That sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? For most of us, we don’t. Not even close.
Raise your hands! Yes, I can see you. The NSA has nothing on my shenanigans, so do it… IF – You regularly buy some pizzas, drink some beers, eat your store-bought bread, microwave out some hot pockets… tendies (chicken nuggets), or pizza rolls… all the while you’re storing up on freeze-dried foods, beans, rice, powdered milk? Yeah… I’m talking to you. I’m talking to me too, I’m just as guilty.
Suddenly changing your diet can have catastrophic effects on your body, especially if you factor in Murphy’s Law. Yeah, we all know Murph- The asshole who always mucks things up when you least expect it and can barely keep your head above water. He’s the jerk who’s putting his foot on your noggin and pushing down as the waves come up… so in order to Murphy Proof your food storage, remind yourself, eat what you store, store what you eat.
Case in point – For some people, you don’t have to have TSHTF in order to be in a survival situation. A loss of job, income, insurance, some kind of hardship… it can really put things into perspective. Suddenly having to worry about having enough money when that was never a concern before, or having a very tight but do-able budget and something happens and you have to make up the difference somewhere…
I used to be a foster parent with my lovely wife. One of the things we’d do with our foster kids was everybody would have a night to cook (who was old enough). The reasoning was simple. We took in older teens who had NO clue how to cook, clean, do their own laundry and they’d been shuttled from one house to another. We’d take in the hard cases and “hopefully” give them enough life skills to survive in a year or two when they were out on their own.
Want to know one of the first things I loved to teach them? You guessed it, food. They’d go grocery shopping with me and we’d bypass the frozen foods for the most part. The prepackaged, ready to cook noms were great in a pinch, but if you were broke or had to find yourself on food stamps for an extended period, cooking from scratch made the most sense. We’d start with the carbs. Dried pasta and rice were mainstays. I could buy 50# bags of rice for $20. That bag lasted a family of twelve for over a third of a year with what we used it for. No, not instant rice, but the regular long grain rice you had to boil the crap out of if you didn’t have a rice cooker (which we totally do!). They’d learn both ways how to cook the rice, pasta, whichever. The next thing is I loved eating lentils and beans. The kids thought it was hilarious until they got used to it and the “stomach issues” go away pretty fast. You can do SO much with that stuff.
Chicken? One of the cheapest meats out there. We’d buy it in bulk. Leg quarters or whole chickens we’d cut up ourselves and freeze. At Sav-A-Lot or Aldi’s, you can buy bags of frozen veggies for $1.00 a pound per bag. That’s cheap as all get out. Now let’s put it all together… for a large family, I’d make maybe 3 cups of dried rice which when fluffed turned into a LOT. I’d let that go in the rice cooker while I threw the veggies in a big pan with a touch of olive oil. Next, I’d throw in some rabbit or chicken meat to fry everything up. Lastly, I’d mix it all up together and season and simmer it together to lock in the flavors. Sometimes I’d add in 1/2 bottle of $1.00 dressing (girls love ranch for some reason), or use soy sauce and a little extra water. Season to taste. Eat it just like it is, or throw it on a flour tortilla. Add to that? I’d usually add two cups worth of cooked lentils/beans and/or the same amount of corn. If we’re paying attention to costs… we just fed a large family for about $3.00. Want to cut that cost down more? Make your own flour tortillas. It’s easy as all get out.
So no lie, we are still in contact with a ton of our kids, even though we aren’t fostering anymore. Some are married and have families of their own now. Some have done really well, some have had hard times. It was always nice to have that extra food storage I had… because they could come shop in the pantry here and what little money they got from unemployment, SNAP or whatever… they remembered. They could make it work. They didn’t have like 3 hot wings, two hot pockets and a lonely piece of fish in their freezer to last them a month. They were able to put things together and they took what they learned from us and taught me some new tricks to boot! I’ve got one daughter who went into the food industry and became a cook.
I’m reminded of all of this because I saw I was in desperate need of some food rotation and hadn’t cooked like I had done, for a while. It got me to thinking, and although I do eat what I store and store what I eat, I don’t do it enough.
I need to fix that, and so do you.