Maximizing nutrition in your emergency food supply

Traditional emergency food storage tips typically focus on collecting buckets of wheat, white rice, and canned goods. In a pinch, you could survive with basics like these, but the lack of essential nutrients can have devastating results over time.

In everyday life, we usually get all the nutrients our body needs. Therefore, it is rare to hear about a case of disease caused by nutritional deficiency.

However, in times of crisis, food shortages, and inflation, your emergency pantry may not be enough to maintain optimal health. So it’s time to look at ways to add another layer to your food storage with intensely nutritious foods to fill bellies and improve overall well-being during times of stress.

Make sure you have a fat source; better options for you include coconut oil and ghee. (Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

Macronutrients are essential

When building your emergency food storage pantry, consider how you might incorporate macronutrients as a base. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. While most food storage checklists emphasize carbs (rice, wheat, etc.), neglect the other two at your peril! Carbohydrates are easy to store and inexpensive, but be sure to eat foods high in fat and protein for a more balanced approach.

Protein is an essential macronutrient for maintaining virtually all bodily functions. Canned meat and poultry, a variety of beans, freeze-dried meat, and even protein powder can help ensure you and your family have enough protein if you have to rely solely on food storage.

Including different forms of fat in your food supply is essential for energy, satiety, and overall health. Vegetable oils don’t have a long shelf life – on average, just about a year if unopened and stored in a cool, dark place. They and corn, canola, and safflower oils go rancid faster than healthier oils, making them a contributing factor in the development of cancer. Healthier and equally easy-to-store options include coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, and tallow. These can have a shelf life of up to five years when unopened and stored in a cool place like a fridge or freezer. In fact, the shelf life of all fats can be extended when stored in one place or another.

The last macronutrient, carbohydrates, plays an essential role in food preservation. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, so they cannot be neglected. However, it is essential to find carbohydrate sources that provide high levels of nutrients. For example, rather than regular pasta and white flour, stock up on whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat flour or buy wheat berries and plan to grind your own. This flour contains more fiber, iron, protein, calcium and vitamins B1, B3 and B5.

Consider other whole grains that provide carbohydrates and higher levels of other nutrients. Spelled, amaranth, baby spelled, quinoa, barley and buckwheat are all healthy and nutritious with a long shelf life, perfect for the pantry.

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Consider whole grains which provide both carbohydrates and higher levels of other nutrients, such as spelled, amaranth, spelt, quinoa, barley and buckwheat. (JFunk/Shutterstock)

Fermented micronutrients

Micronutrients are an overlooked part of food storage, essential for adding more nutrition and keeping your body functioning optimally. Fermented foods are excellent sources of micronutrients. Home-canned and commercially canned fermented foods are inexpensive and easy to store. Additionally, fermented foods contain healthy bacteria and yeast, which leads to a healthier gut and an improved gut biome.

Kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles are easy to find at grocery stores, but they’re also simple DIY projects. Making them yourself allows you to adjust the seasonings to your liking. Not everyone appreciates a kimchi loaded with red pepper and enough garlic to ward off an army of vampires!

One of the easiest ways to add highly nutritious fermented foods to your pantry is to make your own fermented garlic honey with raw, unfiltered honey and peeled garlic cloves. Honey, bee pollen, propolis and other bee products are fantastic additions to your food storage, with medicinal and culinary uses.

To make fermented garlic honey, combine one cup of honey and one cup of garlic cloves in a large canning jar. Keep the jar lightly capped and stir the mixture daily. You will soon see bubbles in the honey, letting you know that fermentation has begun. In a few weeks it will be fermented and perfect for adding to salad dressings and stir-fries. You can also use it as a home remedy for coughs and to boost immunity.

Honey, With, Honeycomb, On, White
Honey, bee pollen, propolis and other bee products are fantastic additions to your food storage, with medicinal and culinary uses. (Dionisvera/Shutterstock)

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are another good form of micronutrients. Cashews are loaded with iron, macadamia nuts have high levels of vitamin B1, and walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are easy to store and versatile.

But like oils, nuts and seeds go rancid quickly. Extend their shelf life by storing them in an airtight container in a freezer or refrigerator, or packing them in a canned jar with an oxygen absorber. Stored in a cool, dark place, the shelf life of nuts and seeds can be extended for several years.

Homemade, fresh, baked, sourdough, bread, with, olives., close, up.
Sourdough bread uses an easy-to-prepare starter that can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. (Galiyah Assan/Shutterstock)

Powders and Supplements

Nuts and seeds are often ingredients in protein powder, but green vegetable powder is another type of powder you can add to your food stash. Greenery powder is made from seaweed, vegetables, herbs, and fruits, all great sources of antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients. Some brands of greens powder also contain probiotics, another essential for a healthy gut. Look for powders with real ingredients, preferably certified organic, and third-party tested for heavy metals and pesticides. Athletic Greens, Beyond Greens and Greens Blend by Amazing Grass are three reliable brands.

A relative newcomer to this category is Ruvi, a powdered health drink. Ruvi drinks come in four different formulas, all made with freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. This brand contains no sugars, sweeteners, fillers, preservatives or colors. The freeze-drying process preserves the products at their maximum nutritional level. Ruvi is only available for purchase online.

Collagen powder, multivitamins, and supplements that you know are effective and recommended by your healthcare professional add another dimension to boosting and maintaining optimal health.

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Bone broth is inexpensive and easy to prepare, and can be canned at home in a pressure canner. (Madeleine Steinbach/Shutterstock)

Home Options

Supplement your well-balanced and highly nutritious pantry by learning how to make a few simple, traditional foods such as sourdough bread and bone broth. Sally Fallon Morell’s Nourishing Traditions book is a great resource.

Sourdough bread uses an easy-to-prepare starter that can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. This type of bread contains forms of gluten and protein that are easier to digest and make it easier for the body to absorb its nutrients. A sourdough starter can be started as quickly as combining equal amounts of any type of flour with water and a teaspoon of sugar or honey. This combination starts the fermentation process, resulting in a bubbly starter that you can use for bread, pancakes, cookies, or any recipe that calls for a starter.

Bone broth is just as easy to make and has many health benefits. It is an excellent source of protein, bioavailable minerals, amino acids, collagen and vitamins. Add organ meat to bone broth while it simmers for even more nutrients and flavor. As a bonus, meat bones are inexpensive and the butcher may even have bones to donate. You can make bone broth at home using a pressure canner.

For sourdough bread and bone broth, find two or three simple recipes and try them. When you find recipes you love, start stocking up on their ingredients. In the case of bone broth, start making multiple batches now, store them at home, and store them at room temperature.

In times of crisis, a healthy body will be your first line of defense.

About Keith Johnson

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