May 282011
 

Food storage without electricity. My top ten choices for foods that can be stored at room temperature for extended periods of time, other than MREs.esteading

Food Storage Without Electricity

More than one group of experts are talking about increased risk of soaring food prices and economic instability.  With recent droughts and other natural disasters around the world, our food production and delivery system is under a lot of of stress.  If you can, I’d highly recommend stocking up on non-perishable food items.

One question that I’ve been seeing a lot in preparedness discussions is how to make real, “living” food a part of your storage plans.  Many food storage lists include large amounts of heavily processed food items because they are cheaper, readily available, and have amazing shelf lives.

That’s all well and fine, but you’re supposed to rotate your food storage items regularly by eFating out out your storage, and I am not eager to live off of MRE’s, freeze dried meals with hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and commercially canned goods that may contain mold or other questionable ingredients.  (We do keep some MREs and freeze dried meals, but they do not make up the bulk of our storage.)

So what are some of the best options for “real food” storage foods?  Here are my top ten choices for  foods that can be stored at room temperature for extended periods:

1.  Lacto-fermented vegetables/ Home Preserved Products

Large containers of properly fermented vegetables can last for months, if not over a year, in cool conditions (for instance, an unheated basement).  Captain Cook used kraut on his ships to prevent scurvy, as did other sailors.  My husband remembers my mom talking about how they would preserve large crocks (15-20 gallons or more) or kraut from season to season.  She said it would sometimes taste a little different but it was still good.  In my own experience, this past season I keep two one gallon crocks of kraut in my basement from October until May – seven months – and the quality was still acceptable at that time.  The flavor was a little more tangy/bubbly than younger kraut.  At this point I repackaged it into smaller containers and put it in the fridge and freezer.  Sauerkraut is very high in vitamin C, and is also a good source of vitamin K, which is often deficient in modern diets.

Home canned, dried or root cellared fruits, vegetables and other foods are not quite the nutritional powerhouses that lacto-fermented products are, but they are much easier to use for the bulk of a meal, or for an entire meal. I’ve been working hard this season to preserve the bounty from the garden through canning and and drying, and will soon be filling the root cellar.  If you’re unfamiliar with home food preservation, I recommend checking out the post “New to Food Preserving – Start Here“.  If you decide to purchase canned food items, make sure to buy from a reputable source.

You may also be interested in:

2.  Live Culture Dairy

If you keep a yogurt culture that works at room temperature (such as viili from Cultures for Health, which I use), you can use it to culture powdered milk without a yogurt maker.  While powdered milk is not ideal, it does store without refrigeration.  Culturing makes the nutrients much more digestible.  Milk kefir is also an option for a drinkable product.  Milk kefir grains can also be used to culture coconut milk, if they are are occasionally revitalized in milk.  Kefir provides protein, minerals and B vitamins.  Traditional hard cheeses (such as Parmesan) may also last for months in cool dry temps.

3.  Whole grains

Whole grains (in general) have excellent shelf lives, much longer than milled flours.  Places like Emergency Essentials (listed below) sell grains and grain mills (electric powered and hand powered).  If you keep a sourdough culture, you can use it to make many baked goods, not just bread, such as sourdough crackers.  Again, using sourdough culturing makes the nutrients in the grain more available.  Grains can also be sprouted and used to make a simple essene bread, which is very filling and nutritious.  Read about the bulk grain order I organized here.

4.  Chia seeds

Chia seeds have a shelf life of 4 to 5 years for dried seeds.  They have omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, fiber, B vitamins, calcium and protein.  They can be used to make drinks and no-cook puddings, as well as adding nutrition to baked goods and smoothies.

5. Sprouting seeds

Sprouting seeds also have a great storage life, generally 2 years or more.  They are generally high in vitamin C, and may also contain other antioxidants and essential nutrients.  They also provide fresh, growing food in a hurry when it may be in short supply.  Sprouting seeds are easy to use.  You can grow them in handy sprouting kits,  or in sprouting bags or even nylon stockings.  Mary Bell (in the Dehydrator Cookbook) suggests bringing sprouting seeds with you while camping.  She says to soak them overnight in a bag of water, and then place them in a section of nylon sock attached to your backpack.  Rinse daily, and in a few days you’ll have live, crunchy additions to your trail rations.

