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What Supplies To Collect For Food Security

Preparing for Inflation, Economic Collapse and (maybe) War

By A Very English Prepper Published 12 months ago 14 min read
What Supplies To Collect For Food Security
Photo by Daria Volkova on Unsplash

"Start with beans and rice and then, rice and beans".

Ok, rice and beans are a good start, but they're not all you should be collecting. As I mentioned in my precious articles, food is not just about providing the basic fuel to run your body. It serves an emotional support aspect too. If you honestly think that you can last for months eating the same plain mean again and again, well, go ahead. No, seriously. I challenge you to make yourself eat just rice and beans, breakfast, lunch and dinner every. single. day. If you last two weeks I'll be impressed. If you last a month without starting to feel worn down and like life has a little less colour in it, I'm calling you a liar.

It's not just your soul that will hate you for bland food. Your stomach will too. Such a relentless diet of stodgy food will trash your digestive system and turn your daily bowl movement into a pâté of misery. You need taste, texture and variety to thrive, and you want you to thrive. Resilience training is not about just about having a stash of food and living like a hermit. Having the supplies to JUST survive is the bare minimum.

The thing is, it's not hard to plan for this. Even something as simple as your favourite sauce such as ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, or the flaming bottle of hell-fire juice that you love is enough to add just a smidge of variety.

This is where herbs come in to shine. Salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, chives, turmeric, curry powder, bay leaves, cinnamon, chinese chives, along with many others are a small, but vital part of adding flavour and nutrients to your food. You can approach this one of two ways; The first one is just to buy dried versions of your favourite herbs. Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Sainsburies, Range, Pound Stretcher, Home Bargains, all of these have a decent selection of herbs. The Range in particular has these large box bottles of herbs that are really good value.

The second approach (and the one I highly recommend) is to grow the herbs you enjoy eating. If you have just one windowsill then you can do this, and it's a skill I think everyone would benefit enormously from if developed.

When it comes to growing your herbs there are just a few key points to remember to solve 99% of the problems you're likely to have.

1. Just buy the plant from a garden centre or nursery. Don't bother starting from seeds, don't make life harder for yourself. So many people get easily discouraged when they have little or no experience, and the seed packet they bought didn't geminate. It takes practice to get comfortable growing from seed, and it's not a learning curve you want to subject yourself right now. Later on in this series I'll cover gardening for food in more depth, but for today, on the topic of herbs, just buy the plant from the shops.

2. Give them enough room. They're not cactuses. They need room for their roots to grow, a pot the size of a small mug is just not enough. When you buy your plant, try and get a pot with it that will give it an extra centimetre or two all the way around for new soil.

3. Make sure the pot drains well. Either pick a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom (and sat in a tray so you don't drench your windowsill) or be careful about the amount of water you give your plant. The soil should feel moist, like your clothes freshly spun out of the washing machine. It shouldn't feel soggy and bog-like.

4. Once or twice annually, give them a light topping of fresh compost or fertiliser. If you want to make sure that your plants remain healthy and taste nice, you need to recharge them every so often. If you can't buy compost then give them leaf mulch from a garden or park. If you don't know what this is, it's the crumbly, fluffy remains of last years leaves that have broken down into plant food. Obviously, be careful where you collect his, especially if it's where people tend to walk their dogs, but it's feed and available virtually everywhere in England.

Ok, enough about herbs. What about actual food?

I'm assuming here that you've already followed the steps I've mentioned in my previous articles; decluttered, organised and planned where you will store your supplies. One final thing to note on that topic is that you should try (I'm aware it's not always possible) to store your supplies near where they will be used. For example, the toilet paper should be near the bathroom, food near the kitchen etc. For food this is especially important since you want to make sure that you're always using what you're buying.

Before I get into anything else after rice and beans I want to highly, highly suggest having a well stocked supply of good quality vitamins. Personally I always aim to have a year’s supply, ideally two, and if desperate I could stretch that supply it out to two years by alternating the days I take them. I don’t store more than two year's supply because the typical shelf life of most vitamins is only two years. It’s very easy to forget how quickly even a slight deficit in something like magnesium, vitamin D, C, A, selenium or zinc can destroy your health if allowed to go on for too long. Especially if you’re very stressed, physically active, growing or pregnant. It’s so much harder to fix your body than to maintain it, so keep extra vitamins on hand and take them everyday too. This is not a prep to wait till things get bad to start doing.

