Literally, just like that, overnight, everyone became preppers.
For years we have listened to people claim preppers are radicals, self-focused, isolationists. Yet spring of 2020 proved that they aren’t as nutty as people thought. Have you heard me say that before? Probably – because for years I have heard it about myself.
Yet, how many times did you go to the store over the last number of months and find the paper product shelves empty with NO toilet paper shipment anywhere in sight? What about canned foods, foods in jars, and canning jars had vanished? It seemed for us, most of our local stores had PLENTY of fresh produce and frozen veggies, but meats and all the prepared foods were completely gone. All because of a virus and government control.
The lock-downs and quarantines are only one of the reasons why people have, for years, looked to storing foods for longer term. Some will say that prepping, is ONLY for times like this – when the world looks like it is going to Hades in a Hand-basket.
Well, I am here to tell you that food storage and prepping are for ANY emergency or sudden need.
I will give you a personal example. When my parents moved from Tucson, AZ to far western New York state, their first full winter was a DOOZY! Dad used to talk about how they had gotten 18 FEET of snow up by their house. I will say, that was over the course of the whole winter, but it was a bad year. Even when it melted, it didn’t melt all the way.
At one point, my folks hadn’t been able to leave the house for a few weeks or so. Suddenly, Mom called me one day and said, “Judith! I finally get it! Three weeks without leaving the house and I realize – we need food storage! Help me out! What do I buy first???” Mom and Dad were TIRED of eating Campbell’s soup two and three meals per day. We spent some time that day putting together a list for her, dad, the dogs AND the cats!
A quick note here: I happen to believe that if you are willing to take on the responsibility of animals, you ought to have foods storage for them, too. Not just pets, either, as even livestock will need to be fed during times of trouble.
I didn’t just help mom put together a list of foods to buy her next trip to the store. I asked her what she had IN the pantry and in the freezer – already. And we walked through some healthier meals for the two of them using what they have on hand. My folks were pretty resourceful, so it seemed odd to me that they couldn’t think things through. I think it was just that they were so used to eating more prepared foods and instant dishes. Habits they had developed over the years because both worked full time jobs. Once I helped mom see how much she already had, it made it easier for her to see what things to stick things in her weekly grocery bill and restock their pantry shelves for the next snowstorm or emergency.
Whether flood, tornado, hurricane, loss of employment, or pandemic. Whatever situation or emergency might affect your ability to run to the store to purchase your normal food items becomes a reason for you to keep food storage ready.
In my adult lifetime, I have had to live on food storage at least four times. All of those times involved a financial issue or hardship. Yet I know others who have had to do it because of being cut off from supplies – for example, a family’s home was on the other side of where a bridge washed out. It took over 3 months to repair. They had to use food storage until they could leave again.
My mother experienced even more times where she was trapped. After dad died, she was stuck for a few weeks at a time alone because of snowstorms and drifts blocking the roads enough that she could not get to town. Because she was ready with both supplies and recipe ideas, it was much less a hardship for her than it was early on.
There are a number of reasons for having preparedness supplies in your home other than Armageddon. If you stop and think about your home state, you can easily see the weather patterns, fire hazards, flooding, and other dangers that could leave you trapped and needing to live on what you have stored.
Evaluate your situation, get things stocked and ready now, and when the next adventure comes along, your stress may be greatly reduced because you are ready and able to feed your family, in spite of conflict going on around you.
Blessings and Shalom.
Not exactly a prepper portion, but...
Sharing a funny little trick I did the other day that might help others. Everyone talks about how easy it is to clean a cooking pot of burnt on gunk with boiling water and baking soda. Well, last week, after a few little Thanksgiving mishaps, our burner drip pans were a MESS! I was trying to scrub them in the sink, thinking how much I could use a nice steel wool scrubby or old-fashioned powdered cleanser to get them clean.
As I stood there using elbow grease and dish soap, a thought hit me: What about that boiling water and baking soda method for pots and pans?
So, I grabbed a deep pot that would fit a few, added water, placed the burner drip pans one at a time in the water, sprinkled in some baking soda on top of it, then added another one, doing the same thing until three were in the pot. I only added three so that I could use the fourth burner to cook the pot.
