Dehydrated Food: What to Store and How Much to Store

This article is a continuation of the last two in which I discussed The Advantages Of Storing Dehydrated Foods and How To Store Bulk Foods.

The basic food items recommended for storage and the quantities to store are listed below. These are only suggestions. Every individual and family is unique in what they like and will eat. If you don’t drink milk or eat meat, wheat, sugar or any other food item listed, then you will need to adjust the amount of these items that you store.

Grains: (300 lbs. per person per year or 75 lbs. for three months.) I recommend that you have a wide variety of whole grains. Make sure your family will eat wheat. Some people are allergic to wheat and find it out when they have to eat it on a daily basis.

Some other grains to choose from are rice, oats, corn, six-grain and nine-grain cereals, farina, germade, barley, buckwheat, rye and super grains like: quinoa, amaranth, triticale, Kamut®, spelt and millet. Included in the grain category are all pastas such as: macaroni, spaghetti and linguini.

White rice verses brown rice: Brown rice doesn’t store very long. It will go rancid if it is not kept in the freezer. The shelf life is six months in room temperature. If it is kept in the freezer it will last a couple of years.

White rice is the best choice for long-term food storage. White rice stores years longer than brown.

Legumes: (75 lbs. per person per year or about 19 lbs. for three months.) Store a variety of beans. This includes black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, great northern beans, small red beans, lima, dry peas, soy beans and lentils.

Beans are a great source of protein and, when combined with rice, become a complete protein. Beans can be used whole, sprouted or ground into flour to make thickeners or refried beans. When combined with rice in a meal, it makes a great meat substitute.

Milk and dairy products: (60 lbs. per person per year or 15 lbs. for three months) This includes non-fat powdered milk, dried eggs, dried cheddar cheese powder, buttermilk powder and dried butter powder.

Sweeteners: (60 lbs. per person per year or 15 lbs. for three months) Sweeteners include honey, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, agave and stevia.

Fruits: 30 lbs. dehydrated fruits per person per year or 8 lbs. for three months) This includes dried items such as apple slices, apple bits, applesauce, raisins and fruit mix and all wet-pack canned fruits, as well as fresh fruits in season.

Vegetables: (40 lbs. of dehydrated vegetables per person per year or 10 lbs. for three months) This includes dried items such as bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, sweet corn, onions, peas, potato slices, potato dices, potato flakes, potato pearls, tomatoes and tomato powder and all wet-pack canned vegetables as well as fresh garden veggies.

Fats and oils: (Two gallons of oil and two large Crisco®-type cans of shortening per person per year or one-half gallon of oil and one-half can of shortening for three months) Other alternatives include dried butter and shortening powder, cooking oil, such as vegetable, olive and coconut oil and peanut butter. Good quality extra virgin olive oil, first run cold pressed, or coconut oil will store for up to five years.

Meats and meat substitutes: (35 pounds or more of canned meats per person per year or 8 ½ lbs. of canned meats for three months). (Beans and rice can be included as meat substitutes.)  If you are vegetarian, you will need to plan meat alternatives and other non-animal protein type foods. My personal opinion is that you need to have a wide variety of canned meats such as: tuna, salmon, chicken, beef chunks, ham and freeze-dried meats.

Sprouting seeds and beans: (20 pounds per person per year or five pounds for three months.) Some of the different sprouting seeds include; alfalfa, broccoli, radish, mung, red clover, adzuki, sunflower, garbanzo, lentils, sprouting peas, salad blends, etc. These must be specifically for sprouting. Sprouting beans, seeds, legumes and wheat is the best way to have salad greens year round. Sprouting increases the nutritional value by 300 times. A seed, grain, bean or legume turns into a vegetable when sprouted. Sprouting can save your life.

Gardening seeds: (Preferably non-hybrid) Store all varieties of garden seeds that you like. Keep your packets safe and sealed in a plastic bucket away from mice, insects and moisture. Hybrid seeds are genetically altered and will germinate for one season only. If you want to save seeds to plant for the next year, store heirloom of non-hybrid seeds. They are much harder to find, but you can look them up on the Internet and find companies that specialize in these seeds.

Flavorings and adjunct foods: All baking items such as baking powder, baking soda, yeast, salt, flavoring, spices, bouillon, soup bases and sauces.

Condiments and fun Foods: These foods include things such as; jams, jellies, drink mixes, gelatin, sauces, ketchup, pickles, relishes, olives, salad dressings, mayonnaise, candy, puddings, dessert filling, box mixes, popcorn and canned juices, etc.

Baby Food: If you have a baby or little children, they are the top priority in a crisis. Store everything you need for them including food and non-food items such as formula, diapers, wipes, extra clothing, warm blankets etc. Don’t forget baby bottles and nipples and spoons for baby food.

Store some bottles of commercial baby foods. However, once the infant can tolerate solid foods, he or she should be able to eat the foods the rest of the family is eating as long the foods are mashed or thinned with milk.  Store some evaporated whole milk which could be added to the nonfat dry milk and reconstituted.

If allergies to cow’s milk are common to the family, then rice cereal may be used in the development of a formula. Sometimes nonfat milk is tolerated whereas whole milk would not be. In my book, Cookin’ With Home Storage there is a chapter on emergency baby food and pet food.

Pet food: Take into consideration what you would feed your pet in the event of a crisis. Store enough commercial dog or cat food for a three-month supply. However, animals can eat some of the same foods that we have stored for ourselves.

Cats are carnivores and eat mostly meat and vegetables. Cats have a hard time digesting grains. Dogs, on the other hand, do well on meat and vegetables mixed with rice.

Birds need the seeds and grains. They can eat some vegetables. Chickens can eat the same grains that we store for ourselves. They will eat table scraps from fruits and vegetables.

Any other animal that needs special food will have to be considered in planning your food storage.

Nonfood Items: Consider all necessary non-food items you may need. I suggest you go through your house and get all like items together in one tote or container.

