Way back a very dear friend moved from Chicago to upper Michigan. Her first winter was a bit of a revelation for her. Her family’s first blizzard knocked out their electricity and phone and although she had a great pantry with about half a year’s worth of meat, vegetables, fruit, comfort food, spices, herbs and water. She made a major miscalculation! She forgot cooking utensils, pots and pans, aluminum foil and something to cook with! You see she is a gourmet cook, with all the expensive copper pots and pans and a very professional electric cook stove and oven - All useless when the power went out!
She spent the first of the three day outage, in her garage and attic searching for and retrieving her camping cook stove, pots, pans and coffee pot. Thank goodness they hadn’t sold the stuff when they moved to the country. Then she realized that she had no way to grind their coffee beans or whole grains, since her grinder was electric. Her husband managed to hook up the camp stove to the propane lead for the furnace and got it to work and they had a couple of bags of charcoal left over from the summer for their grill. But that first day her and her family lived off Pop-Tarts and water and they went without coffee and bread products for the whole outage.
That summer they purchased an all purpose woodstove insert to their fireplace. It has a two burner top, medium sized oven, small warmer oven and a 5 gallon water tank for hot water. She created a shelf for her camping equipment that was easily reachable in the garage and added a few cast iron items she felt she may need, along with aluminum foil, a hand grain/coffee bean grinder, small propane tanks, extra charcoal for the grill, additional candles and fuel for the camp lanterns. They thought: Contingency planned for and taken care of.
Wrong! That second winter they got hit with an even bigger blizzard. This one knocked the power out for 8 days and the phone for almost four. What they failed to take into consideration was that cooking on a wood burning stove or with cast iron cookware is much different than cooking with a modern gas or electric stove or oven. She burnt most of the meals and was just catching on when the power came back on. Good thing they had an over abundant winter pantry.
That second summer they all went to a Colonial Skills Camp for their summer vacation and learned a number skills including cooking on a wood stove and cast iron cooking over an open fire. As a result she has developed such a reputation for her gourmet cooking skills in primitive conditions that neighbors have been known to ski and snowmobile to their house in near blizzard conditions to enjoy her meals.
So let this be a lesson. When planning your food storage, remember to consider HOW you will prepare this stuff, in what, with what and using what kind of fuel. Think, plan, learn and acquire:
- A non-electric stove and oven, with the necessary fuel.
- Practice with the cooking equipment to ensure your skills without wasting food and fuel
- Aluminum foil, heavy duty and regular
- Cooking and baking pots, pans, plates and utensils, including a non-electric coffee pot, that can go directly on a fire pit or grill top. Think multi functional as well. Camping pots that “nest” can be used as double boilers. Many camping plates function as shallow bowls too.
- A non-electric coffee and grain grinder; mixer and blender optional
Ok when you finish reading this and the appendix, you will have identified what kind of timeframe you want your food storage for (seasonal, any time natural or man-made emergency, spiritual). You are on your way to learn the old skills for preserving foods and the recipes and tools to make and consume them. You have also started your grab-and-go emergency binder, 72-hour packs and other contingency plans for various emergencies and disasters that nature and life may throw your way. You now have the knowledge to start accumulating and using your food storage, wisely and economically.
If you have chosen to be prepared for any long term disaster or emergency, like a year or two, be sure to check out the various preparedness, survival, homesteading and country living sites and blogs. Join the bogs and add your own experiences, good and bad. Better to laugh with than be laughed at. These sites can also give you more specific information on making your own fuel and energy; sanitation methods; gardening; weaving; building; livestock; water harvesting; seed saving and the like, some even have self defense information. Anything you might need to know can be obtained from these sites for long term survival, be it rural, suburban or urban.