There's more than one way to store food for emergencies.
Two new locally written books outline systems that depart from the stereotype of buckets of wheat and giant cans of dried food languishing in the basement.
Both books advise storing specific ingredients for meals and using them on a regular basis so the food isn't wasted. But each book has a different way to go about it.
For many years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged its members to store a one-year supply of food and water. Its latest pamphlet, "All Is Safely Gathered In," advises members to build up a three-month supply of foods that are part of their normal daily diet and regularly rotate this supply.
The pamphlet adds, "For longer term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice and beans. These items can last 30 years or more when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency also advocates storing an emergency supply of food and water in the event of a natural disaster.
"Food Storage: It's in the Bag!" by Trent and Michelle Snow (Cedar Fort Press, $14.99), came off the press last spring. The core of the plan is homemade meal kits, complete with cooking directions and water, each stored in 8-by-5-by 10-inch plastic gift bags.
The Snows have 422 of these bagged kits on the basement shelves of their Kaysville home, and they cook with them about five times a week to rotate their supply.
Michelle Snow is finishing a doctorate in public health and has taught at Weber State and the University of Utah. When Hurricane Katrina hit, she saw the situation from her public-health perspective.
"I realized that bulk food storage didn't help," she said. "People didn't have food or water they could transport to the Superdome with them. They were hungry and thirsty, and chaos broke out."
The clincher came when she asked her family if they knew what to do with their bulk food storage in the event of a disaster, should she die or be off volunteering with rescue efforts.
"All of them said no, even my husband," she recalled. "I realized I needed to come up with a plan that would have the meat already cooked, in the event that my freezer goes out. It had to be transportable, and have potable water. It needed to feed my family. and be ready in 10 or 20 minutes. And, if necessary, it could be eaten without being heated."
She and a friend started a provident living group where members shared ideas with each other. One member, Belinda Craft, shared an idea for "bag meals" she had seen demonstrated by Christina Van Wagenen, owner of the Wooden Spoon Cooking School.
"The light went on for me," said Snow. "I developed over 100 bag-meal recipes."
She uses a square-bottomed, 8-by-5-by 10-inch plastic gift bag with ¾-inch-wide handles for carrying comfort. On the outside of the bag, the recipe is slipped inside a plastic CD sleeve, and a color coded label gives the expiration date. The reusable bags cost her 18 cents each, bought in bulk. The bag contains all ingredients to make the meal.
For instance, the Spicy Jamaican Chicken and Rice includes a bottle of water, 1 cup of rice in a resealable bag, a can of chicken meat, a can of black beans, a can of diced tomatoes and a resealable bag of seasonings.
Her Beef Stroganoff bag contains water, egg noodles, a can of roast beef, cans of beefy mushroom and cream of mushrooms soup, a can of mushrooms, a can of evaporated milk and a bag with dried onions and a beef bouillon cube.
The bags are easy to take along in the event of an evacuation. And they're space-saving. "My mother is able to store 86 bag meals under her twin-size bed," said Snow.
By storing food in meal kits, you'll always have the necessary ingredients on hand. And because you store items you actually use, they won't go to waste. With the directions on the bag and premeasured ingredients, the meals are simple to prepare.
"If I'm ever late coming home, my husband and kids don't wait for me. They just go downstairs and pick out a bag to prepare for dinner," she said.
"When someone is sick in the neighborhood, I can have a lovely meal for them in 10 or 20 minutes without having to run to the store for ingredients."
Snow's daughter took some of the meal bags with her to college. "I picture her fixing some great meals for a guy, and he'll think she's a fantastic cook," Snow said.
Snow's bag meal can't include fresh meats or produce, but in her everyday use, she supplements it with fresh fruits and vegetables from her garden and fresh eggs from her backyard chicken coop.
She also buys meat and chicken in bulk and freezes or home-cans it in a pressure canner. Because she knows what ingredients she needs, she can take advantage of sales.
Some of the recipes call for butter or cheese, and Snow has Red Feather-brand canned butter and cheese, bought at Winco Foods in Roy. But because it's expensive and fresh dairy products taste better, she uses fresh butter and cheese most of the time and recycles the canned products for future use.
She uses real Parmesan cheese, in a resealable bag, for recipes that require it. "It will stay good for one year if stored in the basement, and it sure gives food a nice zing," she said.
Her breakfast meal kits might contain pancake or waffle mix, home-canned sausage, a quart of fruit juice, powdered milk or a resealable sandwich bag of nuts and dried fruits.
By using her bag-meal system, she cut her grocery bill from $520 per month to $250 per month.
She reuses the gift bags and the resealable ingredient bags, "so we're not filling the landfill with a bunch of plastic goods," she said.
The second part of the book gives directions for making soft cheeses and yogurt, home canning and pressure canning, raising chickens and sprouting seeds. Trent Snow, an engineer at Hill Air Force Base, came up with the chicken coop and seed sprouter designs himself.
The two will demonstrate some of the information from the book at the Utah State Fair, Sept. 9 and 17, from 1-3:30 p.m. in the Home Arts building.
"Not all food-storage ideas will meet everyone's needs," said Snow. "This is just another method that people can tailor to their needs. The most important thing is if people are prepared. We don't want people to be hungry or thirsty."
"Not Your Mother's Food Storage," (Deseret Book, $14.99) came out in June. The title is fitting, since the authors, Kathy Bray and Jan Barker, are mother and daughter. And the book's system IS different from Bray's first food storage, which included buckets of wheat, honey, freeze-dried food and powdered milk.
Bray learned firsthand the value of food storage in 1986, when she had to live on it for six weeks as her husband's health was failing.
