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Food Storage Essentials: Food storage planning — what's for lunch?

Published: Friday, March 2 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

What can we eat for lunches from food storage?

Leslie Probert

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It wasn’t until I reviewed the lunch meal that I realized the need to store foods I had not considered before. Lunches are sometimes overlooked when planning food storage, and they are simple to plan.

Most of us think of soup when it’s cold outside, and it’s easy to store favorite canned or dry soups, or to plan some simple homemade soups.

Dress up a can of soup by adding pre-cooked rice or pasta and/or a dried or freeze-dried vegetable with hydrating water. Cans of different soups can even be combined to make "hobo soup" for some fun flavors.

Make an easy potato soup with instant potatoes by stirring them into a generous amount of water and chicken bouillon. Add a little onion powder and/or garlic powder, a can of evaporated milk and some dried parsley for color.

Macaroni and cheese or Ramen noodles are also easy lunch ideas. Canned vegetables and meats could be added to these for variety.

For quick salads in hot weather, it’s simple to add canned, hydrated dried or freeze-dried vegetables to rice or pasta along with canned beans or meats. Store a few favorite dressings that you use often to keep them within their shelf life for interesting salads. Some great homemade dressings can be made with oil, vinegar and storable condiments and spices. Dried onion that is not hydrated makes an amazingly good substitute for green onions in a salad.

There are always sandwiches, and if you can make homemade bread, these can be served even in a time when bread might not be available at a store. Peanut butter and jelly are classic fillings.

A couple of years ago I was surprised to learn that, according to the Association of Dressings and Sauces, commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise-type dressings do not require refrigeration after opening. They are made with pasteurized eggs, and the balance of salt and vinegar stops the growth of bacteria. When these dressings are added to other foods that are vulnerable to growth of bacteria, refrigeration becomes necessary. In an emergency without electricity for refrigeration, commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise-type dressings are very safe to use in foods that are consumed soon after they are prepared. These type of dressings store well in a cool, dark place, according to the association.

Great fillings for sandwiches can be made with commercial mayonnaise or mayonnaise-type dressings mixed with canned meats. Tuna fish and chicken salad sandwiches are favorites at our house. These dressings also are wonderful in salads.

Although crackers need to be rotated often because of their shorter shelf life, they make a nice addition to food storage for lunches. Crackers are tasty served with favorite meat spreads, which store for around five years in a cool, dark place.

With a two-week menu of lunches, it’s simple to multiply ingredients by two to plan for a month. Multiply ingredients by six to plan lunches for three months. Increase your menu, if desired, and multiply ingredients accordingly to plan for a whole year.

Of course, some people are prepared to skip lunch — but in a stressful situation during any type of emergency, it’s nice to know that there are simple and inexpensive ways to satisfy hunger in the middle of the day with foods that can be stored.

Leslie Probert, a graduate in home economics from Brigham Young University, has been a popular speaker and is co-author of "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" with over 400 fast, creative recipes. E-mail: foodstoragechick@gmail.com

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