keep them well enough fed so they are tame and friendly with you, yet hungry enough so if one of those little varmints comes around that the cat will eat them.  If for whatever reason you don’t have pets [or if they will not hunt] you will have to rely on traps baited with peanut butter or poisons.   I don’t like poisons because pets, kids or adults may get a hold of some and that is just not a good idea. If you go the trap or poison route, I would wait to deploy it until you see sign of rats in the area.

So what system do we use? In our long term, dry pack, area we use #10 cans because they stack and travel well. Of course we have standard wet pack cans and jars too. In the semi active area we do make use of Mylar, 2 L coke bottles, other plastic and the store package it came in. All of it is either in cabinets or on metal shelves. So far we have not had any issues with varmints.

A side issue along these lines is to keep several rat sized traps on hand to supplement your food supply.  In many areas of the world rat meat is a staple in the diet. ;] As far as placement goes, place the traps near the wall as mice and rats travel along it. The traps do need a small modification that you have to make is to add either an eye or a hole to secure the trap to a heavy object so that if the rat, squirrel or prairie dog can not drag it off if the trap does not kill it outright OR so that another animal can not drag your trap off so you lose it. NOTE: while the system of  LAWS that we live under are still in effect fish and game enforcement officers, AKA game wardens, can arrest you if you trap anything other than mice and rats – YOU are responsible for staying within the laws of your land.

September 11th revisited

I remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. We were on our way to the office and had just got to the building, when Paul, the elevator operator (and yes it is the only people operated elevator left in the state) told us about the twin towers asked us if we were ready to go to war. Paul was a military veteran like most of us in the group. I remember watching about it all day and even into the night and could not believe my eyes. I sat there and could not move for hours. How could this happen in the United States?  We were attacked once before in 1993, however, this was not publicized as well as this time. We were watching it happen in real time and no one could stop it.  And then to find out that the Pentagon was also attacked and that another plane was suppose to attack the White House, but got stopped by civilians on flight 93. These were such brave people. What would we do if we were in a situation like this? Would we be willing to sacrifice our lives especially if we knew we were going to die either way? Will we at one time in our lives have to decide this?

We were always safe in our own country and on our own soil. Then you get to thinking are they through? Is something else going to happen?  At first it was like a nightmare. Was I still sleeping? No, I was among the millions who were in a state of shock.  It took days, even weeks to get back to what was normal.  Or will we ever be normal again? Even today I remember it vividly; still it is difficult on the emotions to remember.  Then all planes stop flying except military for 3 days.  When they started flying again I noticed I watched them carefully, to make sure they were not going to crash. I was even a prepper back then (or so I thought, but I did not have the mentality of a prepper) and still could not believe our country could be attacked and by our own planes. Of course the news did not help with playing the footage over and over.  It brought memories back to Waco and what I remembered about when the tank went through the wall. We were watching it in real time, and again no one stopped it, it felt like a movie.

There are many theories about what actually happened at the TwinTowers, however the fact is we were attacked either from without or from within.  Either way, it happened and 3,000 people died all told, Including 340 Firefighters and 23 police officers.  Our mental attitude needs to change if we are to survive what is to come. Whether it be a job loss or a nuclear attack. That mental attitude, our fight or flight needs to be trained. We will discuss this on another blog. On this day remember the sights and sounds that you saw and heard that day.  Remember how you felt, where you frozen in fear? Even though something happens clear across the country does that mean nothing can happen throughout the rest of the country at the same time?  Do you remember Red Dawn, it happened all over the country at the same time. Right now be happy this is still a free country and honor those who gave their lives, that others might be saved. Honor those who were just doing their job. But in the back of your mind keep track of all of this for in the next few days we will talk about the mental attitude of disasters.

Please share your recollections of 12 years ago and how you coped and are copping today.

And, please remember the families of those we lost that day [and a year ago too] along with our military men and women in our prayers.

