President Monson on Food Storage

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson has served as the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008.

“As has been said so often, the best storehouse system that the Church could devise would be for every family to store a year’s supply of needed food, clothing, and, where possible, the other necessities of life.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Ensign, Sep 1986, 3)

“Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year’s supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.” (President Thomas S. Monson, “That Noble Gift—Love at Home,” Church News, May 12, 2001, 7)

“We do live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties.” (Thomas S. Monson, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 113)

See A Simple Preparedness Plan
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Beefy Bean Casserole

Beefy Bean Casserole ingredients
Yesterday I reviewed the excellent new book It’s In the Bag by Michelle and Trent Snow. Everything you need for a meal comes from a bag out of your food storage. I figured I ought to try one of the simpler recipes so I went for the Uglier than Heck Soup. However, I didn’t have all the ingredients so I chose the Beefy Bean Casserole.

For tonight’s meal I grabbed my imaginary bag and emerged from my food storage with the items in the photograph above. The plants are for decoration, not for eating. The small sandwich bag contains 1/4 cup of dried onions.

Beefy Bean Casserole under construction

Beefy Bean Casserole under construction

I emptied all the contents of the cans, except for the sliced green beans (heat in a separate pan), into a pan and stirred until hot. The recipe calls for the gravy to be drained from the meat but I like to use it in the mix for an extra beefy taste. By the time the meal is heated, the dried onions have reconstituted. Serve with bread. For more about the author and her books see Michelle Snow’s website.

The casserole was excellent — I was surprised at how well it tasted. All the men in the family ate while Jill was with her visiting teachers. We went back for seconds. There was only a morsel left for Jill when she came to eat. No worries, I am bound to cook some more soon. Makes a break from beans on toast.
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Food Storage – It’s In the Bag

It's In The Bag
I purchased a useful little book last week called It’s In the Bag by Michelle and Trent Snow. Michelle is affectionately called “The Bag Lady” because of her Bag Meal System. The book is well laid out with easy to follow instructions. Over a hundred recipes extend its usefulness for as long as you need to store food.

The system is simple. I put everything I need for a meal in a bag. As I read through the first chapter it really does turn out to be simple — even a man could do it. Michelle guided me through 12 advantages of Bag Meals from “having organized meals ready” to “an easy way to rotate my food storage.” There are photographs too for the folks that never read the instructions but want to get moving.

The bulk of the book is taken up with bags of recipes — or perhaps recipes for bags? Now in my home I hardly ever cook and when I do it is beans on toast (now that wouldn’t need a very big bag). But a lot of these Bag Meal recipes look so easy to do that I might consider branching out and rustle up some Pinto Beans (page 68) or Spicy Chicken and Navy Bean Soup (page 79) or perhaps a Beefy Bean Casserole (page 58). But the really must try meal is Uglier than Heck Soup (page 78).

There are some other useful sections in the book. One that took my interest is Trent’s Sprouting Methods. I have yet to try what he says but I at least I have my bookmark in place.

According to the cover, It’s In the Bag will have you storing what eat and eating what you store. After reading the book I would have to agree with the cover, the Bag Meal System is simple and realistic.

For more information, see The Bag Lady’s blogs: Michelle Snow and Welcome To The Food Storage Revolution!

Full disclosure: I purchased the book and was not paid for this review. The Trents are neighbors.
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Testing Our APack Ready Meals

We tested our Meals Ready to Eat (not the military version) last month and they were barely edible. I promptly ordered a case of APack Ready Meals and tonight they underwent a taste test. We each took an APack so that at least all six varieties were covered.

Every APack Ready Meal includes an entrée with self-heating unit, side dishes, beverage mix (bottled water not included), condiment, utensil and towelette. The individually durable packaged meals have an extended shelf life of up to five years depending on temperature. Meals are self-heating — the entrée is ready in 10 minutes.

How many APacks do we need per person per day? Each APack contains between 1,140 to 1,310 calories. Allowing 2,500 calories per day for men and 2,000 calories per day for women, one case (12 meals) is enough food for two people for 72 hours. We will probably add an extra APack a day for the men.

The APack Team

I assembled a discerning team of eight for the taste testing. If this crew is happy then APacks will go into our 72 hour kits. The long story is below. The short story is we liked the meals.

Each APack had these common items: entrée, heater, salt water for heater, cracker, pepper, raisins, and spoon. Items that varied are listed below.

Paul's pasta APack

Paul's said his pasta APack was the best.

PaulPasta With Garden Vegetables in Tomato Sauce 1,150 calories.
Common items plus raspberry beverage tube, peanut butter, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

We sampled each other’s meals. Paul says that his was the best one. He only ate the entrée and saved the rest until later.

Sarah's tetrazzini APack

Sarah's tetrazzini APack

SarahCreamy Chicken Tetrazzini 1,140 calories.
Common items plus lemonade beverage tube, cheese spread, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

Sarah found the crackers dry but were good with the cheese spread. She also mixed the cheese spread in with her entrée. She said the Chicken Tetrazzini was so-so but she would eat it again. It may have tasted better if it was warmer. The fig bars tasted just like fig newtons.

Jill's spaghetti APack

Jill's spaghetti APack was plenty for her.

JillSpaghetti with Italian Style Meat Sauce 1,310 calories.
Common items plus raspberry beverage tube, peanut butter, strawberry toaster pastry, and oatmeal cookie.

Jill did not like her raspberry drink but thought Sarah’s lemonade was fine. She didn’t eat all her spaghetti because she was full. I tried the spaghetti and it was tasty.

Adelaide's southwestern chicken APack

Adelaide observed that you need a knife to open the packages.

AdelaideSouthwestern Style Chicken with Black Beans & Rice 1,190 calories.
Common items plus raspberry beverage tube, cheese spread, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

Adelaide pointed out that one needs a knife to open some of the packaging and that was duly noted. Even though she is pregnant she liked all her food, plus ours as well. The heaters were good and hot.

Steven's homestyle chicken APack

Steven did not get enough to eat.

StevenHomestyle Style Chicken Noodles with Vegatables 1,180 calories.
Common items plus lemonade beverage tube, cheese spread, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

Steven traded his cheese spread for peanut butter. He said the food was not sufficient. There were some items left over from the rest of our meals that would have fed him if we were in the wilds somewhere.

Rick's beef stew APack

The beef stew was very agreeable.

Rick and DerekHearty Beef Stew 1,310 calories.
Common items plus lemonade beverage tube, peanut butter, strawberry toaster pastry, and oatmeal cookie.

Rick: No we didn’t share a meal, we each had our own beef stew. I tried all the meals and this was by far the best one. The gravy was really thick and there was proportionally a good amount of beef. The heaters cranked out plenty of BTUs to give us some very hot food. I liked the raisins as did everyone else. Both Derek and I traded or gave away our peanut butter. I personally cannot abide the stuff. The oatmeal cookie was dry but still tasty. The toaster pastry was just like a pop-tart.

Bryson's raisins APack

Bryson says the raisins were juicy.

Bryson

My job was to check out the raisins and the cheese spread on crackers. Very tasty indeed, better than the awful baby food I am used to. I really wanted my own entrée but I couldn’t reach as I was fastened in my high chair. My dad’s beef stew looked really good and he let me taste some of his.

Aurora no APack for you

Aurora, no APack for you!

Aurora

Do I ever get anything fun to eat? No. Really, they treat me like a little girl.

Production Date and Cost

There is not an expiration date on the cases or individual packs because the shelf life varies based upon storage conditions. However, each case and individual pack contains a production date code similar to “9048” that was marked on mine. The 9 represents the year (2009) and the “048” represents the day (48th). Thus, the meal’s date of production is the 48th day of 2009. So my APacks were nine months old when I received them.

I purchased my meals from the manufacturer in November at a cost of $69.95 for a case of twelve ($5.83 each). With shipping the total is $84.16 ($7.01 each). You have to buy the whole box. The Epicenter will sell half a case for $35 (plus $10.63 shipping) for a cost of $7.61 each. When I ordered a half case from The Epicenter the production date was one day earlier than from the manufacturer’s store.