Label what is in the container and keep it handy if you need it. Use containers that stack on top of each other to save space. If your paper products, medical supplies, vitamin and mineral supplements or personal items are scattered all over the house and you can’t find them, then you don’t have them. Being organized is the key to being prepared.

Be sure to include all paper products like paper plates, napkins, paper cups, plastic utensils, paper towels, toilet paper, tissue, baby wipes, garbage bags, zip lock baggies, waxed paper, plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

Store antibacterial cleansers, laundry and body soap. Store extra personal hygiene items such as combs, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and cream rinse, lotions, makeup, razor blades and shaving equipment.

Store personal hygiene items such as feminine napkins, baby diapers, baby wipes, salves and creams for diaper rash and infections. Don’t forget medical supplies. These items might include; aspirin, ibuprofen, adhesive bandages, gauze, tape ointments, petroleum jelly, cold remedies, cotton balls, cotton-tipped swabs, scissors and all types of first aid items.

You need a supply of personal vitamin and mineral supplements such as vitamin C, calcium and any other product that you take on a regular basis. This also includes personal medications. If you are taking medications that are mandatory to life, you must store enough for at least three months. This is where the home pharmacy comes in. I know it is difficult to stockpile any type of prescription medications. Talk to your doctor and ask if you could get some extra meds on hand.

Special Diets: If you are on a special diet of any type, you definitely need to take this into consideration when planning out your food storage program. Again, store what you eat and eat what you store.

I personally store a lot of canned meats like tuna, salmon, chicken, beef and dried eggs because I need protein in my diet. If you are hypoglycemic or diabetic, you will need extra protein. Without protein you could become very sick.  Most all food storage items are either simple or complex carbohydrates.


Water: Storing water is one of the most important things you can do. You can live for days without food but you must have water to survive. All dehydrated food needs water to be rehydrated. You will need to store a minimum of 30 gallons per month per person. A three-month emergency supply would be 90 gallons. You can read my previous article on How And Where TO Store Water for more information.

 I recommend a product called ION for water purification. It is a water treatment that will kill giardia and dysentery on contact. It takes eight drops per gallon, and one bottle will treat 110 gallons. I keep this product handy because it will also kill bacteria on wounds. If you begin to feel as if you are about to come down with the flu you can use it medicinally by putting 20 drops in a  cup of water and drinking it.

On my website I sell a 250 gallon water tank that is 86 inches tall and 26 inches in diameter. It fits in a corner of a room or garage. I recommend it very much because it takes up a lot less space than 55-gallon drums. You would need five of them to equal one 250-gallon tank. It has a spigot to pour water with a drain at the bottom and a hole with a lid on top to fill the tank. The quality of the heavy gauge plastic is food grade and will not break. It is an excellent way to store water.

This information was taken from my books, Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook and Food Storage 101. Where Do I Begin?

All dehydrated food storage items, water treatment and storage containers mentioned in this article, as well as all seven books I have written, can be purchased at www.peggylayton.com.

How To Store Bulk Foods

Last time we talked about dehydrated foods. This week we’re going to discuss the best ways to store your bulk foods.

First, select only the best food grade containers that will exclude light, oxygen and moisture. This will greatly extend the shelf life of your food. The best storage containers are the No. 10 double enamel gallon-sized cans and the food grade plastic buckets. However, you may also store food in canning jars with tight-fitting lids as well as heavy plastic containers such as soda bottles and apple juice, Gatorade and fruit juice containers. Plastic or glass gallon-size jars and Rubbermaid® type containers with lids work well also. The stackable containers will save space.

No. 10-Size Double Enamel
The No. 10-size cans hold approximately one gallon and are ideal for smaller quantities of food. You can purchase plastic lids to put on the cans after they are opened.

Most food storage companies use these types of containers. They are nitrogen-packed with an oxygen absorber packet sealed inside the can. These packets absorb free oxygen from the air around them and chemically bind it. This removes the oxygen from inside the can, which helps prevent insects from hatching or even living. This also prevents rancidity from occurring.

The atmosphere inside the can is mostly nitrogen, which is ideal for long-term storage of foods. If the oxygen level is below 2 percent, the food will stay good for a lot longer. You can order a wide variety of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods that are packed in the No. 10 cans with an oxygen absorber in the can. They are packed for long-term storage and are ready to go in a heavy cardboard box that holds six cans and stacks on top of each other. To see the many different foods available go to my website.

Oxygen Absorber Packets
The oxygen absorber packets look like a tea bag or sugar packet. This method is a relatively new procedure and is proving to be one of the best ways to keep foods fresh. They must be used up within 15 minutes of being opened and exposed to the air.

These packets absorb the oxygen from the container and trap it in an iron powder, salt and moisture mixture. This is the safest way to remove oxygen. These oxygen packets can be purchased from my website.

5- or 6-Gallon Plastic Buckets Or Pails
These buckets have tight-fitting lids with rubber gaskets. They are ideal for large quantities of grains, beans, legumes, sugar, flour, etc.

You can purchase an inner liner that is made from a metallized foil, which will keep the light from harming the food and causing it to deteriorate. It also acts as a moisture barrier and keeps rodents out. The bucket with a metallized liner, when sealed properly with a tight-fitting lid, is a very good method of storing food.

To seal the Mylar® liner, line the bucket with the bag and use one oxygen absorber packet per gallon of grain, beans, dried food, etc. Pour one gallon of dried food or grain in the bucket, then add an oxygen absorber, add another gallon of food or grain and continue until the bucket is full. Then get out as much air as possible. Lay the bag as flat as you can. The bag will be much taller than the bucket.

You can use an iron to heatseal the end of the bag. This way you can use the bag over and over again. Pierce a hole in the corner of the bag and hold the bag below the seal so you don’t suck up the contents of the bag. Suck all the air out with the hose or a smaller attachment to the vacuum that can be inserted into the end. When the air is sucked out and the bag looks vacuum-packed, hold the end and seal it with an iron. Do not let air back into the bag.

Note: Never use buckets that have contained chemicals, paint, Sheetrock™ mud or kitty litter, etc. Restaurant food grade containers are ok; wash them well and rinse with bleach and water.


