I’m back with another update on our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge. Today I’m also answering lots of your questions about our experience with this food storage challenge.
We’ve been staying home for 7 weeks now. Our last monthly grocery haul was on March 9th, so almost 8 weeks ago. On March 25th we decided to start doing a Food Storage Challenge where we don’t go to the store at all.
Since we have long term food storage (that we have stored for years and years), we figure that now is a great time to see what it’s like to live on it and learn from our experience so that we can improve our what and how much we store in the future.
In this update I’m going to be sharing what we actually ate this week and I’m also going to answer some frequently asked questions about our food storage in general and our experience so far with this challenge.
What we ate this week
I won’t go into as much detail with what we ate this past week because I have lots of your questions to cover, but here’s the short version:
Oatmeal, cream of wheat, fried eggs, cinnamon rolls, and sourdough waffles.
PBJs, PBH tortillas (one day when we didn’t have bread baked yet), string cheese, orange slices, apple slices, pumpkin bread
Spaghetti squash with sauce– This is a spaghetti squash I got at the local u-pick farm last summer, like in july I think! That’s the great thing about winter squash– it lasts so long! If you’ve never had spaghetti squash it’s pretty cool how it cooks up and can be served just like spaghetti.
Shepherd’s Pie– I forgot to get a picture of this. It’s one of my go-to quick meals when I make it from instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, whatever veggies we have, whatever meat we have, and cheese, except this time we didn’t really have much cheese on it.
Stir Fry with Rice– This was kind of a vegetable stir fry but with homemade sweet and sour sauce and pork stew meat. I cooked the frozen stir fry veggies so they were a little softer than a normal stir fry. That’s how the kids and I prefer them.
Beans, cabbage salad, and pasta– This was a somewhat random meal, but it was fun to have a cabbage salad. I bought the cabbage in march’s monthly shopping trip with the intention of making egg rolls. I thought I had a big bag of carrots, but realized I didn’t!
Picnic with G & G— We went to my in-laws to play for the evening. The kids cooked hot dogs over the fire. We had diced seasoned potatoes and green salad that Mike’s mom made and I brought jello with pineapple and deviled eggs. We had pumpkin custard and brownies for dessert. It was all delicous!
Leftovers x 2— I love leftover days because I don’t have to cook and everyone can choose the thing they liked best to eat.
Brownies, apple pie (homemade pie I froze), lemon bars
Some Food Storage Challenge FAQ
In the past few weeks as we’ve shared our Quarantine Food Storage Challenge updates, I’ve had lots of great questions in comments and emails and even from local friends. I’ve tried to answer them individually, but I figure that if one of you asked, probably more of you have the same question. If I don’t cover your questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll get back to you (and maybe eventually do a FAQ part 2.
Are you keeping track of what you’re using up?
Yes. It’s not an exact science, but it’s more or less accurate. When I took inventory at the outset of this challenge I tallied up how much of each food storage item we had. I added a column where I tally what we’ve used in a different color.
What do you do about fresh produce?
Well, once our fresh produce is gone, it’s gone. We have tried to stretch it as much as possible so we could enjoy it longer. Even without fresh produce, we can still eat healthy foods. We have fruits and vegetables that are frozen, canned, dehydrated, or freeze dried.
Do we miss fresh produce? Of course! We’re looking forward to having salad on the menu regularly once our garden grows or we get back to the store, but until then, we can still have fruits and vegetables in our diet.
What about dairy products?
Running out of milk is probably the number one thing that sends people to the store, even when they have a pretty well-stocked pantry. In our long-term food storage we have powdered (non-fat dry) milk. Do I love to drink it? Nope! Using it as an ingredient doesn’t bother me though. We even make homemade yogurt with powdered milk!t
Do the kids mind? Not a bit! In fact I usually assign one of the three older kids (8,10, and 12) to make it. They all drink it without a problem!
We have cheese frozen that I rationed out into containers and put in the freezer, but the rations are definitely smaller than our normal cheese use. We’re eating it very sparingly. We miss it for sure!
We started the challenge with on open container of sour cream and an unopened 3 lb container of sour cream. We just opened that new container this week, which was exciting. We’re big sour cream fans around here!
