Dec162012

33 Comments

Can a Whole Foods Mom make peace with food storage?

image by ilovemypit

From the archives!

Sometimes I could throttle my friend Diana.  She is also married to a Paranoid Dad, who is actually further off the paranoia scale than my husband. She talks about stocking up on food and taking preparedness seriously, but has such high expectations of which foods are acceptable that I just have to shake my head.  Her favorite grocery stores are those bordering on gourmet, and she’d live at Whole Foods if she could.  Who could blame her, really?  When it comes to food storage, let’s face it, it ain’t gourmet.

So, I’ve been thinking of how I could help Diana and other moms like her who can’t help but turn up their noses at the idea of freeze dried turkey tetrazzini and cans of potted meat.  Is there any hope for these Whole Foods moms?

I think there’s plenty of hope!  A Whole Foods mom may not end up with the variety she’s used to, but our food storage isn’t meant to be 100% of our diets, either.  We can grow at least some of our own produce, raise chickens (free range, of course!) for both eggs and meat, and even buy the fresh ingredients we enjoy from local farmers, co-ops, and other gardeners.

If you’ve had a hard time accepting a future of canned, processed foods and ingredients that you would rather not feed your family, here are some tips for developing a food storage pantry you’ll love.

Analyze your current diet and meals

A Whole Foods delight. image by ilovemypit

Begin keeping track of what your family currently eats.  If you enjoy gourmet granola, learn how to make your own and begin stocking up on those ingredients, making sure they are packaged for long-term storage.  The ingredients in a favorite salad or main dish from Whole Foods just might be very easy to add to your pantry for your to duplicate in the future.  Recipes containing grains and different legumes are usually very food storage-friendly.

Take a look at the Thrive line of foods from Shelf Reliance.  You’ll find that all of their produce is GMO-free (non-genetically modified) and freeze-dried.  Freeze-dried produce retains about 90% or more of the food’s original nutrients, giving you and your family a very healthy and nutrient-dense option to fresh.   By the way, Thrive’s freeze-dried foods are acceptable on raw food diets and are fantastic for making homemade baby food.

Once you have a list of favorite snacks, side dishes, and main dishes, you can weed through them to find the ones that are compatible with food storage.  A soup recipe that contains lentils and sun-dried tomatoes, for example, is probably one that would be compatible with food storage.  Cornish game hens are not.  Well, at least I’ve never seen freeze-dried Cornish game hens!

image by That Other Paper

What about organics?

Organic wheat, grains, and produce are available but usually come at a higher price.  Eight servings of Mountain House organic apples will cost around $28.  Compare that with Thrive’s apple slices, 48 servings, for just $13.  Fewer farmers and food suppliers grow organic food for the food storage market, so the prices are much higher.

Ready Made Resources, one of my sponsors, carries some organic foods, such as quinoa and pinto beans. If you want to stock up on mostly, or all, organic foods, you’ll have to shop around and spend a bit more.

Of course you can supplement your food storage foods with your own organic garden and by tracking down organic farmers and produce co-ops in your area.

Covering the basics is easy, if you’re willing to compromise

One compromise that might come easy is to stock up on non-organic basics.  Wheat, rice, beans, and other grains can be purchased inexpensively in bulk, freeing up a good deal of money for the purchase of more expensive organic or ‘natural’ products.  These basic foods will give you hundreds of meal options that you can transform into delicious meals with healthy additions, such as spices, herbs, and wholesome produce.  A meal of couscous with organically grown veggies and free-range chicken (home-canned) could rival any Whole Foods entree, and it’s entirely possible within the realm of food storage.

A source of organic basics is Azure Standard, but even on their foods, be sure to read all the fine print.

It’s a matter of priorities

image by rhodes

Each SurvivalMom has to determine what is most important when she buys food intended for storage.  If price is the main consideration, she’ll have more cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup on her shelves than organic, free-range chicken broth.  If there are special dietary considerations, those may have to come first regardless of cost, and if a Whole Foods mom must absolutely have the freshest foods with few additives, organic if possible, then she’ll have to decide how to best make that happen.

Food storage isn’t a one-size-fits-all venture.  Every mom, every individual, has to customize their own purchases and decide what is most important.  A Whole Foods mom is no different.

(Diana, if you read this, I hope it helps!)