Gama Lids for 5-gallon buckets
There are special lids available for 5-gallon buckets that have a center section that screws on and off. It makes it nice to open and close the lids when using bulk foods on an everyday basis. I use these lids and love them.

I keep my buckets of wheat, rice, beans, pasta, etc. handy so I can use out of them every day. I also keep a smaller container of these products in my kitchen cupboard, so when I run out I just fill it up from the bucket. The buckets are stored in my pantry.

Mylar® Bags
The ones previously mentioned can be purchased from my website. [link www.peggylayton.com] The heaviest Mylar® bags in the large size are the best for lining the buckets. The bag can be sealed with a hot iron. Oxygen packets can be inserted before sealing. However, I have stored a lot of food in buckets without Mylar liners.

As long as the buckets are sealed properly, they will be just fine. If I know that I am going to sprout the beans, legumes or grain, I do not put an oxygen absorber in the can or bucket. Lack of oxygen will kill the enzymes that are alive in the kernel and they won’t sprout. I will talk about the importance of sprouting in another article.

Methods For Storing Grains

Bay Leaves Method: An alternative to using oxygen absorbers is to use bay leaves. They can be spread throughout the container or food or grain. Use two bay leaves for small amounts up to one gallon, or five leaves in the 5-gallon buckets. It keeps the weevils and other bugs out, because they don’t like the smell of bay leaves.

Freezing Grain Method: If your buckets of grain are placed in the garage for the winter, the freezing temperatures will probably kill any weevil that is present. You can also deep-freeze grain in 10-pound bags and leave it for a week to kill the bugs.

Diatomaceous Earth Method: Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be mixed into your stored grains and beans to control insects without having to remove the dust before consuming it. For every 40 pounds of grain or beans, you mix in one cup of DE with it. Coat every kernel and mix it in small batches. Cover your mouth so you don’t breathe the dust in, as it can irritate your lungs.

The DE you want to use is sold as an organic garden insecticide. There are several different types of DE. Make sure you get the kind that is approved for human consumption and not the swimming pool type. You can find DE at places like home and garden stores and Intermountain Farmers Association stores.

The Causes of Deterioration

Oxygen: Oxygen is the one thing that will rob the nutritive value from the food. All living food contains enzymes which when exposed to oxygen start to break down. The nutritive value is lost, little by little, as it breaks down. That is why it is very important to remove the oxygen from the containers before you package them. It’s also good to store grains as a whole grain rather than a cracked grain. Once the kernel is cracked, it dies and the rancidity process begins. Grain will store much longer in its whole grain form.

Bacteria: Bacteria, yeast and molds are controlled by processing, canning, dehydrating, drying, freezing, etc. Bacteria is the most common cause of spoilage, so it’s important to keep all food properly processed. Once beans, meat, vegetables, etc. are opened, they must be used up quickly to prevent spoilage. Once I open dried eggs, I like to keep them in the refrigerator in quart jars with lids so no moisture gets into the bottles. A rule of thumb is to use any can of dehydrated food within one year of opening it.

Insects: Insects grow in food (and especially anything made with grains such as flour) because the eggs or larvae are already in the product before you package it. The rodents deposit their waste product in the food and eat it as they reproduce. Again the oxygen absorbers will remove the oxygen and prevent insects from living. Lack of oxygen kills bugs and larvae.

Shelf Life: Rotate your food and use it within the estimated period of time determined by research done on each product. There is a shelf life chart in my books; Food Storage 101, Where Do I Begin? and Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook.

When the food is stored too long, two things happen:
  • The nutritional value breaks down.
  • The color, flavors, texture and smell change and people will not eat it.

Light
As you find containers for your bulk food, try to get containers that are dark and cannot be permeated by light. The two most common containers that allow light in are glass jars and plastic buckets or bottles. If these are used, they need to be stored in heavy cardboard boxes in a dark room.

Humidity And Moisture: Dehydrated foods store well when the moisture is removed. The moisture levels of dehydrated food should be less than 10 percent. The food will be hard, not leathery. Be sure to keep all containers up off the floor and away from anything that is high in humidity like dryer vents, water heaters or anything that could flood and damage the food or rust out the cans.

Temperature And Location
A cool dark place is a must. The temperature of the room should stay constant throughout the year. Find the coolest place in the house — usually it’s a basement, if you have one.

Try to find a place that stays between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. I know this is impossible in climates where the temperature fluctuates from season to season, but the lower the temperature, the longer the shelf life. However, you want to stay 10 to 20 degrees above freezing. Most basements are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and will cut the shelf life down a little.

If you store your food in a garage or shed where the temperature fluctuates, you can cut the shelf life down even more. Where I live it is popular to have a cold storage room located in a basement and built under a porch. Usually it has a dirt floor, which maintains a cooler temperature. My husband built us a root cellar that is well-insulated and stays a constant temperature year-round.

eFoods Global
A company that I recommend for fast, easy, nutritious gourmet meals that will store for up to 15 years is eFoods Global. This is a new concept in storable foods that are delicious, nutritious, affordable and convenient for daily use. If you would like to try the same six meals that I received, simply go to http://peggylayton.myefoods.com, watch the three-minute video and then click on the WIN button. After you receive your six meals for $9.95, you can order a shipment of food to be delivered to you once per month. This is more cost-effective, and over a few month’s time you will have enough good-tasting nutritious meals stored for an emergency. 

Food storage 101, “Where Do I Begin?” and many other books may be purchased on my website, www.peggylayton.com. You can also contact me via email or by phone: 435-835-0311.

The Advantages Of Storing Dehydrated Foods

The next step in our food storage plan is for you to make a list of the foods that your family eats on a regular basis and purchase enough food for a three-month supply. As we talked about in a previous article, Food Storage 101: Where do I begin?, one of the best ways to stockpile food is in the dried form. It is lightweight and can be reconstituted to its original form by adding water.

I tell people to start with everything to make soup and simple breads. My philosophy is that you can live on just soup and bread.

