When I first started cooking with basic food storage I was astounded by some discoveries. It’s been fun to share those surprises with others.

Speed

I expected food storage recipes would take a long time to prepare. I was surprised to discover they are fast. Even bean recipes are fast, if beans are cooked ahead of time, drained and stored in fridge until dinnertime, or if canned beans are used.

Sometimes when giving a presentation I have asked three volunteers to come out of the audience and put together three basic food storage recipes they have never seen before.

Recipes are made with only stored foods. They don’t have to hurry and they are not in competition with each other, but I time them. The longest time ever clocked was three minutes. That’s surprising to people.

The recipes put together are whisked off to the kitchen and cooked ready to serve as samples to everyone within 35 minutes. That’s a second surprise.

Flavor

I was amazed that food storage recipes made with only stored foods could taste good. But people rarely believe it. In presentations when the good recipes assembled in front of everyone are returned for sampling, people say, "Oh, I would eat this. My family would enjoy this. That’s surprising."

Keeping track of and using stored food

I was amazed that rotating food storage is simple. Did you know that if you have a pool of good tasting recipes and you eat food storage meals two days a week, you can rotate a whole year’s supply of food in just 3½ years? All the fresh and fabulous foods we love can be eaten the other five days. That’s surprising.

Basic foods make a big difference

The list of recommended foods to reduce heart disease, one of the top killers in America, and also to reduce cancer includes oatmeal, whole grains, beans, lentils, and split peas. When I realized these are the very inexpensive basic foods I was storing, I was surprised. It seemed crazy to leave them in my basement instead of eating them.

Cost of food storage

I store dried vegetables and other foods purchased in No. 10 cans, which at first seemed a little expensive. I also store canned beans and some canned meats, which are more expensive than dry beans.

When I began to figure the cost of my food storage meals in comparison to regular meals, food storage meals were less expensive. I could actually save money eating them. I was surprised.

A friend recently confided that her family has a $3,000 hospital bill hanging over their heads. By serving an increased number of delicious food storage recipes that her family likes, she can save $150-200 a month to pay off that bill.

Don’t put food storage recipes on a shelf or in a file for use one day in an emergency. Important ingredients needed for delicious recipes may not have been stored.

Why try unfamiliar recipes in a time of stress? We have everything to gain by including delicious food storage meals in our everyday diets. It’s really not that hard. That is surprising.

Three recipes to try. I dare you!

Caribbean Black Beans and Rice

2¾ cups water

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained

1¾ cup soaked and cooked dry black beans or 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

½-1 can (4 ounce) diced green chiles

¼ cup dried onions

¼ cup dried green peppers (or ½ cup diced fresh peppers)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1½ teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon salt

¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

In a pot, heat water while adding all ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve. Serves 4-5.

— Recipe from "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" by Leslie Probert and Lisa Harkness

Spicy Hungarian Lentil Stew

7 cups water

1½ cups dry lentils, sorted and rinsed

⅓ cup dried onions

7 teaspoons chicken bouillon

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons cumin

½-¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

½ teaspoon paprika

1 large bay leaf

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

2 tablespoons flour

In a pot, heat water while adding all ingredients except milk and flour and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes. Whisk flour into milk until there are no lumps. Whisk into stew. Return to boil while stirring, simmer 1 minute. Serves 5.

— Recipe from "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" by Leslie Probert and Lisa Harkness

Chicken and Corn Soup

6 cups water

4 teaspoons chicken bouillon

½ cup dried carrots*

1 tablespoon dried onions

1 tablespoon dried celery (or one stalk fresh celery, diced)

½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

1 can (15 ounces) corn, undrained

2 tablespoon parsley

1 cup uncooked pasta, any shape

1 can (10-12 ounces) chicken chunks undrained and broken up

½ teaspoon sugar (if no sugar in canned corn)

pepper to taste

In a pot, heat water while adding all ingredients except last four. Simmer, covered 15 minutes. Add pasta and simmer 10 minutes more. Stir in chicken. Heat through. Season to taste and serve. Serves 4-5.

For fast puff-dry dehydrated carrots: Substitute same amount as dried carrots. Bring ingredients in first column, corn, and parsley to boil. Add pasta, simmer covered 10 minutes and continue with recipe instructions.

* Don’t have dried carrots? Reduce water to five cups and add two fresh carrots, peeled and sliced.

— Recipe from "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" by Leslie Probert and Lisa Harkness

Leslie Probert graduated in home economics from BYU. She has spoken to thousands of people about food storage and is co-author of new book "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition." Her email is [email protected]