6.  High Quality Saturated Fat

Coconut oil, lard and tallow will all keep for at least 12-18 months (most likely longer) in sealed, airtight containers kept in a cool area.  Your body needs healthy fats.  Your brain is largely made up of fat, as is protective coating on your lungs, and many other critical body systems.  Fats are energy dense, which is also critical during emergency situations.  If you buy coconut oil from our affiliate, Nutiva, orders over $30 ship for free.  This means no shipping charges on the 54 oz and gallon sizes.  They also stock chia seeds.  If you choose to purchase through my site, I receive an affiliate payment.  Thank you!

Shop Nutiva

7.  Dried Legumes

Dried beans have a great shelf.  They will keep around a year in just the plastic bags from the store, 10 to even 30 years if sealed in airtight containers with oxygen removed.  Utah State University Cooperative Extension states:  “Dry beans average about 22% protein in the seed, the highest protein content of any seed crop. They contain all essential amino acids, except methionine. Methionine can be obtained from corn, rice, or meat. Beans are an excellent source of fiber, starch, minerals and some vitamins. ”

8.  Real Salt

Unrefined salt has many trace minerals that are essential to health.  In my experience, the unrefined salts (Real Salt, grey sea salt, pink salt, etc.) have a “saltier” more robust flavor, meaning you can use less to achieve the same result.  Salt can also be used to preserve food (such as fermenting vegetables, above, and meats).  Since ancient times, salt has been also used as a valuable trade commodity.

9.  Bulk Spices, Herbs and Teas

Don’t underestimate the power of herbs and spices.  As well as being high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, many of them have preservative properties as well.  The New Agriculturalist explains:

“Cinnamon is just one of a large number of spices that have long been known to preserve food. Recent research has tried to find out exactly how effective the spice can be, over what time period, and in suppressing which bacteria. At Kansas State University, microbiologists have been testing the effectiveness of cinnamon and other spices in eliminating one of the most virulent bacterial causes of food poisoning, E.coli type 0157. Complications arising from the bacteria can include anaemia and kidney problems, and a serious outbreak can lead to fatalities. The Kansas researchers found that cinnamon added to apple juice that had been contaminated with E.coli, was able to kill 99.5% of the bacteria within three days, at room temperature. They also did tests on meat and sausage, and found that cinnamon, cloves and garlic all had a powerful ability to stop the growth of the bacteria. Other microbiologists in Tennessee have found that oils extracted from oregano, coriander and basil, also have strong anti-microbial properties. In future we may see more natural preservatives supplementing the synthetic compounds currently in use.”

I store my spices and herbs in glass jars out of direct light (sometimes using the sock trick).  I buy in bulk (generally from Frontier or Mountain Rose Herbs, listed on the sidebar), store a small amount in the cupboard and the rest in the bulk food storage.  Both stores sell small, inexpensive glass shaker jars to repackage your spices for easy use.  Larger spices, such as cinnamon sticks or other “chunky” spices, can be vacuum sealed in mason jars to extend shelf life.  Under cool, dry conditions out of direct light, spices should have a shelf of two years.  They can still be used after this time, but potency will diminish.  Spices could also be used as a trade commodity.

10.  Sweeteners, Including Refined White Sugar, Raw Sugar, Honey and Maple Syrup

I’m sure some foodies will cringe at the inclusion of white sugar, but it is less expensive than the other options and has a great shelf life (white sugar will last indefinitely if kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry location).  It can be used as a preservative for fruits.  Sugar can be used to heal wounds (as can honey).  (More details on the sugar for wound healing here.)  I use sugar to brew my kombucha, too.  Raw sugar can store as well as regular sugar, but may be cost prohibitive for many.

Honey can store easily for over a year, possibly decades. They have found edible honey in tombs over 1000 years old. To store honey, Honey.com states:

Processed honey should be stored between 64-75°F (18-24°C).1 Honey can be exposed to higher temperatures for brief periods; however, heat damage is cumulative so heat exposure should be limited. It is best to minimize temperature fluctuations and avoid storing honey near heat sources.

The recommended storage  temperature for unprocessed  honey is below 50°F (10°C).  The ideal temperature for both unprocessed and processed honey is below 32°F (0°C).  Cooler temperatures best preserve the aroma, flavor and color of unprocessed honey.