Note that there are other manufacturers that make civilian MREs. I chose APacks because of good reviews and the pictures of the meals on their website made the food look tasty and I was hungry when I ordered.
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Testing Your 72 Hour Kit MREs

One area of preparedness we have neglected over the years is our 72 hour kits. We only have one full kit for one person. As I want to be able to take the kit with me in an emergency I decided long ago that it needed to be based on MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). MREs are lightweight and come with their own food warmer. For me the civilian MREs will do as they are easier to obtain. If you want to learn more about MREs I highly recommend the MRE Info website.

There were nine MREs in our kit which is three full meals per day for three days. The meals have snacks to supplement and boost the calorie count. We tried four of the menus:

  • Ham and Shrimp Jambalaya
  • Egg Omelet with Vegetables and Cheese
  • Breaded Chicken Breast Pattie with Rib Meat in Tomato Sauce with Pasta
  • Chicken Breast Strips with Chunky Salsa

The first two we did not like but the last two were OK. Later I googled online for the distributor of the MREs and found the corporate website at Ameriqual Foods. I didn’t see the meals that we tried in their A Pack Ready Meal self-heating emergency meals at the Ready Meal website. I ordered a box containing two each of the MREs to try them out. Alternatively a half case can be ordered from The Epicenter containing one each of the six menus.

Every APack Ready Meal includes an entrée with self-heating unit, side dishes, beverage mix (bottled water not included), condiment, utensil and towelette. As mentioned, the MREs we tried were very different from the APacks. When the APacks arrive I will check those out and report.

The food is already cooked and all you have to do is warm the MREs. We did this as part of our Family Home Evening on preparedness.

Jake, Rick, and Paul slip the food pouches into the supplied heaters.

Jake, Rick, and Paul slip the food pouches into the supplied heaters.

Paul filling the heater bag with a small amount of water.

Paul filling the heater bag with a small amount of water.

Paul and Jake put the heater and the food pouch back in the box.

Paul and Jake put the heater and the food pouch back in the box.

Find a handy "rock" to angle your MREs while they warm.

Find a handy "rock" to angle your MREs while they warm.

Partake of your MRE dessert or snack while your meal is warming.

Partake of your MRE dessert or snack while your meal is warming.

Jake's MRE was so gross no-one would eat it. The others were fine.

Jake's MRE was so gross no-one would eat it. The others were fine.

It is important that you try your emergency foods before you actually have to use them. In an evacuation you will no doubt be stressed so foods that you are familiar with and like will help to ensure you stay nourished.

Do you have an 72 Hour Kit and if so what kind of foods are in it? Do you use MREs? Have you ever had to evacuate your home?

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Our Home Storage Center

Kaysville Granary

Our Our home storage center is located at the Kaysville granary

My family is fortunate to live very close to a home storage center. We live in Kaysville and the center is located at the Kaysville granary — you can’t get any closer than that! There are home storage centers located throughout the United States and Canada. We still refer to our home storage center as the dry pack cannery — same place, new name.

Our home storage center assists my family with longer-term food storage like wheat, white rice, dry beans, oats, dried milk, and other basic food items. Our stake welfare specialist tells us when times are available at the center and we pack the food ourselves and purchase the items to take home that day. We go as a group and work together on everybody’s orders. We simply scoop the dried food into the cans, place a small packet inside to aid in sealing, and use a simple machine to seal the lid. Slap a label on the can and put six cans in a box and we are all done. It doesn’t take long to process even the largest orders.

There is a home storage center order form available that we use to plan our purchases. There are prices listed on the form. We like to use our computer to enter quantities and the form automatically updates our total cost. We then print the form and take it with us to the home storage center.

Drypack cans

A sample from our storage: instant potatoes, sugar, rolled oats, hot cocoa mix, and apple slices.

Our favorites are the fruit drink mix and the potato flakes. You really should try the potato flakes for they make the best mash potato you will probably ever taste. The dry onions work well in stews and the apple slices don’t last long if our children get a hold of them. Check out the storage life listed on the form. Most of the items are good for 30 years.

By keeping out of debt and having an active food storage program our family has a peace of mind that allows us to enjoy life to the full.

Resources

Distribution Services: Home storage products
Food Storage
Gospel Topics: Food Storage
Ready.gov: Build A Kit
Be Ready Utah
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