Once I set up my Baker’s Rack, I organized a system of whole foods in buckets. I set up 32 white square buckets that are labeled clearly so that refilling my kitchen containers is efficient and fast. I prefer square buckets to round because they are easier to put into tight storage areas or configure into tables or benches. The round buckets are far too heavy for me to lift. Square buckets hold exactly 25 lbs of wheat or beans. The round buckets are 5 gallons or 6 gallons which brings the weight up to 37 lbs or 45 lbs. Eight square buckets make the perfect table shape when I top it off with a 24×24 inch cutting board or flooring tile.
The price of food has been on a steady incline of about 25% per year. Where else can I invest my money and get that kind of return? Even if someone didn’t have preparedness goals, it couldn’t hurt to set up a store of whole foods for investment purposes if nothing else. It will get eaten eventually.
Just like buying toilet paper, how much is too much? Will there ever come a time when it won’t be put to good use? If you know for sure that you are buying consumables that you will use eventually, there should be no fear in buying these items in large amounts to get the best bulk pricing. The only question is where will you store it?
Buckets protect your food from rodents, bugs and water damage. For this reason, when I buy a bulk bag of 25 pounds or more, I buy a bucket too. You will need one 4-gallon bucket for each 25 lb bag of grains or legumes. Eight or 12 buckets stacked together make a nice corner table that you can put a tablecloth over and use the top surface for a lamp or flower arrangement, a small appliance or a television set. Buckets must be indoors in a climate controlled environment. They have to have airspace under them and can’t be directly on a cement basement floor. Look for furniture risers to put under each bucket.
Each bucket must be clearly labeled so that you don’t have to take a whole table apart and open up buckets to find what you are looking for. I have labels for every item that is listed on the ingredients list. This constitutes the Bulk System. The labels help to organize my purchases. I made 12 labels that say “wheat”. When I finished using up those labels, I knew I had my one-year supply. In some cases I bought the bucket and had it labeled before I bought the food to go in it. This way I can move them around and try different configurations while they are empty and easy to move.
Planning a One-Year Supply
My Whole Foods Kitchen cookbook includes My Rotating Menu that always remains the same so that we are able to store large amounts of these foods without fear that they will go to waste.
Plan how much to buy using the Conversion Table on the inside back cover. The first step is to follow the rotating weekly menu and stick to it so that you can plan with confidence what you will need for the year. For instance, if you plan to have chili once a week and really do stick to it, you will need one 4-gallon bucket of red beans in your home storage. Every recipe in this cookbook has been developed for easy calculations. The bean recipes all start with 1 cup of dry beans. The bread recipes and dry mixes all start with 10 cups of flour. To use the mixes you start with one cup of mix at a time and add water until you get familiar with how many cups are required to make one meal for your entire family. If one cup is enough waffle mix, for example, to make waffles for everyone in the family, and you use the mix twice a week, then it will be easy to calculate how much mix you will need per week, per month and per year.
EXAMPLE: CHILI ONCE A WEEK FOR ONE YEAR
The chili recipe in this cookbook calls for one cup of red beans.
Multiplied by 52 weeks in a year = 52 cups of red beans.
The chart above says that a 4-gallon bucket is 64 cups—more than enough.
Using the chili example above, you might start with one meal and then branch out from there. Collect all of the ingredients for chili for the year and plan to serve chili once a week. How much chili powder will you need for 52 batches of chili for your family? You will need six and a half cups. How did I come to that amount?
1) Each batch of chili calls for 2T of chili powder
2) 52 weeks times 2T = 104T of chili powder
3) The chart above says that 16T = one cup
4) 104 divided by 16 = 6.50 cups of chili powder
Continue through all of the ingredients for chili and buy this amount of each ingredient. You now have a one year supply of chili if you plan to serve chili once a week.
DRIED VS FREEZE DRIED VEGETABLES
Many people have stored large amounts of dried vegetables that store very well for long periods of time but do not reconstitute well. They take long hours to cook and never achieve the texture that you hope for. The dehydrating process also causes much of the color and taste to be lost. I for one bought a 50 lb bag of potato shreds knowing that my family loves hash browns, only to find out that no matter how long you soak or cook them they never reconstitute enough to cook them in oil. They do not keep the integrity of the cell structure and become hard as a rock the moment you attempt to brown them. Some brands are better than others, but I have not found any yet that I would recommend. Carrots, corn and peas dehydrate and become so hard that you can not eat them until they have boiled for several hours.
Dried onions, garlic and bell peppers on the other hand, are fantastic to work with. They keep their flavor and reconstitute almost immediately. You can toss them into just about any recipe and they enhance the meal.
Freeze dried corn and peas are a miracle. They keep their color and don’t shrivel at all. They reconstitute quickly and can even be eaten as a crispy snack without reconstituting them.
After working with all of the varieties of dried and freeze dried vegetables I have chosen to store a specific list of freeze dried vegetables and a specific list of dehydrated vegetables. You can take my word for it and follow my list. You can also invest in a small amount of each vegetable (like one can) and then take the time to cook with them yourself to make your own list.
I myself have decided to set all my dehydrated veggies aside for a time when I may need to feed a large number of hungry people. A wonderful soup or stew will go a long way to satisfy hunger and comfort those without food. I have multiplied a few recipes so that I can use up these foods for feeding large groups of people.