Archive for January 8th, 2009

Tools You Need, Tools You Don't

Sharon January 8th, 2009

This refers only to food storage and preservation tools – although I probably should do a series like this for other areas.  But for today, let’s start with the kitchen stuff.

 Now this is one of those things that people vary a lot on.  First of all, there are personal and physical issues – I find it rather pleasant to grind grain manually, and I have healthy young children willing to take a turn, for example – and elderly person with arthritis might find it unbearable.  6 gallon buckets full of 40lbs of wheat aren’t that big a deal for six foot me to hoist around – but a 5′ woman might want to store her grains in smaller containers.

Then there are issues of taste and skill.  The good thing about powered tools is that they generally don’t take any skill – so someone with weak knife skills might find it much faster to chop a couple of onions in a food processor, whereas someone with good knife skills might find that the time to get out the processor and clean is longer.  Some people have strong opinions about taste and texture – they may find the texture of the food processed chopped liver unacceptable, and the manually chopped better, or vice versa.  A job you hate always seems to take longer – so it might be worth a powered tool, say, to grind sausage if that’s one of your hated chores, but not so much if you find sausage making relaxing.

Then there’s space issues – someone in a tiny galley kitchen is going to have to limit himself to fewer kitchen tools than someone with a huge farmhouse kitchen.  Even those of us with tolerable amounts of space (and while I have a lot of storage space, my actual counter space is quite limited) will have to make choices about what appliances are kept out and what are moved to less accessible places.

So this is definitely a ymmv.  My own feeling is that we should make the best choices for ourselves, but we need to think through carefully our use of tools – a lot of us simply assume that because a powered tool exists, it is preferrable to the non-powered one.  Somewhere in the back of our heads, we tend to think “no one would have made a salad shooter unless slicing cucumbers was really hard” (ok, that’s kind of a joke, but that is how the powered grain grinder or the food processor work ;-) ).

I don’t at all object to people making a compelling case for a tool I don’t want or use, what drives me crazy is the automatic assumption that we need all the tools, we should spend a lot of money on them, and that a good kitchen has everything in it.  Now I have plenty of kitchen tools, but I try really hard to go over Wendell Berry’s list of points to determine the value of tools before I buy one.   They are

1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces.

2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces.

3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces.

4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces.

5. If possible, it should use some sort of solar energy, such as that of the body.

6. If possible it should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools.

7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible.

8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenence and repair.

9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships. (Berry, _The Art of the Commonplace_ 219)

You could spend your whole life building a world around this vision, but let’s stick with the kitchen for now.  Not all of these factors will be achievable in one tool – but they are useful grounds for thinking about how to use tools in our lives. 

And I would encourage people to consider the whole cost, and the whole time used – something I think is implicit in Berry but may not come through to those not familiar with his body of work.  That is, his version of “cheaper” would include the question “do you have to work more hours to afford it?”  “Do you have to pay interest on a credit card to buy it?”  “What is the ecological cost?”

The same is true of asking whether it helps you do the task well – we should calculate into its time costs the amortized time needed to earn the money, the item’s potential lifespan and the times spent cleaning and repairing something that breaks easily, as opposed to something that doesn’t.

One thing that I am trying very hard to do is when I replace things, to only replace them with things that do not have plastic parts.  Plastic is essentially unfixable – so a plastic corn cutter that breaks is a piece of junk.  So no more plastic tools unless I have no choice.  This sometimes means not buying locally, which is unfortunate, but I’m finding it worth it.

The other thing that I’m working on very gradually is replacing ceramic bowls, glasses and dishes with enameled metal and wood.  This is because, frankly, I’m a complete and utter klutz, and Eric is better, but not enough ;-) .  I am tired of throwing away broken pottery.  We can handle good dishes, which don’t break as easily and aren’t used as often, but for everyday, we need hard-to-break.

I was planning on including a “what I like and what I don’t list on this” but that will have to come later – I’m having internet service problems.  So forthcoming…. and in the meantime, try looking at your life and stuff through Berry’s lens.  Boy is it enlightening!



Dairy Food Preservation and Storage

Sharon January 8th, 2009

Ok, folks, today we’re going to cover the storage and preservation of dairy foods and faux-dairy foods.  That is, how to keep your milk and what to do with it.

