Diced Green Chilies

These little cans pack so much flavor into a recipe to give it a southwestern style without a lot of heat. They are so small and so inexpensive. Plus I can make a variety of meals with them.

The last time I stocked up, when they were $.29 a piece, the checker honesty asked, “What are you going to do with all these cans of diced green chilies?” Instead of just laughing to myself, which is my normal reaction to these types of questions, I spouted off a list of almost ten recipes I make with my tiny little cans. I wasn’t trying to stop her short, but for some reason I wanted her to see that my 57 little cans were not going to just sit on my shelf, but be made into wonderful meals for my family.

I wondered, since then,  if I enticed her enough with my recipe list to go buy herself a few cans? Hopefully this weeks recipes may just entice you.

Where’s Your Beef?

Mine is in cans. Mostly because we moove a lot. (Sorry, brace yourself for bad cow humor!)

Growing up we had freezers full of beef, and since we lived in a cool climate, there was never much worry that the power would go out, and we’d lose our meat supply. Living in the South has changed that for me. The first hurricane I weathered (!), we lost everything in our freezer in about 2 days. Yikes! To further complicate the situation, our family moves what feels like constantly, and we don’t always have enough advance notice to eat through a freezer full of meat. Continue reading

Raisins

Raisins are very easy to store and even easier to rotate in my house.  I have dried my own, and I also buy them by the bagfuls.  We love them over hot rice and in cookies.  We love them as a snack and added to lunches.

Some people have warned me that they are worse for my children’s teeth than fruit snacks.  To those people I shrug my shoulders.  I believe in eating food the Lord gave us, and raisins are one of the easiest to pack, add and enjoy.  ”Bring on the Raisins!”

Don’t SCRAMBLE the eggs!

Egg powder is one of those food storage ingredients that scares me a little bit. I think it stems from the smell when you open the can. (Think Yellowstone Park and sulphur.) It may also have something to do with the day I tried to make them into scrambled eggs. They looked like scrambled eggs and didn’t smell too bad…but the taste…well, let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend using powdered eggs that way! My kids were in total revolt. Continue reading

Freeze Dried Shredded Cheese

Freeze Dried Cheese is by far my favorite choice when it comes to adding cheese to my family meals. This particular can cost me $25.00 when I purchased it during a group sale at Emergency Essentials. It had a measured 13 1/2 cups of freeze dried cheese inside. Since freeze dried cheese substitutes in any recipe cup for cup with fresh, this can will make 13 1/2 cups recipe-ready shredded cheese once it is reconstituted.Now let’s talk fresh for a minute. The local grocery store I shop at periodically has 8 oz. bags of shredded cheese or 8 oz. bricks of cheese on sale for $1.99. When it goes to this price I stock up my refrigerator, and usually don’t have to buy again until I find it on sale again. 8 oz. of fresh cheese is approximately 2 cups shredded. That makes fresh shredded cheese $1.00 a cup.
Now back to our freeze dried can.  At $25.00 a can, and 13 1/2 cups per can, I am paying a little less than twice as much as I pay for fresh. Why am I willing to pay that much for freeze dried? If I keep it stored in a cool dry place I can store it for up to 25 years. I can move it from house to house and I get by far the best results from freeze dried cheese. After it hydrates, it will melt and act very similar to fresh shredded cheese. It is easy to substitute in a recipe, and my family doesn’t ever notice I used “food storage.” So I buy once and store it away for that rainy day I pray will never really come. With this in mind $25.00 a can is not that outrageous. Remember, if you can buy it in a group during a group sale you only need to buy a can or two at a time until you have enough for your year supply.

Salmon

I love Canned Salmon! I buy the boneless, skinless varieties. These little cans pack a lot of nutrition into my food storage. They have protein, yes, but they also have a lot of the good Omega 3′s our bodies need. Best of all, I personally feel salmon is one of the least “fishy” tasting of the creatures that swim in the sea.

Jell-O a.k.a. Gelatin Powder

There is always room for Jell-O.  Didn’t Bill Cosby once say that?  Well, there is always room for Jell-O in my food storage.  A Jell-o salad can sweeten up or round off any “canned” meal, and it takes up so little space to store.  There are the conventional boxes we get at grocery stores, or you can buy it in #10 cans.  I have never found sugar free Jell-o in a #10 can, but maybe all those artifical sweeteners aren’t so great anyhow.

Most of us can turn a box of Jell-O into some form of salad for lunch or dinner, so this week I thought I would post some recipes that show different ways to use all those little boxes lined up on your shelf to add a sweet variety to your foods.

This Week’s Ingredient? Spaghetti Sauce…

Pre-made spaghetti sauce…it’s a luxury item, true, but one I choose not to live without! I used to make all of my sauces from scratch (and still do occasionally). But since several of our favorites use this ingredient, it’s easy for me to rotate it, and I love the added convenience.

