Whether you cook from scratch or not, there are essentials that every 3 month supply needs. Grains are one of those essentials. How much you need of each thing will depend on your family. In my family, we aim to eat mostly whole grains, but I am not at all perfect in this goal. The tricky part about whole-grain flours is that they don’t store well. Whole-grain flour is already somewhat rancid by the time you buy it at the store, so the best solution is to grind your own.
If there is only one expensive gadget that you ever buy, let it be a grain mill (wheat grinder.) Don’t go out and buy one right away just because I said so; look around for a good deal or for a used one online. No matter what you spend on it, it will be worth it for the difference in your flour. Freshly-ground flour makes better-tasting bread with better texture. It also rises faster and is fluffier than if you’d used store-bought flour. If you must store whole-grain flour, it should probably go in the fridge, if not the freezer. Space will be an issue there, hence my recommending a grinder!
We store all of the following grains/staples:
Popcorn: to air pop as a snack or grind to make whole-grain cornmeal. Cornmeal from the store is degermed, so it’s not technically a whole grain. I really love the flavor of freshly-ground cornmeal.
Pasta: I keep 50/50 white and wheat. I’m not picky on what type of pasta. I like shells and fun little shapes. Update in 2019: My family complained way too much about the wheat pasta, so I only keep white now.
Rice, white and brown: I can’t keep much brown rice since it’s supposed to be kept in the fridge/freezer, but I always have a few pounds on hand. We eat more rice at meals than any other staple. I like to cook half brown and half white rice in the Instant Pot, and my family loves it too.
Grits: to eat for breakfast. I’m from the South. Gimme a break.
Oatmeal: steel-cut oats for breakfast, rolled oats for baking and breakfast.
Masa harina: used for making homemade corn tortillas, pupusas, or tamales.
White flour: self-explanatory. I buy 25 or 50 lbs. at a time.
Wheat, hard red and hard white: Both store for 30+ years. Here’s the difference: red wheat has a stronger “wheat” flavor and is good for almost anything. White wheat is more mild and makes slightly softer bread. I strongly recommend it for baking cookies or muffins. Other than that, they are almost interchangeable. Whole-wheat flour can be used for anything that white can. I make all of my own bread products (minus tortillas) on a normal basis. Update in 2019: I don’t bake bread as much as I used to, but I strongly believe it’s a skill that everyone should master in order to happily live on food storage.
The wonderful thing about grains is that they’re cheap! All of these grains can easily be bought for less than a dollar a pound. White flour, if you buy 50 lbs., will often be as cheap as 30 cents a pound.
Remember those 5-gallon buckets behind my chair? Those are for storing grains like our rice, wheat, and white flour. Everything else in my 3 month supply is in my kitchen. 🙂
Update in 2019: I’m using that same bucket for flour, but I use #10 cans of wheat and keep the rice in its 20-lb. bag. All of my 3 month supply fits in my kitchen!