When storing food over the long-term, there are four items that are considered to be the bare necessities. These basics provide a foundation for anything you might want to eat. Even alone, without any other foods, these four can keep you alive (though probably bored beyond belief with your diet.)
The Big 4 are whole wheat, powdered milk, honey and salt. We’ll talk in more detail about each of these over the next week, but for right now we’ll cover the general reasoning behind making these four foods the backbone of your long term storage plan.
- Wheat has been called the Staff of Life. It provides the foundation for a huge number of humanity’s most basic foods, such as bread, hot and cold cereals, pasta and crackers. It contains protein, fats and (of course) carbohydrates, provides fiber, and is an excellent source of nutrients such as niacin.
- Milk is a huge part of the western diet. We use it in our cooking to add protein and tenderness to bread. We drink it. We make cheese and yogurt and ice cream from it. Wildly versatile, it is used in every type of dish from the savory to the sweet. Besides protein, it is an excellent source of calcium.
- With salt, a little goes a long way, but it is by no means something to banish entirely from your diet. Granted, we don’t need very much, but a certain amount is essential to your health. Not to mention it does wonderful things to enhance the flavor of the food we eat. It’s also an important chemical in the process of food production. Forget the salt when you’re making bread and you won’t just have a bland loaf, you’ll have a sticky, gooey mass of overgrown bread dough overflowing the container you put it in to rise.
- Honey is delicious all right, but why not just store sugar? Well, while both honey and sugar offer delight to the tongue and energy for our weary muscles, honey has the advantage of providing several nutrients. Sugar, especially refined white sugar, doesn’t offer anything besides calories, and while carbohydrates are important part of any food storage plan, it’s probably best to be space-smart and make sure everything you store does double-duty.
Obviously these four items aren’t going to work for everyone. For instance, I don’t store much dry milk, because most of my family doesn’t tolerate dairy well. You might have wheat allergies in your family, or maybe you’re from a culture where rice, not wheat, is the foundation grain of your diet. We’ll talk about all of this in the weeks to come and how to perfect a food storage system tailored to your family’s needs.