I set it on the burner and brought it to a strong boil, then turned it down to medium to keep the boil while allowing it to simmer a bit. After about 5 minutes, using tongs, I pulled them out one at a time and scrubbed each with my standard dish sponge. I was amazed at how clean they came! Are they perfect? I have to say, no – that is why you won’t see a photo here. They still need some deep scrubbing to get some deep set-in burnt spills, but it should be easier now that they have been boiled.
I wish I had thought of this years ago – It would have made it so much easier so many times. I hope that maybe this idea will help you make your clean-up easier, too – especially if you spill Thanksgiving Turkey juice all over the top of YOUR stove like I did!
Now, if only I had a pot big enough to fit the entire enameled, stove top!
Blessings and Shalom!
Another message I keep seeing very frequently is that storing dry foods in glass jars is safe for you to do at home AND that those foods will ALSO be storable for 25+/- years. I would like to address both of these as questions.
1) CAN you store dry foods in glass jars safely at home? OF COURSE!
2) Will those foods last 25+/- years in glass? This is a little more complicated – CAN they last that long properly stored in glass jars? MAYBE – and that is a HUGE maybe. For many reasons. Let’s take a closer look at both of these.
In the three decades I have been into food storage, I have used many methods in my home storage programs – large cans (commonly called #10 cans), mylar bags, buckets, and even glass jars – all for dry goods. I have also used several methods of ensuring greater longevity: a professional canning machine which dry seals dry goods into #10 cans, vacuum sealed mylar, vacuum sealed glass jars, plus plastic bottles and buckets sealed with oxygen absorbers, and plastic bottles sealed without oxy packets.
When it comes to glass jar dry sealing or vacuum sealing, I want everyone to understand this is simply a dry pack, vacuum sealed method of canning with a home vacuum sealer. I am NOT talking about water bath or pressure canning of wet foods – I am simply talking about dry goods.
I have canned or bucketed just about any kind of food: dry milk powders, potato flakes and pearls, beans, grains, pastas, dried fruits and vegetables, sugars, and much more. At one point, I was responsible for putting up and rotating a food storage program that SHOULD last 6 people right around 1 full year. A bit longer if rationed well.
It is very important to understand that there are specific requirements when storing dried foods. Those things are:
- keep it dry
- keep temperatures between 40 & 60 degrees F if at all possible
- out of light, especially sunlight
We will go into these in more detail in future blogs, but let's quickly summarize each. Keeping food dry should be obviously important - wet dried foods promote bacteria, fungus, and other foul growth to occur in foods which will cause them to spoil very quickly and may even cause a toxicity that can make people sick, or even die. Keeping foods airtight helps keep foods from spoiling as well because moisture can sneak in through that open-air as well as bacteria and possibly even creatures. Temperature helps maintain lengthier storage times which is important if you do not rotate foods as quickly as some families do. And finally, light destroys nutrients in stored foods.
The first three of these can be maintained fairly well in glass jars that are vacuum sealed. However, glass jars allow light in, and in fact block little to no light at all. In some cases they may even magnify the light as it passes through the glass. There are some glass jars that are lightly or even darker tinted, especially greens and browns, but these will only reduce light, not block it well enough.
This last reason is the biggest reason why I do not recommend vacuum sealing in glass jars for long term food storage. For our personal storage, I do not dry-pack, vacuum sealed store foods in glass jars for longer than 2 years. AND this two years is HIGHLY dependent upon our home temperature AND the food inside! Foods that are higher in moisture, such as many dried fruits, I do not store more than 6-9 months. This ensures two things: 1) we are eating a nicely balanced, well-rounded diet on a regular basis; 2) we are rotating our foods fast enough to not allow for contamination or deterioration.
Some say I am overly cautious, others say I am way too overly cautious! Personally, because something contaminated can seriously be dangerous, I prefer to err on the side of caution and sensibility, rather than risk anyone's health or life.
Plus, storing this way just plain tastes really yummy!
