While I am not one to preach gloom and doom, I do think it is a good idea to be prepared in this economy. When I realized I had a reader who stockpiled I begged asked Keeley to write a guest post on the topic. If you think about it, stockpiling was a way of life 100 years ago. People planted in the spring, harvested and preserved in the summer and fall in order to store up for the winter. With the convenience of supermarkets on every corner, stockpiling is unfamiliar to many people today. Keeley does a great job of explaining and encouraging us to start this old tradition again.
Keeley Brooks is the child of English army parents who converted to Americanism several years after she married her CA native husband. She has three children who are all pretty much as nutty as she is. At this moment in time they are gleefully taking pictures of a tie-bedecked dog. Keeley does not know why, but she is grateful for the gentle nature of said dog. Food storage is one of her numerous obsessions, along with cloth diapers, running, homeschooling and sushi. She has a blog of meandering thoughts of interest to no-one in particular. She no longer lives in Michigan, and finds it a tragedy that no-one has yet invented a usable transporter.
Store what you eat. Eat what you store.
What on earth is food storage?
Food storage is basically pantry living. You gather supplies that will last a certain period of time and store them in your home rather than pop over to the store every week – or several times a week. This may sound funky – and in some countries, believe it or not, it’s illegal – it actually brings amazing peace of mind. You know that, come what may, you have the supplies on hand to feed your family.
Why would I want to store food?
There are as many reasons as there are people. Perhaps your church recommends it. Perhaps your husband works on commission and you can’t count on a certain amount of money each month. Perhaps your husband works in a volatile industry and you may be out of work for several months at a time. Perhaps you simply like to be prepared. Whatever the reason, food storage = peace of mind. And a full stomach.
How much do I store?
It depends. I’d shoot for a year’s food storage, but frankly, every little bit helps. Just remember: Store what you eat. Eat what you store. Rotate, rotate, rotate. And don’t be like me and get all excited because you finally have a complete year’s food storage – then eat it and forget to replace it so you’re back where you started. *sigh*.
What do I store?
There are so many food storage plans out there you could easily find one that works for you. For beginners, I recommend making a weekly menu and shopping list. On the list, write down *everything* you need for that menu, including the stuff you already have in-house. Keep this list in a binder set aside for food-storage record keeping. After three months of doing this – Voila! Three months of data on the food you family actually eats and the supplies needed to feed them. If you rotate through this menu four times – Voila! One year of data on the food your family actually eats and the supplies needed to feed them.
How do I afford this?
Let’s assume you’re rich and can afford to double your grocery budget each week. Then do that. Just buy double of what you were going to buy. In three months you’ll have three months of storage. In a year you’ll have a year’s worth of storage.
Presuming you can’t do that, =), you’ll need to carve some money out of your budget for food storage. Even a little bit helps. There’s even a plan that helps you pull together your food storage on $5 a week. You can find that here and discussions about it here and here.
You have your plan though – it’s right there on the menu and shopping list pages you put in your binder. Look at the amount of money you’re able to spend on food storage, then look at your shopping list for week one and say “I can afford these items this week”. After you’ve purchased the items, put a tick by them on the list. The next week look at the list again and decide what you’re going to buy. Before you know it your problem will not be “how can I afford this?” because it will simply be a part of your budget. Your problem will be “I’m running out of room! Where do I put all this stuff?”
Where do I store all this stuff?
If you have a child that just got married, send them all their stuff and use the room as storage. Okay, okay, not many people have that happen. And many live in tight living spaces. Presuming you can’t just move into a larger house that has a ready-made storage room for you, you have to find spaces in your house to store the food. You may:
- organize your pantry to free up some space
- go through your house and give away stuff you haven’t used for several years
- utilize the space under beds, using bed risers if need be
- store your towels in the bathroom rather than in the linen closet
- store sheets between the mattress and box spring rather than in the linen closet and voila! More space in your linen closet
Wherever you put your food storage I advise keeping all like-items together. For example, all the sugar under one bed, all the wheat under another etc. This enables you to quickly find what you need.
Wait! Some of this stuff is perishable! I can’t buy a year’s worth of lettuce and store it under the living room couch!
Convert fresh vegetables to canned if you can. For example, your weekly menu calls for carrots. Buy the fresh ones for eating right now and the canned ones for storage. If your family screams and runs away at the sight of canned carrots, keep that in mind and make a substitute. You know your family. Would they prefer a different canned vegetable, or can you purchase freeze dried vegetables? How about starting a garden? That’s a wholesome family activity there. You can then can your produce together. Do you know how to dry green beans? Snap the beans into the size you like, get a needle and thread and string ‘em up. Hang them somewhere to dry – et voila! Dried beans ready for the winter.
Where do I purchase this stuff?
Your local grocery store is great for purchasing foods that will last a short time ie under two years. However, if you’re looking for much longer-term storage, then look into something like Walton Feed or Emergency Essentials.
Long term storage?
Cans of carrots only last a certain time. This is great if you’re rotating through them. However, perhaps you’re interested in longer storage ie something that will last 30 years or more. Long-term food storage is good preparedness for extreme circumstances (ie, the unemployment lasts a year or more) where you need the basics; rice, wheat, corn, beans. At this point, a food storage calculator is what you need. You enter in the amount of people in your family, and it will let you know how much of which item to purchase.
One last important item. Don’t forget toiletry supplies. You need a year’s worth of soap, too. And you would not BELIEVE how much toilet paper you can go through in one year. =)
Wishing you joy and peace of mind. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
“Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their . . . supply of food . . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.”