Food Storage Grains: An inexpensive calorie with lots of versatility

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Grains are a fantastic staple for any food storage pantry. Food storage grains provide a variety of nutrients and are typically one of the least expensive calories you can purchase (after sugar and drink mixes).

Yet, many people I’ve worked with over the years limit themselves to just a few grains such as wheat, rice, and, oats. Personally, I hope that even in tough times, my diet would be more exciting than that! There are a huge variety of grains available, many of which are even suitable for a gluten free diet.

I’ve listed various food storage grains below, along with simple directions for how to cook them (add fruit, sugar, honey, cinnamon, etc., for cereal), and other uses you may not have thought of.

Hard Red or White Wheat

NOT GLUTEN FREE

Wheat has been around for a very long time. It’s long shelf life and versatility make it a great choice for long term food storage. It can also be an economical purchase.

TIP: Learn More About Wheat and download this free wheat storage worksheet.

Both hard red and hard white wheat are 100% whole wheat, but the red is a more bitter and works best in artisan or other hard breads. Hard white wheat is less bitter, a bit sweeter, and works best for rolls and other softer breads. Recipes that use hard white wheat tend to need a bit less sugar. For more information on choosing wheat varieties and how to use them, check out this article here.

  • How to cook 
    • Use 3 cups water for every 1 cup wheat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until soft (about 75 minutes). Drain excess water. Makes 2 ¼ cups of cooked wheat berries.
  • Other uses
    • Grind into flour and use for any variety of breads.
    • Cook for 45 minutes instead of 75 to make wheat berries you can use as a meat substitute, in salads, on yogurt or in soups. This acts as a meal-stretcher for times when you have more mouths to feed than you do food!
    • Pop the wheat berries! Add 1 cup to a frying pan with a bit of oil. Shake while cooking and they will pop after a few minutes. Sprinkle with seasonings.
    • Grow wheat grass!
  • Shelf Life 

White Rice

GLUTEN FREE

White rice is not the most nutrient dense of the various grains, but it is inexpensive and can be used as a base for a variety of dishes. Learn more about rice and try this recipe for more nutritional Super Rice.

  • How to cook
    • 1 3/4 cups water for every 1 cup rice. Bring to a boil in a medium size saucepan, cover with a tight lid, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and steam (leave lid on) for 5 minutes. Makes 2 cups.
  • Other uses
    • Grind into flour and use for a variety of gluten free recipes.
    • Survival Mom’s Macho Mexican Rice
    • Rice Pudding!
    • Super Rice — A mixture that takes white rice to a whole new level of nutrition!
      • CHRYSTALYN’S SUPER RICE1 1/2 cups long grain white rice1/4 c. quinoa1/4 c. millet

        4 cups water

        Place ingredients in a rice cooker.  Select, “white rice” as the setting, if necessary. If cooking on the stovetop, place ingredients in a 4-quart pan or pot.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.  Start with the above ratios of rice to quinoa and millet, and see how your family likes it.  You can gradually increase the ratios.  Experiment and see what your family prefers.  This makes six cups of cooked rice.

  • Shelf Life
    • 25+ years when properly packaged.

Rolled Oats

NOT TYPICALLY GLUTEN FREE

You can find gluten-free oats, though most that you buy are not gluten-free. Check carefully!

Rolled oats come in two forms: Old-fashioned (take about 15 minutes to cook) and quick cooking (take about 4-5 minutes to cook). They are the most common grain used for breakfast cereal (oatmeal), but they have a variety of other uses as well.

Oats are packed with nutrition: fiber, thiamin, and iron. They can even reduce cholesterol levels!

  • How to cook
    • 2 cups water for every 1 cup oats. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Make 1.5 cups.
  • Other uses
    • Cookies!
    • Granola Bars
    • Neutralize odors (put an open container in your fridge!)
    • Grind into flour (use your food processor, not your mill) and use in pancakes etc.
    • Cobbler topping
    • Use in meatloaf instead of crackers/bread
  • Shelf Life
    • 25+ years when properly packaged.

Oat Groats

NOT TYPICALLY GLUTEN FREE

You can find gluten-free oat groats, though most that you buy are not gluten-free. Check carefully!

Oat groats are the whole grain version of rolled oats, so they are packed with even more nutrition. They are nuttier and chewier than rolled oats.

  • How to cook
    • 3 cups water for every 1 cup oat groats. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 50-60 minutes, stirring frequently. Let stand for 10 minutes. Make 2 1/4 cups.
    • This makes an amazing hot breakfast cereal. Just add whatever mix-ins you most enjoy with oatmeal, such as brown sugar, nuts, and raisins.
  • Other uses
    • Add to breads (after cooking) for a nutty flavor
    • Add cooked groats to soups and stews
    • Grind into a flour and use in gluten-free baking or replace just a small amount of the wheat flour to add a rich, dense, nutty, flavor to baked goods.
  • Shelf Life
    • 30+ years when properly packaged. Oat groats are packaged for long-term storage, but like all food should be stored in a cool, dry location.

