by S. Easton

June 29, 2022

Congratulations…

Your food storage pantry is complete!

You’ve reached your goal and feel pretty good about it.

You’ve taken steps to provide nutritious meals to feed your family, no matter what curveball life may throw.

Now what? When you need to use your food storage, there are a couple tips to simplify this new way of cooking… Check them out – plus we’ve included some yummy recipes!

A Simple Food Storage Strategy

This simple strategy will help you effectively use your food storage to prepare delicious meals. Let’s start by clarifying two things:

Short term food storage: This would be the food you bought to re-create your family’s typical weekly menu. As we mentioned in a previous blog, “create your short term storage by planning a typical week’s menu. What does your family usually eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? What are their favorites? Then, expand that list to cover one month.” So, short term storage will include those types of items including canned and boxed foods. These short term foods should be rotated using the “First in – First out” (FIFO) method. For example: The canned tuna you bought last week will be stored behind the canned tuna you bought 6 months ago. The tuna bought 6 months ago should be used first.

Long term food storage: In some cases, foods can last 25-30 years, if properly stored. Hence – ‘long term’. These foods, your long term food storage, will become your “shop at home” grocery store. It’s convenient, it’s already paid for (mostly at pre-inflation prices) and you don’t have to use gasoline, time and energy to go grocery shopping. We still recommend the FIFO method for these foods, as well. So oats, rice, etc. which you purchased last year, should be used before the oats and rice you purchased last week.

Easy Food Storage Recipes

There are so many things you can whip up using your short and long term food storage. Let your imagination take a stroll through your pantry and let’s start with Tuna and Noodle Casserole. Tried and true. Grab a can of mushroom soup, tuna fish, peas and some dried onion flakes. Make some powdered milk to dilute the soup, cook some pasta or noodles of your choice and top with some freeze dried cheese, a can of fried onion rings or crushed potato chips. Super dinner… super fast and super cheap.

How about Chicken Ala King? Basically, use the same ingredients as above, except substitute a can of chicken breast for the tuna and use peas and carrots for the vegetable. Reconstitute some dried mushrooms and add to the mixture. Make some buttermilk biscuits, (Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchens, on Pinterest). Use 3 c. flour, 5 teaspoons baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ c. cold vegetable shortening, and 1 to 1 1/4 c. powdered buttermilk (plus the water equivalent.) Mix and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 13-15 minutes. Your family will love the biscuits topped with Chicken Ala King, and also slathered with freeze dried butter and drizzled with honey. Leftover biscuits make a great breakfast the next morning, too. Reconstitute some freeze dried sausage and add to an envelope of peppery Country Gravy mix. Old fashioned biscuits and gravy are a comforting way to start your day.

Get Your Freeze Dried Dairy

Yes, free dried butter, cheese, buttermilk and even heavy cream are all available. They have quite the dairy selection of freeze dried products at www.HoosierHillFarm.com. They say the heavy cream won’t whip, but it is wonderful to make cream sauces (think Fettuccine Alfredo or Cream of Broccoli soup). Also, the butter won’t harden as regular fresh butter but stays creamy and luxurious on those hot biscuits or buttered toast. Of course, honey tops toast and biscuits and we know honey won’t spoil, so drizzle away.

I personally always have a can of Saco Dry Buttermilk in my fridge. I wouldn’t use a full quart of fresh buttermilk before it spoils, so I’ve used dried buttermilk for years with great results. Simply add the dried milk powder with the dry ingredients and add the equal amount of water when it calls for the wet ingredients to be mixed in. The buttermilk powder remains fresh for ages in the refrigerator and it’s economical because I use what I need, when I need it and don’t wind up tossing fresh milk after it spoils.

Spaghetti Made Easy

Other easy food storage items which make great dinners and keep your foods rotating are pasta and canned marinara sauce. If fresh products are available, brown up some hamburger with a chopped onion, bell pepper and a couple of cloves of minced garlic and voila, you’ve got a home run spaghetti dinner. However, freeze dried hamburger crumbles are also available for this same purpose. How convenient! Next, try some reconstituted mashed potato flakes and package mix gravy as a side to a can of baked spam topped with a mixture of mustard and brown sugar – it’s like a little ham. Or dice that Spam and add to a box of dried scalloped potatoes with some dried onion flakes and reconstituted dry milk for a tasty “Ham and Potatoes” casserole. Powdered eggs and diced spam make a breakfast scramble; add some dried chives for variety and top with freeze dried cheddar.

Spice Up Your Storage

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. We’ll all need inspiration when cooking from our home pantry, if forced to do so for any length of time. So, make sure you have a wide variety of spices on hand, as well as assorted packets of gravy, rice and pasta mixes and plenty of condiments, like mustard, Worcestershire, ketchup, soy, sweet and sour and any other family favorites to spice up a bland dish and perk up tired appetites.

Go for the Grains

Oatmeal is a good example of what variety you can conjure up. Obviously, cooking for breakfast is tried and true. But, start the night before and create “Overnight Oats” by adding milk along with your choice of everything from peanut butter and bananas to pumpkin, berries or chocolate chips. The oats get creamy overnight and are ready to grab from the fridge and have a hearty, healthy breakfast. Mix oats with brown sugar, flour and butter to top fruit and have a tasty dessert crisp, and you can also grind them to make oat flour for the basis of muffins and bread. Who doesn’t like oatmeal cookies with a handful of raisins tossed in? So many options from one little grain.

Quinoa – the Super Grain

Speaking of grains, we don’t know what grains you’ve chosen for your long-term food stash, but we highly recommend you stock up on Quinoa, if you haven’t already. In doing some research for this blog, we learned that Quinoa, despite its funny name, is considered to have more than three times as much calcium and twice as much phosphorus as wheat. Plus, it contains equal, if not more, amounts of protein than powdered milk. Quinoa is said to be the most complete food; it furnishes all essential nutrients for living. Quinoa is also gluten free, so important to so many people these days. Cook Quinoa like white rice, with a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part Quinoa. A steaming bowl of Quinoa topped with fresh or freeze dried fruit, a splash of honey, sugar and some of that reconstituted heavy cream will get your day off to a healthy start.

Rice is another staple that should be stored. There are over 7,000 varieties of rice according to Whole Foods. So, pick and choose as you like, and store several different varieties, giving you options for everything from risotto (an Italian dish of rice cooked in stock with other ingredients such as meat or veggies) to Arancini (small balls of rice stuffed with a savory filling, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.) Either of these dishes would make a lovely meal with foods sourced from your own stored foods.

Pet Food Storage

While you’re at it, don’t forget to stash plenty of pet food. Each Sagan Life® AquaBrick® Food Storage Container will hold 20 pounds of dry dog, cat or bird food. So stock up for the four-legged or winged creatures in your house and just like your food, make sure you rotate it on a regular basis. This also allows you to buy pet food when they have sales on your furry friends favorite brand.

Include Fun Food Storage Snacks

Along the way, don’t forget to store some fun stuff for snacking. After all, if it comes down to having to use your food storage, things may not be all that rosy, so have a few treats in mind to lighten the mood. Start with popcorn. Easy to store and easy to pop, but again, have some variety in mind. “Confessions of an Overworked Mom” on Pinterest has a couple of spice mixtures which would be great. Her Mexican blend calls for 2 Tbsp. ground cumin, 2 Tbsp. onion powder, 2 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. chili powder and 1 Tsp. paprika. Her Parmesan seasoning calls for 2 Tbsp. dried parsley, 2 Tbsp. onion powder, 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, ½ Tsp. turmeric and 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan. The Hot Chocolate version with cocoa, salt and cinnamon sounds great. So get creative and surprise the family with tasty, actually good for you snacks. Dried fruits (think apricots, cranberries or raisins) dipped in chocolate are delish. While you’re at it, don’t forget the instant coffee. Add some of the heavy freeze dried cream and a splash of vanilla or liquor (which also lasts a long time) and you’ve got a fancy coffee drink without the fancy prices.

We hope we’re never faced with the task of using the food storage we’ve stashed for all of our cooking, but, there is always the “what if”.. Be prepared and ready should life throw you those lemons, be ready to make lemonade.