In recent weeks, while preparing these blogs articles and scripts for videos, I actually learned through the updated information on my top resources that I am no longer actually erring on the side of caution in some cases of specific fruits we store. In fact, some of my resources mention that dehydrating and storing specific fruits and vegetables is ONLY good for 3-6 months.
I learned early on that you need to have access to at least 3 reliable resources which teach how to properly store dry foods. No matter how much of an expert we believe we are on a topic, there is ALWAYS changing information. This is especially true in the area of storing foods at home. This changing information often comes through studies done by these reliable resources.
My resources almost always originate from or through cooperative extension offices and/or universities. This is because they are always challenging and testing the old methods as well as new ones to help people ensure they are feeding the healthiest and safest foods to their families. These institutions publish regular articles, books, PDFs, and other writings which you can print or purchase to keep on hand in your own notebook or binder in case you have questions.
Currently, my favorite links are:
#1 - https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry.html
University of Georgia – National Center for Home Food Preservation. I listed this one as the first one because it is referenced in many other resources I used to use. Right now, it is actually referenced in a few articles on my #3!
#2 - https://njaes.rutgers.edu/food-safety/home-food-preservation/
Rutgers University Cooperative Extension - I have followed Rutgers Co-op Extension for decades – I believe I have followed them since I started learning to do home water bath canning way back when I had two little toddlers at home. I find they are very reliable and quite qualified.
#3 - https://extension.usu.edu/foodstorage/
Utah State University – Utah is home of one of the largest home food storage centers in the world - the Mormons. Because of their strong beliefs in family preparedness, the universities there do a great bit of study in storage methods. Just looking at the scientific references USU uses to back up their articles shows how in depth this organization goes with their preparedness safety:
Another resource is found on the USDA website.
It is my hope and prayer that this article will help you better prepare your family's food storage system. May it be one that is filled with delicious and healthy foods that will keep your family strong in times of trial and trouble. Whether large or small.
Here's a hot topic on the minds of many of our friends out there. With all these emergency directives going on around the United States, I keep seeing a particular claim pretty much everywhere – blogs, videos, podcasts, radio shows and even advertisements proclaiming how easy it is for you to store dry foods for up to 25 years. You will sometimes even see us talk about companies and products who state this. We have one link on our website to an affiliate program we enjoy for freeze dried foods that make this statement, too.
The question, though which needs to be asked, is not CAN you store dry foods for that long, but SHOULD YOU store foods for that long. Because the simple answer to the first question is: YES, you CAN or rather MAY be able to store some foods for up to 25 years - in a dark basement, root cellar, or closet, hidden away from the world, under controlled conditions.
You see, certain foods, when stored correctly, ARE shelf stable for as long as 25 years. Many people claim that grains of wheat discovered in Egypt, dated to over 4000 years old were tested and determined to still be edible, even after that length of time. I used to have some wheat kernels that came from a company touting the fact that containers COULD be stored for 35-50 years.
Notice the words I keep using – CAN, MAY, COULD, SHOULD. THESE are key.
The first thing to know here is that these claims are made based on the fact that the food would be stored under optimal conditions for storing. What ARE optimal conditions???
According to Utah State University, the optimal temperature for storing many foods for long term is 40-60 degrees. Over the years, I have seen variances on this going up to as high as 50 degrees F on the low end, and 70 degrees on the high end. BUT we will go by the current standard as this IS something that experts in food storage study on a regular basis. On their website, USU states, “United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, states that for every 10.8 degrees in temperature rise you decrease the shelf life of stored food by half.” Imagine that! BY HALF!
This means: If the proclaimed storage life of a food is 25 years at 40-60 degrees, yet you store it at 70.8 degrees, you could have already cut shelf life to 12.5 years.
We have seen how easily it is for higher temperatures to decrease the storage time, or even destroy the dry goods you have stored. This can happen very quickly without your knowledge - especially if temperatures rise extremely high. Many people do consider temperatures when storing foods, and they make certain they have a location that stays within this range. BUT, in many homes, that location is within the walls of the living structure! THIS can be an issue - Americans are so used to central air conditioning and heating in our homes. But what happens without power in the summer-time? Temps in the home can go up in no time at all, even with open windows and fans running.