Maple syrup has the shortest shelf life – around one year in glass bottles without freezing or refrigeration.

There are many other food options, but these are my top choices for foods that store a long time without refrigeration.

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared
In addition to food, water is critical.  Learn more about water storage and water filtration in the post Emergency Water Storage – What You Need to Know.

What are your favorite storage foods?  Have any tips you’d like to share?  Please leave me a comment and let me know.

You may also enjoy this post on root cellar basics or Above Ground Root Cellars – Enjoy Your Local Produce Longer.  Naturally cold areas such as root cellars give you even more options for food storage without electricity.

View all our preparedness posts.


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  88 Responses to “Food Storage Without Electricity – Top 10 Foods to Stockpile”

  1. That is all VERY interesting. I have often wondered about shelf life. My husband is on to me all the time about stocking up in the event of the "whatever". Great thoughts for me to think about. Debi

  2. This is an excellent post, Laurie. We've spent the past year changing the way that we eat and as a result, our food stockpile has changed dramatically. You mentioned several things that we have discussed, but not yet implemented.

    Fermenting is something I want to try this year. We also have a large garden for the first time and I can not wait to start dehydrating and preserving our foods that way as well.

    And white sugar as a healing agent?? I had no idea! I just a good while reading more on that subject. How awesome is that?! Not that I hope to ever use the that information, but it's always good to be aware of what is available. Thanks for this list. I am sure I'll be referring back to it in the future.

  3. Thanks, ladies. I know our eating habits have changed dramatically over the years, and it has changed the way I store food, too. Food prices are rising, with no end in site, so I think, if you can, it make sense to stock up. I just saw that they are facing crippling droughts in China – that's a lot of hungry people.

    My hubby was the one who wanted to make sure I included the info on sugar as a healing agent. He learned that years ago when he was reading about military history. I could see where it would come in handy for veterinary use as well.

  4. Wow great post! Thanks for sharing

  5. Thanks, Erin.

  6. Fantastic – as always. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thanks for your kind words, Jasmine.

  8. Your list looks just like mine! Real food storage can be done, but the majority of info out there is just so much dead food. I've heard that the price of sugar is set to skyrocket the way coffee has, which at first didn't concern me until I remembered I use sugar in kombucha and many of my herbal medicines syrups! At that point, I started storing plain, white sugar alongside my honey.

    Next week in the carnival, I'm doing a post on coconut oil. It is really an amazing food and SO appropriate for storage and emergencies! Thanks so much for participating in the Real Food Emergency Preparedness Blog Carnival!

  9. Sugar has gotten a bad rap lately, and for good reason, but when used appropriately it is very handy. I don't know what I'd do without my kombucha. I'd miss it terribly!

  10. This is a great article. I hope ou come and share it at FAT TUESDAY1

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/08/fat-tuesday-august-23-2011

  11. Where do you get your bulk coconut oil? Does it have a strong coconut taste? My daughter is allergic to all dairy so I've had to switch over to cooking with all coconut oil. I'd love to buy in bulk, but am a little hesitant to order a giant container and have it taste super coconutty.

  12. Many grocery stores have small containers of coconut oil in their natural foods department. Refined coconut oil has no coconut flavor. I use it for things like frying chicken. Unrefined coconut oil has more of a coconut taste. That's the one I use for eating straight, or for applications where I prefer the coconut flavor. My favorite brand is Nutiva, which I order directly from their site.

  13. I've used honey on a bad burn that my 2 yo got last year along with a few other "home remedies." Your comment on sugar and veterinary use reminded me of how my sister's dog was involved in an accident (racing a car) and lost a lot of her foot. The vet had her pack the injury in sugar twice daily to help grow back the tissue around the barely last remaining toe. The tissue grew back sufficiently and the dog kept the toe that kept getting infected. Sugar provides immediate injury to the cells to help make the repair — plus sugar keeps bacteria from growing as it is a preservative.

    –Cheryl

  14. Thanks for taking time to comment and share your experience, Cheryl. My husband had a bad burn this summer that we treated with honey. It dried non-sticky on the wound, and there was no scar.

