A Primer On Emergency Food Preps in the local Alaska Area (but you can find the same type of stores and things in your area)
- For the basics, wheats and oats, etc. Look for Local bakeries, alot of times they will sell it to you relatively cheap, whole and ready to be packaged away for the long term. I know that Great Harvest in Anchorage sells at $1 a pound for hard red winter wheat, you bring your buckets and they fill them and all you have to do is put in the preserver (dry ice, dessicant, etc) and your good to go. In Fairbanks The Alaska Feed Company sells bulk wheats and other items.
- WHOLLY LIVING is based in the Alaska Area, and in Wasilla there is a distributor. They have recently changed their website and now you have to sent them in a form of what you want or call it in. Their product line is listed HERE and they provide very good prices with 50 lbs at $43 at the time of writing. They offer pretty much all the different types of long term storage food items you would want as well as food grade buckets and food grade storage containers and much more at wholyliving.com
- Get a membership at Costco or Sams Club, go in as a group, or find someone that does. Go in there and watch sales on canned vegetables or soups, that will be your best deal. Dont discount regular supermarkets as they sometimes beat that price, BUT watch the expiration date labels, often they are selling for cheap because they are going out date soon. With canned Foods use a “FIRST IN FIRST OUT” Rotation, by this i mean whatever shelving or system you use, make sure the newer cans go in behind the older cans, use those and it rotates itself. SHELF RELIANCE offers great reasonably priced systems that takes the thinking out of it. DONT JUST GO AND BUY A BUNCH OF CANS FOR PREPS AND LEAVE THEM IN A SHED SOMEWHERE FOR “EMERGENCIES”! Buy what you use or use what you buy, never waste it! if all else fails donate them to food shelters before they go bad!
- At these big box stores you can pick up large quantities of everything, i bought 25lbs of salt for around $6 bucks, which i then stored and packed away. Salt is a big one, so i pack alot as it would be a great barter item and you can also use it for preserving food.
- Sugar can be bought in large quantities, and would also be a a great barter item. Keep in mind none of this is easily found naturally in northern climates and you can grow sugar cane! Honey is a great alternative and combo with your grain sugar, as it keeps pretty much forever, and can be bought at Costco for about $50 for 30lbs.
- I go over storage containers farther down below, but ill do it again here. To store food long term in buckets, you need to make sure they are FOOD GRADE! To make sure that they are food grade they must be marked “food grade”, (or, marked “NSF”, “FDA”, or “USDA” approved). If you arent sure contact the manufacturer. Food grade means they are formed with non-toxic and are less gas permeable than standard paint or storage buckets. the HOMER from Home Depot wont cut it! This means that outside gases and contaminants wont mix with them. This is why if you leave a bottle of water in the basement over time it will taste musty and weird. I go over this later, but check you local bakeries, supermarkets, restaurants, etc. They will have leftover food grade buckets that they usually throw away laying around. Check them every week or so and over time you can get these for free and will save you alot of money
- For more on Food grade buckets
- Dont discount couponing. Look everywhere for coupons to local supermarkets and for products themselves, I used a coupon in conjunction with A Fred Meyer sale to buy around 100 cans of veggies for around 25 dollars. Dont overlook canning you own if you have gardens, if you are growing more than you want, give it away or can it!
Food Preps for Northern Climates
Northern Climates do not have the luxury of year round growing seasons, so we must concentrate on food storage more than our counterparts to the south. The must haves for human survival that cannot be hunted or foraged easily in our climate is carbohydrates. There are native plants that can be eaten like Cattail, where even its roots can be harvested for its starch and made into flour!
Even with foraging this is a light supplemental at best, where often times the calories expended collecting it can exceed its value, and shouldn’t be counted on as a Staple. Check out our PREPPER FOOD LIST to see more of what you need!
