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Food Storage

  • Keep Your Nutrition Stored for the Long Term

    It’s a brand new year, and time for the customary list of New Year’s resolutions. Raise your hand if you have “lose weight” as a New Year’s resolution … again? (I won’t mention how many years it’s been on my list.)

    Last week, U.S. News and World Report ranked 38 popular diet plans. All of the best plans had one thing in common: an emphasis on fruit and vegetables.

    veggies nutrition

    “People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body,” says choosemyplate.gov, a U.S. Department of Agriculture site to promote healthy, nutrition-rich eating.

    Let’s call it how it is: fresh food is almost always better for you. However, what if you’re in a survival situation where fresh food is hard to come by? Or, what if you want the convenience of pre-packaged foods without all the additives? Freeze-dried foods and canned foods can help fill those needs.

    For example, let’s take this recipe, from the Mayo Clinic, for the DASH diet and the Mayo Clinic diet. The DASH diet was ranked the best by U.S. News and World Report experts. The Mayo Clinic diet was ranked fourth. By the way, I’m not promoting any diet plan. How can I promote something I can’t stay on?

    Here’s the original recipe:


    shepherdspie3col nutritionShepherd's Pie

    By Mayo Clinic Staff

    Serves 6


    2 medium russet potatoes, cut into nickel-sized cubes

    1 teaspoon olive oil

    1/2 cup chopped onions

    1/2 cup chopped carrots

    1 pound lean ground beef

    1/2 pound ground turkey breast

    1 tablespoon tomato paste

    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    2 cups chicken stock

    1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

    1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

    1 cup skim milk

    1 tablespoon butter

    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


    Heat the oven to 400 F. Place the potatoes in a medium pot with water and bring to a boil.

    While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil over medium heat. Sautee the onions and carrots until tender. Add the beef and turkey. Break apart the meat and stir frequently. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, add the tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the stock and cook for 10 minutes; stir in the peas and corn. Cook the mixture down until most of the stock is absorbed; place the mixture in a casserole dish.

    When potatoes are soft, drain off the water. Then return potatoes to the pot over medium heat. Add the milk, butter and salt. Using an electric mixer or potato masher, mash the potatoes to a smooth consistency. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the meat mixture and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown around the edges. Serve hot.


    Now, let’s say you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to chop up onions, potatoes and carrots. You’re just mashing the potatoes. Instant mashed potatoes might be the fastest substitute, because they contain milk, salt, pepper, and butter flavor. If you don’t like the additives, consider using freeze-dried potatoes, which contain salt. Other food storage-based options include rinsed canned potatoes.

    To save more time, use freeze-dried onions, and carrots, which are already cut.

    Nearly all the ingredients in this recipe can be kept on shelves in food storage. So even if you’re, say, in a tough period and need to use food storage, you still have healthy food.

    Potatoes contain potassium, and diets with a lot of potassium may help keep healthy blood pressure, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.

    In addition to giving strong flavor, one onion has only 63 calories, and provides up to 20 percent of daily requirement of vitamin C, according to WebMD.

    One carrot provides 200 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, according to WebMD.

    According to WebMD, a ¾ cup serving of peas has more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter, less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.

    Now, a caveat to replacing fresh food with preserved. When you buy food for storage, check the labels. A lot of canned and dried foods have added salt and sugar. If you use something like beans canned with salt, rinse them well first.


    Blog Image nutrition

  • Freeze-Dried Food as a Mainstream Meal Option

    Last week stank. One daughter had her tonsils removed Monday. All of the rest of my family – including me – were suffering through nasty colds. And my husband’s been out of town. I could barely leave the house.

    To feed my family, I relied on food storage, especially products like freeze-dried beef stew and freeze-dried vegetables that were fast and easy to cook.

    This TV news story, from a Houston ABC affiliate, said freeze-dried food isn’t just for natural disasters or astronauts anymore.  It’s also showing up in everyday cooking, as people discover that freeze-dried foods are convenient and save money.

    Preparing a freeze-dried meal takes less time than going out to a restaurant or ordering something in. It also costs less than a restaurant meal – even a fast-food one.

    beef-stroganoff Mainstream Beef Stroganoff

    It’s fast. Add boiling water to a freeze-dried meal pouch, stir a couple of times, and 10 minutes later, dinner’s ready. As more people have discovered freeze-dried foods, the variety of food available has increased too.

    "Basically, anything that you would normally cook can be freeze dried," Alissa Rumsey, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told ABC 13.

    Or, if you’re Misty Marsh from the ABC 13 news story, combine ingredients from separate cans of freeze-dried meat and vegetables to make a quick soup.

    Freeze-dried ingredients are already washed and cut, so you don’t have to do it yourself. I’ve tossed reconstituted freeze-dried hash browns into a recipe that called for potatoes. I’ve done the same for freeze-dried corn.

    Like other prepared foods, freeze-dried food is more expensive than canned or fresh food. However, it can still reduce your food budget, not just your dining-out budget.

    American families throw away about a quarter of the food and drinks they buy, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That costs a family of four an estimated $1,365 to $2,275 annually.

    The NRDC attributes much of this loss to factors like poor planning, spoiling and waste from past sell-buy dates.

