Sharon September 12th, 2008
I got a great idea from one of my food storage students, by way of her LDS church. She told me that each month or week at her church, they hand out cards that encourages people to focus on one area of food storage, and one or two other issues - including suggestions for where to get things at reasonable prices. One month might focus on protein sources and flashlights, another on sweeteners and blankets.
Now being a person who steals all her good ideas from somewhere or other, I’ve decided to borrow this wonderful idea, and start running a weekly “Food Storage Quickie” that gets people focusing on one segment of their food storage, and one non-food item. I’d encourage everyone who can to do little more in your preps this week in that area, even if it only means buying an extra bag or couple of cans of something. All that stuff does add up pretty quickly - so even if you can only do a little, just doing it makes a difference. And for those getting started, this is a good way to get things moving, without being too overwhelmed. I’m going to try to have one of these up every Friday (we’ll see whether I can pull it off) as an adjunct to the Independence Days Challenge Reports.
Ok - this week, we’re going to focus on three things - pasta, popcorn and matches. Why pasta? Because it is a starch that almost everyone can eat in some form - even those with wheat intolerances can usually eat rice or soy pastas. Whole wheat pasta stores for more than a year, while white noodles (not as nutritious) stores even longer. Those of you hot to make things yourself can make egg-free noodles and dry them, or egg noodles and freeze them. With the price of wheat still extremely high and the harvests coming in unevenly, my guess is that the price of pasta will go up in the coming year. And since this is one of those things that you can pretty much feed to everyone - even your weird uncle or picky grandkid, it makes sense to have some on hand.
The cheapest way to get pasta would probably be to buy it in bulk from a coop or buying club in 10 or 20lb boxes. But if you can’t afford this, remember pasta is a frequent supermarket loss leader, and even unusual pastas, made of other grains show up at odd lots stores, drug stores and dollar stores. So add a few more packages of pasta to your supermarket cart if you can.
If your budget stretches that far, now would be a good time to pick up a bushel of tomatoes and make and can some tomato sauce. Or keep an eye out for canned tomatoes or bottled sauce cheaply. Or if you’ve got basil, consider making some pesto, and freezing it in ice-cube trays for springtime. Butter or olive oil and garlic makes a great sauce as well, and cheap, particularly if you can throw in some chopped up herbs you keep on your windowsill, or some greens.
Now, to popcorn, which has many of the same virtues as pasta and some extra ones - nearly everyone will eat it, and unlike many pastas, it is a whole grain that can be digested by most people and extremely nutritious, and it is associated with fun, comfort and snacks - something you want in tough times. Popped popcorn with a light sweetener on it isn’t a bad substitue for sugar cereals, if your family still hasn’t been weaned off of them, and it is great and filling. If your family doesn’t buy into the idea of storing food generally, or won’t eat most storage staples, popcorn is one way to get around this - tell them you aren’t “storing food for a crisis” but planning for winter evenings by the fire.
By “popcorn” I don’t mean “microwave” - the power is likely to be off. I mean the real McCoy, without artificial butter-flavored grease (you can add actual butter or other oils and it tastes much, much better). You can pop popcorn in any pan with a lid, but it will be easier if you have a popcorn popper - or if you will be cooking over an open fire, a long handled implement especially designed for popcorn. It is one of those things that is so easy that I’ve never quite understood the proliferation of microwave popcorn.
Where to get it? The best options are probably a local farm that grows their own, or the abovementioned coop or buying club. But if you can’t do that, try a couple of extra bags at the grocery store, or keep an eye out for sales and other cheap sources. Kept reasonably cool and dry, popcorn keeps just about forever.
Also, does your reserve include an ample supply of matches or other ways of lighting a fire? You’d be surprised how often you need them in an uncertain energy situation - for lighting stoves and candles, kerosene lamps or relighting a pilot. If you heat with wood, the long handled matches are really nice to have, but even cheapie little ones are valuable. You could also consider lighters (and extra butane - but store very carefully!) or magnesium firestarters. Make sure your bug out bags have good, waterproof, strike-anywhere matches if at all possible. But add more to your “in place storage” as you go - these are also a good dollar store find, where I’ve often seen five large boxes for a buck.
Ok, I hope this helps a few people get organized just a little! I’m off to check if the popcorn is dry enough to harvest yet ;-).