 Let’s start with types of milk storage:

1. Dry milk.  This comes in several forms (nonfat, full fat, low heat process) – the low heat, full fat tastes the most like regular milk (note that I did not say “just like regular milk).  The non-fat powdered lasts the longest – more than decade if stored in the right cool, dark, dry conditions.  Works fine for most milk uses, except perhaps drinking straight, although if you gradually mix it with regular milk, upping the proportion of powdered, you can cut costs and get children, at least, accustomed to it.  I keep some of this stuff, but I don’t love it since it all comes from industrial dairy – there are organic versions, but they are pricey and industrial organic.

2. Evaporated milk – milk reduced.  Can be used in baking, for coffee, or diluted to make something sorta drinkable if you add a lot of other flavors.  Keeps a long time in cans, expensive.  Not something I bother storing.

3. Condensed milk – sweet.  Ok for making key lime pie and pudding, not really milk. 

4. Powdered faux-milks – rice, soy… I don’t use these, so I’m not real famliar with them.  Readers here have reported that they are ok.  Probably better than nothing if you will be relying on them.

5. Cheese.  This is the traditional method of storing milk – turn it into cheese and keep it in a cool place.  Yogurt, kefir, and butter are other traditional methods.

6. In an animal.  In this method, you grow grass or save it as hay, and add some supplemental grains or roots, and the animal produces a daily supply of milk which doesn’t need to last too long.  Extras become cheese,  butter, kefir and yogurt.

7. In the form of soybeans or rice to be made into soymilk or rice milk.  I have a soymilk maker, which we use mostly for making tofu.  It does require electricity,

We have chosen a combination of #1 (we do store some powdered milk and use it in baking, and to thicken yogurt), #5 and #6.  Our two little tiny goats give an enormous amount of milk for their body weights – at this point, on the low end of their lactation curve, a little less than a quart of milk a day.  It takes about 10 days for the two of them to eat a small square bale of hay (they get hay from November to April), and they get a few ounce of grain and sunflower seeds each day.  A quart a day keeps us in yogurt and milk for drinking and baking, but not in cheese or enough, say, for dairy based soups.  So eventually we’d like to move primarily to on the hoof and cheese based dairy.

But while I think more people could have tiny goats than do (mine weigh about 55 lbs and are the size of a comparable dog, quieter than dogs, can be picked up by a healthy adult and carried where you want them to go and don’t require a ton of space, although they like it – perfect critters for a suburban yard), and it certainly would be possible eventually for neighborhoods to, say, go cooperatively in on a small cow that would rotate around the neighborhood lawns, most of us aren’t there.  But whether you are using powdered milk or real milk, you can make quite good yogurt, cheese, kefir etc…

Yogurt is incredibly simple.  You do need a starter – you can order funky starter cultures online from the resources at the end, but really the easiest way is to go to the store and buy a brand of plain yogurt that has live cultures on it.  A couple of spoonfuls of that will seed your next culture. 

If you are using powdered milk, mix up a batch, if you are using fresh, just pour it in a pot.  Heat 1 quart of milk up until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Stir in 1/4 cup of powdered milk (yes, over and above what you’ve already used) if desired – this will make the yogurt thicker and more nutrious. 

Take the yogurt off the heat, and let it cool until you can just put your finger in for 10 seconds. Stir in 2 tbsp of yogurt with live cultures.   Pour into either a thermos or a jar and put in a warm, draft free spot.  Leave for 6 hours, and check – it should be thick and yogurty.  All set! 

Yogurt will keep for a few weeks at around 50 degrees, or less time in warmer weather.  But it keeps longer than milk.

What about non-dairy folks?  Must they suffer life without yogurt?  Nope, here’s a recipe for making soy yogurt out of soymilk – I’m told it is good for things like tandoori chicken (which I might try since the regular type isn’t kosher):  I’m told, but have not tried, that canned coconut milk can be turned into yogurt as well, by following precisely the same directions, and adding a small amount of dairy yogurt (or you could order powdered cultures).  This obviously would be a less efficient way of preserving coconut milk than keeping it canned, but might provide a tasty (I’m told it is pleasantly sweet and great with fruit) yogurt substitute for non-dairy households.  Let me know if you try it.

