Seeing the economy, the jobless, the homeless, and the cost of food being so high- no one can doubt that there is some wisdom behind having some food and water storage on hand. I was thinking about my food storage while processing green snap beans from my small garden and (like I always do) felt that I could make mine better, more efficient, and less wasteful as some things expire before I use them.
My theory (along with a few other people): Food that you store should be items your family regularly eats. Yah- the whole store 30 lbs of hard winter wheat? Nope. Doesn’t fly with me. Not only is my husband’s body intolerant to wheat, but lets be real. Who wants to pull out the hard winter wheat, boil it up and try to eat it? Mmmm. Sounds so good! NOT! Now if you own a wheat grinder, and have a lot of experience cooking whole wheat breads, cereals, casseroles, ect, and your family LIKES those things, then by all means- go buy some hard winter wheat and it will last 20 yrs! But if you buy it, and NEVER USE IT in those 20 years and end up throwing it out- hm. Was it a wise choice??? You should be using it and rotating it throughout the years.
What I have tried to do, that has been showing promise is to plan your food storage monthly. So, for one month, I will think of it as 30 days, or 10 day increments. So, make a list of 10 shelf stable meals, and buy three supply for those meals over a period of a couple shopping trips, and you have 30 days of meals your family likes ON HAND that you will use regularly and rotate your storage through. Thereby always having that 30 day storage and it is always fresh- nothing expiring. As for breakfast and lunch, I just always have some powdered milk and about 10 boxes of cereal that we rotate through and Ramen noodles with processed vegetables make a quick chicken noodle soup in a pinch for lunch or dinner. See where I am going with this? So as you build your storage, build a 30-90 day part of it around what you are already using and rotate it. I think 30-90 days is a good plan for an unexpected job loss, a medical problem that leaves your budget tight, ect.
As for a longer storage need? You will also want to have things your family eats, but just build it slowly. Every now and then rice will go on sale in a 25 lb bag, or oats. We eat oatmeal a lot and rice is a must in our house so we have 5 gallon buckets in the pantry that we use and rotate out, 2 each is my goal. That is about a years supply for us. I also have sugar in one. I stay away from the large #10 cans of anything- why? Because I know that once that baby is open, it will go bad in a number of days without refrigeration and with refrigeration it’s about 1-2 weeks. We would never eat that amount in that time before it went bad. So I have small cans/bottles that are used per day for my storage of fruits, pudding, ect. For breads, I have mixes. Many pancake mixes or quick bread mixes are just add water and are shelf stable for at least a year. And crisco is a great shelf stable, non refrigerated item for the needed fat/oil you may need. I could go on and on. But my point is made-
Of course that all depends on if you have some water storage- I think about 30 gallons would be enough for your kitchen storage, so 30 juice jugs that you regularly rotate or 15, 5 gallon bottles would save some space, and for your bathroom and other needs, your water heater is about 30 gallons- don’t forget that source! And another 30 gallons or so would be awesome to have stored in various places around the house.
The best way to start this would to just delegate a certain amount of $ per month to storage. $10-$15 is a great amount. A few cans of fruit, a few cans of veggies, a flat of ramen, a bag of sugar, a couple buckets, and over a few months, voila!