LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST EPISODE here – https://anchor.fm/homecentric/episodes/5–Mindfully-Prepared-e1p788k
Over on instagram, I’ve shared a little bit about my approach to being prepared as a homemaker. Here is a video and a short series on a few items to consider being bit more prepared in.
For centuries, civilizations have lived closely to the land, growing their own food, processing animals, hunting wild game, gathering wild foods by foraging as well as cultivating crops for food and medicinal purposes. Storing them or preparing them in a way that would last months and sometimes years, for future consumption. Life revolved around food very naturally.
As modern life has “advanced”, society has become further and further removed from their food as well as the process of cultivation. Many that have gone before us never knew the luxury of convenience as we experience in modern day with grocery stores, grocery delivery and even prepared food being delivered to our door.
If we have learned anything from the last few years, we can all agree that our food supply chain can in fact, be disrupted. Food can get scarce but we can definitely do something about it.
In this post, we will identify the 3 layers of food storage, 5 ways to mindfully prepare and how to close your food supply chain gap.
There are 3 layers of food storage to consider as you begin to mindfully prepare.
- Kitchen Pantry – this is the place you grab for food first. It’s what you eat on a daily or weekly basis. This is mostly localized to your kitchen in a cupboard, as well as your refrigerator or attached freezer. EXAMPLES: yogurt, milk, butter, spices, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cooking oils and fats, fresh fruits, meat, fresh vegetables, cheese, and condiments.
- Short term Food Storage – this is an added layer of food. This could be things like back up water bottles, or paper goods, and may include ready-made snacks in bulk. This could also contain provisions that could last your family in a pinch like canned goods, as well as your deep freezer stock. EXAMPLES: Canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned meat, processed snacks, crackers, dried beans, nuts and seeds, peanut butter, pasta and sauces. This can be part of your kitchen pantry or in a spare fridge or freezer in the garage or basement. It can also be under beds, in closets, and garage shelves or laundry room. wherever there is room, there is storage potential. It could be in the hallway closet in stackable totes, or in the attic, or laundry room.
- Long term Food Storage – this is food that can be stored for a long period of time, so long as it’s packaged and stored properly. This could be an extension of canned goods, dehydrated or freeze dried foods stored in airtight containers and inspected yearly (or more frequently). EXAMPLES: Gamma lidded containers of grains like rice or flour or wheat berries, oats, dried beans, salt, baking soda, anything freeze dried, as well as bulk herbs. This can be in a garage, under beds, in a closet, or under the house. Things typically are stored in airtight containers such as mylar bags or food grade plastic buckets with gamma lids with or without oxygen absorbers. It could also be a simple set up like using a rubber made tote in a corner of the garage with canned goods or water jugs in it. Be mindful to have long term items in a place away from damp. Damp can cause corrosion on canned goods and long term items should not be stored in their original plastic or paper containers. If your basement or store room is damp, consider storage within your home like you would short term storage items (most homes have less humidity due to a heat and cooling system) or use a dehumidifier. If items are in airtight and/or watertight containers, they should be checked on regularly. There is a lot more I’d like to discuss on this matter of long term storage but I will reserve it for a future post.
When the kitchen pantry needs to be replenished, first, shop your short term storage and replenish that way. Short term storage should be restocked when you shop for groceries or fresh things. Make sure to also use up old stock in short term storage. I tend to sort by date purchased and move newer items to the back so I don’t grab those things first. One way that I do this in my kitchen is by having a designated spice drawer. When my cumin is out, I can refill it with the bag of bulk cumin I have in my extended pantry. Once the bulk bag of cumin is out, I should have a second bag to put in it’s place and I know that now is the time to buy a bag of bulk cumin. It’s a rhythm that takes a bit of time to nail down, but it keeps the kitchen running smoothly. I like to buy spices from Mountain Rose Herbs (yes, not just herbs for medicine, but culinary uses too!)
Here are 5 practical ways to build up stores without losing our cool and fear-buying.
- If you are buying one of something that you use regularly (i.e. A bag of rice), go ahead and get two or three more of that one thing. This is a simple way to grab extra provisions without busting your budget, and without taking too much and leaving not enough for others. If you are grabbing 1 bag for the kitchen pantry, put 2 bags for the short term storage. When shopping this way, I always say, “One for now, two for later”.
- Buy a few more canned goods of things you will actually eat. Skip the deviled ham that is available now and grab canned wild caught sock eye salmon for salmon cakes, or tuna for tuna salad or tuna noodle casserole. This is a simple way to get protein into a meager meal and will store for a long time. NOTE: If at any time a can bulges, throw it out. A little corrosion on the can is ok, so long as the contents are intact and the food hasn’t spoiled (bulged). When you check your pantry (any 3 areas), use the cans that have corrosion first as soon as you notice them. This is one good reason to check on things regularly.
- Put up farm fresh produce, the old fashioned way. For years, I never bothered to learn how to can/preserve foods because I somehow assumed I had to grow all the food I was preserving. What a lie! In this video I actually break down how it is more cost effective for me to can beans versus purchasing them in the grocery store already canned (I also talk about the benefits of controlling the preserving process here in this post). You can also preserve many things through fermentation (like making kraut) which doesn’t require refrigeration! One new gadget that has piqued my interest in the home freeze dryer from Harvest Right. I do not have one, but I can see the benefit of having one available.