Soups are easy to make, and if you are in a time of stress you want something that is simple to prepare. Dehydrated vegetables are easy to use when making soup. Grains such as barley, quinoa and rice can also be added to soup to make it more filling. Dehydrated vegetables, bouillons and grains will store for a lot longer than wet pack soups.

Studies have been done on the shelf life of dehydrated foods and, surprisingly, the food has been lasting longer than originally expected, which was between five and 20 years. Wet pack foods only last two to three years after being canned.

A good rule of thumb is to rotate any dried dairy products within five to seven years. All dried fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes should be rotated within seven to 10 years and all grains within 20 to 30 years. Wheat will last the longest.

Dehydrated Foods

We use dehydrated foods every day, whether we know it or not. They are called “convenience foods,” and include things like Rice-A-Roni, Hamburger Helper, Bisquick®, macaroni and cheese, Pasta Roni®, Tuna Helper, potatoes au gratin, instant oatmeal, instant soups like Lipton Onion Soup and Cup of Noodles, powdered milk, gravy mixes and anything you “just add water” to.

Dehydrated foods are second only to fresh foods. They are processed under a high vacuum and low drying temperature that removes most of the water. The product is more brittle and hard rather than leathery like dried fruits such as raisins, figs, prunes, pineapple, apricots, etc.

Dehydrated foods, when harvested and preserved properly, will retain their vitamins, minerals and enzymes because the food has not been cooked or canned, processes that kill the enzymes that are so vital to the digestive process. So dehydrated food is “live food.”

Dehydrated food is lower in weight and is much easier to store than wet pack food. It fits in cans and buckets and when reconstituted will yield at least double or triple its weight.  And dehydrated food is less expensive than wet pack food because you aren’t paying for all the water.

Food packed in No. 10 cans fit six cans per box and stack nicely on top of each other. If you label the boxes as to what is in them, you can see at a glance what you have.

Dehydrated food can be rehydrated to restore it to its natural state. The taste is still great and the food value is excellent. Dehydrated food stores well for long periods of time if properly canned. Most items keep for seven to 30 years.

Any product that has powdered milk or dried eggs in it has a shorter shelf life. Rotate these items before the expiration date is up. The suggested shelf life of dairy products is five to seven years.

I have been asked many times what the difference is between dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. Dehydrated foods are dried until the product is dry and leathery and most of the moisture is out of the food.

Freeze-dried foods are flash-frozen and then the water is extracted out of the product using a special evaporation process. It retains its original shape and is much lighter in weight.

Freeze-dried foods are ideal for backpacking. Freeze-dried foods are more expensive than dehydrated food, but the flavor is wonderful.

You may recognize the name Mountain House Foods®. These foods are already in a pouch and ready to eat. You just add water and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. They are nice to have in your 72-hour grab-and-go pack in case of emergency. However, the cost is prohibitive for use for extended periods of time, especially if you are on a budget and trying to get enough food storage to sustain your family for at least a 3-month period.

Reconstituting Guidelines
A good rule of thumb for reconstituting fruits, vegetables and meats is to add about three times the amount of boiling water to the product. Then let it set for at least 20 minutes. If cold water is used, the product must sit in the refrigerator for about four hours or overnight.

If you have added too much water, you can drain it and use it in cooking. If your food  looks like it needs more water, then add more. To speed up the reconstitution process, add the dried product directly to soup and cook as usual.

Dehydration causes the cell walls of the food to collapse. Some products, like tomatoes, cannot be reconstituted to the texture that they were before. However, they can be used in seasonings or in recipes such as tomato sauce or soups. It’s very easy to reconstitute food; you just “add water.”

A company that I recommend for fast, easy, nutritious gourmet meals that will store for up to 15 years is eFoods Global. How does chicken veggie alfredo pasta, chili with cornmeal dumplings or white cheddar pasta shells sound?  How about beef stroganoff, tortilla soup or, my favorite, cheesy chicken rice casserole.

 

Some of the features of eFoods Global are:

  • Dehydrated from premium-grade fresh raw foods.
  • No genetically modified foods (GMOs).
  • No added MSG.
  • No imports from countries using illegal fertilizers and insecticides.
  • No hydrogenated oil.

This is a new concept in storable foods that are delicious, nutritious, affordable and convenient for daily use. If you would like to try the same six meals that I received, simply go to http://peggylayton.myefoods.com, watch the three-minute video and then click on the WIN button. After you receive your six meals for $9.95, you can order a shipment of food to be delivered to you once per month. This is more cost-effective, and over a few month’s time you will have enough good-tasting nutritious meals stored for an emergency. 

On my website you can purchase many different varieties of dehydrated foods already packaged for long-term storage. They come in No. 10 gallon-sized cans. When the product is reconstituted it yields about three to four times the amount in the can.

These packs contain dehydrated fruits like apples, banana chips, pineapple, strawberries and peaches. They have dried vegetables like carrots, onions, corn, peas, bell pepper, tomato flakes and potato slices, dices, flakes and hash browns. They also contain powdered milk and dairy products like cheddar cheese powder, dried eggs, butter powder, buttermilk powder, plus shortening powder, meat substitutes, soup mixes, rice and other grains, popcorn, spaghetti and egg noodles, six- and nine-grain cereals, rolled oats and granola.

The beans include pinto, small red, white navy, split pea, lentils and refried. The packs also include drink mixes like peach and apple drink, as well as chocolate milk mix.  There is salt, baking soda, sugar cookie mix and white bread mix.

The packs also include five-gallon buckets of wheat, flour, cornmeal and sugar. And you get one of my cookbooks for free.

There are premium year-supply packs that include entrees that are ready to eat. This includes some Mountain House freeze dried meals. Some of the meals are beef stew, beef stroganoff, beef teriyaki with rice, chicken ala-king, chicken and rice, chicken and noodles, spaghetti and meat sauce, vegetable stew, chili mac, lasagna with meat sauce, wild rice and mushroom pilaf and mac and cheese, fried rice, chili, scrambled eggs with ham or bacon and granola with blueberries.

