This month our food storage focus is oils and fats, and a bit of chocolate. Last year I listed those items in December because you can get some great bargains then, however some of you will want to start the holiday season off with these items stocked in your pantry. Got to have some chocolate chips for those pumpkin cookies and pancakes, right?
Our preparedness focus is fire safety. After the many fires in Utah and surrounding states this year, fire safety is in the forefront. This is National Fire Prevention month, with Fire Prevention Week starting October 7th. Check out some prep ideas at usfa.fema.gov, nfpa.org or HomeFireDrill.org.
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Oils and Fats
There are a variety of oils and fats to choose from; canola, coconut, vegetable, peanut, olive, shortening, etc. No matter what you choose to store, you need to remember that oil is NOT a long term food storage item so rotate it often. As you stock up on a 3 to 6 month supply now, you may need to stock up again every three to six months.
Unopened canola oil has a 1 – 2 year shelf life depending on storage temperature, but most of us open it up which reduces the shelf life to 6 – 12 months. So write the date you open it on the side of the container and keep it stored in a dark cupboard away from heat. Shortening has an unopened shelf life of 2 years, but an opened shelf life of 1 year.
Try to buy the size that you will use up based on your cooking/baking style. If you bake often, buy a larger container. If not, choose a smaller size. Always smell and taste oil before using, and don’t use if it has an off odor, taste or appearance. (Some of you may wonder why mayonnaise is not on this list. We stock up on that during the summer months with our condiments.)
I’ve also included peanut or almond butter, and any nut butter you prefer this month. Again, because of the fat content, these items are not long-term foods. So store an amount you use, and buy regularly throughout the year to replenish your stock. I picked up a few cases of the 18 oz. size at Smith’s grocery store last month. In a large family, the larger size at Costco or Sam’s Club may be better. Natural peanut butters have a shelf life of 6 months, and regular peanut butter has a 2 year unopened shelf life and a 3 – 4 month opened shelf life. So mark those containers.
Even though we focused on meat and potatoes last month, I added beef into this month’s list to help balance your monthly expense. There are various types of beef you can store; canned beef chunks (Costco 12 oz. $3.00), beef jerky, corned beef, etc. If you have space and finances, you can store TVP (textured vegetable protein) instead of real beef. The choice is yours. I only use mine for emergencies because of the expense.
A 23 oz. size baking cocoa at Costco is $5.99, and it has a 1 year shelf life opened, and an indefinite shelf life unopened. A large package of chocolate chips at Costco is equivalent to $1.75 per 12 oz. package at the grocery store. So if you can’t find a good sale, buy at Costco. However, you won’t find mini chips.
Because of the fat in chocolate chips, milk chocolate has a 16 month shelf life, and semi-sweet chocolate chips have a 2 year shelf life if stored in a cool, dry area, tightly sealed. In humid climates chips store best in the refrigerator or freezer. I live in a dry climate, but still freeze my chocolate chips, however I let them come to room temperature before baking.
Watch for clearance Halloween candy the first week of November. Or, tell your kids they can only eat a small amount of their Halloween candy now, and then put the rest in the “family goodie bin” for future treat making. A few good candies to hang on to for baking are kisses, Skittles, M&M’s, Snickers, Almond Joys, candy corn, jelly beans, chocolate bars, and peanut butter cups.
With Christmas items already needing space on shelves, stores will be getting rid of Halloween items quickly. Best prices are usually three days after Halloween with the first mark down at 50% off and then it goes up as each day goes by, but the selection is also depleted.
Forgot to mention that this month we are not adding to our 72-hour and auto emergency kits. We are putting money aside for a big ticket item at the end of December. Something like that wheat grinder or a mixes. Check out the October 2012 Food Storage Shopping List link above to see what I’m talking about.
Last but not least, I just cleaned up my menu bar and included these new tabs: Start Here, and 52 Weekly Food Storage Lists. Hope you will check them out. So let’s get our houses in order this October. Love this season!
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*shelf life from StillTasty.com
Halloween Candy articles:
TasteofHome: Recipes Using Leftover Halloween Candy
Real Simple: 10 Recipe Ideas for Halloween Candy