1) Cereal Grains. Our main source of food and carbohydrates since it was first cultivated about 12,000 years ago! This staple crop consists of Wheat, Corn, Rice, Barley, Millet, Oats and Rye. Pastas can be a more “fun” supplement as part of your Grain Preps, but are much too expensive to make up the bulk.
a) For Wheat I would look at the hard red winter wheat, whole grain not flour as the storage life is 10x longer.
b) For Rice it is a mixed bag (no pun intended), Brown Rice has less calories but more fiber, vitamins and shorter shelf life (6 months+). White Rice has more calories and carbs and longer shelf life (8-10years), but fewer vitamins and minerals. Personally I would go with White Rice for its storage life, and perhaps beef up your nutritional supplements and Metamucil to make up the difference.
c) For Oats I would go with Rolled Oats, now these are commonly associated as “Old style” they are steamed open and rolled flat. Compared to quick cooking rolled oats they retain more nutrition and flavor. I wouldn’t go with Instant Oatmeal for the bulk of your oats, they are more expensive and should be in the comfort food section of your food storage not a staple. Rolled Oats can last up to eight years, and I have even heard of some methods on the LDS (Mormon, more on them later) website giving them a 30 year shelf life.
d) For Corn go with WHOLE corn, not cracked or cornmeal, as once the germ (inside) is exposed the storage life plummets drastically (3 years vs 8-12 years).
e) Pasta can be in the form of spaghetti, linguini, macaroni, whatever you prefer or find on sale.
To survive you will need around 220 pounds of Wheat, 50 pounds of rice, 50 pounds of corn, 50 pounds of pasta and 20 pounds of oats per adult per year. Now this sounds like a lot, but in truth if you are smart and shop well you can get this relatively cheaply. For the serious Prepper in the North I would look at adding 10% to all of this per year, and have 2-3 years worth if possible. This would be around 240 pounds of Wheat, 55 pounds of rice, 55 pounds of corn, 55 pounds of pasta and 22 pounds of oats per year. Our colder climates and heavier winters cause us to burn much more fat and energy if we are out in the elements. This could be splitting wood, hunting, setting/checking trap lines, observation of neighbors and “travelers”, and a multitude of other outdoor activities. As stated before make sure you use food grade storage buckets for your prepper supplies.
2) Meat. Protein is the second food source that we most desperately need. Now a lot of you are probably thinking “There are a crapton of Moose, rabbits, etc. around here ill just hunt and eat those!” As we said in the Militiary, “Good initiative, bad judgement.” Meaning, good idea but not so great in practice. Think If you are out there hunting because everything has gone to shit, don’t you think…maybe…about 200,000 other people might have the same idea? Game will rapidly disappear anywhere near populated or semi-populated areas. You will have to venture farther and farther out to find anything as the animals are killed and get smart. Over time populations will be decimated with over-hunting and then you will be up a creek with the proverbial paddle! Don’t fear! I didn’t say DON’T HUNT, just DON’T COUNT ON IT FOR YOUR SURVIVAL especially in the first 6 months of total collapse scenario! Besides if you have ever been on a moose hunt, how many times have you been out there and came away skunked after a week trip (of course regs dont apply anymore)? Sure it might have been because you couldn’t find a legal one, but I have spent more than a few occasions hiking around the bush and saw only sign, but no bullwinkles. This will be covered later, but don’t overlook trapping, it is a far more efficient way to get game, and this is about survival not getting a trophy or being the big Hunter.
a) You can store canned meats and fish, whether it is home canned or store bought, but don’t have more than you can rotate in and out. Don’t go out and buy a crap ton and it all goes bad because you don’t want to eat Canned ham, SPAM and chicken every other night because you bought so much. A lot of you protein can come from Legumes (beans) and supplemented with whatever game you can hunt, trap and fish.
3) Sugars. Sugars believe it or not are ACTUALLY GOOD FOR US! But like anything good we have turned a life-giving thing into a vice (Im not preaching, im the worst of the worst with my Sourpatch Kid addiction!). This includes Cane Sugar, Honey, Sorghum, Molasses, maple Syrup and assortied Jellies and Jams. You should have between 80 and 120 pounds per year
a) Honey can come in whatever form you like, As always don’t buy it single bottle at a time as the price markup is very high. You can find honey for about 50 dollars for a 12lb pail up to 200 dollars for a 60 lb pail. Windmillfarmstore.com sells a 60lb 5 gallon bucket for around 130 dollars that raw and has been filtered. Honey is a great storage item as it never “goes bad” as long as it is not exposed to contaminants or pests. DON’T USE FOR INFANTS!
b) Sugar can be bought pretty cheap in large 50lb bags from box stores, as long as you store it properly in buckets away from moisture it will be good indefinitely
Im not going to go through each type of sugar, It all depends on your tastes in food, Southern folks would probably be more favorable to molasses, Nor’easteners Maple Syrup, etc. Whatever you like you need to have about 50-60 pounds combined total or sugar, honey, jams, gelatins, etc. per adult per year. Don’t overestimate your need for Sugar, a few Norther States may have beekeepers in the area, but Sugar is hard to come buy when the stores run out. This would be an excellent barter tool to trade with others, imagine if it had been months or years since you had some real sugar, and here you are with three pails of honey and a couple buckets of Cane Sugar!
