Ok, when I go to the grocery store, I pick up manner of supplies and not just food. So, I’m going to consider those items as part of my food storage since I get them at the “grocery”. Today, let us consider some of the other supplies we get.
I have a huge space set aside for paper goods in my prep storage. There is one thing that everyone thinks of and that we can never have too much of. I don’t care if the dollar IS almost worthless, I’m still not gonna use it for toilet paper! People can’t imagine how much TP we need. It’s something that we might not have the access to for lengths of time. Without it, we are lost! (ok, maybe not lost, but at least not all that comfortable) My late mother-in-law had a “3 square” rule, which I tried to implement in my family, but it never worked. I doubt it worked for my mother-in-law either. There are somethings you just can’t regulate! I’ve heard all sorts of estimates on how much TP people use, but I would go for 12 rolls minimum per month for 2-3 people. This, of course, means 12 12 packs in storage. While I feel that this still isn’t enough, most people can’t fathom having that much! What a silly thought…it’s not like you are ever NOT going to need toilet paper, or that it will stop being good at a certain point! TP will also be something everyone else needs and may make a good barter item. I go to the big box store and pick up the biggest pack I can find. The good thing to know is that I can find coupons for toilet paper almost every week from several sources, and the stores frequently have sales on it. I guess that concludes the section on TP, now to finish up the paperwork…
I am a paper towel addict, it’s just so convenient! However, it’s also pretty wasteful, so I have searched for ways to cut down my use. I went to a fair and the “Sham Wow!” guys were there with a great deal on them, so I picked up 3 packs. These can be used over and over again and washed (but not dried in the dryer. I still keep a couple of large packs of paper towels, but now I have these to use as well. Another “paper” item that I keep a supply of is paper plates. I know they seem wasteful too, but in an emergency, I might not have a ready supply of running water to wash dishes with. Things will be bad enough during an emergency, so relieve yourself of that worry and keep a couple of packs of plates, along with plastic silverware and cups. Your paper goods should, of course, be stored up off the floor and away from dampness, but it’s otherwise pretty easy to store.
Coffee, tea and condiments are also something to give thought to. I have one space set aside for my condiments. I stock up when there is a sale and I use whatever coupons I can to cut down on the cost. I get my ketchup for $1 a bottle and the same for my mustard. I try and keep at least 12 of each. Mayo is something that is a concern to many. I have about 12 jars of it, but it goes in and out pretty fast. Recently, we discovered (through a company web search) that the small packets of mayo have a 10 year shelf life! Regular mayo has a 2 year shelf life in the big jars, so I am going to pick up a large box of small packets. You can also make your own mayo if you have oil and eggs. Once opened, mayo goes bad pretty quick without refrigeration (in hot weather, it can go off in less than an hour!) so it will be dangerous to keep mayo in a non electric emergency. Though the packets will remain viable…everyone likes their sandwiches with some type of condiment and sandwiches will be a common item to eat in an emergency (especially if you make your own bread). Other condiments to consider stocking up on are meat sauces like A!, Worcestershire, hot sauce and so on. Salt and pepper…though these have no “use by” date, you still need to add them to the supply shelf. I have my salad dressings on my condiment shelf, but I’ve started adding more of the clear vinegar and oil type than our favorite “ranch” type. You can pick up packets of the dried seasoning packets and mix your own. Not only does it take up less space and last longer, the seasoning can be used on roasts and vegetables as well. I put my “gravies” on this rack as well. I’m not a great gravy maker, but I love it. So I pick up packages of mix that you just blend with water, as well as jars of the stuff and some “gravy maker/browning” stuff and some bullion. Bullion cubes/powder can make a nice stock for soups and stews and also make a clear broth for when someone is sick.
Coffee and Tea are important items in the stockpile as well. Most of us have a hot drink of some type in the morning, so it’s best to have plenty on hand. I pick up “half cafe” and decaf when I can, as we have phased out caffeine as much as possible (personal choice). You can even make up individual coffee pot sized servings and seal them and put them in the bug out kit. If kept sealed, the new cans have a very long shelf life, so it’s a safe bet to pick up as much as you can when you find it on sale. We try not to be “brand specific”, as you never know when your brand will be unavailable, and in a pinch, any coffee is better than no coffee! Also, don’t forget to tuck an old fashioned stove top percolator in your preps for when there is no electricity. PRACTICE with it, as stove top coffee is a lost art for most people!
Another item not talked about much is flavorings. Herbs, spices, liquid flavorings, jams, syrups and all the things that we like. I get my herbs & spices (that I don’t grow) from : http://www.atlanticspice.com/ and have had great results with them. Repackage and vacuum seal in jars or bags and they will last for years. You can pick up all kinds of handy items from these people, including baking supply items like baking powder, cream of tarter and so on. I like to bake when I am upset, so comfort foods may be something you want to make when stuck in the house during an emergency. Don’t forget to get vanilla! I find that most people keep vanilla flavoring and lemon flavoring for baking, so these will be a good addition to the preps.
Fats are another item that confuse people. You must have a certain amount of fats in the diet, but these items also are necessary to cooking and baking. I know that Crisco in the can, unopened has a long (5 year) shelf life. If you keep your vegetable oil in the dark and unopened, it too, has a decent shelf life. Olive oil is best and if kept properly, it will last forever. I’m told that in a pinch, you can even use it as lamp oil. I also keep a couple of cans of butter powder in #10 cans, because I can’t count on a steady supply of butter if we have an extended event. You should plan on a minimum of 1 gallon of oils and fats per person, per year.
The next “must have” item is vinegar. Vinegar doesn’t really have an expiration date either, and it can be easily found in gallon jugs. You can not have too much vinegar!!! Get several kinds, but for me, white vinegar is a staple I can’t do without. Vinegar will be used in cooking, in canning and as flavoring with my seasoning packets for dressings. It also has an antiseptic affect and can be used to clean. I wipe down the counters with it (keeps flies away too!) and I put it in a spray bottle half and half with water and use it instead of expensive Windex. When my Dad was a kid, the standard “quarantine” for kids was to soak a sheet in vinegar and hang it to block the doorways. Apparently, it killed air born germs quite well. At about $2.50 a gallon, it’s a great buy! I keep about 12 gallons of various vinegars. (don’t forget to add it to baking soda for tough cleaning jobs and to clean out drains!)
I also have a small stock of my other favorite cleaning products that are mostly for convenience. One item is old fashioned lemon oil furniture polish. It doesn’t go bad and a little goes a long way. Laundry soap in our house consists of what ever I pick up on sale and with a coupon, but I am going to start making our own. I realized that the ingredients for making your own cost about 1/5th of what I pay for the premixed stuff, so I’ll dedicate some space for that. I just have to “get around to it”. Bleach is also an important item on the “cleaning shelf”, but it can also disinfect, be used in laundry and can purify your water. It doesn’t really “go bad”, so make sure you have a minimum of one gallon per year, per person.
I won’t go into personal care items at this time, as this blog post is long enough! As always, I welcome you to comment and add to this topic!