With the busyness of the season, I add inexpensive food storage items to my grocery list this month. I call them baking basics. Items such as vanilla, cooking spray, brownie or cake mixes, frosting, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. You probably already have a 3-month supply of these items on your shelf like I do.
But I like to store a year’s supply just in case that emergency comes. If you’re not sure how much you want to gather for your family, start with a 3-month supply. Here are some tips:
- VANILLA EXTRACT is super expensive right now, so you could get by with imitation vanilla until the price comes down again. I’m sure it will. I don’t like imitation vanilla, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to stay in your budget. I still have some of my powdered vanilla left. Sam’s Club sells a 32 oz. container of imitation vanilla for about $5.00. Most stores have some as well.
- SALT has an indefinite shelf life, but will become ruined with moisture. A year’s supply is about 8 lbs. per person. Costco sells a 4 lb. box for about $1.46. Store it in a moisture proof container. Some people add rice to salt shakers to absorb moisture.
- COOKING SPRAY is very inexpensive at Costco or Sam’s Club, but it always come on sale at grocery stores. It has at least a 1 year shelf-life if properly stored. Always check the date on the can.
- BAKING POWDER is necessary for our baking needs. A year’s supply is about 4 lbs. per person. Yep! Sounds crazy. However, a 3.75 lb. container costs $5.00 at Costco. And the container is waterproof. You could keep a smaller amount of it in your kitchen and the larger container elsewhere. It generally has a 9-12 month shelf life, but I’ve used it longer. The best thing to do if you question the shelf life, is test it by adding a 1/2 teaspoon to a few tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl. If it fizzes, great. If not, toss it.
- BAKING SODA is super important too. A year’s supply is about 1 lb. per person. Some say it has an indefinite shelf life, but it’s best to test it periodically if you keep an open box on your shelf instead of in an airtight container. It’s inexpensive at most stores. Test it by adding a 1/2 teaspoon to a few tablespoons of vinegar. You want a super fizzy reaction. If it doesn’t fizz much, use if for cleaning the house. Now, here’s something we don’t talk about. Adding baking soda to dry soaking beans reduces… gas. Yep, gas! And most of us don’t eat dry beans from our food storage much. So, keep baking soda on hand to help you adjust.
My emergency focus this month is power and light so I gather such items such as batteries, flashlights, lanterns, and emergency outlet lights. During the winter, we could experience a power outage, so having these items on hand is a blessing. Add a flashlight to your child’s stocking so they can keep it in the drawer by their bed. And you will probably buy batteries for toys or electronics anyway, right? Just pick up extra for emergencies too.
Keep the gathering simple this month so you’ll be more likely to do it. I know you CAN.
Valerie Albrechtsen, The Food Storage Organizer