How to Start a Food Storage Program

Most preparedness people say to start with an inventory of what provisions you already have. For some people this first step is so overwhelming that they stop right there and will not go any further. So I’m going to say if you want to start with an inventory great, however, if that is too overwhelming to you then just go on to the next step and start your inventory from what you buy from this point on. Now, on the topic of an inventory the best three ways I have heard of are:

1)      Index cards so you can write on them when you purchase and use the items

2)      A three ring binder with dividers for different categories of food, paper products, hygiene, etc.  and

3)      An excel spreadsheet.

Which ever way you are more comfortable with use that one, but remember if we loose the grid you won’t be able to use a computer so you would need to print out the spreadsheet on occasion. Unless you already have a large amount of food stored up most people will use what you already have within a month or two. So if you don’t want to start inventorying what you already have that is okay. The main thing to remember is to not let that stop you from starting on your food storage.

To start off, you will need to be able to get the grocery store sales flyers each week whether that be by going to their website and signing up for their email or buying the usually Wednesday paper. Also keep in mind that Sam’s Club, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Wal-Mart, K-mart and Walgreens have ads too. Sometimes even your local gas station store will have, say, milk on sale to get you in and purchase their gas. So look around, it is worth the time. It is best if you can shop around at the different shores to find the cheapest prices. Some people say to make a 3 ring binder and keep all the prices of what you buy in it from all the different stores. Go to  and sign up for her newsletters. Michelle Jones is one of the best that I have found on this subject and has been doing this frugal thing for quite a while.  This is from one of her webpage’s “Our grocery saving and grocery coupon tips are all free. We also feature them in our newsletter each month, along with printable menu planners and a price log to help you save as much money as possible!”  If you think you don’t have that kind of time then it’s not that important to you to have food storage.  I have discussed this with many people that said they did not have room for food storage. At the time our family was living in a 2 bedroom trailer we had 2 pre-teens and we had at least an 18 month supply of food.  The old saying if there is a will, there is a way.

What price do you put on being able to take care of your family?  There is help out there for you, but you have to do your part. Check the store ads and figure out the best savings on what you buy the most of that is on sale that week and purchase 5 or 10 or whatever extra you can while you are purchasing the rest of your groceries for that week, bi-week or month. This is where having a daily consumption log helps out. Also you can print out coupons from your own computer. The next time you buy groceries you do the same check the ads and whatever is the best savings buy 5 or 10 or whatever you can extra.  When you buy the best savings the next time you need to get that item you will already have it in your storage so get one out and then take the price of that item  you would have spent when it was NOT on sale and buy something else extra.  If there is not anything on sale that you normally use the first time, then buy salt.  Salt is something that is very cheap and is a necessary item for our bodies and it has over 14,000 uses according to   You can use salt to preserve meat, brush teeth and clean kitchen items.  So, when you think you have enough, get some more. The next time there is not anything on sale, buy baking soda, it has many uses. Go to for 75 uses of baking soda.  Also when you purchase all of the salt or baking soda you need for a year it is motivating to have something done, and will encourage you to do more. There is also bleach  and vinegar (1001 uses)  these are some of the cheaper items that you can mark off quickly, encouraging you to keep going. You will get to where you only have to purchase short term items such as milk, bread and produce and then you can spend the rest of your budgeted money on sale items, or if no sale items are on, purchase the cheaper items, especially ones that have multiple uses.  Flour, biscuit mix or pancake mixes do not last as long as, say, whole wheat berries, even when it is canned. It has fatty acid from the germ that reacts when exposed to oxygen  in it that will go rancid unless you keep it in the freezer, but then you can’t store other things in the freezer. And what if the electricity goes out?

There is a mental attitude to food storage that needs to be learned. It is not just to store up all this food and put it into the basement and never touch it unless for the big one. It is a way of life to eat what you store and store what you eat.  It can also be a fun family time to see who can find an item cheaper than anyone else.   It is also a savings plan, just like money in the bank except for when the time comes that you can’t even buy food and you can not eat money.