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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Eating low on the food chain

Food's going up in price, what can you do? Eat low on the food chain. Rice, wheat, and beans, that's your food foundation. The western diet has a lot more meat in it, but it's not necessary for good health. To the basics, add some fat. I'm fond of those big gallon cans of olive oil. Use it on a regular basis and stock rotation keeps it from going bad.

Starches, protein, and fat. That'll keep you going a long time. It's the foundation of many an emergency food storage plan. Many people make the mistake of buying those inexpensive stables and the checking off little box in their emergency preps next to food. Then, on a day to day basis, they never eat that food.

That's a big mistake. Get used to eating your stored food now, before that's all you have. Learn how to make tasty meals from basic ingredients. Save money at the same time. Most of us save things like rice and beans because they store well and are cheap. Don't just store them, eat them.
One of the things you discover is holes in your preps. Take a simple bag of assorted beans sold as a soup mix. It's just a bag of 15 types of beans. Now you could cook them in a pressure cooker or crock pot and make something edible. Add rice, and now it's a bean and rice soup -and also a more complete protein. Fine, but that's still boring as can be. Throw in a can of tomato paste, an onion and a few spices, and then it's a darn yummy meal. It's something that you'd look forward to eating on a regular basis.

Then it occurs to you. Perhaps some tomato ingredients should be stored with your preps. Onions don't keep forever, but dehydrated onions do. If you are from the south, better store up some bottles of your favorite hot sauce. These things might not occur to someone who doesn't make meals from their stored food.

Baking bread from whole wheat berries takes practice. My loaves still come out a bit on the heavy side unless I cut them with a little white flour. (So I keep some in stock) . Pancakes, waffles, bagels, and dinner rolls I've got down cold. I also have all the baking supplies to make a variety of pastry goods. Now it's possible to soak wheat berries overnight and cook them up like porridge. How long do you think it'd take before that got boring? Sure, it'd keep you alive -if you could keep shoveling it down. To me, it's not quite as tasty as wall paper paste. I'd much rather be able to grind up a nice light pastry flour and make a whole wheat cinnamon bun.

The basic ingredients are cheap and store well. The addition of spices and a sprinkling of other foods transform survival food into good eating. It might be low on the food chain, but as long as it's high on taste, so what? I'd much rather have a well prepared beans and rice dish than a poorly prepared steak.

Use what's available. If you have a garden, learn to combine your fresh veggies with your stored food. If nothing else, you could take your basic beans and rice dish, add a bunch of veggies, and roll the whole thing in a wrap. It's easy. Making a soup? That's a great place for those garden veggies, or even wild gathered plants. Edible weeds pop up long before my cultivated plants do. They find a place in my dishes.

Now some people say they don't have the time to cook that way. It seems a man could starve to death waiting for a bag of dried beans to be turned into something edible. It certainly helps if you can plan. If you know you'll be around to cook a meal on Saturday, remember to soak the beans Friday. What? Forget again? No problem. I like to keep a few cans of already cooked black beans around. That way, I can whip a beans and rice dish together in a half hour if I have to. Sure, the beans are a bit more expensive in the can, but still a whole lot cheaper than most everything else.

I like to prepare a pound of beans at a time, cook them, and freeze the remainder in small containers. That way, it's easy to cook something at the last minute.

When times are tight, it's good to be able to eat from your preps. Then when you grocery shop, it's for a lot fewer items as your basic food needs are covered. You shop for things to augment what you've already got. If you do buy meat, you can use a lot less and not feel deprived. Instead of everyone getting a steak, you might buy one and use it in a stir fry.

This is all pretty basic stuff. There are benefits you might not have thought of before. They do weird things to meats these days: meat glue, pink slime, hormones, preservatives, and who knows what else? Now we have radiation to worry about. Radioactive compounds, like many other toxic materials, gets bio accumulated. A plant might have a tiny amount, but that amount gets concentrated when it's fed to an animal. Don't eat the animal and you only get tiny toxin exposure from eating veggies. Better yet, I know all my stored food was harvested before the disasters at the nuke plants in Japan.

Learn to eat low on the food chain. It's low in price and low in toxins.



  1. Everything you just said makes perfect sense to me and, in fact, that's pretty much how I eat every day!

    Good thing for me I like beans and rice! Heck, I am one of those few that even like fried Spam!

    In my book, simple is always better!

  2. If I go a week without eating some variation of beans and rice I feel I've missed the best meal of the week! I've notice too, that the simple meals are the most satisfying and there's less packaging in the recycle bin.

  3. check out this blog from a friend of mine. Rice and beans for a month. yum yum!

  4. Hermit: Don't you have all that great Tex Mex where you are?

    Treesong: It's satisfying somehow. I like the low packaging waste too.

    Leane: Good web site. Thanks. There's some great dishs out there, which is why I didn't go too deeply into it in this post.

  5. you could try meal worms or eartyhworms as a protien source too..


  6. Tex-Mex is a lot of heavy, greasy stuff for the most part. But it is gooood.... Real Mexican food is a lot like what you described...

    I eat like that a lot more nowadays. I can probably count the number of steaks I eat in a year on one hand. We use a lot of hamburger though, one pound split amongst the four of us in some sort of rice/veggie meal, spaghetti or something. Tacos are always a hit. Or shepherd's pie...

  7. i like the comment on beware what goes in meat from the store. This is not a knock on aldi,s grocery but last fall i bought a large pack of hamburger there and we ate about 4 lbs of it somehow what was left got pushed to the back of the shelf under yhe drawer where we keep our cheese and lunch meat Well 3 weeks later almost 4 I find it.didnt smell was a bright red looked fine.THAT AINT NATURAL i love shoping that store but no more hamburger from there.

  8. Almost everything we eat is made from basic ingredients, So that's the bulk of what we store. We don't really store too many 'finished foods' at all. My wife is a genius at making completly different dishes from the same basics. We do stay well stocked on herbs and spices.