4) Legumes. Beans! The proverbial first B of the 3 B’s needed for survival and the military, “Beans, Bullets and bandaids”. Youll want ample supplies of Dry Beans, that be stored in the same manner as the cereals, and can also last from 10-30 years depending. Beans are very high in Protein content so they will be a staple for you when hunting is scarce or non-existent. Soybeans have the highest protein content, but Lentils have the next highest protein content. It is very important that you store Beans in Airtight buckets and containers as they are very susceptible to moisture and ‘going bad’. Beans must be soaked for long periods of time before cooking, lentils can cook faster, but big beans like Soy need a full 12 hours of soaking to rehydrate. FACTOR THIS INTO YOUR MEAL PREPERATION! Soaking also reduces cooking time and thus preserves the nutrition in the legume. I recommend that you have around 60 lbs per person per day. This can include any assortment of beans, and dry bean soup mixes can make up a couple pounds of that, but best to have the dry soup mixes as an extra.
5) Milk. Milk is a necessary source of calcium and other nutrients, but alas no method of packaging fresh milk exists for the long term. Powdered Milk can last to around 2 years if properly stored, but look to nitrogen packed dry milks, as they can last up to 5 years if stored in a cool dry place. You can buy these nitrogen packed dry milks in different varieties like nonfat, whole, instant, etc. personally I prefer the Whole dry milk, due to its higher fat content (When I actually need this fat will be my friend!). The problem is it is harder to find and its shelf life is less, as the fats can go rancid over time. I have a mix of Whole (when I can find it) and instant dry. Especially with this make sure you rotate it out, drink it and buy new stuff to replace it. Don’t end up with bad milk when you NEED IT MOST!
6) Fats and Essential Oils. These are the most finicky of your preps as they have lower shelf life and must be rotated often (relatively). These Fats and oils include, Oils (Vegetable, Olive, Canola), Mayonnaise, Canned Butter,Peanut Butter and Shortening. I hope this doesn’t need to be said, but this doesn’t mean you drink the olive or vegetable oils, Cooking only! Get a Chest Freezer if you don’t have one, so you don’t take up your home freezer (look on Craigslist or ask around for a cheap one), and freeze the jugs of oil in there, this will extend their shelf life to about 2 years (Note, I have heard but not confirmed that true cold pressed unprocessed olive oil can keep up to ten years, those are not the big plastic bottle variety found in most stores, they are specialty from Italy, Turkey, or small sellers in the U.S.). Mayonnaise will only be good for about 2-3 months so don’t buy so much that you don’t eat it and it goes to waste. Peanut Butter can last around a year or so. This all depends processed peanut butters use emulsifiers to keep the fat from separating, so “natural” brands will go bad much faster (Note Freezing will help, but hurt your peanut butter). Peter Pan recommends an 18 month shelf life for their products. Shortening like Crisco can be good up to two years or more depending on storage, and according to Crisco themselves even opened you should be ok up to a year. You can also extend the shelf life of shortening by canning it yourself or buying Lard in a Hispanic food store as they are still often canned in metal containers. BUTTER! Butter is a wonderful staple and a very much appreciated pick me up on food, especially if times get tough. I personally buy Red Feather Brand Canned butter. It has a shelf life of around 2 years if properly stored and goes for about $.63 an ounce. Make sure that if things are coming to end of their storage life, use it, rotate it out, and if you CANT use it, donate it to a food shelter to help the needy, no need to waste food. With such a low shelf life I would recommend canning your own butter or buying cases of the canned butter ever few years and rotating it out. Fish, especially salmon can provide most of your essential oils to help supplement these stores and after they are gone. With all that being said you will need about 96 pounds of Fats and oils stored per year, per adult. Now 1 gallon of olive oil will cover about 7 pounds, so have about 4 or five of those and that will give you about 28-35 pounds. You cant have all your fats and oils in cooking oils, so play around and see what works best for you.
