Taking Winter by Storm – Part II (food)

Last week I talked about why I’m such a fantatic about being prepared for terrible weather.  Snow, hurricanes, ice, and flooding are one thing, but something we didn’t address?  Zombies.  Zombies are a real threat people.  BELIEVE.

If the roads are impassable due to ice, fallen tree limbs, or fallen limbs because of the zombie
apolypse, you don’t want to have to venture out to a grocery store.  That is why food preservation and preparation are so important going in to the winter months.

The number one thing you can do to make sure your food source is safe is to grow a garden.  It’s trickier during the winter months, but it is still possible.  However, since I’d like to survive on more than just small carrots, a few peas, the world’s tiniest brussel sprouts, lettuce, and weeds, I keep our house stocked and ready for anything.

After years of not having space to store a lot of excess food, I’ve gone a wee bit nutty now that we have a garage.  Those of you who follow my blog via Facebook might remember the 300 lbs of wheat berries and 75 pounds of juicing oranges I currently have in my garage…

When we moved in, it was understood that the garage was Troy’s territory, excluding my food shelves.  I quickly threw stuff up there and got busy putting the rest of the house together.  Troy’s pile remains.  Five months later.  Ahem.

The downside to just throwing stuff on the shelf without much thought is a) poor organization leaving little room for more stuff later and b) being a moron and putting all the glass stuff at the TOP of the unsecured shelves.  In earthquake country. 

I spent a recent happenin’ Friday night (cause I’m cool like that) reorganizing the shelves to make it safer in case the “big” one hit.  Ahhh, much better.  Well not much better.  Troy’s crap still remains.  Le sigh.

On thing you’ll notice under the paper towels (I hate buying them, but Troy uses them to blow his nose.  Yeah, I’m serious) is gallons of water.  I usually buy 1 gallon every few weeks when grocery shopping.  It spreads the cost out and ensures that we always have a rotating supply of fresh drinking water in case our water supply is cut off.   I have three gallons of water per person which if we’re smart will last three days.

If the power is out for an extended amount of time, keeping the fridge and freezer closed allows for your food to stay cold (deep thoughts courtesy of Sarah).  After the second 24 hour period though, I would start eating things from the fridge to make sure you’re not wasting food that is going to be spoiled very soon.  As extra precaution, we have a freezer alarm to let us know when temperatures are reaching a dangerous range in our deep freeze.

Do you have an extra freezer in your basement or garage?  It’s more expensive to keep a partially-full freezer at the proper temp, so fill old clean milk jugs with water and stick them in there to prevent the freezer from having to work overtime.  If the power goes out, the jugs will help keep your stash colder.  If things start to melt before power is restored, you also have an additional source of drinking water.  

Thanks to my love/hate relationship with canning, we have plenty of fruit, tomato products, and chicken broth to eat (see bottom 2 shelves above.  The jars are 5 deep) if we lose electricity and can’t use the oven.  Cold chicken broth doesn’t sound like the best thing ever, but I know it’s full of protein if we’re in a pinch.  We can also prepare foods on our BBQ, but who knows how long the propane tank will last if our power is down for a very extended amount of time.   ALWAYS keep your BBQ outside when preparing food.  Ever time there is an extended power outage, people in Washington state die from trying to heat their homes with their BBQ.

If you have a wood stove (color me jealous if you do), you can also use the top of that for cooking your meals.  It will be a slow process, but hey, pretend you’re Ma and Laura Ingalls for the afternoon.  Don’t invite that snooty Nelly Olson over though.  Townspeople will just have to fend for themselves.

I order bulk foods from Azure Standard (will do a separate post on them at some point), and most dried goods come in 25 to 50 pound bags.  To prevent any water or insect damage, I store the food (wheat, oatmeal, beans, rice, etc.) in 5 gallon buckets and use gamma lids to turn the buckets in to air-tight storage containers.  Gamma lids are a pain to get on the first time, but once you do it, you’re guaranteed a fresh seal.

When Troy found me putting gamma lids on buckets last week, he asked why I was going to so much trouble to store the food.  My reply was that I was spending money on this stuff and didn’t want it to go to waste.  He then said “but if zombies attack, and we don’t have electricity, how are you going to grind all this wheat in to flour”.  I explained that we would use zombies to pedal an exercise bike that generated electricity to run the flour mill.  When he ask what would I feed the zombies, I think we were both surprised and disturbed how quickly I said “neighbors”.  What followed was a 5 minute conversation that quickly grew uncomfortable as we discussed which neighbors would be the first to go.  But I digress…the point is – store your food properly and protect your investment and family’s food supply in case the shit hits the fan.


