Survival situations demand more physical activity than your average daily activities. This means stocking up enough calories to give you the energy you need–and you’ll be needing a lot of it.
But without electricity to run refrigerators and freezers, we don’t have the luxury of eating fresh food for a long period of time. This is where food storage comes in; with the help of some handy ancient and modern preservation methods
Developing a proper food storage system can be overwhelming in the beginning. And the hardest part is usually getting started. What kind of food can I store? How do I preserve and keep them properly? Is it expensive? We’re here to help you with that.
Let’s run through the different food categories:
- Fruits & Vegetables
You can typically get your calories from starches like rice, pasta, potatoes, but that alone won’t cut it. You’ll need complex carbs; you’ll need fat. We recommend pure lard, the most convenient and versatile option among its fatty cousins.
Here are a few other reasons why you should stock on lard:
- Long shelf life (up to 1 year)
- Can be used for nearly anything you cook
- Can be used to preserve meats
- Keeps air and insects away from meat
Speaking of meat, you’ll also need protein. Here are several options:
- Canned Meat — This is convenient to store and contains a good amount of fat to give you energy. If you like tracking the nutrition in your food, you can also opt for conventional pressure canning. The downside is, they can be pretty heavy and bulky. At times, even expensive.
- Freeze-Dried Meats — They are lighter, store longer, and can be used for any fashion of cooking you want. Plus, if rehydrated, it almost looks and tastes like fresh meat.
You’ll need to invest in a freeze-dry machine to preserve your meat, so carefully consider if the returns outweigh the cost.
- Air-Dried Meats — Another route is the DIY tried-and-true method of drying meat. If you ever find yourself in a bountiful hunt of deer and other game, here’s what you can do with meat left-overs:
- Cut the left-over meat into thin strips.
- Hang them in a cool and dry area to dry.
- Eat it like jerky or use it as stock for broths and soups.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
A proper diet also needs fruits and vegetables. You can choose among these varieties: canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried, powdered.
- Canned — Like its meat counterpart, canned fruits and vegetables are also convenient. But no matter how ‘organic’ the label claims it is, these canned goods are usually loaded with added sugar and salt.
While not necessarily bad, especially when you’re active outdoors, this can still dehydrate and fluctuate our energies.
- Freeze-dried — Freeze-dried and dehydrated varieties won’t have these preservatives. But like earlier with the meats, you’ll need to invest in machines to preserve fruits and vegetables with this method.
- Powdered — “Superfoods” or powdered food concentrations are a good middle-ground option. Like canned goods, they store long but run a bit pricier.
A single scoop is packed with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Add it to your food while cooking, or mix it with water and drink.
Let’s move on to simple carbs, the starches. When you run low on protein and vegetables, adding rice and pasta can stretch your meal and keep you more full. Not to mention they’re pretty affordable.
Products like rice, instant potatoes, pasta, dry beans, or grits can be purchased at any grocery store. But, usually, these starches come in composite packaging that isn’t suitable for long-term storage.
Storage Solutions to get the best value out of starches:
- Buy in bulk and repackaging these starches at home.
- Store them using a food-grade desiccant package to keep the starches dry.
- Recycle two-liter bottles to store your starches.
- Save your soda bottles.
- Wash and dry them out.
- Fill them with your choice of starch.
- Cap the bottle, and you’re good to go.
Use your starches as the base of your meals, then mix-and-match your protein and veggies for a filling and satisfying meal.
We can’t speak of a satisfying meal without salt. But, salt is more than just a seasoning. Store it in large quantities because you can also use it for food preservation and even barter.
Sea Salt vs Table Salt
Sea salt and table salt are the most popular salt varieties. Sea salt packs more flavor, but table salt contains iodine, a vital supplement. Choose whichever you prefer.
Now, suppose we only use salt to flavor our food. In that case, it’s inevitable to reach “menu fatigue. It’s a very familiar phenomenon we get from eating the same food every day.
Enter spices. They’ve been traded for thousands of years for a good reason. Spices can literally, spice up and add flavor and variety to your meals. Mix and match and store these in exotic varieties.
These seasonings usually come in compostable boxes and cardboard cans. To extend their shelf life, you have to keep them dry. Here’s how you can repackage spices:
- Purchase a funnel and several mylar bags
- Pour your seasonings into the bags. Leave at least an inch of space at the top.
- Add a desiccant package for extra measure.
A well-rounded food storage system also includes flour. You can use it to thicken sauces and play around with your starches. But like everything else, it needs to be stored well. The problem is that it’s difficult with flour.
Here are a few things you can do to lengthen the shelf life of flour:
- Freeze it first — This ensures that pests and their eggs crawling in the flour are killed.
- Do not add O2 absorbers — This will cake the flour and make it unusable.
- Make them yourself — The best way to store flour long-term is making your own. Get a quality grain mill–another investment–and grind whole wheat berries into flour.
- Butter and Milk — opt for the freeze-dried variety. They’re pretty accessible.
- Canned or Powdered Cheese — also accessible. This good comes in handy when you want to treat yourself. Flavorwise, either is okay–just go with your preference.
Most importantly, store food you like to eat!
Crises can put a lot of stress on our bodies. So food shouldn’t only be about nourishment; it’s comfort. This is especially true for kids.
So store foods that your family likes to eat. Decide what method works for you, and get creative with these food categories! Food storage doesn’t have to be complicated. Start transitioning with how you keep your goods now, and you’re on your way to a proper food storage system.