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