When you’re living small and running out of space in your home, anything you buy raises the same big question: where am I going to store it?
A lot of people live in small spaces, and still buy a lot of everything, even if most of it finally goes to waste. Let’s be smart and buy what you really need and use, in or outside the kitchen. Think about how to use in multiple ways everything you buy, including food.
In other words, choose versatile food as much as you opt for multipurpose items when building your reserves. In the end, its about money, but also about space and resources.
Here’s what I chose!
First, there are a lot of grains that you can use to make flour at home: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, corn, oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias, and walnuts), seeds (such as sunflowers, hemp, pumpkin, amaranth and flax), potatoes, arrowroot, tapioca, coconut, soybean and others.
You have undoubtedly heard of cornmeal and possibly even almond meal, but what’s the difference between a meal and flour? Meals are ground more coarsely. To make meal, just don’t grind your product as long. When it starts to get a crumbly texture, you’re done. Compare it mentally to cornmeal.
Meals are great for several different uses because they add a heartier flavor and more texture to your goods. They’re bad, though, if you’re shooting for something nice and light to make a cake with.
Then you have pasta, and all those tasty dishes based on them: lasagna, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese or simple yet delicious rustic dishes made only from the ingredients in your garden. You won’t need many ingredients: flour, eggs (optionally) and salt. Some people like to add oil, but it’s not essential to making basic pasta.
All-purpose flour is just fine for a basic pasta mix. If you want to add texture and a bit of hardiness to your pasta, you can add some semolina flour to the mix. If you want silkier pasta for a more refined noodle, add some cake flour, or 00 flour.
Milk is packed with calcium and protein and is also a necessary ingredient in many recipes.
It’s something that you’ll want to have on hand in a survival situation.
Milk doesn’t keep long, but there are different ways to preserve it for later use. Read this Survivopedia article to find out more about how to preserve milk.
Also, there are about a million different cheese recipes out there that you can make depending upon your personal preferences and the type of milk (goat or cow) that you’re using.
Cheese is a lot easier to make than you’d think and you can keep it forever without refrigeration.
Coat the cheese in wax to preserve it. You’ll need a special cheese wax because paraffin wax will crack as it dries. Waxed cheese will last up to 25 years but remember that it will age and become sharper so if you plan to store it for an extended period of time, start with a mild cheese.
Another idea is to make butter or buttermilk. Or if you’d like, you can also make yogurt (here are a few recipes you might use for making yogurt), sour cream or cottage cheese but storage methods for those are just simple refrigeration. It will extend the life of the milk for a couple of weeks, though. And I’ve also heard rumors of canning buttermilk.
Let’s talk multipurpose! The main purpose of salt for most people is to add a bit more taste to their food. However, salt can be so much more useful in the kitchen and around the house, thanks to the many applications it has.
- Prevents the browning of fruits and vegetables. This is something that can be done with lemon juice or vinegar, but a bucket of salty water will also do the trick.
- Preserves food naturally for long term survival. Salt works by dehydrating the food as well as the microbes present in the food. Most especially, mold and yeast cannot grow in food pretreated with salt. Food preserved this way could last for years.
- Fresh egg test. You need a cup of water with two teaspoons of salt in them. Drop an egg in the cup. A fresh one should sink straight to the bottom while an older one would float. An older egg has more buoyancy because the air cell inside of it increases.
- Makes cheese last longer. Even when it is preserved properly in a refrigerated environment, cheese will inevitable spoil due to mold. This cannot be prevented with salting the cheese, but it can be delayed. Wrap the cheese before storing it in a damp cloth moistened using saltwater.
- Puts out grease fires. One thing to never do is to throw water on top of a grease fire. The water evaporates instantly and spreads the fire all over the room. Instead, throwing salt on top of the grease fire will create a crusty layer without oxygen, thus smothering the flames. Moreover, the salt also acts as a heat sink, dissipating the heat.
Salt keeps well in cool, dry places and you can prevent it from clumping by dropping a few grains of rice at the bottom of the shaker.
