96 core meals to be pared with other foods for higher nutritional value. Click for larger image.

We talk an awful lot about how to rotate your canned, jarred, and other preps for freshness.  We also talk a lot about storage, how to store, what to store, etc.  Yesterday, I undertook a small job of repacking some of my “basic” preps.  What are some of my most basic preps.  Well, rice and beans, as part of the core.  We all talk about rice and beans, and hope we never have to crack those preps open.  However, I have been thinking a lot lately about how to compartmentalize my food preps more effectively.  First, you should know, that I have not, in the past just poured rice and beans into a mylar bag, sealed it, and put it in a bucket.  I buy my rice and beans in the grocery store in 5lb bags, as well as buy the 1lb bags of beans.  I do this because I want a variety of beans and not just standardize on pinto or black and fill a 5 gallon bucket with them.  Keep in mind I have much more than rice and beans.  I know I am going to get a bunch of emails telling me I need to diversify.  My rice and beans are part of my starch, fiber, and protein plan.  Also keep in mind, I am a single person with no children.  All my preps are based on one person, three meals a day.

So, what did I do?  I designed a portion system whereby I could pull out a bucket, and in the bucket are two mylar bags, each containing the same thing.  However, each bag contains roughly 48 “core” meals.  Let me define “core” for you first.  When I say core, I look at a meal that can be pared with canned chicken, canned tuna, canned turkey, spam, etc, as well as reconstituted vegetables, canned vegetables, etc. for a more balanced meal and to increase calorie count for more sustained energy.  So here is what in each bag:

– One x 5 LB bag of white and/or Enriched rice (48 1/4 (dry) cup servings of rice, 3/4 cup boiled)

– Six bags of assorted beans.  Black, Pinto, Kidney, etc.

So what does this give you?  This gives one person, two “core” meals a day that can be paired with something else for 24 days.  The calorie count looks something like this:

– Rice 150 – 170 calories (depending on the brand)

– Beans 150 – 170 calories (depending on the type of beans)

– Your total is roughly 300 – 340 calories per serving

Adding a can of chicken, you add 70 calories per serving and additional protein.  Adding some other sides or main courses, of course boosts the calorie count as well, and gives you greater variety so you do not just get sick of eating rice and beans for 24 days straight.

Each bag is labeled so I can easily read the contents

Portion control.  This is very important.  If you do not adhere to portion control with your food storage you go through it faster than you would expect to.  This is why calorie count and portion size are important. If you are working hard, splitting wood, working a garden, etc, you will need more calories on a daily basis, and you should budget for that.  The “average person” burns 1,500 – 1,800 calories per day.

The rice and beans are put into the mylar bag (still in their original shelf stable plastic bags).  NOTE:  I use a pair of scissors and poke a few holes in the bags prior to putting them in the mylar bag.  The reason is so that the oxygen absorbers can do their jobs effectively.  Eight to 10 oxygen absorbers are dropped in the bag.  The bag is sealed, and then put into the 5 gallon bucket.  You can comfortably get two of these packaged bags in one five gallon bucket.  You can then add additional items such as quart packs of dried milk, etc in a smaller mylar bag and pop the top on.

I have augmented this food storage with a couple emergency buckets of Wise meals (will be adding another shortyly), as well as various other foods as well.  After taking a closer look at what I have yesterday, separating it into what are close to monthly portions for one person, it turns out I have more than three months worth of food stored.  I looked around a breakfast foods, and I had more than I had thought I had stored.  I need to revisit my food storage inventory list.  But the obvious benefit was that by repackaging some of my core preps, I was able to better understand how many “days/months” of food I had, and where I need to fill in some of the holes.

So where do I need to fill in some of the holes.  Well, as it turns out I need more canned proteins.  I also need more vegetables whether dehydrated or canned.  I also need to stock up on items like powdered Tang, Gatorade, etc.  Preps that will be essential in augmenting your vitamin intake when your diet changes drastically because of a SHTF of some sort.  Suffice it to say, however, for one person in an apartment, I have about four months of long term food storage hidden away.  Not bad.  It could be more, but it is always a work in progress.

Now, as this core storage grows, and continues to be compartmentalized, I can use a bag as care package for a neighbor, friend, etc.  without revealing “all” my storage to them, and I can send them on their way…

Oh, it should also be noted, that after not being able to get to my home after Hurricane Irene, I started thinking about better compartmentalizing my preps, and how I could throw a couple buckets in the back of my truck, have a core meal to pair with whatever else I could scavenge in the field. Primarily, that is what the Wise Buckets are for, but this is additional calorie and protein count, where it counts…

How do you package your food for the long term?