Kefir is a cultured milk product that, like yogurt, slows down the decay of milk, but doesn’t stop it.  But it is tasty in its own right, and extremely good for you.  Among other things, it has very small curds, so babies can eat kefir, and the bacteria in it can help you with digestive difficulties, even more than yogurt.  To make kefir, you need to order or barter some kefir grains – there are sources down below, or you can find someone with some and get some from them.  Once you have it, it stays alive as yogurt does, with a little from that last batch. 

 One advantage of kefir is that those who are lactose intolerant can drink kefir and eat kefir cheese in many cases (not all, and people to build up a tolerance) because the critters in the kefir eat almost all of the milk sugars (lactose) in the milk.  So if you haven’t been able to eat milk or yogurt, you might be able to enjoy kefir.

Here are instructions for kefir making – kefir can also be made on coconut milk and some soy milks – lotsa info here:

Making butter: Butter keeps nigh on forever frozen, for several months at fridge temperatures, and for a month packed into one of those butter keepers.  I won’t go into the details of how to make your own, since Crunchy Chicken has already done that.  If you are going to do it regularly (and note, you can’t do this with non-fat powdered milk), you’ll want some kind of butter churn, available at

If you need to keep butter in hot weather, or for a very long time without refrigeration, the best strategy is to turn it into ghee, or clarified butter.  This is not quite the same in taste or texture (it is somewhere between a liquid and a solid at room temperature), but it adds a buttery flavor and will last many months at room temperature.  Instructions are here:  For those with abundant milk when the weather is warm, ghee is a way of having year round homeproduced fats.

Ok, on to cheesemaking.  This is not an area I’ve explored nearly as much as I’d like to – we’ve only made farmer’s cheese/chevre with our goat’s milk so far, and I’ve tried Barbara Kingsolver’s Mozzarella Recipe (which I won’t reprint here for reasons of fair use, but it is in _Animal Vegetable Miracle_).  So I’ll take you as far as I’ve gone, and then offer some resources.

1. Yogurt Cheese/Labneh – this is not a true cheese, but it is damned good stuff, and a much better choice for your bagel taste-wise than cream cheese.  All you do is take your yogurt and put it in some cheesecloth, and suspend it over a bowl.  Leave it overnight, and what’s left is yogurt cheese.  You can mix in herbs, put it in a jar and cover with a bit of olive oil, and it will last for a month or more in the fridge or at cool temps.  The liquid is good in fruit smoothies, or stirred into oatmeal.

2. Farmer’s Cheese/Chevre – with slight variations, these are the same – the latter is made with goat’s milk, the former with cows …usually.  Take 1 gallon of milk, 1 tsp salt and the juice of 1 large lemon (or 4 tablespoons of bottled).  Put milk and salt in a heavy bottomed pot and heat over medium heat until it boils, stirring regularly to prevent burning.  When bubbles form at the edges, turn off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice. The milk will begin to curdle – the when the process is complete (maybe 10 minutes)

You can also stir in pepper, garlic, jalapenos, whatever before you add the lemon juice.  Experimentation is good.

Line a fine colander with cheesecloth and pour the milk through it.   When it is through draining, pick up the cheese curds and squeeze to get rid of remaining liquid.  What’s in the cheesecloth is the cheese, the remainder is whey.  If you have a copy of Sally Fallon’s _Nourishing Traditions_ she has many, many suggestions for fun things to do with whey, or you can give it to the chickens or whatever.  Pack into a container and store in a cool place for a month.  This is *great* crumbled over a salad of greens and fresh tomatoes, or over winter greens, sliced apple and dried cranberries.  Yum!

More cheesemaking info:

Cultures, rennet, info:

Coming up next…kitchen equipment you need…and don’t.


Crisis Shopping Redux: What To Buy On the Last Stock Up Before the End of the World

Sharon January 8th, 2009

Note: This is a slightly revised version of a piece I ran last fall, and it may be familiar to many of you.  But I get so many requests for this information that I thought I’d run it again, and I’ve revised it somewhat, in part based on the kind comments of many of my readers. 

Now when I first ran this, a number of readers wondered whether I was obliquely saying that “Zombies are coming!  Run!” and suggesting that people go and do this.  I wasn’t then, and I’m not. In fact, I think that this is the wrong way to go about food storage.  But the reality is that some folks aren’t going to do anything until the last minute, or can only afford to do this when the check comes in, etc…  So I think it is useful to have some kind of a plan for doing so.

