Saturday, January 17, 2009

Q & A #7

Every couple of weeks, we answer questions that people have emailed us. If you have questions, please contact us at safelygatheredin (at) gmail.com.

Would you happen to know of any good companies to buy freeze dried foods from? Most that I have seen only carry it in the #10 cans...and once it is opened it needs to be eaten within 2-3 weeks I think. Well if you want to feed your family a well rounded vegs and fruits you are not going to go through an entire #10 can of broccoli, for example, in 2-3 weeks. I'm looking for a place that carries food storage packaged in smaller containers, like pouches. Do you have a company you can recommend?

To be honest, neither Abs nor I have ever tried the freeze-dried food, but I've heard good things about it, and I think they are worth a try. They are especially nice for 72-hour kits or emergency cooking, like when you lose power, because all you have to do is add boiling water to many of the pre-made pouch meals.

Try Googling "freeze-dried pouch meals". When I did this, many websites came up that sell this type of thing. They can be pricey, but if you only get them for your 72-hour kits and for a week or 2 of emergencies, I think it would be worth it.

Do you have any suggestions or tips on how to start a food storage? I am overwhelmed with the task of it all. We have a few veggies and lots of "cream of ___" soups but I can't find enough ways to use them.

Great question! Starting your food storage can be the hardest part. First of all, read our article about How to Plan your 3-month supply. Once you have an actual meal plan for your food storage, it is so much easier to start stocking up because you know exactly what you need and you know exactly how you are going to use it.

If you are looking for recipes ideas, check out our food storage recipes page. All of our meals use only food storage, non-perishable foods so that nothing spoils if you lose power for a significant period of time.

Also, don't forget to stock up on longer-term items like wheat, beans, rice, oats, powdered milk, etc. On our blog, we focus on gathering one of these longer-term items each month, so you don't get overwhelmed with that either.

Good luck!

I have found some nice can sealers but cannot find a company to get the cans from. I was hoping you might know of a company where I could purchase them.

This store sells many different types of storage containers, from #10 cans to 55-gallon drums (perfect for water storage!). It looks like the cans might be temporarily out of stock, but keep checking back. You can also buy cans from the Bishop's Storehouse (see order form here). If you aren't a Latter-day Saint, contact the local LDS Church in your area and ask if it's possible for you to order some through them (a phone number will be listed in the phone book).

Do you know of any site that sells food grade buckets reasonably? I've looked all around and have yet to find any place that will sell "food grade" at a decent price.

Again, check out this store. I really don't know how those prices compare to the ones you've been seeing, but I hope they're decent!

My question is about storing food in freezers. This is mainly for my three month food supply, obviously. I was wondering: what kind of freezer do most people prefer, and why? Also, what is more economical? It makes sense to me that an upright would be easier because you are not digging for food and most are frost-free. With chest freezers, can you find them frost free? Is it a big deal if they aren’t frost free, and what are the pros and cons? I’m new at this and would love to hear the experts advice.

To be honest, neither Abs nor I have deep freezers, so we don't have much advice about them. In fact, we recommend that you don't rely on freezer food for food storage, because if you lose power for a significant period of time, all your food will be lost (unless, of course, you have a generator, but even then it's a little risky).

That being said, however, deep freezers are really great to have because they allow you to stock up more when certain foods go on sale, and we're all about taking advantage of sales! I think both types of freezers are fine-I've never really heard anything negative about either type. Personally, I like upright ones because they take up less space and, like you said, you don't have to go digging through it like you would a chest freezer.

What about our readers? Do you have deep freezers? If so, what kind?

Thanks for all your great questions. If you have asked us a question in the past, but it was never answered, please email us again and ask. We get lots of emails, so it's possible that it was lost (sorry!).

To read through our past Q&A posts, click on the "FAQ" tab at the top of our site.


JennVan said...

Emergency Essentials sells freeze dried food in pouches. There are also other websites that sell them too. Its a good idea to do the google search to find them.

I also have a deep freeze and absolutely love it. I have saved so much money from it. I can make meals a head of time and freeze them (also think pre-portioned frozen cookie dough), I can buy in bulk and on sale and it helps to keep random stuff like the chicken carcass that you want to make into stock but don't have time/energy to do right then. I bought a smallish one (2'x 4') and it been more than adequate for me. I would highly recommend getting a deep freeze. It makes life so much easier and you can save money. I have more than covered the cost of it with savings on food.

Kathy said...

