I have been accused of being a "closet prepper", but actually, I just enjoy the safety net of having a food storage in case of an emergency for my family.
When I was growing up, my mother was a Latter Day Saint, (Mormon), and one of the teachings in their church is to have a food storage for your family for at least one year. However, through the years and several different emergencies, I have seen the benefits of having a food storage. Church teachings or not, it is a wonderful safety net to have.
I have experienced three hurricanes, 1 tornado, 1 major blizzard, several ice storms, numerous power outages, and 2 major paycheck crisis'.
After the first time of not having the proper amount of food in my home and not being able to feed my children properly, I realized the importance of having a food storage. One time of looking at my child, knowing that I could not feed her properly, was all it took for me.
I am NOT talking about going out and purchasing a year's worth of freeze-dried foods, though if I could financially, I probably would, I am talking about building up the foods in your home that you use every day.
A food storage that you do not know how to use, or that your family members will not eat, is not going to do you any good. It would be like someone coming up to you, and offering you a bowl of fried crickets. If it is not in your personal food chain, you may very well starve, before eating something that could nourish you.
So do not rush out and buy 500 pounds of whole grain wheat, if you do not use it in your every day cooking!
Start small, it is very easy to do, even on a limited budget.
Make sure that you plan for long term storage. Your food will not do you any good, if it is full of bugs or rodent droppings.
Make sure that you have a way to open your foods. What good is a can of green beans, if you cannot open them, or you open them with a butcher knife and lacerate your hand badly in the process. Besides, you can get a manual can opener from the Dollar Store!
Do you have ready-to-eat foods or do they need to be cooked? You can eat green beans straight out of the can in an emergency, but they are so much tastier if heated up. So, make sure that you have pans that can be used over an open fire out side, on a grill, etc. Cast iron or cast aluminum is your best bet, but stainless works well also if needed. Having a BBQ grill, an outside burner, or charcoal is always handy :)
How to get started on the actual food storage:
1. You go grocery shopping for your family on a regular basis. (In our family, our regular grocery shopping is done bi-weekly.) Add 2 extra cans per person each time for your family. So, if you have 4 members in your family, purchase 8 cans of something, anything, each time you go grocery shopping.
For instance: You are planning on a spaghetti meal this week. When you get your groceries, get 2 extra jars/cans of sauce, 2 extra boxes of pasta, 2 extra cans of veggies, and if you can, 2 cans of fruit or meats. Now, put these in a sack in a closet, and do not use them. Keep them back. Save them. If you can, seal your pasta in a mason jar or vacuum bag them to protect them. But you do not have to.
Now, you are going to continue to do this. However, if you can only purchase 1 extra can, get that 1 can. It is a START!
I utilize our Sam's Club Card. I purchase rice, oats, flour, sugar, grits, etc in bulk. 50 pound bags. I then fill a 5 gallon food grade bucket with lid that I get at Lowe's, and put the remainder in my regular canisters. I then place the sealed bucket in my food storage closet. I try to do this 1 time a month, though on our budget, I am not always able to do so.
I also do this little trick and it truly helps.
I purchase flour, sugar, etc in 10 pound bags from our local grocer. I then fill 1/2 gallon mason jars or 1 quart mason jars and vacuum seal. I place them back and do not use them. When I have enough jars filled, I transfer the contents to 5 gallon food buckets. See, you do not have to go and purchase the 50 pound bags. Purchase what you are able to afford, and build on that.
If you find something on sale, get extra. Kroger has corn for 20 cents? Get 10 extra and put them back. Wal-Mart has salt on sale for 25 cents? Get 4 extra and put it back. Utilize sales to your food storage advantage!
Now, remember... Unless your foods are stored for long term, you need to rotate them and use them. So, when you get 4 new cans of corn, pull 4 from the storage closet and move those 4 to your pantry. The put the 4 new ones into the food storage closet. It is called FIFO: First in, First out. Rotate your food stores. Use them, but replace them. Also, this helps you to always purchase what your family actually uses.
Also remember, you can live on your food storage, but that does not mean you are happy. Try to get the comfort foods also. Sweets, treats, and munchies. In a stressful time that your food storage is needed, you will find much less stress if you have some of these comfort foods. high oil foods such as nuts and chips do not long term store well. They will go rancid quickly. So do try to remember this.
As I progress with this blog, I will be coming out with other ideas for food storage and family needs storage.
This is just a very basic post, but I will go more in-depth later.