One thing you will find missing from my 20 weeks of food storage list is wheat. One reason for this is that the list is intended to be easy to follow, without requiring expensive, specialized equipment. The second is simply because I have bought whole wheat and ground our flour for quite a while. Wheat is one of the most well-known disaster preparation foods and there are some very good reasons for this. Even at $36 per 50 pound bag, wheat packs a huge nutritional punch for your money. Wheat is incredibly easy to store, requiring just good airtight containers placed somewhere with reasonable temperatures. It can be stored for very long periods of time with little loss of nutritional value. Wheat can be made into many dishes from hot crusty bread to luscious egg noodles. It seems like wheat’s the perfect way to go. But there is an issue.....
While wheat berries can be cooked and eaten in unprocessed form as a sort of cereal, almost anything else requires that it be ground to various consistencies. You can make cracked wheat or farina (Cream of Wheat) in a food processor, but for bread, tortillas, and noodles you must have a grinder specifically designed for flour. Also, for it to be useful in a disaster situation where electricity may not be available, it must be able to be used as a hand grinder.
I have owned two different hand grinders. My first grinder was the “Cadillac” of hand grinders, the Country Living mill. This is a quite expensive mill that starts at $429 with no options. It is very sturdy, all metal with a powder coated finish. It comes standard with the pulley wheel so you can motorize it and uses steel burrs. It can only be used for dry grains, no oily seeds. It grinds fairly easily by hand, but you know you’ve earned your bread by the time you have enough flour for it. It produces up to very fine flour. I found it rather difficult to take apart and clean with a strong spring that had to go back in just right. Personal circumstances forced the sale of this mill a couple of years ago.
My second mill is the Wonder Junior Deluxe mill. It is a little less than half the price of the Country Living mill at $219. This price does not include the pulley for motorizing, but you can obtain that for an additional $49. The Junior Deluxe is also all metal and has a powder coated finish. It comes with a set of stone burrs for flour and steel burrs for grinding oily seeds such as nuts for nut butters. It grinds very fine flower with the stone burrs and takes similar effort to do the grinding as my first mill. It is smaller than the Country Living Mill and has the most ingenious clamp that allows you to move it easily. It is also very easy to clean. Either one of these mills is an excellent choice.
Once you have your mill, start using it! Storing wheat does you no good if you don’t know how to cook with it. By grinding your own flour, you are learning how much time and energy it takes to supply yourself with what you need for regular cooking. Be sure only to grind enough for the day, or at most the next few days. Freshly ground flour is a whole food and the oils will go rancid in a short time. It does not keep forever like store bought flour that has had all the oil (and nearly all of the nutrients) removed so it will store indefinitely. Your favorite recipes may need to be adjusted a bit when using fresh whole wheat flour and you will notice foods baked with fresh ground flour have a distinctly different flavor, much richer than store-bought.
The best food storage plan is one where you use all of the things you are storing as part of your regular routine. An emergency is not a good time to drastically change the way you cook or eat. Of course you want to replace things as you use them, but this ensures that nothing in your store gets outdated or old. It will also allow you to see what you are storing, but don’t use. Get rid of those things (maybe a local food bank would like them) so you have more space to store what you do use. This way, if the need arises, you won’t have to worry about “What’s for Dinner