Both Patrick and I like to cook, and out here on the farm we pretty much prepare and eat all of our meals at home. We get delicious, organic produce from many of our neighbors and eat mostly whole foods. Our current home is adjacent to the beautiful Avalon garden and this colorful display of homegrown vegetables was fresh picked from their outdoor crops. We enjoy many different styles of cooking: Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean and Southwestern, to name a few. The spicier it is, all the better!
Buying Food in Bulk
Beyond an utter indulgence in the art of cooking, we keep a good supply of ingredients on hand for practical reasons. Buying our food in bulk quantities has saved us money, as well as trips to the store. We order from a variety of food suppliers and often buy food in cases to get bulk discounts. Though there are grocers within driving distance, often we find that they either do not carry or are out of stock of the products that we use. When in Phoenix we can usually find the best deals and we always stock up at our favorite stores.
After witnessing the Katrina hurricane disaster on National T.V., Patrick and I both realized the necessity of self-preparedness. Being able to supply yourself with food and water for a period of weeks or months makes a lot of sense to us. In fact, emergency preparedness organizations recommend that households stock at least a three months supply of food.
Our quest for self sufficiency is also fueled by our environment. “Out here” there are no corner stores and gas stations are a 30 minute drive, homesteads are spread through the desert and the severity of the climate can be life threatening if unprepared. In general, folks out here tend towards self reliance and demonstrate customary consideration for basic survival needs.
Long Term Food Storage Methods
After a year of focused food storage, our pantries are well stocked. We keep our long term food stores cool and dark, and continually replenish and rotate supplies. With months worth of food on hand, we've also begun experimenting with storage methods that will keep things fresher, longer. We've purchased a small, hand-held vacuum sealer that fits standard mason jars and is used to remove the air from food storage containers. It not only produces a tight seal, but it creates a vacuum, an environment in which bacteria cannot live. Beans and grains are supposed to last two to three years longer when “vacu-sealed.” We also vacuum pack, coffee, flours, pasta and nuts for long term storage.
All in all, increasing our food storage has been relatively simple and we both feel more comfortable with our level of preparedness. We also have found that we take fewer trips to the store and our savings have definitely been well worth it. We plan to continue our food storage experiments and hope to begin canning and dehydrating foods as well.