Again, my claim is not “something bad is about to happen.”  Nor is it that I recommend people go out to BJs and clean out the place – in fact, I’d rather most of us didn’t, because the dollars we spend there just prop up the industrial food system.  I don’t think most of us, ideally speaking, would eat this way either – the white grains, for example, really aren’t that good for you.  Better would be a gradual stock up, with lots of whole grains and a way to grind them.  But some people aren’t there yet – they can only do this when they know the last severence check is coming or when they are expecting the major storm.  So here’s how to go about it, if you must.

Several readers have asked me to do a piece on what to do if you have been procrastinating about food storage, but plan to stock up before the end of the world (I’ve heard that Paulson and Bernanke have scheduled that for this weekend, but it could potentially be moved due to a conflict with some other disaster ;-) .)  So for all you procrastinators out there, here are my suggestions.

 Now let’s note – my first suggestion is not to procrastinate.  Because unless you are fairly well off, procrastinating and buying a lot of food probably means putting it on your credit card and paying it off. Not only is this extremely risky (I would not bet on any version of the apocalypse that doesn’t actually involve real zombies to get you off the hook with your credit card – and I’m pretty sure that they have zombie collection agents already, so maybe not even then.), it means that you will pay interest on the food, thus mitigating much of the benefit of even having it.  But I do also know that sometimes one gets a big check, bonus, windfall, sells something or maybe the food is worth the price.  So let’s assume that you all know better, and are doing it anyway.

Let us also assume that you are doing this shortly before everyone else starts their panic buying or shortly after (which makes it harder and makes the selection of stores more crucial), and that one or two stop shopping is the name of the game – you need to get as much that is useful as possible, as quickly as possible, perhaps not using much gas.  So let’s start with where to shop.

 My top few choices, in no particular order:

1. BJs/Sams Club/Costco: This is probably the most accessible (ie, lots of people have these reasonably nearby) and has most of the things you’ll really want.  The downside is that often the bulk prices aren’t really very much or at all cheaper than smaller sizes, that the warehouses are huge and shopping there annoying and that they probably won’t have anything ethnic, or a large selection of nutritious things.   Also will probably be mobbed if there’s a real or perceived immanent crisis.  My tip for shopping here: if there isn’t an immanent apocalypse, you can probably get a free 1 shot membership to do a stockup even if you can’t/don’t want to pay the fee – they usually offer trials, and if you say you’d like to check it out, this can often be arranged.

 2. An Asian grocery store of some sort.  Best grain source for rice and often some kinds of noodles in quantity and quality, often have large quanties of spices and useful flavorings quite cheaply.  The downside is that unless you cook asian food you will be confronted by many unfamiliar items, and you may find yourself with all the ingredients for Nasi Goreng, or Palak Paneer and no recipes, or idea whether you like it ;-) .  Also, not common in areas without large Asian or Indian subcontinental populations, so it might not be available.  Tip for shopping here: go when it is quiet (weekends are tough) and ask for help – there’s usually someone who can help you figure out what you are buying.

3. A feed store.  If a panic has already begun, this might actually be your best bet for getting large quantities of edible grains and pet food (plus livestock feed if you’ve got this).  If you buy organic, whole feed grains, they should be adequate for human eating – and they come in 50lb quantities.  Pick up your emergency supply of dog or cat food, some seeds for spring, and cracked corn and whole oats for you (and your horses).  The downside: feed grains may not be especially tasty, organic feed is pricey, feed mixes may have things you don’t want, unless you live in a reasonably rural area, there probably won’t be one.  Tip for shopping here: human consumption grains would be a better choice – save this option for food for yourself for a true crisis.

 4. A coop or bulk food store.  Coops are great because they tend to be run by good people and have reasonable prices. Privately owned bulk food stores also have good stuff – the thing is, most of these won’t have large quantities of staples in large bags – you’ll have to empty out the bins or place an order in advance.  Still, not a bad place to get unusual ingredients, seasonings, yeasts, salt, nutritional supplements and meet special dietary needs.  Tip for shopping here – you might ask if they have any bulk grains they can sell in larger quantities lying around – instead of asking for “50lbs of wheat” you might come at it the other way, asking what they’ve got a lot of.