Quinoa

GLUTEN FREE

Quinoa has an extremely high protein content. In fact, it is a complete protein source. It also provides fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and, iron. It is closely related to spinach, of all things!

  • How to cook
    • Rinse well. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa. Turn down heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 20 minutes. Make 2 1/4 cups.
  • Other uses
    • As a replacement for brown rice (since brown rice doesn’t store as long)
    • Grind into a flour and use in gluten-free baking
    • Use in meatloaf instead of crackers/bread
    • Pop it like popcorn and eat it dry (with toppings) or use in cookies like oatmeal
    • In soups and stews.
  • Shelf Life
    • 20+ years when properly packaged.

Amaranth

GLUTEN FREE

Amaranth has shown potential as a cholesterol-lowing whole grain and has very high protein content. Like quinoa, it is also a complete protein source. It is high in fiber, iron, and, calcium. This tutorial covers all the basics of amaranth. 

If amaranth isn’t in your local grocery store, you can purchase it on Amazon or in most grocery and health food stores.

  • How to cook
    • Rinse well. Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup amaranth. Turn down heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 20 -25 minutes. Make 2 1/2 cups.
  • Other uses
    • Pop it! (careful…it burns fast!). Just add one tablespoon at a time to a hot dry skillet and keep it moving!
    • To thicken soups and stews.
  • Shelf Life
    • 20+ years when properly packaged.

Barley

NOT GLUTEN FREE

Barley is chewy, nutty and delicious. It has more protein many other grains, and is higher in fiber and lower in soluble (starch) carbohydrates than almost all other whole grains. Learn More About Barley

  • How to cook
    • Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup barley. Turn down heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 45 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Make 3 cups.
  • Other uses
    • As a replacement for brown rice
    • Grind it and use in cookies
    • Grind and use for bread
    • Mix in with a stew or soup for more fiber, carbohydrates, and calories.
  • Shelf Life
    • 8-10 years when properly packaged.

Millet

GLUTEN FREE

Millet is a very mild grain that is high in antioxidants, phosphorus, and, magnesium. It is another “heart healthy” grain. Learn More About Millet

  • How to cook
    • Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup millet. Turn down heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Make 3 cups.
  • Other uses
    • Cook with more water to make it creamy like mashed potatoes
    • Cook with less water to make it fluffy like rice
    • Grind it and use in gluten free recipes
    • Combine a bit of it with rice before cooking for added nutrients.
  • Shelf Life
    • 20+ years when properly packaged.

Your Food Storage Grains Challenge

It is likely that many of you already have wheat, rice and/or oats in your food stores.  I would encourage you to try a new way of using those grains and to pick at least one new grain to add to those stores for some additional variety! Here’s an interesting and flavorful option to flour from hard white wheat. It combines 4 different grains to give you more flavor and texture in any baked goods.

Four-Grain Mix

3 cups soft white wheat

1 cup kamut

1 cup brown rice

1 cup oat groats

Place these grains in a grinder, and grind to a fine flour. Use this mixture to replace all-purpose flour.  Store flour in the fridge for 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I told you before that you can use soft white wheat in place of all-purpose flour, so why bother with this mixture of additional grains?  I have a few reasons I do this. First, is the taste. It really does add some great flavor to your baking. Second, nutrition. I’m not a total health nut, but if there’s an easy way to feed my family healthy options, I do it. For me, this grain mixture is an easy way.

Now, soft white wheat is healthy enough, but each of these grains adds a variety of nutrients that you wouldn’t get from just one of them. The last reason I add these grains is for rotating my stored food. I want to include these grains in my food storage, so I need to find ways to use them.

 

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Misty Marsh

Misty is the lucky wife of a man that makes her laugh every day and mother to four charming children: twin boys and nearly twin girls. There is never a silent moment in their house and almost always a reason to laugh.

2 thoughts on “Food Storage Grains: An inexpensive calorie with lots of versatility”

  1. Wheat (and most grains in general) are still some of the last storage items I am missing from my ‘pantry’. I do have rice and oats, but one cannot live on rice and oats alone. I have a growing interest in wheat, but sadly know nothing about it other than the refined flour I have stocked away for a nuclear rainy day. Would you have any suggestions on good resources for this type of info. I google search but never know what is relevant and not ‘chaff’ so to speak.

    Thank you once again for a wonderful article!

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