This may turn into one week-long post as the subject is critical in my opinion and the vast majority of the developed world does not recognize the fact. We still treat the supermarkets as an unending supply of both wants and needs and many have not come to grips with just how fragile the system is. Suppose we do have a flu epidemic this winter? What if 80% of the workforce calls in sick? What if you drive to the market and find it is closed do lack of employees? I know I am mostly preaching to the choir here as readers of blogs like this are generally among the better prepared but what happens when your sister or your next-door neighbor calls and asks for enough groceries to see them through? Do yo still have enough? It is better to know sooner rather than later what your response is going to be.
I have been looking at my supplies in terms of categories and meals. Today I will begin with fluids. Fluids include everything you will drink, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water and any other beverage that matters to you. I went to look over my stored water and found that, after less than six months in storage, two of my gallons of water had leaked. They must have been small leaks because there was never an obvious puddle of water. The jugs are just empty and the wood shelf they were sitting on is discolored. Purchased water in plastic jugs should not be used for long term storage. If you plan to store water get a bunch of 2 liter soda bottles or heavy juice bottles, clean them very well, fill with tap water, add a couple of drops of bleach and store them in a dark place. Cheap and efficient. I am taking the plunge this month and buying a good quality water filter. I keep saying I am going to but I put it off because i live in such a water rich location. Even so, surface water needs to be treated and boiling it, while efficient, uses up a lot of fuel just when fuel may be in short supply.
After water, milk is often what families with pregnant women or children look at. I get my milk in #10 cans from Provident Pantry. The milk is tasty and my kids actually like it. I do not recommend buying milk in cardboard boxes for storage. It tastes terrible and there is no way be sure of its age. I have tried to make yogurt and cheese from store bought powdered milk with no success. Go for the good stuff or do without. I do not buy shelf-stable milk either. It too tastes terrible and it has been irradiated and I just have a hard time thinking of it as real food. I do buy some canned milk. It has its uses, especially in cooking if diluted 1:1 with water and substituted for whole milk.
We probably drink a lot more juice than we should but juice too has its uses in the emergency diet. It supplies necessary calories and can disguise the flat taste of stored water. It also supplies vitamin C which is an important vitamin to have, especially if one is ill. I store several kinds of juice. I but 1/2 gallon or gallon jugs when they are on sale. The drawback is that they are bulky and heavy. The plastic jugs are also an environmental disaster. I rarely throw one out as I can use them to store water. I am at a place where I am doing everything I can to avoid using plastics so I may have to refrain from buying any more jug juice regardless of the price. I do buy cans of juice concentrate. These take up much less space in storage but they do require enough water to reconstitute properly. i generally add one more can of water than is called for. My kids don’t notice and I am saving calories and money. When I was a kid, oranges were a treat. We drank Tang, just like the astronauts did. I found some at the market and brought it home to try. It was just as sweet and disgusting as I remembered. Surprisingly, my kids did not mind it. They are dreadful little food snobs and will rarely consume something so clearly artificial. I now keep a couple of jars on hand but it is something I would only drink if I really needed the vitamin C. I keep some lemonade mix around too. It is more of a moral builder than anything else. it would take a better marketer than I to convince anyone the stuff was food.
I like coffee but as I drink it with cream and sugar I know I should stop. I keep a couple of pounds of good coffee in storage along with some freeze dried stuff. I have enough on hand to provide a coffee addict with a cup a day for two years. It takes up less space than you might think and again, it is a moral booster only. I store a lot of tea, both herbal, black and green. In a vacuum sealed jar it holds up well. I grow mint and lemon balm, dry it and store it for my winter drink. I bought some little muslin reusable tea bags but it was a silly spend. I could have made them from scraps in about a minute.
I make wine and brandy but I also buy wine when I find a good sale. It stores well, is a good barter item and can go a long way towards making a dinner a bit more festive. Even if I did not drink I would consider keeping a bottle of whiskey on hand for medicinal purposes