  15. We store the things you mentioned, except that I use turbinado sugar in place of the refined white sugar. I also try to store cans of young coconut juice/water to have on hand for electrolyte replenishment when we've been sick, or if we've just been working or playing extra hard. :) Even if you have a water filter, it is important to have water stored in containers in the event of a natural disaster, water pipe problems, or having to evacuate. We keep at least two weeks or more of water (one gallon per person per day) in the basement, and we like to keep full water bottles in a backpack along with a change of clothes, a first aid kit, and a one-gallon bucket full of things like chia seeds, fruit leather, nuts, etc. in case we ever have to evacuate. It would also work for a spontaneous camping trip if we throw in sleeping bags and a tent. :)

    Angie

  16. [...] to your family’ meals.  Ditch the highly processed snack foods.  Buy in bulk and learn how to store foods. Experiment with fermenting.  Try sprouting.   – As you can see, there are many steps you [...]

  17. [...] Natural fermentation can be used to change low acid foods into high acid foods, giving them a longer shelf life to store “as is”, or allowing them to be canned in a water bath canner instead of a [...]

  18. Great list. I’d just like to add that in addition to the health and preservative qualities of spices and herbs, storing them is a good idea to fight diet fatigue in the event of an extended emergency. With a good variety of spices on had you can make oatmeal or rice and beans taste different everyday. I buy almost exclusively whole spices and grind them as needed. If they are whole and stored in airtight packaging away from light their shelf life is hugely extended (I have some whole nutmegs that are at least five years old and still fantastically potent).
    I also store dried fruits and veggies and some home-canned products to provide some variety, color, and nutrition to our food storage.

    • Lily – very good points. Whole spices can also be more easily vacuum sealed in glass jars with a basic Foodsaver attachment, further extending their shelf lives. Note to self – I need to add more of my favorite bulk food and spice sources to the resource page. :-)

  19. Great suggestions… but I’ll tell you, water is the thing that will really get you quick. Our well shorted out and we have been without running water for a month, while we save up for the repair (expensive!) And that has been such a HUGE eye opener. Even if we’re careful, we still need about 7 gallons of water a day for three people, 7 sheep, a pony, 2 dogs, cats, bunnies and chickens! We have an artesian well about 4 miles from the house, but gosh, hauling water in the cold is hard work. We plan to install several large rainwater catchers out in the barn, and also on all the gutters. Water is a very precious commodity for sure! Also plan to invest in a good filter too. Just adding my two cents of realty that slapped us across the face!

  20. I’m going to bookmark this!

    I hadn’t even noticed that Cultures for Health had viili and piimä starters in stock, so I’m head over heels happy to have had it pointed out to me! ;)

    However I’d be cautious about calling viili yogurt without an explanation, since Americans think of yogurt as something thick (yay for chemical thickening agents… bleh!) I grew up on viili and piimä in Finland, and remember my grandmother always keeping a batch or two of different fermented milk products going at her cottage. She even had designated flat sort of shallow cone shaped viili cups for the purpose of making viili. The other grandmother had larger ceramic bowls of a similar shape for the same purpose. I guess oldtimers liked the material for the cooling effect of the clay, which is probably why crocks are still really useful.

    • Penny – you’re right, it’s not standard “yogurt” as most folks in the US think about it, but then almost all natural yogurts are not like the ones in the store, which are (mostly) thickened with additives. My first introduction to villi was when I found it on the Cultures for Health site, and I thought it was the coolest thing that you could culture a yogurt without having to fuss with temperature. If you have a link on your site where you discuss villi and piima in more detail, please feel free to add it here.

      • I have featured my yogurt making experiments here, but I don’t detail anything except the basic recipe I go by: http://mindboggling-and-musings.blogspot.com/2012/01/crafty-housewifery-yogurt-making.html

        Since I had no access to a viili culture, I was using Zoi brand nonfat plain Greek yogurt from the grocery store for my starter, and I do tend to filter it, since I prefer the thick consistency when eating yogurt. And the whey gets used up in my breakfast smoothies and baking projects.

        Piimä has been a bit more like an ingredient for other foods, since most recipes calling for buttermilk have a similar equivalent using piimä, and I’m not a great fan of the taste, although it makes spice cakes divine. Finns used to drink their milk as piimä before refrigeration, as the soured milk didn’t spoil in a canteen in the field (some craftsmen still make those old wooden canteens, since people collect them, some daring individuals even use them to store their sour dairy products). My mom told me that my bottle as a kid was never filled with milk in summertime, since it didn’t go bad in the heat.

