Taking the Bite Out of Food Storage

“How long would your food supply last if there was a disaster?”

My stake president’s words hit home, and I left stake conference eager to store a year’s supply of food and other necessities for my family of nine. But when my list of needed supplies ran seven pages long, I became discouraged. Sixty bags of diapers for my twins? I envisioned my family going bankrupt.

I’ve since learned the value of building up my year’s supply one step at a time. The following four-part plan can help any family get off to a good start toward becoming prepared—without feeling overwhelmed in the process.

Step 1: Learn the basics of home storage. Doing so will save you time, money, and effort. An excellent primer is Essentials of Home Production & Storage (booklet, 1978), available at Church distribution centers.

Step 2: Acquire an emergency supply of life-sustaining foods and water and store them properly. (See Ensign, June 1989, pp. 39–42, for details.)

Step 3: Build up your storage gradually. It’s amazing how fast storage shelves can fill up when you buy commodities in double quantities—for example, one can of beans for regular use, the other for storage. I buy some sale items in quantities to cut costs and to add a variety of familiar foods to my storage. Bulk buying is a money-saver too, and you can get even better deals by sharing the cost with someone else and buying larger quantities. Be sure to check the expiration dates on bulk items so they won’t spoil before use.

Step 4: Eat what you store. You can become ill by eating foods you’re not used to eating. Give your body time to adjust to storage foods by supplementing your regular diet with recipes such as the following:

  1. 1.

    Popped wheat: Fry wheat kernels in oil in a frying pan until they pop like popcorn. Season with garlic or onion salt.

  2. 2.

    Wheat cereal: Put one part wheat kernels and two parts water in a slow cooker. Turn setting to high and cook all night. Add milk, honey, or butter as desired.

  3. 3.

    Cracked wheat cereal: Blend 1 cup wheat kernels in a blender until they crack. Bring 4 cups water nearly to a boil and stir in wheat slowly to avoid lumping. When water boils, add butter and salt to taste. Let cereal simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. 4.

    Add cooked pinto beans to baked beans.

  5. 5.

    Sprout wheat or beans and use in soups and salads. Alfalfa sprouts are easy to grow and are a good substitute for lettuce. Soak the seeds overnight in a quart jar of water with a clean nylon stocking as a lid. Drain the water and rinse the seeds twice a day until the sprouts grow high in the jar. Keep the jar of growing sprouts in a dark place.

  6. 6.

    When you make bread, add dry powdered milk to the dough to improve flavor and increase nutritional value. You can extend your supply of milk by adding reconstituted powdered milk to whole milk at a one-to-one ratio.

  7. 7.

    Dehydrated foods can be added to your regular diet in several ways: mix powdered eggs or dehydrated diced potatoes with your scrambled eggs or hash browns; use powdered cheese on popcorn, with or as a substitute for butter; eat snacks of dried fruit; substitute dehydrated vegetables for regular vegetables in soups and stews.

  8. 8.

    Try homemade chocolate candy snacks for dessert: Bring 1 cup honey to hard boil. Remove from heat and add 1 cup powdered milk, 1/2 cup cocoa or carob powder, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir mixture and form into a roll on a buttered cookie sheet. Cut into sections.Pam Taylor, Salt Lake City, Utah

Beyond Band-Aids

First-aid supplies for families are always useful, but they are an absolute necessity in disasters. If medical facilities or supplies become unavailable, an otherwise preventable or manageable family emergency can result in tragedy—unless a family has been provident in storing essential first-aid supplies.

Families who want to put together their own supply of first-aid items or expand what they already have will find the following list helpful. Family needs vary, and some items, though potentially useful, may be unnecessary.

  1. 1.

    Disinfectants come in bottles and single-use packs. Unopened bottles will remain sterile and usable for several years; the packs will dehydrate quickly if perforated. Useful disinfectants include hydrogen peroxide, betadine (it kills bacteria on contact and cleanses wounds), liquid chlorine bleach (10-percent chlorine solution kills bacteria in 30 seconds), rubbing alcohol (it sterilizes in 16 minutes), and sterile soaps.

  2. 2.

    Bandages can be made from any clean material, but they must be sterile if used as dressings. Self-adhesive gauze (4-inch width) is a good storage item, but it must be kept dry. Elastic bandages (for supporting sprains and applying pressure) and triangular bandages (for slings and bandaging large areas of the body) are also useful storage items.

  3. 3.

    Dressings should include 4-inch-square sterile gauze sponges and small adhesive dressings (3/4 to 1 inch by 3 inches).

  4. 4.

    Adhesive tape (or paper tape for those allergic to adhesive tapes) in 1/2-, 1-, and 2-inch sizes for bandaging, splinting, and attaching dressings.

  5. 5.

    Latex gloves.

  6. 6.

    Bulb aspirator (3-ounce size) for clearing an infant’s nose and throat.

  7. 7.

    Oral and rectal thermometers.

  8. 8.

    Petroleum jelly.

  9. 9.

    Cotton balls and cotton swabs.

  10. 10.

    Scissors and tweezers.

  11. 11.

    Disposable cold packs or reusable ice bag.

  12. 12.

    Reheatable hot packs.

  13. 13.

    Safety pins and needles.

  14. 14.

    Snakebite kit.

  15. 15.

    Single-edge razor blades.

  16. 16.

    Wool blanket or space blanket.

  17. 17.

    First-aid manual.

  18. 18.

    Phone numbers of family doctor, hospital, fire department, police, and poison-control center.

  19. 19.

    Extra eyeglasses, contact lenses (plus cleaning solution), and hearing-aid batteries as needed.

  20. 20.

    General adult medications might include ointments to control infection and itching; anti-allergic reaction medicines; sunscreen; pain relievers in varying strengths (aspirin or acetaminophen); salt tablets; cold medicine (cough suppressant, expectorant, decongestant); and an antacid, a laxative, and an emetic. You may wish to store a year’s supply of medications for patients with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

  21. 21.

    Children’s medical supplies might consist of disposable diapers (rotate to ensure proper fit), diaper-rash ointment or powder (cornstarch is a substitute), infant or children’s pain reliever tablets or liquid, oral electrolyte to treat dehydration, and a diarrhea medication.

All first-aid supplies should be stored in a dry place and rotated or replaced regularly to avoid impaired sterility, expired shelf life, or damage. A pharmacist can assist you in selecting medications for your first-aid storage and in determining the storage life of specific medications.Janice J. Harrop, Rigby, Idaho

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff

[illustration] Illustrated by Scott Greer