Many folks express concerns about their inability to stock up on extra food due to financial constraints. Those intrigued by the world of “food preps” or preparedness, might find themselves diving into online forums, devouring books, and scouring newspapers on the topic. However, these resources often lead to overwhelm as they delve into the nitty-gritty of how much to stock, what kinds of food to hoard, and the intricate art of preservation.
Facing this seemingly Herculean task can be intimidating, especially when your wallet is feeling rather light. It’s not uncommon to throw in the towel before even embarking on this journey.
But fear not, you don’t have to splurge on pricey freeze-dried, long-term food storage wonders nitrogen-packed wheat, or any other extravagant food storage items. While they’re a luxury for those with ample funds, many of us must be resourceful with our provisions.
In this article, I’ll guide you through the essentials of food prep and how to make the most of them. You might come up with additional ideas along the way, but remember, some folks might be starting from scratch. In today’s world, it’s not unusual to have never laid hands on basic ingredients like flour. So, let’s kick off our journey there!
Food preps with the basics
Curious about what you can do with a simple bag of flour? Well, let’s delve into the world of food preps! With flour in your pantry, you’re equipped for a wide range of culinary adventures.
First off, consider whipping up some biscuits. All you need is a mix of flour, baking soda, salt, a touch of shortening or a similar fat, and a splash of water. That’s food preps 101, right there. If you’re craving pancakes, the recipe is almost identical, just swap out shortening for cooking oil, and add eggs and sugar if they’re part of your food preps arsenal.
What if you’re out of baking powder? No worries, you can create tortillas with the basics – flour, salt, and fat. It’s as straightforward as it gets in the realm of food prep!
Now, here’s a fascinating twist. Combine flour and water, let the mixture capture natural yeast from the air, and behold – you’ve got yourself a sourdough starter. While it’s helpful to seek advice from a friend or a trusty cookbook, don’t hesitate to experiment. You can even craft yeast-less bread using nothing but flour and water. Spice it up with salt, sugar, or any other flavorings you have stashed in your food prep arsenal.
Have you ever thought about making a “white sauce” or gravy with just flour and water? Elevate its flavor with a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, or a medley of your favorite spices. Bouillon cubes are nifty additions for a flavor boost, or you can fashion your own broth from critter bones sourced through your food prep adventures. Blend it with flour, and you’ve got yourself a savory sauce.
With flour at your disposal, you can embark on culinary journeys making simple cakes, muffins, and cookies. If you happen upon wild berries, use flour to craft a crust – the essential food prep recipe involves flour, salt, fat, and water – and you’ve got yourself a delightful pie.
No pie pan? No problem. Tear off sections of the dough, flatten them by hand, add your chosen fruit, fold, and crimp the edges. You now possess an array of charming “personal” pies! Sprinkle some sugar or a hint of cinnamon if your food prep collection includes those.
Feeling adventurous? Mix meat and vegetables to create a hearty pot pie. Season to your heart’s content with spices, salt, pepper, or nothing at all. In the world of food prep, creativity knows no bounds. If you lack the appropriate pan, simply try an alternative. Recipes abound online or in cookbooks available at your local library.
So, in the realm of food prep, flour serves as your canvas, and the culinary possibilities are as vast as your imagination. Roll up those sleeves and dive into the world of food preps with flour as your trusty companion!
Exploring the world of food preps offers a delightful journey where everyday ingredients like sugar, flour, and more come together to craft scrumptious delights. Let’s dive into this culinary adventure, shall we?
Sweet Delights: Sugar, that versatile sweetener, can transform ordinary biscuits or bread into heavenly sweet rolls or muffin-style desserts. But it doesn’t stop there; it can also elevate fruit cobblers. Just sprinkle some on your fruit and whip up a sweet biscuit dough to crown it.
Fruit Syrups: If pectin isn’t in your pantry, fret not. Crafting fruit syrups is a breeze. Simply crush your chosen fruit and gently boil it with sugar. Should you face issues with thickening, a dash of cornstarch can come to the rescue.
Preserving Power: Sugar isn’t just for sweetening; it’s also been used as a preservative. It’s a natural inhibitor of bacterial growth. While it’s commonly employed to preserve fruit, it can also extend the shelf life of meat. For those keen on learning more, a quick internet search will provide a wealth of information on this topic.
Baking Basics: If you’re contemplating food preps without baking powder, don’t worry. Flour, salt, and fat form the foundation for crafting simple yet satisfying tortillas.
Sourdough Starter: Venture into the world of sourdough with a mixture of flour and water that captures natural yeast from the air. While guidance from a friend or a reliable book is helpful, don’t hesitate to experiment. This starter opens the door to yeast-less bread, which you can personalize with salt, sugar, or other flavorings. Remember, in food preps, “edible” doesn’t always equate to “tasty.”
Savory Sauces: Whip up a flavorful “white sauce” or gravy using just flour and water. Salt and pepper can enhance its appeal, while a medley of spices can make it truly delicious. For an extra flavor boost, consider bouillon cubes (yes, they’re sodium-packed and often contain MSG) to enhance your flour-based gravy. Alternatively, transform critter bones from your food prep endeavors into a rich and savory sauce.
Sweet Treats: Flour, a staple in food preps, serves as the canvas for simple cakes, muffins, and cookies. Should wild berries cross your path, use flour to craft a crust (consisting of flour, salt, fat, and water) for a delectable pie.
Personal Pies: Lacking a pie pan? No problem! Tear off dough portions, flatten them by hand, add your chosen fruit, fold, and crimp the edges. Suddenly, you have a collection of delightful “personal” pies. If sugar’s in your repertoire, consider adding a sprinkle for an extra touch of sweetness. And if you have a can of cinnamon, why not sprinkle some on these miniature delights?
Savory Pot Pies: Meat and vegetables in your food preps inventory? It’s time to embark on savory pot pie adventures. Mix them with your preferred spices, whether it’s salt, pepper, or a blend of seasonings, or leave them unadorned for a simple yet satisfying meal. In the world of food prep, creativity knows no bounds.
Get Creative: If the right pan eludes you, don’t be discouraged; try an alternative. For those seeking recipes, the websites mentioned earlier or your own searches will unearth a trove of culinary inspiration. You might even have cookbooks tucked away in your collection or accessible at your local library, further expanding your food prep’s horizons.
So, whether you’re experimenting with sugar’s sweet touch, diving into the versatile world of flour-based wonders, or simply unleashing your culinary creativity, remember that in the realm of food preps, ingenuity and resourcefulness are your greatest allies. Embrace the adventure, and let your taste buds lead the way!
Rice, a remarkably versatile staple, can find its place in both sweet and savory dishes. It effortlessly pairs with various ingredients, promising a delightful culinary journey.
We’re focusing on plain white rice here. While brown rice offers more nutrition and fiber, it comes at a higher cost and has a shorter shelf life due to its oil content, which can turn rancid unless stored in a freezer.
In contrast, white rice boasts an impressive shelf life, provided it remains dry. Furthermore, rice can be ground into flour, although it lacks gluten, making it unsuitable for yeast-type bread. However, it often joins forces with other flours, like potato flour, to create versatile doughs.
Let’s explore a simple pancake recipe:
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup rice flour
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, then stir in the milk, vegetable oil, and salt.
Whisk in the rice flour until no dry lumps remain.
Cover the bowl and let the batter rest at room temperature for an hour or refrigerate it overnight.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the griddle and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry. Flip and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Now, you can even grind rice without a grain grinder. Find a large, flat rock with a somewhat smooth surface, and another rock, about the size of a soup can, that fits comfortably in your hand. Clean these rocks. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour on the larger rock and grind it with the smaller one. You can push, pull, slide, or make circles as you grind the rice. Your favorite method will emerge as you go along.
Alternatively, you can cook rice as grains, opening up a world of culinary possibilities. From fried rice with eggs, onions, and peppers to rice mixed with fruit and Cool Whip, or even as a base for homemade stew with garden vegetables and venison – the options are endless.
Consider making homemade tortillas, as mentioned in the flour section earlier. These can be used for burritos, enchiladas, or even Hot Pockets with rice, meat, cheese, and/or vegetables inside.
For a sweet twist, combine rice with pie filling, jam, or jelly, and roll it inside tortillas or crepes. Crepes, those thin, sweet pancakes, can be wrapped around a filling much like a tortilla.
Some folks prioritize rice over flour in their food preps, as it’s incredibly versatile. They can cook up rice and blend it seamlessly with garden or forest vegetables, or even “a couple of squirrels,” creating hearty meals without the need for specific recipes.
If this resonates with your food prep strategy, consider stocking up on rice before flour. Its long shelf life and adaptability make it a valuable addition to your culinary repertoire.
Beans, while not a universal favorite due to their potential gassy aftermath, offer an economical and straightforward source of protein. Much like white flour, white sugar, and white rice, dry beans prove remarkably durable when stored properly.
There’s an exception to their longevity, though. After approximately a decade, beans may require extended cooking times. We once tried preparing 25-year-old red beans, and while they became soft enough for chewing, they retained a somewhat grainy texture.
Different beans have varying cooking times. White beans, for instance, cook relatively quickly compared to their red and pinto counterparts. If time efficiency is a concern, opt for beans with shorter cooking durations. This not only conserves resources, such as gas or electricity but also minimizes your cooking time investment.
Now, let’s delve into two methods for cooking beans. The first involves soaking them in water overnight, followed by draining, rinsing, and simmering them for a few hours. The second method, born from the occasional forgetfulness of soaking, requires boiling the beans for 2 minutes, and then removing them from heat for an hour before simmering.
Beans, like rice, are versatile. They can serve as a side dish or take center stage in dishes like chili, baked beans, beans, and dumplings, or burritos. The choice of bean type dictates the culinary possibilities. For instance, baked beans often feature white beans, while chili tends to favor red beans, but there’s no hard-and-fast rule.
In some respects, beans parallel rice. You can enhance them with meat, cheese, vegetables, or spices, yielding diverse meals. Fruits aren’t typically a complementary addition to beans unless one classifies tomatoes as a fruit, which botanically they are.
Leftover beans can be transformed into refried beans with a simple mash and fry. Add onions, garlic, or just salt and pepper for flavor. For an interesting twist, incorporate a touch of salsa. If you have some, a sprinkle of shredded cheese elevates the experience, though it’s considered a luxury in the realm of frugal cuisine and is used sparingly and with gratitude.
If beans truly don’t align with your palate and you anticipate alternative protein sources such as wild game or fish, you may consider omitting beans from your storage plan. Food preps should cater to your preferences and dietary needs, ensuring your preparedness aligns with your culinary comfort zone.
Salt, a peculiar essential, holds both a vital role and an optional one in your food preps. While it’s technically possible to survive without it, as most foods naturally contain sufficient sodium, having salt on hand is undeniably convenient. Particularly, when engaged in strenuous physical labor and sweating profusely, the need for additional salt becomes more apparent. While I don’t dwell too much on electrolyte balance, I do make an effort to ensure we’re replenishing sodium and sugar, along with water, during strenuous activities.
Salt, fortunately, is incredibly affordable. At my last check, store-brand salt in a 1-lb. cardboard can was still priced at 50 cents or less. For those with access to a Costco membership, a 25-lb. bag is available for around $3, though I understand that true poverty preppers might not have a Costco card. Unless you have a generous friend who can gift you a bag (remember to reciprocate, perhaps with a cash donation!), you’ll likely stick to purchasing the 1-lb. cans.
If you require larger quantities, pickling salt is an option, typically available in bigger containers. However, be sure to compare the price per pound. It’s worth noting that pickling salt is essentially the same as table salt, differing mainly in the coarser texture of its grains.
In times of adversity when others in your vicinity may also rely on emergency rations, salt can become a valuable bargaining tool. It’s highly tradable and can secure you other essential foods or goods through barter.
In the realm of food preps, salt remains a humble yet invaluable asset, offering both practicality and versatility for sustenance and trade.
When considering your food preps, you might be tempted to splurge on items like macaroni, coffee, and cocoa powder – and if you hit it big, why not? However, before diversifying your storage, let’s take a moment to emphasize two often-overlooked, yet equally essential, food items.
Powdered Milk: Powdered milk earns its place on your list once you’ve secured the main staples. In long-term scenarios, it serves as a valuable source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients. For households with children, it’s an early inclusion, fitting comfortably into your monthly rotation of food purchases. Young ones tend to accept powdered milk without complaints, while older individuals accustomed to fresh milk may find it less appealing. Thankfully, its presence goes unnoticed when mixed into cooked or baked dishes, such as desserts or casseroles. Many recipes calling for milk can be prepared using water instead. When baking with powdered milk, I find it more efficient to add the dry milk powder to the dry ingredients and then incorporate the necessary amount of water into the wet ingredients.
Cooking Oils and Shortening: These are the last items I’d categorize as “basic.” They enhance the flavor and texture of many dishes, making them indispensable for several meal ideas discussed earlier. In times of scarcity, calories, and fats become even more crucial in your diet, especially when you’re physically active, whether it’s walking instead of driving or engaging in laborious tasks like clearing storm debris or tending to a garden. During such times, prioritize affordability over luxury. Opt for store-brand vegetable oil, standard shortening, or even a can of lard if you’re not a vegetarian. While we may prefer extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil in better times, practicality takes precedence when preparing for adversity.
Storage Tips: Oil and shortening can turn rancid relatively quickly, making proper storage crucial. Never leave your oil exposed on a countertop, especially if you don’t go through a bottle weekly. A dark cupboard is a better choice, as light is the nemesis of oil. Whenever possible, invest in cooking oil packaged in glass jars, preferably tinted ones. Unfortunately, budget-friendly oils often come in plastic bottles. If you have spare glass jars at home, consider transferring the oil for better storage.
Remember, the ideal storage spot for oils is a dark, cool place with a consistent temperature. Avoid locations where temperature fluctuations, like those in garages or sheds, can occur. These fluctuations can be particularly detrimental to oils and other high-fat foods.
While this information may not be an exhaustive guide on storing oil, it’s too crucial to be buried within paragraphs discussing various storage containers and places. So, whether you’re incorporating powdered milk for added nutrients or stocking up on cooking oils and shortening for sustenance during trying times, prioritize these basics to ensure your food preps are comprehensive and adaptable to various scenarios.
Suggested resources for preppers: