Storing food is not just a prepper way of life, it is also a way to make huge savings. You have to realize that once you started to fill your food storage and then in time consuming the older products, you will notice that items you have buy 6-8 months ago, now cost with 10 to 50% more. So you are saving lots of money by storing. Before you build up your food stock, a few tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure your selections are shelf stable. Canned and dry goods are best. In case of power outage, the freezer will keep your food for only two or three days. Don’t turn your nose up at processed foods; they tend to store longer, and while processed food is not as good for you as whole foods, it’s better than starving.
- Stock food you will want to eat.
- Stock dry and canned goods in a cool, dry, dark environment. Darkness is especially important if any of your canning is done in glass jars, because the light breaks down vitamins and protein in the food.
- Variety is important. It prevents monotony and balances your diet.
- Don’t shun convenience. Particularly for the short-term stocks (three days to two weeks), it’ll lift a great burden off your shoulders if you can just open a can and heat your meal, or eat something that’s good cold.
- Small containers have a higher unit cost, but prevent waste (which is in itself costly).
- Don’t make it too complicated. You certainly can go deep and calculate precise calorie and nutritional requirements, but if uncertainty is stopping you from getting something in the cupboard, then just simplify. Use an ancient, tried-and-true method — trial and error. We’ll come back to this.
Build Your Emergency Food Stock in Six Months
Building up a year-long food supply is a big endeavor, but you can do it by tackling this in three steps:
- Week 1, build up a three-day supply
- Week 2, build up a one-month supply
- During the next five months, build up your one-year supply
Week 1 (right now!) — Get your three day supply. Most power outages are short, and a three day supply of dry and canned goods will get you through most thunderstorm-induced blackouts. First, check your pantry. You might well have a supply that will get your through three days without power or transportation. If not, a single trip to the grocery store can get you up and running. Here’s a suggested 3-day list (per person):
- Can opener!
- Trail mix – 8-ounce serving
- Crackers – 1 box (8-ounces or larger)
- Peanut butter – 1 (12-ounce) jar
- Canned juice – 1 6-pack of 6-ounce containers
- Peaches – 1 (8-ounce) can
- Fruit cocktail – 2 (8-ounce) cans
- Beans – 1 (8-ounce) can
- Corn – 1 (8-ounce) can
- Tuna – 1 (3 1/4-ounce) can
- Beef stew or Chili – 2 small cans
- Tomato or other soup – 1 can
- Raisins or dried prunes – 2 12-ounce package
- Mixed nuts – 1 package or jar
- Tea and coffee – 1 box with 16 bags or 1 (2-ounce) jar instant coffee
- Water – 1 gallon
Of course, if you have more than one person to stock for, combine quantities in larger containers to save on the unit cost. That is, buy a big jar of peanut butter instead of several small ones. Caveat: small quantities can still be useful, like small drink servings. You don’t waste as much. Also, there is a convenience factor here — you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get an emergency stock. Save the heavy calculations for your long-term survival stock.
Week 2 — Build up your one-month supply. There are too many differences from one household to the next to make a precise grocery list. But don’t worry, figuring what you need is fairly straightforward. Just see how much food you need to prepare a meal for your entire family, and multiply that by three to cover three meals a day. (If your family eats out at all during the month, this is more accurate than multiplying your weekly grocery-shopping by four). Then add 20% to cover errors.
Remember, it’s possible to get extremely precise about how many calories and what kind of foods you need, and by all means do so if you like. But if you don’t go to all this trouble, you still need something to eat, right? Here are some suggestions — add your own, of course:
- Pasta. Spaghetti, macaroni, whatever. Great source of carbs, and everybody loves it. It’s not huge on vitamins, but that’s what canned fruit is for.
- Canned fish. Salmon, jack mackerel, sardines, tuna, kippered herring. All these make great survival foods. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and flavor.
- Dried beans and rice. Yes, there are lots of Y2K jokes about this, and I bet some of you still have some, eleven years later. But if you store them properly they will keep literally for decades. One interesting thing about beans and rice — together they make a “complete protein.” Rice has some of the amino acids that make up protein, and beans have the rest of them. Together, it’s great food.
- Basic canned produce. Get a variety of beans (black, pinto, navy, kidney, and lima), vegetables (tomato, corn, and your favorite greens), and fruit (peaches, pears, apple sauce, or just a cocktail). These few items will cover nearly the entire gamut of vitamins, minerals, and fiber you’ll need long term, all while providing all the variety you’ll need to maintain morale.
- Special canned produce. For an occasional treat, keep a few cans of blueberries, pumpkin pie filling, hearts of palm, capers, olives, or whatever your favorite canned goods might be.
- Staples. Olive oil, flour, sugar, and salt. Buy them in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco. Keep flour safe from mice and moths.
A long-term supply should go beyond basic survival — a balanced diet and occasional treats are good for health and morale.
Month 2 through 6 — Build up your one-year supply. Now that you have a one-month supply, buy another two-month supply for each of the next four months, and a three-month supply the last month. When all is said and done, you’ll have everything you need to keep your family fed for a year.