Monday, 11 July 2016

11:09 – As a follow-up to Nick’s first post, I’ll tell a similar story of my own.

I got started prepping when I was nine years old, during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Like most adults, my parents were scared and trying to keep it from the kids. We knew something was going on, but few of us realized that our parents were terrified that the USSR was about to nuke us. My dad got to work immediately building a shelter in a basement room and stocking it with food and water. He let me “help” him.

For the next 45 years or so, I maintained a higher-than-average state of readiness for emergencies. The financial crisis of 2008 kicked me into higher gear. On every Costco run, I started buying extra stuff–a case of vegetables, another of soup, another of canned chicken, and so on. From then until late 2013, we maintained probably a 3- to 4-month supply of food, as well as the stuff needed to purify water and so on. I’ve been a shooter since I was a young teenager, so we already had guns and ammo.

In early 2014, I became concerned enough with world events in general and US events in particular that I decided to expand and extend our food supply to carry us for at least a year, as well as having enough to provide for Barbara’s family. In June 2014, I told Barbara that for my birthday I wanted a trip to the LDS Home Storage Center over near the Greensboro airport, where I planned to fill up the back of the Trooper. We made that trip, and hauled back about 700 pounds of food, mostly in #10 cans. I bought four 6-can cases each of flour, sugar, macaroni, spaghetti, potato flakes, rice, and non-fat dry milk, along with smaller quantities of several other items.

No beans, you’ll note. Beans are important in most long-term food storage programs because the protein in grains is not complete. It lacks essential amino acids that are present in beans, so the two in combination provide a complete protein. (One can literally starve to death by eating only grains or only beans.) Instead of beans, I decided to stock up on animal protein, which is complete by itself and is also an excellent supplement to grain protein. So I bought lots of canned meats–hamburger, chicken, pork, Spam, and so on. A couple of hundred pounds worth. Other than chicken, Barbara doesn’t particularly like the canned meats, but if it came down to it I’m sure she’d much rather be eating canned hamburger and pork than just beans. Not that I completely ignored beans. We keep 100+ one-pound cans of Bush’s Best Baked Beans on hand, along with a smaller supply of dried beans.

With all that on hand, the next thing I needed to cover was salt and oils/fats. Salt was easy enough. I picked up a dozen or so 4-pound boxes of iodized salt at Sam’s Club, which I later transferred to wide-mouth PET bottles that used to hold Mott’s applesauce. (They’re a lot easier to clean out than ones that had spaghetti sauce in them.) For oils, the first thing I did was order a dozen 3-pound cans of Crisco shortening. It’s saturated fat, which scares some people, but in reality it’s just as healthy to eat saturated fats as unsaturated or polyunsaturated. Probably healthier, actually. To that, I added several 3-liter bottles of Costco olive oil, which live in our vertical freezer where they’ll remain good for decades.

With all that on hand, my next priority was to start picking up #10 cans of supplemental stuff. None of it is freeze-dried, because the price of freeze-dried stuff is simply outrageous. All of the stuff I stock in #10 cans that isn’t from LDS is from Augason Farms. Augason stuff is very high quality, but the real reason it’s my go-to brand is that Walmart sells it on-line at a fraction of the list price. I picked up six or eight cans each of the Augason powdered eggs, cheese, butter and Morning Moos milk substitute, along with one to three cans each of other supplemental stuff like TVP meat substitute (bouillon) in beef, chicken, and bacon flavors, lentils for sprouting, and so on. There’s also a 26-pound pail of Augason brown rice, which is rated at seven years, but in reality will last much longer.

All of the stuff in #10 cans from LDS or Augason is in long-term storage, where it will not be touched. The same is true of some of the regular canned stuff like pork, hamburger, Spam, and so on. It’ll be edible and nutritious for longer than Barbara and I are likely to be around. Just that stuff totals enough nutrition to feed Barbara, Colin, and me for a year or more. Then there’s a 2X5-foot five-shelf shelving unit that contains lots of canned and bottled goods–applesauce, spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, etc.–as well as some bulk staples that we’ve repackaged ourselves and use routinely. During each Costco/Sam’s run, we pick up one or two 50-pound bags of flour or sugar or rice, and one or two 10-pound boxes of Quaker oats. We also replace the canned vegetables, sauces, and other stuff that we use routinely.

My next goal is to expand our bulk staples storage significantly. We’ll have packaging parties to transfer those to the one-gallon foil-laminate bags that LDS sells on-line.

Another comment from Dave and my response to it:

“Thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to add flour to my storage foods. My plan is to make it to the local LDS Home Storage Center and pick up some cans. Given Bob’s comments about it being more difficult to store flour in two liter bottles, I’m going to skip that idea. Lisa Bedford’s comments about mites in the flour also concerned me with regard to packaging my own.”

Great. I have four 24-pound cases of LDS HSC flour in the closet. At $3 per #10 can, that’s only $72 worth, about $48 of which is the cost of the cans. (Flour runs about $12.50 per 50-pound bag at Costco.)

I’m debating about adding another six or eight cases of flour from the LDS HSC. I gave up trying to use soda bottles–it takes forever to get the flour into the bottles and packed tightly–so the alternative will be using the one-gallon foil/Mylar bags that LDS on-line sells. That’ll cost about $0.40 per one-gallon bag plus another $0.10 or so for an oxygen absorber. A one-gallon bag holds about 6+ pounds, versus the 4 pounds in the LDS #10 cans, so the packaging cost is about $0.50 per six pounds of flour self-packaged versus about $2.50 per six pounds for the #10 cans. LDS rates shelf-life of their flour at 10 years, which is extremely conservative. I doubt you’d be able to tell any difference after 20 years. The same is true for the foil/Mylar bags, so that’s a wash.