In recent years there have been issues with rolling brown outs in cities and states out west, especially CA. Right now, Sept 2020, there are a lot of overwhelming forest fires in the west and many areas are told to shut off AC units and don’t open windows. Arizona is a great example this year. Many typical daily temperatures have been well above 100 degrees F!
What happens if you live in an area of the US where brown-outs and black-outs happen frequently? Or you have a power outage as we did in 2018 after a massive storm? What if you are storing your dry goods out in an out-building on your property and temperatures rise? How about in a room in the home that doesn’t have as good cooling as the rest of the home? You must take those times into consideration if the temperature of your storage facility rises above the standard optimal temps for food storage. This can apply to canned foods as well.
We had a personal experience with high temperatures when we moved to West Virginia. We packed up a lot of our storage items into large shipping crates to have them moved and delivered to our new home. We had some delays in settlement and ended up storing our foods and supplies in those crates outdoors, late June for over 2 weeks. Because of this, knowing the temperatures had reached well over 150 degrees inside our crates, as we opened foods from our supplies, I checked to ensure they were good and had not spoiled or gone rancid. Sadly, a few things, were spoiled. For example, white rice, brown rice and some pastas were completely inedible – you could SMELL how bad they were! The brown rice I could justify because it has a shorter storage time than white rice. But white rice has a much longer shelf life as does pasta. This was store bought pasta, which one might not think would go rancid quickly. Yet, it had.
Heat is just one environmental influence which can affect your storage time. The other end of the spectrum is dangerous, too – freezing. Freezing can compromise can and jar seals, cause jars to rupture as they freeze and thaw, and even affect the storage life of dry goods. This last one is especially true if as the temps change up and down condensation forms inside your wheat kernels, for example. This may be extremely rare, especially since the majority of dry grains have an extremely low moisture content when stored. But I have had it happen to a bucket of wheat. The moisture caused the wheat to be extremely bad when I opened that bucket – again, you could smell the stench.
ALL of these details MUST be taken into consideration when you are thinking you are putting dry foods up for LONG term storage – especially since, if only 10.8 degrees higher decreases your storage time by half, that temperature increase can happen way too easily for us to disregard it. You know, in our own home, during the SUMMER MONTHS WITH AN AC RUNNING, our house temperature during the day is set around 72 degrees F. That is already at the point of compromise for long term food storage calculations. We keep our thermostat a bit lower than many. You see, according to recent releases from the US Department of Energy reported by CNN, “The US Department of Energy also encourages homeowners to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees when they're home.” If you are keeping your food storage in the closet or a storeroom because it is the only place you have, then you may decrease your storage time dramatically - to roughly around 8.5 years or so.
So you see, when we go back to the initial question of CAN YOU store foods for 25+/- years? Yes, you MAY be able to under optimal conditions, but the REAL question is SHOULD YOU, and I would have to say emphatically – NO. You SHOULD NOT try to store foods for more than a few years at a time.
Some other reasons why I recommend not storing long term is this: In the 30+ years I have been into food storage, there have been several occasions where my household has had to live off stored food for periods of time. From experience, I have watched as both children and adults go through the process of transition as they go from eating regular daily meals to eating food stored for “emergencies.” Through those times I have learned a lot about different types of foods as well as how to use them.
Here are some tips:
1) One of the first principles I was taught decades ago is that a family needs to store foods they eat, then eat what they have stored through rotating your storage. What it means is this – whatever you currently eat on a daily basis is what you ought to store as food storage. But it also means that you need to learn NOW how to eat more basic foods and those foods which are more healthy for you and your family.
When someone first told me this, I had two young children. They ate a lot of instant cold cereals. I sat down, and watched how much they ate at one sitting, then I calculated how many boxes I would need. I was stunned! It was almost enough to fill one of their bedrooms in that tiny little house we were living in at the time! I would need one room just for breakfasts! So, I started making changes right then and there.
