Ok, the grid is down and you have turned off the utilities and taken care of your water, what do you do next? Check on your food situation. Take a look at the refrigerator and see what needs to be used right away, don’t mess with the freezer yet. Use up the foods that require refrigeration first. Many of the foods that we normally refrigerate will keep for several days without refrigeration, such as produce and condiments.
Now the freezer, most freezers depending on the ambient temperature will stay cold for about three days if you leave them alone and don’t open the door a lot. If you have a generator and fuel, you can run the freezer for three or four hours a day and buy yourself time to preserve the contents.
So what is your long-term plan for the food in the freezer? You have basically three ways to preserve it, canning, drying or dehydrating, or salting. All of these methods take some time and study. I would recommend that you spend some time learning these skills beforehand.
Here is a short course in dehydrating and salting. If you don’t already know how to can and have supplies on hand, this method will not work for you. To dehydrate your food, cut it into thin slices and spread it out in the sun allowing air circulation. You can improvise racks with window screens. If you are drying meat, be sure and cut the fat off. Dry the food until it is completely dry and it should last for a while.
To salt the meat, take food grade containers like five-gallon buckets or large pots and mix up salt brine. There is enough salt in the mixture when it will float an egg. Submerge the meat in the mixture and put some weight on top to keep it under the brine. If you don’t have a tight fitting lid, you may have to add more water occasionally.
Then inventory the other foods that you have on hand. Determine which foods should be consumed first to minimize waste. If it appears that you will not be able to replenish your supplies, consider whether or not you need to ration your food.
The best plan is to have a deep larder of long-term storage foods and the knowledge you need to use them and preserve foods.
4 thoughts on “How do you take care of your food when the grid goes down?”
I am fortunate 🙂 If grid power goes down, I flip the 12v breaker for my freezer to “on”. The fridge does it automatically. 6 golf cart batteries and a generator to charge them if needed. I can go several days before having to charge up. LED lights are a minimal draw.
Just another way of doing things
I’ve been working on this for a few years now and have concluded that, after a SHTF event, I’d be so busy with other problems that there would be no time to preserve my perishables.
Therefore, I have modified my life style to better reflect the way folks lived 100 years ago. I now rely almost solely on using only “shelf-stable” foods: e.g., commercially canned meats & fish, veggies, and pasta sauces; commercially dehydrated fruits and veggies; and things that are otherwise storable without refrigeration (e.g., pasta, buttery spreads, shrink-wrapped cheddar & jack cheese, split peas, lentils, dry beans, and jug wines).
Many of these things you won’t find in your local supermarket. For example, canned meats in the supermarket are loaded with salt, fat, and preservatives. But there are really good canned meats and canned dehydrated veggies are available from many prepper on-line sources. At first glance, these may seem to be too expensive for daily use. I’ve found that this isn’t true – partly because there is little to no waste with them.
I use things such as powdered eggs, powdered milk, dehydrated bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, celery, garlic, tomato powder, etc. I use these daily and I find that even after cans are opened they remain good for weeks and months while simply covered with their plastic lids and stored on my kitchen counter.
Other things, such as buttery spreads in plastic tubs and shrink-wrapped cheese store well in a cool storage room (mine never exceeds 70F even in the summer). I’m now eating Smart balance buttery spread and various cheeses that have been stored on an open shelf for 13 months. They are good! In fact, the cheese improved with age.
Now, to accomplish this I buy small quantities of shelf-stable foods, store them for a while, and then use them as I would in a SHTF situation, see what I like, and then increase my stores of what I do like and what stores well in my non-refrigerated storage room.
My kitchen is all electric. But, I have various improvised wood fired cook stoves that I periodically use to test recipes to ensure that I can cook them safely during a SHTF event. Safety is of paramount importance when canning foods on a wood fired stove. You don’t want to pop-off the safety valve on a pressure cooker because you over-fired the stove or because you spilled the contents of a canning kettle.
Yes, I still have a fridge for gourmet delights such as ice cream, frozen raviolis, as well as fresh foods awaiting home preservation.
I am interested in more information on which cheeses you are storing.
Eggs will sometimes float if they are getting old anyway. In fact that is how you test eggs, and any that are over 3 weeks old even unwashed with their natural bloom seal on in cold storage will start to float when tested in plain water. Some people don’t eat eggs at all (egg allergy has increased with the increase of vaccination that uses chicken eggs to produce the vaccines) and wouldn’t have an egg on hand, fresh or not.
Also what about nitrites? I hear that nitrites are necessary to brining? What is “Prague Powder” ?
I hear that the salt to use is non-iodized. But iodine is good for us, prevents thyroid problems. Severe iodine deficiency leads to problems being cold, unenergetic, and thinking issues, even goiter and cretinism. Children born to mothers who are iodine deficient can end up mentally retarded for life. And sea salt naturally has iodine in it. So, is the mandate to use NON iodized salt due to some cosmetic reason, or is there an actual health reason to avoid it in brining meat? does iodine somehow throw off the brining process?