Because each person is different in their tastes, I'm not going to list the foods I think you must have. Look, some people will prefer to store lentils over pasta, or dried beans over chickpeas. I'd rather just take the guessing out of what lasts the longest and let you pick from the list what you actually like to eat.

Much like my vitamins, I don’t bother storing for more than two years, mainly because I have a garden which is improving dramatically each year, and because in a war/economic collapse scenario, I plan for half of that food to help neighbours and friends. That being said, I always have at least 3 months worth of freeze dried food (for a family of four) stored in my pantry on top of the regular food I have a 2 year supply of. This way in a real disaster scenario I can share my 2 year supply with friends, family and neighbours, while knowing I still have reserves from my garden and the freeze dried food.

What to buy:

This list assumes that any food you buy is stored correctly away from sunlight in a well ventilated, dry and dark place. I’m also assuming that you’re following good food practices. Always check the food you’re preparing before you eat it. If anything is growing on it, there are signs of moisture inside the packet, or if it has a strange smell, don’t risk it. Chuck it out - into a compost bin ideally. In the case of canned food, you don’t want to buy any canned food for storage which is dented just incase the seal is broken. While it is rare to get botulism, it seems a bit silly to risk it over 30p tinned food. When in doubt, chuck it out.

Foods You Can Buy and How Long They Last:

• Tea: Last 18-24 months. Look, I'm English. This was always going to be the first thing on my list. As far as I'm concearned this supply is more important than chocolate and coffee.

• White Rice - Lasts up to 2 years (up to 30+ if stored in a sealed tub with oxygen absorbers)

White rice specifically is what I'm talking about here, not brown rice since the kernels will turn rancid in about 6 months. I’m personally a big fan of keeping things like rice, pasta, beans etc in their original packaging normal sized packaging provided the packaging had not been damaged in any way. This way if family, friends or neighbours need some food I can give them a bag or two and I just look like I have a spare bag or two, not the large stash I actually have. I know a lot of people are fond of storing their rice in large barrels, but those barrels are heavy and hard to move. I can't move them easily to clean around them and if a storage barrel breaks I loose a lot of food all in one go. The likely-hood of that happening to my lidl 1k bagged rice is very unlikely. For this reason I always keep things like rice stored on shelves and never on the ground where they could get wet if water is spilled or a pipe bursts.

• Raw Honey - This stuff is immortal.

Stored in a well sealed pot this will never go if. If somehow the jar didn't seal properly and the honey spoiled, you will know. Properly off honey is one of the worst smells, like a fermented dead foot. It's...memorable.

• Salt - Also immortal if stored well. Keep in a dry, cool, dark place. This isn't just for seasoning. Since I grow a lot of my own food this is an absolutely vital item to keep for pickling and preserving my food.

• Alcohol/Vodka - Not just for drinking. I can make tinctures, vanilla extract (bloody good vanilla extract) flavoured vodka and many other things from basic vodka. I can also use it as a disinfectant in a pinch. Highly tradable and very gift-able, especially if you turn it into blueberry, rhubarb, raspberry or blackberry flavoured vodka.

• Dried Beans - In their normal packaging and stored well these will last at least two years before the taste degrades. That being said, they retain a decent amount of nutrition for up to a decade if stored well.

• Hard Boiled Sweets - Immortal. This might not be the kind of thing you always think of, but it's quite an important one for morale. For kids especially, having a few sweets every so often will help keep their world a little normal in a not-so-normal world.

• Whole lentils and Legumes - These last 2-3 years before going off.

• Popcorn Kernels - 3-5 years before they go bad. While it doesn’t add much on the nutritional front, popcorn is an absolutely essential food (I think) in emergency scenarios simply because it fills you up. In hard times the urge to stress eat will be overwhelming, popcorn is enjoyable to eat and filling.

• Maple Syrup - If sealed, will basically never go off.

• Brown, White and Caster Sugar - Again, never goes bad if stored well.

• Baking Soda - Stored in a dark, dry place this will last indefinitely.

• Instant/Freeze-Dried Coffee - Stored in a dark, dry place this will last indefinitely, though expect a reduction in taste quality after 3-5 years.

• Coffee Beans - Stored in the freezer (unopened) this will last 2-3 years. If unopened, vacuum sealed and kept in a cool dry place the coffee beans will last 6-9 months. If you're a coffee connoisseur and the idea of keeping instant coffee is like suggesting that your food be strained through old damp socks before eating, then coffee beans are going to be pretty important to you. Even though I don't personally drink coffee, I keep a lot of it to give to people, and to trade should I need to.

