to eat or not to eat

Foods that are part of your three-month supply should be foods that you regularly eat. As I have collected foods, I've acknowledged that there are some foods that I need for my three-month supply that just don't store well (especially if there is no electricity or refrigeration). In an effort to have easily-storable foods on hand, I often purchase items for my three-month supply in a form that I don't necessarily use regularly. For example, I use frozen or fresh onions in my cooking, but I've stored freeze-dried and dehydrated onions for my three-month food supply.

Because foods packaged for optimum storage sometimes carry a price premium, I am usually hesitant to open and use some of these storage items. I debate about whether to eat or not to eat those storage foods. "Sure," I think to myself, "I'll use it eventually -- before it goes bad." And then these products sit on my shelves unused and untried. I'd really rather use my cheaper, familiar onions than open a huge #10 can that I'm not really sure I'll like or know how to use. "Plus, it's supposed to be for storage," I rationalize. "If I use it, I'll have to buy more."

I have decided that it is important to try and use ALL of the items that I've stored for my three-month supply. I already use most of my storage items in my regular cooking. But there are a handful of products that I've ignored. I still haven't tried my canned cheese, freeze-dried onions, freeze-dried fruits, fruit drink mix, dried refried beans, or my butter powder (just to name a few). My canned butter also fell into this category until just a few weeks ago (see previous post on canned butter). But I've tried the butter and now I can be confident about the canned butter's use as a substitution if needed.

I'm going to do better! I'm resolved to try more of these ignored products, even if it is just one at a time, over the next year. There will probably be a small extra expense for doing so, but I'll chalk it up to the importance of becoming familiar with my stored foods. I keep reminding myself that this is actually an essential step in storing foods. If I hadn't tried the LDS home-storage dry milk, I wouldn't know how much I hate it. Can you imagine getting into a situation where you need to use your three-month supply, and only then discovering that you hate (or can't use) what you stored?

Are you with me? Will you resolve to try some of your ignored storage foods in the next year? I would love to have you share what you learn. In fact, I'll include your information and experiences if you're willing to share. Look for some future posts discussing my own experiences eating and cooking with my "ignored" storage foods.


other grains

There are many other grains available besides wheat, corn, rice, barley and oats. Each of these grains, however, has a different oil and moisture content. It is important to be aware of these characteristics when choosing grains to store in your longer-term storage. If the oil content is too high, like brown rice or pearled barley, these grains may store better short term.

Available information on the storage life of these grains varies widely. I've tried to compile several source's worth of estimates. Some of these are not true grains, but are actually considered herbs, fruits, vegetables, or grasses, etc. Because they are treated like grains generally, I've grouped them together.

Can be popped like popcorn.2 Estimates of storage life vary significantly. Stores well anywhere from one year to ten in dark, cook, dry conditions.2

Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions. In very hot climates, it will store better if tightly sealed and kept in a fridge. Long term storage estimates vary significantly. I've seen up to eight years. Barley has high levels of oils.

Can be stored for up to six months if kept tightly sealed in the freezer. Storage life can be extended up to several years if stored in air-tight containers with oxygen absorbers.4

Wheat variant.

Wheat variant that stores similarly well long term.

Needs to be stored in completely dark conditions. Will store well for just a few months in ideal conditions. You may be able to extend storage life up to one year if sealed in a container with oxygen absorbers and kept in a very cool area.4

Job's Tears
Can be stored for up to six months if kept tightly sealed in the freezer.

Stores well in dark, cook, dry conditions. Has a lower moisture content than wheat. Some suggest that it will store as long or longer than wheat if a packaged correctly.1

Can be stored for up to six months if kept tightly sealed in the freezer. Container should be kept full of Millet.1 Other sources contradict this information and suggests that it stores well long term with proper packaging and storage conditions.2,4

Can be stored longer than one year if packaged correctly and kept in a cook, dark, dry location. Long term storage estimates are anywhere from 6 to 9 years.2 This grain must be rinsed before using. Needs air-tight packaging with oxygen absorbers to maximize storage life.4

One source gives it a storage life of several months.1 A different source lists rye as a soft grain that will store well for up to six year if properly stored.2

Only has a storage life of several months.

Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions if properly packaged.

Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions if properly packaged.

Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions if properly packaged.

Wild Rice
Will store indefinitely if properly packaged and kept in ideal conditions.1

2 - Casaubon's Book (Sharon Astyk)
3 -
Prudent Food Storage (Alan T. Hagan)
4 - All About Grains (USA Emergency Supply) - Also a good source for cooking specifics (i.e. how to make the best breads using these grains)


taste test: canned butter

As I've mentioned before, my three-month supply menus are largely based on foods that I can store without refrigeration. This is my own choice and is NOT one of the recommendations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the most part, I've been able to find shelf-stable products based on the meals that we regularly eat. One chink in my plan is the difficulty of storing butter.

Butter is available for non-refrigerated storage in two forms: powdered butter and canned butter. [There have also been some instructions circulating on the internet on how to bottle your own butter, but I do not recommend this because of warnings about botulism from our local extension services. Click here to read more.] I've stored several cans of commercially canned butter as part of our three-month storage. So, today I figured it was time to taste-test this product and see if it is worth the money.

I opened a 12 oz. can of Red Feather Brand butter, which I purchased at a local grocery story for about $5. There are only two ingredients in these cans: cream and salt. My first impression was that it didn't really look like butter because of the grainy texture that was created as I released the lid. However, as I continued to work with the butter, the texture became smooth and looked more like real butter.

I tasted the butter right out of the can. The canned butter didn't seem to have much flavor, but I primarily use salted butter in my cooking. This is probably more similar to an unsalted butter.

Our first test was to make toast. My 11 and 13-year old boys were the guinea pigs. The canned butter spread on and melted similarly to regular butter. There might have be a slight increase in greasiness and I did miss that little bit of saltiness. But I would not hesitate to use the canned butter for toast. My boys liked it as well, even though they were not sure they wanted to try it.

My second test was to make our favorite chocolate-chip cookies using the canned butter. There are many foods that can use oil or butter interchangeably, but chocolate-chip cookies really need butter. I'll include the recipe at the bottom (because I know you'll ask).

First I creamed the butter and sugar. My dough was just slightly lighter in color and fluffier in texture than my normal dough.

I mixed in the rest of the ingredients and was already having to fight off my boys from snitching the cookie dough. The completed dough tasted great. It needed just a little extra salt to compensate for the "unsalted" canned butter.

The cookies turned out great. They seemed to brown faster on the edges and puffed a little extra at the end of the baking cycle. But after sitting for a few minutes, they looked like the cookies we all love. They did taste and look a little more greasy to me. And because I didn't add any salt to the dough, I was still wishing for more saltiness.

Summary: The canned butter performed like regular butter in pretty much every way. It didn't have much flavor and seemed a little greasier. I would probably decrease the butter in the recipe to compensate for this. I would recommend that you treat it like unsalted butter instead of regular salted butter.

Hershey's Great American Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 cups chocolate-chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy Add eggs; beat well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet; cool completely on wire rack. About 2 dozen cookies. [from Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook]

[Photos are the property of blog owner. Please do not use without permission.]


gamma lids

Gamma lids are specialized lids intended to be used with 5 and 6 gallon buckets. They are heavy-duty, food-safe lids with a sealing-gasket which is both air and water-tight. They come in several colors, including black, white, red, yellow, orange and blue. They do tend to be expensive. The best price I've ever found was $4.99 at Wal-Mart. They can also be ordered online for around $6.50 to $8 (Amazon).

The great part about these lids is that you spin them open, instead of having to pry open your bucket lid every time you use the contents. My kids can open these gamma lids easily. Unfortunately, even my three-year old can open them easily, which leads to many "cooking" messes at our house.

I have a gamma lid of every color and a color-coding system to indicate their contents. I keep four buckets with gamma lids on the floor of my pantry. White contains rice; blue is bread flour; black holds my sugar; and red contains wheat. When my pantry buckets are running low, I transfer the food stored in my longer-term storage buckets into my pantry-buckets that have the gamma lids (you can also remove the gamma lid and place it on the new bucket).

I also keep two buckets with gamma lids in my longer-term home storage. The bucket with the orange lid is full of two-pound packages of brown sugar (which keeps them more fresh than if I just left stored them out on the shelf). The bucket with the yellow lid is full of smaller packages of powdered sugar.

These are just the ways that I personally utilize these great lids. Some families replace all of their longer-term storage bucket lids with gamma lids (which would be too expensive for me). I'm planning to store my charcoal in plastic buckets with gamma lids. Gamma lids would also be great for storing pet food, fertilizer, or anything else that you want to keep dry and easily accessible.

Gamma lids are not necessary for a three-month supply or even a longer-term supply. But if you utilize buckets for either, they can be a great tool!

How do you use gamma lids?



There are many ways to cook with and eat grains without owning a grinder. Grains can be soaked for berries, sprouted, flaked with a rolling pin, or cracked. One of the main ways that most of us seem to use grains, however, is as a flour or meal. Though it is not absolutely necessary to have a grinder, it does add possibilities for the use and rotation of your stored grains.

I have personally chosen to purchase two grinders. I have an electric mill and a hand mill for use without electricity. Some mills can be used both with or without electricity. Some hand mills can be motorized - though I do not personally have the skills to do this. I decided to buy one for both categories as I have based a lot of my plans for storage on the possibility of not having electricity in an emergency.

I really like my K-Tec/Blendtec grinder (also called Kitchen Mill). It is very loud, but is compact and stores easily in my cupboard. I can make wheat that is very coarse (cracked) to very fine. My main requirement for choosing this mill was that it makes a very fine flour. The Kitchen Mill also didn't cost too much (about $150). I have not used my Back-To-Basics hand mill (cost $60). My neighbor purchased the Back-To-Basics mill and it broke after not very many uses.

I purchased my K-Tec/Blendtec Kitchen Mill several years ago. Grinders have been updated and revised since then. Because the purchase of a grinder is very personal, I would recommend reading many different reviews before purchasing one. There are several characteristics that differ with each mill. You'll need to decide how important these characteristics are to you. You'll also have to decide how much you are willing to spend.

Things to consider:
How loud is the grinder? (this didn't matter to me)
Can the grinder do a coarse mill, liked cracked wheat?
Can the grinder mill to a very fine flour which is fine enough for your cooking habits?
How long does it take to mill a cup of flour?
How much physical exertion is required?
What is the temperature of the resulting flour?
Do you have to mill multiple times to get the consistency that you want?
Can you also grind corn, oats, rice and/or beans?
Is the mill chamber self-cleaning?
Does it store well in your cupboard?
Does the grinder have to be mounted?
Can it be motorized or does it have a manual setting?
Is it durable?
Does it have a warranty?
Does it use stones or burrs? (There is some controversy about grit and aluminum in the stones)
How much wheat/flour do the grinder containers hold? (In my opinion, this doesn't really matter)
How much does it cost?
How much will you use it?

Because I haven't personally used most of these grinders or tested them myself, I highly recommend perusing the following sites which review, demonstrate and/or compare many of the grinders. The Walton Feed grinder site is superior for reviews of all the manual grinders and a few electric mills. Some stores, like Emergency Essentials, will let you go in and use the grinders and feel the fineness/coarseness of the flours. You might also ask your neighbors if you can try their grinder to get a feel for which grinder you like best.

Great Grinder Information:
Walton Feed Grain Grinder Comparison Pages
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Everything Kitchens
Safely Gathered In - demonstrates the Whisper Mill (now called Wonder Mill)
Everyday Food Storage - Good overview of pros/cons and pricing. Does have a bias towards the Wonder Mill, which they sell.
You Tube - Videos of many different mills being used.
Choosing a Grain Mill
Casaubon's Book - Grain Mills

See the comment section for some additional information about grinder "noise" and warranties.


answer key

(How much do you know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' NEW (2007) program for home storage?)

1. What are the four basic principles of family home storage?

a - Three-Month Supply: Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage.

b - Drinking Water: Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted. If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pretreat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for juices and soda. Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight.

c - Financial Reserve: Establish a financial reserve by saving a little money each week and gradually increasing it to a reasonable amount (see All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances guide).

d - Longer-Term Supply: 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. A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply.

