Monday, December 26, 2011

The basic four foods

I was reading an article the other day (can't tell you where because I can't remember) and it talked about how much food you should be storing for a year.  I remember it was a LDS article because it was heavy into storing wheat.  The article stated that 400 pounds of wheat should be stored for one person for a year.  That's a lot of wheat, but I think this amount was recommended when the storage program meant the basic four: wheat, powdered milk, honey, and salt.  Otherwise, if you store other food then you wouldn't need that much wheat.  

Nevertheless, the article went with the 400 pounds and how much space that takes up.  If you buy from the feed store in 50 pound bags then it's 8 bags.  If you put the wheat into 5 gallon buckets, each bucket holds about 25 pounds.  This means 16 - 5 gallon buckets for wheat for one person.  As I said, for me, a years worth of food isn't 400 pounds of wheat. But it did get me to thinking about my "years" worth of food that I think I have.  Do I really?  Stored in the home store room, doubt it.  If I include fresh food from the garden, the fifty fruit trees, the eggs and chickens, and the sheep, then yes we have a years worth of food "stored".  If all I'm doing is counting 5 gallon buckets, then no.

Back to the basic four.  My first three books on food storage and cheap eating were 1. Eat Well on a Dollar a Day by Bill and Ruth Kaysing, 2. Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens, and 3. Esther Dickeys Passport to Survival.  I picked these three books up when I was in college way back in the 70s.  It's Passport to Survival that emphasizes the "survival four and forty more". 

The grocery store filled with 30,000 or so items can be pared down to your favorite 25 or 50 or 100 items.  Make a list of your priorities and your food storage program will be much easier to manage.  In Esther's case she listed them as follows:
Group 1.  Wheat, powdered milk, honey, salt
Group 2. Peanut butter, tomato juice, vitamin pills
Group 3. Soybeans, lentils, dried green peas, millet, yellow corn, molasses, brown rice, yeast, vegetable powders
Group 4. Canned meat, figs, rye, sauerkraut, canned tomatoes, white rice
Group 5. Dried fruit, vegetable oil, evaporated milk, raisins, string beans

While I don't agree with everything in each of her lists, I do like the concept.  Not that I would want to live on group one alone, but for under $150 I could buy a years worth of food.  That's cheap insurance.  I think I'm going to buy more wheat.  It's under $25 for 100 pounds of recleaned wheat from the feed store.  If you don't want to get it that way, for about $60 you can get 100 pounds of wheat from the grocery store.  When I buy it I put it into the freezer for a week to kill off any bug or moths.  Then I can put it into buckets. 

After you have the basic life sustaining food in the first group then start adding to group two, then three, then four, etc.  Your groups of food don't have to match, of course, but if you start off with group one no matter what happens tomorrow or the next day you will be prepared.  It won't be a fun, variety filled diet, but you will not starve.  In my group one I have honey but also white sugar.  In my group two I have pasta and also spaghetti sauce.  I have buckets of pasta and about 100 cans of spaghetti sauce.  I also know how to make, and do make, pasta from scratch.  Spaghetti sauce is also something that can easily be produced from the home garden.  But still, these two items are in my number two group.

Back to wheat.  Esther's book gives 110 recipes to make using the basic four items.  It was probably close to 30 years ago when a friend of mine and I tried our hand at making all the recipes.  She had more time than I and made almost everything.  I think I made about 10 things.  It's hard to live on the basic four when you have a pantry full of other food and a garden full of fresh food.  It takes more work to make the food from scratch, and some things you have to start the night before but learning to make some recipes from the basic four would be a good skill.  I know I can make a great loaf of bread using those basic items.  I can also sprout wheat.  I'll soak it and cook up a pot of wheat for breakfast.  Oats are my favorite but wheat is good with honey.


  1. What is vegetable powder?

  2. Vegetable powder can be made from dried green leafy vegetables or other vegetables that you dry then grind or crush into a powder. You can add them to soups, casseroles, or anything.

  3. Ah... store what you eat, eat what you store.

    Don't eat wheat, powdered milk, honey (much, do eat salt). Don't eat peanut butter, soy beans, tomato juice, lentils, dried green beans, millet, yellow corn, molasses, brown rice (except very odd occasions), yeast, vegetable powders, canned meat (inedible in our country), rye, canned tomatoes (or canned anything for that matter), evaporated milk.

    I only really eat fresh meat, fresh vegetables and a little fruit with special things like chocolate and dried fruit for birthdays and Christmas. Avoiding grains and legumes and eating paleo reduces my autoimmune diseases and the number of pharmaceutical drugs I need, not to mention the doctor's visits. When I eat strict paleo I'm healthy, when I don't then I slowly become chronically ill.

    So buying prepping food is a bit of a problem I haven't yet solved, apart from buying a freezer and generator to cope with occasional power outages, and growing a vege garden.

  4. I agree about storing what you eat and eating what you store. If you aren't in the position to hunt or fish for your food and raise the rest you could be very dependent on someone elses supplies. You'll need to have a good skill to trade that's worth your weight in food!

  5. I say "anonymous said" is going to go hungry and misses the point of emergency long term pantry....

  6. Try this free food calculator:

    You can input your sex, age and own storage items plus future purchases. It will calculate how long you will last on the food and show you caloric content and basic vital nutrients. If you don't set it up to save your data at the beginning, make sure you print out the results.

  7. The free food calculator is at: