Monday, October 1, 2012

Food Storage & Allergies

Happy October!  Wow.  Where has this year gone??  Can't believe it's already this time of year again.  Before I get started with the post, when I started this blog a few months ago I've been thinking about my posting frequency and kept going back and forth between "should I post two or three times a week?"... (I'll spare you the details of my inner struggle,) but I've decided I am going to go down to two times a week.  I'll be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays starting this week.  :)  

Now, to the nitty gritty:  This time of year always gets me thinking about my food storage and emergency preparedness.  It must be something in the air.  After all, squirrels and other animals gather food for the winter and I guess I do too.  It's actually a great time of year to assess my pantry and go through and organize everything.  It's also a great time to stock up on pantry staples because they are usually on sale this time of year!  

So why store food?  Well, in the event of economic downturn or job loss when you have to choose between your mortgage or eating food, it's nice to have one of those covered.  Also, in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, it is much better to be prepared!  We learned that lesson the hard way.  Last winter we had a big ice storm that knocked out the power for over 250,000 people in our area.  Fortunately we were only without power for 36 hours, but I realized quickly that in a true emergency, things would get ugly QUICK.  I'm talking people fighting in the grocery stores over food, shelves being empty... this did not happen, but there was a rush on propane and we had to drive around in the cold, on snowy, icy roads to find a store -that had power, to accept our credit card, that had propane- so we would have gas for our grill so we'd have a way to cook our food.  It was bad.  Never want to experience that again.  So we will be prepared this year!

SO, the big question that I am still trying to answer is how to have food storage with my boy's food allergies?  We avoid alot of convenient, prepackaged food because of all the cross contamination risks.  I make most everything from scratch-- I use alot of fresh ingredients too.  I am by no means an expert on this topic and am still in the process of trying to answer this question for myself, but this is what I have figured out so far:
  1. Store LOTS water (I am still working on that one)  Water is more important than food. I've read to store at least a gallon of water per person per day.  More would always be better though right?  Think about not only drinking water, but water for cooking, and washing dishes etc
  2. Store foods that are safe (duh!) That's pretty much a no-brainer, right? But that's where things can get a little tricky.  Especially, like I mentioned before, with cross contamination.  Plus some of the recommended food to store may not be something you can store.  I could store wheat, while others may not.  But they could store peanut butter, where I cannot.  So, no brainer, store what you know is safe and that may mean doing some homework and research.
  3. Store food that you will eat.  Again, another no-brainer, but seriously.  You need to rotate the food you store!  It doesn't make sense to go out and buy a couple cases of canned green beans when the only time you would ever eat canned green beans is when you have to choose between canned green beans or dirt and rocks to eat.  It seems like a no-brainer, but I know people that do it.  They have all this food (probably past expiration date) in their food storage and they never use it.  Store things that you are already buying and using.
  4. Where natural disasters are concerned, usually if you watch the weather you will have a day or two notice before a storm hits.  WATCH THE WEATHER!  If a big storm is coming to your area, fill up your cars with gas, do a grocery run to stock up on things you are running low on, get some cash, charge your cell phones, make sure you have enough propane or firewood, make sure your prescriptions are up to date and you have enough to get you through a week or more.
That's all I've come to at this point.  :) I get quite frustrated at times because as I look for things to store, we frequently run into "this has been processed on the same lines as every known allergen out there" statements on the back.  (Like powdered milk??)
So what do I store?  Since I cook a lot from scratch I try to keep stocked up on the basics- I know if I have the basics I can whip up something.  

So here is a list of some of the things I like to keep in my food storage, to give you a starting point/ideas for what to store:
oats, cream of wheat, dry cereal, canned fruit, dried fruit, applesauce!! (those are my "eggs"!) chicken broth, canned chicken, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce/puree, salsa, olives, artichokes, crackers, pasta, rice (both regular and parboiled), flour, sugar, oil,  macaroni & cheese, fruit snacks, popcorn, pudding, chocolate chips (hey- don't judge.  You'll be coming over to my house to have some!  ha ha)  I also stockpile/store things like toilet paper, shampoo, dish soap, plastic forks, paper plates, batteries etc. 

I typically just stock up when things are on sale, buying enough to last me until the item goes on sale again.  It's seriously the only way to go.  

Again this is a work in progress for me.  Maybe one of these days I'll get it down and maybe one of these days I can share some "food-storage-friendly-recipes" too, but it's really important to think about.  You need to have safe food for your family to eat in the event of an emergency.

Other things to consider: create a 72-hour kit in case you need to evacuate your home.  Include safe food, water, medications, blankets, coats, list of written phone number for family and emergency contacts, important documents, a few toys or coloring books for young kids to keep 'em comforted and entertained.

Also consider creating a car/travel kit, especially for the winter time, in case you have car trouble or encounter bad roads.  Include safe food/snacks, water, blankets, flashlight/batteries, phone numbers for family members and roadside assistance companies, chains (if you live in a snowy climate), jumper cables, small toys to keep little ones entertained.

Links to some helpful articles: Disaster & Emergency Planning for Families with Food Allergies  Not missing a Thing: Emergency Preparedness & Food Allergies "Food Storage" "Water Purification

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