We also miss ice cream! Though making frozen yogurt with our homemade yogurt is a great substitute!
Why do you have foods in your food storage that you’ve never eaten or cooked with before?
In Quarantine Food Storage Update #3, I shared that we had a 45 lb bucket of split peas. I had never cooked with split peas before and was a little hesitant about it at first. Well, it turned out great, but it raised the question of why we would store such a huge amount of something we had never cooked before.
I definitely recommend storing what you eat and eating what you store. Being in a stressful emergency situation isn’t the best time for acquiring new tastes or learning to cook new foods. Plus, you don’t want to spend money on foods that might end up wasted because your family doesn’t end up liking it!
Our situation is a little different. We have been pretty diligent at acquiring and using food storage since we were first married (nearly 15 years ago!). In addition to what we have bought ourselves, we have also been the recipients of food storage items from friends who moved and for whatever reason couldn’t bring their food storage with them.
This has happened on multiple occasions over the years. I’m not sure how we got so blessed, but I think it’s partly because people know that we will graciously accept it and actually use it. We’ve also been taught in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to be self-reliant and prepared for unexpected situations. This includes having food stored for things like an emergency, a natural disaster, a job loss, or (who knew?) a pandemic. Because of that, many of our friends and acquaintances from church also have food storage.
All that to say that we have been given food storage items that we have never tried before. Since we have the space to store it, we gratefully accept it and this food storage challenge is giving us a great opportunity to try some of those new things!
What do you do with all of that wheat?
If you’ve seen the hundreds of pounds of wheat we have in our garage, then you might also wonder what we do with it. It’s an ingredient that not everyone keeps on hand, especially in such large quantities.
We have an electric wheat grinder that we love (a Wonder Mill) that we use to make freshly ground whole wheat flour. Then we use that flour for everything you can imagine using flour for… baking bread, muffins, bagels, cookies, cakes, naan, etc. The possibilities are endless.
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Since we're eating from our long-term food storage during this pandemic, this wheat grinder has been my best friend! It's definitely getting its workout during this #quarantinelife! We're making lots of bread every week, along with pancakes, waffles, and some treats as well! We have some really old hard red wheat (from the 1980s) and some mcuh newer hard white wheat. The older wheat doesn't rise as well as the newer stuff, so we're mixing them 50/50 and that's working our great! What kitchen appliance is your best friend right now? #wheat #wheatgrinder #quarantineeats #quarantinecooking #quarantinebaking #grindingwheat #bakingbread #littleredhen #wholewheat #homemade #foodstorage
There are other things you can do with wheat, but (so far) for us it’s just baking.
The great thing about wheat is that it stores forever (30+ years). We have some wheat that we purchased in bulk ourselves and some wheat that we were given by older friends who were moving. The older wheat we’re using is from the 1980s!
Won’t you have to majorly re-stock your food storage when this is all over?
Yep! We’re actually looking forward to it! Like I said, a lot of our food storage that we got from other people is pretty old, so we’re glad to make good use of it and then replace it with new stuff!
In our time in quarantine, I’ve even re-organized our garage food storage spaces after being inspired by my mother-in-law’s extensive food storage.
Are you setting aside money for stocking up after this is over?
Yes! I’m putting what we otherwise would have spent on groceries into a “preparedness fund” that I will use to restock our food storage once we get back to shopping.
Do you have any recommendations for where to buy food supplies in bulk?
The first place I always look is the food storage through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS church). You don’t have to be a member to purchase the food. Look here to see if there is a home storage center located near you. You can also order online. The prices are great and the products are in number 10 cans so they are perfect for storing long-term. They are out of lots of things right now, so I would check back in a while after things calm down.
Sam’s Club is another great place to find bulk items like flour, sugar, rice, and canned goods.
Winco has lots of great bulk foods with tons of variety and great prices. They have some 25 pound bags of the most commonly purchased bulk items readily available for purchase, but if you call ahead you can get any of the bulk items by the bag. They even give you a discount at the register for a bit off of the normal bulk per pound price.
Ask around for bulk food suppliers in your area. There’s bound to be somewhere!
Well, that’s a lot to cover! If you have a question that I didn’t hit on, feel free to ask and I will answer! I’ll see you back here next week for our monthly budget update! It was a pretty epic budget month!