Organizing Food Storage

Of course I have a 90-day food supply, I think . . . . . . .

So, you may be great at loading up at case lot sales and have a healthy supply of #10 cans full of a variety of stuff, but do you really know how long it will last?  Here are a few ideas to help get organized so that you have a much better idea of how long you have until your family starts to go hungry.

Step One: 

Create a 30-day menu of meals you can quickly prepare utilizing food storage that your family would actually eat, then times that by 3 for 90 days or by 12 for a year’s supply.  I got some great ideas from a book “Dinner is in the Jar”, by Kathy Clark.  I heard about this from a lady at the Ogden Drypack Cannery. She had the book and said her family liked all the recipes so far so she put the meals in mylar bags for storage.  The idea is this:  pre-measure ingredients including spices into quart and/or pint jars or mylar bags for a dinner.  There are 30 recipes with labels and included are ingredient calculations for 30, 60 and 90 days.   Here is an example:                                                     dinner-is-in-the-jar-book

Potato Soup (recipe used with permission)

Quart Jar 1
2 c instant potato flakes

In a baggie in jar 1:
1 3/4 c powdered milk

Quart Jar 2
1 cup dried potato dices
1 cup dried sweet corn
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp parsley flakes
2 Tbs beef bouillon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp thyme

Directions:  Bring 7 cups water just to boil.  While that is heating up, whisk 3 cups water with the powdered milk in the baggie.  Once the 7 cups of water just reaches a boil, turn off heat & add contents of both jars.  Stir, cover and let sit 5 minutes.  Add the whisked milk, heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until well blended.  Top individual bowls with shredded cheese & sour cream.

This recipe contains dry, shelf stable ingredients that can be stored for several months.  Drop in an oxygen absorber packet in the jars and it can be stored for 5 to 7 years.  She states in her book that mylar bags are best for longer term storage.  I used this recipe for mylar bag meals so I combined all ingredients in the mylar bag except the powdered milk which I put in a baggie on top of the rest of the ingredients, added an oxygen absorber packet, then sealed.

A lot of the recipes have add-on’s such as a pint of hamburger, cans of diced tomatoes or oil.  The recipes can easily be converted into completely dried just add water meals using freeze dried meats and vegetables instead if you like that option.

Step Two:

Decide how you want to store your meals.  Meals using freeze dried meats MUST have an oxygen absorber packet in them.  Dry meals in a jar with no meat in them can get away with using a foodsaver for a vacuum seal.  Be sure to use a cupcake paper on the top for the ones with powdery stuff in it to prevent damage to your foodsaver.

Mason Jar
Advantages                                               Disadvantages
convenient                                                 breakable
reusable                                                     light exposure can damage food
rodent proof                                              bulky to store
can see stuff inside                                   limited space in bottle

Mylar Bag
Advantages                                               Disadvantages
no light exposure                                      not rodent proof
can be reused                                            a pain to clean and dry thoroughly for reuse
compact size for less storage space        needs a heavy plastic tub to keep rodents out
bags can be cut to different sizes

Step Three:

Decide which kind of ingredients you want to use; dehydrated, freeze dried, canned or a mixture of all of them.  Just make good directions to attach to the jars or bags and write on top of cans which meal it belongs to to keep it reserved.

The beauty of using recipes like these is that you use ingredients that meet your family’s dietary issues, spice things how you like and leave out ingredients like icky green peppers if you don’t want them.  Also divide or multiply the recipe to make meals for one, two, six or however many you need.  This makes food storage tailor made to your family.  If you don’t have your own food storage it is highly unlikely that your neighbor is planning for your family’s food allergies.

Meats:  purchase commercially canned, home bottle with a pressure canner or use freeze dried.  The freeze dried meats are really good and the only ingredient listed on the can is the meat itself.  This is especially good for folks who can’t tolerate soy based proteins like TVP (that would be me).  Just a note about freeze dried meat-once the can has been opened it needs to be used within 24 hours so plan on using the entire can in packaging meals or put remaining in mason jars with an oxygen absorber packet to keep it safe. 

Vegetables and Fruits: use commercially canned (labelled for the meal it is intended for), home bottled or freeze dried.

Beans:  For quick just add water meals use Quick Cook Beans (see Food Storage-Beans for more info) or canned beans.  If using dried beans keep separate from other ingredients so they can be soaked and cooked properly.

Pasta & Rice:  Both of these ingredients can be cooked with the meal as opposed to boiling on it’s own and then adding to the rest of the recipe.  Some recipes have the flavoring and seasoning worked out already to cook the noodles or rice in the mix.  If you are converting another recipe experiment first before mass producing the meal.

Step Four:

Label well, store properly and keep supplies up so you always have at least 90 days of meals stored.

Labels are included to photocopy in the book for jars.  I printed abbreviated directions for my mylar bags and put them under packing tape hoping that would make them waterproof.  If you need to add a can of tomatoes or chicken make that very visible on the label.

Store the mylar bags in heavy plastic tubs. You can fit upwards of 30 meals in one 17 gallon tub-some are bulkier than others.  This keeps out the rodents and also makes them very portable.  I highly encourage glass jars to be wrapped in paper and stored in plastic tubs if you live in an earthquake area.  For more info go to Tips on Storing Food in Earthquake Areas.  At a minimum store in boxes to prevent light from leaching the nutrients from the food.

If using canned goods in your 30 day menu calculate how many cans or bottles of ingredients are needed and keep that on hand watching for sales to replenish.  I liked the idea of the all dry, just add water meals in mylar bags that I know are there and I don’t have to think about them for 5-7  years until we need to eat them and make more.

I am not suggesting that all meals at home are from this menu. Instead incorporate some of the meals into your repertoire to see how your family likes them.  If an emergency should occur use your 30 day menu as your meal plan so you can make complete and organized meals from your food storage.

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