• Pasta - Stored in a dark, dry place this will last indefinitely.

• Dehydrated fruits - 1-2 years. I need to point out here that I'm talking about home made dehydrated foods stored in airtight containers with moisture and oxygen absorbers. The shop bought dried fruit is never dry enough, in my experience. Apricots and apples seem to be particularly bad for this, and end up having a wet rubber texture when the packet it opened. They go mouldy so fast! A well dried pack of fruit should be about as moist as old leather if you want it to last longer than a year in storage.

• Dried Chickpeas - 2-3 years. P.S. These are also really easy to grow yourself just from the dried chickpeas you buy in the shop. Fresh young chickpeas strait from the pod are some of the most amazing tastes and one of the things I look forward to every year.

• Dried Herbs - 2-3 years. You can keep them for longer, but past three years the taste really degrades.

• Rolled Oats - 1-2 years shelf life.

• Rasins: A year. Though I have pushed this to a year and a half before.

• Tuna Chunks (in olive oil) - This lasts 3-5 years.

• Peanut Butter - Unopened this will last 1-2 years.

• Olive Oil: 18-24 months. My favourite way to store this (because we go through a lot) is not the normal/small bottles you find in Lidl or Tesco, but those great big 5L metal canisters that look like they moonlight as petrol storage. Better yet, once the oilve oil is finished, I can use the can to store anything from homemade fertiliser to water in it. After it has been cleaned, obviously.

• Ghee: 2 years in a cool dry place. Longer if stored in the freezer. I listed ghee and not butter because ghee lasts much longer, and can be stored at normal UK room temperature without going off, while butte can't.

• Cocoa Powder: lasts 2-3 years.

Ok, fine, but what about canned food?

I’ve separated this from the rest of the lists just because it needs a little more clarification. The general rule is that you can eat tinned food one to six years after it’s expiration date, provided the tins are still in good condition (not bulging, rusted, leaking, or dented), smell fine when opened, and are stored in a cool, dry place. A quick search on google will pull up more than a few instances where canned food has been consumed far, far beyond it’s original intended shelf life (such as over 50 years later) and while the food had turned into unappetising gloop, it had only suffered some nutritional loss and was technically edible. Now, if you're storing your food properly and eating what you buy from oldest to newest, you should never, ever get to that point.

It’s for this reason I don’t want you to store your items anywhere near the boiler cupboard, or the loft, since the warm temperatures in those places could risk the food safety of your cans. Just don't do it. Under a bed, sideboard, stairs or even under the couch is a better option than the loft.

You're probably wondering where the flour is on this list? Well, it isn't, purely because it has such a short shelf life - just three months! So I never store more than a bag or two of flour. It should be noted that you could buy and store wheat grain (the unground grain) and then grind it yourself, but I'd go for a hand ground grinder personally, since none of us want to increase our energy bills at the moment.

If stored properly wheat grain can last up to 7 years. So it's a good food to consider if bread is a vital part of your diet.

What about army rations and freeze dried foods?

Let's me get my soap box out for just one thing. Do. Not. Spend. Money. On. Army. Rations! Just don't do it. Not unless you're planning to store a shit-load of prune juice with it, and possibly a cork-screw too. Army rations are just the lowest possible quality food that the army could purchase which somehow has developed this veneer of a good prepping food. Think of it like eating poorly flavoured bark shavings, because by the time that stuff has reached your back door, you'll be packed up tighter than a cork in a wine bottle.

Freeze dried food on the other hand should not be so quickly dismissed. Lasting from 25 to 30 YEARS, these things are perfect for slowly collecting as a food insurance package. There are many great brands out there (I have my favourite but I won't mention who because I'd rather you didn't get influenced by my preferences). The trick is to try them before you start buying large quantities for your stash. The last thing you want to do is to spend money on a large order - which won't be cheap - only to find out you'd rather eat plain rice and beans.


If you like my series of articles on resilience training you can follow me for more daily articles, or leave me tip and request a particular topic be covered. As detailed in my first post, I unfortunately have a lot of experience with resilience training, and in these strange times it's a skill I'm hoping to share with as many people as possible.

This series is mostly written in the order it should be approached. You don't need to panic, you don't need a massive budget and you can protect yourself more and more by taking small steps to improve each day. Not sure were to start? Start with my oldest article first and then work your way through them. I'll have a new article for you soon.


About the Creator

A Very English Prepper

I've been prepping for over 10 years. Now, I want to share how you can get started.

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