5. Odd lots store/dollar stores: These are unlikely to have large quantities of things, but if you’ve got a big enough vehicle, you might be able to buy a pallet load of weird cereal by a a manufacturer you’ve never heard of for $1 box.  These are good places to get canned goods and to pick up bug out bag foods that are light, nutritionally dense and portable.  Soap and shampoo are often cheap here as well, and you may be able to get a few needed household goods, a couple of extra flashlights and whatever.  Tips for shopping here: if you see something you want, snag it then – inventory changes fast.

6. Supermarkets – this is the classic crisis food shopping space, and the one that tends to get ripped into pieces until all that is left is Preparation H.  These are to be avoided if you can avoid them during an actual crisis.  If not, get there as early as you can, avoid the bottled water aisle (store some water in empty bottles instead and save your money for food).  If you must hit one of these, choose one with a health food section and bulk bins, and ideally, a supercenter sort of thing, where you can also pick up anything else you need.  Tip: Even if the crisis is likely to be long term, most people see supermarkets as a place to get short term needs met – so you are likely to find that staple foods and things like vitamins sell worse than boxed chocolate chip cookies.  This is good, since you want more staples than cookies.

7. Drugstores, hardware stores, etc…:  I’ve included these because you may have to stop at one – you may need a refill of your medication, to fix up the family first aid kit, or to buy flashlights.  If you do need to stop, and are doing them in a rush, take a couple of minutes and think about other needs you might meet in such a place – drugstores may have some food and cheap spices, hardware stores may have other useful things at reasonable prices, like seeds.  I’m not saying you should buy everything in sight, just working under the assumption that you may be able to make a limited number of stops.  Generally speaking, though, if you can, you might want to consolidate trips the other way, and get your meds at a place that also primarily sells food.

8. A farmstand or local farm – for those in warmer climates, you may be able to get a whole lot of produce that can be rapidly preserved (make sure you know how to use that pressure canner before you bring home two bushels of zucchini!), or better yet, food that can be stored in a cool place by root cellaring.  You want stuff like potatoes, onions, hard shelled squash, beets, turnips, etc…  You will still need some legumes to balance the protein in this case.

Ok, now what to get.  This assumes you mostly eat a regular American style diet (which ideally you don’t), that we shouldn’t push you too hard, and that you will be shopping at the above sorts of stores.  That is, if you normally eat a lot of dal or mung bean noodles, please do add them to your plan.  This is meant to cover mainstream ground – it is not meant to imply optimalization.

Here’s what I’d concentrate on.  I am not including quantities here, because I don’t know how much you can afford, how big your household is, etc…  What you should do is get as much as you can afford/haul and *manage* without spoilage.  That means, get only what you can find a safe, bug and rodent proof spot for.

I’m also assuming that you don’t have a lot of fancy equipment – ie, I think life would be better for you if you had a grain grinder, but I’m going to assume no.

1. Vitamins.  Get enough for everyone in the household.  Regular, generic mulivites are fine, and any special supplement you take (although if these are optional luxuries and money is tight, forego the vitamin E capsules for more food instead).  Yes, it is better to get your nutrients from food, but this is important.  Also make sure you pick up children’s or prenatal vitamins if anyone in your household has a special need for these.  You might also want to pick up a couple of bottles of vitamin C tablets.

2. Rice – as much brown rice as you can eat (and remember, you may be eating a lot more of it than you have been) in 3 months, plus as much white rice as you can.  Why rice?  It is widely available – even supermarkets sell it in 10 or 20lb bags in many cases.  It is comparatively cheap, it is hypo-allergenic (ie, nearly everyone can eat it including infants and the ill), and it is familiar to people in just about every culture in the world.  Brown rice is dramatically more nutritious, but it is also prone to spoilage – maximum storage is about 1 year, and it often goes rancid before that.  A not-insignificant percentage of the population can’t taste rancidity in grains at all, so won’t know if the rice is still good to eat.  So it is safest to get a short time supply of brown rice, and then mostly use white rice (supplemented with more nutritous grains). 

2. Flour – get as much whole wheat flour as you can use in 6 months, and then get unbleached white flour.  Again, you’ll be using the less nutritious form of the grain, but at least you’ll  have food.

 3. Rolled or steel cut oats.  Get as many packages as you can.  These are fairly nutritious and will help balance out some of the white stuff in your diet.  This is breakfast. 