In addition to tasting delicious in tea and in baklava, honey has some pretty nifty health benefits. When you eat local honey, it’s said to help with allergies, which is great. The real use in an emergency though lies in the antibacterial, antimicrobial and emollient properties. It also has a ton of practical uses:
- Has vitamins and minerals so if you’re using a sweetener, honey is better than sugar
- Can be used as an antibacterial on wounds
- Is a great healing agent for wounds and helps keep the bandage from sticking
- Barter – sweeteners are going to be way up there on the list
- Excellent skin moisturizer (if your skin is so dry that it cracks, you’re going to have problems)
- Makes a great burn treatment because of the antibacterial properties and the moisturizing power
- Soothes sore throats
- When mixed with vinegar and water is an effective parasite remover
- Make fly/bug strips
Did you know that honey was found in Egyptian pharaohs’ tombs and it was still as good as new?
It only needs to be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place and it will last a lifetime. And don’t fret if your honey has crystalized; just place the jar in some warm water (without letting water enter the jar) and it will be smooth and good as new in no time.
Some of us throw away a ton of food scraps on a regular basis, but did you know that you can repurpose much of it? You can, of course, start a compost pile, but there are also many uses of kitchen scraps, and they would make your life easier if you are prepping or just homesteading.
First, use them to grow more food. In most of the cases, the roots will regrow if you plant them in the soil, just like bulbs of flowers do.
You can also use some of the scraps for filtering water. For example, grind the corn husk into dust and mix it with coffee grounds and clay. Add enough water to make it “clay-like” and shape it into a bowl. Allow to dry in the sun, then put your water in it and place it over another vessel. The water will soak through the bowl and into the other vessel, leaving contaminants behind. Rinse the corn husk bowl and reuse.
Onion peels, apple peels and banana peels also help removing pollutants from water. They attract and capture ions and pollutants because they’re adsorbent. This won’t purify the water or remove biohazards but it will help remove some of the dangerous pollutants.
And here are a few more examples on what kitchen scraps can help:
- Sooth stings – the end of the onion can be used to sooth stings. Just hold it on your skin.
- Use them to dye your hair a beautiful golden brown, or to color fabrics or Easter eggs a bright purple!
- Cook it up along with your garlic peels to make an organic pesticide. It stinks, but it works!
- Make baskets – braid or weave the husks into a basket.
- Protect delicate foods when grilling – if you want to grill your fish or other delicate food but are afraid it will fall apart and be wasted, wrap it in a wet corn husk while cooking.
- Treat bladder infections – boil the husks into a tea for relief. It also works as a pain reliever for some types of joint or muscle pain.
- Start fires – dried husks are extremely flammable so if you don’t have any good kindling, don’t pitch those husks!
- Fertilizer – your plants need the calcium and other minerals in the shells so you can crush them up and mix them into the dirt or you can soak the eggshells in the water that you use for your plants. You can even use the entire shell as a “cup” to start your seeds in if you crack them carefully.
- Pest deterrent – having problems with deer or cats in your garden? Crush the eggshells and scatter them around your garden.
- Calcium supplements – we all need plenty of calcium but in a survival situation, we may not be able to get enough. Thank goodness you thought to raise chickens! Just grind the eggs into a fine powder and mix it into your smoothie or other food once per day.
- Feed them to your chickens – that’s right – they need calcium to make more eggs so instead of using oyster shells, crush up the egg shells and give them back.
- Candles – if you crack the tops off carefully, you can fill the shells with beeswax, add a wick, and you’ve got a candle that you didn’t need to use another container on.
- Seed starter pots – again, crack them carefully and put your soil and seeds in them. You’ve got organic seed pots that are already rich in calcium and minerals that your plants need.
Add few more items to this list, and you’ll have a practical “To Buy” list for your kitchen, and your stockpile too. Less means more, and people living small can confirm that. Not to mention how easy and convenient is to carry a smaller bag when you are on the run for survival.
This article has been written by Gabrielle Ray for Survivopedia.