- Buy in bulk. – I enjoy purchasing bulk food at a great price through Azure Standard – You can have it delivered to your door and pay for shipping or pay a cheaper shipping fee by picking up your order from a local drop near you. Unlike large bulk buying clubs, there is no cost to join, ever! Don’t forget to look at your big box buying clubs as many do have organic canned goods and bulk produce that can easily be stored with minimal effort and sometimes, truly at a much lower cost per item because of it being in a bulk package. ALWAYS do the math and see if purchasing individual cans of something at your local grocer is competitive with what you buy from the bulk buying club (like Costco or Sams) – because, it’s not always a fair price.
- Don’t panic – This should be the first thing that you do rather than the 5th thing, but I didn’t want to put that in your mind right off the bat. It is important to acknowledge that no matter how seemingly small it may seem to buy 3 bags of rice at your next grocery shopping trip, remember that each time you go – the things will add up AND it’s better than not doing them at all, or worse – buying bland and tasteless and often EXPENSIVE freeze-dried, prepared food with sub par ingredients. Just do a little bit, and keep your nose down.
- (bonus) Don’t forget about water. – Food needs to be prepared and often requires water, especially if you have freeze dried foods. Grab a gallon of spring water and store in a dark place. This kills two birds with one store. You have clean water for cooking and for drinking, should you need it. Water can be stored for an extremely long amount of time, so long as the plastic does not degrade. Keeping it store in a crawl space or somewhere safe from pests, sunlight and any sharp objects – will help ensure it’s extended shelf life.
CLOSING YOUR FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN GAP:
What is a food supply chain gap? This could be described as the amount of obstacles that are between you and your food that you and your family consume. It could be the farmer, the processor, the grocery store, in between your produce and you. Decreasing the amount of touch-points between your food and you will help ensure a more “secure” connection to your food.
Ways to Shorten your supply chain:
- Get to know your local farmers, producers, and farm-to-consumer options: This is as simple as it sounds. Visit your farmers market and get to know the vendors. Many vendors have a farm store or pick up option at their farm or another avenue they may be willing to provide you with their goods, beyond the farmers market. If you are on SNAP/EBT – these options are available to you! Also ask if you are on WIC – what the farmer’s market nutrition program. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that your benefits may go further in these settings.
- Roll up your sleeves: Some local non-profits and community gardens are often short handed and very open to extra hands. Seek out farm hand opportunities with your local farmers market too! You will not only learn by doing (weeding, growing, selling) but can often trade your labor for farm goods or produce seconds. There is a lot of joy in cultivating your gardening or farming know-how, even if your place isn’t the place for that.
- Consider container gardening: While it may seem minuscule, you would be surprised to see the amount of things that can happily grow in pots on a sunny patio or window sill. There are hybrids (not genetically modified) such a micro tomato that are quite hardy and have an abundant harvest. Things like herbs or medicinal flowers can live quite content in a pot. If you have an abundance of basil, dehydrate it on low in your oven – watching it closely so it doesn’t burn, and save it in a jar for future use.
- Mail delivered meats: I recently had the pleasure of trying out a box of ethically raised meats from ButcherBox. This month, They are offering free Lobster and NY Strip to new subscribers! This meat is ethically sourced wild caught, and the beef is 100% grass fed. I love the ease of it being delivered right to my doorstep. We have enjoyed their pork roast recently with carrots and potatoes as well as their organic chicken. I was pleased with the quality and flavor and we are a bit picky with our meat sources and Butcher Box checked a lot of those boxes for me. They come frozen solid and arrived packed in dry ice. We’ve had them arrive frozen in the middle of summer in the south with no trouble at all.
- Hunting Public land: Homegrown Education has discussed this in their podcast episodes as they do not live rurally or on a farm, they use public land to hunt wild game. Find a friend who knows how to hunt, locate a local club, and try it out. This is an invaluable skillset to begin nurturing.
- Get familiar with wild foods and what is available in your area, your yard, and your neighboring woodland.
- Do what you can, as you can do it and as it makes sense for you.: In 2021, that was our first year raising chickens for meat as well as pigs. It felt good to be able to process our own meat but it was also a bit more hectic than I would have enjoyed. Looking back, we should have paced ourselves and started with the broilers and then move into pigs later. Don’t take on everything all at once. Start with layer hens! they give you eggs, and as they age and no longer lay, offer a wonderful gift of soup bones, chicken salad and chicken soup. If chickens aren’t an option, consider quail or rabbits. Sometimes those animals can live in a shed or garage and thus, you can bypass any HOA or zoning ordinances that may inhibit you and your family from giving it a-go.
While it may seem unsettling in the world around us, God is ultimately in control and has gifted His children with peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-8). Remember, to keep you mind stayed on Him (Colossians 3:2) when you feel the tendency to let fear drive your actions and thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5). In the end, we have Hope to be joined with Christ(Psalms 33:20-22). We can work diligently in our homes (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) to glorify God by being good stewards (Luke 16:10) of our resources. (Matthew 24:13-30) (Colossians 3:23-24)
I hope you found this post helpful and inspiring!