    Freeze-dried food can help with all these issues.

    chicken-teriyaki Mainstream Chicken Teriyaki

    You should be rotating food storage anyway. So, plan meals using food storage items, then replace them as they get used up. This will help reduce the hit to the wallet from food waste. It will also allow you to spread out food storage shopping throughout the year, so you can buy items when they’re on sale, instead of when you run out.

    Have you ever lost a zucchini or bunch of spinach in the refrigerator? And discovered it three weeks later, a soggy, mildewed blob?

    Freeze-dried vegetables and fruit last longer, so they’re less likely to spoil than fresh ones. If you’re keeping more of the food you buy, because it doesn’t spoil, you’re saving money.

    Freeze-dried food has a much longer shelf life than canned or frozen food – 25 years and more, if left unopened. I recently cleaned out my food storage and removed some really out-of-date cans. (2013, anyone?) What a waste of food and money. I could have bought freeze-dried food that would still be good.

    Freeze-dried foods take some practice. The first time I tried tossing reconstituted freeze-dried hash browns into a casserole, they came out soggy. I learned if I fry them just a bit before I toss them in, they hold together more like fresh potatoes. Also, different brands have slightly different flavors. So experiment. In the long run, you’ll save time and money.


    Blog Image

  • Transform Your Food Storage Staples Into Gourmet Goodness (Plus Recipes)

    Whipped topping from beans. Tortillas and egg roll wrappers from flour. Yogurt and “Hamburger Helping Mix” from powdered milk.

    I love to stock food storage staples this time of year. Thanks to the holidays, and holiday bakers, stores everywhere have sales on beans, flour, milk and other baking staples.

    These staples are incredibly versatile, and they’ve saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years. The internet is awash in do-it-yourself recipes to turn these basic ingredients into other pantry items, meals, and mixes. Some of my favorite sites are allrecipes.com, food.com, budget101.com and the Utah State University extension service.


    black-beans-large-can Food Storage StaplesBeans

    Beans are undergoing a renaissance in the food substitution world. They add protein and fiber, and replace some of the fat. I’ve found recipes for black beans in brownies, and I recently ran across this recipe for making whipped topping out of bean liquid. Seriously.

    To grow some quick veggies, try sprouting dry beans.

    I’ve enjoyed this recipe for black bean veggie burgers that uses food storage ingredients, adapted from a recipe at allrecipes.com.


    Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers


    1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained, rinsed and dried

    1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces, or equivalent dried green bell peppers

    1 1/2 tablespoons dried minced onion

    ¾ teaspoon garlic powder

    1 egg

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1 tablespoon cumin

    1 teaspoon hot sauce

    ¾ cup rolled oats


    If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and spray cooking spray on a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), put aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, and spray foil with cooking spray. Put waxed paper on a cookie sheet and spray it with cooking spray.

    In a food processor, mix together bell peppers, dried minced onion and garlic powder. Add rolled oats and process.

    In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce. Add to mix in food processor and process.  Add black beans and puree. The mixture should be sticky and hold together.

    Divide mixture into four to five patties on the waxed paper cookie sheet. Freeze for at least a half hour.

    Put the frozen patties on foil if grilling, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on foil-lined baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.



    wheat-grinder-and-wheat Food Storage StaplesFlour’s not just for bread and desserts. (Though, offhand, I can’t think of a better use for it.)

    I’ve made homemade biscuit mix for biscuits, pancakes, waffles and anything else that calls for store-bought biscuit mix. I don’t buy boxes of brownie mix. My favorite homemade brownie mix recipe is in the Make-A-Mix cookbook, but many others are online.

    For healthier recipes, substitute whole wheat flour for part of the white flour. You can even grind your own.

    I’ve made noodles, egg roll wrappers, and my favorite, tortillas.

    You know the frozen rolls that you thaw and cook? They’re surprisingly easy to make.


    Homemade Frozen Rolls


    Ingredients for any bread or roll recipe


    Spray a large baking dish and enough plastic wrap to cover it with cooking spray.

    Follow the directions for your bread or roll recipe through the first rising. Make sure you don’t let it over-rise. Punch down the dough, then divide it into balls – larger for larger rolls, small for smaller ones.

    Put the balls into the baking dish, cover with greased plastic wrap and freeze. When they’re frozen, remove and store in a plastic bag in the freezer.

    To use, thaw on a baking dish covered with greased plastic wrap or on the defrost setting in the microwave, then bake or cook them just like frozen rolls. I use them for rolls, pizzas, flatbread, calzones, etc.


    Powdered milk

    fortified-dry-milk-superpail Food Storage StaplesI grew up drinking powdered milk. I loathe the stuff with an unmitigated passion. However, I keep it around because it’s quite useful in cooking. The Utah State University extension service has a pamphlet that teaches, among other things, how to substitute dry milk for regular milk in recipes.

    I also use it to make evaporated milk, and even crock pot yogurt.

    It’s useful in mixes, too. I make and keep a jar of this “Hamburger Helping Mix” for quick meals.

    The main disadvantage to storing and using pantry staples is time: making food from scratch takes longer.  If you can find the time to make mixes beforehand, though, and get kids involved, it doesn’t take that much longer. And the versatility and cost savings of the staples make them well worth buying.



    Freeze-Dried Food Image Food Storage Staples

    Freeze-Dried Vegetable Chef Combo Giveaway

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