Food and Water are without a doubt among your top priorities when it comes to preparedness. You wont last long without food and you sure wont last more than a few days without water. Earthquake, flooding, snow storm or blackout, doesn’t matter if it’s a widespread disaster or a more personal one like job loss or reduction in income, you will still need to eat every single day.
What you store and how you do it depends a lot on your lifestyle and what you like eating. We like eating fresh food and fresh meat and fruits dont last long without refrigeration. On the other hand we do like stuff like dry pasta, rice, lentils, potato flakes as well as canned vegetables, tuna and such.
Here’s five simple steps anyone can follow. Take it easy at first, remember that you always make mistakes in the begging, so start small and stockpile more once you gained a bit more experience and understand better what works for you and your family:
1)Keep it as simple as you can. Group A) Rice, dry pasta, instant mash potato flakes, lentils (lentils are good for you, easy and quick to cook, you use less fuel than with larger legumes , goes very well with rice) These are the bulk of your food storage, the stuff you can eat for years and it will keep you alive and well. Some people like to store hard wheat and it is an option. I use pasta often enough that I prefer to go for that instead in terms of wheat products. Group B) Tomato sauce, canned vegetables (cover the colors yellow, green and orange) and fruits, canned meats and fish (we love tuna but try not to eat a lot of it due to mercury content) vegetable oil in glass bottles or better yet, sealed in metal containers.
2) Group A You can store in plastic buckets or rubbermaid boxes, sealed in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. This setup, with the food mentioned above, will last decades without going bad. Group B food should have a long term shelf life. Most canned food lasts for decades beyond the expiration date. As long as the can is without dents, leaks, or bulging, and the food looks and smells ok once opened, it should be safe to eat.
3)Food from group B will be ready to eat without the need of cooking or added water. This is a big advantage. Food from group A on the other hand will require added water (so make sure you have a good supply of water stored) and will need fuel for cooking. This might be an electric, wood, propane, gasoline, alcohol or kerosene stove, but you do need means of cooking your group A food.
4)Along with the basic food supply mentioned above, you might want to add salt, and sugar to group A. Its not really needed to keep you alive, but a bit of salt will make the food more palitable. You probably want to expand the basic supplies with “comfort” foods, plenty of tea, some coffee, powdered milk and chocolate, all of which will be stored like the rest of group A. While sugar and salt dont expire, keeping them in mylar bags will keep them away from humidity and avoid solidifying into a rock you'll have to chip away from.
5)Learn to cook. Just these simple supplies are enough for a variety of dishes, from sheppard pies to stews, soups, spagetti with tomato sauce and rice with tuna and vegetables. At least for the kind of food we like eating in our family, there's a number of dishes I can prepare with these.
Try cooking with them and see how it works. Of course you can adapt it some, if you like kidney beans instead of lentils go with that (even if lentils are more nutritious, have more protein, dont require soaking and cook faster) or if you like spicy food you might want some hot sauce instead of tomato sauce. If you have small children, you will need to have enough formula and powdered milk.
These 5 steps are simple enough and will keep you fed and healthy, and even if it looks pretty basic it is surprising the many ways in which you can combine them.