Food Storage

Published by: Lisa Meissner

This last week I decided to tackle the large question about my food storage. Since Nick and I were married we keep visiting this question each year and stocking our pantry with the necessary items. Oats, Beans, Wheat, Rice, Salt, Honey, Dried fruit, Canned fruit, Canned veggies, Potatoes, Nuts, etc. But I started asking myself the question: Do I have enough food in my pantry to last me a year, till the next harvest? That's my end goal!

Providing food for ones family is an understood responsibility. The problem is that many shift this responsibility to the grocery store, depending on it for this necessity of life. What we fail to think of is how quickly the grocery store shelves go bare leading up to even a fairly routine natural disaster. What if the transportation system is disrupted? How many days of food are on the grocery shelves? And above and beyond that is the fact that much of the commercially available food is treated with dangerous chemicals. And something that many fail to consider is the fact that even much of the organic produce available is just as nutritionally deficient as the non-organic.

Why Food Storage?

Well, the reasons are many and powerful. The time has come to seriously learn and implement agriculture as quickly and thoroughly as possible. I appreciate the simple, but profound truth expressed in Proverbs:

  • “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” - Proverbs 10:5
  • “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” - 1 Tim. 5:8

So where do we start?

Well, that was the question that stumped me for years. I'd find online calculators that would spit out numbers for me. But at the end of the year I would have run out of something we used a lot of, and had too much of other items we didn't use as often. So come harvest time I would find myself stressing about how many boxes of apples or tomatoes I needed to make the necessary salsa, spaghetti sauce, or applesauce we'd need.

Then after years of fussing over this question I had an 'Aha' moment. Or maybe it was more like a 'Duh' moment...

Menu Planning

When you plan out a menu (for 2 weeks or a month, your choice), it gives you a template to work from. Here's what I did, step-by-step:

  1. Sit down and write out meals that are common in your home (don't get gourmet on yourself, be realistic).
  2. Organize them in a calendar, assigning breakfast, lunch, and suppers creating a menu (I would do 2 weeks, it's easier).
  3. Go through your Menu and make a grocery list. I cook from scratch so I had to make a 'recipe list' first then transfer that to a grocery list.
  4. Use your menu for 2 weeks, and be somewhat rigid about it, you want to know what you ACTUALLY eat instead of what you THINK you eat.
  5. Adjust the menu/grocery list to reflect reality.
  6. Multiply out the numbers (if you did a 2 week schedule, then multiply your grocery list by 26; or a 1 month schedule multiplied by 12 months).
  7. Now you have an accurate idea of how much food you need to put up to last you a year.

I know, I know.... that sounds like a LOT of work, and it was. But I only had to do it once. Now I have a much better idea of how much food I need to put up each year.

Another Option

If you are more 'techy' and would like an easier option you can use a menu planning app. One such option is called Meal Board. I've been working on trying to figure it out and when I do, maybe I can do a tutorial on it. There are also other menu planning options out there. Find one that works for you.

Preserving the Harvest

Our forefathers were well acquainted with food preservation… their very lives depended on it. But over the last few generations, their wealth of knowledge and experience has been mostly lost as their grandchildren rely entirely on "the system" for life's most basic necessities.  Pantries and root cellars have turned into supermarkets and restaurants.  Glass jars and ceramic crocks have disappeared and emerged as plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

Fortunately, "putting up" the harvest is neither difficult nor unpleasant.  Those who practice this lost art are rewarded with rich dividends as their family enjoys the highest quality of provisions and the security of food independence.

We recently put together a DVD called Preserving the Harvest which covers a wide variety of food storage options. There are so many ways to put up the harvest and store your food long term. The DVD demonstrates how you can practice this lost art of food preservation and reclaim the independence our forefathers cherished.  You'll learn about pressure and water bath canning, curing, dehydrating, freezing, grain storage, bread making, vacuum packing, culturing, and root cellaring. And especially important--you'll learn how to plan and figure how much food your family actually needs and uses.

Other Resources

Well there is a lot of valuable information available. Here are several helpful links and practical information:

  • Gardening DVD's with loads of instruction: Gardening Collection
    Ever tried to garden but it just didn't yield good results? Have you had some results but you know it could be much better? Still trying to figure out how to prune your fruit trees? Ever wanted to learn some of the science behind the garden--why one amendment works and another doesn't? Here is a great place to start! With over 11 hours of education, demonstration, and step-by-step instructions you CAN become a successful gardener! Take this gardening course from the comfort of your own home.
  • Preserving your own, start ordering in bulk, Canning, and Dehyderating your own food is the goal! But as a stop-gap there are ways that you can get started with stocking your pantry. Rainy Day Foods has a nice supply of dried foods and pretty good prices. I also order bulk items from Azure Standard.
  • Long Term Wheat Storage (and other Bulk food items) Storing wheat and dry bulk food items is an important part of homesteading. Just think what happened 100 years ago when the farmers harvested their crops of grain. You would have likely gone and purchased what you needed to get you through till the next wheat harvest. Then you’d carefully store it so that it would spoil or get infested with bugs. So here are a few tips that you’ll find helpful in storing your grains.
  • Seed Saving (Baker Creek Seeds) for starting your own garden!  Not all that long ago, seeds for heirloom vegetables were hard to find. Fortunately, that is changing. Several seed companies now specialize in heirloom vegetables. Others offer a mix of old-timers and modern varieties. As hopeful as this trend is, many heirloom vegetable varieties are threatened and may soon become extinct. Still, there is time to save these plants. All it takes is a patch of land (or a container), water, sun, and some seeds. The rest is up to you.  Here are a mix of commercial seed companies, museums, and non-profit organizations that sell heirloom vegetable seeds, and the things you need to grow them. I selected these particular sources because I've had good experiences with them, or have heard good things about them from my sources. I list them here for informational purposes only, without any guarantees. There are, of course, many other fine sources of heirloom seeds.
    Note: Many heirloom vegetable varieties are not available in the seed trade, but can be found through seed saving networks. For more information, see also: Seed Savers, Seed Exchanges, and Seed Societies" From The Heirloom Vegetable Gardener's Assistant
  • We strongly urge you to purchase at least one year's supply of Non-Hybrid seeds for your vegetable garden as soon as you can.
  • For one of the best books written about seeds and the storing of seeds get Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth and Kent Whealy.

1 Comment

  1. Maril

    Great article Lisa! Thanks for the tips on figuring out how to determine how much food you need.


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