        You can use viili as a starter culture for more viili, but some Finns just dump a bit of piimä in the bottom of a viili cup, add a bit of cream (to taste), and cover with milk, without stirring the ingredients together. The culture climbs its way to the top of the bowl, and it’s done, when a soft, velvety film covers the milk. The culture is just left to set undisturbed overnight in room temperature under a kitchen towel, and then moved to the fridge overnight the next day.

        My grandmother used viili cups to make viili, and usually served it with Talkkuna-flour ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama_%28food%29 ) and fresh berries, or jam. The dish grew on me over time, it takes some getting used to, but I tend to start my holidays back home eating all the traditional foods that are hard to get in the U.S. :)

        The “traditional” way of making viili is roughly translated from; http://cebic.vuodatus.net/blog/2193642/kotitekoinen-viili/

  21. the best way to store food is on the hoof! thanks for your post.

  22. One problem I’ve run into is getting those darn moths in our bulk grains. Heck I’ve even gotten them from non-bulk foods in conventional grocery stores. Those buggers can get into just about anything.

    I talked to an entomologist who told me freezing grains for two weeks was sufficient to kill all stages of the moths. After two weeks in the deep freeze they were safe to store at room temp in a bug free zone.

    If using this method I’d definitely store my long term items far away from the kitchen…. like the garage or basement. I once brought home moths eggs in a bag of popcorn kernals. If I had my grains stored in the kitchen everything would have been infested.

    • Bryony – thanks for sharing this. Thankfully, I haven’t had a problem with moths, but I did get grain with weevils once – ugh! I do normally either freeze or vacuum seal my grain for long term storage. There are a number of other methods to thwart bugs, too, such as treatment with dry ice or diatomaceous earth.

      • This site is great! We do a lot of bulk grains and one way I have found to keep moths out is to add one or two ( depending on the size of your container) bay leaves to the grains. We do freeze first for a day or two but I have had both moths and beetles in our foods even after freezing. Since we started with the bay leaves we haven’t had any. Hope this helps.

        • Stacy – thanks for sharing your experience. So far, the only time I dealt with insects is when I bought grain infested with weevils and they hatched. Just nasty. Frontier herbs agrees with your praise of bay leaves, stating “Because it’s so strongly aromatic, bay laurel is resistant to many kinds of plant pests and diseases. Plants that grow nearby the bay laurel are said to benefit from this ability. In the home, bay is used to repel grain beetles and other insects. Place a leaf or two in each container of stored grains or in each box of stored clothing.”

  23. This is an amazing guide & I will definitely be incorporating more “live” foods in my storage now! Thank you so much for sharing this. These tips are fabulous for someone who wants to be prepared, but health conscience at the same time.

  24. [...] Preparedness” by Jack Spigarelli.  You may also be interested in the post “Top Ten Real Foods That Store without Electricity“, in which I discuss my top ten storage [...]

  25. [...] have a great storage life – up to three years at room temperature – which it why it made my Top Ten Real Foods to Store Without Electricity list.  They are really quite beautiful, as you can see in the photo above, but you might not [...]

  26. [...] Good ideas? http://www.commonsensehome.com/preparedness-real-foods-when-you-need-them-most/ [...]

  27. Another use for plain old white sugar is to make water grained kefir. I bought my water kefir grains on Amazon and the Keysands company sent instructions with them. You just add the grains to a sugar water base and let it set in a warm dark corner. And it actually tastes very good as well as being nutritious.
    There is also a book, “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz that contains really great information on all kinds of products that are fermented around the world. He likes to “catch” the fermenting agent from the air around us, thus the “wild” part.
    Also, regarding the Berkey water filter, I have extremely rusty well water and have been using my Big Berkey for around 6 months now and am very pleased with its performance. Now I do put my well water (from my tap) into gallon bottles and let it sit for a day or so and leave about an inch in the bottom when pouring it into the filter so that eliminates some of the rust, however there is a marked difference between the before filtering rust colored bottles and the after filtering clear bottles of water. I have not found any other filter that has worked as well!

  28. Awesome post, thanks! Coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt I have in abundance, am working on the others. So glad I read this and found you, am subscribing now. Keep ‘em comin!!