Disclaimer:  I love shopping at Whole Foods, although it’s terribly expensive and, oddly, the food never tastes as good as it looks.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(33) Readers Comments

  1. This is a great article. More and more people are trying to eat organically and locally, including myself. But, when it comes to food storage, the cost of organic foods can be very prohibitive. I've decided to do many of the things you suggest in your article such as gardening(or visiting the farmers market) and then canning and dehydrating my own foods. We're a single income family with 5 children, so I had to face reality! LOL

    By using coupons, I've been able to purchase organic cereals and canned goods at well below the price of their conventional counterparts. I've also canned hormone free ground beef and hope to try chicken soon(when it goes on sale of course) but the bottom line is I want to be able to feed my family, so my food storage includes conventional canned goods purchased at Aldi's and Sam's, home canned foods, and home dehydrated foods. I also include vitamins and herbal supplements as part of our food storage.

  2. I shop absolutely only at Whole Foods for weekly groceries and have for about the last six years. (And I have to drive an hour and 20 minutes one way to get there). It started out as a place I shopped for extras, but then I noticed the veggies were never as good or plentiful at any other store. It just ended up being the only store I would shop at. However, we cook only from scratch–no packaged foods. I do supplement our pantry with bulk purchases from our coop, but I still have found that many items are actually cheaper at Whole Foods. You have to learn to shop there with coupons and at the right time. For example, a few weeks ago I actually shaved off $120 from my final bill–just like you see on some of the "coupon Mom" sites. Many of my 25 lb./50 lb. bags of beans/grains can be purchased cheaper than through the coop. You just call in advance and they'll put aside what you want, and then you get an additional 10% off. I was able to purchase the Muir Glen cans of fire roasted tomato products (with roasted garlic, chipotle, hatch chilis, etc.) for 35 cents a piece. First they were on sale, then I used the WF $1 off coupon, and purchased a case (12 cans). The end price was 35 cents per can. I couldn't have canned them myself for that. Organic, bpa free lining in the cans, and delicious/gourmet. Just keep an eye on their sales, clip coupons (yes they're available for organic products as well–look online) and buy in bulk. They'll even give you a 10% discount if you buy a case of something like citrus. Just ask.

    • Thanks for those great tips, Donna! I agree that their produce is excellent. Sometimes I shop for produce at Sprout's, kind of a really, really poor man's Whole Foods, and have noticed their produce goes bad quickly. Sometimes we can't eat it fast enough. Thanks for reminding me about coupons, too. I shop store sales and save quite a bit that way, but could do much better with coupons, especially at Whole Foods.

  3. Oh I have to comment here ;-) We are a 'whole food organic family', have been for about 10 years (you know, before it was 'cool' LOL). Needless to say, it has been quite an adventure the last 3 years – not just learning about storing, but trying to adapt it to our lifestyle! I have 2 stocks basically – our daily that we use in everyday living and a smaller stock of SHTF foods. Example: Organic AP flour and great value AP flour. Lets be honest, if we are to the point that we are out of organic flour and for whatever reason cant get more, is it really going to matter if its organic or not?? IMO, not really, better to have something then nothing. The non-organic food we use for family functions and holiday baked goods to friends/family. Most that we know dont care about the organic aspect, I get to bring lots of food from the storage so it gets rotated (and lessens the burden on those who cant bring as much) and we get to store more food cheaper then an all organic stock.

  4. southern Belle,
    How right you are!! in a emergency situation, I as a vegetarian (6 mos), am going to eat the chili/meat I had already stored. I am just conscientious now to have veggie broth, or vegetarian chili, lentils veggies etc on hand. Our closest whole foods is 4 hours away, i do love that store!!

  5. This is a great article, Lisa, thanks for putting it all in perspective…food storage is the issue, and there are ways to make the quality of the food we store acceptable to us and our families if we make it a priority and put some think time into it. There's always a way. ____Breaking down a food item that is a family favorite is a great way to start. My brother in law just recently ordered all of the individual ingredients to make chicken soup, their family favorite. So he got the THRIVE freeze dried Chicken, the freeze dried onions and celery, carrots, noodles and boullion. My sister in law is actually excited at the thought of not having to chop veggies for the soup should the "S" hit the "F", haha.

    I agree with all the comments saying, in the end, better to have food that maybe isn't gourmet, but fills out bellies. We can all come up with a million reasons NOT to do things, can't we?

  6. I found this post really interesting, because I TRY to feed my family healthy/natural/organic foods, but find that the cost is being prohibitive lately. And because the cost is so high, I can't stockpile as much as I want (a $1 can of organic peas, for example, makes it harder to stockpile when compared to a 50-cent sale priced conventional can of peas).

    Since a big rule of stockpiling is "store what you eat," I've been having a big debate with myself. Should I buy the cheaper conventional peas in order to build a bigger stockpile faster? I know myself well enough to know that those will be the LAST peas I feed my kids on an everyday basis (since I prefer to feed them organic), so those conventional peas may very well end up expiring and going to waste.

