Tag Archives: food storage questions

Long-Term Storage Foods, Food Frugality, & Food Security

For a long while now, I’ve planned to make menus using more long-term storage foods. For one thing, long-term storage foods are usually available in bulk, or I can buy them in bulk, and the prices  aren’t as seasonally variable. I’m not talking about the canned goods available for preppers and Mormons. I’m talking about regular food available at the supermarket, although I may buy a caselot or large quantity! (Eventually, I might just buy those prepper or Mormon foods, although I never have.)

I’ve researched how long foods last and in what conditions. My plan has always been to take foods which are the most shelf-stable and incorporate those into our diet.

Very long-term storage foods, 2 years or more,  which don’t require any extra equipment to store include mostly unopened packages of: sugar,white rice, canned ham, canned coffee, chocolate syrup, instant tea,vanilla, vinegar, unpopped popcorn, condiment sauces: hot sauce, worcestershire, salsa, and hard liquor, according to one list.

Aside from the canned ham and possibly the popcorn, if you could grind it into cornmeal, there’s not much there that will sustain life.

Another list adds ground herbs & spices, whole spices, bottled water, bullion, canned meat & vegetables, and wheat berries to the long-term storage list.

Foods which can be stored for up to a year are more plentiful. Add corn meal, grits, whole grain pasta, nonfat dry milk, vegetable oil, dry soup mixes, canned fruits,  canned juices & tomatoes, dried peas and beans, unshelled nuts, canned coffee, and tea.

Various sources disagree about how long foods can be stored, so do your own research. The disagreements are why I haven’t included links.

However, with the wheat, rice, beans, and herbs, ah now I can make more than just canned ham. Off the top of my head you can make rice & beans, bean burgers,  wheatberry salad, etc.

Part of this is retirement planning too. I figure we won’t be able to afford premium foods, unless we buy and use them only as condiments. Using meats that way is something we’ve already changed. When the price of ground beef got over $4 a pound, I stopped buying meat at full price. We’ve been eating only what I can find on sale, about 1/2 off in most cases since. Sometimes that’s sausage, sometimes it’s steak, sometimes, we just eat salad. We’re not feeling deprived and we have sufficient calories and nutrients, I think, so I’m not worried about not having meat every day. If you were raised in the era I was, meat was something you were taught you had to have every night for dinner.

Also, we’ve been baking bread, eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of cold cereal, and we keep talking about learning to make our own crackers and such, as the price per pound for snackfood makes it almost obscene to buy anything, and we like munching just like everyone!

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This post was started some time ago, as was the post “Life with Sugar” which I also published today. However, I haven’t changed my ideas. What has changed is that these days I would include more home-frozen foods.

Also, a neighbor has a successful root cellar. On my list today is to call her to see if I can go over and talk to her about how she stores veggies through winter. I can store beans, peas, flour, etc. but the veggies are more difficult!

Life with Sugar

For some time I’ve been interested in food storage. Recently I found links to food storage charts. Some of the listed items are almost upsetting: packaged cookies are good for four months? (Home made, by contrast are good for 2-3 weeks.) …are they preservatives iced with preservatives? It’s enough to make you change your eating habits! I can resist most cakes, pies, ice cream, but cookies are my downfall. I usually avoid making them for just that reason, maybe I should rethink that?

I’m not as interested in regular food storage, as I am long-term storage. Knowing what can be stored a long time tells me what I should stock the most, then use the rest of my food dollar for the fresh or short-lived stuff.

Things that are good for more than 1 year (at pantry temp 70 degrees) include the staples you’d expect, baking power/soda, boullion, semi-sweet chocolate, unopened chocolate syrup, cornstarch, dry gelatin, dry pasta, rice, etc. But there are some surprises and even disagreements between the charts I found.

Powdered sugar can be stored 18 months in a pantry, but granulated only 12. Why is powdered sugar more shelf stable than granulated?

Brown sugar can be stored only 4 months? Granulated can be stored 12 months and molasses 6 months (opened) or 12 months (unopened). I haven’t bought brown sugar for years, I mix my own. (1T molasses (or more) as needed per 1/2C granulated sugar). I never store brown sugar as I only make it up as needed.

Why are molasses and granulated sugar both more shelf stable than commercial brown sugar? What does this say about commercial brown sugar? I don’t know, but I find it upsetting or at least disconcerting. I’m glad I’ve been mixing my own for years.