"We were literally down to pennies until I got my first paycheck," she recalls.
They were grateful to have food to rely on, "But I struggled to make meals out of what we had available. The drastic change in our diet was hard to manage."
Daughter Jan also saw the disadvantage to bulk food storage when she couldn't get her kids to eat it.
So instead, she decided to store foods her family usually eats.
"I started with five breakfasts that we eat all the time, and that are storable. We have six kids in our family, so I figured out how many cups of oatmeal multiplied by the amount of times a year I would serve it. Then, I could relax, knowing that no matter what happened, my family could have breakfast every day for a year."
After that, she moved on to lunches and dinners. Then, she rotates the food by using it in everyday meals.
"I've been doing it this way for 15 years," said Barker. "It makes my life easy. I watch for sales, so I never have to pay full price for anything. I'm not a slave to the grocery store; when we want something, I've already got it. If company comes unexpectedly, you are always prepared."
In their book, Bray and Barker outline a three-month food supply of meals, with planning sheets to help families customize a plan based on their own food preferences. They also included 80 recipes.
"We thought we needed to do a three-month supply because that's what the (LDS) Church has advised. And in these economic times, three months is more doable," said Bray. "It will get people through most situations, other than long-term unemployment."
For this reason, their plan includes dairy products such as Velveeta cheese, which has a best-by date of eight months and requires no refrigeration. Other cheeses can be kept refrigerated for several months, she said.
"If you keep track of the use-by dates, you can have more things that you wouldn't think of as food storage," said Bray.
Barker said she uses fresh milk, but she sometimes mixes up a whey-based dry milk substitute to add to a nearly empty milk jug. The key is to serve it well-chilled.
"If you refrigerate it the night before, by morning, they won't even know it's powdered milk," she said.
By necessity, the recipes are heavy on canned and convenience products. But the book includes fresh-ingredient substitutions.
Barker pointed out that her mom's generation cooked a lot from scratch, but younger generations don't.
"If you ask a 20-something to buy wheat, rice and beans and then make something to eat with it, they don't know what to do," she said. "This way, they can take things they're comfortable with. If you like Hamburger Helper, plan that as one of your meals."
Barker added that the book's emphasis is storing for everyday use, not necessarily for a major disaster.
"We're storing for the 'I'm out of work,' or 'We spent to much money and can't go to the grocery store,' times," she said. "The big disaster may come only once in 20 years. But here in West Mountain, we got snowed in for 10 days. It was nice to have food."
1 pound ziti
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup romano cheese
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook ziti according to package directions until al dente, stirring often. Drain, but do not rinse. Combine cheeses and tomato sauce, reserving 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce. Gently stir sauce into cooked ziti. Spread reserved 1/4 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan. Add ziti mixture and top with mozzarella cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is thoroughly melted. Serves 6-8. — "Not Your Mother's Food Storage," by Kathy Bray and Jan Barker
CARIBBEAN CHICKEN AND RICE
5 cups water
2 cups rice in resealable bag
Spice Mixture in resealable bag:
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried celery
1/4 cup dried bell peppers
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon chives
2 tablespoons dried onion
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained
1 13-ounce can chicken meat, including broth, or 1 pint home-canned chicken breast
In a saucepan with tight-fitting lid, place 3 cups of the water and add 2 cups rice. Boil on high heat 15 minutes. Remove from heat an set aside for 10 minutes, leaving the lid on.
In a medium saucepan, add spice packet to remaining 2 cups water and cook over medium heat until peppers and celery are tender, about 10 minutes. Add black-eyed peas and chicken meat and heat thoroughly. To serve, pour black-eyed pea mixture over rice. Serves 6-8. — "It's in The Bag," by Trent and Michelle Snow
1 cup water
In resealable bag:
2 cups flour
1/2 granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon baking powder
In resealable bag:
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (from your pantry)
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
In a large bowl, stir all ingredients except coconut flakes until batter is smooth. Add coconut. Ladle pancake batter onto hot oiled griddle. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are golden brown. Serves 6-8. — "It's In the Bag," by Trent and Michelle Snow
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons powdered milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine corn
syrup and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Dissolve powdered milk into water. Remove from heat and stir in coconut flavoring. Serves 6-8. — "It's in The Bag," by Trent and Michelle Snow
QUICK SALMON CHOWDER
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of potato soup
2 cups milk (or use reconstituted powdered milk)
1 15-ounce can cream-style corn
1 14.75-ounce can salmon, drained, skin and bones removed
1?8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
In a large pan, combine soup and milk and stir until smooth. Stir in cream-style corn. Break salmon into chunks and add to soup. Add pepper to taste. Stir over medium heat just until boiling. —"Not Your Mother's Food Storage," by Kathy Bray and Jan Barker
SUNSHINE FRUIT SALAD
1 small package vanilla pudding (cook and serve)
1 small package tapioca pudding (cook and serve)
1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, juice drained and reserved
1 11-ounce cans mandarin oranges, juice drained and reserved
1 15-ounce can fruit cocktail, juice drained and reserved
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 or 2 bananas, if available
Grapes, if available17 comments on this story
Put both pudding mixes in a large saucepan. Combine reserved juices, orange juice concentrate, and enough water to equal 3 cups. Stir liquid into pudding mixed and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pudding comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and chill for several hours or overnight. Once pudding is chilled, fold in well-drained fruit and any fresh fruit you have on hand, such as bananas or grapes. over. Serves 6-8. —"Not Your Mother's Food Storage," by Kathy Bray and Jan Barker