Food, good or bad, is going to be uppermost in many minds in the coming months- not that it isn't now with the high gas prices. The biggest difference between now and then will be hiking or biking to get our food instead of driving. That and getting it home. We may even find ourselves eating more than normally because we'll be working harder at staying alive, probably doing more manual labor than we're used to. Nothing wrong with a hearty appetite when you're working, so dig in. But don't forget to share.
My pantry's about 12 feet by 12 feet- plus or minus inches- and walled with shelves 18 inches deep. Just wide enough to hold the plastic containers I store my grub in. 30 gallon plastic with lockable tops work fine and are cheap at mall big boys. One row of shelving is beans- I love bean soup and 15 bean soups with ham- just delish. Another shelf is for peas. Same reason: I love split pea soup. (Love any soup, really.) Also, one shelf has boxes of lentils, barleys and lots of grits. (Don't ask why I like grits, I just do- it's an Army thing.)
Each bag is individually wrapped in another ziploc baggie as well, dated, the boxes sealed when full- which takes about three trips to the store when buying on the 'sly' to not arouse suspicions. I also use differing stores/supermarkets on the same days since they seem to have much the same specials going on everywhere. With today's costs, specials are a deal at yesterday's prices.
Across the room are shelves of spaghetti's/macaroni type foods, again kept in the original boxes/wrappings and sealed in zipper bags. A trick I use to get the air out is a straw poked in the top, zip the pack closed til it hits the straw, then suck like mad until the bag is air-free as possible, then zip closed and pull the straw out the same time. Someone suggested using a vacuum cleaner to replace the mouth, but I like doing things myself, soooo- no vac. Also, a survival friend convinced me I needed a bunch of Ramen noodles. Damn, those things taste worse than some cardboard boxes I've munched on. Still, there are several plastic wrapped case boxes of those dang things. (He may be intending to visit and have those for his lunch, I dunno. Anyway, they're here.) There are bags and boxes of elbow macaroni, one-pound size, and boxes of spaghetti, mostly two-pound boxes, lots of my favorite "oyster shell" macaroni in one and two pound bags, a few boxes, and those little skinny angel hair pasta, and five pound bags of rotini, another favorite. With the macaroni products are all the dry/powder sauce mixes I think I'll need for each pound of noodles- which usually comes to be four packets per pound with my sauce making. Kept in separate bags from the macaroni sauces are lots of chili, sloppy joe, dehydrated soup mixes and sundry spice items.
Canned goods get two walls of shelving: beans- french cut,cut and whole; peas; corn- whole kernel and creamed; spinach; mixed veggies; asparagus; pork and beans; cauliflower; Chinese veggies (actually ChunKing two-packs); tomatoes-whole, diced, sliced, pureed, chopped and sauced; beets- whole, sliced, chunked; sauerkraut (MMMM, mouth watering!); chili beans; peaches in cling syrup(tongue smackin'); and a whole lot of Irish Maid hot chocolate mixes, iced tea and other berry drink mixes- dry and individually wrapped and zipped packs.
The thing about storing foods long term is you gotta worry about moisture with anything that is supposed to have none. So wrap and wrap again if you're the worrying kind. Also, especially with canned goods, be certain to rotate stock, resupplying as you go. All foods are dated for expiration these days but for my personal opinion, I take these with a grain of salt for dried foods, especially such as beans and peas. Still, use and rotate. The family and I did show some concern for Y2K and began our preps about none months before - like March or April- and managed to easily get enough food stored for a season: one winter and summer while waiting for crops to grow on our three acres of independence. Some of those foods still haven't been used, though the rotation method is used.
Some foods, such as sugar, will be 'barter' foods for me- I use very little and make maple syrup on my own, anyway- not to mention berry wines (tongue dripping now...mmm...) Brown sugar, dregs from the cane, are probably more stable than white sugars- Mom and Grammy used to store them forever and use without fear, sometimes even having to hammer out the lumps with a rolling pin. Flours are bought in 20/25 pound bags and kept in 'pickle' containers with rubber sealed lids. (I have yet to go through 25 pounds of flour, however. Pancakes and biscuits are about the only use I have for flour until TSHTF, then I'll be baking breads, I imagine. Hopefully my flour products will still be usable. Also, I've yet to find a bad batch with meal bugs in it or their hulls, which attests to the efficiency of our modern milling methods.)
I know I'm forgetting something here- spices...there is one 30 gallon container with spices: crushed red, garlic powder, pepper, lemon pepper, basil, turmeric, etc: I use lots of spice in cooking so they'll be gone thru.
Storing foods is labor intensive, to say the least. The best thing would be a walk-in room with sliding shelves of individual containers so stock is easily rotated but we can't always have the best of all worlds. Make do with what you have.
So far as meats are concerned: living in the bush as I do, hunting is a common pastime in its season, as is fishing year round. Having a venison steak is more to my liking than a beef steak so I won't be awfully concerned about having to buy meat. (Until I married, I never bought any meat but bacon. The wife got tired of making venison, rabbit, duck, squirrel, partridge- a game bird, fish and turtle. Too bad- wild game is low in the wrong kind of cholesterol and high in the good stuff.) Also, I love my banty hens: great brown egg layers (but you gotta hunt for them sometimes, or take them from the setting hens!). Tough to chew fried but good enough for soups when cooked long enough. Great bait for foxes, wolves, cats, hawks and neighborhood dogs, so you gotta watch them close, insure they're cooping up at night. Then make sure weasels can't get in or they'll kill the entire coop just for fun. Had a horde of rabbits once, too. Not worth the bother, IMO, since they're more labor intensive than chickens, eat your garden with gleeful abandon, dig holes to make a gopher jealous and not worth much so far as food value is concerned: you'll starve to death eating rabbits due to low fat content. Stick to meats that have energy-producing fats cuz in the situations we're talking, you'll need it. Probably the best thing about rabbits is how fast they reproduce and may be good for barter. So, again, make up your own mind, do some research and make a decision.
You'll notice I haven't mentioned any MRE's yet. That's because to me an MRE is what I come home to and either make myself or that made by someone else. I think MRE's have their place in emergency supplies especially long-term storage type. But how long do you want to eat freeze dried food? Do you intend making it your sole source of energy? Don't you even intend planting a garden? doing any hunting or fishing? Any food stuffs you store will be used within two or three years if you plant a garden. Unless you have a continual resupply. So, in my thinking, a two year supply of foods I normally eat will be more than sufficient, taste better and be more readily consumed by mine and me.
Oh- yes, forgot to mention the dog. I have only one now since the Kid has grown and decided to fend for himself and took his two hounds along. (Whew! but I miss those girls, pain in butt tho they were.) My hound will go through a 17.2 pound bag of Kibbles in two weeks. In summer they last even longer since he's not producing heat. The Kibbles have their own shelf along with treats and some cases of canned foods he likes. (Think meaty.) In a pinch- such as him going to that great pound in the sky- the food will serve other mutts in need of a home cooked meal. Also, there have been news articles about 'poorer people' eating cat and dog food for its protein content. (Ever smell a can of human consumption beef stew? Smells just like Alpo Beef chunks. Plus, I'm told animal food is more stringently controlled than even human food- good old USDA!) And you will want a dog or two, but not the noisy kind that bark at every falling leaf. You want one that will let you know when someone is nearby- like two city blocks away- and won't try eating that person's ankles. (Point of interest: my Golden mutt can hear deer walking in the woods from more than a hundred feet, so don't underestimate their hearing. Also, I've watched him run full-tilt and smell a peanut butter sandwich on the ground from fifty feet with the wind blowing from him to the sandwich, and bee-line for that delight. But he's a bird dog and used to using his snoze.)
I know I'm forgetting something here- there's a lot to cover in foods alone when it comes to long-term surviving. In the pre-family days I'd always considered bush-whacking to the hunting shack and living the hermit life as much as possible. With family members, that's near impossible, so my thinking has had to be revised. Of course, with family members- and friends nearby as well- many aspects of surviving are greatly enhanced, the individual lives made easier by 'community'. So, in closing for now, enhance your life by developing your food stores and community of like-minded individuals.
God bless in your preps- keep the Faith and know Who actually holds the future, regardless who gets elected this fall. (Thank you, Lord, for that gentle reminder that I need not worry about this election cuz we'll get who You want us to have, who we deserve.)