I LOVE to eat really good food!

Okay, I’m actually excited you decided to come to this page.  I LOVE to eat really good food and food storage makes it easier to do that.  And as the previous article mentioned, food storage is an important part of your self reliance so that you can preserve your own personal freedom.

Store what you eat, Eat what you store 

First off, a wise friend once taught me to store what I eat and eat what I store.  If I buy a huge can of chocolate pudding mix because my neighbor told me it was on sale, I might open it and find my family and I think it’s disgusting!  It would be better for us to try it before we buy, like at my friend’s house who told me about it, or with a store sample.  If it is so good, ask your friend to let you try some the next time they make up a batch.  Or buy a smaller can.  Just because someone else tells you it’s a bargain or that it’s important to have in your food storage doesn’t mean it is for you.  It needs to be something you will eat or it’s a waste of your money. 

Food storage is meant to be eaten.  If it expires in a year, plan to eat it within 6-9 months so there is no question that it is still good.  Food storage is NOT meant to sit on shelves until the cans rust through.  That is NOT provident living and does NOT preserve your freedom (or your food!)

Spaghetti!

Let’s take a meal for an example: Spaghetti with tomato sauce, green beans, and a salad with dressing.  Some of my kids would eat this every other day.  To keep everyone happy, we plan to eat it every other week.  That allows us to rotate other favorites in, as well, and keeps us all from suffering from food fatigue.  That is when you lose your appetite after eating the same food over and over again.  Eating spaghetti once every 2 weeks means even the kids who don’t love it are still willing to eat it each time it’s served.  So, if we eat spaghetti every other week, that means we eat spaghetti 26 times each year.  Knowing that helps me calculate how much to store of each ingredient when I know how much we cook each time.

Because we’re busy, we use a delicious sauce I bottle in the fall

My husband likes to make spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes.  It’s delicious and I love when he cooks, but those times are few and far between.  Because we’re busy, we fall back on bottled sauce that I make following a recipe that I found that uses fresh tomatoes.  This bottled sauce is delicious and is good for a year (if we don’t eat it all up before the year is gone!)  I make this sauce in September when tomatoes are abundant in gardens, markets, and stores.  This also means the tomatoes are inexpensive.  All I add are some dried herbs, olive oil, and a little rapidura or brown sugar.  Once it has simmered down, I process it in pint bottles, let it cool, and then stock my pantry with it. (For more info on home canning, visit the Ball Canning website.)  Even if you don’t can your own food, you can purchase jars of your favorite sauce.  We use a pint jar each time we fix spaghetti, so I need to have 26 pints in order to have a one year supply of spaghetti sauce.  Think about how much sauce you use each time you have spaghetti, times by 26, and you’ll know your goal for a one year supply of spaghetti sauce at your house.

Package size doesn’t matter for pasta

The spaghetti itself can be purchased at the store and kept in my pantry for 2-3 years. It’s quick and easy to cook up what I need from what I’ve stored.  Again, you can make fresh pasta from flour, egg, oil, and water.  We do that on occasion and it’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work, which is why I store dried pasta to meet our needs.  While I want to store my sauce in the size of jars we use at one time, storing spaghetti is different.  I can purchase many small packages or one big package.  It doesn’t matter, because the pasta is dry and can be exposed to air for a time without spoiling.  People store pasta in the original bags, in a plastic container with a lid, plastic storage bags, or even in tin cans.  The point is to keep it cool and dry (room temperature works fine) and away from insects.  I have purchased 3 pound bags of spaghetti before, but we typically only use 8 ounces (1/2 pound) at a time.  I just place the open bag in a tall plastic container with a tight fitting lid and I never worry about spoilage or insect damage.

Store fresh vegetables, How?

Green beans are something I grow in my garden.  We love to eat them fresh and we can do that from the last week of July until it freezes.  To take advantage of the fresh produce that is so abundant all at once, I freeze the beans in freezer bags, dehydrate them in a food dehydrator, or process them in a pressure cooker.   While our freezer does require power, we use it to store meat and produce throughout the year and it helps us keep our food costs down.  Food that has been bottled with a pressure cooker is shelf stable for a year, as well.  So are the cans of green beans that you can purchase in the store.  The dehydrated food just needs rehydrated and is usually best cooked with other things in a casserole or soup.

“How would I preserve a salad?”

I bet you are asking yourself, “How would I preserve a salad?”  I certainly wouldn’t want to dehydrate it.  My answer is, “Seeds!”  Seeds are a simple way to store some foods.  Lettuces sprout and grow quickly, generally from 6-8 week to go from seed to harvest.  This can be done in a simple pot outside, too.  While most lettuce is a spring crop, there are some lettuces that can be grown in fall and early winter.  One of my favorite lettuces to grow is Lollo Rosso from Victory Seed Company in Molalla, Oregon.  While it takes a little planning, I can have a crop of lettuce growing throughout part of a year and harvest it as needed.

Our bodies need good fats and oils

Lastly, let’s look at salad dressing.  Our bodies need good fats and oils to be able to absorb vitamins and other nutrients, to help us have healthy skin, and in fact every cell in our body needs fat to build its cell wall.  Olive oil is something that stores well and is the base for a delicious dressing.  Add a few spices, some pressed garlic (another simple thing to grow yourself), and some apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt and you have a healthy dressing for salad and even other vegetables.

Your favorite meals…

In the previous article, we talked about how Provident Living preserves our freedom.  I hope the spaghetti meal example started you thinking about the other meals you like to eat.  Could you convert one of your favorite meals so that you are able to store the ingredients to make it?  How much do you need to make that meal?  Once you know that, you can work toward storing enough for a year supply.  It isn’t necessary to store everything all at once.  Work toward having 2 weeks worth of meals planned out, then work toward storing enough to prepare each of them.  Then work at doubling that (a 1 month supply).  Eventually you’ll be able to build up to a full year supply that will help you in all kinds of circumstances.  And remember to store some water, as well!  Have fun with this aspect of finding personal freedom.

Take the Challenge:

List out 14 meals you (and your family) like to eat.  List out the ingredients for each meal.  How much of this do you already have on hand?  What could you purchase that would store well for one of these meals on your next trip to the grocery store?  Plan to spend $5-10 on your next trip to gather these ingredients that will add to your food storage.  During each grocery trip, purchase some of the ingredients needed for a meal, and rotate through the meals so you have a little extra for each one.  In time this adds up!

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