These foods come in three-month, six-month and one-year variety packs. I have personally worked with all these foods and have chosen the ones that I recommend. If you are interested in any of these packs, you can go to my website and order them.

I also recommend my new, updated cookbook, Cookin’ With Home Storage. It has more than 550 recipes for using storable foods like dehydrated, freeze-dried and pantry food items. It also has charts on what food to store, how much food to store and how to store it. There are also historical tips and information on how the pioneers really lived.

This book teaches how to incorporate food storage into your everyday diet. It also contains Grandma’s home remedies, emergency baby food and recipes for pet food free of all the additives that are found in commercial baby food and pet food.

This is my No. 1 selling book.

The next best selling book I have is Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook.

These books, along with many others, including Food storage 101, “Where Do I Begin?” can be purchased on my website, www.peggylayton.com
You can also contact me via email or by phone: 435-835-0311.

In my next article I will cover how to store bulk foods.

How And Where To Store Water

What would you do if your water supply became contaminated? Natural disasters can interrupt the flow of clean water. Following a disaster, some people may not have access to food and water for days or weeks. You can live for days without food, but you must have water or you will dehydrate. Whenever there is a crisis, water is the first thing to go.

Amount Of Water To Store
Each person in your family will need a 72-hour emergency supply of water. This is approximately one gallon per person per day, or three gallons, plus an additional three gallons for washing, cooking, sponge bathing, laundry, dishes etc.

I recommend a three-month supply of water if possible. This is approximately 90 gallons per person for drinking and 90 gallons for extra cooking and washing. Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more. Store a little extra for them. There are several ways to store this much water.

Containers
Many types of containers can be used for water storage. My favorite way to store water is in heavy plastic or glass containers.

Make sure all containers used for water storage are food grade with a high quality PET rating and have never previously held chemicals or poisons. All containers need to be cleaned thoroughly because whatever was in the container will leach into the water and make it taste bad. Bottled juices or soda etc… should be rinsed thoroughly.

All stored water needs to be checked occasionally for cloudiness and leakage. If the water looks or tastes bad then change it. If you have any questions about the purity of the water, then purify or boil it before using. If the water tastes flat, you can pour it back and forth between containers to aerate it or whip it to introduce more oxygen into the water.

Heavy Glass Or Plastic: Glass canning jars, glass containers and two liter soda bottles work the best. Gatorade, apple juice or cranberry juice bottles are great also. I save every heavy plastic jug that comes into my house and I store them in my basement as well as the garage. I fill them with water to about one inch from the top to allow for expansion in case the bottles freeze. I seal them with tight-fitting lids.

Bleach Bottles: Plastic bleach bottles can be used by filling the bottle with water and sealing it with a tight fitting lid. It is recommended that you do not drink the water stored in bleach bottles. You can use the water for cleaning or washing hands. Label it with a black marker. Keep these away from children so they don’t accidentally confuse the real bleach with water and drink it. Bleach will dissipate after a certain amount of time if the lid is taken off the container and it is left exposed to the air.

Bottled Water: Bottled water can be purchased in grocery stores. They come in boxes and can be stacked. You can purchase larger quantities at discount prices.

Tap Water: Tap water that comes from a municipal water system contains enough chlorine to be safe for long term water storage. Just fill your containers with tap water and store then away from sunlight, preferably in a cool dark place like a basement or garage.

Polyethylene Barrels: Commercial water storage barrels are available and they come in several sizes. To store a large amount of water, 55 gallon drums made from plastic polyethylene can be obtained at most food storage companies. If you use a 55 gallon drum, and fill it with water, it will be so heavy that it cannot be moved, so it will need a permanent location. You will also need a pump or spigot to get the water into smaller containers.

There are smaller drums that hold five to six gallons of water. They weigh about 40 pounds and need a pump also. These are nice because they can be moved more easily that the 55 gallon drums.

Glass Containers: Water can be stored in quart size jars sealed by the water bath canning method. Fill the jars with water leaving a head space of about one inch, then tighten the lid and ring onto the jar. Boil the jars in a water bath or use a steamer canner. Store the jars with cardboard in between so they don’t break. If you are using a boiling water bath be sure to put a wire rack on the bottom of the kettle so the jars do not touch the bottom and break. Pint jars require 20 minutes boiling time, quart jars require 25 minutes. You can also pour boiling water into a canning jar and seal it with a lid and ring that has been boiled in water. Let it set on the counter until it cools off and it will automatically seal itself.

Assorted Water Storage Tanks250 gallon super tanker: This large cylinder shaped water tank is ideal for tucking away in a corner of a garage or room. You will feel safer with having a larger quantity of clean safe water to use. This 250-gallon or 125-gallon water tanker is shaped to easily fit through doors or set on the floor of your garage. With two locations for nozzles and being set up to be gravity fed, there is no need to worry about pumps. The larger tanker is equipped for 250 days of water storage (based on one gallon per person per day).This super tanker is sold on my website www.peggylayton.com and is shipped from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Milk Jugs: Milk jugs are not good containers to store water in. After about six months they start to biodegrade, collapse and leak. Even the 1 gallon blue containers that you can fill up at grocery stores don’t last for very long. They are not heavy duty enough. You will have a big mess. I’ve tried this method and I don’t like it.

Where To Store The Water Supply
Store your water supply in several locations so you can get to it easily. I like to store most of my water in smaller containers because it’s much easier to carry around. Just recently, we had an opportunity to use our stored water. A main line up the road from our house broke and the water was shut off for most of the day. We put two-liter bottles of water in every bathroom for brushing teeth and washing hands. We put several in the kitchen for cooking and cleaning. The towns’ people were calling each other to warn everyone about this problem. As my friends all called me, I was happy to report that I had plenty of water stored and our family would be fine.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of storing clean water for emergencies. If you use contaminated water for drinking or cooking, it can cause many different symptoms like stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and even death. Life threatening illnesses include hepatitis, cholera, amebic dysentery, viral infections and typhoid fever. It’s much better to take precautions and disinfect your water before you use it.

