Embedded in our minds is the worrisome mantra, “what if” that spans topics from safety and financial security to the health of loved ones, pets and self. Pondering “What can I do?” leads to a proactive decision to invest time in the ultimate insurance policy – valuable life skills comprising security, shelter, food, water and medical care! In any emergency from extreme weather to a personal disaster, you have the power to take charge of your fate by making plans and taking action!
Humans have a fond connection to items of comfort. On the top of the list is food, following a lengthy list of items defined by a feeling of well-being or consolation. Perhaps the recipe has an association to childhood or Mom’s home cooking, or containing chocolate or high sugar! As needs arise, the first step is to open pantry and cupboard doors and start extracting frequently used ingredients. Did you ever think about how often you open containers of sugar, flour, baking soda and salt? Rather than continue to purchase small bags, why not invest in bulk and start a long-term storage pantry?
Reaching Maximum Shelf Life
Almost every container, whether plastic, papered or boxed, is not meant for sustainability. Bread wrapped in plastic bags eventually leads to mold if not eaten quickly. The solution is to change the food’s environment to ensure prolonged and stable shelf-life. Dry pasta left in its original packaging will last up to two years. Add eight years if vacuum sealed, and kept at a stable temperature of 70 degrees. While you can reseal bags, consider Mason jars and reuse the lid.
- With a hand-held, battery-powered sealer for regular and wide-mouth jars, consider having on-hand frequently used items, such as coffee, bulk-loose teas, rice, beans, dehydrated soups, bouillon powder and salt. Just grab a quart jar and use until emptied!
Tip: Place a paper towel over powdered contents, such as pancake, biscuit and muffin mixes, ensuring particles do not compact hoses and corrupt the device.
FACT: Hard candies like lollipops and Jolly Ranchers have an indefinite shelf life. Peppermint candies last five years! Love dark chocolate? When stored in an airtight container and placed in a cool, dark place, it can last up to three years.
Calcium, Vitamin C and Electrolytes
Bottled water is a must-have when creating a list of essential items. Don’t forget other types of liquids, which add to overall health and nutrition.
- Canned seltzer water lasts indefinitely and improves acid reflux and constipation.
- Unopened canned, powdered milk can last well beyond the “best by” date, approximately a decade, and a good substitute for calcium.
- Tang provides calcium and vitamin C while boosting energy levels.
- Gatorade increases hydration through percentages of bicarbonate phosphate, calcium, citric acid and potassium.
- Other options include canned pineapple, vegetable juice and chicken stock!
FACT: Non-fat powdered milk has a shelf life of 15-20 years.
Gatherings with family and friends require investing in bulk foods, especially if canned to reduce overall cost. Beyond the vegetables, beans and fruits you can obtain from grocery, warehouse and big-box stores, there are opportunities to buy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with a shelf-life up to 30 years. Start searching online to buy individual or in paired boxes. Research local locations, such as the LDS Cannery, which is open to the public!
FACT: Dehydrated or freeze-dried foods may store for 20 to 25 years.
Buckets and Bags
Most buckets come with a difficult to pry open, snappable lid. The next best option is a Gamma lid, transforming a container into a resealable, airtight and leak-proof storage unit. The BPA-free plastic lid spins open, allowing easy access to retrieve another beneficial storage item, the Mylar bag. Available in multiple sizes, the bag creates an effective oxygen barrier while protecting the contents from light, moisture and the threat of insects! Just imagine how easy it would be to contain flour, Jasmine rice, sugar, baking soda or salt. With labels and dates, anyone can access the bucket and bag, toss in an oxygen absorber and reseal with an iron or hair straightener!
FACT: Never throw away apple cider vinegar, bouillon cubes, corn starch, corn syrup, hardtack, honey, hard liquor, maple syrup, soy sauce, sugar, vanilla extract, white rice or white vinegar; it lasts forever!
Start small! Consider earmarking $40 monthly to increase your food storage supplies! You’re planning for the “what-if” moment, which could be soon or later!
Next Month: Disaster-Proof Your Home