Working on trying to make a long-term storage chart has had some unexpected consequences. Life can be strange!

Menu Planning That Isn’t

I discovered that one of my war-time books has a chart with how much food should be used, how often, and what that corresponds to for stored foods (canned, brined, frozen or dried).

Yes, I know the nutritional amounts are likely off, but the last information I found like this was how many row feet of each veggie you needed to grow, per person, per year.

That’s great, if you grow most of your food,  in feet rows; I don’t. I have a few garden beds and get food from markets and a CSA. Also, I don’t regularly buy things like 25 lb bags of wheat berries from Honeyville or other such suppliers.

What I had/could find made it hard to have any idea how much food I’d need to store. Do I have room? Do I really want to do this? (Probably not.) But it was an impossible question to answer before I found this chart.

I believe in the pantry principal, as a money saver, and have for years. (See Barbara Salsbury’s Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half.) But again, how much is sane? What is ridiculous? Where will it just be too much and wasted?

I’ve been working on it. The CSA runs 6 months a year. The plan has always been to not only use the fresh stuff while it runs, but set aside enough to use the rest of the year. Otherwise, it isn’t worth it as it increases our food budget 25% for the year. But if we can buy less during the other 6 months, then it means that I suddenly can afford to feed us organic, fresh or home-preserved food.

I haven’t managed this yet. Two reasons: year one I had no idea how much food I was going to get. Last year (year two) our fridge broke then worked then broke — and we tossed a huge amount of produce accordingly.

But now I know what I SHOULD have!

On the “I’m trying to empty the pantry and freezer by June 30” quest. . . I had one large loin pork chop in the freezer. We had it baked over sweet potatoes, onion, a small amount of raisins, and water. I made gravy from the drippings. Turned out exactly the way I planned, yummy. Today we ate the other 1/2 of this, I diluted the gravy for stock, added some more Better Than Bullion (chicken), chopped the meat added some thyme and made cornbread of a sort. Great lunch. One $3 piece of meat, 4 meals. (It was on sale.)

Not only did I use the pork chop from the freezer, but sweet potatoes and onion from the pantry as well as raisins, BTB, thyme and the fixin’s for cornbread. No recipe for the entrees, no preplanning, just the seat of my pants. I did use a recipe for the bread.

Tonight we should do meatless, but I have a partially picked chicken in the fridge to deal with . . . we’ll see!

One of my other discoveries from the WWII booklet is that I probably should feed us more elaborate meals, I usually do 2  items a veg and entree, sometimes salad. When you’re trying to stretch things the plate gets a bit empty sometimes, more items would help that and also with the empty the stores project too.

Life with Sugar

For some time I’ve been interested in food storage. Recently I found links to food storage charts. Some of the listed items are almost upsetting: packaged cookies are good for four months? (Home made, by contrast are good for 2-3 weeks). . . are they preservatives iced with preservatives? It’s enough to make you change your eating habits! I can resist most cakes, pies, ice cream, but cookies are my downfall. I usually avoid making them for just that reason, maybe I should rethink that?

I’m not as interested in regular food storage as I am long-term storage. Knowing what can be stored a long time tells me what I should stock first, then use the rest of my food dollar for fresh or short-lived stuff.

Things that are good for more than 1 year (at pantry temp 70 degrees) include the staples you’d expect: baking power/soda, bouillon, semi-sweet chocolate, unopened chocolate syrup, cornstarch, dry gelatin, dry pasta, rice, etc. But there are some surprises and even disagreements between the charts I found.

Powdered sugar can be stored 18 months in a pantry, but granulated only 12. Why is powdered sugar more shelf stable than granulated?

Brown sugar can be stored only 4 months? Granulated can be stored 12 months and molasses 6 months (opened) or 12 months (unopened). I haven’t bought brown sugar for years, I mix my own. (1T molasses (or more) as needed per 1/2C granulated sugar). I never store brown sugar as I only make it up as needed.

Why are molasses and granulated sugar both more shelf stable than commercial brown sugar? What does this says about commercial brown sugar? I don’t know, but I find it upsetting or at least disconcerting. I’m glad I’ve been mixing my own for years.

Working on making a long-term storage chart has had some unexpected consequences. Life can be strange!