After A Disaster
In an emergency situation, immediately shut off the water supply to your home. It’s a good idea to locate the shut off valve before you need it and teach everyone in the family to do it immediately after a disaster. The main gas valve must be shut off also. You can drain the pipes and collect the water that is left in your water lines. Just turn on the faucet that is located in the highest room of the house to let air into the lines. Draw the water from the lowest faucet of the house.

Supplemental Sources of Water
The water in the hot water heater is available for use. Be sure to shut off the incoming water or intake valve to prevent the contaminated water from mixing with the safe water. To take water out of the tank, open the drain valve. A hose can be attached to this valve and the water drained into containers.

The water in the tank of the toilet, not the bowl, can be scooped out and used if needed.

Liquids for drinking can be obtained from canned fruits, juices, vegetables and soft drinks, or anything that has been water-packed in the canning process.

Snow can be melted and rain water can be used, if you have a collection barrel. Be sure to disinfect the water before drinking. Boiling it vigorously for five minutes will kill all bacteria.

Swimming pools or spas contain treated water. Boil it before using. Lakes, streams, ponds, rivers and ditches contain water that can be used if it is clarified and treated with one of the methods I’ll describe below. To clarify, strain the water through a cloth placed over a bowl or pot. This will take out impurities.

As water sits over time, disease organisms tend to die. So the longer it is stored the safer it becomes and the less chance it contains bacteria, if it has been safely stored using one of the following methods. But remember, there is no way to purify water that has been contaminated with radioactivity.

Boiling Method: The safest method of purifying water is to boil it vigorously for five minutes. To improve the taste of the water after it has been boiled, pour the water from one container to another and aerate the water. Do not use cloudy water if you have a choice between clear or cloudy. Cloudy water is caused by bacterial growth. Cloudy water must be strained through a cloth to remove the particles. Then boil or treat the water with chemicals.

Chemical Sterilization Using Bleach: You can purify water by adding any household bleach that is not more than 1 year old. Bleach loses its effectiveness after a year. The most common bleach solutions contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Add the bleach solution to the water and mix thoroughly by stirring or shaking it. Then let it stand for 30 minutes so the bleach can do its job. Do not use lemon scented or perfumed bleach.

The following table shows the proper amount of bleach to add to the water.

Amount of water
to Purify

Amount of bleach to add to clear water

Amount of bleach to add to cloudy water

1 Quart
1 Gallon
5 Gallons

2 Drops
8 Drops
½ Teaspoon

4 Drops
16 Drops      
1 Teaspoon

Tincture Of Iodine: You can use ordinary 2 percent tincture of iodine, which you may have in your medicine cabinet. To purify small quantities of water add three drops of tincture of iodine to each quart of clear water or six drops to each quart of cloudy water. Stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes. This water will be a brownish red color and will have a slight taste of iodine. Pregnant women and people with thyroid problems should not use this method.

Water Purification Tablets: Water purification tablets release chorine or iodine to purify the water. You can purchase them at most sporting good stores or drug stores. These tablets have a shelf life of five years unopened.

Halazone Tablets: Halazone tablets for emergency water disinfection are commonly carried by emergency medical technicians or paramedics. They can be purchased in drug stores. The shelf life of these tablets is only two years, so check the label to see how long it has been on the drugstore shelf before you purchase it. Keep these tablets tightly sealed. If the tablets turn yellow or smell bad, do not use them. Again allow the water to stand at least 30 minutes before using it. This gives the chemicals time to work.

Home Purification Devices: Do not rely on water purifiers to substitute for stored water. If you use a water filter or home purifier you must still purify the water by boiling or using a chemical. Reverse osmosis devices and home distillers cannot be relied upon to remove grossly contaminated water. Even though these devices are not reliable to remove contamination, they can remove chlorine or iodine after the water has been safely disinfected. Using a water purifier will greatly improve the taste of the water.

ION is a stabilized oxygen product
ION: ION is a stabilized oxygen product that I have found to be very effective in water treatment. Many studies have been done on this product and it is concluded that ION will kill giardia, cholera and dysentery within a few minutes. It doesn’t have any of the harmful side effects that are associated with chlorine or Iodine. ION is a high concentration of oxygen.

High levels of oxygen will kill harmful bacteria. The name ION stands for ions of oxygen with a negative charge. By removing the positive charge from the water the process creates stabilized nontoxic oxygen. Anaerobic pathogens or infectious microorganisms in the water cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. ION will not harm the normal flora in our bodies. ION can be taken every day (five drops per 8-ounce glass of water). This will help boost the immune system by introducing stabilized oxygen into the bloodstream.

My husband and I take ION to Mexico and other countries when we go on vacation. We use it in all of our drinks. We do not get sick while others in our group do.

Because ION is nontoxic, it can be used medicinally and can be used every day to prevent illness. It can also be applied topically on wounds to kill any harmful bacteria. It’s great to put in the medical kit. One bottle of ION will treat 110 gallons of water. To use, add 20 drops of ION to a gallon of water. It’s small enough to carry in a purse and use every day.

There are many kinds of toxins that ION will neutralize. Bee stings and bites from spiders or snakes are all toxic. Dropping ION on the injuries will neutralize them almost immediately. ION can be mixed with Tea Tree Oil or as a carrier to help drive it deep into the skin.

ION should not be used full strength. Diluting it down with water (five drops of ION to 8 ounces of water) is the best way to use it. If you water your plants with the diluted ION water, they will thrive and grow bigger.

It can also help you if you suffer from a bacterial or viral infection. During times of sickness caused by a bacterial or viral infection, take 50 drops every three hours diluted in a glass of water. The ION goes into the stomach and fights the bacteria or virus.

To purchase ION go to my website www.peggylayton.com Click on ION water purification. Double click on the picture of the ION and all the information will come up on the many medicinal uses as well as water treatment. If you purchase 10 bottles at a time you can get a discount. If you purchase 25 or more bottles you can buy it wholesale.