About the buckets, if you are willing to do a little washing, you can get food grade plastic buckets from the bakery department at most grocery stores. The one near me only charges a dollar a bucket and they are easy to clean. The lids may or may not be in usable condition but you should be able to find cheap lids online. I just top mine with a gamma lid for easy access and I am good to go. If you've never used the gamma lids, they're great. Just google gamma lid to see them online.

Daniel Longmore said...

You should really check out Harmony House Foods. This place has it all when it comes to freeze dried stuff.

Joanna said...

Chest freezers use less money, as do the non frost-free ones. But then you have to go digging in them, and defrost them. I have been following the 15 cf Kenmore chest freezers at Sears, and the best sales I've seen are about $115 off. Model #1655 had very good ratings from a rating magazine [not sure if I can say which one! :)]

Flashlight Girl said...

Basic run down on deep freezers:
1. Chest freezers hold in the cold better, because if you're opening the down of an upright, the cold air just zips right out. In a chest freezer, the cold air has to actually rise out when the door is open. The coldest air is in the bottom of the freezer and generally stays there longer. The newer chest freezers now come with really great dividers in them to help you organize and find your stuff. It is also more difficult for a curious child to get into, in you know what I mean. Upright freezers are nice for access, but cost generally $100 or so more vs. the chest freezers for the same storage capacity.

2. Frost free freezers are nice in that they don't have to be defrosted periodically, but they RUIN YOUR FOOD. The mechanism that sucks out all of the moisture in the freezer to keep it frost-free also sucks the moisture out of anything in your freezer resulting in a lot more food with freezer burn. Don't believe me? Ask any appliance salesperson that's been in the business for very long and is more interested in selling you what you need than in getting a good commission. The frost-free models also cost more than the traditional variety. Besides, if you keep your freezer fairly full (keep bottles of water in there if it gets sort of empty)you don't get a lot of ice build up anyway.

Ben and Amy Young said...

I will have to agree with the previous post about the freezers. Get a chest, it might be a little harder to dig around but they are cheaper to run and better for your food, do not get a frost free one, the make the food more freezer burn. :[ It's amazing how many foods freeze well. When ever I'm making something that take a little longer to prepare I double it and free half of it for another day. This also works great with any kind of sauce. We have a food saver vaccume thing that helps with the freezer burn too. hope that helps. good luck

S'mee said...

For pouch meals we like Mountain House:


Food grade tubs: I get mine free from a local statewide grocery chain in one location. Talk to a manager, one location wanted to sell me, another was happy not to have to pay for recycling! I set up day each week, took home their 'rinsed' bucket and lids (make sure they are the lids with rubber all the way around with the lip still intact), wash well (I use Dawn to cut the grease well), rinse in HOT water with a bit of bleach in it. Food handlers rinse all their equipment in bleach water to kill bacteria. Air dry and re seal with a rubber mallet. Mark the outside of the container using permanent ink, date, stored item, and amount contained.

Kristi M. said...

I would have to agree that a chest freezer is the way to go. They are more energy efficient because the cold air does not really get lost when the door is continually open. We have a frost free model and I love it. No need to worry about it. We have a food saver which is fantastic in freezing pretty much anything. It has allowed me to stock up on sale items such as chicken and hamburger cutting down food expenses a great deal. Upright ones are great for space reasons but they also use more energy than the others.

Destiny said...

I love your site. Your 3 month supply plan has really helped me in starting to build my food storage and feel that I am furbishing it with actual food I know my family will eat. That being said, we own an upright frost-free freezer and I quite like it. It is very easy to keep an inventory of what we have, so I don't have to worry about food getting lost in the bottom. Also, since we live in an apartment and it takes up less space, that is also very helpful to us. I think it really would depend on the space, or lack of, that you have for a freezer and how good you are at remembering what you have in it.

Jarod and Tanya Rollins said...

My comment is in reply to the question someone asked about freezers. I don't know a lot but I will put in my two cents. As someone posted earlier the frost free freezers will ruin your foods so don't get one of those. Its a pain to have to defrost your freezer every couple of years but its beats having ruined food. My husband and I had a big upright freezer but living in a little apartment wasn't working with the freezer so we sold it and bought a small chest freezer. The chest freezer fits into the closet of our 2nd bedroom so its out of the way and out of sight. Just thought I would throw that out there for those who have limited space. Also chest freezers hold more because you can stack things better than you can in an upright (but you do have to dig to get stuff out).