The first few times I bought sauce from the store, I shelled out the big bucks for the fancy brands. It should taste better if it’s more expensive, right? On a whim, I bought a case of cheap spaghetti sauce — because it was cheap. I figured if it was nasty, we could doctor it into something edible. Imagine my surprise when I realized that my 20 cent cans of spaghetti sauce tasted exactly like the more expensive brand I’d been buying! For me, it’s the flavor that makes all the difference. I don’t care for traditional or meat flavor in any brand. Our favorite? Four cheese…of whatever brand is the cheapest. –Mellyn

Continue reading

Popcorn

This week I will be working with popcorn. But I will not be popping up any sweet and salty movie snacks. Actually, I store popcorn so I can make my own freshly ground CORNMEAL. That’s right. The best way to store cornmeal for long-term storage is to store it in popcorn form. Then grind it as you need it. Popcorn can be purchased and stored in #10 cans, as well as large sealed buckets. I try to grind this as I need it for the freshest tasting cornmeal products, but grinding a little to keep on hand works well, too.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal: It’s what’s for breakfast at my house. I was raised eating many forms of hot cereal, and my kids are no different. Oatmeal is their number one choice, and I am grateful for that. Oatmeal is much less expensive than store-bought cold cereal, and it fills their tummies really well. I mix and add in many things to our breakfast bowls depending on what is in my kitchen, but I also use oatmeal in baked goods. Storing Oatmeal is pretty easy. The LDS church canneries, recommend using it within 5 years if stored in their #10 cans. I also like to store mine in large 6-gallon buckets with mylar bag liners sealed with oxygen absorbers in them, also known to some as “Super Pails.” I store in this form because when I use 3 cups each morning, #10 cans don’t last me a week. However you choose to store this pantry favorite, this week’s recipes will help you eat it!

Rice

When it comes to storing Rice, choose White. Although Brown Rice is better for us nutritionally, its natural oils make it unsuitable for long term storage. I must admit I have personally placed brown rice in sealed #10 cans with oxygen absorbers and have had it stay good for up to 2 years, BUT I worried the whole time about it. So now I just store white rice and use brown rice on a short term daily basis. Many things can be prepared with or served over rice, but I think my favorite way to eat it will always be in my breakfast bowl. Cooked and hot with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins sprinkled on top!

Chicken Info

Chicken comes in a variety of forms that are suitable for food storage. If you live in an area without a hen-pecking HOA, perhaps you raise your own chicken! Other folks I know stock up when it’s on sale for a good price and fill their freezer. If you’re freezing your supply, make sure you consider what you’ll do if the power goes out –unless you live in the Arctic, you ought to consider a generator and the gas to keep it running.

Pressure canning for later use is another option. I have several friends who do this regularly and insist that it’s the most delicious and economical way to store chicken. They say it’s easy, too, but I’m still learning about pressure canners, and to be honest, they scare me a little! There are multiple YouTube videos with instructions, if you’d like to see it done before you actually try it.

Emergency Essentials carries freeze-dried chicken, as well. After hydrating, you have chunks of cooked chicken that look, smell and taste just like the real thing. I found it a tad salty, but definitely a useable alternative. It retails for $42.95/can at Emergency Essentials, and the price drops to $41/can if you order 6 or more. Depending on who you ask, it should last 20-30 years stored at room temperature and even longer if stored at a cooler temperature. Remember to store extra water, though. When you’re using freeze-dried products, unless you plan to eat them in their “styrofoam” state, you’ll need to plan for extra water to rehydrate them!

Pleasant Hill Grain also carries a canned chicken that has phenomenal flavor, according to my friend, Carrie. (Sorry, trying it IS on my list, but these cross-country moves have been crimping my try-it-out plans!) Since it’s cold packed with only chicken and salt, it doesn’t have a lot of the additives found in other products, and it boasts a minimum shelf life of 5 years –with some testimonials claiming it’ll last nearly 20! It costs a little more than canned chicken you can purchase at a grocery store (currently around $5.40/can (if you buy enough to qualify for free shipping), but the longer shelf life and improved taste may be worth the extra cost.

Currently, I buy my food storage chicken at Costco. For a little more than $2/can, I have it cooked and ready when I need it. Do we eat canned chicken all the time? Nope. I rotate it by making the recipes I’ll share with you this week as my cans get close to expiration. The rest of the time I buy and use fresh or frozen.

Tempting Table Cream

 

I discovered table cream when our family lived in Southern Florida. One of my dear friends made the most delicious soup, and when I asked her for the recipe and she mentioned table cream, I just looked at her blankly. Basically, table cream is cream in a can! The thought just floored me! Canned cream opened up a whole range of recipes that I had considered off limits for my food storage. This week I’m going to share a few of my favorites with you.

Depending on where you live, buying table cream can be as easy as going down to your local grocery store or Super WalMart. At WalMart it’s usually in the Ethnic Foods section and a couple of weeks ago it cost $1.39/can. However, if you live in an area that doesn’t carry it, Amazon does. At $2.33/can, it’s kind of pricey, but in my opinion worth it! I also found it at Netrition.com for about $2/can with shipping.

Table cream is one of those food storage luxuries. Could we get along without it? Probably. But it adds another layer of variety to what we store that takes our food storage from ordinary to extraordinary!

