The four cornerstones of my stored food strategy are: (1) vegetable oil, (2) wheat, (3) rice, (4) seeds/nuts. This “cornerstone” strategy uses four items as daily (or almost daily) sources of the three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Various types of vegetable oil provide dietary fat. Wheat (e.g. pasta, flour) and rice provide plenty of carbs and some protein. Then you just need a good source of supplemental protein for the foundation of your diet.
Note well, these four items are not all that you eat. They provide only the foundation of your diet. You can survive for a long time on those four foods, because they provide all the protein, fat, and carbohydrates you need. But to survive and thrive, you need many other foods (perhaps from a survival garden and a well-stocked chest freezer).
1. Vegetable Oil
Dietary fat is an essential nutrient. Despite the many messages in media today, touting low-fat foods and low-fat diets, you need fat in your diet to survive. And, after the SHTF, if you are more physically active, fat is not only an essential nutrient, it is a good source of calories.
Soybean oil provides the two essential fatty acids (omega-6 and omega-3), and so does canola oil. Either of those oils, or some of each, should be part of your stored oil. But there is nothing wrong with storing a variety of oils. I like to keep some peanut oil and extra-virgin olive oil on hand, along with my main supply of soy and canola oil. The latter is cheap and stores well.
See my previous post: How Much Vegetable Oil Should You Store?
Wheat berries — the hulled but otherwise unprocessed grains — store well. But you will need a flour mill to process them into flour. I suppose you could cook the berries like rice grains. But that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Pasta — ordinary white pasta is inexpensive, comes in a plethora of different shapes and sizes, and will keep almost forever in a dry, cool, sealed container. I have over 100 lbs of the stuff in my stores. I could eat pasta every day, happily.
Flour — white flour keeps well, as long as it is dry. I cover the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket with salt (about a pound) and then put the paper packages of flour (5 lb each) on top. The bucket is then sealed with a screw-on cap. The salt keeps the flour dry, so it will stay fresh for many months.
I also keep some of those Mac and Cheese boxes in storage. The “cheese” keeps well without refrigeration, probably because it only qualifies as cheese if you use your imagination to stretch the definition of cheese. But then I also keep some real cheese in the freezer. Mix the cheese packet with some real cheese and it is much improved.
White rice keeps extremely well, just like white pasta. The whole-grain stuff does not keep as well, because the oils in the bran can go rancid. But white rice, or the parboiled type, will keep a very long time. I have a lot of rice along with the pasta.
Rice and wheat are both difficult to grow in a garden, as the harvested threshed grains need to be hulled. But pasta, flour, and rice are all inexpensive and easy to store. And this explains why both are a large part of my stored food strategy.
4. Nuts and seeds
This fourth entry is a bit unusual. Many preppers would probably list dried or canned beans as a top source of stored protein. But my preferred diet is not so bean heavy. Once a week, maybe a soup with peas or beans would be good, or perhaps some type of chili. However, as a daily food, I much prefer nuts and seeds over dried or canned legumes.
Also, beans and peas and the like are easy to grow in a survival garden. Most nuts and seeds are difficult to grow. So that factor tips the balance in favor of nuts and seeds for the fourth corner of the stored food foundation.
Consider your options for nuts and seeds:
Peanut Butter (about 25% protein and 50% fat)
This nutritionally dense food stores well, though not indefinitely, and is high in fat and protein.
Peanuts, dry-roasted (about 24% protein and 50% fat)
Roasted and salted peanuts are also a good source of protein and fat. Peanuts and peanut butter are a fairly good source of omega-6 fat, but contain little omega-3 fat. Peanuts are inexpensive.
Sunflower seeds (about 19% protein and 50% fat)
Roasted and salted sunflower seeds are a good source of protein and fat. They are inexpensive and store fairly well.
Almonds (about 21% protein and 52% fat)
Roasted and salted almonds are a good source of protein and fat. Almonds are more expensive than peanuts and sunflower seeds, but add variety to the diet. Almonds are a good source of calcium (better than other nuts and seeds).
Pistachios (about 21% protein and 45% fat)
Pistachios are a good source of protein and fat. They are an ideal complete protein, and, like most other nuts, are high in total protein.
Pumpkin seeds (about 30% protein and 49% fat)
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and fat. Pumpkin seeds are a complete protein, and they are high in the essential amino acid lysine.
Soybeans (about 40% protein and 22% fat)
Soybeans are a legume, but they are included here because they are high in protein and fat, and because they can be prepared and eaten like seeds and nuts. Soybeans are an ideal complete protein, high in lysine, and very high in protein. The fat in soybeans includes both essential fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3. Roasted soybeans (also called ‘soy nuts’) are not as tasty as other seeds and nuts, but what they lack in taste, they make up for in nutrition.
English Walnuts (about 15% protein and 65% fat)
English walnuts are the most common variety; if the package just says ‘walnuts’, it is most likely English walnuts. English walnuts are a good source of protein and fat. The fat in English walnuts includes both essential fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3. English walnuts are not as high in protein as many other seeds and nuts, but are high in healthy fats.
Cashews (about 15% protein and 46% fat)
Cashews are lower in protein than many other nuts and seeds, and are often more expensive. However, cashews are a complete protein, and they have more protein than most grains.
Hazelnuts or Filberts (about 15% protein and 62% fat)
Hazelnuts are a nearly complete protein. Hazelnuts are a good source of omega-6 fatty acids, but have little or no omega-3 fat. They are not as high in protein as other seeds and nuts.
Pecans (about 10% protein and 74% fat)
Pecans are a good source of fat and a modest source of protein. Pecans are relatively expensive. Other nuts and seeds should be preferred for storage.
If you store plenty of all four “cornerstone” foods, you have a strong foundation for survival and good nutrition. Add a variety of fruits and vegetables grown in a backyard garden, and some frozen foods, and you will be well-prepped when the SHTF.