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All food items (unless otherwise noted) should be stored:
c. cool (40 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 5 to 18 degrees Centigrade)
For any type of food supply or distribution problems, from temporary disruptions in distribution, to shortages, to rationing, even to actual famine, I suggest this approach:
A. Buy some food
B. Store some food
C. Grow some food
This article offers my short list of food items to store. If you can only STORE a relatively limited amount of food, consider these suggestions. This list assumes that you are continuing to BUY dairy, meat, poultry, fish, and other items, to the extent that they are available and affordable, and that you have a sufficiently large garden to GROW various fruits and vegetables. So the goal of these stored food items is to supplement the foods that you buy and grow. If you choose prudently, you can store a substantial portion of the carbs, protein, and fat that you will need.
In no particular order:
1. Supplements -- a good multivitamin and mineral supplement (any major brand) can make up for any deficiencies in vitamins and minerals that might result from disruptions in the food supply. It might seem expensive to buy 6 months supply of this item, but it is a low cost per day, and well worth the money.
2. Vegetable oil -- fat is a necessary nutrient; in particular, your body needs both essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. The most common omega-3 fatty acid is called ALA (or LNA), which stands for alpha-linolenic acid. The most common omega-6 fatty acid is called LA, which stands for linoleic acid. You diet should have these fatty acids in at least a 10 to 1 ratio (omega-6 to omega-3).
Good oils to store:
Safflower oil -- high in omega-6, inexpensive, stores well.
Camelina oil (Camelina sativa oil) -- has both omega-6 and omega-3, is expensive, but stores better than any other good source of omega-3; has too much omega-3, so it should not be the sole vegetable oil that you use.
Canola oil -- a good source of omega-6, and has some omega-3.
3. Sugar and dried fruits -- granulated sugar provides carbs and makes almost any meal more palatable; it stores very easily and keeps indefinitely. Dried fruits provide vitamins and minerals as well as carbs, and they store fairly well. Candy (sugar-based, without milk or butter as ingredients) also stores well and makes meals more enjoyable.
4. Seeds and Nuts -- roasted and salted are best for long term storage; buy them already roasted and salted, or roast them yourself before storage. Store in cool location for better shelf-life.
Sunflower seeds are high in protein, and are a nearly complete source of essential amino acids, except for a less than ideal percentage of lysine; they are also a good source of omega-6 fat. Sunflower seeds are inexpensive, and store well.
Pumpkin seeds are more expensive, but are also high in protein and in healthy fat; they are a nearly complete source of essential amino acids, except for a less than ideal percentage of lysine. Buy the seeds without hulls.
Peanut butter stores relatively well; plastic jars allow the peanut butter to be frozen for longer storage. Peanut butter is high in protein and fat, but a less than ideal source of both.
Dry roasted and salted peanuts and/or mixed nuts are a good source of protein and fat, and they store well.
Soynuts -- buy only organic, non-GMO soybeans, since most other soybeans are genetically modified and treated with the herbicide glyphosate. Soynuts are a good source of protein; they are high in protein and high in all essential amino acids, even lysine. Soybeans also contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (which are essential nutrients). Soybeans are also an ideal food to grow in a backyard garden.
5. Grains -- grains are high in carbs and a good source of protein, but tend to be somewhat lacking in lysine.
Long grain (or extra-long grain) white rice stores indefinitely and is higher in protein than medium or short grain rice.
Ordinary inexpensive white pasta stores indefinitely and is a good source of total protein and essential amino acids.
Pasta and rice have less lysine than ideal, so supplement with seeds, nuts, and legumes.
Instant rice (e.g. Minute Rice) has more protein, but less lysine, than non-instant rice (e.g. long grain white rice), but cooks quickly (with boiling water).
Instant flavored oatmeal cooks quickly (with boiling water) and is a complete protein and a good source of carbs. It also stores well.
Note that preparing stored foods without cooking is less safe because any bacteria that have built up are not killed by heat. Eat promptly after preparation. Do not leave any food at warm temperatures for more than an hour or two, since bacteria will multiply making the food unsafe to eat. You will have to use your own discretion as to whether or not to prepare foods without cooking.
Couscous (not whole grain) is idea because it can be prepared without cooking. Add the amount of water indicated on the package. Use only clean bottled water or purified water. Wait three times the amount of time needed for boiling water (15 minutes instead of 5). Add oil, vinegar, and spices.
Instant mashed potatoes, the plain type with only dry potato and preservatives, will keep indefinitely and are a good source of carbs. Keep sealed in an air-tight container. This type of potato is also a complete protein. You can prepare instant mashed potatoes without heat for cooking. Use only clean bottled water or purified water. Add the requisite amount of water and stir. Add oil, sugar, and spices instead of butter and milk; or add mayo and chopped veggies for mashed-potato salad.
Quick barley is usually prepared by simmering for 10 minutes. But it can be prepared without cooking: soak in plenty of clean bottled or purified water for one hour, then rinse. Add oil, sugar, and spices. See note above about food safety and preparing foods without cooking.
Most whole grains are NOT recommended for storage for longer than a few months; the oils in the whole grains can go rancid.
Do NOT buy rice-pasta, since it has almost no protein.
Corn is NOT recommended for use as your main source of protein because it does not have enough lysine, an essential amino acid, and is not particularly high in total protein either. Using corn as your main or sole source of protein can result in protein deficiency disease. However, when supplemented with foods that are high in lysine (e.g. beans, peas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds), corn is a good source of protein and carbs.
6. Dried beans, peas, legumes -- store indefinitely, are a good source of protein, and are particularly good sources of lysine. Soybeans and adzuki (azuki) beans are highest in lysine. Lysine is the only essential amino acid not present in an ideal percentage in most grains. However, beans, peas, and legumes can only supplement your other sources of protein; they do not make good primary sources of protein.
7. Cheese -- is high in total protein and in all essential amino acids. Most cheeses are particularly high in lysine, and so they complement grains. Cheese does not store well for long periods of time, although it can be frozen.
Grated parmesan cheese stores well without refrigeration as long as the container is kept relatively cool, clean, dry, and unopened.
Boxed Macaroni and Cheese dinners, the type with the dry cheese powder in foil, keep well and are a good source of protein. The cheese adds additional protein and lysine to the macaroni, making the meal more nutritious. These types of dinners store well.
8. Tuna and Salmon
Canned tuna is relatively high in mercury compared to most other fish, so it should not be one of your staples foods. In comparing canned light tuna, canned white (albacore) tuna, and fresh tuna (tuna steaks) the FDA found that canned light tuna had the least mercury, canned white tuna had the next highest concentration, and tuna steaks had the highest concentrations. The FDA recommends no more than 6 ounces of either canned white tuna or tuna steaks per week.
Canned salmon is low in mercury, and so if you have the choice, store salmon (canned or in the newer foil packs) rather than tuna. Fish is an excellent source of protein; it is a complete protein containing sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids.