In keeping with my focus on preparedness, here's a post about what I'm doing food-wise.
If things Get Bad, I'll have me and my husband, our two kids, my parents, my mom's parents, and likely a few friends and their kids. Overall, I'm planning on having to feed 8 adults and 4 children. Seven of these people have allergies to various common food products such as wheat, nuts, dairy, tomatoes, and so forth. Up until recently I have not been super gung-ho about my food storage, but lately I've been feeling like the pressure is ON! So we are storing food.
My big project right now has been to buy flour at my local Aldi (last week it was only 89 cents for five pounds of flour--today it was $1.29 for 5 lbs flour, but still a good deal). Then I come home and repackage it into 2L soda bottles. Allegedly, the flour can store in there for several years.
Preparing the soda bottles
I prepare my soda bottles for use with water or food storage by scalding them inside and out with very hot tap water, then adding a capful of bleach for a few minutes, shaking it up with hot water, and then draining it and letting it dry completely. I use the soda bottle's cap itself as the measuring device for the bleach so it cleans the inside of the cap as well.
I don't just use two-liter bottles; I also use used water bottles and my mom's Dr. Pepper bottles. The scald and the bleach remove any odors or germs, and then you're left with a container that can safely hold and waterproof about exactly 2 cups of rice. This is a little less than a pound of rice uncooked, which is about the bare minimum of rice a person would need to eat to keep themselves alive for one day in an emergency situation.
The bottles have to be utterly, completely, absolutely and totally dry before you use them. Here is a picture of me drying some bottles with a little bit of rice.
Adding the food
I went out and got a few more funnels today to use for this purpose. I use the funnels to get rice and flour and beans and so on into the 2L soda bottles. With flour, I also use a plastic spoon to kind of help unclog the spout of the funnel. With the rice, I've found the easiest way to get it into the bottle is to fill up the funnel as it is situated on top of the bottle, then use my [very clean] hand to tap the top of the funnel. With every tap, rice shakes free and down into the bottle. It takes a little while to fill up a bottle, but to me it is worth it.
Why this is worth it to me
1. Buying fancy canned flour seems like a waste when in my heart I feel that my personal family will need the flour in closer to 3 years than 30 years.
2. The paper bags flour comes in are no protection against vermin or the elements. 2L soda bottles can be. Particularly if you dip the cap in wax afterwards or seal it with superglue. One guy I read about online said he'd recently eaten rice he'd stored this way over 15 years ago, and after, yes, FIFTEEN long years in a two-liter soda bottle, the rice cooked up perfectly and was virtually indistinguishable from fresh store rice.
3. A soda bottle is the perfect size for carrying, for trade and barter, and for charity. If a starving person comes to me, it will be so much nicer to be able to give them a bottle of rice than to have to scoop out a scoopful of it from a giant 6-gallon bucket or something.Useful numbers
A 2L soda bottle holds 8.45 cups of whatever. This equals 3.4 pounds of rice, or 2.25 pounds of flour, or 4.25 pounds of water.
A 16.9-oz bottle holds about 2.25 cups of whatever. I just filled up a few of those with rice--each little bottle is enough rice for one person to live on for one day if he or she ate nothing else.
I also recently (this morning) decided to stop packing just plain flour, and instead pack baking mix. 6 cups of flour to 2 tbsp baking powder and 1 tbsp salt. Then you can just pour it out and mix it with the appropriate amount of reconstituted milk to bake biscuits.
Things to store
I plan on storing flour, baking mix, homemade muffin mix, rice, beans, and sugar this way, at a minimum. Now the big deal is finding enough bottles to use...