2. List several foods that your family normally eats for breakfast.

3. List several foods that your family normally eats for lunch.

4. List several foods that your family normally eats for dinner.

Answers to these three questions will vary. These are items that your family normally eats and can easily be used to create simple menus for a three month supply. Purchase enough of the components of these menus to last three months.

5. How much water should you store?

There is no longer a specific amount recommended. You decide this for your family.

6. How much money should you save?

A specific amount is not suggested. When this new program was introduced in General Conference, Bishop Keith B. McMullin said, “Save some money, if only a few coins each week. This modest approach will soon enable (you) to have several months’ reserve.”

7. What kind of equipment will you need for the first three basic principles of home storage?

None. Your three-month supply is based on food that your family normally eats and rotates. Consequently, these products can be stored in their original containers. Drinking water can be stored in cleaned-out PETE bottles (recycling code 1) such as soda-bottles or juice-bottles (I'm assuming you have access to these bottles without having to purchase them). If your water is normally chlorinated, you do not need to treat the water.

8. List two kinds of food that are recommended for your longer-term storage?

1) Grains (such as white rice and wheat) and 2) beans -- as well as other staples. All of these items are available at home storage centers.

9. List two reasons why these food items are recommended for longer-term storage.

1) They store well for long periods of time (in some cases up to 30 years). 2) They will keep you alive.

10. How many total months' worth of "longer-term" supply is recommended?

There is no longer a specific amount recommended. You decide this for your family. The term "one-year supply" is no longer used.

11. When should you begin working on your longer-term supply?

"Once families have achieved the first three objectives, they are counseled to expand their efforts, as circumstances allow, into a supply of long-term basic foods such as grains, legumes, and other staples."

How did you do? Thanks to Wade and Vickie for being brave enough to post their answers.


how much do you know about home storage?

I'm teaching a lesson in church this Sunday. I will be teaching about self-reliance and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' NEW (2007) program for home storage. I developed the following quiz as a teaching tool for the lesson.

[I'd love to read your answers/guesses in the comments section! Don't peek at the answers by going to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Provident Living website. See how much you can answer from memory! I'll post the answers on Friday.]


1. What are the four basic principles of family home storage?

2. List several foods that your family normally eats for breakfast.

3. List several foods that your family normally eats for lunch.

4. List several foods that your family normally eats for dinner.

5. How much water should you store?

6. How much money should you save?

7. What kind of equipment will you need for the first three basic principles of home storage?

8. List two kinds of food that are recommended for your longer-term storage?

9. List two reasons why these food items are recommended for longer-term storage.

10. How many total months' worth of "longer-term" supply is recommended?

11. When should you begin working on your longer-term supply?

Leave your answers/guesses in the comments section. I'll post the answers on Friday.


not suitable for longer-term storage

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has indicated that some grains "may not be suitable for longer-term storage." They've included these three grains in their list because of "rancidity" concerns. 1

Pearled Barley
Whole barley has to be dehulled for human consumption. Once it has been processed, it can no longer be sprouted.2 When ground into flour, barley does NOT make good bread.7 Hulled barley still contains a significant amount of oils and will become rancid fairly quickly. It can be stored in the fridge to lengthen the shelf life. Pot barley is a dehulled barley which has been polished to remove additional oils. Pearled barley has been polished four to six times for an even longer shelf life. Pearled barley is considered a "soft" grain and consequently only has a shelf-life of around eight years.3 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not recommend pearled barley for longer-term storage because of concerns about rancidity. 1 Utah State University labeled it an "oily grain." 4

Whole Wheat Flour
Once the wheat kernel has been milled, the oil content of the wheat is exposed to the air and becomes rancid very quickly. The shelf-life of wheat flour can be extended up to 12 months by storing it in the freezer. 3, 6

Brown Rice
Like wheat flour, brown rice has a high amount of fatty acids which become rancid as they oxidize. Brown rice can be stored for about 6 months on the shelf. It will store much longer if kept in the refrigerator. 5

All of these items can be successfully stored as part of a regularly rotated three-month supply.

1 - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2 - Walton Feed
3 - Walton Feed - Storage Life
4 - Utah State University Extension

5 - Riceland
6 - University of Nebraska Extension
7 - Selecting & Buying Grains (Alan T. Hagan)