Our food storage didn’t happen overnight.  I purchased items very slowly to make it economical and not stress my monthly food budget.  If there is something that keeps well and is on deep discount, why not pick up a few bottles/cans/packages the next time you’re at the store?  Processed food is not something we eat, but there is no denying that it keeps for a long period of time and is a low-cost “insurance” policy against going hungry during bad weather.

I was blessed with a garden that produced enough tomatoes to keep us in tomato products in an emergency.  But I also worked my ASS off preserving them, so I’m not going to discount that time I spent on that.

If you read my meal plan and grocery bill from yesterday, you’ll notice I spent $10 on paper plates (I got a $4 rebate though bringing to total to $6).  That is because if the power is out and we can’t heat water, washing dishes will be challenging.  I keep paper plates and bowls and some plastic utensils on hand for such an occasion.  I splurge and get the ones made from sugarcane because they’re a) a renewable resource and can be composted or b) used as tinder to start fires to keep us warm after we’ve eaten off of them!

I’ll leave you with three pieces of wisdom:
1) start slowly so that it’s not overwhelming.  But not too slowly…it’s already freaking November already people!
2) water is the most important thing to have on hand.  You can go without food for weeks – it won’t be a happy few weeks – but only a few days without water.
3) if the shit hits the fan, make your way to my house.  I have loads of flour, fruit, meat, and butter to share.  But be prepared to be put to work juicing oranges and grinding wheat.  Don’t complain about it though…it’s better than being zombie bait.

I’ve shared this over at Monday Mania, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Fat Tuesday,Traditional Tuesdays,Real Food Wednesdays, Pennywise Platter Thursday, and Simple Lives Thursdays.

Yo yo, head’s up, this post might contain affiliate links which help to support my site. And my canning, seed buying, and aggressive saving habits.


  1. says

    Haha. Awesome post. I shall keep that invitation in mind… I don’t live in a place where we are THAT liable to lose electricity for more than a few hours, or get a lot of snow for this to be a worry, but it is definitely something to think about. Nobody is safe from the zombie apocalypse after all. Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    Funny we, just spent a couple of hours last weekend moving around our food storage. We put all if the home canned tomatoes and things on the bottom shelve in case of an earthquake. It is nice and we have a lot more room in there also!

  3. says

    Tanner – you’re right that zombies can happy ANYWHERE! Best be prepared.

    OMW – smart family moving that stuff down to lower shelves!

    AAU – the generator can actually work against you with zombies. Generators are noisy and can alert the undead to your whereabouts. Best to use sparingly!

  4. says

    Hi, First time here and will be back. How will you keep those canned foods on the bottom shelves from falling off and breaking? Do you have the jars secured and I just cannot see it? Even on a low shelf, the jars can break if they hit the floor.

    In order to maintain optimal nutrition, anything in jars needs to be protected from light, heat, and moisture. Can you put the cans of tomatoes in boxes and close the lids?

    I have four half-gallon jars of stored beans to a box and used extra cardboard to put between the jars to keep them from rattling against each other. When canning jars knock against each other, there is more of a chance the jars will break during the next canning session, right in your canner.

    If I had a wish, I would like the gamma lids. Using canning jars (half gallon or any size I have) the rings on the used canning lids/flats will also keep out bugs.

    I like your blog.

  5. says

    Practical – thanks for stopping by!

    I hadn’t heard that about lights and tomatoes before. Even artificial lights? The shelving is in the back wall of the garage and won’t get any natural light at any time.

    As far as securing the shelves to the wall, that hasn’t happened yet. It’s on the hub’s list of crap to do. Sigh

  6. says

    Hm. I’m about done being made fun of for my awesome pantry. I’m using you as proof that I’m not the only one preparing for the zombies. Where the hell do all the wise folks who trust FEMA to feed them think they are going to find a thimble of mercy after they are turned away from the MRE line? Not at my house. Nope. Go Away Haters. You love Hy-Vee so much? Go loot it with the rest of the idiots who use their basements to store broken appliances and half empty boxes of crap they haven’t looked at in ten years. I’ll be playing scrabble and eating lasagna. Oh, and drinking beer.