I can promise you that, if all we had for food storage because of space limitation was that instant cold cereals, our children living on Captain Crunch and Pop Tarts for several months or a year is not going to deliver a healthy family. Please know I am not picking on anyone – these happened to be some of the favorites of my kids when they were little! However, I do recommend you take the time NOW to teach your family to eat what you can easily store longer term in as small a space as possible. You will find by doing this, you will get more meals stored in a smaller amount of space!
You can make a lot of wonderful meals from the dry ingredients as well as canned foods you can keep pantry stable. I plan to go into more of these ideas in future videos..
2) If you are eating what you store, your food items will naturally rotate through and constantly stay refreshed. This will end up reducing the "threat" to your storage time from fluctuating temperatures. There is something else to consider, though, if you spring strange foods on family in an urgent need, the following is a strong possibility:
~ Complaining leads to conflict and a lack of peace in the home. If you are already under stress because of the drama of the situation, it is best to try to reduce as much stress as possible. This is done by changing the diet now, when life is more comfy. But remember to change somewhat slowly. An idea I used is to have the kids eat oatmeal once or twice a week. I also learned to make homemade granola. Doing this little by little helped my family move away from sugary cereals that were low in nutrition and into foods that were much healthier over all.
~ Family may not eat what you cook if it is foreign to them. You could end up with a lot of wasted foods. OR even more complaining ensues because they are HUNGRY from not having eaten. EVEN WORSE STILL, if people get “HANGRY” (hungry and angry all rolled into one unpleasant individual!) those yummy foods you stored for special treats could fall victim to theft as they try to compensate for their lack of comfort. When the disappearance of yummy foods is discovered it causes more conflict. A never-ending cycle.
3) Another issue I have seen over the years are those folks who store 500 lbs of whole grain wheat berries in buckets or cans, thinking they will use it to make breads, rolls, and such during times of trouble. All sounds good except your family eats only white bread. OR, they only eat store bought bread and have never had homemade.
Homemade breads are often quite different in texture and taste from store-bought. Instead, start now transitioning their taste buds.
4) FIBER! Often, the stored foods, especially whole grains, have a higher fiber content than what the average American is used to. If you suddenly start feeding high fiber foods to someone not used to it. . . let’s just say discomfort can happen. Let’s be as direct as possible, and yet polite as possible. Diarrhea, gas & gas pains, bloating, and over all illness can ensue. NOT something you want to face in an emergency.
Nutrition can also become a problem if bodies are not properly using foods they are ingesting. Especially when someone is expelling waste almost as swiftly as food is consumed because of intestinal disturbance. If your family is not used to eating what you are storing, you may find you suddenly go through your toilet paper storage a lot faster than anticipated, too! Changing a diet dramatically like that WILL CAUSE dietary distress.
To sum it all up –
CAN you store certain foods for up to 25 years? Yes, it MAY be possible to do so if ALL the conditions are optimal.
SHOULD YOU store foods for up to 25 years? I don’t ever recommend it when I talk with people about the topic. Because, a) the true storage time may have actually been reduced due to the storage temperatures, moisture, and other environmental conditions. and b) if you are storing it for 25 years, it isn’t something your family normally eats or is used to, and it may cause all kinds of conflicts should you suddenly need to eat it in a pinch!
Store the foods your family WILL eat, but do everything you can now while you can to transition them into a eating habits that are healthier and fit easier into the food storage lifestyle.
Please see the links below for more information and submit questions in the comments below or through our contact form at www.torahforwomen.com
Freeze Dried Foods -
My Top Three Storage Resources:
Judith has over 20 years experience in food storage, herbs, essential oils, and prepping. She was a captain in the USAF-AUX, FEMA trained, Community Emergency Response Team member and NRA marksmanship award recipient. She shares her experiences with her readers offering tips and recipes.
DISCLOSURE: Were a business and may be paid or given free samples of products and services and therefore any information or article contained on this site should not be considered unbiased. Also, these articles may reflect our personal opinions and are provided as news and information only and should never be a substitute for professional, legal , medical or financial. consultation and advice. Conduct your own due diligence and verify the accuracy of each article.