By August 31, 2013 Read More →

Food Storage Basics Part 1; Preparing to Store


We all know our basic cost of living is increasing.  Despite the increase and the knowledge, at some point, we are going to be stuck at home with no way to get to the grocery store.  We just assume tomorrow will take care of itself, right?

What about when things get rough, whether it is after a natural disaster or some other unforeseen circumstance? Can you feed your family without running to the convenience store or the pizza parlor? If a giant light bulb has just went on and you want to know what you can do to prevent that tragic situation from happening, read on. I am going to help get you started on the road to a more prepared lifestyle. There is no time like the present to get started.

Let me clarify something first before you chalk this up to a person who is fretting over something that may never happen.  There are plenty of reasons you would want to have a nice food storage on hand.

*Unexpected guests show up and you need to make large quantities of food
         *Bulk buying is one way to save money
         *Preparing for a downturn in the family’s budget

Storing food is one thing, but storing the right food for your family is a totally different issue. I cannot hand you a list and tell you to go buy all of this and store it and your family will eat great. It does not work that way.

Only store what you eat regularly and what you eat now. Do not waste your time buying a case of sardines because they are on sale if your family refuses to eat them today. A shortage in your food supply is not going to be an instant notification for your taste buds to suddenly decide sardines are not so bad.  In fact, the situation is already going to be stressful enough; you do not want to add to it by trying to gag down a food you hate.

There is another very good reason you do not want to suddenly start introducing new foods to your family members, young and old. There is an actual medical condition known as appetite fatigue that can cause some nasty side effects.  Side effects you do not want to be dealing with in a situation where things are already bad. I am talking about nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.  Not a pretty picture.

Your first step is to make a plan.  Your plan is going to require some time and patience to put together.  This is not like putting together a simple grocery list.  You need to decide how much food you want to store.  By this I mean are you intending to keep a 1, 3, or 6-month supply of food?  The 3 month plan seems to be the place most people start. It is pretty basic and you can build it up as you go along.

Next, you need to think about what your family eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. You will need to include snacks as well. This may seem like a monstrous task, especially if you are having a hard time remembering what you had for breakfast this morning.

0f9180b735a3b1efbd1815892cbc9419Now that you are really getting excited about creating a food storage, let me give you a huge word of caution.  Do not go overboard with your buying.  Do not buy food because it is cheap and you assume your family will eat it if they have to. They probably won’t.  And you will probably skip over that particular item in your storage in favor of another and guess what? It gets old and goes bad.  All that food wasted!  Do not buy food just to buy it.

Let’s talk staples. Not staples to hold your paper together, staples as in food staples. (Usually includes: Rice, Flour, Wheat, Powdered Milk, Beans, Sugars, Oatmeal’s.)  Now it is time to figure out what food staples you will need to include in your supply. Your staples are not going to be the same as mine. Our families are not identical.

If you are still struggling to get your head around the fact you are going to need to learn some basic cooking skills, it is really time to get motivated. If you do not have power, you are not going to be able to nuke one of those instant meals. You must learn how to use your food staples to create a meal–from scratch. I know you may not like it, but not eating is a lot worse than learning how to cook.

I want to help you get everything your family needs in case of an emergency or any reason that would limit the family’s food supply.  It is time to really get down to brass tacks, or in this case, the flour and salt.   Every menu item you have listed has an ingredient list.  It is time to make a list of each ingredient, and I mean every little thing including the dash of salt and the sprinkle of water.

This may seem like an impossible task, but there are plenty of ingredient planners you can use to help make it a little more manageable. While you are making your list, you also need to consider things like oil for frying or bread crumbs for breaded foods.  It is hard to remember all those tiny details when the dash of salt or pepper is just always in the kitchen.  You may not have that luxury in an emergency.  It is imperative you pay attention to detail today or all that food you are storing is essentially useless.

The beauty of taking the time to make an ingredient lists is so that you have enough of your staple ingredients. You don’t want to have an overabundance of just flour but run out of yeast. Nor do you want to have all sugar but not enough salt. Storing staple ingredients is important, but knowing exactly where those ingredients will go is even more important.

You may be looking at your list of ingredients and be feeling a bit overwhelmed. That fabulous list you have will do you no good if you do not know how much of each ingredient you need. It truly is pretty simple math. We are working with the idea you are planning a 3-month food storage. So, 3 months is 12-15 weeks. We are going to assume you are using said ingredient once a week. So the amount of the ingredient needed for the recipe multiplied by 12 and voila! You have the amount you need for your 3-month storage.

Let’s do a little practice run together.

  • Your family will use one cup of peanut butter for sandwiches in a given week. They also like peanut butter cookies as a snack, which is another cup during the week. We have established your family needs 2 cups of peanut butter each week.

  • Use your formula. 2 X 12=24 cups of peanut butter for a 3-month supply

  • One cup is equal to 8 ounces. 8 ounces x 24(the number of cups of peanut butter) =192 ounces

  • A standard jar of peanut butter contains 28 ounces. 192 divided by 28= 6.8. Therefore, you will need 7 jars of peanut butter to keep your family happy for 3 months.

 See! That was not so bad. Now that you know how much you actually need, you can skip the giant tub of peanut butter that seemed like such a good deal. You need to apply this formula to each ingredient on your list.

Now that we have went through all of that, I will tell you the easy, yet somewhat expensive way around all of this math and work. You can order freeze-dried or dehydrated meals that are completely whole. All you do is add water. Not only is this option significantly more expensive, it is really not ideal for your pantry rotation.

While most of these meals are actually pretty palatable, they are probably not going to be the first thing you or your family goes for when they are looking for dinner. If they sit on your shelf without being used, they will expire, and you will have wasted a lot of money.

Since there is so much to consider with long term food storage, this topic is part 1 of a series of articles on food storage. I hope that you will enjoy them and they will be very helpful to your food storage efforts.

[guest-author]Rachel Ballard, RN is a food prep expert.  She is a guest author with Dan’s Depot where she writes about ways to gather and store an emergency food supply. [/guest-author]

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