  29. hi, I love all the info you are all sharing. I am new to this, it’s all a little overwhelming. I am wondering how to start with the food stocking, what is a good starter, and I have a rain barrel to water my garden. do you also use rain water filtered for drinking? and storage/ living in florida, it’s hard to keep things from heat and humidity, I am using a bedroom closet to store my home canned tomatoes. I am open to all info and help . I really miss my house in pennsylvania, with the nice cold basement. but have to make due. thank you all for such great info.

    • Start small with things that you know you need/will use. Buy a little extra on sale, or buy in bulk. I know Emergency Essentials stock airtight/water tight containers, moisture absorbers and oxygen absorbers that will help extend storage life in less than optimal conditions, and their prices are as good or better than anywhere else I’ve checked on the Net. Don’t try to do everything at once, just take it one step at a time. You may be able to sneak in storage under beds or in other nooks around the home. Any place with a relatively constant temperature is better than big temperature swings.

      Having some source of clean water should be a top priority. You can use rain barrel water, but I would recommend a good non-electric filter like a Berkey. More on water storage here – http://www.commonsensehome.com/emergency-water-storage/

      Check around for local preppers if you can find them, and they might be willing to offer specific advice for your area.

  30. Nice list!

    In an extended emergency, the whole seeds you’ve included (chia, sprouting, grains & beans) also double as seed for calorie crops. I’ve only begun to get interested in survival preparedness, but I’ve noticed a lot of “survival seed bank” products that seem to contain only vegetable seeds, or tiny packs of grain and legumes. If you really had to feed yourself, you’re going to need tens of pounds of seed in order to generate the several *hundred* pounds of storage grain or legumes necessary to feed a family for a year.

    Also, it’s worth stocking up on storable vegetables in the fall, such as winter squash, apple, pears, onions, potatoes, garlic, cabbage, etc. Many varieties of these items will store for months in a cool garage, without fermentation. The potatoes also can serve as emergency “seed” as well.

  31. Salt is a very important thing, especially for people who don’t live anywhere near a natural source of it. It should be noted that table salt (ie iodized salt) should be kept on hand, too, though not necessarily in large amounts. The body needs iodine to function properly, and salt is the easiest way to get it. :)

    We keep whole grains rather than ground. I might suggest you all look for your closest local LDS Cannery. We have one about an hour away, and boy, I tell you, it’s worth the trip. We got over 400 lbs of food all told, all dried stuff in bulk bags or in #10 cans, and it cost us less than $125.

    Another note – if you’re buying things for storage, make a point of learning how to cook with it. I gotta say, if I’d opened up the bulk red wheat, ground it, and tried to make bread for the first time in an *emergency*, I’d have failed miserably. LOL… I found out that fresh ground flour has a LOT of moisture in it, and I had to cut out almost an entire cup of water from my bread recipe. I’ve been learning to cook with our bulk beans, too.

    We keep MREs in the emergency backpacks, so that if we were stuck in the car in a snowstorm or something, we’d have a ready source of food we didn’t have to worry about cooking. But those are for “on the go” type emergencies. If I’m at home during a power outage or anything of that sort, pretty much our day just continues as normal. *grin*

  32. [...] You can see how the kraut looked after SEVEN months in the crock at this post.  Lacto-fermentation works for food [...]

  33. [...] Stock your pantries well, with both short term and long term food storage items, and items readily bartered for food items, such as water filters, seeds, fuel, self-defense items, tools, medicines, toiletries – whatever you have room for that you believe will be a good fit for your area. I have a list of my top Ten Foods that Store without Electricity on my site at: http://www.commonsensehome.com/preparedness-real-foods-when-you-need-them-most/. [...]

  34. I’ve actually stumbled across an interesting resource for planning, inventorying and updating your pantry and stockpiles, and decided to share.

    At About.com, they have a section reserved for frugal living, and plenty of printable worksheets for keeping track of what you’ve got in store, or what you have canned, and so on. I ended up printing out the two files I linked to, and am keeping them in a prominent place in the kitchen. I’m hoping to get around to laminating a copy of each at some point. That way, I can just mark them with dry erase markers with comments such as “low”, “use up”, or “need more…” I’ve found it way easier to remember what I’m missing, if I scan through a list on the fridge door, rather than through the mess that is our current pantry.