I’m not trying to discourage you from getting the LDS HSC canned flour. If I were you, I’d pick up several cases each of the flour, macaroni, spaghetti, sugar, beans, oats, etc. With some salt and vegetable oil, that’d be a very good start at a pretty reasonable price.

Don’t worry too much about bugs in your bulk staples. An oxygen absorber (or using dry ice) solves that problem. Bugs and their eggs can no more live without oxygen than we can.

Let’s try out this guest post thing!

I posted this in Sunday’s comments, but let’s try it as a guest post (with a few edits).

I think I’ve shared before, but if not, here’s how I approached food storage.

Some needed background: I started prepping for a specific event– Y2K causing social disruption or an excuse for terror attacks. Since I lived in CA, those preps morphed into my “earthquake kit”, then after a move to the Gulf Coast, it became my “hurricane kit.” My focus was on a regional disaster of limited duration, and local effect (aid could come from outside the region but would be delayed in arriving.) As such I had NO bulk long term storage of staples. Ebola and RBT’s prompting, as well as the deteriorating world political and economic climate convinced me I needed to up my food storage significantly. This is when I added “significant and prolonged economic downturn” and “global collapse” to my prepping scenarios.

Back to food. In all my preps I strive for ‘defense in depth’ and redundancy. Food is no different. I think of my food storage in tiers.

First is my pantry. This is the food in the kitchen. Stuff we eat every day, and cooking supplies. Fresh vegetables and meat in the fridge, fresh fruit, and some canned sides and seasonings. Before the kids, we ate mostly home cooked meals, made from primary ingredients. We eat more prepared foods, and convenience foods now, and fewer ‘made from scratch’ meals. That’s changed what’s in the cabinets a bit, as there are more quick pastas and other quick side dishes but it’s mostly stuff we eat regularly and often.

Second tier is my “store”. This is the area just inside my garage (steps from my kitchen by going out the back door) where I keep a “store” for items we use up on a regular basis. They are on shelves and can easily be seen and grabbed to take into the kitchen and restock the pantry. My freezer and second fridge are here. The shelves hold 3-6 months usage of stuff like condiments, peanut butter and jelly, snacks for the kids’ lunches, ziplok bags, some cleaning stuff. It’s meant to be the first place to go when something in the kitchen that we use all the time runs out, instead of running to the store. It also has some things we don’t use as often but like to keep close by like rice cups, crock pot sauces, peanut oil, bottled drinks and juice boxes, etc. The fridge holds eggs, milk, cream, beer, wine, soda, cheese in many forms, and fresh meat if it won’t fit in the kitchen or is waiting for me to repack and freeze it. The small freezer in the fridge holds microwaveable meals, bread, pizza, mostly convenience foods. The modestly sized chest freezer holds meat mainly, much of it bought in bulk then repacked and vac sealed. Sometimes there is bread, usually some Costco heat and eat convenience food, and a couple gallons of frozen liquid eggs. The majority is bulk protein.

The third tier, and area, is some relatively recent shelving. It holds my backups for the “store” area, bulk cleaners, my serious canned goods, sauces, seasonings, oils, etc. I consider this my longer term area as it has stuff we don’t normally eat much of (canned veg, meat, and beans) but will be needed if we get to that point. I do pull from this area directly when I make something with pouch meat, canned ham, or I need a quick side dish that’s not on the shelf in the “store” area. Ideally everything in this area has a 2 year or longer shelf life. I have some of it organized on cardboard flats in 30day groupings. One flat has 30 cans of meat. One has 30 cans of veg or starch. The two flats together are minimal meals for our family for 30 days. I can see at a glance how many days I can get with just those 30 day flats. I’ve also got my Mountain House freeze dried meals in this area. I have them in boxes of so many people for so many days. Ie, each box has breakfast, lunch, snack, drink flavors, and dinner for x people for x days. I can grab the boxes if we have to leave in a hurry and know I’ve just got to add water and heat. They are light and compact.

When groceries come home they go into the pantry if fresh, or into the third tier if long term. The third refreshes the second, and the second refreshes the pantry and kitchen. There is some rotation by doing it this way, just less than perfect because some of the items never get used in normal life.

The last tier is bulk staples. These are not something I use or access ever. I just put them in buckets or bins, and hope I never get that hungry. Flour, rice (couple varieties), salt, sugar, oil, powered milk, and some coffee in big tins. If things really go south, I expect this to extend the other tiers of stored food, and/or to provide charity or assistance if prudent. If I buy some long term storage freeze-drieds, this is where they will go.

Finally, the TV coverage of the tornadoes in OK a year or so ago convinced me of the need to have backups OFFSITE. So I have a lot more bulk, cans, water, fuel, stoves, pots and pans, and other supplies stored elsewhere. That was a bit of a ‘panic buy’ and is far less organized. I expect a bunch of spoilage in that offsite storage, although I’m trying to rotate some of it home. Like I said before, I expect spoilage and waste in my long term storage food. We just don’t eat those things in our everyday lives, and my storage conditions are less than ideal. I can live with it. Can’t live without it 🙂


So that’s how I do it. The system has evolved over time, and worked well through several regional disasters. The addition of longer term and bulk was very easy to integrate, as I just tacked it on to the back end. I’ve still got a way to go, but I feel pretty good about where I am at the moment, and can focus on other things. It should be clear, but if it’s not, almost all of it was incremental. With the exception of the couple of months when I added a bunch of cans and bulk to every Costco trip in my ‘panic buy’, I built what I have by simply buying a bit extra with every shopping trip, especially looking for bargains and buying what was on sale at the time.

I’m looking forward to the comments, and seeing how this whole thing looks 🙂