    Lately, I've decided to meet myself and my pocketbook halfway: I sometimes buy conventional peas, and I sometimes buy organic peas. I try to mix both into our everyday meals (reasoning that the occasional conventionally grown food probably isn't that harmful to my kids). It's not a perfect solution, but it's the only one I could come up with for now.

  7. Great post! Although I shop at Whole Foods, our local stores, as well as our coop, one REALLY needs to know their prices to find the best buys. The 365 natural Peanut Butter is way cheaper per pound than any other natural peanut butter AND many times even cheaper than the national brands hydrogenated peanut butter. Their brands are great buys (whish I say the coupon for the Muir Glen tomatos!) and their fresh fruit and veggies cannot be beat price and quality wise on the sale items (again). I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this strugle.

  8. Thanks so much for posting this! Maybe it's just where I live, but few "whole foods" families around here are interested in food storage, so I find there isn't nearly enough conversation about this important topic. I have taught myself to can and invested in a dehydrator, both of which have proven to be excellent resources.

    One of the things that helped me was doing a little research on the foods we eat most often and prioritizing local/organic sources for the things that are high spray crops or frequently GMO – strawberries and corn, for example. Things like broccoli, which are less abused in the conventional growing process I compromise on and buy frozen at the grocery store. So far my biggest internal battle has been powdered milk – it is SO bad for you that I can't bring myself to stock it, even though I know in a crisis it would be hard to not have access to milk.

    It's encouraging to see other women having the same battles and to see what solutions and suggestions they can share. Thank you!

    • Whole foods does sell Organic Valley powdered milk, in the baking isle. It is rather expensive (I think its around $5 for a 12 oz bag, from my very rough estimates makes about a gallon of milk). It is not the instant kind you get at the regular grocery either. I have some stocked, but I also have regular powdered milk stocked. With a 2-3 year shelf life, once stocked, its not that bad to donate a box/buy a box every month ;-)

      • I also have been having a hard time deciding what to do about the milk situation but have started to turn to nut milks instead. You can substitute almond milk or coconut milk in most recipes depending on whether they call for whole or nonfat milk. The coconut milk is very healthy for you and creamy too and you don't have to get it in a can either now they have Coconut Dream which is absolutely wonderful and super creamy. They have a pretty decent shelf life too. If you want to go super fresh to you can just stock pile nuts and cheese cloth and make your own buy soaking them and then pureeing them and straining it through the cheesecloth. Just an idea I know milk can be a real dilemma I don't know what I would do without fresh cheese I guess I need a cow for the end of the world, lol.

  9. Good subject to cover. Prior to starting to prep and back before the economy tanked, I had changed our family's diets over to mostly organic foods. We ate less meat, mostly fish and chicken. We still ate some red meats, etc. but very little. I liked feeding my family this way, however, when I started my food storage/emergency prepping, I realized that there was no way that I could afford to store foods for us if I stuck to the organic/health food type of diet. It's a compromise for me. I have stored foods that are heavy with fruits, vegetables and grains and lower on meat. Still, to have the quantity I need I don't have organic foods stored, mostly the regular, less expensive products.

  10. Nice article. It can be hard to balance standard food storage with the "whole foods" mindset. For example, we don't eat canned goods anymore because of the BPA liners (even organic brand tomatoes, like Muir Glen, have BPA in the liners currently) but I feel like I need to have some "just in case". It's really important to me to use hormone free dairy products, but I had to compromise when stocking dry milk.

    I know Azure Standard in the west is a great source for organic bulk food storage and carry a lot of organic grains, freeze dried fruit and veggies, etc. (unfortunately, they don't deliver to Houston!) In South TX, there is a company called Bethlehem Harvest that is pricier than Azure Standard but still cheaper than buying from Whole Foods bulk bins.

    • Eden foods has no Bpa in their canned foods and they have new reusable home canning lids that are also bpa free.

  11. Unusual diets, by choice or necessity, CAN be accommodated in food storage, but it WILL require either more money or more effort. Not having unlimited resources, I lean towards putting a bit more work into my preparations. If nothing else, these will be great skills to have if or when times are tough.
    A good place to start to minimize overall purchase costs is http://www.azurestandard.com/. They have a great selection of organics, their quality is high, their prices are significantly lower than retail and they have an expanding truck route that can completely eliminate your shipping costs if you want a lot at once or can convince friends to order with you. I am just waiting for the route to expand to GA to start ordering again….sigh. Next, you must have basic food preparation and preservation skills and tools. Find friends who can, dehydrate, bake, cook from scratch or else get in touch with your local cooperative extension or even cooking school to learn how to turn basic ingredients into the foods you want to eat. Also, garden and plant fruit trees. If you get open-pollinated varieties, you can save your vege seeds and plant indefinitely (free!) and, if you choose the right fruit trees for your area (talk to your cooperative extension or local nursery), upkeep will be minimal and, in a few years, your production will outstrip your ability to use it all.
    We have to severely restrict sugar and completely avoid wheat and dairy (and a few other random things) and choose to limit our pesticide exposure and learning to grow, make and preserve it myself has made all the difference in being able to prepare for our family of seven on a single income.

  12. The "local" Whole Foods store is more than a five hour round trip for me. So I checked at the next biggest store in my area – 35 mile round trip — is a pretty large chain for the region. Lots and Lots of freshies — nearly nil organic. Head lettuce, cauliflower, styrofoam packaged tomatoes, cukes, green peppers — . That was it. And the stryrofoam added a nice "healthy touch". No potatoes, onions, no fruit of any sort. The prices were all of 30% more for that slim pickings. Of course when I say "fresh" and "local" — nothing is as this is Michigan and I have a foot of snow on the ground. If I went "local", I might be able to get a few apples and possibly carrots as I have orchards where I live and muck fields a bit south. Nothing organic and only as fresh as when they were picked three months ago. Farmer's markets here are only between June and the first of October– I've got my own garden then.

  13. Part 2
    Sooo . . I don't buy organic because of the sheer price — and I'm really still suspect of all the rules regulating that name. Call me skeptical but unless an organic farmer hands it to me personally, all bets are off. The apples I grow in the backyard are not organic, sprayed because they will not produce any non scabbed, non wormy apples (believe me we've tried). I just wash them. I buy frozen — which probably has more nutrients than some of the "fresh" I see, canned on great sales, and fresh when appropriate. I home can veggies in season. I'd love to say that I purchase grass fed, organic meat, eggs, cheese from a local co-op. The prices are phenomenal, so no I don't. I do purchase these items from reputable butchers rather than big box stores. I also hunt and put my own fast food (venison) in the freezer. If the anything actually ever hits the fan, I'll settle for an ample food storage of a variety of items, from a variety of sources.

  14. Around by me I find that since prices have been going up in the regular grocery stores, Whole Foods normal prices are almost compareable to my local common chains! Even in some cases, I have seen them cheaper too, you just really need to hunt the sales. Once I bought bison meat at Whole Foods for $6.99/lb when in my local Cub Foods it was being sold for $7.99/lb. I buy my meat, vitamins and I sometimes check the canned goods sales. I have even bought bottles of organic lemonade juice 2 for $4. Just keep your eyes open!

  15. Great article on a great topic. We're storing foods and we're very conscious to avoid over-processed, non-natural, GMO, etc… It adds a new level of challenge for sure, but it can be done. 2 places that have better choices are waltonfeed.com and clnf.org. Hope this helps…

  16. How to have whole foods like you eat! I have gone to only storing whole grains. I make my own "white" flour but grinding equal amounts of brown rice, oat groats and barley. I make my own home made mixes up instead of buying the trash at the store. I do rice blends, cake and brownie mixes and cookie mixes. Whole grain and no preservatives. If you eat meat, can your own meat for storage. You push 1 pound of chicken breasts into a pint jar and add 1/4 teaspoon salt if you want it and then pressure can with 10 labs pressure for 75 minutes. No liquid gets added so it's chicken broth filling that jar when it's done. I even make my own home made cottage cheese that i use to make our own velveeta and i use that to make our own canned cheez whiz in half pint jars. Many of our food storage recipes call for 1 cup of processed cheese. Making our own we know exactly what we are eating and no preservatives. We grow our own produce organically to can, freeze and dry for our storage.

    • Cherlynn,
      Would you mind expanding on making your own cottage cheese, making velvetta from that and then canning that? If you could give me links to websites with that information I would appreciate it.
      Judy

    • Hi Cherlynn- how do you make your own “velveeta” cheese from cottage cheese? Or cheezwhiz?
      can you post a link to a recipe?
      my husband loves those, but I hate to buy them, since they are so processed.
      thanks

  17. Hi! I love eating organic foods and I love all these comments! :)

    I have found that Amazon has a pretty big selection on non-perishable, healthier (and organic) foods. They will deliver most orders for free if you order in bulk. I think most foods are sold in bulk, anyhow. Some things I have seen are cheaper than Whole Foods and some things are not. You have to poke around there for awhile and check out some of your favorites to what they've got.

    And definitely growing a garden will help, as well as finding local people to barter with or pay for things like eggs, meat, milk, etc. I would love to garden more, because if something catastrophic happens to our food supply, it will be good that I have had some practice first.

    I have also bought some cheaper, non organic things that I can eat if there's an emergency. The thing that will matter most will be that I have food. If what i buy is close to expiring, I take it to the food bank and replace it with more food.

  18. We eat 90% organic(The non organics we eat are at restaurants) and I do love Whole Foods. Here in Atlanta we have many organic grocery stores but not so many organic restaurants(that serve organic meat anyway) and I'm sorry "natural" just doesn't get it. BreadBeckers is one really good source of many organic grains and beans/peas, etc. and at a reasonable price plus you have a source of organic food storage that you don't have to pay shipping from 1,000 miles away. Shipping eats up your food storage budget quickly.

  19. I'm still a bit conflicted about hoarding food and then cycling the store by using it; I'm not organic, but I do try to focus on lack of preservatives and amounts of substances. I'll eat spam and beans that are drenched in HFCS in an emergency, but those things would rust in their cans if nothing happens.

    Raw beans, rice, and flour are fortunately part of my diet. I also use some canned goods; limited amounts of convenience beans, pumpkin puree since there is nothing added, and tomato simply because I don't quite have the buying power to get a couple bushels and process a year's worth myself yet.

    Just about everything else needs to be kept cold, but I am game to try pressure-canning some meats and veggies.

    • Definitely learn to preserve your own foods, either by canning, pickling or dehydrating. Most all of us look at our food storage as a supplement to whatever else we can get if/when times get very hard. So, growing fresh produce, raising chickens for eggs/meat, that kind of thing will provide fresh food to what we have stored and can either buy/barter from others. (I won\’t eat SPAM, ever!)

  20. The most important aspect for making money online is really attracting more numbers of visitors who are willing and ready to buy what we are selling. It is some how it is very hard to earn money online without investment.

  21. I have a hard time with this as well. We do the important things organic (peaches, strawberries, apples, potato, meat and dairy). But it makes everything so much more expensive. And as I cant afford to not use the food that we store at some point in the future it makes it very difficult for our family. I am just learning about food storage but I am struggling with this aspect of it right now. We dont eat a lot of grains right now actually so its hard to even stock up on the cheapest and easiest food. Obviously if the SHTF I would be thrilled to have flour and pasta for the energy but how do you stock up on something you leave out of your diet for health reasons? UGH.

  22. If you are on a tight budget and want to eat organically, the best option is to grow your own food and preserve it yourself. Try to look at it as a hobby, not work. I am lucky, all of my family showed me how to turn every inch of a suburban yard into food production. They had a grape arbor, an apple tree, herbs, and vegetable garden-no chemicals. My Grandmother also “gleaned” food about town from friends with fruit trees and berry bushes that they didn’t want to mess with (they probably didn’t spray either). I remember picking blackberries out in the country by the road with her. If you have a yard, take a second look at your landscaping. I only plant plants that I can eat now. Start small and keep up with the watering and weeds. Lettuce is really easy to grow in a raised bed. Check out the book square foot gardening. If you live in an apartment investigate if their is a neighborhood garden around, plant containers, and go to orchards self-pick. If you can’t do that, suscribe to a veggie coop. Find a neighbor, friend who knows how to garden, dehydrate or can,call the Extension office and pick their brain,or buy a book! These skills sound hard, but like everything,once you’ve learned how it doesn’t seem that bad. Just give it a try!

  23. I don’t do organic, the amount of chemicals allowed in organic is very surprising. My husband and I have had quite a few talks about this. He was a chef for 12 years and is now a food sales rep. So he really does know a lot about food. I personally feel it comes down to the difference between junk food and real food. All the people I know who are vegetarians, vegans, or only organic are less healthy then I am. And I smoke , the kids get sick way more, and so do the adults. So I know I will upset a lot of people but I think it’s c

    • I was going to say crap. Organic doesn’t really mean that. I do buy locally whenever possible and I cook real food.

      • I try to buy local – I’m in a CSA for our meats and the organic co-op for most of our vegies. That said, we only buy certain fruits & vegetables organic; I go by the dirty dozen/clean 15 from the EWTG. If it doesn’t have too high a pesticide number, and is non-GMO, I buy regular. Which is what I’m trying to do for our prep foods. But it is expensive for the organic choices….if the SHTF, then it probably won’t matter how much pesticides our kids take in….

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