 

White Flour

We have talked a lot about wheat and beans and the value they bring to the nutrition of your table.They are a big part of what will store for many years and what we are all learning to cook with. However, when we are planning our food storage it is important to keep in mind the traditional foods your family loves. If I get into a situation that makes it necessary to eat nothing but food storage, I will probably have a lot of extra stress and things may not be “normal” in my house.

My kids seem to understand when there is extra stress and they are not usually too keen on change. My goal is to have enough “normal” things in my food storage to keep the house as normal as possible. I go through about 75 pounds of white flour a year just baking our special holiday things. If I constantly have my 75 pounds in a couple buckets in my pantry and I keep it rotated and stocked, then come what may, we can have our normal through the holidays and special events. There is nothing wrong with storing some white flour for some of your baking. It won’t last 20 years, but with the way we eat it, it never needs to!

Got Powdered Milk?

This title is not at all original, but it is pretty much to the point.  Do you have milk in your food storage?  I’m not going to bother to try to convince you that you need to have milk in your diet.  If the ever popular “Got Milk” campain has not convinced you, I probably never will.  What I would like to do is offer you some information on the powdered milk you may be trying to store and give you some ideas on how to use, rotate and enjoy it! Continue reading

The Controversial Tomato

What do you call a fruit that does the job of a vegetable? My children have designated them “vuits.” And the most common one in our house is the tomato.

Poking around on the net, I found that the tomato has been causing controversy for centuries! Who knew? They look so innocent. According to Wikipedia, the tomato originated in Peru in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Britain and North America, however, the plant took a while to catch on since it had a reputation to overcome. A member of the nightshade family (along with potatoes, eggplant and several other commonly used substances and spices) plants in this family often contain alkaloids, which are used in medicines, but can also be toxic. Folks in these countries thought tomatoes were poisonous until the 1800s.

This vuit’s status – vegetable or fruit?? – has even had legal implications in the United States. While botanically it’s a fruit, an 1887 tariff that imposed a tax on vegetables (but not fruits) took the question to court. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it a veggie, since it was more commonly served with dinner, than as a dessert!

Today tomatoes are used around the world and are praised for their nutrients. Vitamins A, C, B, K and E are found in tomatoes. In addition to calcium and iron, they’re also chock full of lycopene, which some studies show reduces the risk of cancer, lowers the risk of heart disease and helps prevent eye disease. In addition, they’re loaded with potassium and are low calorie and low fat. I consider them an essential part of my food storage plan—not just because they add a ton of flavor and variety to what I can serve, but also because they offer a lot of nutritional bang for my buck!

But they’re still surrounded by controversy. In 2006 a salmonella outbreak was linked to fresh tomatoes. And currently, it’s not the tomato itself, but the packaging that’s causing concern. Tomatoes are most often sold in cans – metal cans that have been coated with a compound called BPA. Used to keep the acid in tomatoes from eating through the can, science is spending a lot of dollars to determine how much BPA ends up in your tomatoes and how detrimental it is to your health. Meanwhile, can manufacturers are working to develop BPA-free cans.

Opinions vary on the dangers of BPA in canned tomatoes – everything from “I’ll-never-eat-another-canned-tomato-again” to “soda-is-much-worse-for-you-than-the-miniscule-amount-of-BPA-in-canned-tomatoes.” There are pros and cons for each side that you’ll have to weigh for your own family as you build your storage. Currently I store cans of tomatoes, but I’m not opposed to other options if they’ll last on my shelf, and they aren’t ridiculously expensive.

One solution is to can your own tomatoes or purchase only tomato products sold in glass jars. Another is the boxed tomatoes available from Pomi. At $2-$3/26-ounce box, they’re more expensive than cans, but the flavor is supposed to be fantastic! I was unable to find anywhere that gave the shelf life of boxed tomatoes, but I plan to order some and see for myself…

 

Turkey Time!

This week is all about TURKEY.  We felt it fitting to focus our recipes on this wonderful ingredient in light of the fact that this week is Thanksgiving!  Adding meats to your food storage is one of the most expensive hurdles.  Not only do we have to find the money in our budgets, but what do we cook with shelf-stable meats?  Once we have a couple recipes that use it, it’s easier to justify the cost.  Proteins are important and since not everyone loves tuna, canned turkey can be a great option. 

With each of these recipes I have tried to include a measured amount of diced, cooked turkey that could be used instead of canned.  This is meant to give you the opportunity to try the recipes using leftover turkey if you like.  Hopefully you’ll get a feel for the tastes of the dish and the reception you may receive from your family if you choose to store it.

 

An Apple A Day

This is more than an old saying in our house.  We eat apples.  They come in so many different food storable forms.  There is apple juice, apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie filling. . . the list goes on.  This week I am going to focus my recipes on meals you can make with Dried Apple Slices.  These can be made yourself out of fresh apples with a dehydrator, or can be purchased in many kinds of packaging.  One very popular to the LDS community is the #10 can of dried apple slices found at all Dry Pack Family Canneries.  Whether I make my own or pop open a can,  apple slices add vitamin C and smiles to all of my children’s diets.