So I am hearing a lot of questions from people who are new to buying Food Planning and so I thought I would share with you today the top 5 mistakes people make when buying long-term food storage, so let’s jump right into it…
1. Buying food instead of fuel
You see the body cannot live on just any food. It is an engine and it runs a specific type of fuel – Calories. Luckily there are 4 grades of fuel that calories come in – Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, and Sugars. So why would you buy food by the pound, by the serving, or my favorite that I have seen – by the cubic foot? Our body doesn’t run on cubic feet. Does it??
Why else should you not buy on cost per serving? Do you know who regulates serving size? FDA? USDA? Nope. No one does. I saw one company online that it would take 35.3 servings of their food a day to get to 2,000 calories. Sure they were the cheapest per serving, but if you eat 4 servings a day you would die.
As a point of reference, a serving size typically represents what a 100 lb. person will eat for a meal. Typically we eat 3 meals a day and one snack. So an adult should be consuming around 8 servings per day on a 2,000 calorie diet.
2. Not including what you need in the fuel you are buying
So getting in your calories, or macronutrients as you might think of them, is a need to run the engine, but what keeps all the parts working are the micronutrients. I am going to tell you 6 micronutrients that I think you should be looking for when buying long term storage food. So here is the rundown…
- Iron is what your body needs to create hemoglobin and neurotransmitters. Deficiencies affect your ability to think sharply and to get oxygen to the muscles.
- Look for Legumes like beans Lentils peas and soy to help keep your iron high
- Folate is the next one which is what helps regenerate cells. Your body is constantly killing off old cells and replacing them with new ones. If you stop the material that it uses to build new cells it doesn’t stop your body from cycling out the old ones anyway.
- Look for Folate in Legumes, Asparagus, Eggs, and Bananas.
- Zinc fights viruses and bacteria and to keep a healthy immune system.
- Look for it in meats, legumes, dairy, eggs, whole grains, and potatoes.
- Iodine is responsible for maintaining your thyroid which manages the hormones that affect your metabolism. Without Iodine your body will be less efficient at metabolizing the other micronutrients.
- Look for this in Dairy and Iodonized sodium. Yeah, not all salt is bad you actually need it.
- Magnesium supports muscle growth, your immune system, and balances your glucose.
- Eat Legumes, Whole Grains, and Bananas to get your needed amount.
- Vitamin A regenerates your eyes and replenishes skin.
- Is found in eggs, breakfast cereal, fortified milk, carrots, and broccoli.
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3. Paying for fillers
Now I just told you that legumes like beans, lentils, peas, and soy are great sources of so many micronutrients. But they are usually less expensive to buy locally at a store near you. They are freeze-drying a product that will last just dried for 20 years on its own. That is like putting a life jacket on a seal – it is already going to do what you want without it. Instead, just buy them locally and account for the calories, then when you make your purchase you can buy based on 1800 calories a day instead of 2000.
Too many people get scared at the cost of buying a year’s worth of food. Part of the sticker shock comes from not knowing how much they spend on food already and the other part is that they may be overestimating the amount they need to get started. After buying the staples locally (Grains, legumes, rice…), start to build your pantry with canning and jarring. Grow and jar your own food, and purchase just an extra can or two at the grocery store each trip until you have what you need, then rotate through it. Finally, purchase Freeze Dried Food to augment what you have and reduce the need for rotation.
Tip: Use a spreadsheet to understand how many calories you need for the number of people you are feeding. Account for the calories on hand as you start to put it together. I bet you will only be buying 1200-1600 calories per person per day. That will shave off 25% of the cost.
5. Understanding how long it lasts
In short, Freeze Dried Food is the only food that will last up to 25 years. There are very little supported studies that will back that up so when I hear “up to” 25 years, I only count on it for 20. Now you will see companies toting a 30-year taste guarantee. Well, they are just betting on the fact that either they or you won’t be there for that long. I will tell you that food will still deteriorate over time.
Don’t plan to just store it that long. You should be sampling it along the way. Work it into your regular meals. It is cheaper than some of the stuff you are eating each week anyway. Find the stuff you love to eat and buy more of that over time.
Here is the last thing you need to know and it’s a biggie. If it doesn’t say freeze-dried, then it is likely just dried. Just remember that dried foods in the best conditions last half the time that freeze-dried foods do with limited exceptions as I noted above. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy pancake mix from a vendor, it just means understand how long it is going to last and work your way through it accordingly
Be sure to let me know in the comments if you have made any other mistakes along the way that you want to pass on, or if you have any questions about Freeze-Dried Foods I am happy to answer them.
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* Author Note: Joe Borowski is the Dean of Self-Reliance at the National Self-Reliance Initiative and is also the VP of Innovations at Valley Foods Storage, helping to bring clean and tasteful foods into the Freeze-Dried world