7) Fruits and Vegetables. This brings us into the big wonderful world of cans! This is a bit of a subjective section as this all depends on your own preferences on how much you would like to have in your diet in a survival situation. You have to eat your Vegetables! I personally want to have around a can of some vegetable, whether its fresh(ish) green beans, garbonzo, carrots or potatoes every other day, or save up for a feast some night of the week with friends, as well as once or twice a week have a few canned peaches here and there. That works out to about 182 cans of various vegetables and 96 cans of various fruits per year. Now that’s a lot of cans! I would buy a lot of the big #10 (That’s the BIG cans on the bottom of the shelf in most supermarkets) of the veggies as youll use those up faster, and you cant leave unopened cans without refrigeration. With the #10 cans you get more for your money, and if you see a good sale on them you can really stock up for cheap. I prefer to have my own personal stock in fruits in the smaller cans, as I wont be breaking them out that often and can have a can every once in awhile as a pick me up treat. Larger cans should be bought, for larger gatherings or charity for large families with children, or a great barter item! Shelfreliance.com makes an excellent system to store all these cans in a FIFO (First in First out) system. This makes it so the cans roll forward to you and you just put the newer cans in behind the others and as you use the older cans the newer ones roll forward and replace them, thus making it a foolproof system versus trying to remember which container you had those olives that are going to expire in next month. They come in all different sizes and can be customized to work with whatever types and amounts of cans you have!
8) Sprouts. Now you don’t have to be a hippie to eat sprouts, this isn’t a trendy health food, it’s a survival necessity. You can buy alfalfa, broccoli, cabbage, clover, garbanzo beans, peas, radish, etc. Try them out now see what you like and buy those. You can plant them and wait a few days for them to sprout, trim, clean and eat. You can also sprout them in a jar with a cheesecloth cover. Cover them with water and let them soak 12-24 hours, pour the water through the screen and rinse the seeds twice with cool water, make sure the excess water is drained completely. Continue this rinsing 2-3 times per day for 3-6 days until the sprouts are ready for eating. You can refrigerate them (if possible) to store (about a week) or eat them right away. You don’t need sunlight, but it works better and the sprouts are healthier. Buy your seeds from a organic store and make sure they are food grade, and store them in a coold dry, dark place until you want to eat them. You should have about three pounds or more of these per adult per year. They aren’t that expensive so buy some extra.
9) Dog Food. If you have a pet lay in a supply of cheap dry dog food. Most if not all dog foods have oil and fats in them so they don’t store well, but it can be done. One dog owner has said on a survival blog that they (Paraphrased)“store their food in a 55 gallon drum with a lide and get about 2 years out of it. When they open it about the top 1” is usually White, which is the fats and oils going rancid, which you can scoop out and use for bait or fish food (if you have a pond) or feed it to the dog, they can eat it but will have a messier stool if you don’t care about that.” Now I personally haven’t tried this, so I cant vouch for it, but dogs do have hardier stomachs than we do. But you do need to think of Fido if you plan on taking him or her with you as most dog owners would like to. You can also feed them the gut piles of game and fish you bring in (salmon is especially good for them with their high Omega 3 content). I also have to add that if it comes down to the point where you are having to choose between food for you or for the dog, that’s a tough one. You can use food grade buckets or storage for you puppy prepper food supplies, but you will have to monitor them.
10) Notes on Pre-packaged foods. MRE’s and other pre-packaged foods like mountain house, Wise foods, Lindon Farms, etc. are a great addition to any emergency supply. If you have the money stock up in bulk. Wise Foods and Lindon Farms guarantee their foods for about 25 years! This is a great product to have for hurricane-style short-term emergencies so you can eat tasty meals if things get rough for a bit. For their cost per meal they do not make an economical choice to make up the bulk of your long-term storage. Mountain house can provide you with butter, tomato, egg and peanut butter powders than can be reconstitutied in water and make a nice addition to spice up your bland food stores. There are also companies that make High calorie survival energy bars. These are best for Bug-out go bags to have a lot of calories in condensed form. Military MRE’s can last up to 10 years if stored at 60 degrees, but temperature must be monitored as they can lose up to half their life if stored at 90 degrees and if you stick them next to the furnace you’ll lose them in a month if at 120 degrees. Once again If you have the financial ability to, buy a bunch of pails and #10 cans from these providers and others to supplement your food stores. Emergencies don’t have to mean oatmeal and hardtack!
For more information on necessities and “nice to haves” check out our lists of Prepper Food Lists