This information was taken from my books Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? and Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. To purchase any of the seven books I have written or purchase dehydrated food that has been sealed for long term storage in 1-gallon cans or 5-gallon buckets, please check out my website at
www.peggylayton.com. My next article will cover dehydrated food, what to store how much to store and why you should make dehydrated food part of your long term storage plan.

— Peggy Layton

Food Storage 101: Where Do I Begin?

In my last article, Prepare Your Own Personal Home Grocery Store And Pharmacy, I introduced you to the need to store food.

Now we’re going to begin with step one in the six-step process to help you make sure you have an adequate supply of food should a crisis occur.

First Priority
Select and clean out a room to make space for your grocery store and pharmacy. It should be the coolest place (temperature wise) in the house: Usually in a basement, but preferably away from a furnace room or other heat source. If you can seal the room off so the heater vents don’t heat the room, it will stay cooler. Other good locations are root cellars or insulated and heated garages where the temperature stays constant between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. But remember, the room you choose should stay dry at all times.

Closets, under stairways, spare bedrooms, an unfinished part of the house, crawl space or under beds will work as well. North walls are cooler because they are away from the sun exposure.

If your room has dirt floors or cement, use wooden pallets to elevate the food up off the floor. The containers should never come in contact with the ground. The cans will rust and moisture can get into the buckets.

Bricks with wood across them will work to elevate the food up off the floor. Shelves should be designed so that a simple rotation system can effectively allow the oldest food to be used first and the newest food to be held within the shelf life period. The air must be able to circulate around the food to keep it dry. Keep the powdered milk, dairy products and oils closer to the floor level to keep them cooler.

We included some pictures of food storage rooms in my last article that I feel are well planned out and organized. These should give you some help on shelving ideas.

To insure proper rotation, always date the cans and put the newest cans to the back and use the oldest dated cans first. If you elevate the bottom shelf you can store camping equipment, coolers, propane stoves, sleeping blankets, etc., under them.

The shelving units pictured have a piece of wood across the front. This keeps the bottles from falling out and breaking. You can custom design your home grocery store and pharmacy to exactly what you need for your family.

Shelves can be built to accommodate No. 10 gallon-sized cans and still have plenty of space for 5-gallon buckets of beans, wheat, rice or pasta on the floor. The floor is a good place for coolers, Dutch ovens, propane stoves and camping equipment. A helpful hint is to keep all like equipment together so you can find it. If you can’t find it, you haven’t got it. This includes canning equipment, tools for the garden, garden seeds, camping and recreational equipment, medical supplies, batteries, flashlights, candles and all other emergency supplies. Remember, organization is the key.

Storage of wheat and other grains and beans is all right in the garage because the freezing temperatures will kill bug infestation. The garage should be vented to let out the heat in the summer. All non-grain or bean items should be kept inside a room that stays between 40-60 degrees F.

Do not store food in an attic because it will get too hot and the food could perish quickly. If the washer and dryer are located in your food storage room they must be ventilated properly to prevent moisture on the food. Freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters should not be located in your storage room because they all give off heat, increasing the temperature.

Seal all cracks and crevices where mice or insects might get in. Keep mouse or rat poison hidden in the room. Mice will ruin any unsealed buckets or cardboard containers. I have personally thrown away a lot of food because the mice have gotten into it, especially the wrapped items like yeast and Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) or military meals.

The mice can eat right through the Mylar® foil. Keep all of these items in buckets with good sealing lids.

I have also had moth infestation. The little worm larvae eat right through the Mylar® also.

Heavy plastic containers, jars or metal cans with tight-fitting lids will keep mice and insects out. Also stick a bay leaf in with grains, flour, beans, legumes and similar items to keep them from getting bug infested.

Do not leave any food items that have not been sealed properly on the shelves for any length of time. The most common insects are ants, roaches, earwigs, moths, silverfish and flour infestation insects such as beetles or weevils.

If you spill any food, clean it up immediately. If your room becomes bug-infested, clean out all infested food items. Throw them away. Clean all shelves with an insecticide such as Malathion or Diazinon; and spray all cracks and crevices. Do not spray it directly on food or equipment.

Never store chemicals in the same room as the food.

Organize the equipment that you have on hand and decide what equipment you need to purchase, according to the chart in my book, Food Storage 101: Where Do I Begin?, and the needs of your family.

Some of this equipment could include a Dutch oven, propane cook stove, electric grain mill, hand grain mill, juicer, canning equipment, vacuum sealer and a pressure cooker.

Other things to remember: Gather a 3-month supply of any prescription medications you can’t do without, plus any over-the-counter medications you use regularly; store one gallon of water per person per day (minimum three month’s supply); and if you plan to garden, gather any seeds you will need. Some good choices are sweet corn, garden peas, summer squash, banana squash, cucumbers, beets, carrots, cabbage, celery, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and spinach.

And a good book on how to cook with what you’ve stored can also come in handy. I have several available on my website, www.peggylayton.com.

Prepare Your Own Personal Home Grocery Store And Pharmacy

 “Food in the basement is better than money in the bank.”

There are many reasons for stockpiling a one-year supply of food. The value of food commodities generally increases at the same rate as inflation. Money in the bank doesn’t do that. Investing in 500 cans of tuna fish in your basement or dehydrated food that will last five to 10 years is a better bet than putting $350 in the bank.

The most important reason to store food is that it comes in very handy in a crisis of any kind. Whether it be a large emergency such as an earthquake, flood, volcano eruption, war, strike or economic crash, or something as personal as being laid off work, moving or helping other family members that are down and out or when cash is short, it is comforting to know that you can use your home grocery store to help buffer lean money times. If you had to live on what you had in your basement for an extended period of time, you would wish you had a well-rounded supply of food.

In general, most households do not have more than a one-week supply of food. Let’s face it, as a nation, we rely almost totally on the supermarket and fast food restaurants. An average family of four spends $750 or more per month on food. As the children grow up, the price increases. That is double the amount spent 10 years ago. In the past five years inflation on food has risen more than anything else has. Your best investment right now is FOOD!