    I ended up spending a couple of hours yesterday just saving these files, and making sure I have a backup copy for bringing along to the printer next time I have access to one. I guess I’m catering to my obsessive compulsive type A personality here. But what it does, is improves the grasp we have of what we’re storing up.

    http://frugalliving.about.com/library/pdfs/MasterPantryList.pdf
    http://frugalliving.about.com/library/pdfs/StockpileList.pdf

    There are a lot of this kind of worksheets available at http://frugalliving.about.com/od/frugalliving101/ss/Money_Saving_Printables.htm

    • Thanks for the links. I was thinking about hunting down some more of that sort of thing, but you beat me to it. :-)

      • You’re absolutely welcome. I keep getting updates from responses to this thread while sorting out my file folders, so it was a good reminder to share. It’s not fun to hoard great resources. I just saved the gardening worksheets from the same website. Now I’ll just need a binder a mile thick to corral all those print outs, of which there are many by now. ;)

  35. I just wanted to add that in place and/or addition to maple syrup, you can keep corn syrup on hand and make pancake syrup as needed. Corn syrup will last indefinitely, even if a little yellowing occurs. You can flavor the syrup with whatever you have available like fruit, juice, berries, or flavoring such as maple- which does only last about a year or so. Google syrup made from other trees than maple if you don’t have them available- interesting find:)

  36. Don’t forget black pepper! It can be used as a preserver! Family members like to use black pepper to cover venison during hunting season. It means a less salty meat for those concerned about salt & blood pressure. Also, sugar can be used in curing meats. My grandfather always sugar cured his meats.

  37. [...] Remove from heat, bottle and label.  This syrup should last for several weeks, even months, if refrigerated.  (Most herbs have preservative qualities.) [...]

  38. We go out 5km off the coast and get sea water to cook with. (We live in a pristine area). Use about 1/5 to 1/4 seawater in your cooking.

  39. [...] P.S – Don’t forget – most sprouts have a very good storage life, making them one of my Top 10 Foods to Store Without Electricity. [...]

  40. I would like to add the following improvements we have/are incorporating into our lifestyle: Use Pickl-It jars for all fermentation as it seals out oxygen creating an anaerobic environment which is crucial. Open crocks are not traditional (clay pots, animal skins, and oak barrels – all sealed which allowed the CO2 to push out the oxygen and not allow it back in) and result in a very compromised product which can be unhealthy. A Harsch crock, with the water moat, works but mold eventually shows up. Pemmican is a great survival food, and when prepared correctly (see http://www.traditionaltx.us/images/PEMMICAN.pdf and http://www.traditionaltx.us/images/JerkyDrierInstructions.pdf – or use a dehydrator). I have finished rendering 40 lbs of suet (internal cavity fat) into 25 lbs of tallow for making pemmican. I have started drying meat and will finish this step in the next couple of weeks. We have been canning stock made according to Nourishing Traditions cook book as it is excellent to have on hand to mix with grains, make sprouted bean soups (sprouting legumes changes the fat from polyunsaturated to saturated), and gravy’s.

  41. [...] Rule of thumb:  strongly scented and flavored herbs and spices come with strong oils that can add flavor, improve your health and often extend the life of your food.  [...]

  42. [...] Top 10 Healthier Foods to Stockpile Make sure you ‘Like‘ Knowledge Weighs Nothing on Facebook to be updated every time we post new articles, reviews and tutorials etc. [...]

  43. [...] Food Storage Without Electricity – Top 10 Foods to Stockpile [...]

  44. Have you ever used the process of oven canning to lengthen the shelf life of dry foods such as rice, flour oatmesl, etc? And if so, do you recommend it?

    • I haven’t tried it, because I normally use the vacuum sealer for those types of goods. That said, it should be safe for dry goods, but not for foods that normally require water bath or pressure canning.

    • I have oven-sealed canning jars for storing dry goods. It works very well with very dry dehydrated foods, beans, pasta and such. I wouldn’t recommend it for sugar, as the heat can alter it.

  45. Saurcraut in a jar is very easy and reliable.
    Pack shredded cabbage tightly into a quart jar. Add 1teaspoon salt. Fill with boiling water. Put lifs on. Let.seabout a month in a cool, dry and dark place. Eat. Goof. Eayer bath van as is if you plan to kerp it awhile.

