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Photo illustration by Leslie Probert
Loved ones may appreciate help with food storage at Christmastime.

When looking for a meaningful Christmas gift idea, don't forget about food storage. Why not ask a loved one, "What is stopping you from finishing your food storage?" The reply will help you know where your help is needed. Here are gift ideas that can help someone you love overcome obstacles they face when storing food.

"I don’t have a plan. I’m storing food but I don’t know what I’m doing."

A variety of food storage books are available. Look for one with a simple way to plan stored food to give as a gift. Having a simple plan helps people feel secure in continuing to buy food storage and they know when goals are reached. That’s encouraging.

"I need recipes. I have no idea how to use what I’m storing."

A food storage book with a variety of recipes makes a great gift. Some combine stored foods with fresh foods in delicious everyday meals. Others use only stored foods in great-tasting everyday meals, which can also be prepared in emergencies when fresh foods cannot be found. It’s surprising what you can make.

Planning what to store is simple when based on favorite food storage recipes. This helps people store only foods they will use and avoid storing long and detailed lists of recommendations made by others.

"I don’t know which dried foods are most important to store. There are so many to choose from."

After converting hundreds and hundreds of favorite dishes to meals using only stored foods, I have found four foods are common in delicious recipes. In their dried form, onions, garlic, celery and green peppers add critical flavor to food storage recipes and are very convenient to use. Consider giving these in No. 10 cans or in smaller cans, either everyday size cans (from Augason Farms) or size 2.5 cans (from Walton Feed).

Some great-tasting puff-dry dehydrated carrots from Honeyville Grain could make a nice gift. Carrots contribute important vitamin A in food storage meals. These hydrate and cook in just five minutes.

Everybody loves potatoes. You could give some dried potato dices, which are versatile enough to be fried in place of hash browns, yet are chunky enough to add to soups, simplifying the varieties you store.

"I need to get more food."

You might give a gift certificate to an emergency supply store or grocery store for use only to buy food storage. Or go to a cannery belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and can No. 10 cans or pouches of food for an inexpensive gift. People who are not members of the LDS Church can attend when they go with a member.

"I’ve stored wheat but don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to make bread."

Consider giving a grain mill or some money toward purchasing one. An electric mill is fast and convenient for making flour. My favorite hand mill is a Wonder Junior with stone burrs for fine flour. It will also make delicious cracked grains, which cannot be made with an electric mill.

If your loved ones do not know how to make bread, consider giving your favorite bread recipe for a gift with a coupon for free lessons. They’ll love you forever.

Why not give a can of powdered eggs? These expand what can be made with stored grains to include delicious pancakes, muffins, cornbread, cookies and other desserts without the need for fresh eggs. You cannot tell the difference in appearance or flavor of baked foods using powdered eggs compared to those made with fresh eggs. Of course, you could give chickens for fresh eggs, however that may not go over very well. Powdered eggs are so simple to store.

"I'm afraid to store dry beans because I don’t know how to cook them. They take a long time to cook."

Give simple instructions for cooking dry beans and a few favorite fast recipes. I like to put beans in a pan to soak after cleaning the kitchen at night. For 1 cup of beans, add 3 cups water. In the morning, add a tablespoon of oil. Cook beans, covered, for 1 to 1½ hours until tender while the family gets ready and off to school and work. Drain beans and put in the fridge for a fast meal at night.

Consider giving a case or two of chili, baked beans, pork and beans or canned beans, which are very easy to use.

A crock pot or pressure cooker will cook beans easily, as long as electricity is available. These are versatile gifts.

This summer I met a woman who said, "My husband owned a big company. We were doing well for many years and thought we were very secure. Overnight, his company was gone! We were completely devastated. I now understand why church leaders have counseled us for years to store food. I’m thinking differently about how I feed my family now. I look for every way I can to stretch our funds using basic food storage."

Among the many wonderful gifts we give at Christmas time, why not include a food storage gift that will keep those you love safe. It’s a gift of love that really matters.

Try this delicious food storage recipe at a holiday gathering. It’s truly so good you can't stop eating it.


Warm White Bean Dip

1¾ cup soaked and cooked dry white beans or 1 15-ounce can white beans, drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, well drained

1 tablespoon dried minced garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon dried parsley

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except parsley. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mash with potato masher. Season to taste. Stir in parsley. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 2½ cups.

— "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell," 3rd edition, Leslie Probert and Lisa Harkness

Leslie Probert graduated in home economics from Brigham Young University. She has spoken to thousands of people about food storage and is coauthor of new book "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition." Email: [email protected]