4. Legumes: These include beans, split peas, lentils, cowpeas, pigeon peas, etc…  Buy 1/3 of the weight of your combined grains (flour, oats and rice) in dry form.  Check out the ethnic foods section for large quantities.  These will provide protein, fiber and a host of other goodies.  Don’t be afraid to try unfamiliar things here – they have a fairly wide taste range, but if you can eat one, you can eat another.

5. Something that sprouts.  If you get stuck eating off your stored food in the winter or a summer dry season, when not much is going on, sprouts can save you.  Ideally, you’d have a variety, from broccoli to onion to mung bean…  In reality,  you may not have much of a choice.  But a lot of things in the bulk bins at whole foods or your health store, or available other places will sprout.  They include whole wheat, alfalfa sprouts (just make sure you aren’t getting seed that is treated, and only use organic), untreated sunflower seeds, and a host of designated sprouting seeds. Nutrionally, if I had a choice I’d get broccoli, alfalfa and sunflower, as well as wheat, but you’ll be fine with just one.

5. Some other protein food – unless you are quite odd, you probably will not enjoy rice and beans for dinner, bread and beans for lunch and oatmeal for breakfast every day.  You will be fine eating this – maybe even healthier, but you would be happier if you had something with a bit more fat, flavor and protein density, particularly if you are shifting from an average American diet.  You do not need a lot of this – you might prefer a lot, but it

Best choices:

1. Whole nuts, flaxseeds or sunflower seeds in the shell

2. Peanut butter.  Not the natural stuff – you want it shelf stable and in large quantities.

3. Canned fish – don’t overdo this if you have kids, are pregnant or nursing.  But canned fish does have important nutrients, is tasty and makes people happy.  Canned wild salmon is lowest in mercury, but can have high levels of PCBs.  Don’t forget sardines, mackerel and other unusual fishes.  Don’t go crazy also because it isn’t good for what’s left of the oceans, but occasional fish is good.

4. Shelf stable tofu, dried tofu sticks (asian groceries) or other stable soy protein. 

5. Canned meat – I’m not a big fan of this, generally speaking, because unless you have a ton of money, canned meat is always from horrible sources, often troublesome in environmental ways, and doesn’t taste good.  But others love their spam, and I won’t try and turn you away from it.  Again, though, you don’t need that much – think occasional treat, and enjoy the flavoring and fat.

 6. Fat: Olive oil in metal tins keeps several years if kept cool – that’s what I’d get of the choices available, with a bit of coconut oil to provide a tasty, shelf stable fat for piecrusts and “butter.”   If you have to go cheap, get what you can afford that’s not too awful. 

7. Dried fruit – if you are at a Sam’s Club type-place, you can buy big sealed bags of dried raisins or cranberries or something.  Otherwise, you can take what’s available at the dollar stores or go hunting in the bulk bins.  You want this for nutritional reasons, and so that you don’t get so constipated you can’t breathe.  Also good for kids, to help them transition, or picky adults who are kind of like kids.

8. Powdered milk, soy, or rice milk.  This is for calcium, protein to enable you to bake, to add creaminess to things, etc….  It will never taste like real milk, but you can live with it.  It lasts a long time, and you can use it baking if nothing happens, so you might as well get as much as you can. 

9. Salt – get a bunch, iodized for eating (you only need a little of this – and if you don’t want to store iodized salt or want something better, you can also buy dulse or kelp supplements to meet this need, but the easiest, most stable source is iodized salt) and uniodized for preserving, livestock if you’ve got it, brushing teeth, etc…   This is cheap, and necessary to life.

10. Sweeteners – unless you have weaned yourself off of this entirely, you will want these.  Sugar is probably cheapest, a lot of bulk honey is watered down or sugar syruped up.  But you can use maple syrup, sugar, sorghum or whatever is most easily available.  You may also need to stretch it – so work on reducing sugar now.  We don’t need anywhere near as much as we eat.

11. Canned vitamin rich vegetables.  Get a couple of flats each of pumpkin/squash/sweet potatoes, and some kind of canned green (mustard or turnip greens hold together better than spinach).  If you are used to eating fresh, these will not taste as good as fresh – but can be mixed into things in the background to add nutrition.  Make sure that you use the liquid from the greens as well.  Some canned fruit is nice too, if you have room/can afford it.  Canned pineapple is, to my mind, the best tasting commercially canned fruit.

Alternately (and better), you might be able to hit a farmstand and get sweet potatoes, cabbage and turnips, which would be much better for you, tastier and local, but the assumption of this discussion is that you aren’t doing that.  Still, if there’s anyway to buy fresh food that can be root cellared, you’ll be a lot happier than relying on canned veggies.

12. Something(s) to flavor water/powdered milk.  This depends on your preference, but if you are using non-traditional water sources, or drinking powdered milk for the first time, making it taste better will be worth a lot.  Plus, if you are a tea or coffee person, you will be sad without them.  So get vacuum packed cans of coffee, or lots of tea, cocoa.  And if you have kids, or vitamin C worries, or the water tastes horrible, you might want to get some Tang or HiC powdered drink mix.  The stuff is icky, but will add some sweetness, and also some nutrition, while covering the taste of bad water. 

13. This is controversial, but you might want some alcohol.  There are a couple of reasons.  First, if things are bad enough and you have no major responsibilities, you might want to get drunk.  Second, and more practically, a small amount of alcohol in your water will kill many bacteria, and is safer than inadequately filtered water.  Oh, and you can probably use it like money to get other things.

14.  Lots of seasonings.  Varying your meals is key.  Buy lots of spices, and you may also want ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, chili-garlic paste, fermented black beans, chutney, worcestershire…whatever. Depending on what you can afford and where you are, don’t forget this. 

15. Get some treats.  You will need them.  So put some smoked oysters, a few bags of chocolate chips, some beef jerky, peanut brittle – whatever you or your family crave.  I’d also suggest some kind of small candy that stores fairly well (we use those tiny dum-dum lollipops which come in bags of a zillion) to be doled out as rewards for children who are eating their new diet reasonably graciously and responding to their new reality - they are small and sweet and ease transitions.  Adults might need other bribes.  Also, don’t forget the ingredients for your special Easter bread, matza balls, or whatever other special occasions your family will still want to remember.

16. Some things that are dense and require minimal cooking in case you have to evacuate or if you are under stress - some ramen, some dried fruit, energy bars, instant bean soups, canned soup, etc…

17: Infant formula: Buy this if you have a pregnant woman, a woman who might get pregnant, a baby, or close family or friends who may come your way with a baby or the immanent prospect of one.  I assume all of us hope and plan to breastfeed, but unless you have multiple lactating (or recently lactating women – within a couple of years, most women can restart nursing) women or a lactating goat in your household, store some formula, just in case Mom can’t nurse or G-d forbid, something happens to Mom.

18. Yeast, baking soda, baking powder, vinegar.  You’ll miss ‘em if you don’t have them.

19. Pet food.  Canned keeps longer, dry is cheaper and easier to store.  Dogs food can be stretched with table scraps, cats not as much.

 20. Basic OTC medicines and first aid stuff – at a minimum triple antibiotic ointment, baby asprin (not for kids, for people’s hearts), tylenol or advil (for adults and kids if needed), bandaids, gauze pads, sanitary pads (not so much for menstruation  – I’m assuming you have a reusable solution for that already, but because they make great emergency sterile bandages), benadryl, bandage tape, rehydration fluid (like pedialyte) and an anti-diarrheal.  I’d also recommend a basic list of herbal medicines including garlic (natural antibiotic), ginger (for nausea), powdered slippery elm bark (most very nauseated people will be able to keep this down when very sick), aloe lotion for burns, etc…. but again, the best time to figure this out is when you have time to think it through.  If the store’s medicine aisle has a first aid book or booklet, buy it – it would be better to plan ahead, but this is at least something. 

Non-food items to buy:

Then add some extra batteries (if you aren’t already stocked), gas for the car and the can, a way to cook without power (sterno, camp stove, woodstove, more propane for the grill), and a way of purifying water – if you don’t have a good filter system that works without power now, the best strategy will be to buy dry calcium hypoclorite – that is, swimming pool bleach.  It is very cheap, and can be added to water to make bleach that will kill most bacteria.  Carbon filters like Brita don’t do much, but will remove some chemicals.  So the combination should make your water liveable.  You should be able to get both at a Walmart, hardware store or Sam’s club.  Also, if you don’t have a good manual can opener, pick up a couple.  Matches are also important, and you should make sure you have good flashlights, and some candles or oil lamps – and a fire extinguisher (use carefully!).

Ok, you are now zombie ready!