    • Norah, if folks want to try this method, I’d highly recommend mixing the salt with the cabbage to make sure it is evenly distributed. Cabbage is low acid, so the salt helps prevent spoilage and encourage friendly bacteria growth.

  46. maple syrup will last for a very long time. If a mold grows on it return syrup to stove and bring to boil and skim any scum that forms. Then strain and rebottle or can, your syrup is as good as new. This can be done until syrup is used up. No Vermonter will ever throw out maple syrup as it can be brought back to good as new by being reboiled.

  47. [...] It keeps just fine on the shelf in the pantry – no refrigeration required.  (Great stock up food to store without electricity.)  The color is white, which melts to clear (virgin palm oil has a reddish tint).  It looks a lot [...]

  48. I see that maple syrup has a shorter shelf life than other options. Do you know how maple sugar rates?

    • I can’t recall where I saw the reference, but if I remember correctly it still doesn’t store quite as well as other dry sweeteners because it has a higher moisture content.

  49. Great article. Just a few more ideas. Someone mentioned worksheets for keeping track of your stores. Several years ago, while on vacation, our home was robbed. This thief not only took valuables but must have been hungry because he stripped our freezer, both the large one and the little on in our fridge. Took our pantry stores too; all except the wheat, oats and other grains. You can imagine what that would cost to replace! When we got home and reported it, our insurance agent said he was sorry we’d lost so much in food and the company couldn’t pay for it without documentation of what was taken. Imagine his surprise when I pulled out of my files full inventories of my pantry, freezer as well as our valuables. Also, don’t leave a list on your fridge or convenient to your storage. This just gives a thief a list of what to take. Keep it separate and train yourself to either keep two lists, one for shopping and the other for storage. When you write on one, do so for the other. When things get tough, there may be no insurance to reimburse you. Also, I now, don’t store everything in one place. I keep up to 5 different caches and use up one cache at a time, this way I am rotating and no one knows where ALL the food is stored.
    Second, I have 4 very large planters, currently two of them are used for growing veggies like lettuce, radishes etc because if I ever run out of electricity, the dirt gets moved out and they become my refrigerator. I learned this when I moved where we had no electricity. To keep cold, you cover with a wet heavy cloth and tie with a rope. This isn’t for long term use, but to keep food long enough to use it up as in a day similar to a cooler. Works better if you can stay home and don’t have to bug out, but I also keep 2 more as barter items because I know I’ll be able to use them that way.

  50. Wonderful article. I look at my pantry and struggle… wanting to be prepared (I always have been. Life deals us misfortune all the time. With a full pantry it’s one less problem.) But, now I want to eat healthier. This helps me see where I need to change my ideas about food storage. Excellent ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    • Life can lead to many ups and downs. I know of a friend who had to cook almost solely out of her pantry for an extended period due to loss of income. When my husband lost his job back in 2008, I know I was glad to have many of the basics covered. Just keep working on it day by day. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  51. Laurie, great article! Since going Primal/Paleo three years ago, I don’t stock wheat or much sugar. Lately, I’ve been reconsidering my food storage to include more wheat and sugar. Even though I don’t eat wheat, it has great barter potential as would sugar.

    The other items are on your list are in my Primal Pantry. Great value adding info!

  52. Thank you all this is a Great Info site it’s all greatly appreciated,the world needs more people like ya’ll,Take care…

  53. So does honey store indefinitely? Great post, by the way.

  54. On the subject of honey, research has suggested that raw honey is the preferred type of honey to consume. Trace minerals, antibacterial and anti-fungal elements remain in the raw form. Once heated by pasteurization these are removed. Some even say that filtering also removes these properties. Eating the honeycomb is the rawest form and packed with all the goodness the body needs.

    Often times the honey bought in big box stores has fillers, corn syrup and other “stuff” you don’t need or want, plus it may have come from foreign countries (China, Chili and elsewhere). Buying local from a beekeeper is the best way.

  55. This is a very helpful post. Thanks for the information.

  56. Pasta, Lentils, Instant Oatmeal, Rice are all good things to stock up on. Vacuum seal them, place in 5 gallon buckets, toss in a couple of hand warmers (these remove oxygen), put on a lid and stick them in the back of closet.

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