When you’re dealing with a restricted diet, accumulating food storage becomes kind of tricky. My husband and I avoid most processed foods, as many additives make him very sick. Other people avoid gluten, dairy, soy, genetically modified foods, coloring, etc. It’s all the same challenge: Companies want their food to taste good while they also want to make it last a long time. But some of us can’t eat the things they add.
At the same time, storing food becomes even more critical when you’re dealing with a restricted diet. Suppose you choose not to prepare and the time comes where you wish you had stored food. You may be able to find food. Maybe you have a nice neighbor who will share or maybe your city or church will begin to provide food for people. All right. That’s very nice of them. Can you eat it? If your neighbor is sharing cans of chili from her pantry, they will probably have an ingredient list so you will at least be able to determine whether it will make you sick or not. What if it will make you sick? Will you politely refuse the food? What will happen if you eat it anyway? I suspect this will be a tough decision for a lot of people. If your city or a religious group prepares food for many hungry people, you may not be able to see ingredient lists at all. Then what will you do? Will you eat it and hope that it doesn’t make you sick? What if you needed food for an extended period? These are questions that are hard to answer.
I hope you see my point here, though. Although storing food for people with dietary restrictions is sometimes difficult, choosing not to store food will make things much, much more difficult. Any situation where you wouldn’t have food would be stressful enough; you certainly don’t want to be dealing with additional dietary issues or illness (especially if it can be avoided).
Obviously, this is something we have thought a lot about in my family. Let me share some of our ideas that may help you as you’re planning food storage for someone on a restricted diet. Of course, with such a wide variety of dietary restrictions and lifestyles, all of this may not apply to you. (As my dad says, “Take what works and leave the rest.”)
1. Try to store plain ingredients instead of pre-prepared food. Usually these ingredient lists are very short. Take a look at the efoods direct Liberty Unit as a possibility. Many of the items included are dehydrated basic foods with short (and clean!) ingredient lists. There is also a soy-free Liberty Unit available.
2. Store dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits and vegetables.
3. Store herbs and spices so that you can make meals that taste different instead of ending up with really bland foods.
4. Buy some food storage cookbooks and try them out!
5. Read ingredient labels from companies that sell MREs or other food storage. Although my husband and I have to avoid most of it, sometimes particular items are “safe” while others are not. Buy the ones that are safe. This works better for some restricted diets than for others. For instance, if you’re dealing with a soy allergy, you may be able to avoid dishes that have textured vegetable protein (TVP) and be just fine with others. If you’re on a reduced sodium diet, you may need to stay away from soups, but bakery type items may be fine. Honestly, reading all the labels can be time consuming and boring, but I think it is worthwhile, and for us it has added some more fun items to our food storage. (One thing like this that we’ve added to our storage is the eFoods Direct Tropical Fruit Medley. The ingredient list is totally safe for us.)
6. Store garden seeds and gardening items. You may want to take a look at eFoods Direct’s garden seed storage pack, which contains a bunch of varieties of non-hybrid seeds that are packaged to protect them.
7. Along the same lines, buy sprouting seeds and learn to sprout.
8. Remember that if you’re planning to cook a significant portion of your food storage, you’ll need more things for cooking. MREs are really an advantage in this way, because they’re so easy and they don’t require much. If you’re planning to cook, store extra water for cooking with and have a way to cook, because pocket warmers are not going to cut it for us.
Remember, even if storing food is difficult because of a restricted diet, there are still a lot of other emergency preparations that you can make while you’re accumulating items that are “safe” for your diet. Build up your water storage, get your 72-hour kits together and come up with an emergency plan!