Monday, March 22, 2010

Becoming A Texan Prepper - Part Three - Short Term Food Storage

Ladies and Gentlemen, forget about running into the woods to hunt, trap, or fish for food for you and your family during a disaster because every other Texas Non-Prepper is thinking the same thing. Don’t believe me, go deer hunting on opening day. Everybody and their brother and sister are out. By the end of the day, every deer in the woods are scared and will be gone to another state. During good times, coming home without a deer is a few jokes and a beer or two. During bad times, you and your family may go hungry or starve.

So what’s a Texan Prepper to do?

Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store.

Short Term Food Storage

For a short-term emergency, buying more of the food that you normally eat is the best way to prepare. Now this food should be boxed food such as macaroni & cheese and crackers, and canned food such as fruits, soups, vegetables and meats.

While you are making a list of the canned and boxed food you and your family will eat, I want you to think about how you are going to cook this food? Are you going to heat the food? Do you need water to prepare the food? How are you going to clean up afterwards?

For a short 3-day emergency, paper plates and napkins, plastic utensils and cups, and other picnic supplies might be a good idea. Have enough for each person to have a clean set of utensils for each meal, this includes plates. To save on cups, write the person's name on the cup and have everyone reuse their cup. Make sure to have extra cups because kids and some adults seem to always throw their cups away.

If you are going to need water to prepare the food, you will need to add to your water supplies. An example: Mac & Cheese takes 6 cups of water, according to the directions, to make. That is 6 more cups of potable water you will need to store. If you are going to wash the plates and utensils, you will need even more potable water.

You can probably get away with eating directly out of the can/box for three days, but warm meals will be needed during the winter.

There are many ways of heating your food. If you have barbecued, cooked over a fire, or have a wood stove, you can heat your emergency food for eating. Remember, you will need fuel to last during the emergency you are planning for.

Charcoal must be kept dry, same with wood. With wood, you will also need kindling. Propane lasts as long as the container, but you will need a propane stove or grill. Liquid fuels, such as Coleman gas, are flammable. Store your gas and liquid fuels away from the house. Lastly, remember the matches.

I put my matches, about 2500 strike-on-the-box matches, in a small 30-caliber ammo can. This protects the matches from humidity, and if they ignite the ammo can keeps the fire contained.

Now cooking inside the house can be dangerous. Don't ever use a charcoal stove inside the house or an enclosed building or tent. The burning charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO). This stuff is deadly.

Don't let the list of things keep you from preparing for a short-term emergency because you probably already have all the needed stuff, except for the extra food.

Preparing to have food for a longer emergency, two to four weeks, is a matter of storing more canned, bottled, and boxed food, but you can't put this amount of food in a box and forget it. You will need to start rotating your food.

There are a few ways of rotating your storage food. One method is to buy all the food at once and put it on your pantry shelves. When you need something, like a can of pears, you go to the store and buy a can of pears. Go to the pantry, take a can of pears off the shelf, and put the can that you bought in the back. This insures you always have fresh canned food, if there is such a thing as fresh canned food.

This method insures that you have food now; additionally, this method also insures that you have food that you eat, but it has at least one problem. Most people don't have $500 to immediately drop on food plus their normal food bill.

A variation of the above method is to buy one or two extra of the canned and boxed foods you normally eat every time you go to the store. Put the extra food on the shelf and rotate as mentioned.

Another method of rotating your food is to build special shelves. The shelves are a set of ramps. As a can is removed, all of the cans immediately roll one spot down the ramps. If your grocery store has the new Campbell's soup displays, open up the display and observe. Some refrigerators have soda can dispensers with the ramps. Just use a can, then buy another can and add to the top of the ramp as needed.

This method is OK, but you have to know how many cans a set of ramps hold, and it wastes a little space. Each set of cans needs its own supports for the ramp, more money and more complicated to build.

To save money, I watch for sales and stock up then, and I buy store brand products instead of the major name brands. Be careful, some store brands taste slightly different from the national brands of food.

Some people will tell you to buy your food in bulk at the warehouse store, I usually don't recommend this because you have to pay extra money up front for membership; the sizes of cans could be too big, wasting food; and you and your family might not like the food.

One thing you may wish to avoid in your food storage are MREs. Meal Ready to Eat are specialized meals developed for the military. They have greatly improved since the meals first came out; however, you have to like them. If you are in the military or know some one the military, they will tell you MREs can suck. Plus, at about the same price as two cans of fruit, 2 cans of vegetables, three cans of tuna, and a bottle of water, you get one MRE. MREs are expensive but they do offer convenience and portability in an emergency.

If you have decided to store food for only a couple of weeks, stop here and read the first four links. I invite you to continue reading even if you are only preparing for a short-term emergency.


Be Prepared with a Three Day Emergency Food Supply:

Food and Water in an Emergency by the American Red Cross:

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency:

Seven Mistakes of Food Storage by Vicki Tate:

Someone You Know


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