If you ask any supermarket chain manager to tell you how long it would take to empty the shelves in any store in the event of a crises, the answer would be approximately three days. They just don’t keep that much in their warehouses. And if there were a trucking problem it would be less. People would storm the grocery stores and buy anything they could get. The water is the first thing that goes.

I strongly suggest that you find a place in your home, either in a basement, spare bedroom, closet, junk room, under the stairway or heated garage, and go to work turning it into your own home grocery store and pharmacy. Somehow get shelves in there, build them, have them built or buy them pre-built. Whatever works best for you. Just do it, now.

This “home grocery store” will be to you and your family as the ark was to Noah and his family. It will contain all the necessary food, water, bedding and medical supplies to sustain life for a minimum of three months to one year.

So what are the best kinds of food to stock pile? It is recommended that you “store what you eat and eat what you store” otherwise you might get sick. A crisis is not the time to change your family’s diet.

Appetite fatigue is a very serious condition. Food storage experiments have been conducted where people had mock disasters and lived on their basic food storage for extended periods of time.

If you are suddenly thrown into a diet that you are not used to, especially one with a lot of wheat, beans, corn, honey, powdered milk and dehydrated food, you will have a double crisis. One thing we do not need in an emergency is a sickness caused by a drastic change in our diet.

It is best to incorporate these foods into your diet gradually. These are the foods that store well for long term and, to rehydrate them, you just need to add water, so they are good to have in your storage along with any canned goods that you like. The shelf life on canned goods is approximately two years and dehydrated food up to 10 years.

There is nothing wrong with storing wheat, beans, rice, powdered milk and honey, if that is what you are used to and prefer. Some people have allergies to wheat and they learn this when they change their diet. Store a variety of wheat and other grains, along with flour, oatmeal, rice, noodles, evaporated milk, beans, peas, lentils, legumes, canned meats, tuna fish, canned salmon, soup of all kinds, tomatoes, sauces of all kinds, all baking items, shortening, oils, peanut butter, jams, syrups, salad dressings, mayonnaise, Jell-O, cocoa, bottled fruits and vegetables and many other dehydrated products.

Nothing should be kept for more than two years without rotating except the following: wheat, grains, beans, sugar, salt and any product that is nitrogen packed for long term storage and has a low oxygen content.

If people store what they eat and eat what they store, the rotation will automatically take care of itself. Rotating your food so your family gets accustomed to eating the grains, beans, honey and dehydrated products is very important.

missing image file
Shelves built to accommodate buckets of bulk food.

Always replace each item as it is used up so you can maintain your stockpile. Purchase cases of items when they come on sale. Our hometown grocery store has case lot sales about four times a year. The best prices are when items are in season. I buy wet pack corn and beans in the fall when they are two cans for $1. When tuna fish comes on sale I buy three or four cases. It’s an excellent source of protein and I save a lot of money by purchasing in bulk.

A sample formula for knowing how much food to store is to keep track of what you eat for a two-week period of time. Surprisingly most families repeat meals every few days. Multiply the basic ingredients by six to calculate a three-month supply, 13 for a six-month supply and 26 to calculate a year’s supply. Separate menus can be calculated for summer and winter taking into consideration gardening and seasonal foods available. Build your own stockpile slowly, over a six-month period of time.

A hint that has helped me to obtain extra food items: Every time I go to the grocery store I get two of each item that I normally buy, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, pickles, olives, cream soups, mayonnaise, salad dressing, spaghetti sauces, mixes, etc. I put one away and use the other. It’s a good idea to keep adding more and more of a variety of items to your home grocery store, so your diet won’t be so bland.

Planned menus can eliminate the panic feeling you get when you know you should store food and you don’t know where to begin. I have included a chart in my book, Food Storage 101. Where do I begin?, to plan menus for two weeks. It asks you to list every ingredient to make sure you have each item on hand.

If you plan your food storage program out carefully you can avoid impulse or panic buying which will save you a lot of money and grief. Anticipate your needs for a three-month period of time. Buy bulk food in larger quantities and store them in plastic food grade buckets that have airtight lids. Do not use paint buckets or any other container that has been used for chemicals. Do not use garbage bags, as they are treated with pesticides. A food grade Mylar liner inside a plastic bucket works very well with an oxygen absorber vacuum packed and sealed.

A No. 10 (1 gallon) can is the best way to store smaller quantities. (We will be discussing the different methods of storing bulk food in an upcoming article.)

Store your food in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in a place that stays a constant temperature of around 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot or cold fluctuations in temperatures can destroy the nutritive value of the food and shorten its shelf life. A basement or cold storage area is ideal. I realize that some people don’t have a basement, that’s why it is so important to plan a space that can stay cooler than the rest of the house.

Always label every can, bottle or bucket with what is in each container, the date of purchase, shelf life, and the date to be used by.

missing image file

A Three Month Well Rounded Food Storage Plan
A three-month well-rounded supply of food storage is much better than a year’s supply of wheat, beans, honey and powdered milk. The basics are important, but it is just the beginning.

I have created a plan of action and divided it into six steps. Each month you can work on one step and after six months you will have a three month or more supply of food storage, vitamins, minerals, clothing, bedding, fuel, medical supplies and non-food items to sustain your family in a crisis.

I will be writing two articles per month. In these articles I will cover all six steps, and if you are serious about getting prepared, you can make it a goal to follow this plan. Then you will quickly have your own three-month supply of the essentials and receive the peace of mind of knowing that you are not dependant on the government or anyone else.

Next time we will begin with step one of my six-step plan for storing food. I will be discussing one or two steps per month and breaking it down into bite sized steps so it isn’t overwhelming and can be done in a timely manner.

The goal is to acquire a three-month, well rounded stock of food so you will be prepared for any situation where you may need to use it.

This information came from my books Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? and Emergency Food Storage and Survival Guide. For more about the books I have written go to my website and click on Peggy’s books.

—Peggy Layton