27 July 2007

Looking after your stockpile

One of the things that's allowed us to live well on little money is our stockpile. That, along with our backyard vegetables, fruit and chickens, and the abundance of eggs they produce, give us good healthy food year round. It's a wonderful thing to be able to pick your own food fresh from the backyard, or to crack open an egg that is gorgeously golden and tastes like eggs used to taste. I find that having a stockpile to supplement all our fresh food gives us a balanced diet without it costing too much.

Like everything in our simple life, the stockpile needs to be looked after. Generally the food in your stockpile will be what can be stored for a few weeks or months, but you can't store your food away and just leave it until you use it. It's a major investment and it needs to be checked and stored correctly.

Make sure you buy food with perfect packaging. You don't want dents in your cans, rips in paper or plastic bags or squashed boxes. Leave them behind and only buy undamaged stock. Check use by and best before dates while still in the shop. If you intend storing your purchase for a few months, make sure the use by date doesn't expire before that time. If you do a big stockpile shop, pack everything well for the trip home and go home as soon as you can so you can get frozen or fresh goods into their appropriate places and out of the hot car. When you bring home new food from the supermarket, pack your cold items away first, then go on to everything else.

If you have grains, seeds, flour, cereals etc., try to put them in the freezer for a couple of days to kill off any bugs that might be present. Even the best quality produce might contain these hidden additions, so putting them in the freezer will ensure that you don't have an outbreak of pantry moths and all the weevil eggs are killed before they hatch. It's amazing what we eat that we don't know about. LOL! = : - 0

When you pack your stockpile goods away, add everything to the back, so you take the oldest first. This will give you a constantly rotating stockpile. While you're packing your stockpile, take note of other things that are there. Check everything is in order, that lids aren't bulging, all packets are unbroken and you have no unwanted visitors, like rodents or cockroaches. If you do, you'll have to unpack everything, clean your shelves and check every packet for contamination. Remember, all the packets in your stockpile should be unopened. Whenever you open anything, store it in a sealable jar, and transfer it to your pantry cupboard.

I have a little cold room stockpile now. A few months ago we bought a medium sized 3.5 star chest freezer specifically for stockpile items for $300. I'd had a couple of outbreaks of pantry moths and I was determined to find a way to beat them. In this little cold room, I store my bulk flours, grains, cereals, nuts, rice etc., as well as home baked bread and cake and frozen lemon juice. There is no meat or anything else that can go off in this freezer. So if the electricity goes off, it doesn't matter. And as far as electricity goes to run it, it's been minimal. I have it set on its lowest setting (1) and it's barely rated on our electricity bill. It's been a really good solution for us in the warm and humid climate.

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