One of my favorite sayings is “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”. Our kids heard it so much growing up all I had to say was “it’s better” and they knew the answer to the question, “Why do I have to take my coat?’ or “Should I pack an extra pair of shoes?” Mom always knows best when it comes to being prepared for all contingencies.
Today we’re facing a pandemic that can’t be stopped by traditional means. There is a real possibility that your community could be quarantined without much warning. Experts are recommending that we have 14 days of food on hand so officials can focus on stopping the spread of the virus and not feeding all of us.
So how do we get started? Well… consider this is great time to organize your pantry. Clearing out items you no longer eat or use will enable you to stock up on what you need. Emily at www.smallstuffcounts.com has specific instructions on how to efficiently organize your pantry.
Shelf Stable Foods
The easiest and most reliable way to store foods longer than 14 days is a can. However, many canned foods contain more sodium and preservatives than fresh or frozen. We recommend you stock up on lower sodium vegetables, meats packed in water not oils, and fruits packed in juices not syrups. Don’t forget items like condiments, including pickles and sauces. Adding your favorite sauce to yesterday’s leftovers will expand your menu options.
Pasta, rice and dry/dehydrated vegetables and proteins should be stored in airtight containers so you don’t attract pests. They’re hungry too and will destroy your entire supply quickly.
Self Prepared Foods
If you’re like me and want to provide your family with food that is prepared with fresh ingredients, consider dehydrating fresh vegetables and meats. Removing excess water from foods discourages growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that destroy foods. Re-hydrating is easy, just add liquid and heat until plump and yummy. Dehydrated foods are great in stews, soups and smoothies.
You can dehydrate foods using an oven, microwave or food dehydrator. I prefer to use my oven for meats, the microwave for fruits and a dehydrator for vegetables.
Foods like milk, yogurt, sour cream, and bread that aren’t available in shelf stable packaging or can’t be dehydrated can be stored in a freezer for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to use them, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Breads can also be thawed at room temperature. For best results, open one end of the bag so extra moisture can escape.
It’s important to have a plan for leftovers that provide optional recipes. Simply change yesterday’s rotisserie chicken to chicken salad by adding mayonnaise, celery and onion to the boneless meat. It’s easy to change the flavor profile of a pork roast by adding barbecue or teriyaki sauce.
My favorite leftover hack is to wrap 2 -3 tablespoons of just about anything in an egg roll wrapper and fry them in the air fryer for 10 minutes. They can also be deep or pan fried.
I hope this has helped you to be prepared but not scared. Stay in touch, we love to hear about what you're doing to close the food gap!
Check with your local food bank, food pantry, meals on wheels, and other social outlets that take care of food needs on a regular basis. They need to stock up as well, so please donate non-perishable items they can distribute when necessary.
Let us hear from you!