    • krista says

      Amen sister! I just don’t tell people, that way no haters, and no one to come knocking when the zombies come. Enjoy your lasagna :)

  7. says

    I have heard about storing raw food supplies in 5 gallon pails many times; so why I haven’t I even started? No answer is available or possible since I have access to the pails.
    I have only an electric herb (coffee) mill for grinding so I keep flour – in the freezer. Any comments on that, please?
    I did find a hand grinder, made for coffee. I could perhaps clean it up and see if it works for grains. Anything smelling of coffee makes me nauseous so I would have to get it really clean. I also have an old-fashioned meat grinder (the kind that clamps to the edge of a table), not that I use meat. I have used it to grind dried fruits. If I added oatmeal and seeds I could have an energy bar. And thanks for helping me think of that!
    I have only recently heard about the zombie phenomenon and have no idea what Hy-Vee is. I don’t have television in case that is relevant.
    Real glad I found your blog. :)

  8. says

    Rachel, I’m not sure what HyVee is, but I’m assuming it’s a grocery store? Regardless, I’d be happy to join you and your beer (but I don’t drink so it’s all yours!) should/when the apocalypse hits. Sounds like you’re all set!

    mPaula, welcome! Please make sure if you’re storing food in buckets, that the buckets are made from food safe plastic. Food shouldn’t be stored in “normal” buckets. If you have a restaurant supply store in your area, they will have tons of those!

    As far as non-electric milling options, I’m lost on that one as well. I’ve been keeping my eyes open at goodwill and yardsales, and I just hope to find one in good shape soon!

    You might also want to look in to maple syrup (the real stuff, not “pancake syrup” and/or honey because both are sweeteners that store well. I believe honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil. Ever!

  9. says

    Sarah – I live in Canada. I’m sure there is fake ‘maple’ syrup here but we have no problem (except cost) getting the real stuff.
    As for honey, I buy it at a bulk food store. I read an article recently about the fact that most commercial honey has been stripped of all medicinal value. By an amazing coincidence, there was a recent workshop for people interested in keeping bees as a hobby. I will have to find one of them or an existing hobby farmer if I can’t ensure the honey I buy is intact.

    The plastic pails are from a wine-making store and must be food safe since they hold the juice to make wine. I got enough used (FREE) corks from the store (some people can’t throw useful stuff away) to make a mat by using hot glue to secure them to rug backing. When it is finished I will put it in the kitchen. When I am washing dishes, it will be in front of the sink. When I am preparing food it will be by the counter and when cooking, in front of the stove. Cork is a very comfortable surface to stand on, acting like an anti-fatigue mat.

  10. says

    Ah, I figured as much about Hy-vee! I’ve seen it mentioned in blogs before!

    mPaula – mmmm, you have access to the good stuff – lucky lucky!

    As far as honey goes, I buy my raw honey from a place about 15 miles from here. They don’t process it, and it’s fantastic. Comes in glass mason jars and is $10 for a quart. Fantastic stuff!! I think a resource like wildharvest.org might be able to help you find some local stuff.

    Love the idea of the cork mat!! I have a cheap anti-fatigue mat, and even though it isn’t one of the “fancy ones”, it is the best thing in my kitchen! If/when we can ever afford to buy a house, I would pork cork in as the kitchen flooring if we can afford it. I love that stuff!

  11. says

    When I was little, our power went out all the time. We also didn’t have a city water supply. The most important number in the house was the number two. Each toilet had about two flushes before we had to go outside to do our business. Gave a whole new meaning to “if its yellow let it mellow”.

  12. says

    Hi, I did not see your question. Light of any kind destroys nutritional benefits of any kind of food. Anything in JARS– tomatoes, green beans, applesauce–needs to be kept in the dark…not light, natural or artificial. I was saying that jars that fall just a small distance, especially onto a garage floor will still break. So, securing the shelves to the wall and securing even the lower jars is necessary. Even if the jar does not break, canning jars used in pressure cooker or even a hot water bath can crack if they have been jostled about. It seems even a tiny scratch renders them weak.

  13. says

    I just read a post on Homestead/Survival’s facebook page about keeping your canned items (the ones you canned) earthquake safe-r by tying something (fabric strips? I don’t know) around the shelves at halfway-up-across-the-jar level, as well as the cardboard in between the jars. And I suppose fastening the shelves to the wall would be important too. We don’t generally have earthquakes here in Maryland (with the exception of last year), but I’m getting ready to make the big move out to Seattle this summer, and started thinking ahead! Hey, any post where I see grinding your own wheat (which was where I found this) with a zombie pantry link in the blog entry is OK by me! It all seems perfectly reasonable.

  14. says

    Hey, I’m late to this post, but it’s great information. I’ll have to stock up on some gallon jugs for the freezer.

    I’m not LDS, but I’ve found a great website run by an LDS mama who has TONS of organizational lists for stockpiling not just emergency food but a 3-month regular supply and also other emergency equipment. She has everything broken down by month so that it’s very doable, and of course you can adapt her lists to your own family’s tastes. The website is http://www.preparedldsfamily.com. Look under her “download” link to find lists, lists, and more lists.

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